Archive for the ‘headspace’ Category
This morning I came across yet another article about how only 3 in 100 accused rapists see any jail time. This is riding on the coat tails of yesterday’s annoyance about creepy reddit so I am, not unexpectedly, annoyed. Or disgusted. One of those for sure
And I’m also annoyed because I really freaking love the Predator Alert Tools that maymay and Co. created. Specifically, I love the Facebook add-on which scales the protective behavior I already do, and the OkCupid app because it’s an easy at-a-glance alert. What I’m pissed off about, is that like many a technical solution to a human problem, adoption was spotty. Actually, from speaking with the creator, it wasn’t spotty so much as not attempted – the tools were a proof of concept.
Proofs of concept, however, don’t reach the regular Jane, and social tools need high conversion rates early on to be seen as worth while, and in this case, to generate the content needed to protect users from sexual assault. It’s ok, I’m not saying the people working on this suck or anything, these tools were made in a metaphorical garage with minimal resources (you can help). If Google+ can’t cope with the roll out/adoption challenge and it has the backing of an Internet mongrel, I’m surprised small social enterprises happen at all.
What I am saying, however, is that this absolutely hands down matters. For OkCupid less so, because you can piggyback off of OkCupid’s existing community since all the questions are crowd sourced but from the general question pool, not from specific PAT-OkCupid questions. Here you have a direct link between people who install and run the plug-in and people who are helped by it. The challenge you have is easier, really you just need to get the influencers in college dorms (and with age of first marriage going up, urban book clubs and wherever mid-20s women gather) to try it out. If they tell their friends, or better yet, use it while a friend is shoulder browsing, you’re 75% of the way there. PAT-OkCupid is a technical challenge, make it fast enough and non-obtrusive enough and it’s worth a try. Roll out a feature that lets users add specific filter questions on their version only (he wants kids, he loves dogs, whatever) and you can alert users to potential sexual predators while they’re using a better filtering convenience tools.
The Facebook app is harder. It requires users to give a little in order to function. User generated content is hard to bootstrap already, I can only imagine how hard it is to bootstrap such private and sensitive content. I have to say, I was royally miffed when this was marketed as “by survivors for survivors,” but people who identify publicly and conscientiously as survivors are most likely to create this kind of content. Unfortunately, that framing is extremely off-putting to most outside the social justice clique. I hate to say it, but this is a fantastic engineering solution that was incubated in too niche a bubble and missed it’s mark. Well, actually, that may not be true – if it’s target has always been social justice die hards who want to share their story and help each other heal it’s probably spot on, it just doesn’t address my problem: how to we proactively flag inappropriate sexual behavior and put preventative information in all women’s hands?
Again, I have to applaud the creators for doing so much with bare bones resources. The tools themselves are a solid foundation, they achieve their goal of being proofs of concept, and they certainly spark conversation. Where they miss the mark, in my mind, is on adoption and market growth – areas the creators weren’t interested in to begin with.
Anyway, back to the if I ruled the world scenario (I just love that scenario!) You have these tools that from a technical perspective are really cool, and they use technology to scale an existing human behavior, and they help women avoid sexual predators: that’s awesome! But they seem pretty niche, which is less awesome because it means fewer women will use them to avoid sexual predators. So, what would I do if I had a dev team and all the money in the world (or the mythical million dollars which runs a small team for one year…)
- Focus development on making the tools faster and more reliable. I hate to say this, but faster browsing today beats avoiding coffee with a douchbag tomorrow
- Position the tools as convenience or information sharing, not as a crusade against sexual assault or a survivor support group. Most rapes are not reported, there are a lot of reasons for this not least of which is a desire to move on with one’s life. We also have some pretty negative perceptions of what walking through the world as a survivor means even when we are trying really really hard to not blame the victim and to give them space to heal. Finally, and I know this sounds weird, but sometimes doing the things you’re supposed to do to not get raped feels dis-empowering. Just think about all the times women are told not to wear that, or not to walk there, you get the idea.
