Shared posts

15 Nov 01:00

Information Styles and “Topping from the Bottom”

In the kink community, I hear a lot of derisive commentary about “topping from the bottom.” A recent conversation happened online about how it is a problem, a removal of authority, and it struck me as being true in some instances, and profoundly invalidating of truth in other situations. That “topping from the bottom,” like many things that apply to interactions between humans, are based on context and the people involved.

Midori has an excellent grid that lays out kind of like this (I encourage *everyone* to attend Midori’s workshops, she is incredibly articulate on these concepts):

Top          Switch         Bottom     Neutral

Dominant

Switch

Submissive

Neutral

In her system, there are Dominant Tops, Dominant Switches and Dominant Bottoms. A dominant top is sometimes referred to as a “true dominant,” or in classical BDSM terms pre 1995, simply a “Top.” A dominant switch can say “tonight I want to have you single tail me the way I want, and tomorrow I will single tail you the way I want.” A dominant bottom can say “I like it when you use and abuse me in this specific way.”

Neutral players set aside power exchange. They want the physicality, but not the power exchange. They want to top, bottom or switch, and it’s all about the touch, the hedonism, the sensation. Neutral across the top becomes where there are Dominant and Submissive individuals who have no interest in the physical interaction. A Switch down the left side goes between being dominant or submissive in roll. Thus, Neutral-Neutral would be “vanilla sex.” A Submissive Top becomes the “Service Top,” who revels in the service aspect and the giving.

A Dominant Bottom is a valid form of player. They have the right to top from the bottom. The issue, in my opinion, is people assuming that bottoms are necessarily submissive and that tops are necessarily dominant.

It’s also an issue of how negotiation around in-scene communication styles. I know many dominant tops who like their bottom purring out “ooooooo, yes sirrrrrr, more to the left sir pleassssssse.” Which is a form of “topping from the bottom” if, by that, you mean, having the bottom tell the top what they want. It goes over differently then “Sir, what hell are you doing? You should hit me more on the left.”

The second is abusive not because it is a bottom telling a top what to do. It is abusive because there is shaming language. Violent language.

I know some tops who love hearing “Hit me on the left side now.” It gives them confidence to have constant verbal feedback and direction.

My vote – compatible systems that work for all parties involved. How does the top want information?

  • Pre-scene: “I prefer sensation on my left side.”
  • Post-scene positive feedback: “I really preferred when you hit my left side and would like it if we did more of that next time.”
  • Post-scene critique: “I found the ratio of left to right hitting would could be improved.”
  • Non-verbally: *wiggles left ass cheek*.
  • As data points: “My right side is sore.”
  • As request: “Could you hit my left side?”
  • As statement: “I like it when you hit there.”
  • As delight: “Oh, yum, more of that!”
  • As formal request: “Sir, could you please hit my left side Sir?”
  • As plea: “Oh gods please not the right side any more please please please.”
  • A begging “Oh Mam would this Slave begs you please hit the left side oh please how I adore thee.”

There is an issue with some of these… and yes, there are many more. Asking for what you want does not equal the opposite of what someone doesn’t want. So some of these read different to different “listeners” and “speakers.”

I think it boils down to communication styles. Some tops would consider some of these “topping from the bottom” while others would consider it feedback or providing information. Some would consider it incredibly sexy, while others do not.

There are some that are some forms of information sharing that are outright abusive, unless you are in a scene where the top is supposed to be degraded:

  • What the fuck, you asshole, hit the left side.
  • You *never* hit me on my left side.
  • You should be a better Top than this.
  • Everyone knows that people hit on the left side equal to the right.
  • My last Top knew to hit me on the left side.
  • You’d hit me better if you loved me.

And some are abusive to the bottom:

  • Every Bottom should have the capacity to take un-even bodily impact.
  • What is wrong with you?
  • Why are you so demanding?
  • Clearly you are not a “real” Submissive.

We each have the right to be the person we want to be. We have the right to be Submissive Fetishists (Sir, may I lick your boot?) or Dominant Fetishists (Get your ass over here Boy so that I can lick your boot.) We can be Primal Switches (wrestling each other to the ground for either Top/Bottom control or Dominant/Submissive control… or both), or Primal Neutral-Neutral (we are animals, walking side by side through this concrete jungle.) We can be Tops into caning (I will hit you with precision), or Dominants into caning (I will hit you to assert my power.) We can be… ourselves.

I challenge each of us (including myself) to work on applying non-violent communication to our erotic and interpersonal encounters. If “topping from the bottom” doesn’t work in your world, let’s be clearer about what that looks like to you. And? That is it doesn’t work in *your* world… not that it is a bad thing for any human being to possibly be. For some folks, topping from the bottom is the hottest thing other. And for others, it is pain and disrespect.

Let’s learn to speak from an “I” place, rather than a “you” place. There is a difference between “I’m not a fan of having people service top me,” and “You aren’t a real Top if you service top folks.”

Respect. Not only of others, but of ourselves. When we find out what works for us as individuals, we can more clearly communicate those wants, and build up success for ourselves in our erotic journey. In our life journey. Because we deserve excellence.

 

If so moved…

 

Mirrored from PassionAndSoul.com, or comment on the original post.

30 Oct 15:22

His Hall

by Jack Stratton

She missed his wall; his hall. That place he always threw her against when she came into his apartment.

She missed feeling small and afraid. She’d grown up too much, become too jaded, too brave to feel so little.

She missed the anxiety and hunger she felt walking down his block. She missed his pretty cock. She missed the fear that was particular to being in his elevator.

The fear wasn’t about what he’d do to her, she knew he would hurt her and fuck her and use her like a doll. The fear was that she wouldn’t be good enough, tough enough, pretty enough.

All those fears went away when she was against his wall.

She didn’t cover her scars or chubby parts because he would only slap her hands away. She didn’t have time to be embarrassed about her razor burn or that her roots were showing, because she was too busy blushing about the dirty names he called her. She would fall into the whirlpool of humiliation and pleasure and dizzy confusion.

She didn’t have time to apologize because his cock was in her mouth.

She longed for all of it all.

And more than that she knew some other girl was in that hall, against that wall. His thick cock was inside of someone new and his hand was around someone else’s throat.

Perhaps it was strange that the longing could make her come so easily. Remembering that wall in that hall was almost as potent as thinking of another girls face, mascara running down her cheek, pressed against the wall as he fucked her. The humiliation and the jealousy and the heartbreak were poisons and aphrodisiacs.

The sadness kept her wet all day.

17 Oct 19:26

The State of Self Published eBook Erotica

by Jack Stratton

As some of you may be aware, there has been a bit of a brouhaha in the ebook world. Kobo, an ebook distributor, recently pulled all self-published work in hopes of purging works they deem unsavory. Amazon, as well as Barnes & Noble and practically all other ebook distributors, has done the same thing. Another distributor, WHSmith, took their entire site offline.

About five of my books have been taken off the market by Amazon and I’m not sure they will return. They all skirt the edge of what Amazon and the others are trying to remove, edgy erotica with incest/roleplay and age play themes.

A little bit of my thinking on this. People like to read about all sorts of fantastic things, from violence, to the surreal, to the abstract, to explicitly sexual things that tap into strong emotions, including things that are very very wrong. The beauty of storytelling is that what you create isn’t real and often can’t or shouldn’t be real. We write about these dark fantasies to play out normal desires to their abnormal extremes. “Corruption of innocence” becomes younger/older. “Forbidden” becomes inappropriate or even illegal relationships. “Danger” becomes actual violence.

These symbols and metaphors are similar to the way people roleplay things that they wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t do in reality. Just like we read about criminals, murderers, ghosts, monsters, and aliens to tap into what all those things represent to us.

Here are some resources about what’s going on with self-publish erotica ebooks:

What started this whole debacle: BBC, WH Smith takes website offline after porn e-book scandal

BBC, Amazon removes abuse-themed e-books from store

LA Times, Self-published pornographic e-books cause trouble for Amazon, Kobo

Gawker has the douche-y and biased story title “Mass of Sick Self-Published Porn Pulled From Amazon, WHSmith and Kobo Book Stores” (Fuck you Gawker)

01 Dec 03:16

Sexuality Related Calls Winter 2013/2014

by xanwest

This is a list of sexuality related calls for submissions that are not included in my other call lists; they are not calls for erotica, and not LGBTQ calls.

Updated 11/30/13

In My Bed magazine is looking for writers, painters, illustrators, poets, and photographers to GET INTO BED. Theme: Sex Toys. (12/1/13)

Sex Worker Open University, along with ULU, are hosting an exhibition of work relating to the sex industry. (12/3/13)

Jon Pressick (Cleis Press) seeks submissions of writings on the wide world of sex for inclusion in Best Sex Writing 2015 (12/31/13)

Alfred Press is looking for essays on Master/slave Relationship Styles (1/1/14)

Momma Tried , a conceptual nudie mag exhibiting art, writing, subversive humor, and non-heteronormative perspectives on sexuality, is taking submissions for their second issue. (1/5/14)

Kelly Ann Jacobson is looking for personal essays about looking for love online. (1/15/14) (payment in author’s copy only)

The deadline for submissions to the Feminist Porn Awards is January 17, 2014.

Porn Studies is looking for essays, interviews, and creative pieces from academics, artists, activists, and adult industry practitioners  for  special issue on Racial Pornographics (abstracts due 1/8/13, full manuscript by 4/11/13)

Alfred Press is looking for essays on African-Americans in Power Dynamic Relationships (2/1/14)


Tagged: calls for submission, D/s, kink, race, sex, sex toys, sex work, writer's tools, writing
27 Nov 05:33

Round up of Erotica Calls-Winter 2013/2014

by xanwest

(Updated 11/26/13)

Nicole Gestalt (Coming Together) is looking for weather themed erotica for Coming Together: Through the Storm, a fundraiser anthology raising money for disaster relief (11/30/13)  (This is an unpaid project.)

H.B. Kurtzwilde (Circlet) is looking for Erotic Tales of Rock and Roll Fantasy (and science fiction) (12/1/13)

Neil Plakcy (Cleis) is looking for romantic erotica focused on male couples in committed relationships. (12/1/13)

Sacchi Green is looking for queer erotic stories featuring  boi, butch, masculine-of-center characters. (12/1/13)

Alison Tyler (Cleis Press) is looking for BDSM stories (12/1/13).

