sex diaries

The Academic Experimenting With Rope and Spanking

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New York’s Sex Diaries series asks anonymous city dwellers to record a week in their sex lives — with comic, tragic, often sexy, and always revealing results. This week, a woman, 33, straight, in a monogamous relationship, Ditmas Park. 


6 a.m. I silence my alarm to a string of expletives. It’s a holiday, but I forgot to turn it off. D rolls toward me and wraps his arm around my waist. It’s a sweet gesture but his hand is resting on my stomach and drawing my attention to it. After a minute I have to roll away. He’s too asleep to notice.

6:43 a.m. D has been snoring since 6:05, and my brain won’t shut off enough to slip back to sleep. I finally give up and roll out of bed.

6:45 a.m. My morning takes an immediate upswing when I step on the scale and realize I’ve lost two pounds. Being five-four and weighing almost 250 pounds, that’s really not much, but I need a win so I let myself feel like a svelte goddess.

8 a.m. D refuses to get up and jog with me this morning so I’m flying solo. I should be training for a 5K, but quickly realized that I wasn’t going to drop weight the way I could in my 20s. And so my morning jogs are, in actuality, walks. But I call them jogs, it makes me feel accomplished.

10 a.m. Showered and breakfasted, I sit down at my laptop. As a graduate student at a major research institution, I have a pretty competitive stipend, but it’s still not much to live on. I’ve taken to freelance writing to pad my bank account. At first I tried to find academic writing gigs but soon realized that the only genre that hires and pays consistently is that of romance and erotica. Which is why I find myself Googling BDSM on a Monday morning.

10:45 a.m. I may not be an expert on dominance and submission, but I know enough to begin writing. I’m actually pretty conservative. I didn’t lose my virginity until my mid-20s and have been with the same man since. Our own sex life is … less than desirable at the moment. We’ve both gained some weight (me more so than him) and, on top of that, are exceptionally busy. We’re a far cry from Dirk Rogers and his sexy secretary, Alice, whom he’s about to bend over his desk and pound like a rabid animal in the story I’m working on.

4 p.m. “At least it’s not werebears,” D says as he edits what I’ve written so far. He’s referring to the series I wrote last month, about werewolves and werebears from outer space who can only breed with chubby human women. Not my idea, obviously; a prompt provided by the editor. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.

7:30 p.m. We’re still new to town, so we don’t have much of a social life. Any free nights we have together are generally spent in front of the TV. I know our relationship could use some work, but I’m not really sure where to start.


6:15 a.m. I try to journal every morning. That, along with the jogging (walking), is supposed to help with the anxiety disorder I don’t like to treat with medication. However, I’m pretty sure any progress this makes is completely negated by the shocking amounts of caffeine I ingest daily. But it provides a great place to ponder my sex life.

7:30 a.m. When D walks with me, it’s harder to pretend like I’m jogging. But I’ve found that it is the best time for us to talk, so I trepidatiously broach the subject of sex.

“We should try something new in bed.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Something.”

“I’ll be your werebear, baby,” he tells me with wagging eyebrows.

12 p.m. I do a little more searching. Not for Dirk and Alice, but for D and me. It’s a lot different when I’m looking up sex acts for a fictional story. I’m able to compartmentalize and think about it as research. I try to tell myself that this is no different, but I can’t help but feel a little ridiculous as I Google “how to have good sex when you’re morbidly obese.” It doesn’t yield as many results as I had hoped.

3:45 p.m. I’ve wasted most of my afternoon. I’ve found quite a few things I would be willing to try if I were 100 or even 50 pounds lighter, but nothing I think would be realistic for two overweight, unhealthy, nearly middle-aged adults. I give up for the day and decide to start drinking.


6 a.m. Wednesday is my day off, but it’s a major prep day for me — for the class I teach as well as the three seminars I’m taking this semester. And so I force myself out of bed despite how badly I’d rather snuggle back against D and give up on life.

7:48 a.m. I casually mention my research to D on our walk. I try to play it off like it’s no big deal, but I can tell he sees through it. He can tell I’m insecure and tells me he’s been doing some thinking of his own. “I know you’ve never really been into it,” he says, “but you should reconsider … butt stuff.”

