JW: I really think, well… Let’s not call this “sexism.” Let’s call it an “asymmetrical judgment” between men and women. If Henry Miller writes “Tropic of Cancer” and calls the hero “Henry Miller,” he’s still allowed to say these are novels, and none of the guys question it. Because a man is allowed to be bigger. A woman isn’t. She can only possibly talk about herself.
BNR: Meanwhile, Anaïs Nin is just writing “journals.”
JW: Journals, right, journals! If I want to use myself as a fictional character, why can’t I? Over the years, it’s been one of the most frustrating things. If you call yourself “Jeanette” in the novel, then it’s all about you. And I’m thinking, No. This is a person I’ve invented. Why shouldn’t I? That’s what I mean by an asymmetrical judgment because Paul Auster, Henry Miller, Milan Kundera, any of those writers who quote themselves directly, Philip Roth, for God’s sake! We all say, “That’s so great! That’s so interesting!” But if you do that as a woman, it becomes confessional and autobiographical.
This isn’t a diary entry because of everything I leave out. This isn’t a poem or a sex tape. The only evidence is my raw knees, bitten by concrete. The first time I’ve had vanilla sex in a long time. Does it still count as vanilla sex if it’s in a car park and both lovers are exhibitionists? Returning to the first place he ever had me, when he couldn’t wait until he got me home. He has asked me to help him with intimacy before, to get over his fear of being touched with any kind of tenderness. We had never gotten this far.
He touched me gently, shyly, his hands moving across my back and ass and breasts. He has broken skin before, but last night his mouth on my breasts made teeth an afterthought. He kissed me gently, then hungrily, captured my lip in his teeth. I cupped his chin and his face in my hands. He kissed me like he wanted me to fall in love with him, he kissed me for a very long time. Later when he was still in my mouth he said, I can’t wait, and turned me over to slide my knickers down my thighs and hike up my skirt, entering me, the hugeness of him leaving me gasping. Then he asked me to get on my back and he was inside me again, his lips finding mine, not breaking the kiss. He didn’t break eye contact while he fucked me. He would go to touch me shyly, like he wanted to stroke my skin, and rest his large hands gently on me instead. For the first time as my lover, there was nothing rough about the way he fucked me. Everything felt different and new and sweet.
After he came in my mouth, his heart struggling to pump blood and oxygen through his 6”10 frame, his breathing shallow, he smiled at me. My hand touched his stomach in reassurance. We talked for a long time afterwards, sitting together, knees touching. I realised his red eyes probably meant he’d been crying before I got there. Last night there was less of the animal in him and more of the scared boy. Everything we spoke about is too sad to repeat here, sadder than The Smiths songs playing on the speaker of his phone while we talked. All suicides the same tragic cliche. I hope that being with me, talking, touching, brought him some kind of comfort. He joked about a tooth he’d chipped and the iPhone screen he’d cracked and he said, I am done fixing broken things. I remember when I once said, I am done fixing broken men, but the way he touched me without me asking, without fear, reminded me again there is something in him to protect and to save. We wrapped our arms around each other to hug goodbye, he said he hoped I’d sleep well. My small hand found his large hand, my pinky stroking his palm. He didn’t flinch. I stood on my tiptoes to kiss him good night.
Resistance is located in past forms of power in the subject’s history.
Move away from the idea of the subject composed as a list of properties toward that of a subject composed of a series of events. This gives the subject the ability for resistance in the pathway of the event of the subject’s life. Put another way subjection is not the result of listing or confessing ideas about ourselves/experiences in order to produce Truth, but of circling back upon the event of our experiences and ideas of ourselves as another event in the process of (re)creating truths about ourselves i.e. making sense of ourselves and experiences. Resistence comes from (re)experiencing past forms of power from our lives and using truths we have amassed in the interim to resist or redirect the flow of power. Not being defined by, but rather using our mistakes for example. In order to use first we must own. If only for a short time. To produce truths of our self in a moment.
Allow confession to operate within and create an Ars Erotica that explodes the master/subject dynamic of the private encounter as lesson regulated by the experienced male (and male experience) and embraces a language of the female who talks about her self and her sexuality and her practice and her experience wholly outside the mastery or Truth of the male. This is why women who talk about themselves or their sexuality or sexual experiences on the internet and elsewhere are either narcissists or oversharers or hysterics or sluts. Because if the man is no longer in control of the lesson, no longer the master teacher, then he will stop at nothing to subordinate the confessing woman—the woman confessing outside the circuit of Truth—to him or his experience or his understanding of the how things really are.
Who is the partner to which these (re)confessions are directed? Resisting confessing to a known partner with the power to “forgive, console, and direct.” Embracing confessing to a yet unseen partner of a future event.
Considering the confession as a pleasure. Techniques of producing pleasure that resist the idea of one master and pupil. Reconfigure Ars Erotica as the production of affect(s) rather than a mastered/masterful body. Confession as joy. The power a body has to connect with other bodies. A positive (productive) encounter is a feeling of an increase in power in the body such that each of the bodies is able to go out and repeat the process.