Shane Allison (Cleis Press)  is looking for erotica about gay sex workers/hustlers (1/1/14)

Shane Allison (Cleis Press)  is looking for gay erotica set in the gym (1/1/14)

The Tranzmission Prison Project is looking queer erotica for a for zine for queer family behind bars (2/1/14) (This is an unpaid project.)

Rachel Kramer Bussel (Cleis Press) is looking for Best Bondage Erotica (3/1/14)

Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman (Bold Strokes Books) are looking for Queer Fairy Tales at any heat level (can include erotica) (3/1/14)


Tagged: calls for submission, erotica, writer's tools, writing, writing erotica
30 Nov 19:05

Thanking Her

I’m thankful for my fingers dragging against her wet lips. For the tender little button of her clit and the way it swells under my thumb. I’m thankful for the sounds she makes, leading me moment by moment, when I tenderly lick her thighs and flick at the stiffer hairs that climb her hips.

I’m thankful for her ready attention. How she spreads her legs every time I ask. I am thankful to be met, pound by pound, in my unending desire.

I am thankful for the broad window and bright interior lights of my living room where she bends over a chair and watches our reflection as I work up a sweat with my fingers slamming into her. I am thankful for my grip in her hair and the stream of words coming out of my mouth.

"Yes. Yes, baby. Like this, girl. See how much I love to fuck you? See how much I want you to feel it? I know how much you think about it. Show me how you need it. Show me right now. Yes. Like this. Be my girl. I am yours. If I slow down like this, what do you do? Show me. Show me, baby. Yes. Yes. Like this."

Her back bucks, arches, sways. Her hips wriggle around my fingers. My pumping fist and forearm. I am thankful. We turn the chair around and she climbs into my lap, her legs spread in a wide V. I thank her for showing me. I thank her for opening for me. “Wide. Wider. Yes, baby. Touch yourself. Show me. Let me see it. I like your fingers. Your little hands. I like to watch you.”

I am thankful for the sound as I spit into my hand. I am thankful for her eyes. Her tears. The way she shakes. I am thankful for her loud yell. Her clenched body, racked with the rippling impact of her orgasm. The way she comes. Such force. The way she can break me with it sometimes. “Break me,” I whisper when she can’t hear me.

I am thankful as she sleeps next to me. Thankful how she wakes when I roll her onto her back and pet her arms, her chest, her belly. Wake her with my hands between her thighs. Wake her, pulling my belt off the floor and strapping it across her shoulders. We can do anything next.

I am thankful for the rare afternoons when we get to roll around in her bed on top of the covers. “Keep your clothes on,” I tell her. I go slow. Grinding against her. My thigh between her legs. I pull her bra off her shoulders. Unbutton two buttons. Ease her tits out of her clothes. Rub my rough palms on her nipples. My fingers, scratched and cracked, calloused, pull a jagged path around her swelling nipple. I am thankful for the darkening purple as I pinch, squeeze, slap.

More words. My words. I am so thankful for my words. For the way I can tell her. I am thankful for these words that pour out of me and in a moment transport us somewhere. Fully clothed, hot and sweaty. Thankful for her tight jeans. Unbuttoning. Unzipping. Watching my fingers crawl under the denim. Her wet hole. The way her chest rises up so fast when my fingertips brush her clit. The words that rush out of me. Immediate. Like this.

"I like to think of you, after school, in your bedroom. Is this what we would do? Is this how I would touch you?" She nods her head. Stays silent. Squeezes her eyes shut. "I like to think how you ran home and closed your door. How your fingers knew where to go. How you learned what felt so good. Did you slow down sometimes and let it burn? Like this? I like to think how you imagined what this would be like. How you imagined someone pressed against you. Someone else’s fingers making you feel this way. Do you remember? Do you remember how quiet you had to be? Hush. Shhhhh. So quiet. They won’t know. Shhh. Stay still so the bed doesn’t squeak. Listen to how quiet and heavy your room is. Feel how ready your clit is to explode. How can you keep still like this? Don’t move, baby. I can feel the way you build. Let me feel it. Slow."

I am thankful for the light mist of sweat on her face just before she comes. For our soft tongues.

Let me give this to her. Let me love her like this every day. Help me take it from her. Let me take what she gives me. This is what I want. This is just what I want.

I let her push my thighs open. I watch her drag my jeans down to the floor and pull my underwear back into place. I watch her smile as she pushes me back onto the couch. I look at her fingers on my clit. I watch how I grow for her. I watch her mouth, hovering. My arms lay quiet near my thighs. I lean back against the couch. She pulls my hips forward. She sucks me off. I push her hair behind her ear. I watch. I see my chest shine with sweat. Her hands pull my underwear out of the way. Her cheeks suck in. I feel my clit in her mouth. I feel big inside her. Her soft mouth on me. She stares up at me. I don’t recognize this look. We are somewhere. At the movies? In the back of my car? Behind the gym? I can feel it. I want them watching us. “You’re so good. Jesus.” I yell. Air forced out of my lungs. A rush. My body wraps around her. I pull her head against me and come for longer than I thought possible. For several minutes, I hold myself against her soft lips. I come so hard in her mouth. My body moves in slow motion. My shoulders stretch. My foot presses against the coffee table. I am thankful for the way she gets me off. I am thankful for what she teaches me about myself. For what I learn. For how I can do this now. This. Now. For her.

I am thankful to be yours today. Right now. To hear you breathing next to me, wrapped in my sheets. You fell asleep wearing my necklace.

18 Nov 20:15

Why Myriad Double Standards?

by -julia
This is one in a series of blog posts in which I discuss some of the concepts and terminology that I forward in my writings, including my new book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive

So in an earlier post, I discussed the concept of myriad double standards that I forward in Excluded. The idea is quite simple: Generally within feminism and queer activism, we have a fixed idea of the system that we are challenging—e.g., the patriarchy, heteronormativity, the gender binary, kyriarchy, and so on. Being fixed models, each of these acknowledges certain forms of sexism and marginalization while overlooking or dismissing others. The forms of sexism and marginalization that are ignored tend to become points of exclusion—for instance, if your concept of “patriarchy” does not include transphobia/cissexism, then your movement will exclude trans people; if your concept of “the gender binary” does not include biphobia/monosexism, then your movement will exclude bisexuals. And so on.

In contrast to these fixed models, in Excluded, I argue that there are myriad double standards. As Carl Sagan might have said, “billions and billions” of double standards. We may be aware of some of these double standards, yet unaware of countless others. Acknowledging this should compel us to forward new strategies that help challenge *all* double standards, rather than merely those that we are already familiar with or concerned by. And I discuss some of these strategies in the second half of Excluded as part of what I call a “holistic approach to feminism.”

Since the book has come out, I have fielded a few recurring questions about this concept that I will address here:


Why “double standards”?

Years ago, when I was trying to find a broad definition for sexism—one that would include traditional sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, monosexism, and others—I ultimately settled on the following definition: “sexism may refer to any double standard based on a person’s sex, gender, or sexuality.” More broadly, double standards may include assumptions, expectations, norms, stereotypes, meanings, value judgments, etc., that we apply to one group of people but not another.


Not only does “double standard” encapsulate many aspects of marginalization, but I also found the idea to be useful in my day-to-day activism. For instance, if some random person who has just found out that I am trans starts asking me invasive questions about my genitals (which too often happens), I could say, “what you just said is cissexist!” But if they are unfamiliar with that activist terminology, they will likely get defensive and/or accuse me of making up words. However, I find that if I address the incident by pointing out the double standard at play (i.e., that they wouldn’t dare ask someone who isn’t trans about their genitals), they usually immediately see the problem (unless, of course, they are a complete asshole).*


People tend to understand double standards on a deep, fundamental level. Even young children will point out how it’s not fair that they are treated in some way that another child is not. Thus, framing sexism and marginalization in terms of double standards has the potential of resonating with many people outside of activist circles.


For the record, I am highly aware of how framing sexism and marginalization solely in terms of double standards can be incomplete. As I say in Chapter 15, “Myriad Double Standards”:


...there is more to an ideology than just double standards. Each ism also has its own history and mythology, means by which it is transmitted and people indoctrinated into it (e.g., language, stories, schools, traditions), ways in which it is institutionalized (e.g., through laws, medicine, government bureaucracy), and so on. By focusing primarily on double standards here, I am not in anyway denying or dismissing these latter aspects of isms—they are important and need to be addressed in our analyses and activism. But I do think that breaking down an ism and examining its constituent double standards can bring to light aspects of how different forms of marginalization function and interact that typically remain obscure—that is what I am trying to do here. [p.210]


Specifically, I think that framing the matter in terms of double standards can make it easier to see the many parallels that exist between different forms of sexism and marginalization, and how they effectively undermine and invalidate the marginalized group(s) in question. I attempt to illustrate this in Chapter 14, “How Double Standards Work,” as well as other chapters in the book.


What about “reverse sexism”?

A common concern that people raise is that conceptualizing sexism in terms of double standards seems to legitimize complaints about “reverse” forms of sexism—for instance, when men feel that they experience sexism because they can be subjected to a military draft, false accusations of rape, or that they have far less options regarding clothing choice than women have.


Admittedly, these are all double standards, but they do not happen in a vacuum. In fact, they are all the “flip-sides” of sexist double standards that primarily undermine women: The assumptions that women are inherently weak, passive, dependent, and require protection are what drive the belief that women are unfit to serve in the military; the assumptions that women are sexual objects and the denial of women’s bodily autonomy leads to rape culture, a by-product of which is that men are seen as potential sexual predators; and as I discuss at great length in Whipping Girl, it is the assumption that femininity is artificial, frivolous, and less legitimate than masculinity that allows women the leeway to wear items of masculine clothing (because such articles are seen as practical), whereas men who wear feminine clothing are undermined by the inferior meanings associated with femininity.


In other words, men who complain about “reverse sexism” point to very real double standards, but they completely fail to address how these (and countless other) sexist double standards impact women. Indeed, this type of “me me me!” activism (where people are only concerned with challenging the double standards they face, but not those faced by others) is entirely incompatible with the holistic approach of challenging myriad double standards that I forward in the book.


Along similar lines, I have been asked about whether affirmative action, or the idea that people with privilege should step aside to make room for those who do not have such privilege, count as double standards that should be eliminated. Obviously, these actions are intended to be correctives to make up for huge disadvantages faced by marginalized groups. As with the “reverse sexism” examples above, anyone who singles these out these practices as double standards that must be challenged is clearly not genuine in their desire to eliminate all double standards.


