Face and Body

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A recent painting. More on my website jngaio.com

As much as I possibly can, I am invested in avoiding the industries and cultures that cultivate dissatisfaction with one’s physicality and mortality.

When I was 16, I remember I had already absorbed the message that in this barely blossomed youth, I was at the peak of my desirability. I clearly remember feeling like it was all downhill from there and by 21, I was already becoming “less hot”. Holy fucking shit, what the actual fuck? This was before social media, this was before the easy availability of porn, Instagram and YouTube makeup tutorials. How must young women be feeling now? You could not pay me to be a teenage girl again, I feel an intense protectiveness towards the ones I encounter now and have to be careful not to let it affect my behaviour towards them in a fashion that might be patronising.

At 34 years old, I feel hotter and more connected to my body and sexuality that I ever did when I was younger, yet I know that I attract less attention from men than I did when I was a teenager. Though I am far more sexually active and confident than I was back then, I do not have the physical attributes of youth that increases the likelihood of street harassment, unsolicited messages and unwanted conversations with older men on public transport. I do not mourn the loss of those things, nor do I feel myself to be lacking in sexual opportunities (though as a kinky, submissive masochist with a penchant for violence, my pool of truly compatible lovers has always been on the narrow side) and in fact I am far more satisfied with my appearance than I was back when. Also, as a sidenote, as I age I receive significantly more attention from queer women, a fact which I am tremendously chuffed about!

But I am defensive of my confidence because I know how easily it is shaken. I only need to stumble across one of the many Instagram accounts of slender teenagers who have hundreds of thousands more followers than me simply for their pretty selfies and I am reminded of our culture’s obsession with youth and a specific sort of beauty.  I only need to skim through a fashion magazine while I wait at the doctor’s office, or sit through the movie previews in a cinema where in 2019, women still have far fewer speaking roles let alone anything with substance… and I am reminded of what our broken culture values in women.

When I was younger, I was already painfully aware of how fleeting my cultural currency of desirability was and it left me feeling despondent and distrusting of the attentions and flattery that I received. During times when I later played into the world of youth obsessed appearances, this did some psychic damage. A couple of years back, I was the submissive to a Dom who ordered me to wear makeup and dress in more conventionally attractive ways and emotional masochist that I am, I accepted the challenge. However, this required my engagement in worlds I normally avoided, shops I had never entered before, tutorials on makeup to laboriously transform oneself into someone more youthful and I started to notice, more and more, what “hot” women looked like and how they cultivated this.

The results were an emotional mixed bag. On the one hand, it was actually thrilling to gain insight into the alchemical magic that is the ways in which clothing and lipstick can transform us into something seductive and more then human. Learning how to wield the war paint that is makeup was thrilling and as a queer femme I developed a long-lasting love for the powers of shimmering pigments and smoky framed eyes.  Yet becoming familiar with what my Dom found attractive required an acute intimacy with mainstream male desire and it made me painfully aware of my aging with a sickening sense of myself as disposable. Within a culture that fetishizes female youth and beauty, we women have a very short self-life.

When my relationship with that Dom ended, I realised how relieved I was to no longer be required to expose myself to the brutality of an image-centric industry. Though I had discovered much about my sexuality and a certain sort of power in representing myself as hyper-feminine, the regular engagement with and concern for my appearance’s adherence to the heteronormative male gaze was ultimately a major cause of anxiety and compromised self-esteem. When one values and prioritises their art, their friendships, their sexual and romantic connections, their spiritual development and education… these are things that can only increase over time. But beauty, as defined by our narrow standards, is fleeting and the attempt to hold to it too tightly wreaks havoc on one’s mental health and sense of self.

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to look good, there is nothing wrong with teenagers putting on makeup, taking selfies and looking generally amazing on social media, a healthy dose of vanity and self-love is a lovely thing in my opinion. What makes me feel protective of these girls is when the only thing on their social media is those photos. If the attention they receive from the world is solely based on their looks and beauty, I cannot help but sense that this must fill them with a profound sense of anxiety and perhaps set them up for the aging process to only be traumatising. After all, if our value is heavily invested in our looks, what happens when time snatches our beauty away? And of course this only speaks of the experience of young women who are able to look conventionally attractive in the first place, many don’t and never will which further deepens my conviction that our obsession with female beauty is emotional violence against women. All women.

To age in comfort is a privilege and I am lucky to be able to keep myself within a bubble of community that values many things beyond physical appearance. I am lucky that the compliments I receive most regularly revolve around my honesty, my vulnerability, my open mindedness, my compassion and my art. This means that when lovers compliment me on my sexiness and beauty, I am able to receive some enjoyment from the compliments instead of only experiencing the fear of unavoidable loss as the years reveal themselves in the shifting landscapes of my face and body.

