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My strap makes me feel sexy and empowered – and that’s just wearing it, let alone using it with another person. What I share with you here, is a story of discovery, and learning how the strap can be much more than a toy, or an object attached to a body, or even a tool for fucking – it can send its wearer on a path toward healing their relationship between self and sexuality.

Desire outside of the cis-male imagination

I’m a white bisexual cis woman, who may also be non-binary (more on that later) who has complex PTSD, OCD and anxiety as a result of decades of physically, psychologically and sexually abusive relationships. I’ve also always loved fucking – all kinds of people, in all kinds of ways. Yet over the years, my queerness has been pushed aside – for either being too much, or not enough.

I’m a white bisexual cis woman, who may also be non-binary (more on that later) who has complex PTSD, OCD and anxiety as a result of decades of physically, psychologically and sexually abusive relationships. I’ve also always loved fucking – all kinds of people, in all kinds of ways. Yet over the years, my queerness has been pushed aside – for either being too much, or not enough.

I’ve always thought how delicious it must be to penetrate someone else, but never thought of it as possible for me, or even allowed.

Finding the perfect strap

While watching queer porn one evening, mid-way through watching an encounter between an exquisite femme fucking a sumptuous butch, I pressed pause – not to titillate myself further by observing their delicious bodies, but to appreciate for a second the femme’s perfectly fitting strap hardness which secured in place a smooth, purple, fairly girthy 6-inch dildo. I admired how confident she looked, and how beautifully the harness fitted against her skin – like a glove. I zoomed in and thought about how good it must feel against her, down there, as she penetrated her partner. I felt desire, a rush of blood to my clit, but also jealousy. I wanted to be her. Then it hit me – I could be her.

Looking in the mirror

The choice can be overwhelming, but I did manage to decide. And deciding was one of the best parts – at last I had chosen for myself what shape I wanted to be. When it arrived, I went straight to my bedroom and shut the door. I tore away the discreet packaging to reveal a hot pink box, about the size of a shoe box. I opened it to reveal a neatly folded leather strap harness with silver buckles at the side. In the middle was a hard leather triangle with a hole in the centre, through which the soft silicone curved purple dildo would slide, and sit against my body. I undressed, eager to get strapped in, and look at myself in the mirror.

This would be a new way of getting ready to fuck. Less shaving my legs, arms and pubic hair, no choosing of the perfect uncomfortable lacy lingerie, no lipstick, no expensive perfume. Or maybe I could have all these things, but differently. I stood in front of the mirror, moving around, watching the purple silicone dildo bob and twang with my movements. I contorted to see how the straps looked criss-crossing my butt. It was like being reborn – no longer did I have to be this or that shape, endure the relentless pressure of performing womanhood and a sexuality that was never mine. I was glad I’d tried it on by myself first – I think I’d have felt self-conscious struggling with the buckles and transforming in front of a partner. This intimate time with myself was important – I was able to take my time to feel comfortable – something so far away from what I was used to feeling about my sexuality.

Finding my new body

Perhaps what I’m describing is some kind of bodily euphoria – perhaps even gender euphoria. It’s well known that once we think we’ve come to grips with our sexuality, that we are brought face to face with the possibility that our gender is also more multifarious than heteronormativity would have us imagine. For me, the strap allows me to cast aside the limits of my body and my desire, as well as the limits others have imposed. I love the idea that our genitals can wander, always resisting the ties they’ve been given to a particular gender or orientation. The strap I had chosen was for me not to emulate flesh, it wasn’t representational, it was some other part altogether.

So what I’m saying is the strap is glorious, even before using it with a partner. But what became clear when I did use it with a partner is that its function is not to emulate cis hetero-sex, but to add to the glorious mixing up that sex can be – troubling our relationships with our genders and our sexuality. I’m still discovering, as much as I’m still healing, but what the strap has taught me is that I can be whatever shape I choose, both inside and outside of the bedroom. Traumatic memory is like water – it floods into everything, especially sex which can become highly triggering. But the strap has changed sex for me – it means I’ll be more likely to be there – not disassociated, being myself, rather than watching myself – present to myself, and therefore my partner too.

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"When did sex become such a serious thing, where a display of genuine happiness during intercourse is cause for discomfort or - perhaps worse - the ick?"

