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When Is Rough Too Rough?

by  Merissa Nathan Gerson

October 15, 2010 | 1:52 am

Lady Gaga says Papparazzi = Too Rough. MTV Video Music Awards.

Follow AskYourYenta on Twitter

Dear Yenta,

When is rough sex too rough?

-Chained

Dear C,

It seems that the modus aperendum for my readership this week is pain in the bedroom. I recently attended a film series here in Provincetown at the art museum. We watched the horrifying and enlightening: “Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist.” This film will illustrate how unbelievably far rough can really go, without being too rough.

What did I learn from watching a man put nails through his shaft, allowing his partner to whip slice and punch him? That which I perceive as violence might be another man’s medicine. In other words, the limits of roughness have to do with consent, delight, communication and pleasure based on individual need, preference and limitation.

If you find your roughness is causing profuse blood-letting, step back and question, “Does my partner like bleeding a lot? Is this fun for them, as fun as it is for me?”

As seen in “Doing it Rough, Safe” and “He Ignores My Safe Word,” there is a complex art of setting a sexual code so that rough behavior doesn’t do actual damage.

The only finite sex rule I would spread throughout the land is to be sure you have a sense of the existence, desires and sensibilities of your sexual partner. Whomever or whatever you choose to be rough with, make sure you know well enough the difference between a cry for help and a cry of intense ecstasy. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communicate before you do it, while you do it, after you do it.

Rough sex is too rough when someone stops enjoying themselves, feels silenced, goes to the emergency room, dies – either physically, mentally or spiritually, and so forth. Rough sex is too rough when you didn’t check to see if it was ok to slap their ass, didn’t check to see if they like being tied up, didn’t check to see if they like it when you ram them so hard they lose a kidney.

I am just a mostly vanilla Yenta. For advanced assistance, check out LeatherYenta.com, BDSM Sex Educator and Author Lolita Wolf’s website.

For help on both ends, try The New Bottoming Book or The New Topping Book, both by respected authors Janet W. Harding and Dossie Easton. Also, at your own risk, try porn star Penny Flame’s Expert Guide to Rough Sex.

The line is fine, but easily walked with a bit of sensitivity and an open heart. There is an art to rough behavior, often tinged by intention. If sex is heartless and violent, cruel, abusive and lacks any form of humanistic sensitivity, step back and re-evaluate all sexual heroes.

Ask Yenta an anonymous question!  Send an e-mail via www.send-email.org to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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With more than 10 years of talk therapy under her belt, Merissa has waded through life’s dilemmas with a constant reflective therapeutic bird on her shoulder. Add a few...

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