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I remember the first time a woman suggested I roughen things up. She asked me to grab the leather paddle in her closet. I was in my early twenties and shocked. I was a neophyte to this sort of sexual behavior. It flew in the face of everything I thought I knew about sex and what I thought was acceptable. Things changed after that. I learned the physical expression of our sexuality is a mere masquerade for the truth that lies beneath. What many of us enjoy more than act itself is the mental stimulation of pushing the boundaries by way of foreplay, fantasies and fetishes. And like a drug, we continually ratchet up the dosage in chase of a high. For some, that addiction reveals itself in the form of rough sex.

Pleasure and pain are the yin and the yang of sexual satisfaction for many, as they both release endorphins into the body. Personally, I never became a big fan of it. I have other mountains I climb in pursuit of sexual highs. But to each his or her own. Just know the rules of engagement and, more importantly, know the rules of disengagement, which are fluid and negotiable based on the people involved. For men, however, it can never be reinforced enough that, unless a safe word has been established, no means no, even if you have several championship rings on your fingers. Rough sex is one thing. Rape sex is another. And it’s not a fine line. Therein lies part of the risk with rough sex. Think of it as a sudden acceleration problem that affects a small percentage of men. The brakes fail and they go too fast too far — totally wrecking the experience in the process.

And that’s because other dynamics are often at play. While some women, in a consensual context, may enjoy being on the receiving end of sexually aggressive behavior, some men have sh*t psychologically twisted. When rough sex is combined with some Tiger Woods classic lines like “I want to hold you down while I choke you (and) slap your face and pull your hair for making noise. You are my f**king wh*re,” there might be something deeper at work. I’m quite sure there are women, from porn stars to school teachers, who like to be talked to that way in bed. For them, it’s just role play. It’s part of the deliciously dark psychological experience that sex is for some women. I don’t quite get it, but it is what is.

For the men doing the talking and spanking, though, it can speak to a more serious issue. Rough-and-tumble role play can be the perfect camouflage for genuinely abusive language and behavior. I hate to throw some of my brethren under the bus, especially one with a sudden acceleration problem, but some men simply lack respect for women. It’s starts in our formative years when we’re exposed to movies, music and other outlets of popular culture that glorify misogynist attitudes toward women cloaked under the guise of entertainment. Anybody remember ‘Whoop That Trick’ by Three Six Mafia? I’m just saying. The young mind is like a sponge that doesn’t discriminate between water and sewage. Without the proper filters, which some of us lack, we end up as grown-ass men suffering from Tiger-itis or worse.

I don’t mean to rain on the pain-and-pleasure parade, but it’s just something to think about. Play rough, if you choose, but just be clear that sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for.