Browsing posts from the category Musings


Embracing the sexual needs of Little People

Dr. Marylou NaccaratoDr. Marylou Naccarato is doing something pretty groundbreaking: she’s talking about sex as a Little Person. According to a recent profile in The Atlantic, Naccarato is the first in her field to focus specifically on the sexual needs of Little People — physical, emotional, and psychosocial.

Naccarato, who has a type of dwarfism called Kniest and stands 3’10” tall, worked for 23 years as an IRS agent, although she’d always harbored dreams of being a social worker. Then, one evening while watching a TV show on sexual health, she was struck by the narrator’s tip that a certain sex position could alleviate back pain.

Naccarato knew she had adapted her sex life similarly to cope with hip pain, and she knew that Little People can have particular physical challenges during sex. But she’d never heard people talk about it.

There wasn’t much talk, and there wasn’t much literature. Naccarato scoured libraries, bookstores, and the internet, but there was little to discover. She began informally polling her friends about their sex lives. Not only were they open to talking about the subject — they were excited about it.

Then, Little People of America agreed to have her present a workshop at their conference in San Francisco. Having attended LPA events since she was a child, Naccarato had witnessed tons of presentations about relationships, marriage, and parenting, but the conservative family organization was mum on the topic of sex.

Now, 10 years later, Naccarato is a board certified clinical sexologist, has a doctorate from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, and is an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator. Needless to say, she no longer works for the IRS.

Dwarfism is a spectrum, and thus, some Little People face many physical obstacles, while others do not. When it comes to sex, some folks have arms that are too short to reach their genitals, hip rotation limitations and inflexibility that inhibit certain positions, and paralysis from the waist down due to severe spinal stenosis.

In the same way that tools such as dressing sticks assist Little People in everyday situations, certain sex products can also help. Fleshlight mounts, longer vibrators like the Magic Wand, condoms that are easier to put on, and positioning pillows can all aid folks of short stature. Naccarato has invented her own product, the Love Bench™, which is custom fit to the customer’s size. Great for people of all sizes, it is most awesome for people with limited range of mobility in their hips/knees from joint implant or other degenerative bone conditions.

Naccarato has even been able to run her own booth in the Expo at the Little People of America conference, albeit shrouded in a black curtain beckoning “adults only.” She is the only person to offer sex-related items in a trade show dedicated to adaptive products and resources.

Aside from logistical physical issues, Naccarato believes strongly in the emotional aspects of sex education. Little People can be particularly hindered by their upbringings, in which parents often skirt the issue of sex, while the world at large gawks.

According to Naccarato, “The psychosocial limitations of society may be more disabling than the physical symptoms.” She helps clients cope with the internalized otherness that comes from a lifetime in a body that is stared at, mocked, and poked at.

. . . “People with disabilities may have had an asexual upbringing and protective families that prevented growth,” says Naccarato. “Living under the attitude of the medical model from a lifetime of surgeries and insensitive doctors teaches people with disability that their body is broken, not sensual.” She works hard to show that Little People can allow themselves sensuality, pleasure, and connection.

To say that Dr. Marylou Naccarato’s work is important is to put it very mildly. She’s a pioneer.

Next year, she hopes to release a documentary featuring Little People talking about sexuality. Find her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.


A remote-controlled vibrator for modern times

OhMiBod blueMotion, photo from NerveFor years, the world has been waiting for a remote-controlled vibrator that works over long distances. Most remote-controlled toys have a range of 10-40 feet. The new OhMiBod blueMotion has a range of “wherever you get cell phone reception.” If this sounds implausible, early tests show that the vibe can even be controlled from a plane.

Of course, while the range is certainly impressive, what matters more is the experience that users have interacting with the toy. Luckily for us, Nerve writer Samantha Greene found a willing person to get her off from afar, then documented her experience for the site’s popular column “I Did It For Science.”

Greene used hookup app Tinder to search for a guinea pig, eventually finding a guy 200 miles away named Patrick. After some flirtation involving ice cream emojis and small talk, she asked if he wanted to participate in her vibrator experiment. He agreed.

There was some fumbling at the outset due to all the logging in, friending, and syncing, but once the actual experience started, Greene was on board. So was Patrick.

