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.
There has been a bunch of chatter on my social media streams about the Predator Alert Tool for Facebook, so I thought perhaps I should take a look. Oh, and this was largely my first real look – I have let this one completely pass me by in its development. I didn’t preview it or participate in its creation, and so I’m in the interesting position of this being the first PAT tool that’s truly a surprise to me.
The premise is pretty straightforward: automate the process by which (mostly) women warn each other off dangerous men in their social network. And lets face it most rape is perpetrated by someone the victim knows, which means rapists aren’t crazy dudes in a hidey hole somewhere, they’re in our social networks.
The Predator Alert Tool for Facebook is designed for survivors of sexual assault and rape. It allows you to share information about people in your social network who may be dangerous without having to reveal your identity.
Using Predator Alert Tool for Facebook, you can:
Talk about it. Contribute your story with as much or as little detail as you feel comfortable sharing.
Decide who knows. Control who gets to see your story and who doesn’t. Display your identity only to the people you choose.
Get support. Connect with friends who have had a bad experience with the same person you did.
Hear about it. Find out about others’ bad experiences with people you know.
This is an interesting choice of framework, “designed for survivors of sexual assault and rape.” That sounds like designed for sharing, voicing, healing. It’s a valuable framework, but it’s not for me. I’m not a survivor, and when I asked here’s what others said about the word:
“In some ways I think it’s appropriating…survivor is not a word I feel comfortable using abt myself.”
“I was abused as a child, but I don’t think of myself as a survivor.”
“Not a term I’m fond of…”
“We are all survivors”
“I also dislike when people feel that they can TELL me I’m a survivor.”
But there is something for me in this. The much cooler side of this tool for me is designed for hearing, thinking about, comparing notes – designed for active prevention, and ladies, lets be honest, designed for learning more about that guy who bought you a beer. Not that I would ever advocate hijacking someone else’s tool, buuuuut, this is just what the Women’s Information Network needed – way more streamlined than trying to pop into the ladies’ at the same time as his ex’s sister’s roommate :-p
Now the makers of the tool are getting prepared for people screaming about the rumor mill or vigilante justice, and you can read their very well thought out responses here. But let me tell you what actually happens when a woman is thinking about going on a date with a dude: she asks her girlfriends. She engages in the exact behavior this tool would automate, only she does it in analog. “Hey Barbra, do you know Jake from chem lab? What’s he like?”
My coworker once had a crush on the college friend of someone I used to date, we’re all in our late 20s/early 30s, and we still did the “my friend likes your friend” dance. Humans are tribal animals, that’s just what we do.
You know what else women do in the physical world? We warn each other if we see our friends flirting with the douch at the party. Maybe we’re vague about it, maybe we only warn the women we already know not the new girl he’s talking to, but this app is cool specifically because it mirrors existing behavior.
And it scales it.
And that scares the shit out of the douch bags we’ve been talking about all along.
The other thing I really love about this tool is that it’s the first PAT tool I see as truly mainstream. This is not for or about the BDSM scene, this deals with a modality of interacting every western woman I know has experienced. As such, I am really curious to see the response. Frankly, I would love to see a partnership between the creators of PAT-Facebook and college rape crisis centers, and I know the creators are working hard to achieve that.
Still concerned that this will be misused to spread rumors? That will probably happen. Most technology is, sooner or later, used to spread rumors. But tell me, how is it you’re ok with teenagers – scratch that, adults too – having access, to Facebook at all? And what else, aside from opposing this tool, are you doing to combat cyber bullying? Sorry folks, but if this bugs you more than all of Reddit, I’m gonna assume you have some other agenda that’s best served by sweeping rape under the rug.
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.