“You’re not funny,” I tell him. But … yeah, that was a little funny.

2:50 p.m. “We demand that sex speak the truth […] and we demand that it tell us our truth, or rather, the deeply buried truth of that truth about ourselves which we think we possess in our immediate consciousness.” I don’t know why I thought I would find answers in Foucault’s The History of Sexuality. The only truth I think sex is speaking to me right now is that of how out of shape I am. Watching my pale stomach rolls undulate as I writhe around on the bed is more truth than I can handle at the moment.

7:30 p.m. “Beauty is a social construction,” I remind myself as I sit on my bed and wait for D to get out of the shower. I’m currently too fat to fit into any of my sexy lingerie so I’m wearing a pair of unremarkable panties and a T-shirt. But I’m trying to set the mood in other ways: Lights are off, candles are lit, and the pets are locked out of the bedroom. I tell myself to think sexy thoughts.

7:45 p.m. D is sweet and gentle-natured. It’s one of the things I love best about him. But it also makes it hard when I want him to push me down and ravish me. After an awkward moment in which we discuss what we want, he grabs my hair and pulls me toward him, kissing me hard. But then he pulls away again, looking sheepish.

“Was that too rough?” he asks.

“Oh my god! The point is to be rough. Don’t ask. Just … do stuff to me.”

“Do what? I don’t know what to do.” I can tell he’s overthinking things, too. At least I’m not alone in my neurosis.

“You make a terrible werebear,” I tell him and we both erupt into giggles.

8 p.m. I end up face-down on the bed, ass in the air. I think he’s going to fuck me like that, but instead he pulls my cheeks apart.

“I want to eat your ass,” he growls and before I can answer there is a long, wet tongue making its way down my butt. It’s not sexy at all. It’s ticklish.

“I don’t think butt stuff is for me,” I say for probably the fifth time in our relationship.

“Hush,” he replies, slapping me across the ass none too gently. Unconsciously, I let out a little moan. We both freeze for a moment.

“Was that … was that okay?” he asks. I think about it for a moment. It was. It really was. And so he does it again and again. By the time he finally fucks me, my ass is nice and numb.

9:15 p.m. Trying not to overanalyze the spanking thing, but I can’t help it. Does it make me a bad feminist to have my boyfriend hit me … and like it? Because I did like it. Thankfully I’ve exerted a lot of energy this evening and fall asleep early, despite my anxiety.


6 a.m. Thursdays are my long day. But, instead of dreading today, I wake up feeling good … empowered. I am a sex goddess.

8:30 a.m. Nothing fits … I look fat in everything. I am NOT a sex goddess. I am a whale. Beluga, specifically.

10:40 a.m. My students are analyzing a Dickinson poem. I watch them with envy as they work in small groups. They’re so thin and beautiful … and young. I’m not exactly over the hill at 33, but my horizons are not as vast as they once were. I overhear one girl saying to another, “I wish I was Kylie Jenner.” Never mind. I definitely do not want to be 19 again.

3:45 p.m. This graduate seminar is painful. Not sure how I’m going to make it until six. For a moment, I think about using Foucault to talk about my own sex life just to shake up the conversation. Instead, I tilt my laptop toward the wall and start researching for the story I’m writing.


6:30 a.m. Friday. Here we go. Another long day. I eat chocolate for breakfast, but it’s vegan, organic, and gluten-free. That’s healthy, right?

8 a.m. D waits until halfway through our walk to bring up Wednesday night.

“So … still not into butt stuff,” he says.

“It tickled,” I respond. “But the other stuff I liked.”

“The spanking,” he clarifies. I can feel myself blushing. I don’t know why. I write much more raunchy scenes than the one we did. But it was us, so I can’t divorce myself from it the same way.

“Yes,” I admit. “And you being all take-charge-like. It was sexy.”

He smiles and walks the rest of the way home with a spring in his step.

10:30 a.m. I hate office hours. Students never show up. So I spend my morning researching bondage. I tell myself that it’s for my story in order to keep the panic at bay. But, as I scan pictures of men and women tied up in intricate rope knots, I can’t help but wonder what it would feel like to be all bound up and helpless. The shitty part of my brain reminds me that I wouldn’t look anything like these women, but I try to focus on what it would feel like to be tied up. I send a couple of links to D.

