We Sat On Cakes to Find Our Joy

I have two cakes. Do you want one with sprinkles or purple roses?

I received Jamie’s text and smiled — it was actually going to happen. It was May 2021. Jamie and I had both been having a hard time with work, a hard time with writing. COVID made everything hard. We shared our fantasies with each other: the parties we would throw when we got vaccinated, the places we’d go. COVID left me yearning to make a mess.

We took COVID tests. We checked in with our pods. I booked us a hotel room and bought champagne. Jamie arrived with the cakes wearing a white lace lingerie top and a black leather jacket. Her huge purple earrings hung well below her bob — “COME” dangled from the right ear while “CLOSE” hung from the left. I swooned and followed directions.

The four-tier cakes were round and covered in thick layers of cheap grocery store icing. I chose the cake encrusted in rainbow sprinkles with a pretty white fondant bow wrapped around the middle. Jamie wanted the cake with excessive white frosting piled high and swirled into mounds of purple roses. The roses matched Jamie’s bright purple hair that would soon be stiff with sugar. Her first bite was from my finger, dipped in frosting and sticky. We were about to get much stickier.

On the floor of a beige corporate hotel near the airport, we laid down a shower curtain to protect the off-white carpet from our sins, undressed to our panties and poured the cool champagne into plastic cups to toast. Jamie found a playlist specifically for the occasion while I placed my sprinkle cake in the center of the shower curtain. We took turns, slowly teasing, tasting, encouraging, drawing out the suspense until the final moment.

We sat on those cakes and lapped up the joy and absurdity of it all. We licked and spanked. She squealed and exclaimed, “Oh, how are you so hot?” We discovered the slippery delight of cake between our toes. I cleaned her hands with my mouth. After months of holding ourselves back in order to keep ourselves and others safe from COVID, we were chasing abundance, and on that shower curtain covered with icing, we found it.

Later I giggled to a steady stream of Jamie’s cake puns as we shared a pillow. I told her I was researching Peitho, the Greek goddess of sweet words and bodily delights. That night, we performed a ritual to Eros, god of both pleasure and destruction. Eros is that chaos energy, both seductive and dangerous, that I’d carefully partitioned away from my well-planned life. That night we found Eros in each other’s bodies and in each other’s abundant joy.

This was the first cake I sat on, but it wasn’t my last. In that dull hotel room, Jamie and I had discovered a kink called sploshing, which includes any kind of food play — but the messier, the better.

Perceptions of kink from the outside often focus on the pain, rules and discipline. The aesthetic is all leather, whips, stern Dom(me)s and pliant subs. It can all seem very serious. However, when I’m in a scene, it’s the laughter I remember the most. BDSM is a set of practices that invite pleasure; for many, it invites healing through power exchange. Cake sitting helped me connect to joy. And there’s power in joy. In “Uses of the Erotic,” Audre Lorde writes on the power of the erotic, which she refuses to isolate into the bedroom and instead infuses into every aspect of her life. To her, the power of the erotic is a reminder of her “open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy.” I’ve discovered my capacity for joy is expansive.

Women are told to make ourselves small in so many ways. How many times have I asked for just the smallest slice of cake? How many times have I said no, just one bite?

Even in relationships, I’ve made myself small. I dated a man who told me about his grief, anxiety, relationship with his parents, work relationships, relationship with his body. When I noted that he didn’t ask me any questions, he responded that he couldn’t think of anything he needed to know. I stayed in that relationship for two more months. I was accustomed to feeling small.

With those cakes, I was too much. We laughed too loud, ate too much and asked for more than what we needed. Jamie and I both saw it in each other: you’re too much, and together we are absolutely excessive. And I wouldn’t have changed a thing about us. The entire scene was superfluous with sweets, colors, flavors and laughter. It was a decent mess. Afterwards, we both felt sick and thirsty. We saw each other’s big desires for joy, pleasure and excess.

I was raised to believe that if I was very good, my best possible hope was to be loved by one man, to have children and to serve others. I could hope, at best, to feel the joy of being a wife and mother. But my body told me I wanted more. I broke the church’s rules forbidding sex before marriage in several different ways. My desires may have been my savior from the small life my community promised.

Six months after Jamie and I sat on cakes, my friends threw me a birthday party with cake sitting as the main attraction.

Some homemade and others store-bought, we managed to acquire 11 cakes for a party with 13 guests. I sat first and performed a burlesque style striptease, flinging my yellow fringe booty shorts right atop the head of my sweetheart. Then I plopped down onto a white and pink cake to raucous applause. A couple of my shyer friends wanted to sit together. My sweetheart spent most of the night with her bum cozy on a chocolate cake, eating it slowly and lovingly from her own hands while giggling. Another friend gingerly dipped his testicles into whipped cream as a tease that brought all of us into side-stitching laughter.

We showered together, scrubbing sticky food coloring with a loofah that needed to be thrown out when we were finished. Then, snuggled on sofas and blankets, our conversations wandered while our hands pet each other sweetly.

My big desires brought me into a big, loving queer community. And together we celebrate each other. This birthday party wasn’t sexual, necessarily. Erotic joy doesn’t have to be sexual. It’s in the surrender of control that comes when we lose ourselves to joy, personal and collective. Kink moves us closer to those excessive forces of Eros. Those can be dangerous places, but they are also where we expand into joy. And expanding into joy can be its own kind of power. Remembering that power may be the real danger of kink.

Audre Lorde expands on those women who have embraced this expansive notion of the erotic: “Of course, women so empowered are dangerous.”


