“What’s on your neck?” asked my friend who was sitting next to me in my writing class. She was referring to the plush red mark engraved on the side of my neck. I smiled as she announced to the class, “She has a hickey!” I was named as the ‘hickey girl’ then. I didn’t mind the title because I am fond of love bites and I sport them like a trophy.
I own my love bites as much as I own my sexuality. I don’t cover them up with makeup or scarves or turtlenecks (unless, of course, I have to attend a job interview or meet my grandparents). And the looks I get from other people when I flaunt a love bite is like I have sold my soul to the devil. Why love bites are treated as taboo and why are women slut-shamed for showing them off?
Sex tops the list of those things that we all indulge in but don’t like to talk about. And when we see the visual representation of sex in any form – such as love bites – we join the moral police brigade and start abusing our entitlement to an opinion. The ideas projected upon us by society are so deeply ingrained that we do not question these notions that are not ours.
We allow ourselves to be ridden with guilt and shame for various reasons. The biggest of those reasons is the fear of being judged and labeled in a way that makes us different from society. We are afraid to stand out, we are afraid of not fitting in. The chains of shame bind us to such an extent that we are not able to enjoy one of the most basic human experiences – sexual pleasure.
Somewhere along my sexual journey, I realized that my sexual desires and choices did not conform to the standard protocols and I began exploring my sexuality. I couldn’t uphold the ideals of sexual behavior that society at large has thrust upon me and I had to find my own truth. I braved the phases of self-doubt and identity crisis that emerged as the result of finding myself swimming alone in the alien waters. My love for love bites is a minuscule part of the sexual liberation I attained from the exploration.
The existence of love bites dates back to the existence of the act of sex.
The Kamshastras are the only text in the world that describe love bites in terms of romance and refinement giving them the delicate and evocative vocabulary of a love letter. Lovers who express their mutual passion through love bites, the Kamasutra says will not see their love decayed even in a 100 years. The Kamasutra says the love bites have an erotic currency that few other things can compel with. Of the 6 things that are done one after the other in order to build up passion like biting, scratching, moaning, sighing etc. love bites are at the top of the list. There is no sensation quite as exquisite as the feel of lover’s teeth on your already tingling and aroused flesh. – Seema Anand, The arts of Seduction
While the treatise dates back to ancient, medieval times, love bites or hickeys aren’t much talked about. Some view them as the act of sloppy love-making by teenagers or a mark left by a careless lover. Some look at them with envy and resentment. While love bites may be perceived as the shameful marks of lust, to me, they are the fierce remnants of my natural desires. They bear testimony to the blazing fire of desire between me and my lover. When a lover leaves his impression on my body – neck, ears, lips or breasts – they fill me with the sweet remembrance of the passion between us, every time I look at them.