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Arts & Culture

Savage Love: Let It Go

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I’m a 30ish woman in a lovely GGG relationship with a man about my age. I’m submissive and masochistic; he’s dominant and willing to inflict some pain. Neither of us has tons of BDSM experience, but we’re enjoying each other. My question: My boyfriend is into belly punching. I’m happy to indulge him and have started to enjoy it. He likes it when I relax my abdominal muscles. Is this safe? What precautions should we take? Does the fact that I have an IUD factor in? And if I ever get pregnant, should we stop for the duration?
—Belly Erects Long Lovely Youknowwhat

“There certainly are consensual boundaries that only the person and their partner can know how to navigate,” says Dr. Leah Torres, an obstetrician/gynecologist with a special focus on family planning, “but I encourage safety first always.”

And Dr. Torres sees danger in what you’re doing, BELLY. “Abdominal muscles protect and hold our intestines, liver, spleen, pancreas, etc. in place, and there can be risk involved in blunt trauma such as punches in the abdomen, especially if the muscles are ‘relaxed’ and therefore not protective,” says Dr. Torres. “For example, if someone has an infection like cytomegalovirus (‘mono’), the spleen can be more susceptible to injury. Blunt trauma could cause splenic rupture and internal bleeding that could be life threatening. While that is uncommon, it is an example of how something that appears ‘not dangerous’ could become so given the right circumstances.”

One precaution you could take? Stop relaxing your abdominal muscles and use them—use your tensed, flexed abdominal muscles—to protect your internal organs. “There is no risk to the IUD, as it is inside a very small uterus that is in the lower pelvis,” says Dr. Torres. “But when someone is pregnant (!), I would recommend no belly punching—not under any circumstances!”

I’m a gay man of about 30, in a relationship with a great guy. But he seems to be “feminizing” me, and I hate it! I’ve spent the last decade in grad school. I stayed in shape—above average!—but there was no time for significant exercise. I’ve started working out hard, but the going is slow. I weigh about 20 pounds less than my boyfriend. I find that I simply can’t match his level of aggression in bed. He has even joked a couple times about me being more “the woman” in our relationship—and I don’t like that. However, quite frankly, it’s not like I can toss him into bed and have my way with him. I want him to see me as another man in bed. It’ll be another year or two before I really reach his level of athleticism. Any ideas in the meantime?
—Not One To Feel Entirely Masculine

Just one, NOTFEM: Get over yourself.

Watching a man wring his hands about his fragile manliness—watching a man dissolve into a puddle of insecurity—hardly makes him seem more masculine. (And it doesn’t make him seem more feminine. It just makes him look ridiculous.) And 20 pounds of muscle do not “make the man,” any more than being the tosser as opposed to the tossee does. Being comfortable in your own skin makes you a man. No, scratch that. Being comfortable in your own skin makes you a person—a decent, tolerable, secure and attractive person.(And a man who’s passive in bed is still a man! Christ!)

If your boyfriend says something that annoys you (“You’re the woman!”), tell him to knock it off. But your boyfriend could be “joking” about you being the passive one because he prefers it that way. If he would rather be the tosser, NOTFEM, you’ll need to either find a different boyfriend or stop grounding your sense of masculinity in something so arbitrary as a game of who-tossed-who-farther and who-can-bench-press-what.

Jolene Parton burns up Twitter @jolenestarshine. Dr. Leah Torres regularly posts about women’s health issues and smacks down antichoice trolls on Twitter @LeahNTorres and blogs at Leahtorres.com.

Find the Savage Lovecast (my weekly podcast) every Tuesday at savagelovecast.com.

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