One of my close friends asked me recently what my favourite part of sex is. I knew what they were expecting, what a sexy lead of a film would say: the licking, the sucking, the way I seize up before cumming and then surrender myself. I answered quickly: ‘smiling, probably’. They tried to conceal a look of slight shock, lowering their brow as quickly as it had started to rise - the unwritten rule being that anything we say about sex to each other goes by unchallenged, because God forbid we seem judgemental about each others sex lives.

There are a lot of unwritten rules I’ve picked up on when it comes to sex; having it, talking about it, and writing about it. Maybe I’m breaking one by doubling down on my position here, rather than quickly shaking my head and saying ‘only joking! I love oral!’

A quick Google search of ‘smiling during sex’ returns a list of forums. Posts penned by anonymous users lament ‘I find it so weird when I’m smiled at during sex, how do I get her to stop?’, and ‘he asked me to smile more during sex - why????’

When did sex become such a serious thing, where a display of genuine happiness during intercourse is cause for discomfort or - perhaps worse - the ick? Despite knowing I’m not widely agreed with on this, it’s still true - the thing I enjoy most about sex is smiling. I wouldn’t have always said that, especially not with such conviction - and believe me I love all of the other parts, too - fingers sinking into flesh, limbs in all directions, bodies moving until they find their rhythm, the closeness and sweat, the noises of heavy, thick want - but not as much as I enjoy a moment of hungry eye contact, an inability to hide how good this moment is. Slowing for a second, and sharing a moment of comfort, ease, joy.

It took a long time for anyone to smile at me during sex, or for me to smile at them. It’s a transformative feeling, and I do think it’s the kind of thing that, once you lean into loving it, you can unlock and carry with you. I must be specific about the kind of smiling I’m talking about; I don’t mean a grin that flashes across somebodies face, signifying ‘I’m doing so fucking well right now, I bet you’re loving this’, but rather, lips parting, maybe showing some teeth, a dimple, accompanied by hands brushing against my temples, eyes that don’t break away from mine until they’ve communicated what I’m sure they’re trying to say: I love doing this so much, and I love doing it with you, and I love your pleasure so much I’m willing to wait for it.

"I used to think of (sex) as a job - where my role was to satisfy somebody else. I now know how wrong that is and how little I was enjoying sex because of it."

I only smile if I really want to. It’s more of a natural thing than something I actively focus on - if I’m totally relaxed, basking in the glow of spit, sweat and curious fingertips. So, when did all of this occur to me? There are two major occasions I can place: the first, when I’d bought a clit suction toy and came so hard I soaked through my sheets - the smile after that taught me just how radical self-pleasure can be - and during a bout of make up sex, where the anger and hurt subsided even if just for a moment, squashed by the power of being really fucking horny for each other, knowing exactly where to touch and what to whisper, cuming faster than you’re sure you ever did before.

Placing myself at the centre of sex - whether partnered or solo - ensures I get what I want. It allows me to totally connect, whether it’s with a vibration setting or another body, and be totally in that moment. Nothing else matters, everything else falls away and I’d have to be shaken to remember it exists.

Sex makes me happy, it makes me smile. I used to think of it as a job - where my role was to satisfy somebody else. I now know how wrong that is and how little I was enjoying sex because of it. Knowing that, knowing my body and learning the map of somebody else’s brings joy. The look of a smile, on my face or theirs, is priceless. I’ll never tire of it.

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"As I grow older, I stray further away from binaries and labels. My taste and sexual attraction widen year by year, and I find beauty in so many different types of people."

I’m a film photographer and creative director living and working on Gadigal Land, Sydney. I was born in Cambodia, where I lived for seven years before moving to St Lucia, Papua New Guinea. When I was 13 my family settled in New Zealand. I went to an all-boys boarding school, then studied fashion design in Auckland. As I got deeper into the course, I realised I loved making the images more than the clothes, which led me to take up photography full time. I learnt how to use a film camera in lockdown, and I guess it just picked up from there. I like hiking, swimming and anything to do by the ocean. Jumping off cliffs into the water, rock climbing, reading. I like to challenge myself mentally and physically so hiking and outdoor activities are my go-to.