- The people who are most invested are most invested for a reason – they’re also the most likely to be butt hurt when it doesn’t match their vision. That’s why I’m up to 930 words on the topic, but it’s also why there is soooo much chatter about every little detail of these tools from the choking question (come on dude, haven’t you used Yelp before!) to moderation (because you clearly don’t realize that these conversations happen already). Which gets me to the point: cultivate the passive users too. This is harder for the Facebook app, again cause content, but rather than going after every evangelist in the social justice scene, grow a large user-base of folks who just want a better flagging mechanism. 1) They’ll be helped from day one, and 2) you can rally them later around a big issue, or slowly over time.
- Build relationships with the sites themselves, with college rape crisis centers, and with consumer brands. This is a serious blue sky if I ruled the world thing. It’s not what the creators of these tools are about, and I know and respect that. I also know they’ve reached out to the sites themselves and didn’t get a response (shame on you OkCupid). However, this is my blue sky solution and in that solution I want Jezebel to promote it. I want mid-range women focused brands (brands like Healthworks, which recently partnered with rape prevention programs to offer self defense classes) to sponsor the damn thing, and then I want OkCupid to be pressured or shamed into integrating this and other rape prevention methods (perhaps post-date reporting) into their services. By the way, some of this is way far out, but other things, such as promoting PAT-OKC on college campuses, is the easiest place for you to get involved (there’s a list of groups to reach out to here, but PiratePad is down as of this writing).
It’s easy to theorize about how a thing should be different when someone has already done the hard work of making it to begin with, so what concrete, non-theoretical, things can we do today to make sure that rapists have nowhere left to hide?
TL:DR – You fucking douchbags how are you not outraged?! Here, this person did a thing, go do things like that.
Be kind. Be kind to yourselves and to each other because there are plenty of people who will be unkind. Spend that extra afternoon with a friend who has had a hard year. Listen. Listen past people’s anger and find the root of their pain and then find compassion for that. Or if their anger upsets you, walk away. Know that their anger isn’t about you, it lives entirely within them as your anger lives within you.
Most of all, have compassion for yourself and know that there will be better days.
And if this hippie massive contributed to your feelings of depression, email me, I will make you cookies :-p
My stated goals and my behavior doesn’t align. Over the weekend, I spent far too much energy engaging in a conversation about consent and submission than I wanted to, all the while spending a lot of my offline time thinking about privacy and boundaries, specifically around about who has input on my personal life.
And it occurs to me that the things that are important to me are in conflict with each other.
I want privacy. I want a personal life that is personal, and a relationship that is autonomous. I also recognize that sometimes the very thing I want contributes to abusive structure. Take domestic violence for example. Domestic violence is so persistent because we have this initial aversion to judging other people’s relationships. It happens in the private sphere, it’s personal; we’d be embarrassed to ask about other people’s private lives, so abuse gets a pass. That’s bad, I think we can all agree there.
I still want to be more private and reclusive in my relationships. I know that my sex would be better, and my relationships more healthy, at this moment in time if people I’m not dating didn’t get a say in them. In order for me to adopt as 2nd nature this boundary – this way of “oh hon, you sound worried, you don’t need to worry about me, I’m all set,” instead of “here is why the sex I’m having is good/safe/ethical/etc.” – I need to care a lot less about the sex lives of people I’m not sleeping with.
Both of these things are valid. Both of these things are expressed differently at different scales too. I as an individual I want more privacy. We as a social species will always be influenced in one way or another by our social context. And these things change over time. I started this blog because sharing and learning from others was what I needed in 2007. But I really, really want to take some space for myself. And I want my relationships to be less influenced by sources that are confusing, varied, and in contradiction with my values and with each other.
My yoga teachers always said that they call it a yoga practice because you have to practice coming back to the mat and to your breath. I think privacy and autonomy are also a practice in that way. I’m going to try to spend less time with other people’s lives and opinions and more time with my own. And I will fall off the wagon like I did this weekend, and it will be ok. I’ll try again.
And the priorities might change. I might find myself in a place where influencing the larger conversation once again becomes more important than personal growth, or contributes to personal growth. That’s allowed. It’s really just about deciding what I need most right now and then doing that. So, um, I’m gonna go do that now…
I’ll probably still post. I’m just gonna focus on simple, clear, how-to type stuff rather and theoretical underpinnings of life, the universe, and kink.
How can you possibly care more about some abstract threat of false rape accusations than you do that your best friend, a woman you love, might be raped.
