There was no internet when I was an eighth grader, but there was porn. Getting it wasn’t easy. It meant raiding the stash of a father or older brother. I had neither. But I had a friend who did. When I visited him, and was alone, I stole glances at his stash of naked women. They were shoved in piles under his bed. But the pornographic photo that made me steal a magazine and hide it under my own bed, was the photo of a woman hung upside down, by her ankles from a hook. Whips, gags, dildos and restraints hung on the wall beside her. The photo was black and white. She was naked. Her hands hung down listlessly as though she had been exhausted by the appliances on the wall. Moisture seeped from the split between her thighs. The cobblestones beneath was damp with her breaking. Her hair was short, maybe brunette, and hung down over her lips and nose.
To me, she was indescribably beautiful, and the bondage was inexpressibly arousing. My orgasms with her convulsed my abdomen. But this wasn’t the first time I had seen females in bondage. Popular culture was awash with men and women in bondage—the covers of pulp fiction and magazines like True Detective, Crime Detective, Heavy Metal—TV series like Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman and Million Dollar Man. At least every boy that I ran with knew that if we found a woman needing rescue, wrists behind her back, skirt drawn high with struggling, breasts half revealed, the first item on our checklist wouldn’t be rescue. But this was the first depiction of bondage where the sexual content was explicit rather than implicit. The proportions of her calves, thighs, breasts, nipples, armpits, arms, parted lips, spine and hips were beautiful. The moisture that had escaped from her, or had been forced from her, dribbled down her flat belly, glistened between her breasts, dripped from her throat and chin. Was it cum? Was it piss? Was it his? Was it hers? Was she captured? Was she punished? Had she learned her lesson? Was she sorry? Was she broken? Was she forced to orgasm? Was she a sex slave? Would she submit? Would she behave? And how long should he let her hang like that?
I imagined capturing a girl like this, how I would break her, how I would force her to orgasm, how I would release her, how she would crawl to me on hands and knees, sweaty and compliant. Courtship is nothing like that, but then it is. What we want from women is nothing like that, but then it is. The imagery of bondage is archetypal, speaking to a profound dynamic between men and women, but then I didn’t know words or concepts like that. This was a boy’s first inkling of courtship, of sex, and sexual desire. I didn’t become the monster who whipped women in dungeons, but I tied girlfriends up. I made them beg, confess, cry, and desperately coil their spines in search of my cock. I acted out my desires and my girlfriends did too, willingly and hungrily.
But at that age I couldn’t explain why the photograph riveted me. I was ashamed that it did. I was terrified someone would find me with it. I was repulsed by the image and compelled by it. Bondage accentuates a woman’s beauty, forces her to reveal herself to us, mind and body. Around this time our 8th grade class was given a sex education class. We watched a video that was nothing like the explicit joys of sex celebrated in Playboy, Hustler, High Society or Oui. The images were vague, grainy and non-committal. We were asked afterward what happened when the sperm met the egg. My best friend shot up his hand and shouted: A Party!
Which, when you think about it, is true on every level.
But our sex education class didn’t answer any of the important questions. Sex is more than mechanics. Sex is a country full of alien desires. Why was I aroused by girls in bondage? Why did I want to orgasm inside a girl when she was contorted by the confusion of pain and pleasure? Why did I want to make a girl cry out, watch her contort on the end of a rope, twist her nipples, strike her ass—a girl’s ass, her body’s signal to boys, that had become my obsession—until she begged and confessed to anything and for something—it didn’t matter—just something. The desire to dominate girls was still a formless compulsion. I didn’t know the sexual meaning of the word ‘dominate’. I didn’t know the language of bondage. I only understood the inexplicable desire to force another to experience, and experience myself, the ecstasy of helplessness and surrender—to have my orgasm propelled from me against my will. How does a boy ask a question like that in a sex education class? Why do I like pornography? Why do I like to see what men do to women? Why do I want to do that to girls too? And why do women let men do that to them? And do women like it? And why do women like it if they do?