Bite Me: How Does Masochist-Space Feel For Me?

Image of Morgan's shoulder - white skin with deep teeth marks set into it and slight bruising forming around said teeth marks.

Content note: This post features brief mentions of self-harm (but no detailed descriptions or images) and briefly refers to a consensual scalpel scene (again, without details or images).

This post is part of a miniseries exploring the nuances of different headspaces I access through kink! You can find the first one, on ‘ropespace’, here.

You can also find an extended piece of my erotica featured on Erotica at Doxy, which I am fucking ecstatic about, right here. Or you can stay on this webpage and read my musings on masochism.

One of the first essay-type posts I ever drafted, when I was first considering starting a kink-focused blog, was an impassioned rant in response to a recent ex saying that I was using masochism as a proxy for self-harm after he’d seen the aftermath of my first ever scalpel scene all over my thighs. (I should point out that I’d talked to him about the scene beforehand, because surprising a partner – or anybody – with potentially disquieting or triggering wounds is, under most circumstances, a dick move.) I eventually decided that it was too direct, too angry and too personal to be much use to anybody else, but it sits in my Google Drive nonetheless, and it served as a brilliant initial exercise in kinky introspection.

Defining masochism in opposition to self-harm has some drawbacks (primarily, it can be limiting and makes me sound acutely defensive) but it’s a good starting point. Self-harm, for me, is an impulsive action (or series of actions) that I carry out hurriedly, in secret, as a means to an end: I just want to stabilise my brain chemicals enough to survive the day.

By contrast, playing in a masochistic space is a deliberate and shared experience that I seek out and savour. Much like bottoming in a rope scene, bottoming in a sadomasochistic scene requires me to be grounded, present and super attuned to my body and the signals it’s giving me. My job in an S/M scene is to be receptive and responsive, and, above all, to enjoy the array of sensations that my top is providing me with. Self-harm is an attempt to manipulate my body and brain; masochism is an attempt to relax into them.

Masochist-space feels meditative, more so than some other subspaces. Often I’m beaten, pinched, slapped, etc, to a particular rhythm, and reminded by my top in a warm (if condescending) tone to breathe deeply between strikes. I focus almost exclusively on relaxing my muscles and on every sensation I’m experiencing – including non-pain-related ones like the texture of the bedsheets I’m on or the sounds of the impact implements being used. Sometimes I process pain by making noises, and those noises reverberate pleasantly in my chest. I feel as present in my body as it is possible for me to feel, and the pain transforms from something I’m enduring into a catharsis I’m enjoying.

Masochist-space also feels more performative than some other headspaces – but not in an inauthentic sort of way. All the sounds I make (and there are a lot of ’em!) and all the ways I articulate that I’m in pain (like scrunching my face up or writhing) are reflexive and beyond my control, but the process of receiving pain in and of itself is, in part, a way of expressing what a Good Pup™ I can be. I use S/M scenes to showcase my abilities to be determined, resilient, responsive, dedicated to a top, mentally ‘strong’, brave, and/or vulnerable. Like service space, masochist-space allows me to show off, and cultivates a feeling of self-worth in me that I (currently) find impossible to manufacture on my own.

The other thing about masochist-space that separates it from other headspaces is that it requires a sadist in some capacity. Pain for the sake of pain ranges from inconvenient to downright miserable, whether it’s in the context of self-harm or a stubbed toe, but pain for the sake of someone else’s enjoyment is as satisfying as any vanilla thing that brings someone you like some joy – like baking something your partner really likes, or massaging their neck after a long day at the office. I worried for a while that this didn’t make me a ‘true’ masochist: shutting my finger in a drawer didn’t instantly get me wet, and my enjoyment of pain hinged upon someone else’s enjoyment of administering it. It took me a long while to piece together that this was, in essence, a consent issue – I didn’t ask my joints to sublux or the coffee table to get in the way of my shins, but I did ask my Daddy to do whatever he wanted to my ass until I cried “Yellow” or he got bored. And, again, this explained some of the difference between masochism and self-harm, because I was never enthusiastic about the pain I caused myself or the circumstances that forced me to it; the only thing I was enthusiastic about was a spike of endorphins and a quick distraction from my thoughts.

This post has only scratched the surface of my deep love for S/M scenes (get it…? I’ll show myself out) but I hope it’s made clear the uniquely meditative and connective nature of masochist-space as I experience it. I leave you with this quote from the angry essay I wrote to myself last year:

In letting a partner mark my body during a scene, I am consciously handing over ownership and control of my body to somebody else. The marks, wherever they end up placed, will remind me for days or weeks to come that I had enough autonomy to surrender my body to somebody else – somebody who treated it exactly the way I wanted it to be treated.

