CVIndependent

Sat09192020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

I’m a 29-year-old straight woman in Pennsylvania. My question has to do with choking and consent: I’ve had two experiences in the past six months or so where someone has tried to choke me without my consent.

The first time this happened, I coughed immediately, but he tried multiple times during sex. I was caught so off-guard that I didn’t say anything until the next morning. I told him I wasn’t OK with that, and that it was too much. The second time, I shook my head as soon as he put his hand on my throat, and he stopped immediately. I told him, “That scared the shit out of me.” He apologized for startling me and said he wouldn’t do it again.

My question is: Why is this a thing? The fact that this has happened to me more than once in a short period of time kind of shocked me. And what is the appropriate thing to do when this happens? What should I do with the person who does this?

Concerned Hetero Over Kinky Entitled Dumbasses

“I would also love to know why choking has become a thing,” said Dr. Debby Herbenick. “And it is a thing, especially among young adults.”

Dr. Herbenick is a professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health and the author of numerous books on sexuality and sexual pleasure. She’s also the lead author of a study published earlier this year in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, CHOKED, that looked at the sort of behavior you’ve been encountering recently: People engaging in spanking, choking, face-fucking, etc. Though some of this is no doubt consensual, much of it is not.

“We found that 21 percent of women had been choked during sex, as had 11 percent of men,” said Dr. Herbenick. “We also found that 20 percent of men and 12 percent of women had choked a partner. But choking during sex was much more common among 18-29-year-olds—almost 40 percent of whom had choked or been choked—leading us to believe that choking has really changed in the U.S., over probably the last 10 to 20 years.”

Men who choked women were the biggest single group of chokers, CHOKED, followed by men choking men, women choking women, and trans and gender non-binary individuals choking and being choked. Straight cisgender men, perhaps unsurprisingly, were the least likely to report that partners choked them during sex. Trans and gender non-binary participants in Dr. Herbenick’s research more often reported that their partners established consent prior to choking, but across the board, there was still a great deal of nonconsensual choking going on.

How did we get here?

“Probably porn,” said Dr. Herbenick. “We found that many people into choking remember growing up and watching porn with choking in it—and in a country where porn stands in for sex education and family conversations about sex, some young people do what they see in porn.”

And some people—mostly male people—do it because they think the other person wants or expects it. This was dramatized in an episode of Euphoria, the terrific HBO show about a group of high school students, when a boy suddenly starts choking a girl during their first hookup at a party. The girl is scared and confused—she thought the boy liked her—and the boy tells her he does like her; he grabbed her throat because he thought she would like it, not to harm or scare her. Although shaken, she makes it clear she expects him to ask first.

It is scary to be suddenly choked by a sex partner. When asked if something scary had ever happened to them during sex, numerous women Herbenick surveyed for a different study cited someone choking them without asking. Even if you were into being choked, CHOKED, which you’re not, suddenly being choked by a new sex partner would still be scary. Because if someone chokes you without asking first, they’re essentially saying—they’re clearly saying—that they have extremely shitty judgement (and didn’t think to obtain your consent) or that they’re an extremely shitty person (and didn’t care to obtain your consent).

“Now I’m not one of those people who says explicit verbal consent is needed for every hug or kiss or breast/chest touch,” said Dr. Herbenick. “I’m well aware that sex often involves verbal, nonverbal and other shades of asking for something. But no one should choke another person without their explicit verbal consent.”

That goes double/triple/infinity for aggressive and/or high-risk kinks, not just choking.

“And choking is really risky,” added Dr. Herbenick. “Even though people call it choking, external pressure on the neck—like from hands or a cord or necktie—is technically strangulation. In rare cases, choking/strangulation causes people to pass out, leading to probable mild traumatic brain injury. And choking/strangulation sometimes kills people. Even if the person who was choked consented to it, even if they asked to be choked, the person who did the choking is often legally responsible in the event of injury or death.”

I’ve interviewed professional Dominants who will literally stick needles through men’s testicles—sterilized needles, consenting testicles—but who refuse to choke clients or engage in other forms of breath play. These professionals aren’t refusing to choke clients because it’s too extreme (remember the needles?), but because it’s too dangerous.

“There is truly no safe way to choke someone,” said Dr. Herbenick. “As part of my research, I’ve sought advice from several kink-positive physician colleagues, none of whom feels confident in a ‘safe’ way of choking, as there is too much that can go wrong—from seizures to neck injury to death.”

