Behold: My New Thigh Tattoos!

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When I say that kink helps me in ways both sexual and nonsexual, I mean it. Being a good girl gives me a sense of value and accomplishment that I’d otherwise often lack. Pain and punishments help with my productivity and even my mental health. The potential of impressing a domly beau – whether that person is real or just hypothetical – gives me superpowers to do things I’d otherwise be too weak or scared to do.

Like, for example, getting huge-ass tattoos on a highly sensitive part of my body.

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The conversation that started it all.

The idea for these tattoos came to me in a flash last month. I was chatting with Georgia, one of my most-tattooed friends, about possible works of art I’d like to get put on my body. I wanted something kink-related, because my kink identities have become more and more intertwined with my overall identity in the past year. I didn’t have a clear image in my mind of what I specifically wanted – just phrases that resonated with me.

But when Georgia suggested I get “GOOD” on the back of one thigh and “GIRL” on the other, I saw it so clearly. I wanted girly bows underneath the text, marking me forever as a pretty plaything, a fancy femme, and a good girl. I wanted these images and words to be visible while I got spanked, posed for saucy pictures, or walked around half-clothed at a sex club. There was no question in my mind of whether or not this was a good idea; I wanted these tattoos immediately.

I felt the same way when I contemplated getting my first tattoo, a solid red heart on my lower belly. There were no “Do I really want this?” worries. I knew I wanted that heart on my skin forever. Just like I knew I wanted pink bows and “good girl.”

Once I’d made up my mind, I asked Georgia for tattoo parlor recommendations. (My first one was done impulsively at Two Trolls in Dundas, Ontario because some friends happened to be going there, but it was super simple. For something more complex, I wanted to do more research and pick the right place and the right artist.) She suggested Adrenaline. My brother and a guy I’m dating had both gotten inked there and had positive experiences, so it seemed like a good bet.

As I scrolled through the Adrenaline Instagram account, I kept clicking on my favorite tattoos to see who had done them – and in most cases, the ones I liked best were done by Laura Blaney. I loved her use of color and shading, and the way her work could appear simultaneously realistic and cartoonishly stylized. I knew I wanted my bows to appear three-dimensional while still being bright and cute, and it seemed like Laura could definitely handle that. So I emailed her some reference images, booked a consultation, talked over my idea with her, paid a deposit, and booked my actual tattooing appointment.

There was a three-week wait time between my consult and Tattoo Day. That time felt interminable; once I had decided I wanted it, I wanted it now! But I knew it’d be worth the wait, and as that time ticked past, it was comforting that my desire for these tattoos didn’t abate. You should be sure before you put something on your body permanently, and I was sure.

Laura is such a skilled and experienced artist that she totally understood what I wanted. I didn’t have to do much: I just explained my idea to her, showed her some bows I liked the shape of, and sent her an image of the words “good girl” in the font I wanted (it’s called Black Rose). When I arrived for my appointment, she showed me some sketches she’d done of bows, asked me where I wanted the text placed, and chose some shades of pink that matched what I wanted. I thought I’d be nervous handing over creative control of art that would remain on my body forever, but I trusted Laura. She was confident, her art looked great, and I had the strong sense that she knew what I wanted.

At one point, I showed her a reference image of a bow I liked the look of. “The one I do will look better than that, but I see what you’re saying,” she said, with complete certainty. (Laura is a total badass. She did my tattoos while six months pregnant. God, I love strong smart talented women.)

imageLaura applied stencils to the backs of my legs, reapplying a few times until they were perfectly straight and even. Georgia snapped some pictures for me so I could check to see if I liked the placement. I wanted the bows pretty much right under my butt, so they’d peek out of my shorter skirts and dresses but still be easy to cover up for conservative occasions when necessary.

When both she and I were happy with the placement, Laura had me lie down on my stomach on the tattoo table. She fired up the needle and got started on outlining.

