On Kink Dynamics: “Holding the reins”

tran nguyen 3

My lower vertebrae clutch and seize in towards centre, bringing my back to sway, chest thrown open. The muscles along my inner thighs grip, and I sense your body surge under me, releasing. That familiar flush of lavender spreads across the temples: I enter the state that lets me unleash my strength on you. This armour is a lie, but it is mine. The taste of metal in my mouth as I plunge into the folds of your body shields me and offers resilience. I do want to reveal myself to you, but slowly.

First, I want you to want me. Tell me over and over how good it is, how nobody has understood your body like I do. I shut my eyes out and feel you. It is not calculated, it is how I have learned to protect myself. I still don’t know how to ask for precisely what I want, while your desire is bare under me.

What I don’t tell you is how much I need this: not just to please you. I am not that generous. Your moans awaken a power in me that I cannot access alone.

The thought of you is not enough: I need to have you breathing against my skin, to feel your heat, to hear you say Please. I am not just doing this for you.

You tell me not to ask permission and I take this in, swallow it, find other ways of asking. I watch the arch of your back, listen for the depth of your breath, testing.

The lift of your pelvis instructs my mouth to move and you tell me not to be careful. You sense my fear and I say, Yes, because we are treading a thin edge. The structure slips, you taste my tears on your face, wrap my limbs around yours. Still trembling I gather strength and move into you. Each tug elicits the sound of more, the scrape of your claws on my thighs, your pulse beneath my teeth.

We catch each other over and over again.


These words by Alisha Mascarenhas were inspired by the art by Tran Nguyen,

and are also a response to Xan West’s “I’m not just doing it for you” 

From the author: “I wrote this in response to Xan West’s article on myths about “topping” in kink dynamics. West’s piece suggests some of the ways in which tops/dominants tend to be seen as selflessly offering an experience to bottoms/submissives, obfuscating the top’s own pleasures and desires. The physicality of Tran Nguyen’s piece evoked a sense of mutuality within an image that might presuppose power being held by the person holding the reins. I must be dead clear that I am not likening bottoms to animals being ridden (which would further exacerbate existing dichotomies between masculine/feminine and civilized/savage). I am, rather, drawing from the implicit, dynamic power relationship and vulnerabilities being represented through this visual.”


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