Q: How do I get my partner to hit me harder? I like being slapped during sex, and he will oblige but I think it weirds him out, and he does it very tentatively. I know I should just talk to him, but it’s really really hard for me to talk about when I’m not in the moment. I’m a feminist, and he has not a trace of machismo, so I feel like I’m asking for something out of character for both of us. But I like it!
Neither of us have ever really felt like our desires for pain or for playing with power during sex were in conflict with our feminist identities. The way both of us see it, it takes having power and agency in order to give that power up to a partner you trust, and neither of us see anything unfeminist about that. It can still be quite useful – and interesting – to think about why you like what you like during sex (and this is true for people who consider themselves vanilla, kinky, or anything in between), and doing so may make you feel less conflicted and better prepared to discuss your desires openly with your partner. For paperispatient, she knows that her submissive side comes from being so dominant and “in charge” in every other aspect of her day to day life; it’s a great escape and pleasure to mix that up in the bedroom. (Or, you know, living room, kitchen, wherever.) Mr. paperispatient, being much more submissive, only really became comfortable with a dominant role in bed by learning to view it as essentially an act of submission – “bottoming from the top,” you might say. This approach may work well for your partner if he tends toward the submissive side, as he can see it more as setting aside his desires to fully attend to yours, rather than taking control himself.
As a more general aside, it may help you both feel less conflicted if you understand how pain affects sexual response. Your body works differently during sex, so what you like in bed doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with your politics and personality in your day-to-day life. Basically, the main reason one might enjoy pain during sex is that sexual arousal actually dulls pain, allowing you to experiment with your body’s responses in ways that wouldn’t be as enjoyable in other situations. As you get more aroused, your body tends to ignore any stimuli that might get in the way of reaching your ultimate goal – this is why, during really great sex, headaches may go away, stress dissipates, and your threshold for pain increases so your body can more fully focus on the task at hand (or at any other body part). If you’re interested in reading more about the science behind this, have a look at Mary Roach’s Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex – it’s full of information and is also just plain hilarious at times.
We know it can be difficult to talk openly about desires (especially if they’re ones you feel like your partner isn’t fully comfortable or on board with), but that really is the first step in solving many “how do I get my partner to…” questions. Understanding what exactly weirds him out and why he feels tentative is crucial – does he think it will make him a mean person or a bad feminist? Is he afraid of what it may say about him if he finds he enjoys it? If you really have difficulty initiating this conversation, you may consider sending him a link to the article BDSM: A Guide for Nice Guys. It addresses concerns like “but I was taught to be respectful of women” and “but I feel like I just don’t know what to do” and could be helpful in both making him feel better about slapping you and in initiating that conversation.
Even if he’s not necessarily submissive, it’s fair to say most genuinely nice people want to please, and not hurt (in a bad way), their partners. The key to making this work is positive reinforcement – make sure he knows you’re enjoying yourself every step of the way. Feel free to be noisy about it, and if he finds that being slapped makes you come harder or moan louder, he may feel more enthusiastic about doing it and doing it harder.
And remember – as with any new sexual territory, it won’t go perfectly the first few times. It takes time to build up to a comfort level with something like slapping, especially if it feels a bit out of character. It took both of us a while to really feel confident and comfortable being dominant with one another, but it’s now a really central component of our sex lives and we got there through open communication and honest feedback (“I loved when you did this during this, but could you maybe try it this way next time?”).
Got a question you’d like us to discuss? You can e-mail us at FriskyFeminist@persephonemagazine.com, and we’ve also set up a Tumblr for the sole purpose of receiving completely anonymous questions at paperispa?tient?sex?qanda?.tum?blr?.com.