To my memory, I learned about sex through older friends in primary school. They would talk about it, I would ask questions, and they would tell me. When I was younger, I was very rigid when it came to my sexuality. I thought I could only be into a certain kind of man. When I left high school, I realised I was drawn to so many different types of people. As I grow older, I stray further away from binaries and labels. My taste and sexual attraction widen year by year, and I find beauty in so many different types of people.  

"I enjoy capturing love and intimacy; it transcends sexuality."

When it comes to my work, I am much more than my sexuality. It does not dictate what I can or can't shoot. I have the ability to create a closeness and relationship with a subject, which allows them to feel a connection to the camera. That being said, being a predominantly gay man, I shoot other men through a gentle lens. My work is all about capturing the gentle, innocent, and playful sides we rarely see.

I capture women through a queer male gaze, and that comes through in an intimate and tender way. A lot of my work is shot through a voyeuristic lens, capturing something that feels private. I enjoy capturing love and intimacy as it transcends sexuality. When it comes to capturing the erotic, I just want people to be respectful of the subjects. My work can be suggestive, but that does not warrant inappropriate comments about the people in the imagery.  

My recent photographic book, 'I’m Going to Miss You,’ documents long and nostalgic summer days, shared with beautiful men. It explores brotherhood, sensuality, and the act of playing, for to play is to be vulnerable. It carries through themes from my earlier book ‘Come Back to Bed’. I don't think too much about my sexuality. To me, it is another facet of myself. I feel most connected when I am holding someone I care about in an intimate and sexual way. When it comes to sex, my greatest lesson is that there is no such thing as too much lube.

Rob lives and works on Gadigal Land, Sydney. His recent work can ‘I’m Going to Miss You’ can be found here.

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Meet Dip

You may have noticed that sex toys have had a bit of a glow-up over the last few years. There are so many toys out there that look like a work of art and feel like the most luxurious piece of technology you’ll ever own. If you’re a fan of this new wave of aesthetically pleasing sexual aids, then let me introduce you to one of the silkiest vibrators you’ll ever come across – Dip.

This soft, bean-shaped vibrator was created by Rosewell, an Australian sex care brand that wholeheartedly believes sex, intimacy, and connection are critical to a person’s wellbeing (which is, of course, completely accurate). As soon as you pull the Dip out of its minimalist dust bag, you’ll be glad to have it in your possession. Dip is made from medical-grade silicone and feels exceptionally smooth against the skin. It’s so smooth that it feels like the silicone has had velour injected into it to enhance the finish – but don’t worry, it hasn’t. Dip has a single button embedded into the silicone that lights up when the vibrator is switched on. This button activates the three vibration speeds and five vibration modes with unique patterns that massage the clitoris. 

For solo sex

A good way to introduce yourself to Dip, is to start with the three vibration speeds, the first of which is gentle and great if your clitoris is sensitive to strong vibrations. The second and third speeds offer powerful buzzing sensations. You’ll notice Dip is very quiet, so if you’re living in a sharehouse setting, this is the ideal toy for you. The modes begin with a lower, undulating pattern before moving to a series of pulsating patterns that range from quick and buzzy to slow and rumbly. These patterns are brilliant if you’ve begun to orgasm and want to elongate your climax. If you typically have to switch your vibrator off as soon as you climax due to clitorial sensitivity, with Dip, you can switch to a lighter mode and keep the vibrator in place. This is also great if you’re interested in exploring multiple orgasms. 

For partnered sex

It’s easy to incorporate the Dip into partnered play due to its smaller size and curved body. It sits comfortably between two bodies and is slim enough not to restrict anyone’s movement. Orgasm elongation and the opportunity for multiple orgasms are particularly exciting when you’re with a partner. If you’re with someone and can feel yourself building up to orgasm, but they’re not on the same level as you just yet, you can ride out that orgasm until they’re alongside you for an intense, shared climax. Dip can be used on many different erogenous zones the including the clitoris, labia, pernium, scrotum and penis, which also makes it a great couples toy.  Dip is also useful when you’re trying out new positions and may have trouble staying relaxed. Place the Dip on your clitoris while you’re experimenting with new sexual styles, and it’ll help you resist clenching and make exploration much more comfortable for you and the person you’re with.