Are all double standards of equal concern?

Related to the previous examples, some people have suggested that challenging myriad double standards seems to create a false equivalency between double standards. They may make the case that traditional sexism and racism have longer histories and are far more entrenched in society than biphobia/monosexism, transphobia/cissexism, or asexophobia, and thus should take precedent. Or they may argue that double standards that exist in straight mainstream society (e.g., heterosexism) are more damaging than double standards that are more specific to queer subcultures (e.g., subversivism).


For the record, I do not believe that all double standards are equal in their severity—as I admit throughout the book, some are more prevalent, institutionalized, and strictly enforced than others. But all double standards are unfair and can potentially lead to marginalization and exclusion, and for that reason, we should challenge all of them. The notion that we should rank double standards according to importance and only focus on the most damaging ones seems to be rooted in a zero-sum mentality—the underlying presumption is that we only have so much time or energy or bandwidth to devote to challenging sexism and marginalization, so we should only concentrate on the most pressing issues. (And of course, every marginalized group will no doubt view the double standards they face as being the most “pressing issues.”)

I entirely reject this zero-sum hypothesis. I reject the notion that challenging monosexism, cissexism, or asexophobia somehow “distracts” us from also challenging racism or traditional sexism, or that challenging masculine-centrism and subversivism within queer communities somehow “takes away” from our efforts to challenge heterosexism in straight mainstream society. To the contrary, if we take a broader approach that challenges *all* double standards (rather than focusing narrowly on one or a few particular isms), we can potentially undermine all forms of sexism and marginalization simultaneously. This does not necessarily require any additional time, energy, or bandwidth, but it does require us to adopt a new perspective (i.e., a holistic approach), which I forward in the second half of Excluded.


*note: I am not suggesting that we should refrain from discussing cissexism (or any other ism) simply because some people are unfamiliar with the concept. I am merely pointing out that sometimes it is a more productive and pragmatic strategy to address people at their level of understanding. I find that once people come to acknowledge that a particular double standard exists, they become exponentially more open to learning and using activist terminology to describe it. 
17 Nov 06:28

This Is Me. This Is Her. This Is How We Fuck.

She unbuckled my belt and started to reach inside my pants but stopped, smiling at me. She towered above me, straddling my hips in her tight, rust colored dress. Her tits hung heavy, shoved over the edge of her dress and bra. She was grinding her pussy against me and playing with her nipples. Every time I reached for her, I was swatted away. She kept me bound to the bed without any ties. I found myself grabbing fistfuls of the sheet and straining as if I was tightly tethered.

Slowly, giving me a dirty look, she bent over me and grabbed my belt buckle. She gently held it up to her tits and rubbed the worn brass against her nipples, one and then the other. I opened my mouth wide and gasped. My tongue reached for her. My jaw ached. She shook her head at me, “No.” I watched. I felt the sweat that comes when I’m worked up like this, between my breasts, under my arms, my low back, high on my neck just under my hairline, my upper lip. I lifted my hips into her with more and more force.

I wore white briefs, her favorite. She pulled the waist band high and smoothed the pocket I had no use for with her fingers, rubbing just above and on either side of my clit. Her sweet little hand moved softly above my cunt. I knew how wet I was. I felt her fingers drag on the damp cotton. I could smell my own pussy. Aroused. So fucking ready for her to suck me off. Feeling myself strain, every muscle coiled.

"Fuck," I whispered long and low and lifted my shoulders off the mattress. I bent my knees so that my thighs lifted her ass, tilting her towards me. She sat back against my legs and jerked my belt all the way off my jeans, bringing the leather strap just under her tits. She pulled it taut and ran it back and forth, her tits hanging heavily over the brown leather. She pulled the belt tight around her ribs for a moment and then teasingly, slowly, edged it up the swell of her tits. The rough side of the leather pulled against her nipples. I watched it drag back and forth across her skin. Now and then it would slip and I could see her nipples, raw and red, nearly purple from the rough hide abrading her skin. Her eyes were closed. Her mouth hung open, heavy. My tongue pushed against my teeth. I felt my eyes grow wet, one small tear rolled down my left temple and into my hair. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I cried for her. But I did.

She worked her nipples with that belt longer and harder than I would have had patience for. I nodded my head, the tears stinging my eyes, “Yes,” I said again and again, “Yes, this is what I want.” Useless words. She knew what I wanted before I could understand myself. It’s what she does. She reaches deep down and finds me and grabs my hand. We take off running like children in a fallow field and don’t look back. “My baby,” I say, “My girl.” I repeat all the words that have been said so many times by so many people they’re faded and gray and nearly wrung out. It doesn’t matter. It’s the sound of my voice. It’s the way my belly pushes out round and tight as I arch my back, as the muscles in my arms ball up with the tension of needing to be fucked, as my veins bulge to keep up. I want her fingers, her tongue, her breath, anything on my swollen, aching clit. I don’t know what I do in these moments. I don’t know what she sees.

When she’s done with my belt, she tosses it down to the mattress and I wrap my fingers around it. She pulls her panties down low on her hips and lets me see the thickening hair beneath. She pulls the lips of her pussy wide for me to see how wet and flushed she’s become. She sticks two fingers in my mouth and teases me by hovering, then rubbing my spit on her sore nipples. My head strains towards her pussy. I inhale deeply but can’t catch the scent of her. My hands get slapped away again as I break the rules and reach for her thighs. It’s the last time I forget. I want to be tortured. I want to be still.

"Yes," I say, staring at her pussy, "Please." She smiles at me. It’s a pitying look. She nods. Her lower lip hangs open and I see how wet her mouth is. My tongue strains. I feel the sharp, ridged edges of my teeth. "Yes, baby," she nods her head quickly at me. Her hair hangs loose around her face. I stare into her eyes, admiring her face. Her high cheekbones and solid jaw. My eyes wander slowly down her neck, muscled, red from the sun, her rounded shoulders, her heavy tits, her belly. I watch her hand travel to her clit, her lips still spread to help me watch.

When she touches herself, I’m on fire. I’m yelling as if I’m about to come. We sound the same. “Come for me, sugar,” I hear myself say, “Let me watch you.” She rubs herself with one finger crooked, the others raised, mimicking quick, circling movements in the air. I can see her clit swell. I imagine I see it clutch and throb as she comes. I know I feel it. I do. I have a shadow orgasm there beneath her. I pant as hard as she does. She bends over me and I grab her tight. She brushes her open mouth against my lips.

By the time her mouth is on my clit, I’m so turned on that my body lies motionless for several minutes, stunned. She knows. She feels it in how wet my pussy is. So fucking wet and dripping. Her tongue is soft, barely there. I writhe beneath her on the mattress. Her lips close around me and I feel the suction as her tongue cups my clit and pulses. “Oh god,” I say. Everything I say sounds hollow, used up. I have no new words for this and yet it is entirely new. “Oh god,” and “Fuck,” and “Yes, baby. Yes.” I want a new language just for this, but instead I shut up and let my body do what it needs. I pulse my hips against her. I hold my thighs open for her. I crook one arm and hold my neck, pulling myself up to watch her. She’s staring back at me. Sucking on me so sweetly. Getting me off in an ancient way. Her tongue. My clit. Flickering. Sucking. Pulling me deeper and deeper into her mouth. The noises I make are wordless. Known. I come in waves so deep and long that she can leave her tongue against me, pressing hard, still sucking on my clit. I come so hard for her. My body twitches. I suck the air into my lungs. I lick my lips. She lays her head on my thigh. I feel her breath on my wetness. I shiver.

This is my lover. My girl. This is me. Hers. This is how we fuck. How we fucked once. One day. That is all that this is. This is all that it was. And tonight or tomorrow it will be something different. This is me. This is her. Today.

16 Nov 17:22

Best Lesbian Erotica Release Party & Reading December 12 in SF

by xanwest

I am thrilled to be included in yet another volume of Best Lesbian Erotica, the erotica series that helped to shape my eroticism and erotica writing. The 2014 edition of this much beloved erotica series, edited by Sarah Schulman and Kathleen Warnock, will be released on December 10th, and is available for pre-order now.

The table of contents includes work by well-known erotica writers and series regulars like Diana Cage, D.L. King, Theresa Noelle Roberts, Sinclair Sexmith, and Sharon Wachsler. Series editor Kathleen Warnock has called it “our most diverse line-up ever,” mentioning authors from India, Lebanon, and South Africa.

There are two official release parties (that highlight readings), one in NYC on 12/19, and one in SF on 12/12. I will be reading at the SF release party, alongside Amy Butcher, Jen Cross, Carol Queen, Sinclair Sexmith, BD Swain, and few exciting others to be announced.

When: Thursday, December 12th, 7-9pm

Where: The Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street between 9th and 10th, San Francisco

What: Queer Smut: Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 release party

Cost: $20 (includes a copy of the book) No one turned away for lack of funds.

My story in Best Lesbian Erotica 2014, “What I Need” is filled with intense dominance and raw desire, and I am so excited to have it appear in this volume. Here is a small excerpt that illustrates the kind of possessive dominance this story captures:

I need to be inside you.  This minute, no waiting, no preparation.  Fuck taking off any clothes, fuck finding an appropriate place, fuck finishing this conversation, I need to pull my dick out of my pants and be inside you immediately.  I am ravenous for you, need to have you, selfishly, focused on my urgency, aching to take exactly what I need from you right this second.  I need to stake my claim in you, on you, grab what’s mine.  Possess you thoroughly, ruthlessly, immediately.  And I can, because you are mine. You chose this 2 years ago, and keep choosing it, every day.

I hope to see you on December 12th at the SF release party (and reading)!


Tagged: Best Lesbian Erotica 2014, D/s, edgeplay, erotica, erotica readings, excerpt, fat pride erotica, kink, love, possessive dominance, queer, readings, SF Bay Area, What I Need, writing, writing erotica
14 Nov 20:08

As Soon As You Care, You Lose, or The Difference Between Hungry and Starving

by Naomi Dunford

Non-attachment is a pretty big thing for the Buddhists. The nice kids at Wikipedia define non-attachment as “freedom from lust, craving and desires.” The basic idea here is that when you’re lusting after something — a person, a thing, even a concept — you suffer. You also tend to do a lot of stupid, crazy things in response.

