“stone for all her life/and cool like marble, rough/edged and veined and off limits/to fingers wanting to dance/across her surface. the pleasure/was in giving, in lying/ above a woman and/hearing that woman call/her name, loud and long./the pleasure was in taking/care and taking time/and exploring the soft, wet places/at the end of a long/day. The pleasure was/in being stone, tight/and solid and sure/of her place in the world.” –Laurie Hoskin, “Billie” in The Persistant Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader, ed. by Joan Nestle
The risks inherent in naming
I intended to write this so much sooner. I sat down about a dozen times to write this post, and part of me recoiled. I’ve been writing (and publishing) erotic fiction for over a dozen years. I’ve been doing community education about stone sexuality for over seven years. And yet, something deep in me did not want to write this down, did not want to get specific and concrete about my experiences of stone sexuality and pleasure and put it out there in public.
I can excuse some of the delay due to the recent realities of my life (which has definitely been rocky the past few months), but that also points to the underlying issue. I have been able to do other writing, less risky writing. (Which is not to say that some of the things I’ve written since March were not also risky.) This is different, though. And I think the why of that points to something important about my own stone sexuality: sex is edgy.
Talking about sex, having sex, describing my desires and the shape of my sexuality is heart-pounding, breath-stealing, hands-trembling razor-sharp edgy for me. The risk is high, and fear is part of what I take along with me as I fuck, coiled around my thighs and tight in my throat. That is there, intertwined in my desire, part of the story whether I name it or not. All the time.
Often, I don’t name it, don’t draw attention to it, obfuscate it and armor around it. Because it is that vulnerable. Because it doesn’t diminish my desire but folks often take it that way. Because talking about it makes the risk more intense. Because stone doesn’t want to be noticed or named.
That is the context for this post. The very writing of it is risky, to my core. If I didn’t think it was so important I would not even attempt it.
Very few people write about stone identities and sexualities. Part of what that means is my words may be given more weight. I am attempting to be careful with them. That said, I will make mistakes. That reality, combined with the slipperiness of stone and the ways it tries to turn both gaze and language away, does not want to be named or noticed, also means that writing about stone sexuality is bound to create discomfort and to be partial, sit wrong, and generally not quite fit for you as a reader as well.
The Focus of This Post
For this post, more than any of the others in this series, I hope you will see this as one sliver of many stories about stone sexuality. My sliver of a stone story, that I am taking a risk and showing to you.
Because I am writing this based on my experience, I am going to focus on the stone sexuality I know best—my own. In terms of sexuality, the bare bones of my stoneness looks like this: I don’t get fucked; I don’t receive touch; I don’t take off my clothes during sex; I am the one who does the fucking; I run the fuck. (I discuss the many meanings within stone identities in the first post in this series. If you have not read that, it’s a good place to start to better understand my perspective on stone and the language I am using.) In this post I am going to focus on the aspects of stone sexuality that apply to me, and talk about where pleasure can reside for me in stone sex.
I am going to get rather explicit, and detailed, so I want to give you a heads up right now that a good portion of what I wrote below is rather filthy, in the ways that an erotica writer can get filthy. It’s not erotica, per se, but when I talk about pleasure, it can lean in that direction. As a particular heads up for stone readers, in most of what I write, I will be describing sex and sexual dynamics as if to a lover, saying “you”; this is partly to avoid gendered pronouns, and partly because it makes it more immediate and concrete, and hopefully, more real.
I plan to write another post specifically about stone and kink, so this post will focus primarily on sex and sexual dynamics (as much as those things can be teased apart, which is not very much, really, for me). That said, I am not just a sexual top, but a dominant sadist. I don’t have vanilla sex, and have not had vanilla sex in many years. So when I am talking about fucking, it is coming from an experience based in kinky sex.
I am writing about stone from a place of thinking of it as a sexual orientation where pleasure/desire is centered on another person’s body and experience. Stone sexual expression is the primary way I get off, and experience pleasure and desire. I intend to give you a sense of what that pleasure and desire can be like, what a stone sexual orientation can mean in concrete terms.
The Question of Pleasure
One of the most common negative images of stone folks like me (who don’t get fucked or receive touch) is that we don’t experience pleasure, that we don’t get off or have orgasms. That we are somehow “flawed” sexually, and that’s why we focus on the pleasure of our partners, why we have limits around touch or orgasm. This is often part of a narrative that roots stone identity in trauma and sees stone folks as people to pity. It also is linked to a set of negative misogynist stereotypes about the (often stone femme identified) folks we partner with (seeing them as sexually selfish and/or passive).
This set of negative ideas is rooted in limited (and limiting) misogynist ideas about sex and pleasure. I’m going to discuss this and other related issues in more depth in my next post on Unpacking Assumptions.