And why, if you really were concerned by the impact on the accused did you switch your tone suddenly when you realized that argument won’t work. That I will never prioritize the falsely accused (statistically small a number as they are) over my own safety and that of other women (approximately 20% of whom are raped in America). Why did you get all smug and tell me if there was the chance of false accusations, real survivors won’t be trusted so the tool hurts survivors. By that logic, police reports also hurt survivors. As do hotlines and church pastors taking confessions. Moreover, shouldn’t you be outraged that anyone would disbelieve a rape victim? If increasing trust in survivor accounts is your goal, shouldn’t you be elbow deep in the fight against people who hide behind slut shaming or “he said/she said”?
Or maybe you should be crying out against false accusations of vandalism, drug dealing, even murder. In any event, your tone made it clear your believed you were winning the argument and more than your own words.
I’ll be honest, I started loving you a little less after that conversation. I still love, of course I do, but if I had to give you a reason why we aren’t meant for each other, it’s not that we like different sex – we can get through that – its that you tried to tell me my being raped was worse than someone being accused of rape falsely. It’s not, and it’s complicated.
Wait, don’t tell me about how false accusations ruin lives. I know that. First, imagine me being raped. Really pause and imagine. Imagine where it might happen, am I wearing my standard jeans and black shirt uniform? Am I dressed up? Imagine me fighting, or because we’ve talked about this, imagine me not fighting when all I can think is “so this is what rape feels like.” Imagine holding my hand while I file a police report. Would you get to hold my hand or do police reports have to happen in private, I wonder. (Last time, #IDidNotReport)
But you’re scared too. That’s what I learned from that conversation. What I didn’t know, didn’t have empathy for when we started. You are scared that some woman will get angry at you and say you raped her. You imagine this would ruin your life, this angry woman and the power of accusation she holds. Do you think it’s strange at all that a woman who is angry at you has only this in the way of power?
Remember that other thing you told me? That thing I told you was unethical? That thing was like a false rape accusation – why did that cross your mind? How did you feel when playing that card felt ok? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you felt powerless and you were grabbing at straws. When you think about false rape accusation, load that conversation with everything you felt in that desperate last resort moment. Because they do happen, and they are the last resort of some caged animal.
You aren’t scared of being falsely accused of burglary or murder, are you? You are personally scared of being falsely accused of rape. That fear is not unreasonable, you are allowed to be scared, you are especially allowed to be scared of desperate upset people playing their last card.
However, the chance of my being raped is an order of magnitude higher than that of you being falsely accused. And even if it wasn’t, I would expect more of you. I would, and do, expect you to build a safer world for me when you tell me you love me.
So we can talk about your fear, we can honor that and we can work through it, but your fear does not trump mine. It certainly doesn’t trump my safety.
*No, I’m not just having a super important conversation with the person who is listed on every legal piece of paper I have as my emergency contact, beneficiary, or both. We talked about this. A lot. It just didn’t feel right to post until we’d put the issue to bed, or not to post at all when I hear less personal arguments about this all the time.
Ferns posted a short note recently about her expectations of submissive partners. I have to say, my response surprised me. Logically, I could reason my way into “sure, yes, they want to submit, maybe they should do things you ask for even when they don’t want to.” Hell, I have to assume that sometimes, when a boy who is comfortably sleeping wakes up to my bouncing and makes me coffee, or when my now ex partner waited some 50 odd days for an orgasm in part due to my insistence, at some points that is what someone acting against their wishes looks like.
My gut response though, is a resounding WTF? You are playing with an adult presumably in a country with laws similar to our 13th Amendment. Your play happens in the real world. Anything short of respecting your partner’s boundaries is coercion at best. If you have an issue around trust that’s resulting from your partner breaking commitments, you have an issue around trust. That’s totally valid, I’ve had that issue, it sucks. But it’s not a BDSM issue. Hell, I was going to have less interest in other people’s relationships, so I should walk away.
Personally, I’ve said before and I’ll say again, I’m not your mother. I’m not here to Domme you into your fitness routine or getting to work on time. The power dynamic I bring to my sex is a core part of what I need in my sex life and in my long term relationships, but ultimately, I want to date, and sleep with, an adult. And I’d like to do it in the real world and save the LARPing for the future dystopian swamp lands it belongs in.