You suffer while you’re lusting after it and you suffer when you see someone else who has it and you even suffer when you have it because you might lose it at any time.

Non-attachment is all well and good, but it’s pretty hard to achieve. I’m fairly attached to my husband, for example. If he were to up and walk out, I don’t think I would handle it very well. I’m attached to this business. If it blew up in front of my eyes, I’d probably be pretty pissed. If my dog were to get hit by a bus, I can pretty safely say that the first words out of my mouth would not be, “So it goes.”

So while it’s probably a good idea to reduce the number of things to which you are fanatically attached, it’s unreasonable to expect a normal, flawed, non-monk to achieve this feat on any kind of a regular basis.

What you can achieve, though, is the impression of non-attachment.

I saw a lot of begging at a conference I recently attended. It wasn’t begging for stuff. It was begging for love and approval and acceptance. Love and approval and acceptance are good. The love and approval and acceptance you have to beg for are not.

One particular instance stood out in my mind. I overheard someone pretty desperately saying, “I just can’t let them think that I’m just a ___________! I have to explain it to them!” They went on to think about the ways they could improve their elevator pitch so that people would know exactly how awesome their offering was. And I imagined them tracking someone down and pinning them to the wall while they explain, crazed-lunatic style, exactly who they are and exactly what they do. Yikes.

Elevator speeches freak me out a little bit, actually. As the number of people trying to throw their panties at you increases, the number of super spiffy elevator pitches increases, too. Sometimes I long for people to just cut to the chase and say what they do.

Because when you think about it, a perfectly honed answer to “what do you do?” sounds a little contrived. A little artificial. And a little “I spend more time thinking about how to tell people what I do than I do actually doing it”.

I think about meeting Richard Branson at a party. (Yes, of course I think about this. Don’t you?) And I think about what I would say to him. I imagine asking him what he does for a living. And I imagine him answering, “I run a company called Virgin.” If I were to imagine myself at a party with Bill Gates, which for the record I do not, I would imagine I’d imagine him saying, “I run a software company.” (Yes, that was an all-out butchery of the English language. I just want to make it very clear that I don’t spend my time dreaming up party chatter with Bill Gates. Branson, yes. Gates, no.)

Dick and Bill don’t care what you think. They’re not going to be an jerk to you, I hope, but they’re not there to beg for your approval or your business, either. They’re there to go to a party.

As soon as you care, you lose.

I like hungry people. I do. I like the hustle, the fire, the drive. They remind me of me back when I was idealistic.

Starving people make me uncomfortable. They make me want to turn away. They remind me of me back when I was, well, starving.

Hungry people want you to date them. Starving people need you to date them.

Hungry people want a sandwich. Starving people need a sandwich.

Hungry people want you to do business with them. Starving people need you to do business with them.

When you’re hungry, you would like a certain outcome, but you’re not going to do something awful or demeaning or immoral to get it. When you’re starving, all bets are off. Starving people are wearing a big, neon shirt that says, “LOOSE CANNON”.

Do not corrupt yourself to secure a guest post slot. (It will never do what you think it’ll do for you anyway.) Do not compromise what’s important to you to gain a new client. (The clients you have to turn yourself into knots for are usually the jerks.) And do not ruin a perfectly good party begging for approval from the cool kids. (They’re not that cool.)

And cut yourself some slack on the elevator pitch.

09 Nov 03:12

Deep, So Deep

Everything is quiet. Hushed. Not the world around me, but my head. I close my eyes and there’s not the usual hum and chatter. An unfamiliar calm takes it place. Eyes wide open, I see the street. Coffee shops, sweaters and coats, smiles, energy, life. Colors ablaze. Cute haircuts. Sexy glances. Dropped coins. Dirty fingers. I hear the rustle of the crisp leaves. I hear moaning dogs echoing the sounds of sirens in my city. The vibrancy that surrounds me is astonishing. The quiet shush in my head, a revelation. I hear my blood.

There is this girl. That’s how stories begin, yes? There is this girl. I won’t tell you she’s magic. I won’t succumb to the swelling orchestra, the perfect pop song, the knowingly false belief that this is unique, unknown, a singular love. But, truly, there is this girl. And when I’m with her, my mind is quiet. That steady stream of second guessing that always rustled my thoughts disappeared when I met her. It took me several weeks to figure out why things felt quiet.

Everything is in our hands, on our skin, rolling off our tongues. We are face to face.

Deep. Deeper. At first it was my cock. She wanted me so deep inside her. My fingers weren’t enough. The cock tucked inside my jeans wasn’t enough. More. Deeper. My biggest, longest, thickest cock and still she seemed to want more even when I felt my cock thud against her and she gasped with every deep, long thrust inside her. I felt the pressure against my clit as my cock reached deep inside, filling her. “I’ve never wanted so much,” she cried, her tears streaming down my neck. Her wet mouth lay soft on my chest. We fucked like this for hours and fell asleep wrapped around each other with sticky thighs and fingers. I woke up with my open mouth against her shoulder as if we’d been suspended in time. “I love you,” she said. Or maybe I said it. I’d been thinking it for days feeling unable to say the words out loud. Not sure I believed in such a thing anymore. But here it was.

Deeper. So deep. Everything. Opening up completely. Letting me see down deep into the depths where she feels ugly and undeserving. Telling her things I’m ashamed of and being glad to lay them down in front of her one by one.

This isn’t so scary.

Yes it is. I know it is. And yet it feels like home. Like the home I’ve never known. Like what you think home must be for someone, somewhere. Is it?

Have you seen her? Tell me, have you seen her?” The Chi-Lites sing inside my head, sway from side to side, snap their fingers. It’s funny how many songs I catch myself singing these days are sad ones. Now, when I’m so happy. But then, this love feels like the sweetest melancholy. Sweet and sad knowing that I’d given up on it. It’s that sweet sadness that comes with the joy of barely missing some terrible accident. You hold your child who nearly drowned and the relief is bound together with the realization of what was nearly lost. You sob. You’re so happy. You hold her.

I’m shuddering with big, fat tears and squeezing this girl tight because I thought I’d never find her.

These last few weeks we fuck slow, so slow. Painfully slow. Yesterday I burned with desire and started to pound her pussy with my fingers. She grabbed my hand and dragged it up her belly, between her breasts, and sucked me into her mouth. Softly, her tongue licked my fingers until they dripped. She held my hand in both her own and pushed it back down between her legs. She gripped my index finger long and slowly, so slowly, pulled it up and down over her clit. Wet and slippery. “I want you to kiss me,” she whispered, her eyes already wet with tears, “I want to come in your mouth.” I opened my lips just above hers. The tips of our tongues brushed each other lightly. I felt her warm breath in my mouth. Her slick, wet, swollen clit under the tip of my finger. So soft. So slow. Feeling everything. I felt it so deep. Bone deep. An ache. She moaned and the vibration of her voice buzzed my lips. “Baby,” I whimpered, “This is what I want.”

She came with a jerk of her hips and a loud groan. She pushed my hand aside and said, “I want to come again.” I felt her finger push and pull on her clit. I tilted my head to see the quick circling of her wrist. Tense. Taut. I watched her climb. My hands were everywhere, rubbing her. I hovered over her, my hips thrusting in the air. She came again almost immediately and said, “One more.” “Yes,” I said. I felt something unlock inside her. I held her close to me while she came again. “I want days and days,” I whispered. She nodded quickly and turned her head into my chest as she came so hard, her body so flushed and hot. “I’ve never wanted something so deep,” she said. “So deep,” I answered and pulled her to me with my hands buried in her hair.

08 Nov 17:21

I am celebrating with a free giveaway!

by AmyB

Paws for Consideration won the Gay Category at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival. That now makes Paws for Consideration an “award-winning novel” . . . who knew?

It’s also National Novel Writing Month. Another cause for celebration for all the crazy writing happening and because that’s where Paws for Consideration got it’s start.

So throughout November, you can download a free copy of Paws through Smashwords. Go HERE and enter your email and we’ll send you the download code. And if you enjoy, please write a review on Goodreads.

04 Nov 22:30

What is gender artifactualism?

by -julia
This is the one in a series of blog posts in which I discuss some of the concepts and terminology that I forward in my writings, including my new book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive.


So in Excluded, I introduce the term “gender artifactualism” to describe, “the tendency to conceptualize and depict gender as being primarily or entirely a cultural artifact.”[p.117] Gender artifactualist viewpoints are pervasive within feminist and queer activism, and within the academic fields of Women’s/Gender Studies, Queer Theory, Sociology, certain subfields of Psychology, and in the Humanities more generally.

Why is this term needed?

I created the term to make a distinction between the idea that gender is “socially constructed” versus the idea that gender is “just a construct”—both of which are common refrains within the aforementioned academic and activist settings, but which imply very different things. As I put it in Excluded:


To have a social constructionist view of gender (by most standard definitions) simply means that one believes that gender does not arise in a direct and unadulterated manner from biology, but rather is shaped to some extent by culture—e.g., by socialization, gender norms, and the gender-related ideology, language and labels that constrain and influence our understanding of the matter. By this definition, I am most certainly a social constructionist. Gender artifactualists, on the other hand, are typically not content to merely discuss the ways in which gender may be socially constructed, but rather they discount or purposefully ignore the possibility that biology and biological variation also play a role in constraining and shaping our genders. Sometimes, even the most nuanced and carefully qualified suggestions that biology may have someinfluence on gendered behaviors or desires will garner accusations of “essentialism” in gender artifactualist circles... [p.117-8]


Is gender artifactualism correct as a theory?


Absolutely not. In Chapter 13, “Homogenizing Versus Holistic Views of Gender and Sexuality,” I thoroughly detail why gender artifactualism (along with its sparring partner in the nature-versus-nurture debate, gender determinism, which presumes that gender-related behaviors arise solely via biology) is flat-out incorrect as a theory to explain why gender differences exist. Instead, I forward a holistic perspective that acknowledges that shared biology, biological variation, shared culture, and individual experience all come together in an unfathomably complex manner to create both the trends as well as the diversity in gender and sexuality that we see all around us. This holistic perspective is completely compatible with the idea that gender is socially constructed (i.e., shaped by socialization and culture), but incompatible with the idea that gender is merely a social artifact (or in activist parlance, “just a construct”).


Why bother debunking gender artifactualism?