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Please

Your tone speaks menace
my heartbeat quickens
I’m afraid of you and
addicted to fear I’m
afraid they’ll be
empty threats

hurt me
I silently plead
please
my body begs

what good is this flesh
without purple red brutality
what point is this mind
without torment and terror

“please…”

the word slips out
you laugh
you stop

“Remember, this isn’t about you.”

oh fuck I swear I
never forgot it’s just
I just

please?

please?

Humiliating Need

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Old drawing done in 2004 when I was about 20? More on my website jngaio.com

(Content warning, this writing contains a description of sexual activities done within the context of a D/s relationship where a dynamic of consensual non-consent has been mutually and enthusiastically agreed to.)

What is the feeling I had last night? You forcibly held my legs open and put your tongue to my clit. You know how much I hate that, I’d rather you went right to raping me but instead you are taking your time and doing things to my body that nobody else has, discovering new capacities for sensation that even I was unaware of.

I blink away tears of humiliation. Your tongue flicking on my clit makes me feels good, makes it thicken with arousal and somehow this makes me feel utterly revealed, utterly vulnerable. It’s like you’re learning to play my body better than I can and that makes me feel less powerful than ever. Beatings are one thing, beatings are hard work to take and each one becomes more difficult, more harrowing as I learn that your sadism is as boundless as my masochism, as I learn with sick excited horror that we have so far yet to go. But the more violence I take from you, the more powerful I feel, impressed by myself and my capacity for endurance. You call me a tough bitch and like a child, I feel a swelling of pride.

This is different. This is pleasure. This is the sort my first boyfriend always tried to give me and then cried when he could not, this is the sort of pleasure I thought myself incapable of and believed myself broken. Faulty goods drawn more to pain than pleasure. You call me a sick bitch and I feel seen. But this contact between your tongue and nerve endings in my cunt creates sensations I’ve not noticed before when mashing myself into my vibrator or the beautiful face of a woman. Why is this different? What is happening here? How can pleasure be so much more humiliating than any nasty words you’ve ever said to me?

It’s because you see me and read me more and more clearly. It’s because my ache for you grows every day. It’s because the boundaries between us are dissolving as you not only become accustomed to being entitled to my body but become able to play it, like you’ve been investigating all the places, both internal and external, that constitute who I am. It makes sense to have a good grasp on the workings of your property, to know the value of it, to know what you can do with it. But your discovery of things about me that even I didn’t know… that shocks me to the core and I’m running out of places to hide.

I feel stupid, confused and suddenly, very young. Like a child, embarrassed by the funny “down there” feelings they didn’t realise they could have.

I feel myself close to climax but the performance anxiety of that often shuts me down with men (less so with women) and besides, the intensity of my desire for you makes me feel entirely open, with all my guts to be seen, with all my need for you making me feel helpless in the intensity of my own lust. “I’m yours” I cry “I’m a whore” I moan “I’ll do anything for you.” I mean it. My desire for you is a desire for your lust, your violence, your attention, your love. I’m obsessed with it and will do anything to attain and retain it.

You fuck me for awhile, it feels so desperately, pathetically good to have your cock slipping inside me and pushing so deep that my cervix cramps and at some point I start sobbing and hitting you and screaming that I love you. You hold me and comfort me and we cry together and kiss and exchange many more declarations of love. Then we sleep, you are so exhausted from work, from the world, from survival. I experience a deep protectiveness towards you, a profound, tender love and gratitude that you manage, somehow, to find these pockets of energy, intimacy and connection to share with me. To me, it’s nothing short of miraculous, every second we get together is precious.

Today I lay sick in bed with tonsillitis and a gentle fever. My head is swamped by thoughts of you and my cunt still aches with my constant desire for you so that even the feel of my cotton underwear pushing against it causes an irritation of pleasure. I want you, constantly and so to me you are more powerful than you could possibly realise. Your touch turns me weak, stupid, needy and wet. When I say I am your property, I mean it. When I say I am your whore, I feel it as a deep and fundamental truth about myself.

You see me. You know me. I’m yours. You own me.

Spring

(Trigger warning: non-consensual fantasy BDSM stuff.)

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Oh God this weather this sunshine, these blossoms, this lush grass, these bees and birds fucking and busting me out of my seasonal sadness. My stubbornly fertile body thinks it’s time to mate and so my cotton underwear are patchy wet as an invitation to slide stuff inside me.

I text my love and we fantasise about how easy this summer frock would make it for him to hold me down and rape me and how these girly, pretty summer garments will look all the more beautiful for the ways they will contrast with all the bites, cuts and bruises that we want to decorate my body with.

I imagine the smell of crushed grass and blood. I can almost feel his palm striking my sunburned skin as I blink my eyes against the sand and summer flies. My voice is a hoarse whisper, begging him for water and mercy.

An Outline of My Erotic Landscape

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Self-portrait from 2013, drawn the first time I submitted to someone.