It’s a still warm Fall morning and we’re curled on his couch holding our coffee cups.
Me: I want to try monogamy, but I’ve never done it before. I don’t know how to do it.
Him: I’ve done it before. You’re not allowed to have sex with other people, and you’re not allowed to flirt with other people, and you’re not allowed to kiss other people…”
Me: That’s a lot of not alloweds.
We chat some more in those one-step-removed terms you use with someone you like a lot but are only just getting to know. You know the way that lets you both maintain plausible deniability – answering the question “are our wants compatible” without asking the question “do we want to do this together.” Our wants seem compatible, so that’s nice.
Here’s the funny part though. All those not alloweds, sure, sounds like there’s a lot of them, but weirdly, I’m not bothered by them. Six months ago I poked my head back into the theme of am I poly. And then I spent a bunch of time thinking about it, and chatting about it with people, and thinking some more. A couple of themes started to emerge:
1) Poly people, despite having a huge diversity of relationship styles, were a lot more defined than monogamous people. Poly people told me that what I described wasn’t monogamy. Monogamous people told me about their compromises (a genteel word for any flirting, kissing, or even sex that may or may not happen outside of their monogamous marriages).
2) I started seeing all sorts of little (and huge) ways that poly was not about autonomy, but rather about the partner with more power leveraging that power to direct the course of the relationship. I started seeing poly people give their previously monogamous partners “my way or the high way” ultimatums and realized I’ve been guilty of this myself. I started noticing how people treat and talk about non-primary relationships, and wondered if these secondaries really don’t mind you only seeing them for sex on the 3rd Tuesday of every month, or if maybe they are just taking the best they can get? And really, is the 3rd Tuesday of the month the best they can really get, or are they/their community selling them short?
3) I realized that I really want very little to do with other people’s relationships. Maybe I’m exhausted. Maybe I’m a natural at this monogamy thing, but one thing I hadn’t realized is how personally invested I have been in other people’s relationships. Not in a good supportive way, in a social policing way. That…that’s not something I feel good about. It sorta makes sense that I’d figure that out now, after all, poly and kink are both outward facing identities as much as they are personal practices. Being monogamous sounds like the kind of thing my partner and I would decide on, and, well, no one else really needs to be involved, do they?
Most importantly though, I am learning to think about what I do want, not what I don’t want. And I am creating space for the reality that I was very happily poly for most of my adult life. It worked, and it was lovely, and it was a choice I made and was blessed with partners who did that with me. I would simply like to make a new choice now. One where I don’t have to schedule around my partner’s other girlfriend or try to balance the needs of two lovers. One where minimizing opportunity costs is no longer something I’m concerned about because my goal is to find the right person for this particular moment of the journey and then focus inward. Focus on nurturing that relationship, in all of its nuance, through a journey that makes sense for both of us. Plus with only one lover, there might be enough time to finish my knitting projects!
So yeah, I probably won’t be “allowed” to sleep with other people, but the funny part is that two things changed since I started thinking about this: 1) that suddenly doesn’t sound restrictive, and 2) I let go of my own fear of being the ball and chain putting artificial boundaries on my partner out of some sense of insecurity, and saw this for what it is: asking for what I need.
Early this year I thought the theme was “what 2012 giveth, 2013 taketh away.” Happily, I’m learning that the theme of 2013 is shedding the things I thought I was so that I could dig a little deeper and figure out who I am now.
Hi world, it’s been a while. I’ve been really digging Pagan-house recently. Awesome to see a non-porn-ish D/s blog on the Internet. I also wrote some porn, and got some nice comments, and then had to find a way to politely explain that if I’m not dating you, the hardness of your cock doesn’t impact me (so please don’t update me on it).
I’ve been traveling, and fell off the bandwagon with regard to my yoga practice, which makes me feel unbalanced and craving brain-shifting experiences. Some of these look like mediation, but because I saw a thing about flesh-hook suspension last week, I am also craving piercing. And that’s problematic, since I don’t think I know anyone who does play piercing anymore. And not like a big scary “I’m gonna hurt you” thing but as a “hey, help me tap into my brain’s wealth of self-induced pharmacology.”