The prevalence of gender artifactualist thinking within feminism and queer activism has led to two major fallacies that have undermined these movements. The first is the idea that gender artifactualist positions are inherently liberating, progressive, and anti-sexist in contrast to gender determinism (which is why artifactualist views are so often touted in these settings). However, as I point out in Excluded:


The truth of the matter is that gender artifactualism can be used to promote sexist beliefs just as readily as gender determinism can. For much of the twentieth century, Sigmund Freud’s hardline gender artifactualist theories were used to pathologize queer people and to portray girls and women as inferior to their male counterparts. Similarly, contemporary feminists and queer activists are outraged by stories of intersex children being subjected to nonconsensual genital surgeries, or gender-non-conforming children being subjected to rigid behavior modification regimes, yet the justification for these procedures is founded in the gender artifactualist theories of psychologists like John Money and Kenneth Zucker, respectively. [p.145-146]


Indeed, I go on to make the case that both gender artifactualism and determinism have an “exception problem,” in that they focus on explaining typical genders and sexualities (e.g., the preponderance of heterosexual, gender-conforming people), yet “...fail to provide a reasonable explanation for why so many of us gravitate toward various sorts of exceptional genders and sexualities.”[p.147] As a result, both approaches can provide a rationale for pathologizing gender and sexual minorities on the basis that we represent “mistakes” or “developmental errors” of some kind.


The second fallacy of gender artifactualist thinking goes something like this: If our gender and sexual identities and behaviors arise solely as a result of culture, and given that our culture is hierarchical and sexist, then we (feminists, queer activists, people more generally) must simply unlearn these oppressive ways of being that we were indoctrinated into, and instead “do” or “perform” our genders in more liberating, subversive, and righteous ways. While this line of reasoning might sound promising on the surface, in reality, it is often used to condemn and police other people’s genders and sexualities: 


After all, if gender and sexuality are entirely social artifacts, and we have no intrinsic desires or individual differences, this implies that every person can (and should) change their gender and sexual behaviors at the drop of a hat in order to accommodate their own (or perhaps other people’s) politics. This assumption denies human diversity and, as I have shown, often leads to the further marginalization of minority and marked groups. [p.134]


Granted, not all gender artifactualists buy into this idea that we can readily change our genders and sexualities in order to better conform to some political view or another. But those who do will typically cite gender artifactualist mantras (e.g., “all gender is performance,” “gender is just a construct”) in order to make their case. In Excluded, I borrow Anne Koedt’s phrase ‘perversion of “the personal is the political” argument’ to discuss how this premise has been used repeatedly to police gender and sexual expression within various strands of feminism over the years. In contrast, the holistic approach that I forward accommodates gender and sexual diversity both within our movements, as well as in the world more generally.

04 Nov 15:00

Desiring Faggotry

by xanwest

“Baxter’s Boy”, my story printed in the new anthology, The Big Book of Orgasms, was a long time coming. I’ve written elsewhere about how this piece is connected to my development as a smut writer, and is set in a very specific moment in my dykey college town, when trans men were coming out in droves and queer communities began to shift. The editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel, recently called it “a wonderful take on gender and desire.”

That is particularly apropos because “Baxter’s Boy” also has deep origins in my own genders and desires. I think owning and claiming your desires is a powerful thing to do; it is a central aspect of my sex positive politic. It’s also a huge turn-on for me: when someone owns their desires, is embodied in them and names them clearly, it is one of the hottest things in the world. One of the things I love about so many of the faggots I’ve known is how much they boldly and bluntly owned and claimed their desires.

I’ve been hot for faggotry for as long as I can recall actually owning my own desires, beginning around 20 years ago. Not just individual queer men, though I definitely have been hot for many. But for faggotry as sexual culture, fag archetypes, queer men’s sexual geography and expression. As my gender has ebbed and flowed, that desire has remained constant.

This aspect of my own desire has been a broad theme in my published smut. I have created many genderqueer and trans men characters who ached for faggotry, who reveled in being recognized, cruised and desired as queer men, who wanted to suck cock in alleys and bathrooms, wanted Daddy to bring them home from the bars, wanted to be seen as the faggots they knew they were inside. Here are a few snippets from some of those stories:

  • “That’s why I chose this alley. Fag friends have cruised by with me, shown me where to go, described protocol. Told me story after story about being on their knees, or getting sucked off, or (if it’s especially late and fairly empty) bending over against the dumpster and getting fucked until they are so weak they can barely make it home. It’s like you know the same stories. You’re standing there against the wall, strategically placed to watch for danger. You’re a cocksucker’s dream, every inch the leather Daddy of my fantasies.” –“Alley Obsession”, printed in Got a Minute?: Sixty Second Erotica
  • “As your boy, I was able to tap a deep faggotry that had been denied realization by a trick of biology. There was no disruption in it for you. You fully celebrated my raunchy queer sexuality. I could sink into it with you, hold none of it back, know you would meet my faggotry with your own.”—“A Lesson About Gender”, printed in Pleasure Bound: True Bondage Stories
  • “Daddy made me feel proud to be a faggot. That affirmation of self threaded through everything. He knew about my fantasies, the way I ached to cruise for public sex but was scared that no one would touch me. He made me jack off as I described being forced to my knees in an alley, being bent over the sink in a public bathroom, kneeling to service cock after cock at a gloryhole.”—“Missing Daddy”, printed in Best Gay Erotica 2013
  • “I watch him carefully as I free my cock. His eyes widen. Is that fear? Excitement? Both, I decide, stroking my cock as I watch him. He is scared—what if it isn’t how he wanted? Or worse, what if it is? What if he really is a cocksucking fagboy who gets on his knees for strangers in alleys?” –“Nervous Boy”, printed in Love at First Sting: Sexy Tales of Erotic Restraint

I came out into a cis gay men’s community, as a bisexual dyke. (I was genderfluid back then, but not out to myself about it.) My desires for many of the faggots in my life were not spoken, most of the time. We watched gay porn, they talked about their tricks and their lovers openly. We played spin the bottle and the boys tried out kissing each other. I had one former lover who became one of my closest friends, and shared the details of his queer sexual life, including a lot of details about how cruising and public sex work in cis gay culture. I learned sex positivity from these young faggots, as they continually affirmed their embodied desire with each other, and I began to build my own. I spent a long time yearning quietly. It felt impossible to be met in this desire.

Until about 15 years ago, when I got my hands on Carol Queen’s The Leather Daddy and the Femme. It was the first erotica I had ever read with a genderfluid character that got it on with cis gay men as a femme as well as a boy. This was the closest I had seen to any reflection of one of my core desires in an erotic text. Like Randy/Miranda in Carol Queen’s book, I didn’t just want to be desired as a boy, but as a femme too, without losing recognition as a fag. Because I wasn’t the kind of trans* that was just one of those things, and I wanted to be known, witnessed and desired in the fullness of all my genders. And I dreamed of a leather daddy I could submit to as all of myself.

I spent a long time writing about that need to be known, witnessed and desired as a fag boy, and in multiple genders. Many of my stories reflect that, including the ones I quoted above. But when I think about the origins of my own deep yearning for faggotry, I am taken back to the bisexual femme dyke I used to be, who thought her desire might never be met. She is who I wrote this story for.

“Baxter’s Boy” centers a high femme dyke who aches to play with queer boys. It focuses on her desire for Baxter, a gay FTM top, the first trans guy who came out as a faggot in her dykey college town. It is about her fantasies of bottoming to him and his boy, sparked by a long term crush and one particular New Year’s Eve kiss. Here is an excerpt that includes that kiss, along with a bit of pain play: 

“When it hit midnight, I found myself next to Baxter somehow. He reached toward me, and gently touched my neck, watching my eyes as I trembled. Seconds later his hand was fisted in my hair, his tongue thrusting into my mouth, the other hand cupping my ass as he dipped me low. I opened to him, putting everything into that moment, all my submission, all my desire. He gently placed me back on my feet and smiled into my eyes, lightly chuckling. “I like to keep them guessing,” he said, indicating the crowd of shocked spectators. I smiled, heart pounding, and watched him walk back to his boy, his strut clearly showing he had done what he had come to do, and was proud of himself. He backed Robert into the wall and began to devour him.

I hadn’t seen him since. I spotted Robert watching me bottom a couple weeks later, as I fell in love with the rawhide cane.  I’m not a masochist, but there are some toys that reach into me. That kind of pain is a joy to submit to, in its relentless invasion.  I loved that cane so much I ached to kiss it afterwards.  When I opened my eyes to beg for that privilege, Robert was gone.

I went home that night with Robert and Baxter in my head, a fresh set of cane marks on my thighs. I lay in bed playing with the marks, taking off my combat boots and grinding the soles into them. I imagined Robert’s eyes watching me, Baxter’s boots on my sore thighs. I wanted them both so much. Wanted them inside my head, filling up all my holes, giving me pain. Wanted to be between them, a conduit for their pleasure in each other.”

“Baxter’s Boy” has just been printed in The Big Book of Orgasms, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. As part of its launch, I will be reading and signing books, along with a number of other authors, at the Polk Street Good Vibrations in San Francisco this Wednesday 11/6 at 630pm.

This blog post is an official part of the BBOO virtual book tour, and as such I can offer a giveaway. Click here for the chance to win a free copy of The Big Book of Orgasms.

cross posted from livejournal and tumblr


Tagged: A Lesson About Gender, Alley Obsession, Baxter's Boy, Best Gay Erotica 2013, Big Book of Orgasms, bottom's POV, Carol Queen, desire, erotica, faggotry, femme, gender, genderqueer, Got a Minute?, kink, Love at First Sting, Missing Daddy, nervous boy, Pleasure Bound, public sex, queer, readings, sex positivity, The Leather Daddy and the Femme, trans, writing erotica, yearning
31 Oct 21:14

Why new words?

by -julia
Over the next several months, I will be writing a series of blog posts that explain some of the less familiar terms that I either coined and/or otherwise forwarded in my writings, especially in Whipping Girl and my new book Excluded: Making Feministand Queer Movements More Inclusive


I am doing this for several reasons:

1) I want these definitions to be accessible via the Internet. Many people have never heard of Excludedor Whipping Girl, or they may not have access to these books. So if they just so happen to read or hear another person use any of these terms, I would like them to be easily google-able. For this reason, the title of each post will take the form of “What is [the term in question]?” so that our search engine overlords can more readily find the answer.


2) Relatedly, someone who is writing an Internet article or blog post who uses any of these terms can simply link to these pages, thus circumventing having to provide a definition or introduction to the term(s) themselves.


