In the era of political correctness and fourth-wave feminism - it may be a little inappropriate to admit having rough sex and dominant sexual fantasies.
In 2015, when Fifty Shades of Grey came out, it became official - kinky rough sex had gone mainstream. But what's more important is that the book from where the movie was picked up, 3 years prior, became the first book to sell a million copies on Kindle. (I suppose people didn't want a physical copy to be seen in their house ) A reminder of the extent to which women guard their fondness of kinky and rough sex.
There are quite a few reasons why women love rough sex - and it has nothing to do with the patriarchy (okay, maybe a little - but largely not.)
Rough Sex should be consensual, otherwise, it's assault
Before we move ahead it's important to remember that this is only in regards to consensual, healthy sex where both partners are aware of what is happening. It's not rough sex if your partner is only one enjoying is, it's assault and sexual violence. And trust me, people have used the term rough sex to cover up sexual violence. In Britain, people accused of causing serious injuries to their partners could earlier use 'rough sex' as a defence to protect themselves from being prosecuted.
Essentially, if a man commits murder against his partner, he could claim that it was a result of rough sex. This would allow him to get a shorter sentence such as manslaughter instead of murder. It almost like blaming the victim of murder for the act because she allegedly consented it. This defence has been banned after the Domestic Abuse Bill was passed. But the fact that it existed sends chills down one's spine. What an atrocious defence for domestic abuse. However, that is far from rough sex, it's incomparable. Submission is something consensual and has certain rules and codes.
Understanding Submission and Attraction
To begin with, as much progress as we've made - some things remain primal to us. Attraction, for example, remains the same. Muscularity, strength and power are all attractive to a woman - it indicates good genes, which indicates perfect off-springs. That's as simple as it gets.
Now, this attraction also hints to being wanted and needed. If you're attracted to a real hottie, and he's attracted to you - it's all perfect, isn't it? So when a man pins you against a wall, for example, it simply shows that he wants you really bad - it's this feeling of being wanted that turns women on.
Rough sex makes women feel wanted - and not just quietly - it's loud, it's clear and it's urgent. All factors that would turn on anyone, honestly.
Another factor is that sex is associated with dirty, bad and unacceptable for many of us - so the idea of rough or forced sex - even when it's consensual - makes us feel ashamed or guilty for wanting it.
There are also physiological reasons that account for the popularity of threatening-seeming situations. When you're scared or on edge, your blood circulation increases, your pupils dilate, your whole body is in a state of heightened arousal. Add sex to the mix and your orgasms can feel more pleasurable and you feel more satisfied.
Moving Away From Gender Roles
Women are expected to be calm, polite, and very well mannered throughout their lives, but this dynamic can change in the bedroom. As strange as it sounds, losing power may actually give women some sense of power.
Women can regain control of their bodies, their minds, and their mate. On the surface, being dominated seems demeaning - even in the world at large, that is the case. But in the intimacy of sex, it puts the women in charge of their body and their relationships.
If a woman in her daily life is used to handling too much responsibility and is constantly working, she may want a break from that lifestyle in bed. Being dominated means that the woman does not have to make any decisions and the burden of responsibility can be shed for some time.
Experimenting With Rough Sex and Safe Words
A recent study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science offers some great insights as to why women like consensual rough sex. The research had interviewed 734 male and female undergraduates. It found that both men and women often initiate rough sex. The two most common reasons according to the survey were - for experimenting, and for displaced anger. You must be wondering what kind of actions constitute rough sex. The study included, spanking, clawing, pushing, name-calling and tearing clothes. All very aggressive and well, rough.
People into rough sex often engage in mild forms of aggressions and actions that might cause mild pain. It's possible that people who are regular practitioners of rough sex use safe words to maintain consent and safety. A safeword is a code word designated to stop a sexual activity that becomes too painful, intense or crosses one's boundaries. They're like an eject button that gives you an instant out of an uncomfortable situation. So, if it gets too much you just say, 'Pineapple' and they'll stop.
It's helpful if you choose a funny and absurd word as that helps diffuse the tension of the situation. If you are performing an activity that restricts your mouth movements, you can also have a physical sign to show when you want to stop. Tapping on your partner's shoulder, showing the peace sign or doing a thumbs down, all can work here. And your partner should immediately stop after seeing that.
Or you could go vanilla and choose a universal phase such as traffic light signals. So, red would be a safe word. But I'm sure you wouldn't want to go vanilla here.