And on another track, I’ve been chatting with a friend who likes gender-flipped misogyny as much as I do. But I also find it…complicated…how easily I can come up with “don’t worry your pretty little head” comments. Things that said to a woman would be beyond the pale in their promotion of rape culture and gender inequality but when said to a man…well, it’s fucking hot. It would be easier if I could convince myself that somehow gender flipping is counter culture, and counter culture is radical and liberatory, but 1) I know that’s not true and 2) meh, fantasies are complex things, sometimes you fantasize about things you’d fight very hard against in real life – that’s just the way of things.
And this post was interrupted by two pick up artists sitting down next to me. That was adorable, but the guy blushed when I called him
A couple of years ago, a friend told me my blog had power. We were sleeping together, so maybe he was trying to butter me up. His argument was that because I was a woman writing non-porn about chastity and orgasm control play I had a pretty strong grip on the ears of a very niche market.
This blog was never intended as a political platform. It was intended as a way to connect to people – the true and original promise of the Internet. But the last couple of years, it stopped being fun, and sexy, and connective. It became about the things I was angry about rather than the things I loved. That’s fine, I needed that space and I believed, and continue to believe, that those things I was angry about needed to be aired in the public square.
Once, a few months ago, I was expressing dismay over something or other to a very wise woman. Her response: cycles, big and small. Everything goes in cycles. I needed the space to express my anger and outrage because I was expressing my grief, because when I left the BDSM scene it felt like a big deal, like it mattered. It doesn’t matter anymore. In some ways the experience left a mark – I have about as much interest in a BDSM play party as an ex-Mormon might have in Sunday prayer, which is to say I’ll cross the street and cast a suspicious glance over my shoulder on my way to somewhere, anywhere, else. But I just don’t care about the scene anymore.
I realize every time I say this, I consciously fight back something very akin to survivor’s guilt. How can I possibly not fight the BDSM Scene to the ground, light the torch myself and watch it burn? These people actively protect rapists! But you know what, so does the Catholic church, and while I admire every single person who stood up and spoke out and brought that shit down, I also think that the right thing to do is whatever the survivor needs to do to be ok. And hope springs eternal: I really do believe that the BDSM scene will die out on its own. The value proposition of the BDSM scene is “this is the only place you can feel accepted.” I have to imagine that when Cosmo runs regular articles on how to tie up your boyfriend, and every grandma has read 50 Shades of Grey, this simply won’t feel true. Not in the way that gets people to give up other hobbies and isolate themselves in this subsection of a subculture until they can’t stand “those vanilla people” anymore. A girl can hope.
And even if my hope is unfounded, I’m done. I took a wrong turn at Albuquerque, which is to say my core battle has been, from the very beginning, for a world where everyone has access to the sex they want with the people they love. When I threw play parties, I wanted that. When I trained as a sex educator, I wanted that. And believe it or not, when I was fighting tooth and nail to bring down the BDSM Scene, I still wanted that. I wanted – and continue to want – a world where people are not held hostage by some sex-based subculture that goes around spewing lies about how it’s the only source for the sex you want. That’s your abusive ex telling you no one will ever love you again, remember your abusive ex? That’s what “how will you ever meet someone if you don’t go to munches” is. It’s just as bad as the slut-shaming over culture, except when the alt.sex scene hurts you, there’s not a counter-culture to turn to.
But for me, sex was never meant to be political. It was about healing. It was about helping my partners heal by telling them over and over as many times as it took that what they wanted was available to them and they deserved it. It was about telling my readers the same thing (though in more general terms). A lot of things have changed, and change is hard. Somewhere in all this, I lost access to the sex I wanted, I lost my right to beautiful wonderful things. Loving kindness starts within – I can’t tap into the part of myself that acts as healer if I’m carrying a torch.
I need permission to stop feeling guilty and bad for the sex I want and the sex I’m having. And because there is no authority over my sex life I am giving myself that permission. And just like I said no to the slut-shaming over culture, I will learn to say no to joy shaming activist cliques. It’ll be fine.
I don’t know what to do with this blog. I guess that’s what befell many of the blogs I used to read – the owners moved on.
