February 24, 2016

GUEST ROOM | On Choking

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It was just a regular, run-of-the-mill one-night stand last semester. I had been beaten squarely in a rousing drinking game of pong by a handsome stranger. If we talked beyond “Wow, you actually made a cup” or “for fire!” I don’t recall, because that’s not what made this encounter special.

After a brief consenting exchange, we were stumbling around Collegetown bound for his apartment. Upon arrival, we made our drunken presence loudly known to all of his cohabitants in the way that intoxicated lovebirds do in the wee hours of the night.

It wasn’t long before he whipped out his phone and swiftly plugged it into some super sick speakers. I caught a glimpse of the playlist — his booty-slaying playlist, which every college age human possesses in some form — and immediately fell into the mood when the sweet sound of a breathy waif crooning over a cheap 1980s videogame soundtrack caught my ear. Seriously, there’s nothing sexier than a remix of a cover of a remix of an Ellie Goulding acoustic session. But alas, I digress.

I’ll spare you the hot and heavy details, but this was a pretty decent time. Kissing? Check. Foreplay? Check. Lights out so my stomach rolls could only be viewed under the soft and forgiving glow of the moon? Check. Also, as he wasn’t silly, he wrapped his willy, so I knew I would be protected from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It was shaping up to be a good night. We slid into the first position.

Fifteen seconds, or two minutes, or half an hour, or an entire night passed (I won’t share with all Sun readers how long this individual lasts, that would be terribly rude), and he seemed to be itching to shake things up. I felt one of his hands slide to my throat. He whispered, “Can I?”

I’m always game for some sexual adventure. And I appreciated his request for consent. So I gave a clear and verbal “yes,” though I was not entirely sure what was to come next.

Oh my god, I thought, he’s squeezing. I’m totally getting choked right now.

Wait, choked? Is that okay? Am I okay with that? In my head I was divided, having a full-out existential crisis on those not-recently-washed-but-high-thread-count sheets. His grip was getting tighter and tighter and I was beginning to feel a slight shortness of breath.

Shit, I decided. This is actually pretty pleasant. If he were looking at my face at that moment of epiphany, he would’ve seen a girl, a bit blue from lack of oxygen, deep in thought but overall pretty pleased.

The chokehold continued and I continued to like it. Part of me wanted to immediately sit up and debrief. What does it mean if I, a self-proclaimed and vocal feminist, enjoy something straight out of the soft pages of 50 Shades of Grey? I mean, isn’t this sort of demeaning? Isn’t it sort of violent? If I were a bit more proactive I would have ordered him to stop so we could go mellow out in a Kava bar somewhere and discuss the meaning of the phrase “a lady on the street but a freak in the bed” — which I had now just become — and where it fits in the broader context of feminism. It would have been a great and fruitful chat over some sweet, sweet Kava would have definitely led to spiritual and sexual enlightenment, a deep intellectual and emotional connection and probably ultimately marriage. But I was not willing to have that conversation at that moment because I was too busy enjoying being choked.

Walking home the next morning, utterly disoriented in one of the deeper labyrinths of lower Collegetown, I meditated on my decision to consent to choking. I could now self-identify as submissive and take that label to any sex dungeon across the continental United States and feel welcomed into the leather-bound worlds of whips and chains. In that moment I had become kinky; I was submissive and I was proud. And within 30 seconds of real hard thinking, I had resolved that this encounter made me no less of a feminist.

Feminism is the idea that all genders are equal and should be treated thusly. Within that idea lies another: no one can tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body. Not significant others, not hookups, not parents, not strangers, not politicians and not friends, regardless of if they’re female or otherwise. In that vein, I decided that if being choked and being dominated during sex was something I liked, nobody had the right to tell me that it was anti-feminist or wrong. As long as all parties consent and all parties are having a good time throughout the act, there’s nothing wrong with whatever anyone likes to do, and it’s certainly nobody else’s business.

As my tale draws to a close, I know what you’re thinking. What about the boy, the beer pong prodigy who kept it picante in the bedroom? You young promiscuous women, always objectifying men for your own personal gain. Did you just use him to have a fun night and a sexual epiphany and then toss him out like a post-porn tissue? The answer is no. We did eventually meet again. And one time, I choked him. He liked it. A classic story of kinky boy meets kinky girl with a good old-fashioned “happy ending.”

Essie M. is a student at Cornell. Comments may be sent to [email protected]. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.