Using Dip

Using Dip is very simple. You can switch it on by holding down the power button for 2 seconds, this deactivates the travel lock. Once the button has lit up and released a single vibration, press it again to turn the toy on. Place the textured underside of Dip anywhere you like. Change the speed and mode by pressing the button, and then hold it to turn off. You can use the smaller tip for more direct stimulation, or the broader underside for more generalised vibrations. Dip’s sturdy design also means you’re able to apply a lot of pressure. 

A quality, ethical choice 

Rosewell is a plastic-free brand. They also offer recycling so no toys end up in landfill. Roswell Founder, Alisha Williams, puts an enormous amount of effort into ensuring all Rosewell products are manufactured to the highest standards. Dip is a top tier toy at an affordable price. If you’re on the hunt for a new vibrator that feels amazing on your body, is incredible to look at, easy to use, and can give you a powerful orgasm without creating painful sensitivity, then let me point you in the direction of Dip. You won’t regret it. Dip is avalible is navy and stone and can be shopped below.

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Welcome to Enquire Within, our fortnightly newsletter exploring your sexual curiosities and confusions. Answering your questions is writer, journalist, podcaster, and person we trust, Madison Griffiths. This week, we're investigating all things Vorarephilia.

Question:

"I’ve recently developed a fantasy about being eaten. It’s come on totally unprompted and takes different forms. Sometimes I get shrunken down before being eaten. Sometimes I get eaten in one go by a whale. It’s never graphic or violent. I just really want to be consumed as a whole. What does this mean and where could this have come from?"

Answer:

This may be a tough thing to swallow, sweet reader… but I’m going to give you a lot to gobble up. It appears, according to my diagnosis and the copious amount of intriguing and—at times, a little perturbing—perusing I spent on various Internet deep-dives, that you are a vorer: an individual aroused by the idea of being swallowed whole. Like all fetishes, vore is multidimensional, complex and rich with possibilities. It appears, according to your description, that you might be more stirred by ‘soft vore’, the idea of being swallowed whole, as opposed to ‘hard vore’… which involves being chewed up, masticated, and having parts of you devoured. But, you’re not alone, and I’m going to invite you into the slobbery goodness of the vore community, the bread and butter of kink if you will. 

Vore is an established fetish that centres around the fantasy of being consumed. Often, the vorer is the ‘prey’, the individual intent on being gobbled up, and the predator can assume a variety of forms: be it human, mythical, or animal (like the whale you mentioned). Despite vore being relatively uncharted in the mainstream’s understanding of what kink is, there is often a considerable crossover between vore and the rich, fantasy world of furries, a misunderstood and oft taunted subgroup of kinksters who role-play as fluffy critters.

You ask where this could’ve come from, but vore as a concept… or even a cautionary tale, has sunk its teeth into folklore and popular culture for eons. For Lee, a vorer who spoke to VICE, reading Little Red Riding Hood as a wee lad terrified the hell out of him until it didn’t, his fear of a mendacious wolf donned in elderly clothes as it licked its lips eventually… exciting him. When he reached adolescence, there was comfort—serenity, even—in the idea of being gulped down by some congenial, large whale. Transfixed on the story of James Bartley, a sailor who claimed to have been swallowed whole by a sperm whale and who went on to describe the inside of the whale’s belly as something akin to “velvet walls”, Lee’s ears piqued. 

"Jonah and the Whale" from the Qur'an, found on Eka's Portal.

I’m not going to lie: the stigma surrounding vore is pretty hideous, with the most vanilla of society pairing it with the real-life act of cannibalism. But, if I were you, I’d take these boring suppositions with a pinch of salt, as vore thrives off fantasy, off invention, not the real-life need to consume another person. Many vorers use platforms such asEka’s Portal, a vore-centric website, to unearth their deepest, tastiest reveries through art, discussion and interactive stories. 

As for what this means, it’s impossible to pinpoint an origin story without getting all Freudian on you. But, people have tried. Max Plenke, a writer for Mic, sat down with three young men into vore and concluded that vore is an unassuming and safe way to feel sexually gratified without having to delve into what one’s sexuality, in actuality, might be. So, if a dude imagines being eaten by another big, burly dude, he can tip-toe around potentially being into men and instead just find solace and sexiness in the first premise: the being eaten part. He doesn’t have to choose a label, he can just… be. What is more concerning about this diagnosis, I think, is that we live in a world where an angsty teenager terrified of the reality of being into fellas can divert his fears, and find console in being gobbled up instead. Because… no homo. Just eat me, daddy. 