The pain was bad, especially toward the beginning before the endorphins kicked in, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. I chatted a bit with Georgia, who’d sweetly accompanied me; I listened to music on my iPad, read some articles, and tweeted a little. But what really helped was to invoke the same strategies I use when I’m enduring a spanking: I focused on my breathing, purposely intended to enjoy the pain rather than recoiling from it, and reminded myself time and time again that no moment is unendurable. Any time the pain was particularly bad, I knew it would be over soon, so I could get through it.

imageThe first bow, and its accompanying word (“girl”), took about an hour and 40 minutes to complete. Toward the end of it, I started to tire of getting poked with a stabby needle and wanted it to be over, but it really wasn’t that bad. The pain was less bothersome than it had been when I got my heart, I think because back then I was more scared of pain and hadn’t yet experienced it as a consensual and even pleasurable sensation. Plus that tattoo was a lot smaller, so I didn’t have time to get into an endorphin groove the way I did with these larger pieces.

We took a break, during which I got up, walked around, stretched my legs, ate a granola bar, drank some coconut water, and posed for some pictures of the half-finished product. I asked Georgia what she’d do if I chickened out and wanted to leave at that point, and she said she’d gently but firmly dom me into finishing the other leg. See: kink is important and helps get shit done!

But I didn’t chicken out. I laid back down on the table, flipped around the other way, and Laura started on the second bow. It hurt more than the first one, for whatever reason, but it also didn’t take as long. I warbled along to some old Regina Spektor songs while continually reminding myself that the pain would be over soon, and it would be worth it.

After the second bow was done, Laura wanted to go back into the first one to fix up a couple spots that weren’t as vivid as they should’ve been. That was the worst pain of the whole evening, because she was revisiting areas that were already sore and tender from their earlier pummeling. But I groaned into a pillow and gnashed my teeth and it was over soon enough.

When the tattoos were done, we snapped some pictures and then headed downstairs to the main desk so I could pay for my beautiful works of art. I hobbled and limped a bit, because my muscles were sore from holding the same position for three hours and the backs of my thighs felt like they’d received a selective, intense sunburn.

All told, this tattoo session cost about five times more than my little heart tattoo did – but it was a bigger and more complicated piece, with more customization involved, and the artist was more experienced and skilled. I firmly believe that if something’s gonna be on your body forever, you should be willing to pay as much as you feasibly can for it, because you really do get what you pay for. I was so pleased with every aspect of my tattooing experience, from the planning to the inking to the finished product.

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The day after getting tattooed. Still a little red and swollen.

Do you have any kink- or sex-themed tattoos? Can I see?!

Review: Rouge Garments Red Padded Collar

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned from practicing kink, it’s that there’s no such thing as objectively good or objectively bad.

What I like might gross you out. What you like might hurt me too much. What I hate might make you laugh. What you hate might turn me on. When it comes to kink, one man’s trash is another man’s pleasure.

I thought about that a lot while trying the Rouge Garments red padded collar I was sent by Bondage Bunnies. It’s awkwardly wide (2.75 inches, to be precise), making it feel like a neck brace when I wear it. The thick padding seems like it would increase comfort, but it actually makes the collar bulkier and more restrictive. The collar’s thickness and rigidness make it difficult to turn my head while it’s on me. Its clasp is difficult to undo on my own, often taking several minutes of pushing, pulling, sweating and swearing before it’ll pop free.

imageBut look at that list of defects again, and you’ll see that this collar is surely exactly what some people are looking for. Bondage toys are, by their nature, meant to be restrictive and uncomfortable; it’s just that some people like more extreme levels of restriction and discomfort than others. For me, this collar was too much; for some folks, it’d be ideal.

My relationship to collars is, I will admit, somewhat frivolous. Aside from this one, I also own a pink and black Aslan Leather collar and one from Ardene that is technically a dog collar. For the most part, I consider them fashion accessories – but in a deeper sense, I do think of the Aslan one as “my collar.” I put it on when I’m feeling subby and want the sense of calm I get from wearing it – or when a dom partner tells me to.

My Aslan collar is suitable for both everyday wear and kink play, because it’s unobtrusive and not especially over-the-top. Wearing it in public makes me look more like a goth babe or a fashion-forward scene kid than a full-on kinkster. Its 1.5″ width is noticeable without being annoying, and it’s made of leather so soft and pliable that it’s always comfortable.

