2 min

Marks of approval

Leaving behind a reminder of good SM

Credit: Xtra West files

My friend, brimming with glee, bounced impatiently on my front step. I let her in, turned around and she’d lowered her pants already, presenting her ass for examination. “Look! From last night! Aren’t they great?”

Obligingly, I bent to admire the proffered butch butt, and the set of fine parallel red-lined welts across both cheeks. The stripes were almost as even as if she’d sat on a cooling oven rack, but I knew the true cause; I’d been hearing my friend’s pre-jitters about last night’s date with a new top for a week now.

“What nice welts! A thin cane, it looks like. Did it hurt?” I asked, knowing that she wanted an excuse to gush.

“Oh! She said I was so brave, and yes, it hurt like hell, and I stood very still and asked politely for every one! I really came just to show you; I gotta go to work. Bye!”

After her whirlwind visit, I thought about the marks BDSM play can leave on our physical selves, which can range from the ephemeral pink blush brought on by a gentle spanking, to the deep bruises, welts or surface cutting from our more intense SM play.

Welts are almost always treated with pride. The next day’s aftercare often includes a review of marks, delighting both top and bottom. Sometimes, like my friend, we show them to our closest kinky friends. The thrilling post-play ache (often surreptitiously felt while sitting at one’s desk at work) from a good paddling is fleeting, lasting only a day or two, and the visual mementos of a scene often fade too soon to suit their owner. Even I, nominally a non-masochistic top, have poked a two day-old bruise left by a love bite on my bicep, and smiled, remembering.

When I fell off my bike a few years ago, none of my leatherfolk friends viewed my abraded flesh with any kind of lust, nor did anyone say the scuff marks were lovely. So our feelings about our bruises seem not much to do with the actual minor injury, and quite a bit more than “her skin simply got that way as we played.” It must be about the meaning our BDSM play holds for each of us.

Marks, not simply a reminder of a shared experience, also make a statement of freedom to explore our own extremes. Our bodies belong to us, and we claim them as our own. We have the right to offer the blank slate of our flesh to trusted others, and in turn, when offered this gift, we may cherish the marks of our passion writ on the skin of our willing partners.

* Elaine Miller is known to her students as a hard marker.