The more I discover about vore, the more it makes sense through the lens of BDSM and its ties to power-play. It’s not as outlandish as people are led to believe, especially given the stories that have permeated throughout our weird, little lives: ones that centre around a villain who wants to gobble up its prey: be it an evil sorceress or witch (think:HanselandGretel),a wolf intent on eating its hunt (think:Little Red Riding Hood), and—wink, wink—a giant whale (think:Jonah the Whale). The vorer is the sub in this, it seems: the impotent victim inescapably meeting its dominant match. But, swallowing aside, the mouth isn’t always totally meant to signal danger or dominance. We see, throughBeauty and the Beast, Sleeping BeautyandThe Princess and the Frog,that the mouth is a source of healing, fondness and redemption, regardless of species. 

If I were you, I’d step into the belly of the beast and find what pocket of vore gets you going. If that means reading James Bartley’s diary, the original sperm whale’s snack, or perusing through the pixelated archives of drawings of humungous My Little Pony ponies eating prey on Eka’s Portal, then go forth. Maybe even give your lover’s toes a little nibble and see how that feels. It’s time to put your finger in every pie of the world wide web. Piece of cake! 

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Welcome to Enquire Within, our fortnightly newsletter exploring your sexual curiosities and confusions. Answering your questions is writer, journalist, podcaster, and person we trust, Madison Griffiths.

Question:

"Super excited by this initiative! I’ll jump right in. I want to know about fisting. Is this something people really do? How did it become a thing? 

I’ve heard people talk about it, but I’m interested in how common it is. I thought about watching fisting porn but am too nervous it might scar me. Please investigate."

Answer:

You want to get to the bottom of fisting? That makes two of us, chook. As a horny adolescent who was equal parts terrified-and-curious when it came to having my insides explored, I always assumed fisting was as it sounds: a forceful, closed hand, postured as if ready to throw the fuck down, pushing its way into someone’s vagina. An excavation, if you will, reserved only for the most game, the most hardcore.

But fisting, which homes a moniker of names—including hand sex, all-finger fingering, hand-balling, vaginal punching (holy shit), fist fucking—doesn’t actually involve a closed hand. Imagine instead all of your fingers and thumb tucked into each other and grouped together for easier access, with the idea being: if one finger ain’t enough, why not try five? As one passionate fister I spoke to described, imagine making a shadow duck with your hand. And then, imagine fucking it. Hot.

So, off the bat, yes… this is something that people do. A lot of people, a lot of the time. From my investigation, good fisting practice involves allowing it to naturally progress during sexy times. Somebody I spoke to found herself trying it with her boyfriend while high on MDMA (we love a bit of powdered courage). As she was being fingered, in the grips of passion, she requested more fingers. And then more. Low and behold, once she asked how many fingers he was using, he said that he was fisting her. “I haven’t experienced it since,” she told me, but admitted that she freakin’ loved it.  

Your fear of being scarred by looking for fisting methods through the world-wide-web is completely understandable. Most of the porn floating around that explores fisting is hardcore, so—if you’re curious, but trepidatious—I’d avoid those channels for now. In fact, everybody I’ve spoken to didn’t start their fisting escapades by sitting down with their lover and deciding to embark on a full blown hand-ball. For fisting enthusiasts, the progression was natural and slow-going. “I’ve never planned it before the horny mood strikes,” one fister explained, outlining to me that the preemptive expectation to get a whole hand up ‘em is perhaps what makes people nervous, which—as they describe—“is not great for sticking big, wide things in your pussy.”

The misconceptions surrounding fisting are in no way unique to just… fisting. Like all things sex, the vagina is an elusive, misunderstood channel of pleasure, pain and prejudice. It’s almost as if we live in a sexist society, folks. One fister said that they’ve had particularly shit male partners assume that if ‘their fist is as big as a babies head, and giving birth makes you ‘loose’, you’re going to be loose if I fist you.’ Gross. And, for those worried, this is absolutely false. The vagina opens up when it wants to, and retreats again when it’s time. It’s not a gaping crevice. 