3) Sometimes other people come to use a term/concept in a manner different than I initially used it. Or they may question why I bothered to create or forward the term/concept in the first place. So these posts will allow me to add some context regarding my original intentions and why I thought the term/concept was necessary in the first place.


Often discussions about coining or forwarding new terminology veer into (what I call) the “Why new words?” debate. For instance, some people may protest by saying something like, “I don’t understand why we need these newfangled words, can’t we just get by with the words we already have?” Such arguments seem oblivious to the fact that every single word in the English language was once a new word! New words and phrases are created all the time, and they tend to stick when they fill a niche that had been previously vacant.


We communicate through words, through language. And as we learn more about the world, and as our world changes, we constantly invent new terminology to express and explain what we see. Concepts from the banal to the highly technical garner their own labels: reality TV, romantic comedy, fan fiction, product placement, junk mail, social media, selfies, telecommuting, buzzword, trickle-down economics, debt ceiling, SuperPAC, climate change, carbon footprint, and good cholesterol (to name a very very tiny handful). None of these terms existed fifty years ago, but they are all useful today as quick shorthand to convey a more complex concept or phenomenon to other people.


So when people selectively say “I don’t understand why we need new words” whenever I (or others) forward new language to describe how sexism works or to convey LGBTQIA+ perspectives, it really does feel like they are singling out activist terminology. The unspoken message is: “I am totally fine with new words provided that they do not challenge my beliefs about gender and sexuality, or challenge the hierarchies and double standards that I unconsciously harbor.”


A second variation of the “Why new words?” debate that I sometimes hear is the complaint that new terminology merely results in the proliferation of jargon that nobody understands. The word “jargon” is invariably used as a pejorative here, the connotation being that I (and others) are purposefully using esoteric language in order to alienate other people. That is not what I am doing at all. Unlike other people who write about gender and sexism (for instance, those who write primarily for academic audiences), I always try to make my books as accessible as possible, and I always try to thoroughly explain potentially unfamiliar terms and concepts whenever I introduce them. Both Whipping Girland Excluded begin with a chapter wherein I define much of the terminology that I use throughout the book. Indeed, if I wanted to alienate people by using needlessly fancy language, then I wouldn’t have bothered writing this series in the first place!


What some people call “jargon,” other people call necessary language. Physicists inevitably create “jargon” to describe how subatomic particles behave; doctors create “jargon” to distinguish between different diseases and injuries to the body; sports professionals create “jargon” to describe different plays or to determine how well players are performing; musicians create “jargon” to describe different musical keys, time signatures, and cord progressions. Along similar lines, those of us who are involved in feminism and queer/LGBTQIA+ activism, by necessity, create “jargon” to describe the phenomena that we observe, and to analyze and challenge various forms of sexism and marginalization.


As a writer who is participating in dialogue with other feminists and queer activists, it is necessary that I use some of this language. The alternative approach—purposefully not using such language—would result in me being unable to adequately broach certain important topics. Given this, I try my best to strike a balance between engaging in these more complex and nuanced discussions about gender and sexism, while simultaneously opening the door for people who are not already familiar with such terms/concepts to be introduced to these fundamental ideas.


So anyway, that is the rationale for this series—stay tuned for future posts!




*Postscript: The following essays have since been published as part of this series:
What Is Gender Artifactualism?
Why Myriad Double Standards?


25 Oct 05:55

give yourself over to the night.

by peace.love.free

What are you doing right now? Stop it. Sit down. Exhale. Let it go. You don’t need to clean the kitchen. You don’t need to finish that email. You don’t need to do anything but give yourself over to the night.

How could you best love yourself right now? What could you offer your sacred soul? Do that. Exactly that.

Do you need to dance? Feel the burn of whiskey? Climb into your bed and slow your breath? Light a cigarette and sit on your patio breathing in the darkness in solitude? Give yourself over to grief? Let the flicker of joy flame into fullness? Steal out into the darkest night and find a crowd to get lost in? Slide your bare skin against the one who loves you and offer yourself in wholeness? Let your heart remember what was good and true? Offer reverence for the ordinary extraordinary of this day? Light a candle and give blessing? Turn up the music and lose yourself in the beat? Open your journal and let the scrawl of words release what you’ve been holding too tight? Run to your car and set a straight course for the ocean that calls you home? Let go? Hold fierce and fast? Ask for what you need? Claim it for yourself?

What do you need lover? What you do you want? Stop quieting that inner voice that whispers in the night? Trust in the integrity of your own knowing. Let your hope teach you. Let the longing of your holy body lead you home.

Claim this moment as your own. Give yourself to it fully. There is nothing else more worthy in this exact moment. Everything else will wait.

This time is for you. Do you need permission? I am giving it to you now.

This moment. This night. This darkness. It is yours. Do with it what you will – but do it with all of you. It is what the universe demands.  The universe will accept no less.  I will accept no less.

Go, give yourself over to the night.

22 Oct 18:52

extra:ordinary – share the story of your resilience

by Jen
Good morning out there. The dark is still settled in around me, even though I am getting started late. I love this time of year for just this good early darkness — I feel cradled by morning long into the … Continue reading →
18 Oct 18:12

XOXO Fest Lecture

by Erika Moen

Photo by R.Stevens

Photo by R.Stevens


This past September 21st, I was absolutely honored to be a speaker at XOXO Fest. They invited me to come talk about my “origin story” as a full time comic creator and how I used the internet to make this happen.

Here is my talk, as recorded by the high quality XOXO staff:

And here’s my lecture notes:

My name is Erika Moen and I’m a cartoonist.

For fifteen years, I’ve been creating comics and posting them online. This year I turned 30, which means I’ve officially been doing this for half of my lifetime. When I began posting my comics online as a little fifteen year old teenager, I was just sharing my drawings and comics and Batman: The Animated Series fan art for my internet friends to see. Today, this is my full time career.

I’m best known for my autobiographical series, DAR! Which was my six year long journal comic about being a lesbian who falls in love with a man, and a whole bunch of dick and fart jokes. After that wrapped in 2009 I wanted to take a break from autobio so I teamed up with Marvel writer Jeff Parker to create Bucko, a dick and fart joke murder-mystery, which was published by Dark Horse Comics last year. Currently I’m working on Oh Joy, Sex Toy with my husband, which is a comic that covers some subject in the world of sex each week. It’s got a focus on sex toy reviews but we also sneak in some interviews with professionals in the sex industry and some general sex education, basically any topic is on the table. (So to speak)

XOXO asked me to share my origin story with you guys, about how I turned my little funsies web comics hobby into a full time job. So, I’m going to read to you the final strip I drew for my autobio comic, DAR. It’s a crash course through my life between the ages of 20-26
[And then I read that comic to the audience]

—————————————

Being self-employed is NOT something I ever wanted growing up. When I was a senior in high school applying for colleges, I didn’t even look at any of the art departments of those universities because I knew “artists can’t support themselves” and I wanted to have a stable job when I graduated. Of course, after my first semester I realized I couldn’t go four years and not spend it studying art, so I created my own major called Illustrated Storytelling– I was afraid calling it “Comics” wouldn’t sound academic enough. It was half of an English degree and half of an Art degree and I worked with a faculty advisor from each department to create a lesson plan with them and I had to stay accountable to them so they knew I wasn’t just making up a fluff degree.

Intellectually, I knew studying comics was a mistake, that I was wasting my college tuition on an education that wouldn’t help me get a Real Job in the Real world. But my stomach and heart compelled me to do it anyway and deal with the consequences later. Which is kind of a running theme in my life.

I’d been doing short, little autobio comics as a teen, but it was when I was a 20 year old in college that I started my series DAR! It was a way for me to document my college experience, process and embrace my fresh new lesbian identity and also just to make people laugh.

When I graduated in 2006, I moved here to Portland and immediately got to work at some Normal, Stable jobs where you clock in, do your task and get paid the same amount each day. I landed work at two different animation/website design studios, where I was hired to do production-assistanty, administrative-y things, nothing relating to art. Although, the second one was such a small studio that I did wind up taking on many art tasks because everyone had to wear many hats, but that was just an unexpected bonus, it’s not what I was hired to do.

In the mean time, I was continuing to update DAR! each week as a hobby. I’ve used comics my entire life much like everybody else uses Facebook or Twitter. I created comics to document something in my life that I found worth sharing and to help me understand events and how I perceive myself and generally process my life. When I fell in love with the man who would become my husband while I identified as a lesbian, I sorted out my conflicting thoughts and shifting sexual identity by making comics about it. At the time, there weren’t really that many queer cartoonists on the web, so my work was kind of like a beacon to other queer people who could relate to my personal story and would then tell their friends to check my stuff out. My audience grew entirely from word of mouth.

Now, a footnote, the guy that I fell in love with? He lived in England. We had an eight hour time difference between us. Being in a relationship with someone so far away is SUPER EXPENSIVE, with all the phone cards, long-distance texts and flights to visit each other. So while I was working at my day job, I would save ALL my money just to see him. I would pay for my living expenses, and then every last penny went into my savings account so that we could visit each other. I was so cheap. My friends would want to meet up at food places and I’d be that asshole who’d just drink water or order toast. That was me.

So then the recession hit in 2008 and everyone at my studio was laid off. I FREAKED OUT. I need stability, I need to know what my schedule is every day, so of course I immediately started applying for all these other normal, stable jobs to replace the one I lost.

I had NEVER wanted to be a freelance artist, because that sounded absolutely unstable and like a quick path to financial ruin. But, I was freaking out, so I went to visit my friend, Dylan Meconis (at the time a part-time freelance artist) , at Periscope Studio (the largest collective of freelancer comic artists in the English speaking world) to freak out at her about losing my job and try to figure out where am I going to make money and she and Steve Lieber suggested to me, “Haven’t you been doing this comic DAR! every week for a few years now? Why don’t you collect it into a book and sell that?” And because of all the saving I’d done for my long-distance-relationship, I had this nice little nest egg to draw on to print my first book. This was before Kickstarter. Around this time, this amazing, well-paying job to illustrate a children’s book was just handed to me with a bow wrapped around it because a friend of mine recommended me for the job. So I took my first freelance gig, just to keep my head above water.