None of that is true for the Rouge Garments collar – but I know some people want to notice their collar when it’s on, want to be aware of it at every moment, want to be constricted by its insistent bulk. And to those people, I say: I will not yuck your yum, although it isn’t mine.

 

Thanks to Bondage Bunnies for sending me this product to review!

Babes, Bards, and Batterers: 3 Brief Book Recommendations

Tina Horn has one of my favorite brains in the world, as I’ve told you before. When I heard she was writing a book about sexting, I texted my best friend a mangled string of all-caps words followed by a glut of exclamation points. I can’t help it: a favorite writer of mine writing about a favorite activity of mine? Sign me up.

Simply called Sexting, the book is as straightforward and to-the-point as its title would indicate. It contains practical advice on all things sexting and sexting-adjacent, from online dating to selfie-taking to vocabulary choice to sextual aftercare.

Tina’s book is written such that a beginner to the world of sexting can pick it up and learn, but you’ll come away with some fresh tips even if you’re a seasoned sexter. I love this book and find myself referring to it time and time again!

Incidentally, it was on Tina Horn’s podcast that I first heard about this next book, Sex with Shakespeare by Jillian Keenan. Jillian is a lifelong spanking fetishist – in the true sense of the word “fetishist,” i.e. she has never had an orgasm thinking about anything but spanking. This would be interesting grounds for a memoir in and of itself, but Jillian’s also a Shakespeare nerd, so she’s interwoven her personal story with kinky analysis of the Shakespeare plays that helped her process her emotions as she came to terms with her fetish.

Prior to reading this book, I liked spanking and kinda-sorta liked Shakespeare; now that I’ve read it, I like (and understand) both a whole lot more. Jillian’s writing transports you around the world and throughout history, and you learn a whole lot about her kink and any kinks of your own on the way. Now I’m hungry for more memoirs by clever fetishists like Ms. Keenan!

I read Sex with Shakespeare on my Kindle, but there are good reasons to go analog with this tome. When I gifted Georgia a hardcover copy, she proceeded to (consensually) spank me real fuckin’ hard with it while I was bent over the arm of her sofa. Be still, my li’l kinkster heart!

I recently found out a friend of mine is chronically abusive, and cut him out of my life entirely. I’m very lucky to have been spared the majority of his abuse, but nonetheless, it was a difficult experience to process. I kept wondering: what made him do those things? Was he aware of what he did to those women, or was it inadvertent? How could I have been so blind to his tactics? Or, to put it how author and domestic abuse counselor Lundy Bancroft puts it: Why Does He Do That?

I picked up this book as research for a writing project, but it quickly became clear that I needed to read it for personal reasons, too. Learning about the mindset of abusive men helped me understand what I’ve been through, and gave me tools to analyze potential red flags I see in the behaviors of other men as well. This book is written specifically for women currently mired in relationships with abusive men, but you’ll find it interesting and affirming if abusers have ever confused or frightened you in any capacity.

 

What books have you read and loved recently? Lay ’em on me!

Beating the Stigma: Whipsmart Thoughts on Kink and Mental Health

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It’s funny to me that many people think of kink as dark, dangerous, and edgy. It can be all of those things, of course. But for me, it’s not scary or mysterious. It’s a key part of how my brain works and how I relate to other people. It’s a sexual interest and also a non-sexual paradigm. And sometimes, it’s a boon for my mental health.

Earlier this year, I entered the last semester of my four-year journalism degree, and found myself unable to cope with the challenges it brought. Newsrooms are an anxiety-provoking place to begin with, and I was also experiencing one of the worst anxious and depressive episodes of my life – so, as much as I wanted to be up to the task, I just wasn’t. Two days in the newsroom were enough to convince me of that: the real work hadn’t even begun yet, and already my heart pounded, my mind shouted self-hating epithets at me, and I found myself thinking everything would just be easier if I walked out in front of a speeding truck.

I spoke to one of my instructors, and she – blessedly – was sympathetic to my cause. We discussed possible accommodations and arrived at the idea that I’d get my final credit by creating a journalistic audio series on a topic of my choice.