Some folks think of stone as an expression of sexual asceticism, or a setting aside of desire, sacrificing our pleasure for others. They think that if the body and pleasure of another person is our focus, we don’t get off. That if sex is not reciprocal, it is not pleasurable for all parties. This is far from my own experience of stone sexual expression, which is absolutely rooted in my own desire and which creates mind-blowing sexual pleasure for me (as well as pleasure for my partners).
For this post, I wanted to start by challenging these assumptions about stone folks like me. Stone sexual expression is how I experience pleasure and desire. It’s how I get off. Realizing and accepting that I was stone is what made it possible for me to have the kind of sex that gives me pleasure.
“The boundaries I have to put up don’t mean that I’m not letting you in. They don’t stand for your failure or my distrust. They’re an invitation to a new narrative, a new way of thinking about sex. I discovered my desire and my ability to communicate that desire to others on my own very queer path, and I wouldn’t change one thing about that. It was beautiful and imperfect and fucking incredible to discover someone else’s body in that way, with no expectations, with very little guidance, with nothing but skin exploring skin. I think there’s a way in which queer sex can subvert and transcend so many things because it is this wonderful free space, and when that translates to actual pleasure… oh, glory be.” Kate
When I first allowed myself to accept that I was stone, and have sex from a place that honored that, it was like I was on a whole new playing field. My boundaries were clear and inviolable and that meant I was more deeply in my body and my desire than I was able to be before. I remember my entire body feeling electric, this hum running over my skin, as I explored sex with a new partner, knowing she wanted this kind of sex, with me, and watching as her eyes widened, and her breath came faster. Making her writhe, savoring the intensity of her responses, the way her breath caught in her throat, the way she couldn’t be still under me, the sounds she made, the energy circuiting between us, in pulsing building thrusts. I didn’t remove any clothing at all, and I was deep inside her, wrenching pleasure from her in sharp bursts, watching her come undone below me and getting off on all that I wrought in our exchange, the control of it, the intensity of it, her body the center of my gaze and my focus, her squirming and breathless because of the strength of my hungry deliberate touch and attention. I came so fucking hard. It was gorgeous to fuck her, to ride her orgasm with her, to push her to come again and wrench another ounce of pleasure from myself in the process. It was the best sex I’d ever had in my life, by a huge margin.
Where Pleasure Resides
Where did that pleasure come from, for me? What does it look like? The rest of this post will focus on some specific dynamics of stone sexual expression as I’ve experienced it. They may resonate with other stone identified folks, but I want to name that these particular dynamics come from my own experience and that of course other stone folks will have other experiences. Also, these dynamics are not solely the province of stone sexuality, so please do not assume that experiencing them means that you are stone.
In my class on stone sexuality, I have used the below diagram to illustrate a few of the dynamics that feel core to my experience of stone sexuality.
The diagram is framed by desire and consent (of all parties), as they are a central context to my experience of stone sexual expression. Outside of such a framework, this dynamic is likely experienced as abusive and oppressive, so it is vital to start with such a framework.
The diagram shows two people holding stone dynamic, together, illustrating the mutuality and exchange within stone sexual dynamic. (It depicts two people in the interests of clarity, but there is no reason stone sexuality should be rooted in the idea of a couple.) In the diagram, the arrow goes one way to illustrate that the exchange is uni-directional, not reciprocal, even as it is mutually upheld, exchanged and created. One person focuses and directs gaze and attention toward the other person, and the other person invites and offers themselves to that attention and gaze. The two figures rest on a foundational framework of getting off on strong responses, because that feels like a core foundation of stone sexuality.
I’m going to attempt to tease out each of these elements of stone sexual dynamic, and also discuss a couple more elements of my experience of stone sex that are not depicted here, and ride the line between sex and kink: playing with phallic power and energetic exchange.
The Weight of the Gaze
Before I start talking about the gaze, I want to state upfront that the gaze, especially the sexualized gaze, comes with a legacy of oppression (including racism, patriarchy, transmisogyny, settler colonialism, and ableism), nonconsensual objectification and violence. I would urge you to tread carefully should you decide to explore this aspect of stone sexuality. I also want to remind you that the kind of gaze I’m talking about is taking place within a framework of consent and mutual desire.
What do I mean by the weight of the gaze? Here are a couple quotes that may help illustrate the electric intensity that can be part of this dynamic.