Here’s the thing about keeping up a weekly comic: not only do you develop an audience of readers who enjoy your work, but you’re also proving weekly that you’re reliable, that you can deliver on time, that you can act like a professional. Because people had been reading my comic for years, they WANTED to support me by buying DAR! Volume One and, unintentionally, through my weekly webcomic I’d been advertising that I’m a reliable artist that people should hire. So I kept taking on more and more freelance work and selling my self-published book until about six months after I’d been laid off, I realized that I had accidentally stopped looking for a replacement stable job because I was SO BUSY with all this self-employed work. Around this time, Periscope Studio invited me to become a member and I’ve been doing my own thing ever since.

So that’s how I accidentally became a fully-time artist.

—————————————

And it’s now, this year, my 30th, that I feel like I’m doing the work that I was born to do.

This year my husband and I started Oh Joy, Sex Toy and it is the most fulfilling and rewarding job I’ve ever hard.

I care a lot about sex. And not just the “act of”– I care about how it makes people feel, about all the rules and regulations society puts on it, about the different cultures and industries that grow up around it, kinks and fetishes, birth control, I care a LOT about sex education. The subject of sex is a fascinating world.

In all my previous years, I had incorporate sex stuff into my comics, but it was always a secondary topic. Now, this year was a turning point and I decided to full on dive into using comics to talk about sex.

Comics are one of the most powerful teaching tools for education that exist, especially sex education. They’re so much more accessible than dry walls of academic or medical text that are explaining unfamiliar concepts and are accompanied by these alien diagrams, it’s so hard to relate them to your own body and social interactions. A comic combines text and image together in a really, attractive, appealing way. Plus, with a couple jokes thrown in, your audience feels like they’re included in a friendly conversation instead of being lectured at. It’s impossible to not read a comic when it’s in front of you.

So, this is my story. I never set out to be a full-time, self-employed sex cartoonist, but here I am and I’m doing work that I’m proud of, that’s important to me and helping people learn about a subject that I’m in love with. I’m pretty stoked.

To anyone that’s interested in creating comics, or any method of storytelling really, my one piece of advice is to tell the story that only YOU can tell. Every subject matter has already been covered, so it’s up to use your unique voice to engage your audience. Readers can tell when you’re being genuine, when you’re truly passionate about a subject. Even on topics that have been done a million time, you can still bring that fresh spark to it by telling it in the way that only YOU can.

Over the last fifteen years I’ve been telling MY stories with MY voice and by doing that my audience found me. They support me because they like what I have to say and the way I say it. So that’s why I think the best thing you can possibly do is to tell the story that only you can tell.

18 Oct 15:57

Invent your Resurrection

by Christina Rasmussen

I never liked the word bereavement. 

As a matter of fact…I don’t really connect with the word.

The word means nothing to me, to the pain, to my loss of identity.

For me that word belonged to an 80 year old person who lost her husband or parents due to old age and it was a natural place to be.

When I experienced many losses by the age of 34 I felt like there was no word to describe life being interrupted in such a shocking way when it was not supposed to be.

But above all there was no word to describe the transformation that took place after.

Our society failed my rebirth.

I had to invent my resurrection.

I had to come up with new terms and new definition of who I was.

I was certainly not a widow, not a victim, not a bereaved.

I was a life starter.

I was a butterfly.

I was a superhuman with superpowers that could evolve my life to a level that I could not possibly imagine.

But how come nobody got the memo.

How come nobody spoke of the truth of our soul’s ability to evolve after loss.

How come I became a lower grade human within my colleagues at work?

How come people avoided my presence?

How come I was not treated with respect because of my upcoming resurrection?

The world had missed the point.

All of it.

So here is the new norm.

The new status quo.

The new way to be.

If you have been abandoned by family, left by your spouse, lost your beloved, abused by a stranger, ignored at work, isolated by the world…

I WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS:

You have access to a very special portal.

A portal that will take you to a brand new life.

That life you cannot see from where you are right now.

That life can only be seen through your imagination.

The place where HOPE LIVES.

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That life gets created in there first and foremost.

Once you have the picture of how you want your life to be after loss, then you start taking steps.

And one thing I need to make clear is that these steps are small.

Your steps have to be tiny so you don’t activate your fear center in your brain and lose sight of your portal.

And when I say small I mean small.

Let me give you some examples of steps that will get you further into the portal.

  1. Singing in the shower when you would rather not.
  2. Doing highlights on your hair when the last time you went to the hairdresser was 2 years ago.
  3. Telling your neighbor to stop parking in front of your house.
  4. Setting up a dating profile and not publishing it.
  5. Browsing classes at your community college even if you have no intention of going back to school.
  6. Look in the mirror without looking away.
  7. Say I love you out loud to yourself even if you feel stupid.
  8. Find the sunrise and make sure you get up to see it rise.
  9. Find out how much it costs to belong to your local gym even if you have been telling yourself its too expensive and you don’t have time to go.
  10. Stop texting the friend you no longer like. Simple.

There is such a misconception about starting over.

You don’t have to win the lottery.

You don’t have to find a prince on the white horse and you certainly do not need to be 20 pounds lighter.

You just have to start with the list above.

And start expecting your new life to arrive earlier than you can possibly imagine.

Which action from the list above will you do today?

With bold small moves,

Christina

PS. My book Second Firsts just went on a second print 3 weeks before release. WOW. The book has been finding its way to all of you. Thank you for the photos. Thank you for your loving words. Thank you for helping me help millions of people. You have taken my breath away this week. If you have not grabbed your early copy yet, please do as soon as possible here and join my private online book club here

And keep sending me photos of you and the book. I love love to see you!

18 Oct 06:40

The Dirty Little Room

I grabbed her when she came out of her apartment building. I backed her up against the awning post and lifted her skirt to make sure she still had panties on. “Did you do as I said?” I asked and brought her fingers to my nose. “I tried,” she answered. I could faintly taste her pussy on the tips of her fingers. “Let’s go,” I told her, turning quickly and heading toward my car. “Back seat,” I said with a jerk of my head toward the door. She got in.

“What do you want?” she asked me as I slid behind the wheel, “What are we doing?” Earlier that day she told me she wanted me to take her. She wanted to be jumped. She wanted to feel dirty. “We’re going to my place,” I said, expecting her to be disappointed. Too safe. I smiled. “Take your panties off back there,” I whispered to her, “I don’t want you to come, but touch yourself.” She laughed a little. This was too easy. She does this all the time. I wasn’t sure if she rolled her eyes at me or not but her attitude was clear. She put one foot up on the seat. I saw her thigh and big black boot. She spread her legs wide for me and lifted her skirt. “Can you see me, baby?” she asked and licked two fingers before stroking her pussy, one hand holding her lips open so I could see her pink wetness. I wanted to pull over and suck on her but kept driving. Slowly.

She squirmed in the back seat. “Are you taking the scenic route?” she asked me, snotty. “You need to learn some patience,” I said. She was pushing it, “I might come if you don’t hurry.” She likes to fight back. “Don’t be so rude,” I said and drove past the exit to my house, “Now you have to wait longer.” I growled low at her. Grunting. I adjusted my jeans. My cock was jammed uncomfortably against my left thigh. I had a small rope in my pocket and one latex glove. No lube. She wanted to feel dirty tonight. She moaned in the back seat. “Don’t stop touching yourself,” I reminded her.

When we got to my place, I got out of the car. She didn’t move. I opened the back door. “What now?” she laughed, taunting me. “Get out,” I told her and walked to the sidewalk, waiting for her.

She took her time. Slowly, she made her way to me and started heading towards the house. “No,” I said, smiling, “Head that way,” and pointed to the back of the garage. She looked at me. I nodded. She didn’t know I had a room back there. Small. Storage. A dirty wooden planked floor. Perfect.

Inside, I shoved her up against the wall and kissed her hard while I undid my belt and pants. I ran my fingers through her hair and gripped her. I felt her scalp strain as I balled up a wad of hair in each fist. “Suck me off,” I said, pushing her to her knees. I saw her lips quiver. I don’t care about being sucked off really. I’ve told her that before. But I wanted her on her knees, uncomfortable. She took me deep into her mouth. I kept my grip firm. After a few minutes, I pulled out and rubbed my cock, wet with her spit, all over her face. She looked up at me with an open mouth. I ran the length of my shaft between her lips. She took me in her mouth for a few more minutes before I pushed her face down on the floor.

She pulled her skirt up and lifted her ass in the air for me. I spat several times in the palm of my hand and once let it hit her low back. Rubbing my spit on her pussy and then my cock, I felt my cunt throb for the first time that night. “You’re mine,” I said and she grabbed my cock to shove it inside her before I had the chance to do it myself.

I was up on my toes with my legs stretched long. My hands were palm flat on either side of her. I felt like a marine doing push-ups as I fucked her hard and fast. I wanted my body stiff and mechanical. I wanted to fuck her like a machine. Hard. Fast. My muscles burning within minutes. The sweat making my shirt stick to me. I picked up one hand and slowly pushed the side of her face harder and harder into the dirty floor covered in muddy boot prints. Her moans sounded desperate. A hurt animal. Unsatisfied. Unsatisfying. Loud. Just what I wanted.

She flipped over on her back and pulled on my ass to shove my cock deep inside her. I pushed her thighs up against her belly, leaning into them. Letting all my weight fall. I yelled out, refusing to fuck her any less hard even as my legs started to shake. I bent one knee and pushed my foot against the wall to get a better purchase. I needed to fuck her harder than either of us thought possible. I needed her spent and wasted like a shell casing. Exploded. Lost and gone. Done.

We fucked for a long time. I told her to jerk off for me while I held her ass on my thighs and watched my cock slide in and out of her. I shoved her off me and slipped the glove on my hand, fucking her with three fingers. Sliding easily in and out of her slick, wet pussy. I had to remind myself that we hadn’t used any lube. “So wet,” I thought. I fucked her too hard for her to come. Maybe she came once. I didn’t care. I didn’t ask. Eventually she shivered with cold and I wrapped my leather jacket around her, picked up her clothes, and walked her to my front door. Inside, I let her sleep. I held her head on my chest and pet her. I could see dust and bits of mud from the dirty floor in her hair. I wanted to fuck her again. Comfortably. In my bed. But that would wait until morning. She slept hard. Not moving in my arms for hours. I held her tight.

15 Oct 14:45

the solid core of loss upon loss.

by peace.love.free

‘Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”
Cheryl Strayed  - Dear Sugar

It’s true.  Not everything will be okay.  This is not okay.  It’s the deepest ache.   It’s a solid core of loss layered on top of loss.  I know it is.  But there you are in that small, quiet room, and although it – all of it – may not be okay – you will.