Rough Sex takes it up a notch higher from boring vanilla sex
Women often lean towards rough sex when they feel like things are vanilla and monotonous in the bedroom. We need to keep mixing things up in order to maintain sexual excitement, a phenomenon sex researchers refer to as the Coolidge Effect. Rough sex spices things up like nothing else and it also ends in heightened orgasms in most cases. Men lean towards rough sex for the same reason, to have novel experiences but even jealousy can trigger their desire for having rough sex. One study found an interesting relationship between men's jealousy as a trigger for rough sex. If men were separated from their partners or suspected their partners to be cheating on them, it incited the need for rough sex. The authors reasoned that this has evolutionary origins.
Well, this might sound quite bizarre to you but stay with us. When men suspect that their mate has been with another partner, it triggers something called sperm competition in them. This makes men want to engage in aggressive sexual behaviour where they tend to thrust their penis vigorously deep inside to displace the semen of the previous partner.
Alcohol can be the gateway to rough sex
Alcohol can also lead to rough sex. I'm sure you've noticed that when you're drunk, your senses become dulled out and you are relatively numb to physical pain. Like you could fall on an asphalt road and then get up as nothing happened, except the next morning you'll be crying in pain. Alcohol also lowers your inhibitions, like suddenly you're okay with the fact that you haven't shaved your legs in a while. So, it can give you the confidence to experiment with some freaky sex positions. This combination of numbed senses and lowered inhibition are a perfect cocktail for some rough sex. What you're trying to do is counteract the feeling of numbness by putting more pressure and force into the sex.
Rough sex might be helpful for women if they struggle to get an orgasm in bed. Usually, men are able to reach an orgasm faster than their female counterparts. A study showed that men can orgasm in 5-6 minutes, whereas women take around 13 minutes. The study showed that rough sex made women orgasm faster than they usually would.
Another common trigger for rough sex were situations where people were already in a heightened state of physiological arousals, like after a fight, being angry at your partner, or having just exercised. These triggers can be explained by something psychologists call excitation transfer, which happens when arousal from one situation amplifies our arousal or excitement in another unrelated situation.
In other words, if your body is already pumped up at the start of a sexual encounter, that's going to lay the groundwork for a more active and intense experience.
How you can practice safe rough sex
Cosmopolitan offers a great guide to start you off with some basics for rough sex. The first step is making a choice on what kind of rough are you looking for. Are you looking for light choking? A little bit of spanking or slapping and dirty talk? You need to think about these questions before you tell your partner to 'be rougher' or 'go harder'. "Make sure you discuss your intentions with your partner," Candice Smith, cofounder of The KinkKit tells Cosmopolitan.
The next piece of advice and this is important ladies, is using lube. Just because it's aggressive sex doesn't mean that you have to risk injuries to your vagina. According to Health 24, vaginal tears can be common when you're too dry down there. Most vaginal tears are small cuts but if you end up inserting something pointed or bent, you risk deep cuts with bleeding. "When you're inserting too quickly, or in an uncomfortable position where there's more friction, it can easily cause a tear if the vagina gets too irritated", Dr Landy tells Shape. Remember to be all wet before you start going rough. By not making sure you're wet, you also risk getting a Urinary Tract Infection and you should know they hurt a lot.
Make a list of kinks/things that are acceptable and ones that are off the table
Remember the scene where Christian Grey sends Anastasia a contract for the terms and conditions of their BDSM relationship? Yeah, that kind of negotiation is an important part of the process. It's the time to set boundaries unapologetically. If you don't like to be spanked then that's your call. No matter how much your partner wants to convince you, just make it clear that you're just not into that!
If you love making lists and making them ensures your sanity, go ahead and make one for 'things you'd like during rough sex'. Have different columns for yes, maybe and no. The 'Yes' column would be for activities that you definitely want to try, like a 101%. The 'Maybe' column is for things you think might interest you and the 'No' column is for things that are non-negotiable and straight up off the table.
As you get more experimental and freaky in bed with your partner, Smith advises to not forget the art of saying no. Even though, you've embarked on this journey of crazy-hot rough sex, you don't need to endure physical pain if it's too much for you. You can always tell them to 'pause' and take a breather. If they choked you too hard and you felt like you were in a murder mystery rather than erotica, please tell them to back off.