A non-binary fister I spoke to said that fisting allows them to explore their sexuality in a safe and horny way, given it involves fucking somebody outside of the confines of their penis. Not just this, the hand isn’t at all… penis-adjacent. It is an extension of the body able to offer, or provide, a sense of ‘fullness’, this particular sensation amplified largely by the fact that it can only really go down when the fistee is especially aroused.

What is really exciting about fisting, when plucked from the channels of hardcore, heteronormative porn, is that the hand is a completely genderless appendage. A non-binary fister I spoke to said that fisting allows them to explore their sexuality in a safe and horny way, given it involves fucking somebody outside of the confines of their penis. Not just this, the hand isn’t at all… penis-adjacent. It is an extension of the body able to offer, or provide, a sense of ‘fullness’, this particular sensation amplified largely by the fact that it can only really go down when the fistee is especially aroused.

Think of it this way: if you are somebody curious about fisting somebody else, imagine having them open themselves up to you so readily, so enthusiastically, that they can accommodate something as large as a whole hand. That’s pretty cool. To avoid it feeling clinical and invasive, fisting can be made even more alluring when you pair it with various organic sexual positions, including doggy. As much as the concept of fisting rather than the act itself seems to scare the living daylights out of a lot of us, sometimes—if you feel safe, secure and held—the concept of fisting alone is what makes it so sexy. “It’s a physical thing, and sociosexual thing,” one particular fistee describes. “It’s daring, which adds another dimension.” 

When I decided to investigate fisting, I did not anticipate that it would peak my interest. But, after my copious research, and thanks to the amount of generous queers who enlightened me, I’ve decided that it’s something I’m curious to try. As my loyal community of generous fistees—and fisters—have encouraged: be ready, be curious, be lubed up, and be horny. If that isn’t just a wonderful ethos to live by, I don’t know what is.

Fisting has no gender, no sexuality, and… minimal worries. Borrowing the advice of my loyal community of fistees and fisters, perhaps it's time to buy myself a bag of MDMA, belt Prince out on my speaker, and let my lover’s fingers do their thing. High-five.

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I came out as queer in my thirties, and even though I’d had queer sex before that point, I didn’t discover my relationship with my strap-on, or ‘strap’, until later. Let me tell you – that  relationship is something extraordinary. My strap makes me feel sexy and empowered – and that’s just wearing it, let alone using it with another person. What I share with you here, is a story of discovery, and learning how the strap can be much more than a toy, or an object attached to a body, or even a tool for fucking – it can send its wearer on a path toward healing their relationship between self and sexuality.

Desire outside of the cis-male imagination

I’m a white bisexual cis woman, who may also be non-binary (more on that later) who has complex PTSD, OCD and anxiety as a result of decades of physically, psychologically and sexually abusive relationships. I’ve also always loved fucking – all kinds of people, in all kinds of ways. Yet over the years, my queerness has been pushed aside – for either being too much, or not enough. It wasn’t until I discovered the strap that I discovered the expansive dimensions of my sexuality, and learnt what actually turns me on. Although I’ve always enjoyed penetration, sex, for me, has always meant performing for others, pleasing others – and ultimately, letting my body be the scene of heterosexual cis-male pleasure, and sadly, a site of abuse too. 

I’ve always thought how delicious it must be to penetrate someone else, but never thought of it as possible for me, or even allowed. Clearly I was wrong, but I didn’t feel how right it was to put on a strap until I felt safe and able to give space to my own desires. During my healing process through therapy, I felt my queerness expand multi-dimensionally, and at an extraordinary rate. I began to see being bisexual as the not only the fulfilment of my desire for people of all genders, but as a way of reclaiming my sexuality for myself, outside of anyone’s gaze. 

Finding the perfect strap

While watching queer porn one evening, mid-way through watching an encounter between an exquisite femme fucking a sumptuous butch, I pressed pause – not to titillate myself further by observing their delicious bodies, but to appreciate for a second the femme’s perfectly fitting strap hardness which secured in place a smooth, purple, fairly girthy 6-inch dildo. I admired how confident she looked, and how beautifully the harness fitted against her skin – like a glove. I zoomed in and thought about how good it must feel against her, down there, as she penetrated her partner. I felt desire, a rush of blood to my clit, but also jealousy. I wanted to be her. Then it hit me – I could be her. 

