Writing Erotica as a Disabled Top

I’m a disabled top, who writes a lot of my erotica from a top’s point of view. As I’ve become increasingly more disabled, much more of my work represents BDSM play that I used to be able to do, but do not currently have the physical or psychological capacity to do.

I’ve been writing tops that stand on their feet for long periods of time. Tops that seemingly don’t have PTSD triggers of their own to manage. Tops that have stronger wrists than I do. Tops that don’t get bothered by loud noises or flashing lights. Tops that can kick and stomp bottoms to smithereens under their boots. Tops who aren’t managing back problems. Tops who don’t have to worry about their balance, or their spoon levels. Tops that aren’t disabled like me, that don’t have to think through access like me. Tops that aren’t disabled or sick in other ways either. Tops that seem to have unending capacity and very few needs or vulnerabilities.

I’m changing that now, in the process of working towards changing it, for many reasons that are vitally important to me. I care about changing that, care about writing characters (tops and bottoms) who are disabled. Not just because it’s missing from erotica (which it is), or because it’s reflective of reality (which it is). But also because it’s part of my own process of shifting my internal framework for thinking about kink. I have internalized ableist frameworks that shape how I write and how I think about kink. I need to be attentive to the ways they infuse my erotica, just as I need to be attentive to the ways they infuse my life.

In the past few years, I have written a number of new (as yet unpublished) stories where I decided that characters were disabled and wrote from that place from the start. I have also reworked stories to make characters who were not marked as disabled more overtly marked as disabled. I have reworked stories to more clearly illuminate the vulnerabilities and needs of tops (I understand that to be a necessary and related project, one that helps to make room for disabled tops in kink culture). But I have a lot more work to do, in terms of shifting my own frameworks.

I’ve been working on a story. It started years ago as a few lines I wrote on the subway on the way to a date. It began with that spark, that smattering of words jotted down before I lost them. I picked up that scrap of paper again recently, and made it into close to 300 words, a solid start for a story I intended to write. Then life took over, and illness took over, and I didn’t pick it up again til this weekend.

I tried to write it out, several times over the past couple days, and I kept getting stuck. Something wasn’t working, something was wrong in tone or context or maybe I needed to flesh out the characters more or plot more before I can write it. So I did some more creative thinking through as I tried to sink into a nap this afternoon, worn out, letting the dreamlike space try to give me a vision of where I was going. Then I grabbed those first set of close to 300 words and put them in a new document, and approached them as if they weren’t set yet, as if they were open to change.

I noticed something I had missed entirely. I had once again written a top that was able bodied and invulnerable, and it was embedded in my language, in small word choices everywhere, along with larger frameworks. Because I hadn’t decided that the top was disabled, hadn’t decided what the tops vulnerabilities or struggles or capacities were before I wrote. Had just tried to make those sentences into a beginning without that kind of deciding. And my default was a non-disabled top, an invulnerable top, a top that wasn’t grappling with the kinds of things that are everyday for me in my own life. The question for today isn’t why…that’s somewhat completely obvious (hello, non-disabled as default is built into culture, both the wider culture and kink culture), but also deeply personal and about my own stuff, not what I want to focus on in this post.

What I do find useful to write about is my rewrite of that beginning. Where I saw the assumptive able-bodiedness in the first draft, and what I did to change it. Because I want to invest in doing writing this way, from this place, where I look for these things, and shift my defaults. Where I write myself and folks like me back into the story, and eventually start writing us into the story from the start. (I don’t mean making my work autobiographical, but making my work center disabled folks, including folks with disabilities that resemble my own.)

So, here is my first draft of a story that is tentatively titled “Packing”. Take a read and see where I set up the top as non-disabled and invulnerable, where I use language that implies that both characters are non-disabled. I’ve highlighted the places I noticed in red. You may notice others as well.

Leather straps bind my cock to my body and that makes it an act of intent. When I pack, I sink solidly into a visceral awareness of my body. The leather round my hips and thighs focuses my attention on my own skin, the way I walk, stand, sit. I am fully in my butchness, decidedly powerful, and my eyes shift. My awareness does not solely encompass my body, my movements.

In packing, I am offering the clarity of my desire and intention to Maya’s eyes. I plan to fuck her, to claim her for mine, and I want her to know that. When I strap my cock on, I step into my dominance. When I stride back into the room, I start by using my gaze to take her: my love, my girl. I give my eyes permission to linger on the nape of her neck, the swell of her lips, the delicious movements of her thighs, the crevice between her breasts. I can feel the air shift between us. It is exquisite.

I begin with my gaze because I know what it does to her. She doesn’t sit calmly under it. She squirms, leaves words out of her sentences, catches her breath, forgets what she was doing. My fierce, collected, almost-always-in-control girl bends under my gaze. She takes the first step towards letting go, sinking into her submission. I like taking my time with that, giving us both the slow burn we savor, that languorous slide into dynamic.

