Ever heard the term “fristing”? I wish you had. I am trying to get it into common (well, among the rope-community) parlance much like Dan Savage popularized “santorum”. Senator-Doctor Bill Frist became a cause-celebre for a few weeks a while back when he weighed in on the unfortunate plight of Terry Schaivo. I won’t rehash the whole case; the pertinent fact here is that Mr. Frist gave a medical diagnosis based on a few minutes of videotape of Ms. Schaivo. Upon her death, autopsy revealed that his diagnosis had been completely erroneous.
You see that a lot in the rope community thanks to the wonders of photography and teh interwebs. Many well-meaning “experts” (and yes, I use those quotes quite intentionally) will weigh in on the placement of ropes, on the risks of injury, and (as my friend referenced in her tweet above) on the level of “connection” between the rigger and the bottom. If there isn’t that expression of “beautiful suffering” (complemented by the “exquisite cruelty” of the rigger) then obviously that was just a pose. It wasn’t real Kinbaku™.
Lemme tell you a story. A while back I got to chatting – well, flirting, really – with a Hot Model. I won’t say who, but if you’ve watched a lot of rope bondage porn you’ve probably seen her. And the flirting was going quite well, and when she ended up getting a gig in my town we decided to hook up. Rope was definite, and we both agreed that sex was likely.
In the weeks before she arrived, I did what any self-respecting horny goat would do: research. In particular I watched videos of her work, including one on a popular bondage-and-forced-orgasm site. I watched that one a lot, seeing that flush come over her skin, hearing her breathing change, her screams peak, and her body shuddering as the strategically-placed hitachi took her to peak after peak on the video.
When we ended up getting together, yes, there was rope, and yes, there was sex. Great sex, in fact (I won’t make any claims on the rope) aside from me having a panic attack because of the rug burns on her spine (hey, she was a model; I was damaging her merchandise, albeit quite consensually). When we reached a happily sated and sweaty stopping point, I asked (in that “not-attached-to-outcomes-but-still-invested-in-her-pleasure” way that sex educators have) if she’d had an orgasm.
She looked surprised. “You couldn’t tell?” She had a point; there had been moments that certainly seemed climactic, but none of it had looked like the video. I explained my research to her, and she laughed, beautifully.
“Oh, honey,” she said. “Those weren’t real. He [the site owner] won’t untie you until you have ten or twelve orgasms. We all have to fake them or we’d be there all day.”
That’s the problem with fristing. Come on, people, we have a hard enough time communicating feeling to each other when we are in person, using words and expression and sound and hard-ons and everything. You really think you can “read” connection from a single frame? Especially a single frame that was probably composed and specifically created collaboratively between rigger, model, and photographer?
Let’s Not Dis the O-Face
However, I do have one problem with my friend’s tweet. Though she tried to soften it with the adjective “obligatory”, she still singled out the “O-Face.” I’m pretty sure she meant this one. But for a large portion of the population, that is a genuine expression. Unfortunately, if you single it out, then you have suddenly made a group of people self-conscious about what kind of face they’re making. It’s kind of the centipede’s dilemma: Oh, that feels good! Wait, what is my face doing? What if people think I’m faking? I hope I’m not making o-face…it might seem like I’m doing it for obligatory reasons!
Now, in her case she clarified: observers had apparently accused her and her partner of not having “connection” because she laughs, she looks at him, she actually talks to him during their scenes. Personally, I think that sounds like a great time, but apparently the folks watching even tried shaming them (as she says, “Well, they attempted. They were destroyed.”).
I know the feeling; I once had a person tell me I was not a “real rigger” because I’d let the bottom touch my ropes (during a suspension, no less). For both of us, the feeling towards these opinions is pretty much: who the fuck are you?
Let’s all save the O-face, in all its wondrous variety, and learn to use this phrase: It looked to me like… Or maybe a simple It seemed to me that… Maybe even safer would be not to interpret other people’s scenes at all, and if you have to comment, say something like That made me think of…
Then go ahead, talk about your own feelings. But the battle to stop fristing starts with you.
In case you’re wondering: yes, I feel quite strongly about that.