Over the preceding months, I’d found that my bad mental health days could sometimes be turned around by an intense spanking, a service-submission BJ, or various other acts of kink. Giving up control to a partner made me feel, ultimately, more in control of my life. So the intersection between kink and mental health was front-and-centre in my mind at that time, and I pitched that as a topic for my audio series. My prof loved it, and so I began.

I spent the next six weeks producing Beating the Stigma. Several local sweethearts volunteered for interviews, and generously lent me their time and energy to discuss this topic on tape. Our conversations ranged from intense to funny to mindblowing, and were often all three. I’m so so grateful to my interviewees for being candid and clever every step of the way.

You can listen to the whole series by clicking here, or you can skip to specific chapters below:

Chapter 1: Introductions

Chapter 2: Pain

Chapter 3: DD/lg

Chapter 4: Dominance

Chapter 5: Safe, Sane and Consensual

Chapter 6: Trauma and Recovery

Chapter 7: Sex 2.0

Chapter 8: Aftercare

I hope this series sparks some thoughts and feelings for you! The process of producing it certainly brought a lot to the surface for me.

How to Get a Vanilla Person to Spank You Properly

Photo on 2016-06-21 at 3.36 PMI date and bang people who are older than me. Always have. They’ve ranged from one month to eight years my senior, with the average coming in at 28 to my 24. When asked why I skew older, I usually tell people, “I’ve always been mature for my age, so I get along better with older people. Plus, they know what they’re doing in bed!”

I’ve been saying this less lately, though, because actually I’ve given a lot of sexual instruction in the past year. It’s not that my partners are inexperienced or unknowledgeable; most are neither. But several of them were of the vanilla persuasion, so they had little to no experience with one of my biggest kinks: spanking.

Let me be clear. Sometimes it is not worthwhile, or even possible, to get a vanilla person on-board with your kinks. It depends on how “out-there” the kink is, how much commitment it requires, and where your partner’s personal boundaries are. If your partner isn’t interested in fulfilling your kink, or if your enjoyment would rely on a far higher level of enthusiasm from them than they can comfortably conjure or feign, then you may need to have a tough conversation about whether the two of you are sexually compatible.

But assuming your vanilla partner is willing to give your kink a shot, there are ways to help them along. I wrote this about spanking specifically, since that’s the proclivity I’ve schooled people in, but I’m sure these tips apply to various other kinks, too, with a bit of tweaking.

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Broach the topic casually and confidently. If you cringe, blush, wring your hands and apologize as the word “spanking” falls from your lips, you won’t exactly set your partner at ease. Granted, talking about what you want in bed is hard, but the more coolly you can approach the discussion, the calmer your partner is likely to feel about it. Remember: there is nothing immoral or shameful about consenting adults participating in risk-aware kink together, and you don’t need to feel bad about wanting what you want.

Identify and address their fears. Do they think they’ll hurt you? Explain that you want to be hurt. Explain how pain can feel good, euphoric, cathartic. Remind them of the existence of “good pain,” like stretching your muscles or getting a deep-tissue massage. Teach them about safewords and check-ins. Practice and drill these skills together. Tell them “no” when you need to, so they know they can trust your “yes.”

Does it baffle them that you enjoy being spanked? Watch spanking porn or read spanking erotica with them. Tell them what turns you on about it. Explain what Jillian Keenan says about the common iliac artery and its role in spanking-based sexual arousal. Listen to “Why Are People Into… Spanking?” together. Explain the emotional and psychological appeal of being spanked. Tell them your specific fantasies. Tell them about a time spanking got you soaking wet, rock hard, or even made you come.

Do they worry they’ll look silly or be “bad at” spanking? Teach them some concrete skills (see below). Watch porn together where the top/dom turns you on, to give them an idea of what you want. Assign them a character or archetype to play, if they are dramatically inclined. Remind them that you’ll be so deep in the throes of lust and carnal gratitude that you won’t be paying much attention to how they look.

Put safety measures in place. So basic and so important. Make sure they know what a safeword is, what your safeword is, and what they should do if and when you use it. Keep post-spanking treatments on hand, like arnica cream or refrigerated aloe gel. If bondage is part of your play, have your safety scissors, keys, etc. at the ready. Make sure your home is stocked with possible emergency aftercare requirements, like blankets, ice cream, Gatorade, and Pixar movies. Be slightly overprepared, if possible; the knowledge of these protections will help your partner feel more confident and capable.

