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Dirt Under My Nails

TW: Rape

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Written by Jones.

TW: Rape

What makes us feel good? What makes us human? I like to be slapped across the face by the person I love. In simple terms: it is how I feel desired. It brings me joy. Pain puts me deep in my body. I crave the reminder of the wildness of the world pressed against me. 

But what am I doing in this wilderness in the first place?

Why am I like this…

Masochism is the desire – not exclusively sexual – for pain and her sisters: fear and power. It is often discussed as a pathology, a symptom underlying complex and tragic phenomena, a fantasy, a flight from the burden of selfhood in response to a traumatic event. 

Trauma has no language of its own; it must recruit metaphors. The experience feels just beyond our grasp at every moment. Elusive, just out of reach, a landscape bereft of words. It arrives as a fusion of sensation and emotion, nerves and memory, as irreducible and vivid as a poem, always subjective. You can never lose the “I”; it fuses mind and body and splits them apart. We are forced into a dialogue with ourselves; consciousness becomes a twin of subject and object, joined at the spot where we hurt. Trauma turns us into observers, explorers of the dark forest of the self.  

Trauma has no language of its own… [it forces us] into a dialogue with ourselves; consciousness becomes a twin of subject and object, joined at the spot where we hurt.

At the edge of the park behind my school, a forest began. A wild scrap of land, lush and alive, like something out of a storybook. Tall trees blocked out the sun, so it was always calm. It smelled like damp earth, beautiful, hectic, so different from the schoolyard’s marshalled green, the little saplings planted in rows along the street. The undergrowth was emerald green and dense, easily hiding the occasional wildflower, and me, hardly visible in the overgrowth. 

They left me there, dirt under my nails. The world split open as I surfaced out of darkness with a sickening reluctance. I could hear them receding through the trees, voices rising and falling, laughter hectic and dappled as shade and sunlight. I had been in that forest a thousand times before. But not like this. I was lost, and everything was different.

A harmonious choir of pain sang in my body as I moved, it howled, bit and gnawed. Panic crawled over me, promising shock and disarray. I stood and shook the dirt out of my hair. The sun was low, long gold bands and halos radiated through the trees. That’s how I realized I was crying. 

There was no one in the forest or the field around the school. No cars on the road. Pain moved around my body like shifting clouds as I walked home, and I felt blood drying on my skin. I did not think about what happened. Instead, I pictured, over and over, the flare of sunlight on my eyelashes as I opened my eyes. I was alive, and this offered a frantic elation. 

I watched my bruises heal, pull away, dried blood tide rolling out. How could anyone see that, feel that, and not be changed? We are led to believe the pain a masochist consensually pursues is a desire to recreate trauma. An echo repeating in darkness. Masochism is framed as a compromise of reason, a conflict or disturbance, a maladaptation of an otherwise reasonable mind.

And yet… 

I relate to masochism as part of my identity. It isn’t an affliction, but an appetite, a capacity for emotion.

The reasoning that my masochism is a trapped echo of trauma mutes kinder truths: early fantasies, parts of me that came before, all the joys that came after. I relate to masochism as part of my identity. It isn’t an affliction, but an appetite, a capacity for emotion. It’s a fundamental aspect of how I experience desire, romance, and sexual sensation. I am not equipped for institutional discourses or to take my own inventory, but I would suggest that such a view doesn’t capture the complexity of sexuality – my own or anyone else’s. I also cannot live to refute a hypothesis around sexual trauma that defines my joy out of existence.

I have moments where I long for the sting of a slap the way I can also long for a kiss – with the same emotion. I like the look of bruises, bite marks and softly split lips, the rounded plump of skin gripped in a fist. But it is more accurate to say that I am drawn to all the contextual meaning built up culturally and philosophically around these images, symbols and concepts of power and pain. 

Masochism is eroticism. At its core, either inheritance or inherent, masochism often precedes sexual pleasure, and at other times replaces it, becomes it.

Desire is an involuntary biological manifestation. Sexuality is a function of desire. The erotic is created through an aesthetic examination of the details of desire. Masochism is eroticism. At its core, either inheritance or inherent, masochism often precedes sexual pleasure, and at other times replaces it, becomes it. Sexuality is tied to the value of our attractions and desires, to our power over choice and identity. Masochism is this act of choice on overdrive, not an abdication of self, but a radical creating of it, demonstrating a deliberate strategy of self-creation against the chaos of fate. 

Masochism is an abstraction of thought, not a mutation; it is a controlled exploration of havoc that requires an ever-expanding definition of the self. The things I desire are complex, layered: a cane, a bite, the burn of rope are worth suffering because the emotions and thoughts they stimulate are beautiful to me. Masochism is a technique for joy. 

I was raped in the woods in the falling evening of my childhood. But I am not trying to cure anything, and I have no faith in the story that desire is a symptom. Instead, I am learning to feel the fullness of myself. Through masochism, I make my happiness as inexhaustible as the wilderness, and I refuse to allow trauma to be weaponized against my joy. 

About The Author

Jones is a designer & erotic artist living in Toronto. She makes photos and video at eveunleashed.com. she wears only black, read a lot of books, takes oat milk in her coffee, and has a little black cat with a very long name.

Follow on IG: @eve_unleashed | Follow on Twitter: @EveUnleashed


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