20 Things I Learned Whilst 20

I turned 21 on the 24th of July, right at the dawn of Leo season, and I managed to only Tweet obnoxiously about it once. In fact, this has been a pretty quiet birthday by all accounts, but it felt like it would be remiss of me not to mark it with a blog post.

However, it’s brain-meltingly hot, and I have a busy weekend ahead, so I decided I’d treat my readership to the ultimate cop-out: a listicle.

I have to admit that some of these things are things I learned before I was 20, but they’ve definitely been reaffirmed or brought back to the forefront of my mind over the past year. Some are kink-related and some are not, but hopefully at least one of these twenty things will be enlightening, or at least uplifting.

  1. I’m probably sort of a furry. I don’t feel a strong affinity for the furry community as such, but I have to concede that the headspace I enter into when engaging in puppy play (right down to having a specific breed in mind…) isn’t dissimilar to having a fursona, especially when I play with accessories like my collar, leashes and ‘puppy treats’ (usually Maltesers). Plus, I’d definitely fuck Nick Wilde from Zootopia.
  2. PRN anxiety medications don’t work for me, because as soon as I’m even a little anxious, I become too paranoid to take any medicines at all.
  3. Anti-psychotic medications do work for me, and so far I’ve been one of those miraculously lucky bastards who doesn’t lose any of their sex drive when starting a new psychotropic medication.
  4. I actually do like masturbating, it just spooks me when I’m alone for trauma reasons.
  5. I am definitely more of an A-spot person than a G-spot person.
  6. Letting your sadistic Daddy wax your vulva for you is not as good an idea as it might sound. Especially if he’s never waxed anybody else’s body before and you’ve never had your own body waxed in any capacity before. Really, it’s a fucking terrible idea. Put the Veet strips down.
  7. Crying during kink scenes is the purest, most amazing form of catharsis I can access in a healthy and sustainable way.
  8. Being face-slapped a lot makes me cry.
  9. I like Starbucks frappuccinos as long as they’re super sugary and don’t have whipped cream on top. I have reached Peak White Person.
  10. If you want something (especially if that something is a writing gig or similar), you should go for it. The worst that can happen is a ‘no’, which you can accept graciously and move on.
  11. …but seriously, I am capable of awesome things if I just scrape together the bollocks to spring for them. Like appearing on Disability After Dark. Or being featured on Girl On The Net. Or putting my amazing, well-lit nudes on Twitter.
  12. I’m much better at receiving beatings and bottoming in S&M scenes more broadly if I’m tied up and receiving encouragement.
  13. It’s not normal to bleed after vaginal sex stuff! Who knew?! (This discovery did lead to me getting to view live footage of my own cervix, though, which was cool as shit.)
  14. Therapy is actually useful if you don’t lie the whole time! If you can find a therapist who will accept your kinkiness and/or queerness and/or polyamory and/or proud neurodivergent identity (etc…) then therapy sessions can feel productive and worthwhile, rather than another chore-ish appointment you have to make time for.
  15. I have a lot more work to do in therapy and outside of it. I’ve realised I’m absolutely brimming with internalised fatphobia, internalised ableism, suppressed anger, suppressed feelings of loss… but I’m starting to unpack it all, and it’s worth the hard work.
  16. I’m even more of a huge nerd than I thought – I’ve spent the whole summer so far itching to go back to uni. I thrive on structure and intellectual stimulation, and I miss university so much whenever I’m away from it longer than a week. Master’s degree it is, then.
  17. I actually love giving analingus. If I could abandon this blog post right now and put my tongue in a butthole I would.
  18. Cis dudes actually can eat me out in a way I enjoy if they just listen and proceed carefully. Not all of them are teethy, sucky trainwrecks.
  19. If you have a penis in your mouth and you press a vibrator to your jaw or throat, the penis-owner can feel the vibrations, and they’re usually pretty happy about that.
  20. There is always new stuff to learn about sex, kink, myself and the world. And I’m excited about that.

The Kink Escalator

An image of an escalator, from the perspective of someone standing at the bottom of it.

I have a real bee in my metaphorical bonnet about linear spectrums.

The most obvious example of this is my distaste towards the idea of the autistic I am as a linear one, starting at “not autistic” and progressing until you reach “really very autistic indeed”. Much like functioning labels, this perception of autism leaves no room for nuance, which in turn leaves little room for self-advocacy. (Personally, I like Rebecca Burgess’ visualisation of the autistic spectrum more than any other.)

Another linear idea I strongly dislike is the idea that gender is a spectrum (correct!) between male and female, or masculinity or femininity, with no genders existing independent of these two categories (incorrect!). It’s true that there are plenty of identities which do fit onto this spectrum, like binary female, neutrois, bigender and so on – but there are also gender identities that exist outside of it, like agender, demiboy etc. For this reason, I really enjoy models like the Genderbread Person.

