Ladies and Gentlemen, Give Her a Hand: The Revolutionary Joy of Fisting

Written by Greg Baldino. Posted in Featured Posts, Sex Features

There are many different ways to be physically intimate with people, but there’s only one sexual technique that has its own day of recognition.  October 21st is celebrated around the world as International Fisting Day, a day when, according to the official website, “bloggers, artists, activists, journalists, and fisting lovers all over the world come together to celebrate this beloved and controversial sex act.”

Image 1 Fisting

The event came about when genderqueer porn star Jiz Lee and queer filmmaker Courtney Trouble discovered that the often misunderstood act of inserting a hand into a vagina was too much for mainstream porn’s limited ideas about female sexuality.

Jiz Lee

Jiz Lee

“The idea came about when my scene with (feminist porn pioneer) Nina Hartley in LiveSexShow (a fundraising DVD for the Center for Sex and Culture) caused the film to be banned from being released on a video on demand website. Live Sex Show was directed by Courtney Trouble, who filmed our scene with fisting included in the shot. “I was being fisted while I orgasmed, so to edit out the fisting would mean to also edit out my orgasm.”

Frustrated by the censorship, Lee and Trouble wanted to do something to raise awareness about fisting as a legitimate, viable component of sexual play and pleasure. As Lee explained, “Our society at large is pretty clueless about what fisting actually entails, and how it can be enjoyable.”

For Lee, there’s more to the holiday than just fighting censorship and misinformation. It’s a celebration of sexual freedom and exploration. “Personally, the countless, intense orgasms I’ve had from fisting has certainly had a positive impact on my overall sense of self, especially in terms of my sexual health and understanding how my body receives love, and how all that plays into my sexual psyche. The level of communication, trust, and intimacy that is part of fisting for me has had an impact on my lovers and relationships.”

Many of those who’ve explored fisting found it to become a significant and satisfying part of their sexual lives. Yet some people can be freaked out or put off by the name; itself a poor description as the hand is not actually shaped into a fist during the act; rather the tips of the fingers and the thumb are brought together into a cone shape and gently worked the vagina or anus.

Sadly, you’re likely to first hear about fisting as a punchline to a crude joke, as happened with Gwen, an artist who first learned about it from a scene in the 1997 film Chasing Amy. “I was intrigued, though I wasn’t interested in trying it for myself until I was 19 and met an older woman (whom I look up to when it comes to bi/poly/kinky goodness) who was really into it and she gave me information, (though we were never sexual with each other). I researched it a bit and its one of the first kinks I fully embraced.”

fist pump 1Embrace it she did, and the results had a profound impact on her sexual identity. “I feel really connected to my own body when being fisted. There are certain sensations and places I go mentally and physically that have only been achieved that way.” She adds, “I also tend to be verbally communicative. There are some moments where moving in and out is great, and other times, I just need a second for my body to process the intense penetration before rapid movement is added.”

As with all areas of healthy positive sexual activity, communication is key; but not just while playing. Sheila, a wife and mother, discovered fisting through her and her partner openly sharing their desires and interests. “He’d seen it on the internet and really wanted to try it with me. The idea didn’t horrify me, but I was pretty convinced that normal men were only interested in super tight vaginas.”

The pair had only been seeing each other for a short time, and with her first impressions came a not uncommon concern about the long-term physiological impacts on her body—especially since she also felt that it could be something she would really enjoy.

“He pulled up some videos of various actresses doing fisting, so the first thing I saw was of women enjoying themselves in ways that instantly made me envious. It wasn’t until we’d been fisting for about a year or so before I heard anything negative.”

fist pump 2She adds “I’ll admit that I’ve seen some videos of fisting that look quite violent, and even make me wince, but regular sex can be like that too. Regular (heterosexual) sex consists of a penis ramming in and out of a hole at basically the same angle for a while, which is cool and all, but fisting is like playing an instrument. My partner can twist his wrist to tickle any one of my favorite spots. He contracts and expands his hand depending on what I need, changes speeds, and toys with my g-spot, all while nuzzling, kissing, and cuddling my belly.”

Sex educator Sarah Sloane, who contributed a chapter on fisting to Tristan Taormino’s Ultimate Guide to Kink, has some suggestions for the fisting-curious. First she suggests everyone be comfortable, and not just physically. “Stay away from the concept that it has to be a goal. A large part of the joy is getting there, even if you never arrive. Some people are going to be built differently, also. Make it more about the trust and connection and intimacy. Make sure you have a lot of communication, the person receiving needs to signal when they need the sensation to stop.” Pointing out that during intense sexual experiences people can sometimes go non-verbal she suggests the receiving partner not be afraid to reach out and take care of their partner’s arm if they need to.

For the penetrating partner, she suggests beginning with the right frame of mind. “There’s no place for shaming if you don’t get there. It is a journey, rarely is someone able to take their partner’s hand the first time.” For safety and comfort she advises to keep your nails trim, wear comfortable gloves in the right size (Sloane recommends nitrile as opposed to latex gloves,) and use a water or silicone-based lubricant. Before starting, make sure to have everything ready: extra gloves, a full bottle of lube, and a towel.

Can vaginal fisting really be revolutionary? Maybe it can. It is, after all, an act that rewards communication and preparedness with sexual pleasure and self-confidence.  “Every year, Fisting Day gets bigger and better,” says Lee. “I’m an optimist, and a person who believes positivity brings change.”

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Greg Baldino

Greg Baldino

Michigan ex-pat Greg Baldino currently lives in Chicago where he walks a lot and drinks large amounts of tea. As an essayist he's written about risotto, Batman villains, anti-fascist activism, alternative fashion, burlesque theater, fine art, and werewolves. In his spare time he collects creative writing degrees and accumulates books.

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