“Twice, three times, without moving in any other way, she let her eyes drift toward me, an almost invisible movement, delicate as breath exhaled on my cheek by a stranger leaning across me on a crowded dance floor. As her cool gaze touched my hot one, I tremored between my legs. Cool fingers on the hot pulse of my clit.” Minnie Bruce Pratt, “Drag Bar”, S/He
“I stand tall and openly look at you. Hold you in my gaze. Make you burn as you watch me watch you. Remind you that you are choosing this. That you are always just as much in control as I am.” –B.D. Swain, “Her Room, Her Choosing”
For me, the gaze is a core part of flirtation, of how I share stone dynamic. It’s a mutual dance, one that begins with an invitation. You invite my eyes, and then I graze your skin with them, make you aware that I’ve accepted your invitation, am hungrily taking you in, watching the minute changes in your breath and body. You squirm or blush or take a ragged breath, and you invite me deeper into you, wanting my eyes to claim you. You meet my gaze and hold it, as electricity builds between us, telling me you want my eyes on you, want my open expression of desire. We do this together, fucking without words, without touch, from across the table, or across the room, and it is one of the most deliciously pleasurable aspects of flirtation. And we are just getting started.
Because when we fuck, my gaze is even more focused, a blade used to hold you captive and open you up for my pleasure. You offer yourself to my eyes and you are held, vulnerable, open before me, as I hone in with my considerable focus on the way you are holding your breath, the flush on your skin, how your lips part and you are trembling slightly. I want you to know you are the center, the one holding all of my gaze, that we are in this palpable exchange together. When I fuck you, it is not just with my body and my tools, my cock and my hands, but particularly with my gaze, that reaches inside you and demands you take me in, all of my hunger and desire open on my face. You meet my openness with your own, show me that you want my eyes on you by the way you let yourself move, writhing and arching, inviting me to see all the ways that you are responding, showing me in your face and your body that you are aching and open, wanting me to hold you and push you to take it and begging for it hard and intense and as deep as I can go.
Attending to Responses
“[it’s] about focusing our attention outward, remaining composed and in control, serious and searching, calculating what twist or turn might bring the next scream, might wring the next increment of shuddering delight out of our lucky partners, who are naked and writhing and open mouthed on the bed, who are tearing up our sheets and loving us for it.” –S. Bear Bergman, “Getting Fucked” in Butch Is A Noun
My focus is pretty intense; it’s part of how I work; the rest of the world can fall away, as I start to breathe more deeply, sink deeper into myself in a way that is almost trancelike, and all of my attention homes in. When I pay attention to something, or someone, it’s got a weight to it, a palpable serious energy. A core part of my experience of stone dynamic includes that kind of heightened focused attention.
All of my considerable concentration is centered on you, attuned to you, reading your body language, the tone of your voice, your movements and inflection and breath and scent. I’m focused on your reactions, reading the way you respond to what I’m doing, sometimes drawing your own attention to it, watching how you react to that. I gaze at you, and you blush or fidget or stammer under the weight of it, and I draw your attention to your response, a smile in my eyes, pleased by the way I’ve invoked your reaction, and your response intensifies. It’s a dance, and when it’s working, we are like Fred and Ginger, matched in a way that is gorgeous and gliding. I’m intent on your invitation and continued consent; that’s the foundation, the core. I need your response as I lead the dance, I cannot glide like magic across the floor without you.
“My arousal has always come from what I could touch or see in her, it has never come from the attention to my own body. When many years ago I finally met someone who liked to take as much as I liked giving and who recognized that it was her stimulation that triggered mine- that I understood that I could find women who wouldn’t run away from a stone butch. I’m not uncomfortable with my body, it’s just that my erogenous zones lay within her.” –Anonymous
I’m focused on your response because it is the center of my desire, invoking intense responses is how my sexuality works. I draw in scent and sensation and sound along with my gaze, gathering as much of your response into me as I can, noticing everything about it so that I can invoke more, deeper, harder. I want intense responses and all of me is focused on creating them, on seeing what happens when I touch you this way, or whisper something in your ear, or meet your gaze, or draw your attention to your own blush. When we are dancing, you let me see, let yourself respond, sink deeper into your reactions, invite me to notice and feed off of them. You want me to ramp us up, both of us riding your responses together. You are open, aching, full of need, embodying your desire, pouring it into my lap and letting it run through my fingers like silk. That is how we fuck, the energy we ride, ramping up as high as we can take it, and it is all centered on attending to you, noticing and invoking stronger responses in you.
Playing with Phallic Power
Patriarchy has shaped so much, including our experiences of cocks. Literal and metaphoric cocks are very loaded things, because of patriarchy, and the ways it works with other forms of oppression. I’m going to be talking about stone sexuality that invokes both literal and energetic cocks, and I wanted to start by acknowledging the ways that phallic power has a weight behind it because of the ways patriarchy shapes us and has used phallic power as a tool for violence and oppression. Cocks are something to be careful and intentional with. As with any part of stone sexuality, when I talk about playing with phallic power, I am talking about something grounded in a framework of consent and desire.