Even though a “great archive” of pleasure is being assembled through the practice of confession the archive is fluid, it contracts and breathes continually as people engage the archive through practice, as they encounter and produce affects, as they have more and more “joyful” encounters through the process of (re)confession.
Cyndi Lauper Fearless a cappella
I don’t know why I’ve never posted this version before because I listen to it all the time.
He is testing me in the same way I test people. Are they enough, are they strong enough for this? I am never enough for anyone that I want to love me. Or maybe I am too much. I want to bite and kick and scream at him. He says, you should get angry, don’t forgive me, why aren’t you angry. I want to soothe his body with the warm palms of my hands like I would a child. He is young and beautiful and his body is powerful but he is so vulnerable. He makes me want to protect him from darkness and hurt. I want him to use that darkness and ruin me as much as he can. When he is light hearted, when he smiles, it’s almost a shock. The nicest of surprises and then I’m not sure which side of him I like more.
He says, we should be very careful, I might go too far, I want to see you bleed, I want to see you cry, I might go too far. The boundaries I enforce are for his sake, not mine.
For someone I’m not in love with, I’ve already written too many poems about him. I gave up another man because he wouldn’t give me (the bratty sub) what I wanted. He didn’t pass. I have no tests for affection, happiness, intimacy, love or tenderness. I have spent too long with those needs as planets transiting around my body, until they are pulled away to another woman or I can no longer see them in the sky. I will love to come and the longer it doesn’t, the more I turn to masochism. I am more afraid to tell you all this, exposed, than I am afraid of any sort of physical pain. I am afraid to say out loud how lonely it is without love. I used to think it would be so simple. If you want to be tender with me, apply in writing. I’m starving.
He tells me what to wear and how to pose and my eyes burn the edges of his photographs. Since childhood I have been so self reliant that sometimes it is a relief to be told what to do. I’ll never let anyone tell me how to think. I want to tell you, I am often happy. I live up to the Joy in my name. I make my friends laugh. I bring light and love to the world. I nurture. I could make you very happy. I am just worn out lately.
A friend tells me, we need our poets. I cry. I want the friends who offer comfort and love to know that I am here, still breathing gratefully. I have retreated to the quiet.
Psychologically, I am already on my knees. I need to be annihilated with sex. I need the distraction of mistakes, but strangely, with him I feel none of the dread I have with past mistakes. Submission is the only way I have found to be physically and spiritually free. I create my own gods, but only the ones I can bare to see destroyed. He takes my instruction, he learns from what I tell him about how we can harness the dark. I have lived and survived worse and he helps me soothe some of it. I don’t belong to him and he doesn’t belong to me, but as much as I try to stay away I can’t give him up yet. I wait to fail a test, I wait for him to push me away like he does to everyone else.
We are broken mirrors to each other. My body is the tuning fork of his desire. He doesn’t make me happy, but he takes away enough of my fear that my body is an empty slate for happiness again.
Soon, in the time it takes you to have a change of heart about me, reader, I will write that it’s over.
He tastes sweet. In an explicit message, he observes, “it was like you needed it to live” and I want to reply, this is how I am born and born again.
This is the only time I’ll ever explain a poem to you.
That said, Weiss objects to the idea that this sort of sexual make-believe is “the same as the violence that it mimes,” as some BDSM critics argue. Instead, Weiss looks at how particular scenes, whether it’s a slave auction or make-believe child abuse, affect the people participating, watching or (here’s looking at you) reading about it.
She also zeroes in on the contradictions of kink: “On the one hand, SM is figured as outlaw: as transgressive of normative sexual values,” Weiss writes. “On the other hand, SM is dependent on social norms: practitioners draw on social hierarchies to produce SM scenes.” The mostly-white, mostly-middle-class community is itself an example of real-world social inequality: ”These [sexual] experiments are more possible and more accessible to those with class, race and gender privilege: heterosexual men playing with sexism, white bodies at a charity slave auction, professional information technology (IT) workers with several rooms filled with custom-made bondage toys.”
Speaking of toys, she further questions S/M’s “outlaw” status by painting a portrait of a social network built on capitalism and consumerism: Just consider the rainbow’s array of classes (on everything from spanking to rope bondage) and fetish toys (from handcuffs to latex vacuum beds) that practitioners can, and are to some degree expected to, invest in. BDSM is not as transgressive as most assume, says Weiss.
My year closed with a man begging my forgiveness, and the new year started with another man begging the same. Forgiveness is easier than trust, for me.
(In a strange reversal of power it’s always these dominant men who come to me begging for what only I can give. I never beg.)
Perhaps in forgiving their transgressions against me, I am learning to forgive myself. Forgiveness as an act of freedom, of submission.
The always wise Dana said to me, “It’s more than a touch scary how ‘empowerment’ is pushed at us to be tightly wrapped up with ‘keeping a grip on loathing’.”
I’ve always struggled to get angry, even when I need to. Sometimes I burn bridges. Sometimes I walk away without a word of explanation and cut people out of my life forever. I’m getting better at being angry if I need to be, and letting go of it. I’ve always tried not to hang on to any negative emotion. This year I will work on overcoming some of the fear and old trauma that came to define me.
I’m also learning how to recognise happiness, usually it takes exhaustion until my brain is slow enough to validate it.
