WEIRD FETISHES

When pain during sex turns you on

Young people will go to the internet for answers with strangulation becoming the norm.

In Summary

• Strangulation – fatal and non-fatal – “squeezing”, “neck compression” or, as some call, it “breath-play” –  during sex has lit up the imaginations of many writers and artists since time immemorial.

• Recently, the series Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James has sold millions of copies worldwide, fuelling the erotic fantasies of its readers.

A couple in bed
A couple in bed
Image: COURTESY

Many will say pain and sex are deeply incompatible. After all, sex is all about pleasure, and pain has nothing to do with that, right?

Well, for some individuals, that spoke to the Star pain and pleasure can sometimes overlap in a sexual context.

STRANGULATION

 
 
 

Jane *33  met a man on Tinder in September.

“He was a very handsome guy, well turned out,” she says.

They went on a date: dinner and drinks. Afterwards, Jane went to his house, where they moved to the bedroom.

“This is where it gets a little bit blurry,” Jane recalls.

“I was drunk, but I could consent. He asked if he could choke me and I said yes – I had done it before.”

Previously, the choking had not been “a big deal” – a minor part in the whole experience and comparable to “a bit of hair-pulling”; that is to say, a quick and small amount of pain intended to be pleasurable.

“But the next thing I remember is waking up gasping for breath with him on top of me. I passed out.I’m not sure how long I passed out for. I booked an Uber at 6.30 am to get the hell out of there," she recounts.

 
 
 

The next day she saw bruises on her chest when she called the man to demand an apology.

"I'm sorry I got carried away when I saw you hurting it really turned me on," the man said.

How did strangulation become so widespread?

Strangulation – fatal and non-fatal – “squeezing”, “neck compression” or, as some call, it “breath-play” –  during sex has lit up the imaginations of many writers and artists since time immemorial.

With its undertones of forbidden, mischievous enjoyment.

In 1954, the erotic novel Story of O by Anne Desclos (pen name Pauline Réage) caused a stir in France.

The novel was full of explicit references to bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism.

Recently, the series Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James has sold millions of copies worldwide, fuelling the erotic fantasies of its readers.

SEX GAME GONE WRONG

James* was a witness in a sex game gone wrong case that happened in his flat.

"One afternoon, I heard arguments interspersed by laughter upstairs. My neighbour shouted: “Get off me!” he said.

"There was a sound of falling to the floor, followed by scuffling, then sex, then quiet."

James went upstairs to find out what was happening.

“I saw my neighbour hanging from a rope. The man slept beside her,” he recounts.

PORNOGRAPHY

Erika Lust, one of the world’s only female porn directors, in an interview with the Guardian agrees that strangulation and choking scenes now dominate porn.

“Face slapping, choking, gagging and spitting has become the alpha and omega of any porn scene and not within a BDSM context,” she says.

“These are presented as standard ways to have sex when, in fact, they are niches.”

When a direct threat to life is slowly normalised, “it means that a woman whose partner chokes her might not report it – and if she does, it might go nowhere,” says Erika.

“It means that if a woman dies this way, judges and juries feel ‘this is how people have sex now’ and questions aren’t always asked.”

Lust points out that if sex education is inadequate, “young people will go to the internet for answers. Many people’s first exposure to sex is hardcore porn”.

This, she says, teaches kids “that men should be rough and demanding, and that degradation is standard.”