A Call to Men



This pretty much speaks for itself. One observation: the audience is almost entirely women because this talk was at the TEDWomen conference. I think this is a vitally, vitally important message, but I do wonder how it's going to get to actual men when gender is so consistently considered only a women's issue.

I don't have a solution for this. I don't know how to get men to pay attention to this stuff because their privilege does allow them to ignore it. It just seems so important to involve them, not just to end violence against women but to free men, as he says, from their own versions of the Man Box.

Tony Porter's website, A Call to Men is very much worth checking out.

Better

My mother calls me to tell me about the three-inch-wide, deep-to-the-bone gash she got falling down the stairs yesterday and the five staples now holding her arm together.

As the conversations ends she says on the phone “Well, your father…” and then trails off.

She pauses, then says “Well, he’s home, so I have to stop talking now” in the tone of voice that means she needs to go do something so she should get off the phone but what she really means is that she wants to say something about him that’s negative, that might hurt his feelings, that might let him know we all talk about it and it’s actually a problem, that it actually has consequences for the rest of us. She couldn’t do that, though, because he could hear her and he’d be upset. Which is a code word, because everyone gets upset and what he does is more than that.

“Has he been grumpy?” I ask, which is another code word. It’s also a yes or no question. That way she can give me information without tipping him off, clue me in so I know what’s happening, so I’m warned when I come home this week after months away, so I can call my little sister and hear if she’s okay. So I’ll know whether or not to tiptoe when I enter the house.

“Well, he’s got this surgery coming up on Monday, and that’s a nervous thing. And he’s been worrying about that, and then I had to go and have something,” by which she means the gash and the staples, “and it’s a lot of pressure. We have the Christmas tree, and that’s done—thankfully that got done beforehand.”

By all of which she means, “Yes.”

I hear this and I remember being young, maybe seven years old and my sister was four, and we were sitting in the living room of the house in Massachusetts and my parents were putting up a very big Christmas tree. We couldn’t go out of the room because we shouldn’t be unsupervised and more because we didn’t want to miss anything, we wanted to know what was going on, we didn’t want to overhear it from upstairs.

My mother said we could stay there as long as we were quiet as church mice. Every time I had to help Daddy with a Project, I remembered that phrase, and I knew that I should be a church mouse and that Sis was better at it, which was why he always chose her to hand him the screwdriver or hold the flashlight.

And we were very young and we were sitting in little chairs I think, although we could have been on the floor, but we were wedged right next to each other on the right side of the wide doorframe, and I remember being afraid, and I remember Daddy yelling at us if we made any noise at all or if we asked any questions.

He was using a wire to attach the tree to the wall near the ceiling because it was a crooked tree and it wouldn’t stand up otherwise, and this was difficult and it was a Project, and if we interrupted he wouldn’t be able to concentrate and we weren’t going to help only make things worse, so we had to be quiet.

I remember being quiet, that day. And I remember the fear of what would happen if I made a noise and the equal fear of what would happen if I left and couldn’t keep track of what was going on in that room. And I didn’t like the quiet because I wanted to help, to make the Project over, to make it all okay, to contribute what I had to offer, to make it better. But I was quiet, I did it, I stayed quiet.

“So he’s just been worried about this surgery, but he’s being better now. He is doing better now.”

“Okay,” I say, because better is better. I’m thinking about how this all feeds into it, how we don’t name what it is. How instead we say why it is. How we talk about it only in terms of the causes, of him being stressed or angry or anxious, never in terms of what he’s doing, never in details or actions, never in terms of what it all means to us. We never talk about the fear or the sadness or the anger, not directly. We only all know it’s there because we share it. It’s always implied.

“He scared the dog the other day, scared her all the way down into my office,” she says. The office that is four floors down from the dog bowl in their San Francisco hillside town house. “Supposedly he was just trying to give her dinner.”

Tenga Egg Review



I got a Tenga Egg from Good Vibrations!

You might be asking yourself why I would choose a male masturbator as my first toy to review. You might be thinking that I do not have a bio cock (although I do have a few less-sensate ones in my drawer at home) and therefore might not be able to write a detailed review of this kind of product. You might then conclude that I've used it with one of my male partners, but you'd actually be wrong!

You see, there is an off-label use for this adorable, single-use masturbation sleeve. One that benefits me, and my clitoris, more directly.

I like to use a Hitachi Magic Wand as my go-to toy for masturbation. It stays plugged in and tucked down to the side of my bed at all times. I pull it out pretty much nightly for a little release before I go to sleep. It's good shit.

However, I've got a very (very) sensitive clit and while I like the penetrating vibes of the Hitachi, it's a little too strong to touch directly to my fine skin. I usually use it through a comforter or a folded piece of quilt so as to dull the sensation just a little bit.

This method, however, is a little cumbersome and not particularly sexy to look at. If I'm going to be Skype-sexing with someone, I want to look hot while I'm masturbating and still be able to get off.

Thus, the Egg! While I could take advantage of its super-stretchiness on whoever's whatever-sized dick, I instead tried flipping it inside out and putting it over the head of my Hitachi.

This had a few perks. The Egg was just thick enough that I could indeed use the Hitachi on my clit without any other intervening layers. I also got the "Stepper" version of the Egg, which has triangle-shaped nubbins all over the inside. With the included lube, these added a nice texture to my masturbation session.

Because the Eggs are single use, or at least single-person use without involving a condom, I'm not going to end up trying it with a dude. Maybe I'll get another one someday and give that a go. It did, however, work very well as a Hitachi cover and I'd therefore recommend it as a good accessory for those whose clitorises (clitori?) are sensitive like mine.

I Wanna Do Porn

I have actually wanted to do porn for a long time.

I'm like a sexual energizer bunny. I like to and can have sex for long periods of time. I'm an exhibitionist. I love, love, love to be watched while I'm naked and especially while I'm having sex. I'm enough of a narcissist that I like to see myself in photos and on film. I've enjoyed the relatively tame but sexy photo shoots I've done so far.

I've considered being in porn, the good kind that I like, for years. Half the people I know from San Francisco when I worked at the peep show and porn-star-owned gallery have been in things like the The Crash Pad Series or NoFauxxx.com or Cocksexual.com or Kink.com or whatever. I know the right people to do it in a way I'd feel good about, and I think it'd be pretty fun.

I know that acting in porn isn't all it might seem. It's kind of athletic work, it's stop and go, you have to cheat out to the camera, etc. I think I might actually like that, though. I enjoy a performance. I like working hard, including working hard with my body and working hard in sex. It's likely enough that I at least want to try it.

But.

The thing about porn is that once you do it, it's out there forever. This is even more true since the dawn of the internet. Once my face and naked, fucking body are recorded in any medium, I can't ever take that back. I would of course use Paradox, my chosen name, but a face is a face. I could be recognized.

With stripping and with domming, I could do the work and then walk away. There wasn't much of a record of what I'd been doing. I wrote about it here, sure, and the barrier between my blog and my real name isn't THAT high. But nobody could take the product of that work home with them, or send it to someone else. There wasn't really proof I'd been doing it, unless somehow a client snuck a photo. (This never happened, to my knowledge.) Nobody would know unless I told them.

This fact has stopped me so far. I may at one point want to work with adolescents. One of the options I might like to pursue in sex education is teaching the teens who need it most how to navigate sexuality and relationships. I want to leave that open for myself. The stigma around porn could really hurt my chances.

On the other hand, when have I ever bowed to a stigma? When have I let other people's false ideas about an activity stop me from doing it in my own way? When, if I feel comfortable and happy about something I want, have I paused in pursuing it just because someone told me I shouldn't? It's rare, and I don't like giving in that way.

It's certainly a dilemma. Any input?

What Antidepressants Have Been Doing for Me

I wrote a lot about my decision to start taking Wellbutrin in June, about my fears and hopes surrounding the drug and about the experiences that prompted me to finally seek chemical assistance. I haven't, though, followed up to tell you what it's been like for me to take that pill ever day, what kinds of effects it's had on my emotions and my life.

The easy answer is that it's been awesome and very helpful.

In more detail: taking the medication does in fact make it easier not to sink into the moods I used to fall into so quickly. I can still react to things, I'll still get upset if something is upsetting, but it passes much more quickly. I react, I feel, and then I get over it. Before the meds, a relatively small thing could send me into a funk for days. When a few bad things happened in a row, that was a depressive episode waiting to happen. That feeling of looming despair is almost gone.

I've also only had one migraine since starting these pills. That is remarkable. For a while there, I was getting one every month.

My migraines are incredibly debilitating; I get blind spots, flashing lights, numbness in one or more of my limbs and sometimes my face, complete disorientation, inability to come up with words, splitting headache, dizziness, exhaustion, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea. I can't work or do much of anything for the first four hours of a migraine, and am sometimes slowed down for days afterwards. So yeah, I'm happy to be having fewer of those.

The pills have also definitely been helping my ADHD. I didn't notice this as much through direct ability to focus better, which is sort of hard to track, but I noticed its lack when I missed a few pills the other week. I forgot, like, four things I was supposed to do for my boss and couldn't concentrate for shit. That's been better now that I'm on top of my meds again.

I've also had no side effects, so altogether I'm a happy camper. It's hard to believe it's taken me so long to take the step, but I know I did it at the right time, in my own time. I can't really ask for more than that.

Fun Pubes



Do I really need to comment much?

I had a really fun evening with a newish boy who happened to have some "Fun Betty" dye and a delightful sense of humor. He also dyed his own hair blue, pink, and green. Our new code names are Roy G. Biv and Cranberry Muffin.

I'm very pleased with my newly matching carpet and drapes. Very.

P. S. The dye includes bleach, and you don't put it anywhere near your labia, just on the upper triangle of hair that shows when your legs are closed. I wouldn't be endorsing a sad-vulva product. Just don't put bleach on your girly bits, okay?

The Privilege of Parental Love

Allison Moon wrote a great post about a new kind of privilege she realized she carries.
Growing up I never had to wonder if my parents loved me. I never doubted they respected me or my choices. I never felt abandoned or ignored or dismissed. My folks have had to deal with a lot of information in their parenting lives. I’ve come out as bisexual, then lesbian, then queer, then polyamorous, then partnered to a queer, poly, cis-man. I think they stopped paying too much attention after “queer.”

...Listening to the speeches at the [annual LA Gay & Lesbian Center Gala], I became acutely aware of another privilege: parental love. Parental love means that I never had to apologize to my family for who I was and who I wanted to be. Parental love meant that I was only girl in my catholic school to wear pants, with my mom’s enthusiastic blessing. It meant that when I told them I wanted to quit my job to write a novel, they told me what a great writer I was and how proud they were of me. I means that they still send some of my blog posts to their friends to brag about me, even though a lot of my choices aren’t exactly easy for them to read about. It means that no matter where I am in the world, and what kind of life I lead, I can always, always go home to my parents if I need to.
If there's a single kind of privilege that I feel more definitely than any other, it's this. So many people I've known, including some of the closest friends and lovers I've had, did not have any kind of support from their parents. They had to make their way alone, without any kind of financial or emotional safety net from their families of origin. I've always had that net.

I've got a kind of certainty in my actions that I know leads to my success in many ways. I can approach jobs or relationships with the attitude that I will always be okay. I know that my parents will be there to catch me no matter what happens.

This saves me from an air of desperation that I know can undermine people in so many ways. I come off as confident and capable, which I know is attractive. I've been given a lot--jobs, good grades, forgiveness--as a result. Hell, probably the biggest reason I got out of my abusive high school relationship before it turned physical was that he couldn't succeed in undermining my relationship with my parents. They were too loving and accepting and too much a voice of reason against his attempts at control.

I think this privilege of parental love affects me even more meaningfully than the fact that my parents are wealthy. It wouldn't matter much what their net worth was if they didn't use any of it to support me. I've known plenty of people from families richer than mine who enjoyed less of the resulting privilege because their parents were unsupportive assholes.

This kind of privilege is emotionally fraught. It's even more awkward to talk about my supportive parents with folks whose families aren't like that than it is to talk about having money with someone who grew up poor. I guess, ultimately, emotional wealth does carry more weight than monetary wealth. I'm just glad Allison pointed it out, because I think the most important thing with privilege is to be aware of it and to use it for the greater good. Now maybe I can find ways to do that.

Poly Times Six

Another reason I've been a naughty blogger lately is that I've been going on dates (I could say "dating" but dear god, people read a lot into that) with six people. Yes, six. I see them all regularly. And I like all of them. This doesn't leave me with a lot of free time.

The thing is, see, six really is a lot of people. Even for me. I've been poly and single for years now, but usually I level out around two or three regular lovers. I've been having a great time and enjoying the company and connections, but in the last couple of weeks I've suddenly felt a bit dissatisfied.

The problem with seeing so many people is that it doesn't leave me with a lot of time for any particular one. It's hard to develop deeper intimacy with someone when I only see them at most once a week. And it's hard to see someone more than once a week when I've got five other people I need to keep up with. As fun as my relationships are, and as much as I do really like all the people I'm seeing, my schedule keeps things superficial.

What I didn't realize until a couple of weeks ago was that, as much as I had theoretically been wanting a more serious relationship for a long time, I hadn't really been ready for one. For the last several years, I've been dealing with huge transitions: graduating college, living on my own for the first time, moving across the country, etc. I was also in a very emotionally complicated relationship and I hadn't realized how little energy that left me for anyone else.

For most of the past year, I felt very much in need. I needed physical comfort from sex and beatings and cuddles, a safe place to go that wasn't my apartment, someone to feed and take care of me while I was caring for my roommate, somebody to advise me on how to be an adult, emotional support while I dealt with the stress and changes. I was a big bundle of longing and I didn't have that much to give.

This is not a very good place from which to approach a relationship. Outsourcing those needs to several people, spreading out the load and doing a lot of work on my self by myself, worked really well when I felt this way. It kept me from feeling lonely while giving me the space I needed to figure out my own shit.

Now that I've settled into my adult life, live in a comfortable and safe place, and have "broken up" with my old roommate, I'm suddenly feeling more self-sufficient. I actually feel pretty happy, and like I've got the time and energy to focus on someone else and to take the risk of letting myself truly be seen. I'd like to explore the deeper intimacy that I haven't experienced since I was with my ex two years ago.

Of course, I can't just say "Okay, I'm ready for a relationship now!" and then magically I'm in one. But I am carefully setting a new intention and sharing my new desires with my partners. The time limitations are still tricky, but at least with this new intention I'll be able to base the amount of time I spend with a particular person on the extent to which we're developing deeper intimacy.

This all amounts to another transition, but with this at least I feel prepared and deliberate. And I'm excited about the future and the possibilities.

Autumn, and Changes to go with the Season

Woo boy, it has been quite a month.

Things for me have been changing so quickly it's a little hard to keep up with myself. I mentioned moving in my last post, but didn't even scratch the surface of what that's meant for me. Being in a new place has given me not only new roommates but also new goals for my immediate future and desires in my relationships.

I moved to New York City just over a year ago to live with one of my best friends, a woman with whom I've had a long and complicated relationship. (I've only alluded to it here). Over the five years we've known each other, we've had sex a couple of times, we've stopped being friends for six months, we've each fallen in love with and then been rejected by the other, I've been more livid with her than I'd been with anyone in years, and we've been at times inseparable. She's someone I deeply care about, but she's also a person who is very hard to love. She invites chaos into her life, and supporting her through that treads dangerously close to enabling.

Finally moving out of our apartment felt like a break up; while our relationship hasn't been sexual since we've lived together, I've realized it was essentially romantic. I was committed to her, and to a degree of taking care of her. In describing the situation to my friends and lovers, I've sounded like a chick lit divorce book. "The reasons we were together just aren't there anymore, and even though we care for each other, we've got too much baggage to work through."

I've made a very serious effort to be compassionate and supportive with her through my departure. I want to stay friends now that we're apart, but it's been a big transition. I suspect it's been hard for both of us.

I'm also miles happier in my new place and with my roommates than I've been at home for a very long time. It was difficult for me to feel safe or serene in the apartment I just left. (Example of why: A friend of my roommate's who was there nearly all the time cut her with broken glass and stole $500 from me.) It's tough for me to feel comfortable in my parents' house. And a college dorm is only partly a home. This, I think, is the first time I've felt truly comfortable in my space, like I belong there and it belongs to me.

It's huge. Without feeling stressed at home and drained by a dysfunctional relationship, I've got so much more emotional energy. Now I can devote myself to my own growth, to deepening my relationships (which I'll write more about in my next post), and to thinking about and planning what I'm doing with this here life of mine. And of course to writing here, which I'm going to try and do more of now that I'm settled.

Moving

This is a very brief post to note that, in addition to my recently very busy social life, I'm moving across town and therefore spending every waking minute either packing, making a subway run up to the new place with full suitcases, cleaning one or the other of the apartments, or trying to get some sleep.

Which is why I haven't posted here in a bit. I've got lots to write about, many thoughts about things that are happening in my life and the world at large, but hardly a free second in which to actually sit and write them.

When I'm done moving (give it another week, maybe?) expect a couple of fun sex toy review posts, some thoughts on Dark Odyssey, new insights on sacred spirituality, discussions of roommate boundaries and personal responsibility, and maybe an update or two on my kink life.

In other news, my cat is standing on the bit of the toilet seat behind me while I'm peeing. Cats are weird.

Poly and Single

Tristan Taormino wrote about "solo polyamory" in her book Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships. She describes solo polyamorists as those who are "dedicated to polyamory but...choose not to have a primary partner." She writes that they're a group of people who intentionally deviate from the cultural expectation that "everyone wants to be and should be part of a couple." (Pg. 87)

Looking from the outside at my life and how I spend my time, it could seem like I'm a solo polyamorist. I'm currently dating five people (if we don't count the folks who live far away and who I see when we're in the same time zone) and none of them are primary partners. There are a couple of people I've been seeing for a few months, one who I've known for a bit but just started dating, and a couple who are new. I'm different degrees of serious with all of them, but there's nothing I'd put into the "committed" category. I spend a lot of time on my job and on learning things for myself, experimenting. I live alone. I'm financially independent.

I think, in fact, that when I say I'm polyamorous a lot of people assume that means I'm not looking for a relationship. It's kind of a rare thing to find someone who's polyamorous and single. There are far more halves-of-couples and determined bachelors (of all genders). Not as many folks are single in the "more traditional" sense of not being in a partnership and looking for one.

But that's what I am: poly and single. I'm not in a committed relationship, not in a couple, but I want to be. I want a primary partner. It is, in fact, near the top of my priority list. I came to this polyamory thing on my own, not as part of my journey with anyone specific, and I'm looking for someone to share it with.

That's not to say that I'm trying to force every relationship into a primary space. I strongly believe in letting things develop organically and letting every relationship grow into a place that feels comfortable. That's one of the major benefits of polyamory: I can have different relationships at different levels and it's all okay. I am hoping, though, that one of my relationships turns more serious, and I'm ready to nurture anything that goes in that direction. I want to fall in love.

I think these desires give more depth to my meaning of the word "single." When I have the option of saying I'm a solo polyamorist and instead choose to say I'm single, it's more meaningful. I'm not just saying "I'm not in a relationship with anyone right now," I'm saying "I'm looking for a serious relationship along with the other less serious relationships I already have." Which is different. That's all.

Why I'll Never Be an Adult

I know this webcomic by blogger Allie has been making the rounds, since it's so applicable to just about everyone I know. (At least those who are nearish to my age or in my generation as a whole.)

But I wanted to mention it again, because it's just so awesome. This graph



largely explains the weird, large gaps in posting here. I mean, it's depression-related. But this cycle is something that I definitely feel. I'd love to post every day. I'd love to do my laundry every week or two weeks so I don't get the bajillion-pound pile that's now sitting in my room and staring at me as it waits to be carried to the laundromat. I'd love to remember to check in with all my close friends who are near and far on a frequent-enough basis. I'd like to clean ALL the things.

I wonder if everybody has some set of basic chores or interesting tasks that are beyond them to do. I know that most people I've talked to seem to. And from the response to the full webcomic, it seems the internet is full of folks who do. What about you?

Play Piercing

When I was 18, or maybe 19, I went to a house party put on by San Francisco Sex Information. I had just figured out that I wanted to be involved with sex education and I was doing everything I could to meet people who worked with sex in a serious way. When my contact invited me to the party to talk about how I could help at the hotline, it seemed like a perfect opportunity.

Predictably, this party was filled with sex positive, polyamorous-or-close, kinky types. It was a group of people firmly entrenched in the community that today I'm a part of but was then just finding for the first time. I did what I like to do at house parties, flitting from one conversation and new acquaintance to the next. It was so novel to be around people who had a vested interest in sexuality.

Novel, and a little shocking. Someone pulled out an impact toy at one point that was shaped like a metal ruler, but thicker. There were a bunch of people passing it around and trying it out on themselves and each other, talking about how thuddy it was, versus stingy like a regular ruler. That was the first time I encountered those terms. There was a computer in the living room, and the screen saver showed photos of women in various stages of bondage and torture. I was sitting next to a woman and her play partner when they started talking about knife play and prostitution role playing. As cool and collected as I wanted to seem, I'm pretty sure my eyes were as big as saucers.

At that point, I was only theoretically interested in BDSM. I knew I had fantasies of being tied up, and I knew I liked spanking. That was about it. I had an open relationship with my boyfriend, but neither of us had yet dated anyone else. I'd never slept with a woman, though I knew I wanted to. I'd met kinky people, but my impression of them had largely been related to the fact that they were much older men leching in my general direction. I was pretty shy about it all.

I was telling a story to one of my new acquaintances (I don't remember who) about how I'd worked at the Renaissance Faire on my 18th birthday and a friend, to accentuate how popular this made me, gave me a pin to wear that said "Legal" on it. My new, kinky, poly party friend said "I bet you'd look great wearing just that pin and nothing else."

I was taken aback by this. The memory is fuzzy, but I might've had to ask him to explain what he meant, that the pin would be piercing my skin. I'd told him earlier in conversation that I was possibly interested in BDSM but hadn't explored much. I know he was trying to get a rise out of me. I said something along the lines of "Oh, I don't know about that," and tucked the idea away on my list of Really Kinky Shit that was probably only for special, experienced, and rare Heavy Players.

Fast forward to the other night, September in New York City. I did my first play piercing scene in the basement of the local BDSM club, tied topless to a bondage table and ignoring the people standing around to watch. Today I'm feeling the itch as the puncture marks from the needles and staples heal and I'm enjoying the bruises on other parts of my body from the rest of the play that we did.

It's funny how far we can come in the space of five years.

This Week In Priceless Online Dating Messages

To contextualize this note, you should all know that I'm 6'1 and say so on my OkCupid profile. This provokes, occasionally, some interesting responses. For instance:
so sorry if this question is a little forward and this is totally not a pass at you (though i do find you very attractive) but have you ever had sex with a man who was shorter than you? say my height? (5'8")
My reply?

"no"

Which is actually a lie, but can you blame me? It was just too easy. And it wasn't a pass at me after all, right? *snort*

Self Taught?

Often the easiest way to figure out what you like sexually is to experiment on your own and figure it out. The first thing I tell anybody to do who's having trouble reaching orgasm or worried about having sex is to masturbate. A lot. That way they'll have some familiarity with their own bodies and know how they like to be touched before they have to interact with a partner. It's hard to tell someone what you want when you don't know yourself.

This is basic advice. It applies to lots of things. Self knowledge is power.

I'm wondering, though, how it applies to kink.

For years one of the things that kept me from dipping my toe into deeper kinky waters was that I didn't know where my pain tolerances where and which activities I would like. It felt weird to explore these things with a stranger, and I wasn't seeing any kinky people regularly enough to know them well. I needed a partner with whom I was comfortable enough to be inexperienced, someone who would help me figure it all out without being judgmental or expecting me to know more than I did.

I've found a few people to play with now, but I still wish I knew more about my personal preferences and what my body can take. I'm discovering with my partners that I like pain a lot more than I anticipated I would. I still haven't figured out, though, which types are my favorite and which body parts can take more and less and there are many things I still haven't tried. I've got lots to learn, basically.

Normally, I'd just try to figure it out on my own. I'd play with myself. But it feels really weird when what I want to explore is pain.

So much of what's appealing to me about BDSM has to do with the DS part. (Dominance and submission.) I like the physical sadomasochism for sure, but it's inextricably tied in my head to a dynamic of domination. Even if there's no real role playing going on in a scene, in my head I'm thinking "I'm taking this pain to please my partner" or I'm simply imagining that they're in control even if that dynamic isn't especially there. It's a huge part of the turn on for me.

I don't think I can get very close to that when I'm by myself. I can of course fantasize, just as I would when masturbating. But it's going to take a good amount of effort and even technique to effectively hurt myself, especially if I'm trying to experiment with something new like caning or I dunno, rubber band torture on my feet or god knows what. That's going to make it hard to concentrate on a fantasy. And I'm not sure I'd have the same reactions to pain when it's just pain than when it's part of a scene and in the context of a certain relationship.

I'll probably still do some experimenting on my own. Hell, I sit at work all day and idly play with the toys we sell. We keep evil sticks on the counter and I'm constantly fiddling with them on my legs. I do enjoy the pain on its own to an extent. I can totally do that kind of thing in private in a more deliberate way.

It is a weird Catch-22, though. I wonder if other people have had this issue. Comments?

Very Sexual

Have those of you who do online dating ever noticed that when someone refers to themselves as "very sexual," they're almost always looking for an NSA sexual encounter? And they're usually not very respectful about that.

You know, the whole form letter booty call private message on a dating site. The note on OkCupid or collarme that in one way or another displays that the sender hasn't read your profile at all and is just dispersing as many messages as he (usually a he, could be a she/ze) can manage to copy and paste to as many pretty people as he can find. You know, in hopes of increasing his odds.

The phrase "very sexual" seems to always be involved there somewhere. And it really just doesn't mean anything. It tells me literally nothing about your relationship to sex, about how you approach it or feel about it or what you want from it. In fact, what it generally tells me is that you're a sexual conformist who hasn't done a lot of work on finding your personalized sexual happy-makers, and probably won't be that great in bed. It suggests a lack of creativity. Because really, that's just a catchphrase that you've picked up from reading too many craigslist ads.

I was reading a profile today of someone who wrote me a good message, one that referenced my profile, told me something about him, generally treated me like a human. He did talk about sex in his profile, but as one of many things. And what he said was, among other things, "I love sex."

And that's so different! Anything that's personal, that admits having an actual feeling or opinion about sex is a legitimately valuable statement. It's not even that hard to do. How do you feel about sex? I love it! How often do you want to have sex? Ideally six times a week! What do you get out of a sexual encounter? Connection, physical pleasure, excitement, entertainment, maybe a sharing of love, and the satisfaction of a need for physical touch! How much commitment are you looking for? Doesn't have to be any, could be a lot!

I suppose that if you want to give people the idea that you're just looking for a sexually dissatisfying wham, bam, thank you ma'am kink of experience, you could continue to use the phrase "very sexual." But really, let's try sharing some real information. Nobody's going to bite you through the interwebs for saying specifically what you like and want, even if it is NSA casual sex. And then you might actually get it.

P.S. I'm not even going to mention my feelings on the phrase "very bisexual." Ugh.

Birthday

I turned 23 on Saturday, and I think it was my first birthday that felt truly emotionally significant. Usually the day goes by and there's food and a few gifts and there might be some legal rights I gain but that's about it. You know, life just continues.

This was different. It was a really lovely birthday, actually, just emotional. I went to the beach with Conrad and then we played at his hotel room before he headed off to more travels. It was a strange and beautiful sort of day. Being near the ocean and then in a fresh hotel room made it feel like we were away from New York and away from daily life. I don't think we stopped touching each other for more than 15 minutes in a row throughout the whole day. It's easy to get high on that kind of touch.

He massaged my shoulders all day, saying he liked that he could hurt me and heal me at the same time. I've got really bad knots in my upper back and shoulders (right in the heart chakra, yes) and at a few points my knees actually gave out because he was working on them so hard. He was holding me up, from behind, and using his chin to dig into the knots. It was a whole different kind of pain. Penetrating.

Later, at the hotel, he whipped me and I cried.

It was the first time I'd ever cried during a scene. I was feeling so much from the total picture of the day: his work on my shoulders and his opening of that physical manifestation of my knotted emotions, the slight menstrual bleeding and heavy hormones I was still experiencing, the way being so close to him all day had made me feel, and the sense that this so-difficult year was passing away. Something about the whip made it coalesce and let the water flow. It was a different kind of crying than I usually do. It wasn't tortured, and I wasn't trying to fight it with every muscle in my abdomen. He was just hitting me and the tears started coming out. And I felt surprisingly okay with it. The whip even started to feel better after the tears began. I wasn't embarrassed or afraid to be crying. I just was.

I'm really, strangely glad not to be 22 anymore. I suppose in the full shake of things it wasn't a particularly good year for me. Or rather, it was a really hard year. I left home to live all on my own for the first time, clear across the country to New York and far from my family and friends. I worked as a canvasser for eight months, which is just a brutal job. I was depressed to varying degrees for all of that. The gaps in blogging here were rough periods, and there are lots of gaps. It was a year of struggle.

That also means, though, that it was a year of huge growth, which is why it's not really accurate to call it a bad year. I made that cross-country move and found an apartment and I've paid my rent every month. I found a job that covered my bills and then found a different job that I love. I bit the bullet and finally started anti-depressants. I forced myself out of the house and finally made friends and found lovers. I embraced BDSM and have started exploring and finding new, deeper parts of myself. I created a home for myself in this craziest of U.S. cities. Essentially, I became an adult.

And boy, am I glad that year is over. And to have released some of what it meant for me in that clean, quiet hotel room.

Satisfaction

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how insatiable I can be. Everything I wrote there still applies: the more sex I have the more sex I want, and I'm more satisfied when I have a deep relationship.

But!

As I've been embracing kink more and finding partners who want to tie me up and do very fun painful things to me, I'm finding myself way more satisfied. To the extent that maybe even for a day or two after a good scene, I'm not craving sex or touch or anything. Just buzzing in some afterglow. It's a novel feeling.

Last Saturday, I went to a sex party with Conrad, a newish play partner. (Dear god, he is hot.) Now, I'm normally pretty private about who I'm playing with. It seems slightly awkward to write about the sex I'm having as I'm having it, especially if I'm talking in ways I wouldn't with my partner. But Conrad asked me if I was planning to blog about him and told me I could post a link. So I have permission!

He and I played, ladies and gentleman, from 9:30pm to 5:00am last Saturday night. We had an audience at the party, but we were almost exclusively fooling around with each other. I spent the better part of seven hours bound in one way or another. He put clothespins on me, he whipped me, he dunked my head underwater in the hot tub, he used electro-stim on my nipples and pussy, he pinched and hit and bit and kissed me. He pulled my hair and stuck his cock down my throat. He made me come more times than I'm sure of. For sustenance, he blindfolded me and fed me a hot dog and some fruit. (I spit a watermelon seed at him!) At the end of the night we fucked next to a bunch of other people having fun. And then in the morning, after we went home to my apartment and got some sleep, we fucked some more.

After that, I was satisfied. Boy was I ever. Actually, I was exhausted, but in a pleasant way. And I took a couple of days to just chill out at home after work, watch movies with my roommate, and generally do tame, vanilla, calm things. I slept a lot the next two nights. And I felt great.

I had never felt that way after vanilla sex. I've had some really great sex that stuck with me. I've made some beautiful connections and hot memories. But I'd never felt so bone-satiated. So finished. Content.

I'm so glad I've finally come to this point, where I'm actually acting on my submissive urges on a regular basis. It took me a long time to get here, to be ready for it, but I'm happy I've arrived. It's clear to me that BDSM is a fundamental piece of who I am and what I desire, and something that was missing from my life for a long time. And now I get to have it. And I'm so grateful.

Submission is Not Passive

"Submit" is an action verb.

Well, duh, Paradox, you might say. Of course it's an action verb. That's just basic grammar.

You would be right, but I mean it in a deeper sense than that.

For a long time, I felt a little guilty when I had long sessions with lovers where I was being submissive to them, where they were doing hurty or bondagey or sexy things to me and being in control of what was happening. I felt like the burden of creativity, of action, was on them and that it was somehow unfair. That I was simply taking what they gave me without contributing that much, since I was going along with what they thought up and told me to do.

I've realized it's more complicated than that. And better than that, really.

When I'm playing with a top (or dom or whatever) who likes what he* is doing, he's getting something out of it too. I'm giving him my reactions and my permission and contributing my energy to the scene. Depending on our dynamic, I'm giving him my obedience. I'm using my strength to hold uncomfortable positions or to accept whatever pain he gives me. I'm giving him a release that he probably craves on his own, access to my body and to an activity that he wants. I'm exciting him. It is, as I say on my Fetlife profile, a gift.

To submit is an act of will. It's an active choice, one that I continue to make throughout a scene. There's a saying in improv of all kinds: Say yes to your partner. And it applies in kink (and sex for that matter) because if I'm not saying yes, we can't do anything. If he's trying to feed me and I don't open my mouth, that's the end. If he's trying to hit me and I run away, that's the end. If I use my safeword at any time, that's the end. And when it goes well, when it's hot and exciting and satisfying, it's because we created that together.

Which is so, so much fun.

*I use male pronouns since I tend towards heterosexuality in my kink life. I play with women sometimes, but not nearly as often. But this could all apply to dominant types of any gender.

What is Sex?

I just realized (again) that I've never talked about what sex is on this blog.

I write about sex all the fucking time, and yet I've never really defined what it is that I'm writing about. I mean, sure, there's a common definition of what counts as sex. I've encountered it, and I think it's really stupid.

See, most people seem to think that the only thing that's "really" sex is some kind of penetrative (enveloping?) intercourse. Vaginal, anal. With a man's (bio) cock. That's it. Everything else is just "foreplay" or "after play" and what's important is the "play" part that only includes fucking.

But, um, I really think that cock sucking is sex. And pussy licking. And finger fucking. And fisting. And using anal beads. Hand jobs in the back of a movie theater. Fucking someone with my dildo. Fingers on my clit through my panties. A mouth on my nipples and really hot, long makeout sessions, too.

The way I see it, if I could have an orgasm from it, or my partner could have an orgasm from it, it definitely counts as sex. If I'm thinking about it for days afterwards, if I could fantasize about it while I masturbate, that's probably sex, too. The things that matter to me are the feelings, the kind of connection I'm experiencing, not some technicality of what body part entered where.

The problem with only considering Penis-In-Whatever intercourse to be sex is that it excludes a whole range of very pleasurable and definitely sexual activities from what we think "counts." I've written before about how the definition of sex as intercourse excludes the activities that make a majority of women have an orgasm. Like, you know, touching the clitoris at all. There's also the fact that lesbians are pretty much unable to have sex under this model. Which is just silly.

The number of people I've actually fucked is definitely lower than the number of people I've considered sex partners. Especially given the women on my list. But I'd rather honor the experiences I've had, honor the partners I've shared my time and my body with, and be that much more of a slut. Because I'm proud of my history, and all the kinds of sex I've had with all kinds of people!

Two Caveats to My Post on Sluthood

**While I'm having sex, I still don't want to hear the word slut directed at me in a way that's connected with shame. Or any other sex negative phrase for that matter, like cock tease or prude (ha, like anyone would call me that). Not only am I not ashamed of what I do sexually, I'm not at all turned on by shame. So trying to invoke that emotion is just kind of weird and jarring and pulls me out of teh sexiness, which I'd rather stay immersed in, thanks.

Tell me I'm such a good slut and so good at sex. Yes, I love to hear that. Please praise me for my sexuality. That turns me on. But don't go to the "you like this so much, don't you, slut?" thing or the "I bet you make all the boys crazy, you tease" thing or the "I'm going to fuck you like a ragdoll, cuz you're a fucktoy for my use" thing. Not my bag.


**I get tested often for sexually transmitted infections and am careful with barrier methods of protection for the sex I have. (Condoms, condoms, condoms! And gloves.) I also have an IUD to prevent pregnancy. Having lots of sexual partners does increase my risk for transmission of disease and unplanned pregnancy, and would increase those risks for anyone on my path. I'm all about sluthood, but it's also important to protect your health. Resources for good ways to protect yourself: Scarleteen and Planned Parenthood.

Rethinking "Slut"

I've written a lot about sluthood before, and about how I had trouble reclaiming that word because of my personal history with it. When I was first called a slut, it was not at all cute or kind. Even though I was fine with the sex I'd been having, the shame behind the word got to me when my closest friends used it against me. It's taken me a long time to heal from that.

But heal I think I have. The more beautiful sex I've had with more people, the easier it's gotten to gladly think of myself as a slut. An ethical one. A happy one. And one who is proud of her sex life and sexual history.

Jaclyn Friedman, editor of the book and contributor to the blog Yes Means Yes, just wrote a lovely piece about what sluthood has done for her. One of the best quotes from the piece is this:
Sluthood...reminds me to enjoy the life I have now, instead of waiting for someone to come start it. It helps me know my heart better, and my libido. It makes me better at communicating about both of them, and much less likely to confuse the two. To my mind, far from ruining me for real love, sluthood is preparing me for it...

...Sluthood isn’t just a choice we should let women make because women should be free to make even “bad” choices. It’s a choice we should all have access to because it has the potential to be liberating. Healing. Soul-fulfilling. I’m telling you this because sluthood saved me, in a small but life-altering way, and I want it to be available to you if you ever think it could save you, too. Or if you want it for any other reason at all.
I've made so many great connections, had so many fun and interesting experiences, and learned so very much that I wouldn't have if I weren't happy to jump into sex with new, interesting people. There have been a few bad experiences, mostly because of somebody deceiving me or treating me disrespectfully, but that could have happened even if I was trying to have a relationship with them. In fact, usually the reason they were being deceiving and disrespectful was that they assumed I wanted a relationship and that's what they had to do to get me into bed. Dummies.

I've also made great friendships and found really wonderful relationships. My promiscuity has never stopped me from finding love, just the opposite. My life has been filled with love, all kinds of love, from great friendship to a four-year commitment with a man I'm still close to. And so much in between. I wouldn't trade that for the world.

So I'm done hiding from a word that should just mean "someone who has a lot of sex with a lot of people." If that's the literal definition of a slut, well, that's what I am. And there's not a single reason to be sorry for that.

So here's my shouting from the mountain: I'm 23 years old (on Saturday!), I've had 64 sexual partners*, and I'm proud of it. I am a good slut, and happy to be one.


*This is based on my definition of "sex," which holy crap I've never written about here! I will fix that immediately. Update: I wrote about my definition of sex here.

Online Dating

I've been using internet dating sites in one form or another since I was sixteen. I started with the teen quiz and meet-people site eSpin.com known at the time as eSpinTheBottle. When I used it, you'd click on a picture of a bottle and it'd pop out a random teen near you. I gave blow jobs to one boy who went to high school in the next town over and (unbeknownst to me) had an identical twin brother who I later ran into. Now THAT'S an awkward story for another time.

I've used AdultFriendFinder, I've used eHarmony (long ago and very briefly), I've used Craigslist. When I went to school in Rochester, I posted an ad in casual encounters in the women-seeking-men section. All women's ads were flagged for some reason, so the ad was only up for about 45 minutes. I received 150 replies. Out of those, I met one guy with whom I had lovely sex and spankings. The variety of emails I got were mostly hilarious and the endeavor was worth my time even just for the lolz.

These days I highly favor OKCupid, the entirely free, a little bit nerdy, and very well-done dating site. It's inclusive of queer sexualities and open relationships, which is a huge plus in my book. (The next step is gender inclusivity...hint, hint, nudge, nudge.) Also, there are lots of hot people in my age range on there, which helps.

In this age where we do so much on the internet: social networking, sharing pictures, chatting with friends, everything, it kind of makes sense to date online. I much prefer it to picking people up in bars or clubs. (Although the whole friend of a friend at a party/dinner/whatever thing still can't be beat; they're pre-approved!).

I like the fact that we all get to have a profile, so there's something more than physical appearance upon which a first contact is based. In a bar, I know for sure that someone's only approaching me because I look hot. If they're writing me a message and engaging with something I've written about myself, starting a conversation that's relevant to me, I know they're interested in more than my appearance. And if the message is just about how I look ("hey, ur gorgeous, wanna chat?") then I can ignore it without worrying that I'll be harassed or insulted for turning the person down. If someone is a douche online, I can just block them. It makes the weed-out process so much easier.

I think most people who use online dating feel similarly; it's all in the approach. If you're an online dater and want to send successful first messages, it can seem like mastering a delicate art. (Sadly, the burden of approach online is on men just as much as in real life, which I of course fly in the face of, ha!) I think it actually comes down to the same principles that apply to all approaches: be polite, engage with the person's profile and stated interests (in real life, engage with someone's humanity not just their body), and ask questions that can start a conversation.

For really good tips and info on online dating, and on human relationships in general, check out OKCupid's blog OkTrends. The very nerdy-cool people behind the site like to sit around and aggregate all the data from the site they've got at their fingertips. They've come out with some really fun and interesting info on how people date and what's most effective in terms of first messages and profile pictures. It's a very, very fascinating body of work.

Good TED Talk by Cindy Gallop



Via Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross I really like this quick video from Cindy Gallop, creator of Make Love Not Porn (which I wrote about before here). I've certainly had similar experiences to the one she describes, and my entire honors thesis was about how porn is a huge part of young people's sex education. I've written before about Gallop's site, but I thought this video was a nice summary of the reasoning behind it.

Hot Kinky Porn

I've been fantasizing about BDSM since well before puberty. I remember having weird day dreams about those silly old movie scenarios where a woman is tied in rope from neck to toe and strapped to a railroad track. (If you're even a little kinky, you surely remember what I'm talking about.) I think I was about six.

It comes in and out of my fantasy life, but lately there's usually been some element of power exchange in my masturbation fantasies. I don't tend to make complicated narratives for myself, but I do imagine being held or tied down, or some of the physical sensations I associate with domination. It seems the more I actually engage with that part of my sexuality, the more engaging it becomes. As I experiment in real life with kinky sex, my fantasy life follows.

Therefore, the porn I want to watch recently has pretty much been kinky porn. And the best place to find that is of course Kink.com. I wrote about this conglomerate of hot BDSM porn sites in my thesis for their progressive guidelines about consent and depictions of negotiations and all kinds of other good stuff. What I didn't write about is that it's all damn hot.

Want proof? Check out this shoot where a cute newbie gets tied up and surprises her top with her enthusiasm. There's more! In this one, a woman gets bound and roughly handled by two "strangers." I really liked the way she seemed totally absorbed in what was going on; that's the kind of sex I like! Finally, this shoot has great chemistry between all three performers and some hot bondage action.

I just got an affiliate account set up with them, so you can expect regular posts so I can share with you the hot clips I find. I, for one, am very excited about this and I hope some of you are too!

Victim Blaming and "Just Trying to Help"

I've often struggled when talking to ordinary folks who, after a woman is sexually assaulted or even just in a general discussion of rape and sexual assault, focus to the exclusion of all else on what the victim could do or could have done to prevent an assault. I can clearly articulate that saying these things to a sexual assault survivor after her experience is only going to make her feel guilty for what was clearly a crime against her. Many, if not even close to all, people can get that.

What I've had trouble explaining is why that kind of rhetoric is bad even when we're just talking about rape as a concept or on a societal level. I've had more than one person answer with: "But it's true that there are things one can do to decrease the risk of sexual assault. Why shouldn't I point that out? Couldn't it help someone avoid it?"

Always Aroused Girl has helped me out immensely with this by smoothly articulating what's wrong with looking to the victim for the reason why a rape or assault happened or for the responsibility to prevent them.
While it might (might!) be appropriate to educate our sisters and daughters about “sexual assault prevention tips” and “sending messages” before they set foot out the door, once an assault — or “almost” assault — has taken place, it’s time to shut up and listen. Advice about what the survivor might have done differently or should do the next time amounts to nothing more than victim blaming.

Every single time. Sincere or not. “Just trying to help” or not.

People who don’t want themselves or their loved ones to be assaulted feel great comfort in handing out those tips because they give the illusion of control. “You should never have gone to his house!” they say, or “You should have said ‘NO’ more firmly,” but what they really mean is that they hope that those strategies will work for them if they should be so unfortunate as to be assaulted.

They are wearing blinders. While I’d like to feel pity for their sightless state I cannot, because every time they try to rationalize assault, they hurt the ones who have lived through it.

Gossip and Being a Scene Newbie

I spent most of a slow day at the store a couple weeks ago reading Fetlife discussion posts. (You need to have an account to read.) There was a big hubbub in one of the local groups over some inappropriate behavior by a leader of said group. The main thing to come out of it was that invasive/abusive/assaultive behavior doesn't get addressed very well in the kink scene in New York. In various threads on what is essentially the Facebook of kink, people have been proposing different methods to deal with this problem. (If you read my post on dirty laundry, you know what my ideal solution would be.)

I've always been really wary of and hesitant to enter the kink community. It's true that there are misogynist and entitled men everywhere. In any bar or club or party I could go to, at least some segment of the male population will be liable to creepily hit on, grope, or even rape a woman. That's just the awful truth of things today. I do think there are things we can all do to help change that state of affairs, but that change is definitely not here yet. Not even close.

In the specific kink community, though, we are dealing with intensified power dynamics and some potentially very dangerous forms of play. Interactions that are already really problematic in the straight world take on a heightened importance when you need to trust someone to tie you up and beat you. Or even just be a present at a party where you're being tied up and beaten. Kink creates vulnerability, and I was hesitant for a long time to be that vulnerable in the presence of a whole community.

One of the cool things about reading this discussion is that people seem to have a better sense of gender dynamics and the consequences of abuse. There's much more open discussion about consent than in other arenas. It's a community that has to be more aware of respectful sexual practices because of the extremes of play it favors. This is a good thing.

On the other hand, it's become really clear that there are plenty of kinky folks who have NO inkling of acceptable behavior or speech*. Some people who posted in the thread, a couple of whom I've met cordially in real life, were completely out of line and exposed themselves as misogynist, or gay-bashing, or victim-blaming, or some horrid combination of the above. I of course had no idea of this when I met them and wouldn't have ever known if I hadn't finally found enough friends that someone mentioned to me that I should check out the threads.

I find myself in a weird position here. I'm a newcomer to this group and I want to find partners to play with. There's a lot in BDSM that I haven't done and want to explore and I know the best way to do it is to get into a relationship with someone who has the same interests. The play parties and munches and all of that are largely forums to meet people with similar interests.

But really the only way I have to tell who is safe to play with, who is not going to be an asshole, is through the grapevine or from reading posts on an online forum. Which I find very frustrating. I much, much prefer to keep my relationship with any given person between me and that person. I hate triangulation, all that he-said-this and she-did-that bullshit that's really just a consequence of not dealing with conflict directly. But when it comes to safety, I suppose I must get information wherever I can.

The consequence of the shit that I alluded to last week (which, no, I'm not going to say much more about) is that I'm just going to throw myself into the community. If there's a rumor about someone, I want to hear it. Just to be on the safe side. If I'm going to play privately with someone new, I'm going to ask for references from past partners. I wish very much I didn't have to do all that, but it seems that I must. On the plus side, I'm finding a cool new community, which I've already started to have great fun with. It's a whole new world to open up and explore.

*Please don't bring up the first amendment, I'm talking about speech that makes someone an asshole, not that makes them a felon. This is about ethics, not law.

Medication and Emotion

I started Wellbutrin last Wednesday. I intended to write about it before I got derailed, but I suppose it's better a little late than never.

I felt intensely nervous before my first appointment with the psychiatrist, partly because my experience with the guy who prescribed me Adderall pretty much consisted of "How's it going with the drugs? Good? Here's another prescription. That'll be 65 dollars." I was worried that my new doctor would be as brusque and clinical, and my depression is so much more of a tender subject than my mild ADHD.

Fortunately, he was kind and asked lots of questions, talking to me for about 45 minutes before writing me a prescription. He didn't seem to mind that I'd done a little research ahead of time and he addressed my concerns calmly. Which was definitely a relief.

That said, my feelings about this whole drug thing are a lot more complicated than nervousness over how my doctor will behave. I've been working and working and working to overcome this mood issue for years. It's a struggle that's just a part of my daily reality, that's built into my routines and my self care and my relationships. It's hard to imagine my life without it, or even just with it alleviated a little.

The whole process seems so strange. My doctor explained that after two weeks or so I should physically start to feel better, that my energy will improve and it'll be easier to do things. Then after about a month, my mood should be better, the drug will be in my system and in effect. It's just odd to think of the way I feel emotionally as a symptom that a daily pill can address. It feels like something that's a part of me, and altering it with something I can just swallow is a bit disconcerting.

I'm also terrified to get my hopes up over what's going to happen here. I know that pills are not a complete fix for anything, and I don't really know how I'm going to respond to them. The idea that my friends and sister have given me that it'll be "easier to be okay" sounds unbelievably appealing, but I'm a little afraid to let myself hope. What if it doesn't work? What, then, will I be left with? I know myself and that I'd just move on and try something else, but I've delayed this option for so long, held it in my mind as a fallback, that I know it'll be really hard if it doesn't help me.

I suppose it's ultimately a question of venturing into an unknown. I've always chafed particularly at the beginnings of journeys, the feeling of uncertainty and the knowledge that I'm a novice, as green and fragile as can be. I think one of my biggest challenges as a human being is to embrace that feeling and learn to love not knowing. Moving forward and trying things even though they're scary is a part of that. So onward and upward, and I'll keep y'all filled in on how things progress.

How Cool is This?

Via Figleaf (who I seem to be unable to stop referencing), a group of scientists has suggested that a month-long abstinence campaign might drastically reduce new HIV infections to the point of having a tangible impact on the global epidemic. Meaning: if we could convince everyone in the world to stop having sex for one month, we could make huge headway in the fight against AIDs.

Now, it might seem like I'm someone who wouldn't embrace abstinence, even for a month. I wouldn't like it, I admit, although I've had significantly longer periods of abstinence than than in recent years when I just didn't feel emotionally available to connect with people in that way. I need breaks, too.

I think this is a brilliant idea, though. The basis for their suggestion is the fact that most HIV transmissions happen within the first month or so of the original person being infected. The risk of passing it along drastically reduces after that point. Therefore, if we could get everyone to stop having sex for just a month (or, as Figleaf says, to even just use barriers/condoms for what sex they do have during that month) then we'd be past that highly infectious window for everyone with the virus.

The only problem I see with this is getting all the governments and activists and people who can make such a campaign happen on board in an organized way. This sounds like it'd have to be a massive advertising campaign, with advance notice and a planned month and all kinds of logistical nightmares. But it's better than anything I've seen so far, and all those things are details that a group with enough good organizers could probably pull it off.

Anybody else think this is a good or a terrible idea? I'm curious to hear the reactions.

In Defense of Publicly Airing Dirty Laundry

I've done a lot of thinking about gossip vs. public accountability in the past few days, and I really think that pushing issues that would usually be private out of the closet and into clear daylight is a good thing. So long as it's all done out in the open and names are named and any person has the freedom to respond to allegations or opinions in any way that they want, it benefits everyone to have things be more public rather than less.

I'm specifically advocating this with regards to abuse, bullying, rape, harrassment, stalking, etc, but I think it also applies to other arenas. Bad business practices, friendships gone awry, hell, even breakups. I know that the court of public opinion can be ridiculous and (especially on the internet) freely shared information can be freely abused information. I understand why people want to keep some things private. It hurts when we put something out there and then others react with vitriol.

The other side to that, though, is that creepy people then show their stripes. If someone's being abusive, especially on a forum like Fetlife or Facebook where it's not anonymous, they're outed as an abuser. When everybody is talking about something publicly, rather than whispering about it privately, it becomes clear pretty quickly who is being crazy and who is reasonable. It also means there's more information that's readily accessible to everyone, and people can make their own judgments about who they want to befriend or who is safe to be around.

Thomas over at Yes Means Yes writes all the time that the way we're going to stop rapists is by publicly shaming them and removing the social constructs that allow them to continue. Calling people out on rape jokes. Standing behind victims who come forward. Etc.

I think that applies here. If it's impossible to misbehave without having your shit broadcast all over a community you're part of, then people are either going to hesitate before they misbehave or they're going to leave that community. If every community then had a similar public response to bad behavior, any kind of abuser would run out of places to go. Or get stupid, then get caught.

I think that very public discussions of personal issues are actually different than gossip. Gossip allows people to hide things; by its very nature it's a hidden form of communication. Figleaf quoted Dilbert creator and blogger Scott Adams the other day on privacy.
When privacy goes away completely, we'll all be freer. There's only a penalty to privacy when your asshole neighbor can look down his nose at your hobbies while secretly masturbating to Field and Stream magazine. The best two situations for society are when you have either complete privacy or complete non-privacy. It's the middle ground that creates problems. That's where we are now.
What allows that neighbor to be an asshole, alongside the fact that his own kinkiness is a secret, is the fact that he's probably only trash talking you privately, to his friends. If everything was out in the open, how long do you think his superiority would last? Not long at all.

Call for submissions for feminist, queer pornzine

Hey y'all. I just found this call for submissions in my email inbox and thought I'd put it here in case anyone would be inspired. Looks like a great idea for a publication, and right up my alley. I will be following up my last post soon, probably by the end of today.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

What is pornzine?
http://pornzine.wordpress.com/
pornzine is a queer feminist response to erotic art and literature. pornzine aims to meld pornography with high art; comics with erotica; titillation with stunning visuals.

pornzine is looking for submissions that highlight queer feminist erotica. Comic submissions are strongly encouraged, and are pornzine’s main focus—however, pornzine loves the written word and single illustrations, so by all means send those along as well.

Specs for illustrations and comics:
Black and white
8.5x11
No bleeds
300 dpi
JPEG or PDF

Specs for the written word:
Maximum 5,000 words
Short stories, poetry, and more accepted
If you’d like an illustration or two to go with your story, let us know.

Please keep the following in mind should you choose to submit something to pornzine:

pornzine is queer. While we’re not going to tell you what queer should mean to you, please keep this in mind as you compose your work.
pornzine is feminist. We consider reproductions of typically sexist, misogynist, hetero-normative sex and sexuality offensive, unimportant, and not worthy of printing.
pornzine is aimed at titillation, as much as it is aimed at high art. Please therefore submit work you are nothing but deeply proud of. Just because it’s naughty doesn’t mean it has to be poorly done.

Send Submissions to: queerpornzine@gmail.com
by August 1, 2010

Derailed

In News of the Last 48 Hours of Paradox's Life, I had a bit of romantic catastrophe that's left me reeling and rethinking many, many things. A lot of which I want to write about.

I've got some kind of gigantic post or series of posts coming about gossip and abuse and responses to abuse and public domain information and personal responsibility for the safety of others and how all of the above relates to the BDSM/poly/sex positive/whatever community. Which is going to take me a couple of days to sort out.

I just wanted to write something down here to be like, whoa, some SHIT has been going down and I have THINGS TO SAY. That is all. More to come.

Inadequate Language for Play Partners

I really struggle with what to call the people I'm dating when I'm referring to them in conversation. I really dislike the terms "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" because they imply all kind of things about commitment levels and monogamy. I don't want someone I'm talking to (or dating!) to think that I'm unavailable because I'm referring to someone else as my boyfriend. It just comes with too many expectations and connotations.

Calling someone I'm wildly attracted to and dating and fucking regularly my friend, though, is a little ridiculous. And the linguistic contortions that I've tried so far all have a bit of a silly note. "Partner" sounds like a business acquaintance. "Sweetheart" sounds sappy and old-fashioned. "Fuckbuddy" is too crude and doesn't give enough credit to the friendship/intimacy part. "Special friend" is way too euphemistic. "Lover" is the one I'm most inclined to use, but even that sounds pretentious and a little goofy.

There's also the issue of being in that space where you've started dating someone but don't have commitments yet. . . But you might be moving towards that. . . But you don't want to jump the gun or give people wrong ideas before you're ready to embrace a relationship. Kind of like how people don't announce a pregnancy in the first month because it's likely to miscarry. Silly in a way not to tell anyone, and it doesn't give enough credit to how sad and how common it is to have a miscarriage, but you don't want to have to repeatedly explain what's happened to everyone if it doesn't work out.

One of my coworkers calls her most important partner her "jellybean," which is pretty cute. I suppose that could be the answer: an otherwise meaningless word that you can then explain to mean whatever your relationship status happens to be. I wish there was something easier in our language, but I guess that's what poly pioneers and rapid progress are for! Anyone else have any great ideas?

Energy Exchange

I had really great, actually satisfying sex the other night. (The purpose of this post is not to brag, I swear!)

I got to do lots of fun things with my newly frequent play friend, like brief blow jobs in the back room of a Brooklyn speakeasy and rooftop fucking and bottoming like a good girl, and that was certainly part of it. I mean, I love getting to do the things that reallllly get me off. Of course.

One of the things that's been happening often, though, especially as I get better at expressing and asking for what I want, is that I get so excited it's really hard for me to come. Once I'm flying that high, it takes a bit of a push to bring me over the top so I can find my orgasm(s). I still love it even without the Big O, but it's nice to have the body satisfaction and endorphin release and all of that.

Well, this weekend, I was well into that state. I had a vibrator on my clit and my friend was doing naughty and scary (and therefore hot) things to me with this little claw thingie he's got and I was dangling off a roof over a fire escape and it was just very exciting. And I simply could not get myself to come.

But then we moved, and he positioned himself so I could look at his face. As soon as I could look into his eyes and feel him watching me, feel his excitement and see him feeling mine, as soon as I opened myself up to him on a more energetic level, everything suddenly hit home and I finally came.

I think that sometimes when someone's doing things to give me pleasure, be it going down on me or fucking me with hands or dick or just helping me use a vibrator, I close myself off in an attempt to concentrate and come. I hold my breath (a bad habit I'm trying to break). I close my eyes.

It's easy for me to be energetically connected when I'm doing things for someone, tuning into their body and enjoying their pleasure, but it's much harder when I'm receiving. But of course, everything feels so much better, so much more exciting and fulfilling when I let the connection happen and let my pleasure be attached to it. For someone as independent and (sometimes) emotionally skittish as I am, it's a challenge to be open, to relax into that, but one that's clearly worth embracing.

Insatiable

I found the poly community in New York.

Finally!

Of course, what this means is that I've been having a lot more sex lately than I had been in the previous months. It took me a good long time to find a group of people who are all friends and mostly seem to approach sex in the way that I like--respectfully, playfully, and affectionately. But find them I did.

The big bummer of it, though, is that this rediscovered sexual activity has not resulted in that much more sexual or existential satisfaction. It seems that the more sex I get, the more sex I want. I've been leaving bedrooms feeling happy that I just had fun, but not satiated in the least.

One reason for this is that everyone I've been playing with lately is a new partner. They don't know yet the little tricks that make my body work. (Although some have had a faster learning curve than others.) I haven't had a chance yet to communicate about all the things I want, like at least two orgasms in a session (because one really just gets me going), or the occasional scheduled Day o' Sex.

Speaking of which, there also just hasn't been time to devote to having sex the way that I like. My favorite play dates last at least a couple of hours. I like to be languid and absorbed in my fucking and touching and kissing and yum. Everyone in New York is so busy and there's so much here to do that it's hard to find overlapping time in our schedules to go at it like nothing else matters.

So there's all that.

I know, though, that the biggest reason I'm not satisfied is that I haven't yet made the emotional connection I'm looking for. There are a couple of new partners that I really like, or at least think so far that I could really like, but it's just not there yet. I've only been "on the market" for a few weeks. Not enough time to fall in love.

And as much as I love casual sex, as much as I always want new and exciting people and activities in my life, the best sex is always with the people who I love. There's nothing like actually making love, feeling a deep connection with someone on a soul level as we touch each other with our bodies. I just can't get that from someone I barely know, and I can't force it to grow in any way except its own time.

I suppose I'll just have to follow the advice of that old song. I "can't hurry love" and I "just have to wait." At least I'll be having fun in the meantime.

Trouble in Mind

I happen to be listening to Janis Joplin right now and the title of the song playing (now the title of this post) seems appropriate.

I'm starting to meet people in New York to be friends with and hang out with outside of work, finally. I've got new poly and kinky friends, a few really awesome women from my sexuality apprenticeship with Amy Jo who I now feel really close with. I'm getting along well with my roommate finally. (Although technically who knows for how long.)

And yet I still feel listless. I have a million things I want to do (perform in burlesque, maybe, go on a mini-vacation, actually go hang out with some of the new people, bring a slave over to clean and play, work on a short story, clean my room, be an activist again in some way, find the queer community here, whatever) and no motivation or energy to do them. I feel tired all the time. I'm often cranky. I don't enjoy crowds and nights out the way I used to.

In simpler words, I've been really struggling with depression lately, and I've decided it's finally time to do something about it. For years, I rationalized that what my depression (usually dysthymia, sometimes full on major episodes) did was force me to deal with whatever was on my mind. If I had a problem, it'd lay me out flat until I worked through it and solved it. I figured that was a good thing, that it kept me from repressing anything. I thought it made me solve my issues faster.

I'm rethinking that. Something about being out of school and having my life stretched out ahead of me to do with as I choose made me realize that I won't ever run out of problems to solve. It's not like depression is going to make me rush through some finite number of Issues People Have and then I'll be perfect. I'll always have shit to deal with, and if I don't help myself it'll always lay me out and I won't be able to function.

Helping myself, of course, means looking into medication. Another major reason I hadn't done this is that one of the major side effects of SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, etc) is a loss of sex drive, inability to orgasm, etc. In other words, a major side effect of these drugs would be the loss of a very important aspect of my life and personality. Kind of defeats the point, no?

I just found out, though, that Wellbutrin is apparently a different kind of drug that doesn't have these side effects. It's also a stimulant so I'd get the added bonus of treating my mild ADHD. My sister is on it, and a friend of mine who values her sexuality as much as I do. I'm thinking this might be a possibility and it would help me feel better.

It's a lovely idea that maybe I'd get to go through life and still have my difficulties and triumphs, but that the littlest thing wouldn't freak me out. It'd be easier to be okay.

I've got an appointment with a psychiatrist at the end of this month at which point I might turn over a new leaf. I'll definitely be writing about this process on here since I know one thing that's majorly helped me is hearing other people's experiences with the drug I'm considering. Wish me luck.

Writing

I've had so much to write about in the last few months that I couldn't quite bring myself to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

I started to write about what a huge transition this has been, this moving to New York, this being an adult, this not getting into the graduate school I want, this falling in love with and then fighting with and then being good friends again with my roommate, this beginning and yet again swift end of another relationship, this new therapist, this decision to finally look into antidepressants, this foray more deeply into the BDSM community, this missing my life in the queer community. I started to write about it all a billion times and none of it ever came close to being a post here.

Not writing, though, is very bad for me. In therapy every week, I feel at the end of the session like I've got miles more of words in my head that need an outlet, but there's never enough time. That outlet has always been what this blog is about, a place to put my extra words, an incentive to keep writing, and a body of work.

So here I am, coming back to it once again. And I'm going to be structured about it this time. I wrote every day for a couple of months in 2008. I won't accomplish that again (life in New York and as a grown up with shit to do is too busy for that), but if you still read here you'll start seeing updates again twice a week. For real this time, because it's something I need to do.

Contrite, Contrite

So this is an extremely rapid-fire post from work to just prostrate myself a little bit for not posting. I spilled water on my computer and effectively killed it about a week and a half ago; until I get used to the idea of making blog posts on my iphone, I probably won't be posting much for a while.

I've also been blindingly busy with new jobs (two sex toy shops!), more independent domming clients (yay money and entertainment!), and slowly getting my life together here. I'm maybe, really this time, settling into New York and starting to feel safer here. Which is kinda nice. It also just didn't leave me much energy for writing.

So I'm going to try and do better in the coming months, at least after I figure out some computer solution. And I'll make sure there are spankings in my future for being such a bad blogger. Oh, dear!

eLust #10


HNT Courtesy of Babe Lincoln

Welcome to e[lust] - The 10th edition! Your source for sexual intelligence and inspirations of lust from the smartest & sexiest bloggers! Whether youíre looking for hot steamy smut, thought-provoking opinions or expert information, youíre going to find it here. Want to be included in e[lust] #11? Start with the rules, check out the schedule in the siteís sidebar and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

~ This Weekís Top Three Posts ~

Negotiation - Not Nearly As Awkward As Having a Breakdown in Public - All the worries about getting to know a new person (ìAm I dressed ok? Are they gonna like my stories about my grandma?î) get exaggerated when youíre talking about sex and desire...

Dollar Store Domme - He definitely can't elude the dollops of toothpaste I dab onto his nipples. It takes a delicious second before he feels the cool burn penetrate his flesh. By that time I'm already up and selecting a plastic spatula from the credenza.

The Best of Both Worlds or Lost in Limbo? - Whether intentional or unthinking, bisexual denial is a frustrating thing for bisexual, pansexual or ëfluidí people to have to deal with.

~ e[lust] Editress ~

Navigating Genderqueer in Suburbia - But pray tell how do the rest of us navigate it? How the hell am I supposed to know if you identify as male or just like dressing like one?

~ Featured Post (Lillyís Pick) ~

The Daddy Issue: Sexualizing Abuse - I needed to walk through this fear, and turn it into pleasure. I needed to prove to myself that he hadnít broken me. That he hadnít changed who I was to become. That I was not affected by what he did. That he didnít abuse me.

See also: Pleasurists #69 and #70 for all your sex toy review needs.

All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the ìread moreÖî tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

Erotic Writing

15 minute phone sex
...And Orgasms On Demand
A Neighbor In Need #7
Afternoon Delight!
Casino
Desperation & Dominance
Dreams
Evening Home, Part 3
First Asleep Loses
Happy ending
I Got....
I am a keeper of secrets
I Got Fucked
I am Coming for You: A Letter to Scin
Late Night Satisfaction
Lolita's Mother
Making M Squirt
Sir ~ intro
The Hatter
The Flash Fiction Friday FAQ!
Trussed
We fucked, they applauded
Where there is a libido, there is a way
Wicked Wednesday: Idyll

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

20 Reasons Why Sex Is Good
Defining Sex
Hurt me, Pet
I Was Raped
Playing Dumb
Red Flags of an Abusive Partner, Part 2
Restrictions and Satisfaction
Someone Else's Shoes
Sex Isn't Everything
The Art of Sensual Touching-Caressing for You and Your Partner
The STI You Haven't Heard of: Molluscum contagiosum
The Suit
Vibrant Woman or Live Masturbation Sleeve
What I Don't Need

Kink & Fetish

A Little Girl's Need for Submission
Are You Done Yet?
A Reformatory Punishment
BDSM Advice Series: Floggers
Bruises
Determined to bind
His Slut
I Really Wasn't In The Mood
Impact
Pain and Healing
Questions From DH About These Things We Do
Surrender
Sub Drop: Fact or Fiction?
Tiiu Ashcraft - Fetish Artist and Beauty
The Eroticism of Tattoos
The Competition
Wanting to want

Sex News, Interviews, Politics & Humor

A History of Violence
Asshat of the Day Award
Awesome Mentoring Work and Upcoming Apprenticeship
On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

Creative Commons License
This work by anewparadox.blogspot.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.