The app has a lot of uncanny settings and features designed to help imitate and build upon the wonders of physical human touch. There’s a feature where a user can record their voice and corresponding vibrations will buzz out into the other user’s vibe. There’s a tap function, where the controller has full domain over the pattern and longevity of the pulses. Then there are custom patterns, built-in vibrations, and wave settings. I had only told Patrick, who had never used a vibrator with a woman in the bedroom before, that he should, “You know, start slow and then build up in a steady rhythm. Like you would in person. Then you’re golden.”

. . . He was on the tap function for what seemed a while. He followed the “start slow” direction, and I was pretty grateful . . . I was now turned on and needed to get off, but I also needed to communicate with my lab partner, tell him the rights and wrongs, and help him finish. If anything, we were communicating more than I ever would with a random drunken hookup. I don’t even go into some random drunken hookups with the expectation that I will get anything out of it. Here, I was getting everything.

It was the “Wave” function that eventually brought Greene over the edge. Afterward, they exchanged heart emojis. “It was fun,” Patrick said. “I’m not sure I’d normally seek it out, but it was kinda hot.” He only wished they could cuddle.

Greene was also pleasantly surprised.

It hadn’t been as absurd as I’d thought. It’d been completely enjoyable, in most ways. At the end of the day, we were still two libidos on the end of a phone with one another. We were still just two people who had shared the fits and starts of a first sweaty, complicated night sharing our bodies together. We just weren’t together.

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The internal condom gets new life

© Giles RevellDespite having been on the market for over 20 years, an air of mystery continues to surround the internal condom. Worn internally during sex, this nitrile pouch with a flexible ring at each end can be 95% effective at preventing pregnancy and STIs, yet it remains difficult to find in stores and accounts for only 1.6% of condoms distributed worldwide.

Although commonly known as the “female condom,” the internal condom is used by people of all genders. There are many reasons to love this condom, as blogger and sex educator the Redhead Bedhead has pointed out — it doesn’t require an erection, it’s excellent for period sex, it’s empowering. It can also be a great option during anal sex. This unique contraceptive has the potential to become much more common, but its bumpy start caused misconceptions that plague it to this day.

The internal condom was invented by Danish doctor and inventor Lasse Hessel. Pharmaceutical company Wisconsin Pharmacal bought the rights to the technology in the late 80s, but it took six years for the FDA — which classified the condom as a high-risk class III medical device — to approve it.

When the FC1 internal condom hit the market in 1993, public health experts were thrilled… but consumers weren’t. Focus groups had liked the idea of the condom, but in use, they found it too foreign and confusing. It was also expensive: $5 per condom. As Emily Anthes reports in her detailed history of the condom:

Though some women did eventually come to like the condoms, there was a definite learning curve and as many as one-third to one-half of women had difficulty inserting them. Once in place, the condom had a tendency to squeak or rustle during sex.

The media pounced on these complaints, and utterly skewered the female condom. They ridiculed its aesthetics with seemingly limitless creativity. As sociologist Amy Kaler recounts in her 2004 paper on the condom’s introduction, journalists compared the product to: “a jellyfish, a windsock, a fire hose, a colostomy bag, a Baggie, gumboots, a concertina, a plastic freezer bag, . . . something out of the science-fiction cartoon The Jetsons, a raincoat for a Slinky toy, or a ‘contraption used to punish fallen virgins in the Dark Ages.'”

The barrage of negative press led the crew at Wisconsin Pharmacal to focus their efforts elsewhere. In 1996, they turned toward the global public sector, providing their condoms for at-risk women in low-income countries. Particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where many women were being diagnosed with HIV, the internal condom made a huge impact.

Encouraged by this response, Wisconsin Pharmacal changed its name to the Female Health Company and made one important alteration to their product: the material. They switched from polyurethane to nitrile, making the condom less noisy and less expensive. This new generation was called the FC2. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of internal condoms distributed globally doubled.

Luckily for us, innovation is everywhere when it comes to modern condoms. Last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $1 million in grants to 11 condom prototypes, including a condom with pull tabs and another which reacts to body heat and conforms to the wearer.

Quite a few internal condom designs are also in the works. An Indian condom company makes the Cupid, which offers internal stability from a foam sponge. The Phoenurse, currently sold in China, comes with an optional insertion stick. The Origami Condom from Los Angeles is made of silicone and unfolds like an accordion when inserted.