There’s no need to rush this. I push my boots into the floor and tease my gaze along the lushness of my Maya, all curves and folds, all that magnificence mine.

This beginning doesn’t leave room for a top with mobility disabilities, both in the way the top thinks through metaphor and the way the top moves. It doesn’t leave room for a top for whom embodiment may come with pain or discomfort. It creates a top that thinks of herself as invulnerable, that thinks of her submissive and herself as non-disabled. It creates a character that (however unconsciously) links her dominance with being non-disabled. Part of what made this so clear to me was that I re-approached this beginning with a disabled top in mind, one with a mobility disability.

I’ve also written a top that embeds her dominance and butch/femme dynamic in the gaze, which means she doesn’t have a vision impairment. Neither does the bottom in the story. I am keeping that in the story, but it is good to have it be a conscious choice, instead of just a default.

So, here is my current revision of these paragraphs.

Leather straps bind my cock to my body and that makes it an act of intent. When I pack, I sink solidly into a visceral awareness of my body. The leather round my hips and thighs focuses my attention on my own skin, the way I move, gesture, and feel in my body, pain and all. I am fully in my butchness, decidedly powerful, and my eyes shift.

In packing, I am offering the clarity of my desire and intention to Maya’s eyes. I plan to fuck her, to claim her for mine, and I want her to know that. When I strap my cock on, I sink into my dominance. Scooting back into the room, I start by using my gaze to take her: my love, my girl. I give my eyes permission to linger on the nape of her neck, the swell of her lips, the delicious movements of her thighs, the crevice between her breasts. I can feel the air shift between us. It is exquisite.

I begin with my gaze because I know what it does to her. She doesn’t sit calmly under it. She squirms, leaves words out of her sentences, catches her breath, forgets what she’s doing. My fierce, collected, almost-always-in-control girl bends under my gaze. She takes the first move towards letting go, slipping into her submission. I like taking my time with that, giving us both the slow burn we savor, that languorous slide into dynamic.

There’s no need to rush this. We are at home, have set aside a few hours where we won’t be interrupted. I can take my time. I tease my gaze along the lushness of my Maya, all curves and folds, all that magnificence mine.

I’m much happier with this, though of course these are far from final edits. But I am glad to have a new direction for this story that has felt so stuck, a new  place to re-enter it and hopefully move through to the end so it can be shared with you. (Hopefully soon!)

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27 thoughts on “Writing Erotica as a Disabled Top

  1. I really appreciate getting to see this process. As an increasingly disabled Top leaning switch I have been mourning my loss of a sense of embodied Topness. As a writer I love seeing this work and reworking and I think it is important for readers, for writers and for Tops & Bottoms & Switches. It opens the world up for me and makes me think more creatively about my approach to my own disabled kinky self and about re-engaging in writing to explore what it might look like in the current body reality. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your comment. It made my day. I’m so glad the post was meaningful for you on a number of different levels.

      Embodied topness has been a challenge for me as I’ve become more disabled, because embodiment comes with more awareness and connection to pain.

      I find that disabled folks have tremendous capacities for creative thinking around access. It’s good for me to remind myself of that when I’m attempting to think through access in new ways.

      If you haven’t seen it, you may find this post of mine from a few months ago useful: https://xanwest.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/being-a-disabled-top-in-kink-community/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this post. This as well as your other posts about trauma have been a big help to me as I approach my own work where I have a character who also has to deal with trauma and her disabilities. I think that experiencing these things in your own body does change the work and does change the way the work feels to us as writers. I appreciate your thoughtfulness in your approach and looking forward to more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad to have been a help. I definitely agree that bodily experience has a huge impact, and changes the work and how it feels.

      Feel free to reach out if you are looking for beta readers or have questions about your character. I’d be glad to be a resource if I can. You’ve got my email.

      Like

  3. When I was reading the second paragraph in your post about how Tops are supposed to be able to do this or that without any trouble.

    Anytime we go to an event we have to think about the flashing lights and whether or not we can play during the play party since they will bring on a seizure for Jolynn. There are a lot of things that have to be considered and just not one or two. We have to plan around what is going on at an event, and whether or not there will be a health issue triggered over the weekend. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • The flashing light thing is really a problem. I once organized programming at an event and couldn’t play in the dungeon (or even be in the space) because of flashing lights.

      I think most disabled and sick folks are making those sorts of plans around managing spoons and responding to flares and triggers. I wish we talked more openly about it in kink communities.

      Liked by 1 person

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  21. Thank you so very much for this glimpse into your process. What strikes me as important here is that the reference to disability is overt as a character description while at the same time not inserting itself as an unnecessary arc – it simply adds another dimension to the juicy, delicious scene that is unfolding.

    Like

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