Dominance and Submission is an art that is mastered with experience
As a woman, it can be a little scary to ask a man to be rough because usually, they take it as a cue to ram their penis inside you. How can you explain the balance of roughness and subtle gentleness to your partner? Letting someone dominate you requires you to trust them enough to make you feel safe.
It's probably not a good idea to engage in rough sex with a stranger then. I mean what if they just slap your face real hard and blame you for asking for it. Rough sex requires skill and tact, yes it really does! It's unlike any pornographic depiction you see usually, it's not actually meant to be demeaning. Watching porn to learn about rough sex can give a very crude understanding of what a woman really wants when she asks for rough sex. We don't want to be kicked or punched and we definitely don't want to lick your feet.
Kat Hamilton from Vice describes it rather eloquently, "Domination is all in the actions, the movements, the micro-insinuations, and the placement of hands and body parts with a clear intent and control. It's a delicate dance with someone who knows how to lead." She almost makes it sound like art or a skill that takes years to master.
However, these are just basic points to remember and help you get started. It's not like you're going to be graded on your performance so relax and take your time.
The Feminist Dilemma
The most frequently asked question about rough sex is - can you enjoy it and still be a feminist? And the answer is yes, obviously. But at times, it can feel like you are betraying the notions that you stand up for.
A writer for the Medium, LadyBits describes her relationship with a man that dominated her in bed but also in real life. She loved how he unexpectedly would take her from behind and pull her strings like a puppet in bed. But she hated when he treated her like a trophy girlfriend and considered her status to be beneath his own in real-life. She writes in the Medium, "My thoughts and feelings didn't matter. Neither did my goals or career. I was an ornamental plush toy, there to be his when he wanted me and otherwise pushed aside and neglected." This is a relationship that is built on inequality and it doesn't matter how great their sex life was because the next morning she would always feel empty and sick.
However, this is not always the case there are multiple women that lead extremely empowered lives in their daily lives. But enjoy safe submissiveness in bed.
According to some studies, women who play dominant roles in their lives may prefer to be submissive during sex. Like sexual desire, the concept of feminism itself is not black and white. We police ourselves in so many areas of our lives - maybe sex is the one place where we want to be able to let go.
Feminism is about giving people the power of choice
Feminism is known for wanting equality for all genders in power structures. Moreover, feminism is a sex-positive movement so, shouldn't they be allowed to have submissive kinks in bed? A study by Jennifer Eve Rehor found that most women in her study had taken part in at least one these activities: physical humiliation, deprivation, punishment, breath play, obedience, verbal abuse and other service-oriented submissive activities. When we mention it on paper, they seem pretty harsh and harmful. But it's important to note that the intensity of the roughness might not be that strong.
Apart from being sex-positive, feminism in itself grants choices - to men and women - so inherently the choice to enjoy rough sex is up to you, it does not make you any less feminist. As I mentioned earlier, rough sex is not demeaning when it's consensual. It brings pleasure to some and excitement to others - but it's their choice to enjoy what they like in bed.
Think of it this way, a woman asking for roughness has given you permission to dominate her. Her partner had to accept all her terms before acting rough. Alex Gillon, curator of Consensual Roughness tells the Mashable, about how women hold the power during rough sex. She says, "Throughout all roughness, the woman is in power even if she has chosen to relinquish it."
In short, liking rough sex does not negate the fact that you're a feminist, you can be both together! In fact, telling people that their desire for consensual rough sex is wrong, is anti-feminist. Shanna Katz, a sexologist and sexuality educator tells Mashable, "When we examine all sex (rough or otherwise) from an intersectional feminist perspective, what makes it 'feminist' is the right and space for all participants to share their desires and to have them recognized and validated."
Rough Sex ends with Aftercare: An act of appreciation done for the sub partner
And considering that rough sex mostly ends with Aftercare, it's actually not as one-sided as one might perceive it to be. You might be surprised to learn about the term Aftercare. This term was founded by the BDSM community, it refers to a care routine that the dominator does for the sub partner. For example, if they spit on their partner, they are the ones that clean that after sex and maybe give them a warm bath. It's a way of showing appreciation to the sub. It's kind of like an unspoken rule in the BDSM community.
There's no shame in feeling turned on by rough sex acts. If you're curious to try something, there's no reason why you shouldn't. But having a conversation is key. Without that, things could easily be misunderstood by your partner, damage your relationship, and even put your mental and emotional health at risk. Consent has to be your top priority.