Perhaps the most promising and thoroughly researched is the Woman’s Condom, created by global health nonprofit PATH. Starting all the way back in 1998, PATH began consulting focus groups in South Africa, Thailand, Mexico, and the U.S., asking what folks wanted from internal condoms. 300 prototypes later, they hit pay-dirt by implementing a dissolving applicator. The capsule-sized applicator is easily pushed into the vagina, where it releases the full condom pouch. Testers have deemed this condom comfortable, stable, and easy to insert.

But a lot depends on educating the public. There are still myths and confusions surrounding the internal condom that need to be dispelled. We could definitely take a hint from Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Cameroon, where salons and barbershops serve as distribution centers, and Africa, where the condoms are advertised on billboards, TV, and the radio. With the right innovation and advocacy, the internal condom could get the respect it deserves.

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The not-so-secret lives of erotica writers

Erotica books

Never Say Never, Playing with Fire: Taboo Erotica, The Mile High Club,
Pleasure Bound: True Bondage Stories, Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women

In some ways, erotica authors are just like the rest of the population. But not in every way.

Ebook recommendation website The Fussy Librarian recently surveyed 103 authors of erotic romance novels, with some interesting results.  The vast majority of respondents were heterosexual married women aged 24-54. The average age that they lost their virginity was 17.8, compared to the U.S. average of 17.1. 28% of them have had more than 11 partners, compared to the national average of 9%.

Apparently, erotica writers don’t have sex any more frequently than average Americans, but they are more likely to have engaged in threesomes, practiced BDSM, and had sex in unique locations such as offices, cars, planes, and outdoors.

Speaking of unique locations, the really salacious responses came when the survey asked respondents for the most unusual place they’ve had sex. Even just among these 103 people, folks have had sex on stage at a concert, on a horse, in a canoe, on a stack of drywall in a home under construction, in a cemetery, on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World, and… at The Louvre.

46% of respondents have had sex as “research” for a book, and 76% have based a scene in one of their books on something that actually happened to them. So, don’t worry about whether that hot scene you love was plucked out of the sky — it was more likely to have been based on a true experience!

Finally, in case you were wondering, respondents would rate the novel Fifty Shades of Grey 2.2 stars out of 5. Ouch.

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Tracking the history of American sex ed films

America’s first sex ed movie was called Damaged Goods. Screened in theaters in 1914, it followed the sad life of a man who contracted syphilis from a sex worker and subsequently committed suicide.

Unsurprisingly, the characters in early sex ed films were stereotypes. Men — whom the films were aimed at — were like stallions, easily overtaken by their sexual urges. Women fell into two categories: harlots out to infect young men with venereal diseases, and virginal “nice girls” with no sexual desire at all.

This account comes to us courtesy of Bitch, where Sarah Mirk has tirelessly deconstructed The Dramatic History of American Sex-Ed Films. In her research, Mirk found an odd and unexpected trajectory:

Instead of becoming steadily better in quality over time, the content, messages, and accuracy of sex-ed films have fluctuated with the moral and political forces of each era. What’s especially surprising in looking at the history of sex-ed films is how the medium has changed in its approach to contraception. Condoms, over time, have gone from being framed as a straightforward way to prevent disease to a failure-prone and risky option.

The first sex ed film to be screened in an American public school was called Human Growth. Funded by a physician and educator who left $500,000 in his will specifically for its creation, the anatomy-focused 20-minute film caused a great stir when it was shown in a seventh grade classroom in Eugene, Oregon in 1948. National magazines even wrote about the event.

The ’60s brought homophobic “stranger danger” public safety movies, then, oddly enough, fearless movies in the ’70s featured full nudity. Contraception made its debut in sex ed films starting in the early ’80s… but the AIDS epidemic quickly cast a dark shadow over the topic.

As the decades went by, films continued to ignore female sexual desire. The clitoris as a pleasurable part of the anatomy was not mentioned until the ’80s, while male masturbation and wet dreams were common topics. Most of the information dispensed to young girls was about menstruation. In fact, Disney once partnered with Kotex to produce an animated short urging girls to “keep smiling and even-tempered” during their periods.

A large shift took place in the 1990s, when the federal government began funding abstinence-only education. Religious groups began visiting schools — they used shame and fear tactics, centering their lessons on morality and virginity. The films made by religious organizations followed the same line of thinking, even including bogus “facts” about condom failure rates. No Second Chance, from 1991, was one of those films:

In the video, a woman extolls students to be abstinent while imagery of a kid playing with a gun rolls onscreen.