I’m waiting for someone loving who is worthy of my emotional trust, who will let me be vulnerable, who will return the nurturing I offer them. Someone I don’t have to forgive.
Last night I walked back into my room and the artist was sitting naked at my desk putting on foundation and lipstick in my makeup mirror. I asked him what colour lipstick (deep pink) he used and he said, “three different ones”. His lips look beautiful painted, they rival mine. My foundation perfectly matches his skin tone. I watched his fingers work eyeshadow brushes and paint his eye and cheek in a large blue triangular tear. I painted the other side in silver.
Then he painted my face, more gently than anything else he’s ever done to me. He said he saw some kind of Nordic woman warrior in my face. He was intent, patient, when I moved he’d command, “Hold still”. He told me not to talk so I wouldn’t ruin his precision. He worked in silence while I was lulled into a state of calm. He asked me, “This really turns you on, doesn’t it?” and I murmured yes as he traced a brush over my face. My face was hues of blue and purple and gold and silver and then he took a red lipstick and traced lines from my face, down my neck.
Later while I removed makeup from our faces he pulled me naked, backwards into his lap, put himself inside me. I don’t think I ever want to get used to his size, for that first thrust not to be pained and sweet. His makeup stained fingers left rainbows on my body.
Today I delight in and nurse small hurts, a tender throat where he held me down and choked me. His hands are so large they fit almost the whole way around my neck. Impressions of his bite on my neck and breasts, cleavage covered in bruises that will dictate more modest clothing choices for a while.
The backs of my thighs and my ass are covered in bruises and welts from where he took to me with his hands and leather belt, over and over. The largest bruise is where he broke skin and it bled. He flogged all the fear and panic that I’ve been living with for months, out of me. Today I am calmest I’ve ever been. I slept better than I have in months.
While I have not suffered from biological infertility (as far as I know), I imagined my grief was at least as deep as couples trying to conceive as I didn’t have a love who shared the grief. Heck, I often didn’t even have a date to get closer to trying! Every month that passed, I grieved a loss. But I grieved alone. I have no husband (or male partner) to grieve with me. And lamenting my infertility to close friends who are parents or to family was never well-received.
Bed hair on webcam, both of us. My naked skin washed out white by sunlight streaming in through the open blinds.
A webcam service where you start out naked and end up clothed. He strips for you, you sit in front of the screen naked with wet hair. He is immediately hard. He watches you drying your hair, expresses his disappointment as you put on lingerie, then makeup, jewellery. A dress. He is watching you exit the room into a world he’ll never be in.
He will say, I want you to masturbate for me, and sometimes you do. You’ll moan his name as you cum. Sometimes you say, I’ve just gotten home and I’ve been fucked three times today and he was large and I am sore, tired. You’ll titillate him instead, watch his hand move across his cock like water. You will lick heavily glossed lips. He will say, you don’t need makeup, you’re beautiful without it. Sometimes you’ve woken up and kissed another man that same day with your naked face.
We do everything in reverse, he told me he loved me years after I’d left his city. He could have told it to me any time during the hours we spent lying in bed. He could have written it in the steam on my bathroom mirror after showering together. He could have said it while he fucked me with Björk’s “Pagan Poetry” playing on my stereo, the part where she sings over and over “She loves him, she loves him…and he makes my want to hand myself over”. I handed myself over when I said I love you back. I know it’s too late. We have these dates, dates before dates. Dates on waking up alone at 10am on a Saturday and logging on with bed hair and the creases of sheets still on our skin.
Video chat to traverse state borders and skin. I watch his hair get longer, I remark when he gets it cut. His mouth is always the same, I remember how hard he used to kiss me. My mouth never lies, even with the taste of another man still on my lips.
I reveal so much on Twitter and sideways through poetry here, but when I draft really personal blog posts I can’t bring myself to publish them. I’ve written half of it and only copied some of it to here. There is more to this story: a man who got off on dressing in my lingerie until I wasn’t the fantasy any more, I was only the conduit to the fantasy. I loved him so I dressed him in my own image. For a time we were broken mirrors with the same reflections.
I stayed at the airport long after his plane had taken off. I dreaded returning to sheets that smelled like his cologne and an ashtray full of his cigarettes. I leaned my forehead against the cool glass of the viewing deck and cried. I wanted to move the air around where he’d been, right it after he’d ruptured it. Like rearranging furniture to minimise sharp corners.
I want to call him now years later and ask if he ever acted out the rest of his secret desires.
I think he could have loved me properly but of course there’s an if - if he hadn’t been still crazed with grief over his wife’s miscarriage and their yet to be finalised divorce, if he had been certain of his sexuality.
After I ended it with him, I didn’t stop eating the secrets of other men and burying them in my stomach like stones from mangoes. I needed to trust and I still give my own secrets away carefully. I’m giving away his secret now.
I’ve met other soul mates since him: ones who you breathe and think in time with, where synchronicity is like the rhythm of two bodies making love. I let them understand me better than anyone else (like he did) for a time.
I don’t think I trust déjà vu any more. I was once naked in front of a broken mirror and he didn’t see me at all.