You can imagine, based upon these examples, that it really gets my fuckin’ goat when sex is treated as existing on a linear spectrum between vanilla and super extra double kinky with cream.

Other people have written better things than I about the Relationship Escalator – the idea that the process of building a relationship is essentially a race from one milestone to the next, moving from acquaintanceship to friendship to a romantic and/or sexual relationship, then to marriage and other major lifestyle changes and commitments. This perception of interpersonal relationships is damaging in a number of ways, not least because it devalues all stages of the relationship other than the “end goal” of marriage etc., and it naturally bleeds into our understanding of sexual relationships too.

Plenty of people find themselves defensively insisting to an uneducated vanilla person that they’re kinky, but “not like, weird kinky” (or some variation thereof). In rushing to justify their own kinks, they inadvertently shame, belittle or otherwise speak poorly of those kinks that are considered a little less socially acceptable.

Erotic-ish media like Fifty Shades Of Abuse Apologism Grey, and less erotic media like sitcoms and cop shows, has helped to bring some kink into the mainstream – but only some, and only under some circumstances. We see a lot of “bedroom bondage” where wrists are tied above heads, ankles are tied down and occasionally legs are restricted; we also see a lot of impact play, and a reasonable amount of negotiated power exchange. Often, this happens with a female submissive/bottom and a male dominant/top, and, whilst I haven’t run the numbers, I think that the nature of mainstream media more broadly means I can safely assume that the kinksters in question are also often white, cisgender and not disabled.

Whilst it’s sort of nice that someone finding your handcuffs is not the instant kick out of the kink closet that it used to be, and it’s definitely nice that we’re starting to talk a little more about kink, female pleasure and masturbation, it seems that people who practice what appears to be “mild” or “moderate” kink are not inclined to discuss or defend the people who are engaging in more “extreme” acts. And I wouldn’t mind so much but, like the first two linear spectrums I mentioned, this one is absolute bollocks.

We can’t say that the Kink Escalator is based upon risk. So-called “bedroom bondage” features risks that most players aren’t even aware of: tying anybody anywhere risks circulation loss and nerve impingement, for example, and impact play is wildly unpredictable to the over-confident newbie – especially where cheaply-made, inconsistent impact toys are concerned. These are concerns that could theoretically send you to your local emergency room. By comparison, a purportedly “weirder” kink like watersports carries only a couple of risks: if you’re not fluid-bonded to the other party, you risk catching any fluid-borne infections they have; if you drink the stuff, you risk kidney problems, because urine gets excreted for a reason (but you’d have to drink it often, without clean drinking water in between).

The Kink Escalator doesn’t seem to based upon the psychological implications of a kink, either. ‘Daddy dom’ kinks, for example, are clearly psychologically weird: they’re based upon a power imbalance related to age and/or experience, and sometimes draw upon childlike mannerisms or directly invoke incest. However, the Daddy kink is so mainstream that you can buy cheeky T-shirts on Redbubble that refer to it, and there was even a kinda-sorta joke about it in the Spongebob Squarepants movie. By contrast, pet play is regarded with fascination and faint disgust by the mainstream media, even though “I sometimes morph into a puppy but I can still talk and do chores” is much further from a possible reality than “A dad-like person fucks me and condescends me on the regz”. Neither of them are inherently harmful, and neither of them should generate shame, but it’s inconsistent and illogical that society is okay with people sliding into a more naive or powerless headspace in a Daddy kink setting, but not in a setting where you also wear a tail butt plug.

Even within the kink universe, people buy into this idea that you progress towards the “weirder” stuff, starting at a bit of impact play and working your way up to scat or scalpels or what-have-you. This puts pressure on people to “progress” and try new kinks at a rate they may not enjoy for the sake of being “kinky enough”, and it also takes the joy out of some of the more “mild” kink acts; how are you supposed to enjoy a spanking if you just see it as a necessary stepping stone before you can receive a flogging? In reality, most people discover and enjoy their kinks outside of the prescribed order of things anyway – I was experimenting with 24/7 power exchange before I’d even had someone else’s genitals in my mouth.

The Kink Escalator, like the Relationship Escalator, is a hugely unhelpful and ultimately sometimes harmful way to perceive the nuanced experiences that people have individually and alongside one another. Being tied up is not “less kinky” than watersports, and pony play is not “kinkier” than being smacked with a kitchen spoon; the amount of kink within an act depends entirely upon how much the participants are enjoying it and how they perceive their own experiences. If something feels super kinky, it is! Step off the escalator and enjoy travelling up, down and all around the Kink Hill at whatever pace you like.