I opened Safari and felt a thrill as I typed in ‘buy strap on.’ I browsed websites and zoomed in on the pictures – wondering at the array of different harnesses – did I want pull-on strap-on briefs, a buckle-up leather one, or maybe a strapless-strap? I lingered on the different dildos – did I want something smooth and small sticking out of my harness, or something ridged, or curved? Which colour did I want? I didn’t want flesh, I wanted something else – I wanted to grow anewappendage never seen before on a human. Maybe gold, maybe sparkling? Then there was the lube. We know ‘the more the better’, but which?

Looking in the mirror

The choice can be overwhelming, but I did manage to decide. And deciding was one of the best parts – at last I had chosen for myself what shape I wanted to be. When it arrived, I went straight to my bedroom and shut the door. I tore away the discreet packaging to reveal a hot pink box, about the size of a shoe box. I opened it to reveal a neatly folded leather strap harness with silver buckles at the side. In the middle was a hard leather triangle with a hole in the centre, through which the soft silicone curved purple dildo would slide, and sit against my body. I undressed, eager to get strapped in, and look at myself in the mirror. 

This would be a new way of getting ready to fuck. Less shaving my legs, arms and pubic hair, no choosing of the perfect uncomfortable lacy lingerie, no lipstick, no expensive perfume. Or maybe I could have all these things, but differently. I stood in front of the mirror, moving around, watching the purple silicone dildo bob and twang with my movements. I contorted to see how the straps looked criss-crossing my butt. It was like being reborn – no longer did I have to be this or that shape, endure the relentless pressure of performing womanhood and a sexuality that was never mine. I was glad I’d tried it on by myself first – I think I’d have felt self-conscious struggling with the buckles and transforming in front of a partner. This intimate time with myself was important – I was able to take my time to feel comfortable – something so far away from what I was used to feeling about my sexuality. 

Once I started to grow into it, not only did I feel overcome with the urge to fuck, to top for the first time in the sack, but crucially, I felt soft power, as well as vulnerability. I felt dominance over my wounds and my shame, watching it fall away as I submitted to healing, to my own strap, and becoming whatever shape I please. The strap brought out my ‘top’ side, which is not simply about penetrating rather than being penetrated, but about reclaiming my desire and creating my own stories, my own adventures, of how and who I fuck from now on. 

Finding my new body

Perhaps what I’m describing is some kind of bodily euphoria – perhaps even gender euphoria. It’s well known that once we think we’ve come to grips with our sexuality, that we are brought face to face with the possibility that our gender is also more multifarious than heteronormativity would have us imagine. For me, the strap allows me to cast aside the limits of my body and my desire, as well as the limits others have imposed. I love the idea that our genitals can wander, always resisting the ties they’ve been given to a particular gender or orientation. The strap I had chosen was for me not to emulate flesh, it wasn’t representational, it was some other part altogether.

So what I’m saying is the strap is glorious, even before using it with a partner. But what became clear when I did use it with a partner is that its function is not to emulate cis hetero-sex, but to add to the glorious mixing up that sex can be – troubling our relationships with our genders and our sexuality. I’m still discovering, as much as I’m still healing, but what the strap has taught me is that I can be whatever shape I choose, both inside and outside of the bedroom. Traumatic memory is like water – it floods into everything, especially sex which can become highly triggering. But the strap has changed sex for me – it means I’ll be more likely to be there – not disassociated, being myself, rather than watching myself – present to myself, and therefore my partner too. 

The Dream of The Fisherman's Wife Preview

Welcome to Erotic Dreaming, a monthly coloum in which writer, editor, artist, and dreamer, Manisha Anjali, explores our readers sex dreams.

The dream: "I’d like to know more about sex dreams. Last night I had sex with an octopus in my dream. It’s wasn’t a regular octopus it was like an alien creature with eight arms (I think), black, silky looking and made low growling sounds.

Kind of human, kind of octopus, very sexy. It wrapped is tentacles around me and was caressing my body. It’s probably the most aroused I’ve ever felt during a sex dream, so I’m curious to know more about the possible meaning behind it. I’m not into manga or anything water-creature, sex-related."