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Trish Fancher

Trish Fancher is a writer, teacher, feminist in California. Her personal essays on gender and sexuality are in Catapult, Avidly, Lily, and Northwest Review. She also researches the histories of queer and feminist communities. She can occasionally and anxiously be found on Twitter @trish_fancher.

Trish has written 1 article for us.

19 Comments

  1. People are going hungry and you and your friends are sitting on cakes to free yourselves. That’s cool.

    Sorry, maybe that’s harsh, but I’ve been super food insecure and this just hurts and makes me inch inside.
    It’s insane that I and so many others have had to worry about how we’re going to eat at night, and you’re having food wasting parties with friends for fun.

    • Hi Kai! I’m so sorry you’re experiencing food insecurity, and I know how common and how devastating that is. I’m sure you know that the reasons are far bigger than individual choices- the evils of capitalism and all that. While I’m not denying that consumer culture and rampant food waste are real contributors to others’ hunger, I don’t read this piece as participating in either of those dynamics. The author doesn’t suggest we all go buy cakes to sit on, nor do they make it a daily practice. They’re just describing their own way of reconnecting with body and community in the face of the same evils that deny you enough to eat. I found the piece to be beautiful, vulnerable, and inspiring- not in the sense that I want to cake sit but to take time for bodily pleasure and connection, whatever odd and kinky corners I might find that in. Sending lots of love and solidarity your way and hoping for a world where you (and everyone) has enough to eat and the space to find joy and freedom and even abundance- with or without sitting on cakes.

  2. I did not know what to expect when I clicked on this (although I probably should have), but I was so glad the cake got eaten. And now I want cake. And to reread some Audre Lorde.

  3. I doubt Audre Lorde would have wanted her work used to encourage food waste. Non-Black queers stay doing the most. What must it be like to be so sure of yourself you can submit a piece like this.

  4. I feel like the comments treating this as a uniquely bad thing are a little odd? Lots of people have kinks, write about those kinks on AS, and many of those kinks involve special equipment (harnesses, whips, fetish gear, sex toys), all of which cost money. AS regularly has posts that are fashion or beauty related, or gift guides, etc. – none of these things are materially essential, they are all things you would buy and use with discretionary income. but people aren’t regularly in the comments criticizing those for wasting money. this is a person using discretionary income for a kink they have, and writing about it. she’s not like, buying dom perignon and caviar to pour down a drain, she’s buying (or making at home) a cake once or twice a year to use as a kink object.

    plus, presumably the editors at AS paid her to write this article – I’m a little surprises there hasn’t been any defense of it from them.

    • Hi Lila,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments! I’m Autostraddle’s Sex & Dating Editor, and I stand by this essay as a representation of the joy we can access when we explore our kinks, some of which require specific tools (like cake!). Thus far, none of the comments on this article have violated Autostraddle’s comment policy, and it seems like folks are engaging in thoughtful discussion, so I have no plans to intervene in that at this time.

      • and now my comment is up three times! sorry for that. I feel like ‘intervene’ is stronger than what I was saying, and agreed that would be inappropriate. I think sometimes I get confused on the way to understand AS editors roles – sometimes if there’s any criticism of a piece, an editor will pop in and be like, ‘I think this is actually good, that’s why I ran it!’ and then sometimes they won’t, and maybe I’m reading too much into the difference between those times. they’re probably just different because the editors are different people, obv. thanks for responding!

  5. I am a writer and was checking out A/S which seemed cool, but am now backing away aghast. This commissioned article doesn’t read the room of worldwide historically high food costs, inflation and insecurity. The author does not even mention these in passing, tossing us instead her personal baggage, with luggage tags by Audre Lorde… “The Black Unicorn” this is not.

  6. I have to say I have never heard of this kink before and it is not my thing but I enjoyed reading this article, and I think that the comments going on about food insecurity are maybe just a way for commentators to feel like they can legitimately kink shame. Like someone else mentioned, many kinks involve spending discretionary income – if this person was writing about chocolate and strawberries and more “normal” food kink uses, or much more expense strap-ons or latex, would you be shaming her? I think not.

    Sorry, writer, you’ve had so much backlash. It’s a shame that people cannot simply go “not for me” and read something else. Just because you’re not into something – it doesn’t mean it’s wrong or a bad thing to do.

    • So the theory is, multiple comments of earnest dismay about insensitivity to the world food crisis… are secret kink shamers? For all you know I’m sitting on a cake right now. That doesn’t preclude holding onto a moral compass. Eleven cakes is a level of spectacle described to attract attention; it’s worked, only the writer didn’t. Many including readers are struggling to afford food right now. Their hunger is not kink shame. Nor is their desire for considerate queer allies. You bet we’ll criticize any flaunting of power insensitive to others’ struggle. Exploring one privileged person’s feelings about excess alone while the world’s bread basket is being bombed is way out of touch. People who noticed that aren’t.

      • It is absolutely kink shaming. I’m on disability and struggle with my bills every month. I’m never sure if I’m going to afford to be able to pay my rent or eat. Do I occasionally resent people posting about their meals out or their very expensive sex toys? Sure, a little. Does that mean I can round on a woman with eleven homemade cakes, and only her? It does not. Where are your comments on other articles mentioning expensive things – isn’t that insensitive to my situation?

        Honestly, there are a lot bigger things to be worrying about now, and a lot bigger displays of capitalism, food waste and so on if that’s your hill to die on. Some cakes is really not a big deal in the scheme of things, any more than a $200 strap-on. Plus they eat the cake!! A hundred percent, the only reason people are targeting this woman and not anyone else is kink-shaming. It’s double standards all the way.

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