“When you use a condom, it’s like playing Russian Roulette. There’s less chance that when you pull the trigger, you’re going to get a bullet in your head,” she tells a class of students. One teen boy pipes up.

“What if I want to have sex before I get married?” he asks.

“Well, I guess you just have to be prepared to die,” she responds.

The upcoming documentary Sex(ED) The Movie (trailer below) estimates that 100,000 sex ed films have been produced in the past century, but the state of American sex ed remains grim. Although 80% of Americans favor comprehensive sex education, only 22 states require sex ed, with only 19 requiring the lessons to be medically accurate. There are no national standards for how sex ed should be taught.

Here in Oregon, where our sex ed policies are considered “progressive,” we’ve updated our sex ed video My Future, My Choice to include gender-neutral language about relationships and a racially diverse cast. But the video strongly recommends abstinence, fails to mention birth control aside from a brief blip about condoms, and, by all accounts, does not address pleasure in the slightest.

We do have the internet, where Scarleteen dispenses accurate and in-depth sex ed information, Laci Green uploads friendly and frank videos, and Go Ask Alice answers an avalanche of questions. But this puts the onus on kids to ask those questions and find the information they need. Films shown in classrooms have an air of authority that the internet will never have. Although we’ve come a long way since Damaged Goods, sex ed films still have room for improvement.


Honorary degrees for legendary pornstars

Club 90 porn pioneersThis week in San Francisco, four groundbreaking women will be awarded honorary Doctor of Human Sexuality degrees from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS).

Jane Hamilton (aka Veronica Hart), Candida Royalle, Veronica Vera, and Gloria Leonard (now deceased) are former “Golden Age” porn performers as well as pioneers in the adult industry. All four women were involved in Club 90, the first ever pornstar support group, which launched in 1983 and is still running today.

Jane Hamilton performed in porn movies in the early 80s, then graduated to directing, editing, and producing, eventually earning a spot in the AVN Hall of Fame. Now she educates women all over the world about self-esteem, pleasure, and aging.

Candida Royalle was one of the first female porn directors. She created Femme Productions in 1984, focusing on directing films based on female desire, such as Stud HuntersCaribbean HeatEyes of Desire 2, and Afrodite Superstar. She wrote How to Tell a Naked Man What To Do and contributed an essay to The Feminist Porn Book. She now lectures and mentors young female porn directors.

Veronica Vera, aside from her work in adult films, founded Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want To Be Girls, the world’s first crossdressing academy.

Gloria Leonard, best known for her role in The Opening of Misty Beethoven, also directed several porn films and published High Society, a pornographic magazine. Her home at 90 Lexington Avenue was the inspiration for the name of Club 90. She was the first president of the Free Speech Coalition, a non-profit industry association which opposes obscenity and censorship laws. As a proponent of free speech, she bravely debated staunch anti-porn activists and visited college campuses to educate students on the First Amendment.

The Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality was founded in 1976 by Rev. Dr. Ted McIlvenna, and it was the first organization to award advanced degrees in what is still a growing field of sexology. Annie Sprinkle was the first person to be awarded a Ph.D. from IASHS in 2002. She will host the investiture and awards ceremony next week. There will also be a display of Club 90 archival materials that will be open to the public.

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Watching Trans Grrrls, her armor melts away

Chelsea Poe and Maxine Holloway in Trans GrrrlsAmy Dentata is a writer, game designer, and performer who touches on topics including trauma recovery, mental illness, sexuality, and transgender issues on her website and elsewhere. Recently she wrote something amazing on “Fumbling Towards Humanity: How Trans Grrrls Helped Me Open Up to My Partner.”

We knew Courtney Trouble’s Trans Grrrls was a very special porn film, but Dentata’s piece illuminates just how transformative it can be to see someone like yourself in erotic imagery.

As a trans woman, Dentata encounters many difficulties when it comes to not just dating, but simply existing in the world. When dating, she has to worry about a lack of chemistry, the challenges of physical intimacy, and her personal safety. Sex, even masturbation, is a minefield — Dentata can feel uncomfortable, anxious, detached from her body. It doesn’t help that in both mainstream media and mainstream porn, trans people are made to be punchlines, victims of violence, or taboo sex objects. Genuine, compassionate representation is almost impossible to find.