Answer: Tako to Ama, more widely known as The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife is a woodcut of the ukiyo-e, translated as ‘pictures of the floating world’, by Hokusai in 1814. The image is widely regarded as the first depiction of tentacle eroticism. It depicts a long-haired ama diver intertwined in sex acts with a pair of octopus ⸺ the larger, moon-eyed sea beast has entangled itself around the diver, performing cunnilingus on her, while the baby octopus offers some sweet mouth-to-mouth and nipple fondling. The sea woman rolls her eyes back in ecstasy, deep in dream in the secret pleasures of the mysterious sea. The text in the woodcut, translated by James Heaton and Toyoshima Mizuho, is an erotic dialogue between the diver and the pair of octopus:

LARGE OCTOPUS: My wish comes true at last, this day of days; finally I have you in my grasp! Your bobo is ripe and full, how wonderful! Superior to all others! To suck and suck and suck some more. After we do it masterfully, I’ll guide you to the Dragon Palace of the Sea God and envelop you. “Zuu sufu sufu chyu chyu chyu tsu
zuu fufufuuu…”

MAIDEN: You hateful octopus! Your sucking at the mouth of my womb makes me gasp for breath! Aah! yes… it’s…there!!! With the sucker, the sucker!! Inside, squiggle, squiggle, oooh! Oooh, good, oooh good! There, there! Theeeeere! Goood! Whew! Aah! Good, good, aaaaaaaaaah! Not yet! Until now it was I that men called an octopus! An octopus! Ooh! Whew! How are you able…!? Ooh! “yoyoyooh, saa…
hicha hicha gucha gucha, yuchyuu chyu guzu guzu suu suuu….”

LARGE OCTOPUS: All eight limbs to interwine with!! How do you like it this way? Ah, look! The inside has swollen, moistened by the warm waters of lust. “Nura nura
doku doku doku…”

MAIDEN: Yes, it tingles now; soon there will be no sensation at all left in my hips.
Ooooooh! Boundaries and borders gone! I’ve vanished….!!!!!!

SMALL OCTOPUS: After daddy finishes, I too want to rub and rub my suckers at the ridge of your furry place until you disappear and then I’ll suck some more. “chyu
chyu..”

What I love here is the title of the woodcut reveals to us that this encounter took place in the unconscious travels of the sea woman, and confirms, that sexual encounters with cephalopods in dreams are centuries old.


In dreams, we cross time and space to meet entities, and in some of these encounters, we are invited to expand our sense of reality. To experience intense, otherworldly arousal with an entity makes sense ⸺ human pleasure is one thing, but alien, supernatural sex is another.

Astral squids, tentacle monsters and extra-terrestrial octopus are known to pop up in dreams and mushroom trips. In some stories, we learn that each tentacle can transmit different thoughts and sensations to the receiver, ranging from evil and malice to pure love and pleasure. I have heard conspiracy theories about the alien origins of the octopus, involving cryopreserved octopus eggs attaching themselves to comets which crashed into the ocean millions of years ago. I appreciate what these stories spark in our earthly imaginations – a sense of wonder, adventure and curiosity for life out there. Deep space and deep ocean are both unknown, underexplored spaces, which in dreams can bring forth existential curiosity and confrontation with our shadows, which can manifest in the form of endlessly enigmatic and mesmerising creatures, such as the octopus.

This dream evokes liberation, freedom and pleasure sourced from unexpected encounters. Let go of existing conventions and standard measures of attraction as defined by society. The entity has initiated you into a realm where anything is possible. You are invited to expand your worldview and scope of human experience by undergoing an ego-death. Many people I speak to with similar visitations often go on to have recurring dreams with the same entity over several different nights ⸺ and thereafter, their perception of sexuality shifts. After these encounters, dreamers walk away with gifts of sexual liberation, be it no longer repressing desires for same-sex partners, or being attracted to partners they had not considered before.


Ultimately, we learn here that pleasure can be derived from unexpected, otherworldly
sources. But these entities, be they octopuses or aliens or demons, are a reflection of what already exists within you. Go out into the wilderness and revel in the sweet gifts of ego annihilation – just as the sea woman says in Tako to Ama – “Boundaries and borders gone! I’ve vanished….!!!!!!”

If you've had a dream you'd like Manisha to explore, email us at info@becuming.me.