14 Knuckles, about a scorpio femme of color fucking their way through power dynamics, boundaries, and caregiving, as an exploration of who she is and how she relates to others.
I love ears and nipples. My mouth has a thousand surfaces: my firm outer lips paint your ear with my latest color as those same lips soften, opening into wet inner edges; a smooth surface is revealed beneath my tongue; cautious teeth hold the power to pull and destroy; my lips press to suck until you come, if I let you.
My mouth has the ability to sense in ways that other parts of my body don’t. I want to let you come. I’m on my left side, you’re on your back, I cradle your neck with my left arm and my right fingers trace down to your thigh. You’re sweating — the hottest thing to me is sweat and you do not disappoint. I feel you drip, your heat radiating as I approach, my mouth can’t stop sucking your earlobe, your eyes are closed, you’re moaning, and when my fingers get to your pussy I feel how wet and open you are, so fucking thirsty for me. Your cunt flush, your lips spread. I trace my fingers from your pussy to your clit and back, I want to bury my face in your wet, but I can’t leave your most sensitive spot, where we flow together.
I flutter my lips open so that any breath I give you will flow straight inside your ear canal. “Do you want me inside of you?” I murmur slowly, melting my tongue against my lips to make that juicy pussy sound into your ear. You moan and nod. One finger, then two, you get what you want.
My fingers lose themselves wandering inside of you and my thumb is pressed between your lips. I can’t feel anything, my right hand barely has any sensation, so I pull out slowly just to see you squirm. I glide back in, you’re so open I barely have to move. You’re grinding against my hand and it starts to hurt. I want my face between your thighs, but I know you’ll tell me if that’s what you want, so instead I thrust into and out of you, trying to feel deep inside, but all I know is you’re soaked and open and I can’t feel a thing.
You want more. You gasp and make out the words, “Four fingers.”
I sit myself up and kiss your trembling face. You’re surprised I’m moving away. “I gotta change positions,” I say, and you nod. I switch hands — I’m better at fucking with my left since some of those nerve endings still work and it doesn’t hurt as bad. From this position, sitting between your legs, I slip four in you, but this angle isn’t quite as good for you, you want the skin-to-skin, chest-to-chest contact. My left fingers slip into you and your cunt starts to pulse around me, rounded edges and curves colliding and releasing. I know you won’t come yet, you need me to keep it up, you need momentum, but I just can’t. The pain escalates and I’m distracted. I love your insides, but these angles are impossible and my hand is cramping — I can’t be here for much longer. You sense it, you pause. I ask for a pillow under your hips, to lift you up to me. But the moment’s gone, you’re out of it.
It’s so hot until it’s so not.
I first acknowledged the extent of my nerve damage when I started having queer sex. I couldn’t feel clits. When someone said, “Not there,” I couldn’t comply because I couldn’t feel where I was. The awkward sex prompted me to get a nerve conduction test, an MRI, and three months of physical therapy, but nothing brought my sensation back. I got fucked by tops and that seemed like a solution, until I realized how emotionally unfulfilling it is to constantly open myself up for people who won’t enter a vulnerable space with me.
Despite the ways I can, and do fuck — using my mouth, vibrators, and my fingers in positions where I can clearly see — I’m still scared of doing so many things. I often pull out when pain starts because I’m scared I won’t be able to follow through. This is the scene that lives in my imagination: someone asks me to give them more and I can’t keep up, I fail to make it fun and comfortable and sexy. I love topping in ways that can allow my partners to release control, to move into vulnerability, to trust me deeply. I fear not using the control I’ve been given in a way that brings another pleasure. I fear bringing my partners into a space where my actions cannot match my intent because my physical body won’t allow it. It keeps me from even approaching fisting, something that feels so good when done to me.
Telling someone about my numb, weak fingers is so not a cute message on Tinder. It’s also awkward to even bring up with people I’ve been seeing a while — sometimes, I’ve been fucking them despite the pain and, when they realize it, it can be made out into a whole thing. With no diagnosis or explanation for my pain, it’s hard to talk about, but it affects the kind of sex I can have comfortably.