In a culture that shames and silences people, particularly women, for their sexuality, it is a radical and complicated process for a woman to learn what she likes and to ask for it. I believe that this process is made even more complex when the woman identifies as kinky due to the added stigma surrounding the world of BDSM. I have been sexually active since I was 16 years old, orgasmic since I was 23, involved in BDSM since I was 26, worked in porn, identify as a sex positive feminist… yet it is only now, as a 33-year-old, queer, cisgender woman, that I am truly coming to comprehend my own erotic landscape. Though sexuality is more fluid than we are inclined to think and pinning it all down into words can be difficult, nonetheless there have been themes that have run through the entire course of the history of my libido. As an exercise in honestly and publicly owning what it is that I like, I’m going to try to put into words an outline of my current sexual landscape.

So here is the truth. I like sex, I like fucking, I like bodies. I like the adventure and the connection of sex and have at various times connected with friends and acquaintances through light hearted and joyful sexual and kinky adventures. Some would call that “casual” sex but something about the word “casual” doesn’t quite fit the loving, playful, friendship enhancing aspects of this. Perhaps a better term would be “social sex” though I am at a loss to define quite why. I like sex with loved ones for the intimacy, the connection, the bodily pleasure and the orgasms. I like it for the way it bonds us and keeps us closer. I love the frantic energy of need to be inside one another, I love the grabbing of flesh, the intensity of eye contact and I love it for the ways our bodies collapse together afterwards. I love how much it feels like love and how it dissolves so many artificial borders and boundaries.

But here’s the important puzzle piece to my sexual identity, here is the theme that has run through the course of my entire sexual history and is an underlying element of my libido, a fundamental truth at the core of what turns me on the most; I am a sexually submissive masochist with switchy inclinations. What does this mean? What turns me on the most, what I masturbate to when I am alone is not pretty, really, truly not pretty. Even in the spaces of BDSM “communities” I have found myself feeling something of an outlier, relating most to the heavy players, the violent ones, the freaks, the creeps, the weirdos. Though of course I have always endeavoured to play in ways that are ethical, educated and following the Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK) framework. I’m a nasty pervert but I’m an ethical one

Recently as an exercise in exploring what turns me on at its most stripped down and straight forward, I compiled a list of words that sum up my erotic landscape, they are not pretty words and if you are not someone who is comfortable in understanding that the world of sexual fantasy is different to reality, these words my trouble you. Here they are in no particular order except as they came into my head:

Rape. Violate. Violent. Abuse. Molest. Beat. Brutal. Hurt. Humiliate. Cry. Scream. Coerce. Force. Bend. Break. Drip. Bruise. Bleed. Gape. Pain. Punch. Strip. Sleep. Drug. Drunk. Ugly. Cunt. Bitch. Slut. Stupid. Fuck. Filth. Stalk. Slap. Piss. Cut. Whore. Choke. Bite. Creep. Fight. Degrade. Spread. Trap. Fear. Spit. Defeat. Suffer. Silent.

There it is, stripped of any flowery language, the truth of what makes my cunt wet. It is not the entire truth, I have discovered immense pleasure in receiving erotic massages, in slowly exploring a lover’s body, in those sensual things that women supposedly adore. I am sexually adventurous and don’t like to confine or define myself to one narrow role or identity, that thought is unbearably claustrophobic to me. But those more sensual and bodily pleasure realms are things I learned to find pleasure in, like acquiring a taste. The truth is that the ugly words above have always been part of the baseline of my libido, the armature that underlies the structure of everything that deeply turns me on. The truth is that for me, much of sex is cerebral and when it is bodily, it is violent.

The dark and violent underbelly of human sexuality has an undeniable pull for me, violence both physical and psychological. Obviously I am disgusted by the behaviour of anyone who indulges any of their dark or sick fantasies without the consent of all parties involved, I only ever engage in consensual non-consent with people who are enthusiastic about doing so. Nonetheless, the truth of what turns me on is violent and ugly. Though it has at times made me feel socially isolated, I’m comfortable with who I am and what I like. There are so many thrilling discoveries to be made here in the borderlands of the socially acceptable.

Love Hard

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People regularly find this blog and/or my website when searching for the term “BDSM documentary” and for the record, I actually was in one back in 2014. The film, Love Hard, is a beautiful documentary on kink and intimacy made by the the incredible feminist pornographers, Sensate Films.

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That’s me in the picture above. In the film I perform with a beautiful lover I had at the time and speak of my feminism, artistic practice and the ways in which I identify as a sexually submissive emotional masochist.

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There are also many other amazing people in the film  who speak of their own personal relationships to kink. The film is at times intense, brutal, tender, funny and incredibly moving. It is beautifully filmed, artistically edited and the soundtrack is haunting.

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I am still incredibly proud of this project and highly recommend checking it out, it costs a little to rent or buy but if you do so, you’re supporting the production of ethically, artistically, independently and beautifully produced erotic media that I believe does a lot to stigmatise and demystify BDSM.

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lovehardthefilm.com