[TALK LIKE SEX] Kinky Knockinâ Boots

When was the last time you took a few moments to think about why certain things arouse you and why other things turn you off? Do you generally go with the flow of things and respond to what excites you in the moment? Do you go into situations knowing what you want and making sure you get exactly that? I engage people in these types of discussions because I’m particularly interested in sexual compulsions—the things we crave deep beneath the surface of our conscious awareness. There seems to be a trend towards people becoming more vocal about their enjoyment of the rough stuff. More people are opening up about enjoying “violent” sex, and I’m curious about why.

I’ve written about BDSM and kink, specifically about African-Americans and our participation in the lifestyle. I’ve even opened up about my own enjoyment of sadomasochism. While some people might not be able to label or fully explain why they enjoy being choked or choking someone at the peak of orgasm, they don’t quite identify with “the Lifestyle” (as we call it). Enjoying rough sex doesn’t mean someone is into BDSM. It is a kink, nonetheless, and I spoke with a few people to get perspectives on why rough sex excites them, and why “consensual violence” can be super sexy.

Kink vs. Abuse

A common misconception about people who enjoy the rougher side of sex is that they must have experienced abuse, either as recipients or inflictors. Dr. Gloria Brame, a sex therapist and clinical sexologist who has worked with victims of sexual trauma, spoke about the connection between abuse and engagement in “violent” sex with The Pandora Project, which provides support and resources for victims of sexual abuse and trauma.

Dr. Brame acknowledges that, for some, fantasies involving violent sex are reflections of earlier trauma and aren’t healthy, as they usually end with feelings of hurt, discomfort and fear. But for others, fantasies about rough sex result in pleasurable sensations, heightened arousal and positive thoughts and desires, which she says is quite healthy.

For those who might be confused about the source of their kinky preferences, Dr. Brame recommends discussing concerns with a therapist and remembering that engagement in BDSM-like activity should always be consensual and well informed. We also can’t assume that people who enjoy being rough or violent are automatically abusive people. I encourage everyone to check for red flags before getting involved with a new kinky partner.

Rough sex isn’t for everyone. For most, it’s an absolute turn off. While many are willing to try edgier things during sex to spice it up, there are strong limits beyond which most won’t venture. And that’s quite all right.

So… How Does It Make You Feel?

For most of the people I spoke with, there’s a certain level of intensity reached during sessions that are rougher than normal. Jane* says, “The exploration of pain on all levels allows me to journey deep into the darkest recesses of my being,” which she finds to be liberating. Ky* adds that when she gets into rough sex, her adrenaline races, her body responds more drastically, her orgasms are more intense, and she feels closer to her partner. Ashley* feels a lasting impact, saying, “The best part about it is when the pain lingers the next day. My mind wanders to how I got the bruises, and I get aroused all over again.” These little reminders can definitely be sexy mementos of a time well spent.

M. J.* identifies as a passionate and sensual sadist (someone who derives pleasure from causing others pain), comfortable with himself and his desires. He isn’t into random acts of violence, however. “I’ve never viewed it as violence per se. It’s kink,” he says, further differentiating between rough, kinky play and abusive violence. He connects with female partners who crave the edgier side of sex, and knows he can provide for their needs. That, he affirms, is where he derives the most pleasure.

Is It Wrong? Am I Weird?

It’s not exactly easy to accept that you enjoy being choked nearly unconscious during sex, or that you’re turned on by your partner’s winces from the pain of hot wax being poured on skin, so don’t feel like you’re alone in your questioning. Ashley said she does sometimes feel weird about it, but accepts that while she can enjoy “traditional” sexual activity, it doesn’t give her the same rush.

Donna*, in a fascinating twist, admits she began to realize she was a masochist (someone who derives pleasure from experiencing pain) while pledging a sorority in college. She said there were aspects of her pledging process that, while difficult and somewhat painful for others, appealed to her. Donna now seeks partners who take on a strong, dominant role in the bedroom and are capable of more aggressive sexual behavior and pain infliction.

Cee* says she needs the roughness of “violent” sex to help her release whatever stress and tension she has bottled up inside of her. She made peace with her preference for inflicting pain long ago, and now focuses