I’m very much at the beginning of a lifelong journey to love every single part of myself, even the parts that are most flawed, not cute, and physically painful. Disability justice organizers and thinkers have had the most wisdom about this specific situation: when something hurts and you’re horny, how do you fuck anyway?
Sami Schalk, in an interview with adrienne maree brown in Pleasure Activism, is quoted to say, “Disabled people’s sexual and intimate lives teach us that sex and pleasure are not merely about penetrative, goal-oriented sex…sex for disabled people often means throwing out the norms and working with a partner to discover what their body can and cannot do, what they do and do not enjoy. Often for able-bodied people, there is an assumption that there are certain things everyone wants or enjoys, but when you have an atypical body or mind, it makes potential partners pause, ask more questions, take a little more time. We would all benefit from such an approach that takes each partner’s body, each sexual interaction, as new, figuring out what is best with this person in this moment given how their body feels, what’s on their mind, etc.”
It’s also been disabled folks who have taught me that, truly, anything can be sex. Acts of sensual care — like, a massage where I can avoid using my fingers and, instead, use a massage ball or my elbows or closed fist — allow my femme caregiving tendencies to be received, honored, and celebrated, even when it’s too painful to move my fingers in and out of a tight hole. Sometimes, it’s even moments of service — when I plan a bike ride or camping trip — and the recipient is open to receiving my care, that I enter a very similar space as to when I’m topping. I have control, I’ve made the plan, I get to direct someone else’s body, and my partner gets to relax and find themselves having experiences they never thought possible.
But it’s not fisting.
Fisting is something that makes me feel infinite. It explodes my insides and sends tender vibrations out to every nerve ending; it makes me sensitive to the presence and movement of another while listening to my body as my guide. I love topping because I get to gift sensory experiences to other people and it has felt heartbreaking to acknowledge that I might never get to gift my fist to another. It’s been three years since I first investigated my nerve pain and numbness and I’m finally learning: it’s okay. I might always be in some sort of pain, but I don’t need to be fixed or painless or healed in order to love others or have sex. I might never totally be healed because the barrage of pain and heartbreak and wounding continues every day in white supremacist, cis-heteropatriarchy; as soon as I reduce triggers for my hand pain, a global pandemic sweeps through and asks me to show up as a nurse and writer, both of which exacerbate this pain.
There’s a cultural narrative around being fixed that Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha critiques in her book Care Work: the idea that “healed,” “well”, or “no-longer-traumatized” is an achievable goal for everyone. In recognizing myself as having this pain, I accept that “painless” as an end-goal might not be achievable for me. I’m unlearning a cultural and personal narrative of my pained body as broken. To top with pain has required I also unlearn my own misperceptions of tops as in total control and infallible. I never hold so much power over another that I abdicate responsibility for myself, nor does my power or control in sex mean that I owe someone something that ultimately harms me. To top does not mean that I have to be superhuman or anything other than who I am.
Being in pain does not make me less human: I exist even while I have pain; I can serve others even if this pain is my company; I am exactly perfect as I am. I can learn to move exactly as who I am, with my needs and wants and triggers, with my trauma and with my pain, and find sites of love and joy and delight. My being unable to fist, to do what I imagine other tops can do, does not make me unworthy. It is in the acceptance of exactly who I am that allows me to access my own ultimate power. My acceptance of my own pain allows me to have the kind of sex that is rooted in the specificity of my body.
Prentis Hempill on the Fortification podcast talks about how disability justice work has taught us to learn to tolerate sensation. That we can have pain and move forward. That we can have pain and the world doesn’t stop. This is a guide for all of us who have had an uncomfortable, messy, growth-filled 2020 — which is to say, this is a guide for all of us. So much of what we’re going through collectively is uncomfortable, painful, and often feels like our skin is burning off. The pain might not end, so can we tolerate the sensation? Can we ask what it can teach us? And, as we move forward, can we do it in a way that is exactly, delightfully us?
I don’t love the idea that I’ll never fist, but I do love the idea that every act of sex I engage with is collaborative. Queerness reminds me that there is no standard way to fuck or live. Instead, I have the challenge and opportunity to live, fuck, and expand in the creative possibilities of my body and others.