The edge

Connected to the edge:

These cliff ledges are my obsession-

The paths that walk along the slippery side of the mountain.

I’m not afraid to look over the edge-

I am afraid of that feeling: when you realize you have started falling-

But now it is too late to catch yourself-

The feeling of the flakey earth slipping out from underneath you.

I’m not afraid of looking down-

It’s the moment when I realize I’ve slipped too far this time, that I’ve finally lost my balance while playing on the edge-

That is what makes me feel terror.

Kink, Collusion, and the Patriachy

My sexuality is mine. And it is also a product of the culture I was raised in. I will never be sure if I truly and authentically desire something with the core of own self, or if I have been conditioned to like it by a patriarchal society. I don’t know if the two can be separated- even in theory. I don’t know if I really have an authentic self I can remove from the misogyny of my culture. And maybe that is okay.

I know there is judgement from others about the ways I have sex, and the sensations I desire. It’s fairly common to hear people refer to BDSM as a product of misogynistic brainwashing, as a collusion with violent patriarchal forces, as the sad experimentation of unevolved people still living under the shadow of violence and sexism.
Sometimes I say my sexual orientation as a whole is simply ‘kink‘. Sometimes I feel like I’m only kinky in relation to masculinity. Sometimes I feel other ways. It is difficult to try to explain the complexities of my sexuality. And yet always I am coming up against this idea: that there is only a particular range of sexual behaviors and desires that are anti-oppressive, that are authentic, that are empowering, that are good.
I can’t stop thinking about BDSM. I think about being held down, beaten with canes, pushed and shoved, talked down to, tormented with knives, made to be afraid. I have terrible, disgusting fantasies. I play them out with people who I trust, who I explain my fantasies to, who understand what I want, who will listen when I say what I don’t want, who will push me right to that edge of “too much”, who are turned on that I ask them to do such terrible things to me.

I am comforted by pain. I am addicted to the feeling of release it gives me. It’s one of the few places I’ve experienced true bliss, flying high on adrenalin, my eyes closed, bracing for the next impact. It helps me feel like I can cry- it helps me feel like nothing matters except for each present moment.
I think about how my feminism fits into the things I desire. How can I respect myself? How can I portray myself as empowered? I am accused of colluding in my own oppression. It looks too much like abuse. It looks too much like misogyny. I am accused of being complacent in this social context of violence and patriachy.
I will never know if I’ve actually been brainwashed by society to want the things that I want. But I do know that I want them. I know what feels good to me, and I will continue to seek out those things. I like playing with my own boundaries of fear- it’s sexy to run along the edge of what I will trust others to do to me. I enjoy the feeling of being helpless- of putting my life into the hands of another. During these scenes I feel on top of the world- I feel an intense release of stress and tension.
How can I reconcile my desires with my ideals? Am I deluding myself? I question my motives incessantly. Maybe I do really like it. And maybe I have also been conditioned to like it by this patriarchal society.
Two things can be true at once. I embody the images of female submission that have been fed to me since birth. And I like it. I truly desire it. I have also been told to desire it my entire life.
Am I resisting or colluding? Can I be doing both? Maybe it is messier than either/or. Maybe it is more complex than one way or the other. We don’t have to make a line between “good” sexual expression and “bad” sexual expression. We don’t have to close the gate and call some women “empowered” and others “brainwashed“.
I know what I like and I know what I want. And I know the things that I want don’t feel wrong.
Two things can be true at once: I really do like it. And I have been conditioned to like it by our patriarchal society.
In the end, if I like and it makes me feel good, does it really matter?

Descent

This is what it’s like: to be poised on the edge, trapped here before the descent.

Within me is that terrible sensation, like I have just started to lose my footing and I feel those first flutters of panic.

Here on the coast the smoke has turned to fog. The air is gentler- my skin softens. Being here is like coming up for a breath out of a fiery lake.

Back in the valley everything burns. The reservoirs are going dry. The winters are clear and cruel.

So here we are, poised on the edge, all tied together- waiting to be pulled down from below.

It is like being paralyzed in my sleep. Like my body has turned against me- like the world is turning away.

My body is a trap. My consciousness is a curse. There is no way to escape from this planet. There is no way to comfort my soul- stuck between my ribs- imprisoned beneath the atmosphere.

I cannot accept it- that we are poised on the edge, trapped, before the world dies.

a “not abusive” relationship is not enough

Humans need love. Humans need intimacy. We want to feel wanted- we need to feel needed- we crave those ecstatic hours where we feel total connected to our romantic partners. You should not be waiting, aching, strung along for those far between moments where you feel wanted. You should not be questioning if your partner adores you or not. You should not be starving for intimacy- you should be swimming in it. You should always know that you are cherished.

You should not be feel belittled by your partner. You should not question if they take you seriously. You should not have to wonder whether they could support you in a crisis. You should not question if they really want the best for you.

But so many unhealthy and unhappy relationships that are technically “not abusive” are accepted as “good enough”. Unhealthy relationships exist on a continuum- and there are many dysfunctional, unfulfilling, and unequal relationships that do not fall into the classic definition of “intimate partner violence”, but can still have devastating effects on our minds and bodies.

A relationship can not be “abusive” and still be full of contempt and resentment. Your partner can be a good person, and your relationships might still be unfulfilling. How long will you let this go on before you acknowledge it as a real problem? We need to raise our expectations. Don’t accept it as a “good enough” relationship- just because you are not being abused. “Not abusive” is not enough.

A truly healthy relationship, one that is worth staying in and worth working on, should make you feel good most of the time. If you feel constantly unappreciated, if you find youself trying to suppress your sense of bitterness- then something is wrong.

The passive acceptance of unhealthy, unhappy, unfulfilling relationships is crushing to our souls. I think for many people it is scarier to admit that their relationship is hurting them than to stay in a dynamic they have grown used to. Because if you admit there is a problem, there is the chance that there will be nothing you can do to change that problem, and then you have come face to face with a pain that is no longer deniable.

So you are not being abused. And you know that if your partner hit you it would be wrong. You know if your partner cheated on you it would be wrong. And you know if your partner tried to control you with wild excuses of jealousy it would be wrong. And your relationship isn’t like that. But your relationship is lackluster- there is contempt, and there is complacency.

Is it worth staying because it is easier? Because it is something you have grown used to? What if the fulfillment you deserve to feel is somewhere else, with someone else?

It might be worth taking a chance to find out- even if it means shifting where you are now.

We don’t have to sell ourselves short. It’s not enough for a relationship to not be abusive. Our relationships should truly satisfy us. They should make us feel bright- passionate- ecstatic. There is an ocean of sweetness out there, there is an abundance of intimacy available to us- don’t settle for someone who wants to string you along in scarcity, doling out their love like a single drop at a time.