I started this blog in 2007 with some very specific intentions, but also because blogs, and especially sex blogs, were new back then. It was exciting and liberating. Because it was part of this strange cross-section of people who were sex positive and into kink and people who were comfortable on the internet, it felt like home. But it’s stopped feeling like home. In part because kink stopped feeling like home, and in part because the internet just doesn’t hold the promise of freedom and connection it had when I was younger.
Over the last six year I’ve used this blog to connect, explore my sexuality, redefine my relationship with kink, and give voice to some really huge failings of the BDSM scene. But recently, when I sent a link to my glossary post to a new friend, I felt self conscious. I’m a person, not a piece of software; how much documentation do I really need?
I guess I don’t know what to use this space for. To tell you that I think the BDSM scene is rapey, outdated, boomerish and not worth saving? There’s only so many ways to say that. To give chastity and orgasm denial tips? Maybe when I have a partner I’m doing that with again, but that’s sort of a paired activity. To inform the world at large that I’m finding poly and most especially “radically non-monogamous” folks seriously annoying because I keep seeing them fail to treat their partners as human beings deserving of respect? That just pisses me off in ways that are completely unnecessary. Besides, bad poly is just one of many ways one can utterly mistreat and disregard a partner.
So yeah, I keep feeling like I want to write, but having no idea what to write.
Maybe it’s that I want to do something utterly radical. I want to have sex, just the way I like it, with someone I care about, behind closed doors. And then, then I want to not go to a meeting about it, or read a book about how I did or did not do it wrong, or even post about it.
I guess we’ll see how that goes
Last night I was reading some blogs and came across Not Just Bitchy’s No Wrong Way to Do Kink. Yes, I’m sure regular readers are now thinking, “oh no, a long rant about all the wrong ways to do kink!” But no, I need a break, so instead I wanted to talk about point 5:
5. Giving up control or giving out rules before your partner has earned it. It’s great to have a new sub who says he’ll do whatever you say and is excited about being given new rules, but what’s going to happen when he has to actually live with all those rules? Or when you have to remember all of them and catch it if he messes up? I don’t actually have a huge amount of experience with d/s, but I’m pretty sure that’s more likely to be overwhelming and a huge pain in the ass than fun and satisfying.
I love this because rules – how to make them, what happens when they’re broken, etc – is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I love rules. I love having a question and being able to find a policy about it – I enjoy tax season! – but more importantly for this post, I kink on rules. I like making arbitrary-seeming proclamations and having you obey them because we both get off on it. It’s hot. But it’s bedroom hot – like the pirate thing, I’m not a pirate when I’m at work, and obviously you don’t have to kneel, naked, at all times at work.
But rules are also hard. When I make an arbitrary proclamation, I trust you to go along with it and engage in shared story telling with me. And I trust you to indicate to me that a rule is hitting a boundary when that happens, also. I balance the hotness of a rule against the practicality and against my willingness or ability to enforce it.
Take for example one of my long-time fantasies: to know every single time you’re aroused and to know what you fantasize about while you masturbate (with my permission). It’s like NSA meets alien mind probe but more hot and less civil rights violation across the land. It’s hot because it’s exposing and I love the idea of you exposed, of having that much access, and of the fact that, yeah, that’s probably going to be slightly embarrassing for most people.
Now imagine I’m at work and I’m in the middle of a client meeting, and my phone buzzes with a notification that you’re fantasizing about being molested by alien tentacle monsters at my command. That’s not hot, that’s distracting. Maybe you think it’s hot, and in fantasy land it is, but in reality I’d be annoyed. So that’s a great bedroom rule, but not a reasonable real rule.
Then there are other people’s rules: you can only wear socks in my favorite color. Sure, ok, if you kink on that, but…why? I like making arbitrary rules, but only about things I care about…your orgasms for example, or how you share information with me. If I hate your socks, I’d tell you I suppose, but I simply can’t imagine caring. And then I’d have to keep track. There’d be a spreadsheet on my computer labeled “Rules, do not forget” where I would dutifully record the date, the proclamation on socks, and your response. Neat little columns. What happens when you wear the wrong sock color? Do you lose socks for the week? Have to wear extra socks? Are there naughty boy socks one can buy at specialty shops?
I think I wanted to write something about building rules and responses to them together, about kink as shared creation, and about how we communicate subtly and overtly, but you know what? Tentacle monsters. I’ll be in my bunk.