When Dentata started dating a cisgender woman named Kate, she found a partner who was willing to take the time to learn how to pleasure her. Still, during their first couple of sexual encounters, Dentata couldn’t orgasm. One night ended in tears when Dentata was overcome by body dysphoria and upsetting anti-trans thoughts.

But the third time was different. That night, they popped in Trans Grrrls and began touching each other while watching the first scene, featuring Chelsea Poe and Maxine Holloway. Dentata writes:

. . . the scene cut to an apartment, and Chelsea and Maxine tore off each other’s clothes. There on the screen was someone like me, having sex with someone like Kate. They were both happy, enthusiastic, and into each other. No “surprise reveal”, no horrified reaction shots, no cis gaze ruminating on how a trans partner might affect a cis person’s feelings about their sexual orientation. Just two women fucking.

It made me feel human. And naked, even though my clothes were already off. A layer of psychic armor hardened by slurs, stereotypes, and violence melted off my body. It felt like the universe said to me, “We have a place for you. You belong here.”

I said to Kate, “In a little bit you’re going to find out something I love about Maxine.” Maxine laughs when she comes, and it is so adorable. Kate agreed. Sometime after the second scene of the film, I had an amazing orgasm, all thanks to Kate. The isolation I felt during our previous encounters washed away. That orgasm was a revelation, a moment of healing, and I laughed like Maxine through the intense torrent of emotions. That was the first time I’ve ever laughed while coming instead of crying.

That was the night Amy Dentata felt like she belonged. Like there was a place in the world for her body, her identity, her sexuality. Her partner confirmed it — along with the performers in Trans Grrrls — and she was able to experience the pleasure everyone deserves.

Read the whole piece at


How Oh Joy Sex Toy came to be (awesome)

Oh Joy Sex Toy featuring the LELO Ina 2

It’s been just over a year since Portland artist Erika Moen launched Oh Joy Sex Toy, and to say it has been a roaring success would be putting it lightly. This playful, hilarious, and informative sex-themed comic has become very popular, and the work that it has done as a sex education resource is probably immeasurable.

Bite-sized sex education is exactly what Moen hoped to achieve with the comic, she explains in this great article at The Daily Beast. Her own sex education was minimal at best, and the scare tactics it utilized left her “super, super terrified of sex and naked bodies.” For a long time, Moen dreamed of addressing the huge holes in American sex education. After 15 years of making webcomics, and after participating in a comic strip reality show called Strip Search, she decided to take the plunge and turn that idea into a reality.

Moen explains to The Daily Beast:

While I don’t think every artist everywhere has a responsibility to educate their audience, it’s a role that works for me. People online spend so much time criticizing the things they don’t like about the world, about the media, about our society. That’s valuable. Now I want to see people creating the media they want to exist. My sex education was horrific and scarring, so now I’m trying to make a resource that I personally needed back then and it just so happens that it’s still needed today.

The comic format is appealing, Moen says, because pictures make readers more receptive to new information. Especially when it comes to sex, visual material is easier to understand. Drawings have always been used as sex education — to warn against venereal disease during war, in pamphlets at Planned Parenthood — but Moen’s take is much more progressive.

Moen spends a week developing each strip, and she is the cog in each step of the process — a single person acting as writer, penciler, inker, colorist, and letterist. Guest illustrators step in from time to time, to provide variety and discuss topics outside Moen’s areas of expertise. For example, Emi Gennis contributed a strip about the history of the vibrator, while Amanda Lafrenais recounted “Dildo Misadventures” and Lucy Knisley shared her experience with the birth control implant.

Since the inception of the site, Moen has published tons of comics, from reviews of some of our favorite things (like the Ina 2, Bandit, Pure Plugs, Moon Cup, Sliquid H2O, and Delight) to guides on anal sex, cock ringscunnilingus, and introducing sex toys into relationships, and even illustrated interviews with porn stars Jiz Lee and Stoya.

No matter the topic, Oh Joy Sex Toy is always a treat. New strips are published each Tuesday, and the comic is serialized at Bitch. You can follow Erika Moen on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and her main site.

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These products are not just for sex, folks

photo via Animal Protection AgencyWhy is there a vibrator strapped to this tortoise’s underbelly? Because: vibration helps with constipation.

Poor tortoises tend to eat the tiny, indigestible pebbles at the bottom of their tanks, which can get stuck in the intestinal tract and cause a blockage. Previously, the solution to this problem was surgery, but in 2011, vets at a London animal hospital had a different (and much simpler) idea: they taped a vibrator to the tortoise’s stomach.

