“How does the idea of being slapped/slapping someone in the face during sex make you feel?”

(a) Aroused

(b) Horrified

(c) Indifferent

I came upon this question when I first joined OK Cupid in 2010, and it sent a surprising jolt of electricity through my body. While I had known for a long time how turned on I could get from being pinned down and dominated, while, during my college piercing phase I had even toyed with the idea of needleplay, I had never really considered my reaction to an act of consensual sexual violence. Without hesitation, quickened blood still rushing through my body, I clicked “aroused”. 

Eventually I found a man who had answered likewise. He was tall, a drummer in a heavy metal band, with long dreadlocks and dark, broad hands.  We went on a date and when I brought him back to my house and started fooling around, I raised the slapping question. He didn’t even remember answering it, and didn’t seem too eager to try. When we boned, brief and vanilla, he kept asking me questions, needing constant guidance and approval. A week later, during a late-night booty call, he said, “I love…having sex with you.” I told him it wasn’t going to work out.

I am still reticent to identify as kinky. This is partly because I loathe the term “kinkster” – as if, like a quilter or a hiker or an artisanal paper maker, rough sex is just a quirky hobby I have. But it’s also because the vast majority of kinky activities turn me off. I like to be hurt during sex, but have no interest in anything complicated. I’m technically a sub, but I hate being told what to do.

When I was 20 years old, I pierced my nipples. They’re some of the few piercings that remain on my body from that heady heyday, my clavicle and sternum and tongue and nape bars having one-by-one fallen by the scar-marked wayside. People used to ask me what my most painful piercing was – while it’s a close tie between the surface bar on my lower back and having an eight gauge needle punch out a solid chunk of my upper ear cartilage, my nipples get an honorable mention. When that needle slid through, it was a completely new experience; a revelation. Each piercing was half an instant of a feeling that was neither pain nor pleasure; just pure sensation, jolting through my body, and then it was over. My brain flooded with adrenaline and I left feeling stoned and satiated.

Getting slapped in the face during sex feels just like that.

When someone manages to do it just right, it’s enough to shock me into a powerful, multilayered orgasm. But if the other person isn’t into it, if they’re afraid of hurting me, if they hold back or simply don’t know the right way to hit someone, it’s worse than nothing at all. I’m anticipating that marvelous, sharp crack and then their limp hand flops across my face and it is awful, just awful. Sometimes I laugh at them – I can’t help it! – and sometimes they lose their erections all on their own, their brains so hard-wired into avoiding violence against women at all cost. Which, don’t get me wrong, is a good thing! This is my struggle as a feminist, as someone who has been sexually assaulted – I don’t want a partner who fantasizes about beating women. But I do want a partner who fantasizes about turning me on, and sometimes the way to turn me on is to hit me and hurt me and make me cry.

When I tell people about this kink of mine – because let’s be real, whatever my identity, this particular thing is a kink – I try to explain it the best I can. I tell them the nipple piercing story, I tell them that my parents never hit me and that I’ve never been in an abusive relationship – my body’s response to sexual pain is physiological, not psychological. Which is probably mostly true. But there is psychology involved – it just differs from partner to partner.

It is very easy for me to cum from penetrative sex. I generally have multiple orgasms before my male partners have even had one, so I encourage men to fuck me however they want, to cum whenever and wherever, in the way that’s best for them. I also totally get off on bringing others pleasure – I love giving head, and I especially love discovering each individual’s unique buttons, and how to push them and push them and push them in fun new ways. I have been with people with foot fetishes, black men who wanted me to call them the n-word, BDSM couples, men who brought their own sex chains, who got off the most from eating my ass, who were almost exclusively into face fucking or tit fucking or, you know, just regular fucking. Everyone has their own sexual fingerprint, and I’m up for most anything, as long as it isn’t too complicated, and as long as the other person isn’t ashamed of their own desires.

Shame is a huge problem when it comes to sex. Some people enjoy the feeling of deviance, but in my experience it only holds us back. I’m not ashamed of my body, of liking and needing to fuck and be fucked, or of the ways and things that make me cum. Shame keeps people from communicating, from being honest, from trying new things, from building trust in unexpected places. It makes people play things safe and while safe sex is great when you’re talking about STDs, it’s a pretty big bummer when applied to the wide realm of pleasure.

Which brings me back to the issue of identity, of kinksters, of sites like FetLife that connect people interested in the broader strokes of sexuality, that allow users to find subs and doms and a thousand other kinds of kinks that might be compatible with whatever they’re looking for. When I complain to my friends that I think a guy might not be dirty enough for me, sometimes they’ll suggest that I go on FetLife.  But I don’t want sex to be the thing my partner and I have in common already – “Oh, we both love Game of Thrones, and Modest Mouse, and pegging!” I want the chemistry of a sexual relationship to be something that develops naturally, in tandem with intellectual and romantic chemistry. Speaking without any judgment for the many, many people who have found fulfilling relationships of all stripes on specialized websites – it’s simply never going to work for me.

To begin with, like I said, I have no interest in anything complicated. No role playing – I’ve tried this and learned that sex should not be like an improv class, forced to come up with characters and scenes on a whim. I don’t like to talk too much, and I don’t want to pretend to be someone else. A minimal use of toys – a vibrator here, some nipple clamps there – but nothing that requires cords or on-site assembly. I even made a special chain for my bottle of poppers so I can wear them conveniently around my neck when I’m getting fucked. Costumes, maybe – but only for foreplay. While it can be fun to keep my high heels on, even that gets old very quickly. I prefer having my hands and legs pinned down to cuffs or ties – there’s less chance we’ll have to use the safe word, and it makes changing positions a breeze.

Again, these are my things, and the point of this piece is to underscore the fact that everyone is different and everyone has their own things. Ultimately, for me, sex is about connecting in the moment with another human being, and any accoutrements that take me out of myself, out of that moment, seem to defeat the purpose. When someone slaps me, their stiff hand leaving a bright red mark on my cheek, I want them to be slapping me – not some fantasized dirty slut sub servant whore. I want to transform their thinking about the pure action of it – they’re not hitting a woman, they’re fucking me. This is just another way Eloise likes to be fucked. I want them to get off on getting me off.

And vice versa! Sex should be a completely new and different experience with every person, tailored to the ways in which your desires meet and combine and twist and change each other. If I limit my partners to people who have to meet some criteria typed into search parameters, I can’t help feeling like I’ll be missing out, that I’ll overlook someone who doesn’t even know yet that we’re perfectly compatible, because they’ve never had the unique experience of fucking me. I didn’t know how much I enjoyed assplay until I met a man who loved playing with my ass. Recently a guy came on my face, and then immediately kissed me deeply, the shameless swirl of cum and tongues unlocking a pleasure I’d never felt before. I just try to see people as individuals, to be aware of what I know about my own body and to be open to whatever – to whomever – might come along. Who knows what new joys we can awaken in each other until we try?