3:15 p.m. Another graduate seminar — this one on immaterial culture. Sex is immaterial culture, right? Or is it labor in the Marxian sense? I’m tempted to ask. I can’t drift off in this class, because there are so few students in attendance. So I push these thoughts from my mind and try to focus.

9:45 p.m. D and I had dinner in front of the TV, then I go to bed. I’m slightly embarrassed to be in bed before ten on a Friday night, but I’m too tired to stay up.


6:48 a.m. Saturday is my morning to sleep in, but today I’m awake before seven. And I immediately start running through all I need to accomplish today, making it impossible to spend a few leisurely hours lazing about.

10:18 a.m. D and I have a meeting for a community-based research project we’re both a part of. But then we’re going to run errands — that involves buying rope.

11:45 a.m. We’re at Target and can’t find rope anywhere. We eventually split up, but find it at the same time. It’s awkward — pretending the rope is for a clothesline. Maybe I’m just making it awkward. Either way, the saleswoman knows, doesn’t she? She has judgment in her eyes, I can see it.

1:15 p.m. Trying to finish up my BDSM story. Dirk and Alice are going at it in unrealistic positions that, to be perfectly honest, seem more painful than fun. Still, I can’t help but think about what D and I are planning for the evening.

7:25 p.m. I come out of the shower to see D perched on the bed in nothing but his Darth Vader robe, practicing knots and watching a YouTube tutorial. I can’t help but giggle, even as my stomach tightens in excitement.

7:30 p.m. D has me stand beside the bed, completely naked, as he once again goes through the tutorial, this time stopping to wrap the ropes around my shoulders and arms. I try not to think about how, if I look down, I can see my stomach expanding out much farther than my boobs. Instead, I try to picture the images I’d seen online — the sexy bodies, bound and contorted.

7:38 p.m. Once he’s finished, D asks if he can take some pictures. I answer with an emphatic NO. Disappointed, he tries to get me to at least go look at myself in the mirror. Once again I refuse. I’m holding on by a thread at the moment and know that if I see myself naked in the mirror, this will all be over before it begins.

7:42 p.m. “You’re thinking too much,” D growls. In an uncharacteristically dominant move, he pushes me down on the bed and grabs my thighs, hiking my butt in the air, and gives it a huge slap. It stings, but it also pulls me out of my head. I close my eyes and give into the sensation.

8:15 p.m. By the time D finally fucks me, I feel like I’m floating. My ass is on fire, but body is calm and relaxed, almost drunk. It doesn’t take as long as it normally does for me to come.

8:42 p.m. D unties me, then gently rubs my ass and arms with lotion. They ache, but it’s a good ache.

8:50 p.m. Finally rally enough energy to get up and go to the bathroom. I’m not nearly as bothered by the image in the mirror as I normally am. I’m too distracted by the ligature marks on my arms. There are also bright-red marks on my ass — as well as a hickey and what appears to be a bite mark. Insecurity creeps back in for a minute — what kind of feminist lets a man tie her up and hit her? But I push it out of my mind. I’m going to let myself enjoy this.

9 p.m. Back in bed for the night and don’t even feel guilty about how early it is. D can deal with the pets.


8:12 a.m. The sun is shining brightly by the time I wake up. D is still snoring beside me, but the pets are getting antsy. As I shift, I feel a pleasant ache in my arms and backside. It reminds me of what we did last night and I smile. Deciding the pets, and the rest of my responsibilities, can wait for a while, I roll over. I press against D until he shifts and wraps an arm and a leg around me so that he’s perfectly spooned up behind me. I drift back to sleep.

10:17 a.m. “Last night was fun,” D says casually over brunch. I agree.

“We should try it again,” he says. “Perhaps other stuff, too.”

“Sure,” I reply with a smile. “Like what?”

We spend the rest of the morning compiling a list. Will I have the guts to do it all? Probably not. But at least I’m trying.

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The Academic Experimenting With Spanking