So what do you do the next time some dude grabs your throat? (And there will, sadly, most likely be a next time.) You immediately tell them to stop. Don’t cough; don’t deflect; don’t prioritize their feelings in the moment or worry about ruining the mood and derailing the sex. Use your words: “Don’t choke me; I don’t like that. It’s not sexy to me, and it’s not safe, and you should’ve asked.” If they apologize and don’t try it again, great. Maybe you can keep fucking. But if they pout or act annoyed or insist you might like it after you’ve just finished telling them you definitely don’t like it, get up and leave. And if someone tried to choke you during sex, and you shut it down and they pivoted to mutually enjoyable sex acts, CHOKED, be sure to raise the subject up after sex. Make sure they understand you don’t want that to happen again and that you expect them to be more conscientious about consent the next time—if there is a next time.

Considering that this has happened to you twice recently, CHOKED, and considering how popular busting this particular move seems to have become, you might wanna consider saying something about choking to a new sex partner before you have sex for the first time.

“I would be very up front about it from the get-go,” said Dr. Herbenick. “When you’re first talking with someone or moving things forward, say something like, ‘I’m not into choking, so don’t try it,’ or, ‘Whatever you do, don’t choke me.’ If you can both share your hard limits, you’ll be better prepped for good, fun, exciting, pleasurable sex—not scary stuff like non-consensual choking.

“And for everyone reading this, seriously: Stop choking people without first talking or asking about it. Just stop.”

Follow Dr. Debby Herbenick on Twitter @DebbyHerbenick.


I hope you’re getting a lot of mail from people uncomfortable with your response to DISCORD, the woman whose cheating husband blew up when a man she was merely chatting with forwarded their correspondence to her husband.

My first question was whether the sadistic creep who baited her into telling him she’d had an affair wasn’t actually her POS husband playing some sick game. I mean, 30 minutes is an awfully quick turnaround from her messages being forwarded to his blow-up. And seeing as DISCORD’s husband has already established that she will put up with his tantrums, withholding of sexual intimacy, strangulation, lying and affairs, it’s also possible that he’s engineered her financial dependence.

I would advise her to at least talk to a professional who could paint an objective picture of her financial options. She might also benefit from the advice of an advocate for domestic-violence survivors. Strangulation is usually not an isolated violent act.

Rarely Disappointed Reader

Thank you for writing, RDR—thank to everyone who wrote. I’ve reached out to DISCORD privately and will forward your emails on to her. I should’ve pushed back when DISCORD ruled out divorce as an option. Here’s hoping DISCORD takes your advice over mine.

Meet the author of The Vagina Bible on this week’s Savage Lovecast: www.savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @FakeDanSavage on Twitter.

Published in Savage Love

We’re not in the business of sharing misinformation here at the Independent. In fact, the whole point of these Daily Digests is to share good info from reliable resources, because there’s a whole lotta crap floating around out there.

However, bear with me as I share a really stupid post from a Facebook friend … that has a really important point embedded within it.

This Facebook friend (a person I don’t actually know; because of the newspaper, I accept friend requests from pretty much anyone with whom I have mutual friends) wrote, in part: “Banning all fun activities while quarantining an entire population is a very, very BAD IDEA. What worked in Chinaor Korea will not work for America. What I feared has already come to pass: an increase in spouse abuse, children abuse, suicidal attempts … and we’re just 4 days in.”

OK … the first part of that post, we can all agree, is bonkers nonsense: Viruses and epidemiology don’t change based on location and nationality. On-the-ground horrific happenings in several countries prove that the social distancing and staying at home we’re enduring right now are, well, REALLY GOSH DARNED CRUCIAL.

However, the second part of that post … it rattled me: While I have not seen any hard evidence that spousal abuse, child abuse or suicide attempts are already on the rise, they’re inevitable consequences of people being forced to stay inside with someone who’s abusive (and stressed to boot). And all this chaos, as I touched upon yesterday, is seriously triggering some people with mental illness.

So … how do we fix this? I don’t have a complete answer for that. I doubt anyone does. And that chills me to the bone.

However, I do have a partial answer: We all need to ask for help if we need it. And we all need to check in with friends, loved ones and neighbors who may need help but be afraid or unable to ask for it.

I participated in two calls with various community leaders today, and this point came up multiple times: We all need to look out for each other in this unprecedented, crappy-ass time. And we need to make sure we reach out when we, ourselves, are in need.

To that end, Palm Springs City Councilwoman Christy Holstege has started a new Facebook group, Coachella Valley Neighbors Helping Neighbors Through COVID-19. The page includes Google Docs where people can sign up to volunteer—and sign up to request needed help.

My friends … if you can volunteer your time, or goods, or anything, please sign up. (Oh, and check out the governor’s Volunteer California site, too.) Even more importantly, if you need help right now of some sort, please sign up.

Beyond this admirable Facebook effort … we need to really live up to the meaning of the word “community” right now. To repeat: Now is the time to be there for each other—and now is the time to reach out if we’re in need.

Please.

