(Jacob with the Angel, painting by Alexander Louis Leloir)
One night Jacob wrestled with a man until daybreak. The man, seeing that Jacob wouldn’t give up, struck him in his hip, displacing it from the socket. Still, Jacob wrestled. He told the man, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” So the man asked his name and, on giving it to him, the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Jacob called the place Peniel because it was the place he saw God face to face and was allowed to live. The next day Jacob passed by Peniel limping. (My telling of Genesis 32:22-32)
There are many representations of God in the Bible, but the God that wrestled with Jacob is one of my favorites. Some interpretations of this scripture say that it was an angel of the Lord, as opposed to God-self in human form. I don’t think it matters. Jacob said he wrestled with God and lived. So let’s go with that.
I am not a meek, submissive servant of God. I have demands, questions, and frustrations and, in part because of this story, I believe they are all welcomed by God. I feel justified in claiming a volatile relationship with my Creator.
The more complicated life becomes and the more unanswerable pain I see in my own life, in the life of loved ones, and in the world, the less a simple “trust in the Lord” makes sense. And it would be easier to believe naively and unquestioningly or to stop believing at all.
Instead, I feel compelled to continue believing in a loving God, and I can’t easily explain why. Because of little signs and an instinct that suffering will somehow be redeemed. Because I believe that God suffers with us. Because when I pray, my life doesn’t get easier, but something deep inside of me still reminds me that I am loved and encourages me to not lose hope. It’s that still small voice that allows me to keep going.
I keep believing because I am allowed to wrestle with my doubt and with the overall fucked-upedness of things.
And it’s perhaps for similar reasons that wrestling is my biggest fetish.
When I’m in bed with a lover, I enjoy being pinned down, held in place by the weight of another, and then pushing them away with my feet, scrambling on top and straddling them, pinning them down in the same manner until they sweep me over onto my back. I like scooting my hips to one side to free myself, pressing my knees into my lover’s chest, forcing them to pull my legs apart. Scrambling toward the edge of the bed and being pulled back toward the center by my hips. I squeeze my legs closed and force them to thrust their cock into tight spaces, a unity that is hard earned.
I want passionate kisses with teeth biting and pulling on my lower lip, and to slap each other’s clits and breasts, pull our heads back by the hair to expose and bite each other’s necks.
One male lover and I would knee each other in the thighs as we made out. We pounded on each other’s backs with our fists when he was inside of me. He’d squeeze my breasts so tight I’d have to tell him to ease up. We always played with that edge of too much pain. But I slept the most soundly with his chest and stomach against my back; the warm weight of him was like the stillness after an orgasm.
Neither faith nor relationships work without a struggle, so why should our most intimate act of connection be forced to be gentle?
Rough sex is a preference; others prefer gentle sex for purely physical reasons or as an escape from the tension and intensity of life outside the bedroom. All well and good.
Still, rough sex has an unfair stigma (especially in religious communities) as being unloving. There is an often unquestioned binary that you either fuck or you make love. Rough sex is usually seen as fucking. To believe that any sort of struggle is ugly or less sacred casts a shadow on the same things that give one’s faith and one’s relationships both depth and vitality: sex included.
By the way, I also happen to believe that lust-filled sex, casual sex, and really ANY sex that’s consensual can be sacred and filled with love. Love comes in the form of gratitude, service, friendship, mutual respect, and affection.
With more casual sex partners, rough sex sometimes makes me feel that this person might fight FOR me with their heart, just as they fight WITH me with their limbs. It can plant the seeds of a relationship.
Especially as a cis-woman, when I sleep with cis-men, rough sex is a means of being more than just a passive recipient of a man’s actions. I’m an equal participant. I’m strong and capable, and proud that that’s what turns my lover on.
Rough sex is also a reminder that I’m not too much. That my intensity can bring someone else pleasure.
But, most of all, rough sex simply feels true to love. I’ve fought to maintain any relationship worth keeping through painful, embarrassing, scary conversations. Through doubt, hurt, and betrayal. I’ve admitted I was wrong. I’ve not admitted I was wrong when I should have, and those who love me have forgiven me anyway. I’ve fought to maintain my relationship with God in the same way. Any love I’ve fought for—family, lovers, God—has—at some point or another—left me equally limping and blessed. And I’m all for sex that does the same (well, maybe not limping, but bruised is okay).