Prepare them for what might happen. When I get spanked, I tend to go into subspace. I get nonverbal, finding it difficult to form thoughts more complex than “Yes,” “No,” “More” or “Stop.” I might scream or cry from the pain, but that generally doesn’t mean I want to stop. And I might get very, very wet. These are all things I tell a partner when they’re about to spank me for the first time, because these are things that could scare or startle someone if they’re not prepared. Whatever knowledge you have about how your body and mind react to being spanked, you should share that information upfront with your partner so they’ll know what to expect.

Additionally, make sure to explain to them what aftercare is, and what specific aftercare you tend to need after a spanking. If they’re a gold-star vanilla, they might never have encountered the concept of aftercare before, so explain this thoroughly – it’s important!

Give them specific dos and don’ts. A spanking veteran might assume that the instruction “Slap my ass!” is detailed enough. But for a true novice, it isn’t. They might not know where to hit you, how hard they can go, how hard they should start, how much to vary the position and power of their smacks, how to hold their hand, how to wield a spanking implement, what to say to you while they spank you (if anything), when to know it’s time to stop, what else to do to you while they hit you, or whether they’re allowed to leave marks on you. And that’s just for starters.

Lay this stuff out really clearly for them, in advance. “I like to be hit here, here, and sometimes here – but never here.” “It’s best if you start off slow and light, and build up from there.” “Don’t hit the same spot a bunch of times in a row… unless you wanna be really mean.” “You can pull my hair/hold me down/call me ‘dumb slut’ while you do that.” “Stroking the paddle over my skin in between hits feels really nice.” Whatever your particular preferences are, communicate them lucidly and with gusto. The better your partner understands what you want, the likelier they are to give it to you, and the lower their anxiety level will be while they do it.

Teach them to use a 1-to-10 scale. This is an absolutely invaluable tool that I’ve used time and time again, not just for spanking but for other things too. Tell your partner to ask you two questions when they check in with you mid-spanking: “Where was that?” (as in, where would you rate that last hit, pain-wise, on a scale from 1 to 10?) and “Where would you like to be?”

This is fantastic because numbers are really easy and quick to say, even when your brain is addled with pain/pleasure and words are hard. It’s also a useful tool because it gives your partner a concrete way to understand how much pain you are actually asking for. I’ll always remember the time a fuckbuddy asked me how hard he was hitting me, and I said, “I dunno, a 3 or a 4?” His eyes bugged out of his head, and he replied, “I’ve never hit anyone this hard in my life!” With the knowledge that he was currently at a 3 and I wanted to reach an 8, he knew with increased certainty how hard he could actually hit me, and didn’t have to be so scared about overdoing it. This tool rules; use it often!

Give honest but affirming feedback. It’s all too easy to lie about your sexual enjoyment level – especially for folks socialized as women, who were taught to be polite and accommodating even at the expense of honesty. But it’s vital that you tell the truth about kink, not only so your own experience will improve, but so that your partner can trust you.

When you’re learning a new skill and you ask the person teaching you, “How can I improve?” it’s because you actually want to improve. So when you’re lying in bed with your partner after a spanking and they ask you (once you’re able to speak and think again) for feedback, be honest and get specific. A comment like “You could’ve hit me a little more on my upper thighs and less on my buttcrack” might sound like nit-picking, but the more you display your willingness to communicate about details, the more your partner will trust you to tell the truth about big and small aspects of your sex life together. And that means they’re likelier to give you the proper thrashing you’re after!

That said, as with any topic as sensitive as sex, you’ll want to be diplomatic in the way you phrase these suggestions. Tell a kinkster-in-training that they did a bad job, and they’ll never want to try again; tell them they did [a, b, c] right but could improve monumentally by working on [x, y, z], and they’ll be eager to give it another shot.

 

Have you ever taught a kink newbie to enter the life less vanilla with you? How did you do it? How did it go over? Got any tips?