As it turns out, vibrations work very well at breaking up intestinal blockages. That is just one thing we learned from Cracked’s 5 Weird but Effective Alternate Uses for Sex Products.

Two of the alternative uses on Cracked’s list were discovered in World War II. The first: condoms prevent water and dirt from getting in the barrels of guns and damaging them. Condoms were easy to come by thanks to the wartime panic about venereal disease, so it was a perfect solution. The second: semen makes great invisible ink. It doesn’t react to iodine vapor, the common detection method during the war. It does, however, have a distinctive odor… so its presence on paper might not be 100% discreet.

Oh, and if you’re ever trying to protect a microphone from a rainstorm, just roll a condom over it. This is standard practice for the BBC and other sound technicians.

But perhaps the most versatile sex product is lube. We’ve written about alternative uses for silicone-based lube, but water-based lube is perfect for movie special effects. It helps remove latex prosthetics and makes wounds looks fresh. In movies such as Alien and The Thing, K-Y Jelly is responsible for all the terrifying goo dripping from the monsters. Specifically, the bright green blood from Predator was a concoction of K-Y Jelly and the liquid from glow sticks.

K-Y was even used as a substitute for Kate Winslet’s spit in Titanic‘s famous “spit like a man” scene.

One thing not mentioned in the Cracked article is that vibrators can be used to improve singers’ vocal performance. A Canadian vocal coach caused a ruckus last year when he explained that he uses vibrators to massage the throats of his students. It relaxes tension in the larynx and improves range and projection, he says.


A little kink, a lot of confidence

kink-sex-cerebral-palsy“Sex with a disability is a tough sell,” writes a queer woman named Carrie, “but not (just) for the reasons people assume. In my experience, the hardest part isn’t convincing someone else you’re desirable — it’s convincing yourself that your body is worth pleasing.”

For her, one small act of kink gave her more permission for pleasure than she’d ever given herself.

Carrie has cerebral palsy, which manifests itself in a walk that resembles the cover of Cat Power’s Jukebox, foot braces adorned with rainbow straps, and various bodily aches and pains.

More broadly, her CP makes others treat her like an object of pity, like a child unable to make her own decisions and take her own risks. On top of this, she rarely sees bodies like hers — especially bodies like hers depicted as beautiful.

After college, Carrie met a woman named Alex online, and they began having sex. After a month or two, Alex proposed delving into some bondage. Carrie was intrigued; it was unusual for someone to ask her to take a physical risk. But, there was a problem. Alex admitted, “I’m afraid I’m going to hurt you.”

Carrie was upset.

What that said to me was, “this woman still thinks I’m a little girl.”

Up to that point, I thought I’d done everything “right”: cultivated a functional relationship, finally let someone see me with my clothes off, said yes to sex, talked about my body, listened about hers, been willing to try new things, behaved like an adult. But it turns out it hadn’t worked . . . she still saw me as vulnerable. Not in the way that brings people closer, mind you, but in the way that makes them afraid to touch you. Makes them think you’re breakable.

Instead of screaming in her face, which is what I really wanted, I turned her question back on her and asked: “Who’s better at pain than I am?”

It was a choice that paid off.

The next time they had sex, Alex blindfolded Carrie, then handcuffed her hands above her head. She pinched Carrie’s skin until her chest was covered in clothespins. Sitting back, Alex admired her partner and mused, “I’ve never been able to do that before. Nobody has been able to take that many.”

That was Carrie’s breakthrough.

It’s not often (i.e., almost never) that I get told I’m good at a physical activity. But now my body, which had spent so many years letting me down and making decisions without my consent, had gone and done something absolutely right — and done it better. It had done something other people’s bodies, “healthy” bodies, hadn’t been able to . . . that night, I realized that my pain tolerance and the things my body did well were assets rather than things to be run from or ashamed of. To know that what had been perceived (especially by me) as defective about my body was actually what made me desirable, powerful and sexy for the first time ever — that moment was beautiful.

Carrie’s experience of kink with her partner had a strong impact on how she viewed herself and her body. For once, her cerebral palsy was not overlooked. It was, instead, acknowledged and honored as an integral and unique part of her. Pleasure mixed with pain — and best of all, it was a pain that could be controlled. A pain that was purposeful. And a pain that felt good.

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