“I think penetrating my partners is totally amazing and wonderful… [it] feels like the most wonderful thing in the world… I love the feeling of someone’s body opening to admit me.” –Anonymous
In my experience of stone sexuality, one of the core ways I fuck is with my cock. I love the call and response of fucking that way. Having someone ride my cock so I can watch them come undone above me, see every bit of their face and body as I fuck them, use my hands and my cock all at once. I love the sensation of fucking someone into the bed or the floor, feeling them writhe under me, watching their eyes so intent on mine, my weight holding them down, both of us soaring on their orgasm. I love the kind of orgasm control where I push someone to come again and again on my cock, ramming through overwhelm, watching their eyes get crazed and desperate with it, feeling them clamp down onto me. Any of those things can make me come, hard.
Although I pack a cock that feels particularly mine, that I often fuck with, my experience is that many things can feel like my cock, or an extension of my cock. Often, I am penetrating someone as a top in a way that does not involve hands or cock, but can be energetic, and can be energy channeled through a tool or object. I can fuck every inch of someone’s skin, and create a whole and complete sexual experience from that. That experience feels rooted in my stone sexual identity; because of how my sexuality works, not only can I fuck someone’s skin with my knife or my boot, but I can come from fucking them that way, and if I’m in tune and they are in the headspace for it, can make them come as well. Hot incredible sex can happen that doesn’t involve anyone’s bits…to me, that’s stone sex for sure.
Energetic Exchange and Mutuality
“I wish I could tell you how many people I’d felt I’d disappointed when they’d looked up at me and said “No, I want to make you feel good,” and I’d been at a loss to describe how everything I felt came from how they felt, how my climax is extremely cerebral, my desire concentrated in so much more than my clit. I get my sexual satisfaction from knowing how well I’ve satisfied my partner. I get off on getting my partner off. I do, I swear! I promise I am not making this up, saying it to make you feel better.” Kate
One of the myths about stone sex is that it is not mutual, that centering sex on another person’s body and responses means that I am not part of the sex, not getting off on it, not immersed in my own desire and pleasure. Stone sex is definitely about my pleasure too. We are riding our desire together, in an energetic chain that builds and builds as high as we can take it. It runs through all of us.
The arrow in the diagram goes one way to illustrate that the center of focus and attention and gaze is one of the parties. That sex is not centered in my body, is not about me receiving touch or getting fucked. But that feedback loop, that energetic connection, runs through all of us. We ride the intensity together and it is not a one way street. It can’t be—energy doesn’t work that way.
I definitely experience stone sexuality as an energetic exchange, give and take. I had to learn how to channel energy into and through myself and back out into the other folks I was playing with and fucking…and it was hard to do. Because it was receiving energy, and that did not feel good (I don’t enjoy receiving many things in sex and BDSM play, including touch, attention/focus, energy, and gaze, as well as sexual receptivity). It was difficult to experience receiving energy on a bodily level; it felt wrong in my body. I had to learn to take it in and push it out, to think of myself as part of a circuit, and hold on to the idea that I was not going to keep it or store it for myself but push it back out again, into the bottom.
It can be an intense amount of energy to receive, I’ve been told, which can help to create the kind of intense responses I enjoy invoking. A feedback loop that just keeps on looping. I know that there is an image that stone folks like me (and tops for that matter) are doing all the work, and that the folks we fuck and play with are “passive”. I can tell you straight out: that is bullshit. Receiving, inviting, opening and offering themselves to the weight of my gaze, the intensity of my attention, the demands of my cock and the thrusts of energy that I pour into my lovers is no small feat, and requires an enormous amount of skill and energy and vulnerability and generousness. We are working together. It is fucking mutual. Lead and follow are both integral parts of this dance.
I often build the energy higher and higher, and then near the very end of the scene, I ease up on my leash on my sadism and take what I need/what the bottom is offering me. I ride along the high/pleasure/intense responses/orgasm of the bottom, that’s how we build the energy together, but I don’t hold onto it, I keep feeding it back to the bottom, until I reach that end point where I might keep some of the energy, feed off the bottom’s response and let myself sink into my own pleasure, or shoot some of the energy out of my body into the universe.
I don’t experience stone sexuality as “giving” without receiving (though often that is what other people think of). It’s an exchange, and a whole one, with giving and receiving both happening for both/all people involved. Stone folks like me get lots of different things out of stone sexual expression: pleasure, connection, embodiment, safety, self expression, orgasm, energetic exchange, control, intimacy, service, the joy of pleasing another, just to name a few. Our partners get more than just orgasms/pleasure out of it too; the same things apply, and more, in addition to the focused attention of someone whose desire is being refracted through your body. I will say this; put together someone who gets off on strong reactions that is vested and skilled in reading and creating responses with someone who gets off on attention, focus, sensation and expressing/communicating intense responses, and you have an amazingly hot time.
This is the second post in my stone blog series. In my next post, I will talk about the assumptions folks make about sex and about stone identified folks, and unpack some of those things more deeply. Stay tuned for a later post on stone and kink, and check out the list of planned posts.