Now, for some news:

• For the last couple days, I’ve promised the Independent was publishing a piece that covered the heartbreaking decisions local theater companies endured heading into what was supposed to be one of the busiest theater weekends of the year, as the news got crazier and crazier. At last, here’s that piece, and I am quite proud of it.

• Breaking casino news: Fantasy Springs is closing down through the end of the month (and paying employees during the closure; great move), according to a news release we just received. Meanwhile, the Agua Caliente locations are remaining open for now. Morongo and Spotlight 29 also remain open as of this writing.

Clark’s Nutrition is opening an hour early for elderly and disabled shoppers, at least for the next few days. This is a fantastic idea, and I hope other grocers follow suit.

• If you want or need lunch from Mizell Senior Center, they offered to-go meals today, and may do so in the future. Watch the Facebook page for updates.

• If you suddenly find yourself with extra downtime, why not consider taking a free college course online?

Safeway is hiring in Northern California. The same thing is happening at some local grocery stores, too.

Amazon, too, is hiring in a big way.

• Max Brooks has an important message to share from him and his father, Mel Brooks.

• You’re stuck at home. Museums are closed. But due to the wonders of the internet, you can now visit some museums from home! Even in Paris

• And finally, what happens when a zoo is closed, and they give penguins free run of the joint? Adorableness!

That’s enough for today. Stop hoarding toilet paper. (Really, people. I had to give a friend an extra pack so she could avoid a 25-person-long line at Walmart. Sheesh.) Wash your hands. Check in on someone who may need someone to check in with them. We’re gonna get through this together … and think of the whackadoo stories we’ll all have from this era one day.

Published in Daily Digest

Dear Mexican: Please allow me a little latitude. I’m a resident of Northeast Dallas, a wonderfully diverse neighborhood near the heart of downtown. I’ve lived here for many years and wouldn’t even CONSIDER moving north, south, east or west. However, I have one issue I’d like to address: What’s the deal with Mexicans’ propensity to stop their cars in the middle of busy streets?

I witness this almost every week, usually on Ross Avenue during afternoon rush hour. I (and hundreds of other motorists) will be clipping along at 30-35 mph in the northbound lanes, when all of a sudden, cars will swerve; horns will honk; and traffic will suddenly grind to a screeching halt. What could it be? A lost puppy dog crossing the street? A little old lady who’s collapsed from heatstroke while trying to cross the street? A partially open duffel bag containing thousands of dollars, with bills flying all over the road?

NO! Without fail, it’s a Mexican who: 1. Saw a friend walking down the street and stopped to exchange pleasantries. 2. A Mexican who stopped to drop off or pick up a wife, husband or friend. 3. A Mexican who accidentally passed his/her intended location, but instead of “making the block,” decided instead to stop, and in some cases, even BACK UP in order to reach their intended destination.

I LOVE Mexicans. You all are some of the friendliest, easiest-going, most-family-oriented, hardest-working people I’ve ever known. But put some of you behind the wheel of a car, and all bets are off. Help a gringo out here. What’s the deal?

Stuck on Ross

Dear Gabacho: Ever heard of the Chinese Fire Drill—when you stop at a red light, everyone gets out of the car, circles it and gets back in? I didn’t, either, until I got some gabacho friends last year; gabas are weird, ¿qué no?

Anyhoo, call the scenario you described the Mexican Fire Drill. You also forgot that Mexicans will stop in the middle of the street—traffic be damned—if they’re waiting for a friend who’s getting ready at their house, if they have to go inside a place to pick something up, or if there’s a particularly good banda jam on the stereo, and they want the whole barrio to listen. As por el why? After a lifetime of crossing borders, running away from la migra and hustling from job to job, sometimes it’s just great to relax and be still—and if that annoys gabachos, even better!

Dear Mexican: My name is Burjs, and I’m a gay male. I’m obsessed with Mexican men. I love you guys so fucking much. I love your “machismo” attitude—from the ways you guys walk, talk and look, to the way you make love. But I guess the thing I love the most—and it’s not true of all—is your tempers.

I wonder why Mexican men are mean and aggressive toward effeminate males such as myself. I’m not complaining, because I love it from you guys. Am I crazy because I like my Mexican lovers to sexually and physically abuse me? By the way, I’m a black bottom.

Provócame, Papi

Dear Provoke Me, Daddy: Don’t romanticize our machismo. If you get off on getting demeaned, that’s your deal. But far too many hombres who don’t fit the Vicente Fernández archetype of hypersexual hetero male have had to deal with too many calls of maricón and joto by other Mexican men throughout their lives to make it something cute.

Such aggression, though, proves the answer to the age-old question: What’s the difference between a straight Mexican and a gay Mexican? Two Tecates.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican