Meghan McCain is Kinda Cool

Okay, so I got sucked into the internet vortex of Jezebel and their fortunately often feminist commentary on the gross celebrity stuff that's a constant subtext to life in American. And I somehow ended up at Meghan McCain's column at Daily Beast.

She's a Republican and very clearly supports fiscal policies that favor individualism and capitalism. She's also pro-life (I would say anti-choice). Those aren't things I agree with. I've decided I'm more or less a socialist, which I'll write about soon, and I'm passionately pro-choice. In case you never guessed. But that's fine. What struck me, despite some important opinion differences, was how much easier it would be to feel safe with Republicans and not kinda hate them if more of them were like her.

She talks honestly about some of the things I think are important. She notices issues with body image for women and writes about her own struggles with double standards in a way that's accessible and makes sense. She admires Hillary Clinton. She wants the Republican party to be more inclusive, and she's clearly at least socially moderate (if not liberal, although the pro-life thing is a wrench in that). She supports gay marriage. She thinks young people are important.

It's a departure from the rampantly privileged older white male syndrome. Yes, her economic policies still favor privilege. But at least she's got some awareness that life is unfair sometimes and actually cares. And she's respectful of people who disagree with her.

I don't know if she'll have any success with her message that Republicans need to join the 21st century. If anything, it seems like they're only getting more conservative and poisonous since they lost the White House. I'd love it, though, if she did. It's so much more fun to have an opponent when it's a respectful, ethical one than when it's a mean, exclusive, scary one. Maybe then we'd actually be able to have a few reasonable compromises and actually get some shit done in politics.

The History of Removing Women's Body Hair

In case you couldn't have guessed, the practice of removing female body hair in Western culture and especially North America started with advertising.

When sleeveless dresses became popular shortly after the invention of the razor with disposable blades (planned obsolescence anyone?), it was an obvious step for advertisers to try to sell the razors to women. What better way than making them think their armpit hair was unsanitary and needed to be removed?

The above image from 1915 was the first in a widespread campaign which increasingly suggested to women that their hair was dirty and distasteful. Now, this particular advertising trend had to do specifically with underarm hair. The disgust for leg hair and need for razors to shave it off was encouraged later, after hemlines began to rise. Women had to be self-conscious about their newly visible body parts in order to convince them to pay to alter them.

It's a little harder to pinpoint exactly when women started shaving their legs. There seems to be a consensus that it happened in the 1940s when skirts got shorter and sheer pantyhose became available. Some speculate that it had something to do with pinup model Betty Grable showing off her hairless legs and inspiring others to do the same.

Complete removal of pubic hair is a different story, actually. This was less driven by the advertising industry than by the porn industry. If you're a pornie, you've probably seen some of those old 1970s pornos where the women still sported the full bush. Pubic hair got shorter and shorter as porn became more and more accessible via VHS, DVD, and then finally the internet. As it became viable for more people to get into porn, it also became useful to remove their hair, the only visual obstacle to intense closeups of pink vulvas.

So, ladies, the fact that you're socially pressured in a huge way to remove all the hair on your body (except the long locks on your head) comes almost exclusively from industry and advertising. It has nothing really to do with hygiene or femininity, it's just about profits and products. I mean, that's no different than other staples of beauty standards like makeup and anti-aging products, etc. It's just equally depressing.

Quitting (Longish post)

Well, I quit sex work.

It's a little more complicated than that. I took myself off the schedule at the dungeon a few weeks ago. As an (apparently very) submissive woman I was having trouble effectively meeting the needs of my clients, and I didn't like the work that much. It was a fun learning experience and it gave me a lot of time and some experiences through which to mull over BDSM and my feelings towards it, but I was done with it.

My intention was to go back to stripping, and I found a small-ish club in Queens where I felt reasonably comfortable and the house fees weren't too high. I even auditioned there and worked for a night. (They have 8-hour shifts, 8pm-4am. Ouch!) I bought a gown to fit the dress code there, and packed all my g-strings into my rolling stripper bag.

But when I went in for my second shift, I just didn't want to do it anymore. I knew what I had to be doing to make money. I needed to go around the room and find the men who glanced at my ass, look deeply into their eyes, flirt mercilessly, all the usual. I needed to play the game. And I just had no interest in it.

I normally have an overabundance of sexual energy. I think about sex all the time and talk about it and have it and I've got this great store of positive juice in my batteries when it comes to physical love. As a stripper, I was able to use and play with that energy to keep things interesting and engage with men and even have fun.

These days, I'm a little low on that energy. I think a big part of that is having a full time canvassing job that's not in line with what I want to be doing. We're not even canvassing for Planned Parenthood anymore; now I spend all day having conversations with people who don't give a shit about human rights but will cry and throw thousands of dollars at "homeless" (ie feral ie wild) household animals. It's draining, on a soul level.

I also think I've probably learned everything I'm going to learn from stripping. I understand the dynamics of it and I have a feel for the industry. Sure, I could always learn to be a better stripper, but that's not really who I want to be. I was never a lifer.

Most importantly, though, I always promised myself that the second I really didn't want to be a sex worker anymore, the second it started to hurt me, I would stop. I've seen the consequences of staying in it past that point, and they're not pretty. I don't want to damage myself that way. I want to have more respect for myself and my feelings than that. I'm lucky enough to have a day job so I can, kind of, afford to leave.

Things are admittedly going to be financially difficult for me for a while until I figure out what to do instead. I'm going to try to go back to babysitting. Instead of another physically and emotionally draining job on top of my first one, I'll get to be around kids. That's like a battery charger; I love them.

I'm also looking for a different full time job. I came here meaning to canvass for only a little while as I looked for something else, but I was overwhelmed with moving and being on my own so I didn't have the extra initiative that took. Now I'm settled, and I'm going to dedicate myself to that for real.

I'm not really sure where I'll end up with all of this or how it'll go, but I've got some money saved and I've got a new determination to find work that's fulfilling, at least on a basic level. Wish me luck everyone, and I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Rapists are Nearly Always Predators

I've had two blog posts by Thomas over at Yes Means Yes up in my Firefox browser for a while, meaning to write about them here. They are both fairly lengthy but very, very worth reading.

In the first, he talks about who the people are who rape repeatedly without getting caught. He discusses a couple of surveys where researchers managed to identify and question un-incarcerated rapists. A few key points from the post:
Of the 865 total attempted or completed rapes these men admitted to, a staggering 95% were committed by 96 men, or just 8.4% of the sample...Just 4% of the men surveyed committed over 400 attempted or completed rapes...

The sometimes-floated notion that acquaintance rape is simply a mistake about consent, is wrong. The vast majority of the offenses are being committed by a relatively small group of men, somewhere between 4% and 8% of the population, who do it again … and again … and again...

We need to spot the rapists, and we need to shut down the social structures that give them a license to operate. They are in the population, among us. They have an average of six victims, women that they know, and therefore likely some women you know. They use force sometimes, but mostly they use intoxicants. They don’t accidentally end up in a room with a woman too drunk or high to consent or resist; they plan on getting there and that’s where they end up.
The second post is sort of an expansion on the first. In it, Thomas explains how it is that serial rapists manage to commit their crimes without detection. Namely, by raping people they know and by using intoxicants much more than force to make the rape possible.
In the course of 20 years of interviewing these undetected rapists, in both research and forensic settings, it has been possible for [the researcher] to distill some of the common characteristics of the modus operandi of these sex offenders. These undetected rapists:
• are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;
• plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;
• use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse
control and use only as much violence as is needed to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;
• use psychological weapons – power, control, manipulation, and threats – backed up by physical force, and almost never resort to weapons such as knives or guns;
• use alcohol deliberately to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.
Now, I am not able to do these posts justice with brief blockquotes. I really do suggest that everyone go and read the full posts, as long as they are. They're both very informative and I finished reading them with the sense that, yes, dear God, rape is awful and these are horrible men, but also with the sense that maybe there's something we can actually do about it that would work.

That's what blew my mind. I've heard the rhetoric about acquaintance rape, that it's committed by guys who did it by accident, who were just confused and fucked up about consent because of our weird sexual culture. I bought into that.

The studies in these posts explain that this is clearly not true, that rapes are committed by predators, plain and simple. This actually made me feel better. Yes, I still will never know upon meeting a man whether or not he's a rapist, but at least the ones that are rapists aren't accident-prone nice guys who I should feel bad for. I need no conflict in my feelings. They're evil. And we can identify them, if we watch for the signs he points out.

That's pretty damn cool.

Why Isn't Rape Ever Funny?

Because chances are, you're telling your hi-larious rape joke to somebody who has been raped. And that re-victimizes them. It actively causes harm. And that's not okay.

Also, when you joke about rape, you create a culture in which rapists - who live and walk among us - know that their actions most likely won't see any kind of consequence. They have their desires affirmed. They get to actually talk about what they do, so long as they put it as a joke. And then people laugh. And they feel safe. And then they go rape people. And that's not okay, either.

This is not about being Politically Correct. Triggering someone's traumatic response to what is generally agreed is the most traumatic experience you can have has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with being a decent person who doesn't want to hurt people.

So just don't. And don't laugh along when someone else does. It's like a tiny, tiny thing you can do to fight rape. So let's all do it.


So, while I've gotten better at this over the years, I've always been kind of bad about expressing my desires - be they sexual or for objects or especially emotional. I've gotten to a point where I can talk about them, but only in a detached, logical sort of way. Like I'm reporting on something external to myself.

It's easy enough for me to say "In general, I need regular physical contact and cuddling to be comfortable in my life," but much harder for me to say "Please hold me, I'm feeling sad."

This is something I've been struggling to overcome for years. It's kind of stereotypically feminine of me, and it's one of those ways I fit my gender role that drives me crazy. I'd like to be the first one to lean in for a kiss. I'd like to be able to simultaneously want and admit to wanting for something. As opposed to waiting until I don't feel it as strongly to admit to it.

I think I feel like my desires are so strong that I can't let them out while remaining at all in control of myself. I'm also afraid that if I admit or show the strength of any desire, the person I'm interacting with will be overpowered by it and bow to it regardless of their own needs. This may be irrational, but I also really don't want to impose on anyone else.

There are lots of reasons for this involving my upbringing and probably, yes, my gender role. But that's not as important for this post.

What I've started to think is that maybe I can approach this in a different way. Reframe it, if you will. Instead of thinking "I'm repressed about my desires" or "I'm incapable of expressing myself clearly," I could just think "I'm shy when it comes to desire."

It sort of changes things, doesn't it? Shy is not necessarily a positive or negative thing. It just is. And there are things you can do to deal with it, to live with it. It can even be cute or endearing.

If I can give myself permission to be shy with my desires, then I might even be able to, tentatively, physically express them in a way that doesn't make me uncomfortable. The gentleness of a shy expression of desire takes away, in my head, some of what I fear about it. It makes it manageable. It's a small step.

I haven't really tried this yet (I'm being celibate, remember?), but I'm hoping it will help.

What/Who I Want

So, the result of my last two posts has some pretty specific implications for what/who I am looking for in a partner.

Male. Feminist. Dominant. Polyamorous. Queer.

Do I even need to say that these people are hard to find? Especially the ones who I'm, incidentally, also attracted to? Yeesh.

A friend of mine suggested I find poly events to go to, as poly people are often also kinky. Sometimes they're queer, too, although lord knows how I'm going to find or negotiate that overlap.

Maybe now that I've figured out so much more clearly what I want, I'll feel more comfortable in the sex positive community. It always felt a little overwhelming and I never felt like I had enough of a handle on my own sexuality to communicate about it freely with the well-informed participants in that culture.

I always felt very young, inexperienced, and out of place there. Yes, it was very welcoming and they're kind people, but I'm a person who likes to have a handle on things before I jump in to participate, so I still felt like an outsider. Perhaps all this soul searching will mitigate that issue.

Does anyone else have this problem, of too narrow a field of prospective datees? What do you do to meet people? Any suggestions for me to find my kinky, queer, male, poly feminist? I'd very much welcome them.

P.S. I'm not letting go of the whole "bisexual" thing entirely. I still like women and having sex with them. I think there are just more men out there to whom I'll be attracted than there are women. Like, I'm a Kinsey 1.6: predominantly hetero but a bit more than incidentally homo. So I'm going to acknowledge that and just let it be.

Fuck My Sexual Orientation and Identity

I was reading a post on Figleaf's Real Adult Sex today where he answered several questions designed to provide enlightenment about his gender identity. He apparently got all these questions from Bond at Dear Diaspora.

One question in particular gave me a big jolt as I was reading, one that suddenly clarified a huge issue with my sexual orientation that I've been half-subconsciously grappling with for years. It was this:
What would your gender identity be if you’d been born as the other sex? How masculine or feminine would you be? (This comes from an old one for when one is questioning her sexual orientation: What would your sexual orientation be if you were the other sex?)
Now, my response had more to do with the parenthetical aside than the question itself. I answered without a millisecond of hesitation in my head: I would be a femme gay man.

And I was suddenly struck with the absolute truth of that. If I were male-bodied and could have queer sex with other men, I'd be gay. Not bisexual, really. Maybe a little. But no, I'd be gay. Almost entirely.

So sure, I'd still be femme. My gender identity is actually pretty solid and apparently has little to do with my body. The thought of being a femme man sounded just as comfortable as the thought of being a femme woman. But the question of orientation? That blew my mind.

I have historically had many more male sexual and romantic partners than I have had female ones. I've been annoyed with that fact. It feels like a barrier to my identification as queer, as a true bisexual. I know for a fact that I've been more attracted to some of my female partners and enjoyed the sex much more than that with many of my male partners. It's exciting in a different way that I like. A lot.


I think that might have less to do with liking female bodies and femme gender presentations than it has to do with liking queer sex. When I so easily answered that gender/orientation question for if I had a male body, something clicked in my head. The thought of being a gay man felt like a relief. If I were a gay man, I'd be able to have the kind of sex that I like best with the people whose bodies I like best. And I think, weirdly, that those bodies for me are male.

This has been so confusing for so long. Because, yes, I definitely like women and their bodies. Just not as much! But I like like lesbians soooooooo much more than I like most straight men. Maybe all "straight" men, if we define that as hetero- and gender-normative. In fact, I’m not particularly attracted to straight people. (Male or female.) I do like the ones who will say “I tried gay sex“ or “I would try gay sex” and it didn’t do that much for them, or the ones who approach sex queerly. That’s different. That’s not “straight,” that’s just heterosexual.

The problem here is that I'm QUEER. I like queer sex. I like queer relationships. I want to sleep with guys, but I want to sleep with gay guys. Or queer guys. I want to sleep with them queerly, without the total emphasis on PIV intercourse or the lack of respect for female pleasure. I want the sense of play and transgression I've had with other queers. Queer sex!

Which is frankly kind of sad. I'm female-bodied. I love being female-bodied. I really wouldn't want to change that. I just wish that more queer guys wanted to sleep with/date me. And yes, there are queer guys who like women, but they're so much harder to find. It takes "bisexual," which expanded my dating pool and turns it into “female bodied queer person who likes queer men," which drastically shrinks it.

As if there weren't already enough reasons it's hard for me to find a partner. Pfft.

Kink and Me

When it comes to my personal interest in BDSM, in both my fantasies and real life, I don't think it's really the image or illusion of non-consent that appeals to me. I know that these kinds of consensual non-consent scenes are what draw a lot of people to BDSM. Rape fantasies abound, and I'm not knocking them. I've had my fair share.

One of my favorite erotic stories when I was younger was about being kidnapped by pirates and tied to the mast naked for all to play with. When I was very young, I'd fantasize about a male soldier tied up and seductively teased by a female captor to get him to talk. I clearly do like SOME non-consent.

But most of the time I find that my fantasies turn more towards being told what to do and then doing it. It's not so much about a lack of consent (or a pre-negotiated pretense of a lack of consent) as it is about simple dominance and submission.

I want to give over control to someone who I trust and who I want to please. I want to take pride in my ability to please them. I want to be a good girl. I think maybe that's always what it's been like when I go into sub space. I become very obedient and I get very turned on over following orders.

I like it best when my dom orders me to do things that are hard for me to do. I especially like it when they are sexual things or things that require physical endurance. Like attempting to deep throat a very big cock or holding myself in a difficult bound position or just breathing through some pain. (Yum, spankings.) My dom would of course have to take care not to violate my physical or emotional boundaries, but I like to be pushed.

For me, all that is not so much about a lack of consent as it is about a gift I'm giving to my dom. As I said, I take pride in it. It's a special thing that only I can give. It's not a vehicle for humiliation or disempowerment.

If I'm giving over my power, then that means I possessed it in the first place. We start from a place of equality and enter, consensually, into a power exchange. This makes the feminist in me comfortable even as it turns me on. The equal negotiations are very important, and that means I don't want a 24-7 Dom/sub relationship. And I pretty much need to play with other people who believe in equality.

All this is also why I don't like casual or public BDSM. It's a very serious and intimate gift I'm giving someone - trust with my feelings and needs and body. I can't do that with a stranger, and I don't really want to do it in front of strangers. It puts me in a very vulnerable place, and I need to feel safe to be there. I can't really feel that way with random folks around.

To recap: I like to be told what to do. I like to be brought into intense physical sensations. I like to give my obedience as a gift. I like to be asked to do difficult things, praised when I do them, and punished (lovingly) when I don't. I'm completely uninterested in casual, public, or 24-7 BDSM. I require equal and respectful negotiations in order to play.

That all took me a long, long time to figure out, but maybe now I can start acting on it.

New Domain!

Hey everyone! I finally registered the domain for this blog! I've been meaning to do it for ages and ages and ages, and now it's finally done. From now on, will redirect to the new domain. In fact, you should be able to see it in your browser now!

If you want to update your bookmarks, please go for it. I'm excited because now I feel like a real boy! I can haz real website? Yay!


So, I haven't had any kind of sex since Halloween. Now, this is sex as I define it, which is about as broad as it gets, so that means nothing more than kissing. (I just realized I haven't written here about my definition of sex, so I'll get on that. Expect a post on it soon.)

Anyway, I obviously could have had sex if I'd wanted to. I've done the craigslist thing before, I had a couple of people I already knew who I could have called, and it's honestly never that hard to find a casual sex partner. Alls I have to do is turn on my radar for chemistry and go with that flow. It usually happens just fine.

However, I haven't wanted to turn on my radar. I've been somewhat uncomfortable in my new surroundings. New York City is a hard place to adjust to, and what with a demanding job and some drama in my friendship with my roommate, I just wasn't feeling up to it. I've been giving myself permission not to be the super-awesome sex fiend I usually see myself as.

This has actually been kind of super-awesome anyway.

I've had a lot of really useful time to reflect on what it is that I get out of my romantic and sexual relationships. It's been easier to do when it's not so pressing, when there isn't drama or stimulus right outside my door or thirty minutes away. I've still been thinking about sex, and especially about BDSM and poly and my sexual orientation, but I've been able to turn that inward rather than outward.

I've learned a lot. It's done a lot to help me clarify what, exactly, is my interest in BDSM anyway and why it's been so hard for me to act on it. It's helped me to clarify what the deal is anyway with my not-so-obvious orientation percentage levels or whatever with bisexuality and queerness. I've even gotten to examine my gender identity a little more, and parse out what parts I like and dislike and how I want to perform.

Now, this is obviously a teaser post, and I promise I'll write about all of the above soon. My main point, though, is that it's been really nice to let go of my self image as a sex goddess who has more sex than you and is therefore cool. I tried not to be like that anyway, but NOT having sex has allowed me to truly let go of my insecurities around sexual performance and what makes me an interesting person. I seem to be doing okay even without it, and that's pretty cool.

On Satire

This post on Feministe (I think I'm a bit late responding to this one, but my thoughts stand nonetheless) made me think hard and very clearly about the difficulty of satire being such a thoroughly appreciated and oft-attempted medium in this day and age.

Since I stopped writing my college sex column, a variety of other collegiate types have taken it over. They almost uniformly attempt to write "satire" that is as poorly written as Mr. Brorby's and frequently deals with the same topics. It's sexist, sex negative, and supposedly "all a joke." It just tends to be so very, very poorly done that it comes off as a bashing of sexuality as a whole, and most often specifically of women.

This is immensely frustrating. It's actually the reason I applied to start writing the article, and I made a very serious effort to be funny in my writing but also respectful and inclusive. I think I did a fairly good job, but I have no control over what happens now. It's just back to the way it was before.

I see this a lot with amateurish writing, be it blogs or college newspapers or even real-world but poorly-written-and-edited publications. People think they are quite clever, but they manage to just make a muck of out what they're trying to say and perpetuate the awful cultural trends that they're trying to critique. I think any newspaper writer should have to go through a mandatory "Art of Satire" class before they're allowed to have any creative control over what they publish. Or just, whatever, the world should stop being so sexist and sex-negative and rasist and classist and miserable. Yeah.

Sex Work is Complicated (Uh, Duh)

I do not think sex work is empowering.

Now, I'm not saying that sometimes people don't experience it that way. I've written myself about how stripping took objectification, which I can't control, and put it in an arena where it's a consensual exchange. That one thing did help empower me, but that's just one part of a larger experience. I don't think it's what the industry does as a whole.

Sex work is often exploitative, sometimes dehumanizing, frequently fun, occassionally uplifting, very lucrative, hard work. It's a job. One that is complicated, most especially in its labor/management relations.

You wouldn't ask if working in a car factory is empowering. You wouldn't ask if being an accountant is empowering. A farm laborer. A Walmart cashier. Whatever. Maybe it's a valuable question, especially since the answer is usually "no," but it's not one lobbed at most labor.

So why should this be the standard for whether stripping or ho'ing or domming or modeling or whatever proves that it's acceptable? Why do we insist that sex work must either be unequivocally empowering or enequivocally degrading and sexist? I think it's awfully silly.

Until we begin to recognize that women's bodies are simply a site for regular old emotions and work and day to day life and not just a battle ground for those who want to exploit or empower them, we're not going to be able to deal fairly with sex work.

(The empowerment thing applies to male sex workers too, but the debate usually plays out most over women. Yet another way male sex workers get ignored and marginalized.)

Sex work is work. It's important, yes, but it's neither the answer to nor the only question of misogyny.


I have been suffering from the lack of motivation that I usually feel throughout the winter. I've got the whole cranky-mood, not-having-sex-because-it-doesn't-seem-like-a-good-idea-when-I'm-emotionally-needy, fighting-with-my-roommate thing going on.

I was hoping that being outside for four hours every day, as I am when canvassing, would help with the the seasonal affective thing. They say, after all, that it's partly caused by a lack of exposure to the sun because people stay inside during the winter. That clearly doesn't apply to me, but I'm still feeling the winter blues.

I'm praying that I'll start to feel more comfortable in this city and work out my shit with my roomie and eventually feel comfortable getting some. Maybe soon. Either that, or I'll just move back to the Bay Area. But all things considered I'm just applying to grad school and waiting 'til the sun comes out to make my decision. And there you go.
On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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