You will.

I feel this deep and true and right in the marrow of my bones.  You will be okay and more than okay and so much more than you could possibly know.  There will be love.  The kind of love that changes everything.  And maybe more heartache.  And so much laughter and breathless kisses and the hard fall of tears.  There is so much more ahead.  And it is so very good.  I promise.  I know this.

I hope that I get to see you love what you are.   To know yourself as gift and worth and truth.   That you see what a huge thing it is to have the courage to break your own heart.  That you have chosen wholeness – even when it has shattered you.  And that you will one day see that you can be whole and broken in the exact same spaces, that they nestle side by side – and that this is the way of things. Not your punishment for wrongdoing, or for not trying hard enough – but just the way of things.  That you can stand and look at yourself in a mirror and see your goodness right there, see the worth of what you bring on the surface of your skin, just like I do.  That you trust there is brilliance to come.  That you own what is yours to own, both the bad AND the good.  That you do not insist on owning it all.  It was never all yours to hold.  Release to the wind, love.  Let it be carried away on the breeze.  It does not serve you now.

I know you, and your darkness and your shadow and all the things for which you practice self-flagellation.  And I still see you as good, and true and strong and powerful and exquisitely present in this world.  You have not chosen the easy way.  Life has not granted you a gentle path.  Not even close.  But you have followed your own trail, again and again and again.  You have done what you needed to move forward.  You have placed one foot in front of the other and kept on going – even when that was the most difficult thing to do.  You have defined your space and your territory.  You have said  ‘This is mine.  You may not enter now’.  And you meant it.  And you stood by it, even when it was impossibly hard.

And all of this, my friend, is no small thing.  In fact, these are all very large things.  Infinite and powerful and true.

The voices in your head that say otherwise?  These are born not from truth but from the stories others have created for you.  These stories do not have to be yours.    Even if they once were, you need not accept them any longer.  Give them back.  Every last one.  You’ll write a new story now, on a blank page, with a new pen and in your own incomparable voice.

I wish for you so very much. Seaside wishes and spin the bottle daydreams. Lucky pennies and shooting stars.  A safe place to fall and a high place to leap from into the deepest pool of the clearest water.  That you shed the shackles of past and grief and loss and betrayal.  I hope you are possessiveness of your own wilderness.   That you stake your claim and encircle your space with charm and enchantment and only grant entrance to those who bring you fully alive.

I wish for you space to cultivate a relationship with your own divinity. No external god, but the divine that lives within your own stubbornly pulsing heart.    I wish you the energy and emotion of the greatest love affair, given as a gift to yourself. That you come home to the woman you are and the woman you are becoming.  And the I hope you find what it is to love another in your mother tongue, a love that requires no translation and only delivers the ease of being fully known and fully seen.   A love that brings you alive, that carries you home.

No mistake, this is the phoenix fire part.  The burning down to ashes part.  The preparing to rise again.    This is a space without anchor, without moorings.  Even the north star may be obscured by clouds.  But your compass lies within.  Your soul knows your truth north.  Can find it without map or directions.   You need only trust yourself enough to listen to the whispers of your valiant soul.

Lay your head in my lap, love. Tell me your stories.  The ones that have formed you into the gift that you are.  Now take a breath and let it go.  Let it all go.  Let the sea breeze carry it away.  Let your tears fall.  You will be held now.  You will be carried.  You can stop running.  You can cease the endless motion and constant struggle.  You can rest now.   You are safe.

And maybe, just maybe, now you can be still.

12 Oct 03:57

Desire So Thick

The martinis had come and gone and left us lazy. We were sleepy. So tired, but we wanted to fuck and exhaustion wouldn’t stop us. Every time we fuck I learn something new. Last night as she fucked me, I edged lower and lower off the mattress until my head was nearly on the floor, my arms holding on to the chair behind me. She had me in her mouth, sucking me off, holding my clit tight between her finger and thumb. My orgasm shot out of me and I hit her hard with a balled up fist. I came so hard, my desire felt like anger.

As I fucked her, I smacked her with such force I left dark, purple handprints on her ass. The blood vessels breaking beneath her skin with each wallop. “Feel me, baby,” I cooed behind her, “I want to see you feel it.” She nodded her head quickly. She’s very good. I fucked her hard like this, staring at her ass and her back laying flat in front of me until she twisted and stared into my face. “Sit back,” she said and shifted to sit in my lap. She jerked off while I played with her tits. She likes to watch my hands on her. I like to watch her play with herself. I like feeling her body rock against me. Simple. Dirty. 

When we fuck, it hangs in the air around us. Slow or fast. Soft or hard. Either way, this is thick business. I haven’t strapped my cock on for her in weeks. I’m too busy jamming my fingers into her pussy and making her suck them later. Hard. Angry desire comes out hard. Later I’ll be soft. So soft she’ll chase my fingertips. So soft she’ll roll her body side to side and moan. 

After she came last night, she drifted off to sleep. I lay beside her watching her breathe. I traced my fingers down her spine and woke her up. I needed more. 

"Come to me, sugar," I whisper. I don’t care if she hears me. I’m talking to her pussy. I curve over her, my face between her legs. I watch her clit swell with pleasure as I tease it. I say sweet things. I lick her tenderly and then pull my tongue behind my teeth. I rub her with my soft lower lip. She’s so good. I think those words over and over while I softly rub my mouth on the sweet folds of her pussy, "She’s so good." I fill my mouth with her, letting my breath brush her clit.  My tongue stays slow and soft as warm air. 

I love our shifts in mood. Hard. Soft. Control. Abandon. Love. Lust. Sometimes I want to be the one who knows her best and sometimes her attacker on the dark, deserted sidewalk. I fight her every time she pins me down but can’t deny how wet I am when she reaches into my underwear and slams her fingers inside me.

We fucked hard. I let her fall asleep before I woke her up again with a soft and tender desire. She came twice more. Maybe a third time. I told her I wanted more. I told her I wanted to fuck her all night. She asked me why I stopped.

Here’s my desire. Here’s how it builds. I grabbed her head tight between my hands and pressed my forehead against hers, spitting as I whispered, “I want you to sleep now. I want you to dream about me fucking you all night long. Dream about how I hold you on my lap. Dream about being pressed up against the plaster. Dream about my tongue. My fingers. My hand. My cock. My grip on your neck. Dream about how hard you want me. How crazy you make me. Dream it all night. Wake up exhausted by it. Wake up wet and sweating and needy.”

I said all that and more. I didn’t shut up for a long time. She fell asleep while I was still talking. I lifted the sheet off her chest and licked her tits softly enough not to wake her. I smelled my pussy on her chin and kissed her mouth. I licked the taste of her off my own fingers until I finally felt sleepy enough to settle down beside her and close my eyes. I felt her shaking me at three in the morning. Thick with desire. Asleep. Muddy. Slurring. I wondered if she was still asleep. She shoved my head under the covers and held my face against her pussy. I sucked her off until she shook all over. We didn’t say one word. She was dead asleep again before I rested my face against her neck.

11 Oct 19:01

How to be an everyday poly (and solo) ally

by aggiesez

alliesHey folks, it’s National Coming Out Day! Congrats to everyone who’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer — you’re wonderful, whether you’re out or not.

Of course, today isn’t solely about sexual orientation and gender identity/presentation. It’s also a day to celebrate being out as polyamorous, open, a swinger, solo by choice, asexual, kinky — and any other way in which you might not quite fit the standard social relationship escalator norm.

National Coming Out Day also celebrates our allies: people whose sexuality, gender presentation, or relationship approaches may not veer much from common social norms, but who also appreciate and embrace the fact that other people do things differently. Love was never one size fits all — and that’s a good thing for all of us.

Allies are people who don’t simply passively accept the existence sexual, gender, or relationship minorities. They acknowledge us. They welcome us. And they’re also willing to stand with us publicly and speak up on our behalf, in order to combat ignorance, stigma, discrimination, and even violence. They treat our lives, preferences and relationships as no less important or valid (or inherently healthy or unhealthy) than their own.

Allies are tremendously important to any minority community, mainly because they generally enjoy social privilege. Because privilege exists. It’s not inherently wrong or evil; it simply is. People didn’t ask for or earn the privilege they have; it’s bestowed upon them by social norms.

But if you do have some privilege — including monogamous or couple privilege — you might as well use it for good.

You don’t have to act like an activist, or be obnoxious, in order to be an ally. This is something you can do in small ways, every day (or on any day, if not all the time). You don’t need to march in Pride parades or write pro-polyamory or anti-couplehood op-eds. You can be an ally in the course of casual conversations and daily decisions, simply by modeling inclusive, accepting behavior.

If you enjoy monogamous privilege or couple privilege and are a poly/open ally, then you have an advantage: Other monogamous/coupled people will probably notice and listen more — and respect it more — when YOU speak up on behalf of ethically non-monogamous people, solo people, and their preferences and relationships! Hearing such inclusiveness from mono or coupled people is more likely to inspire general tolerance and acceptance (and combat ignorance and stigma) than when it’s just poly and solo people speaking for themselves. That’s just how the world works.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT an “If you’re not with us, you must be against us” situation. I’m not saying that people who opt not to do some/all of the tips below  all the time, or who disagree with some/all of these suggestions, are opponents or bad people. Conversely, neither am I saying that doing any of these things “proves” that you’re an ally.

I’m just saying: If you’d like the world to be a friendlier place for people who have nontraditional approaches to honest, ethical, mutually consensual intimate relationships (specifically poly/open), or who prefer solohood to escalator-style relationships, you can help create that change through small, everyday actions and interactions. You can model the behavior that can clue others in, which helps create a more inclusive society.

Tips for poly and solo allies

Here are some ways you can be a poly/open ally — and a solo ally — in your everyday life, in the real world:

Don’t assume that everyone is, should be, or wants to be monogamous. Try imagining that, say, every third person you know is poly. Your friends, your relative, your colleagues, the cop who just wrote you a traffic ticket. We’re all just people, and difference is a part of life. Monogamy is a good option — and it’s not the only one.

Don’t assume that couplehood or primary-style relationships are universal goals. Couplehood is important to many people. They enjoy — and seek — lifelong, cohabitating, socially recognized life partnerships. But couplehood doesn’t work for everyone, and not everyone wants it. Even people who are in couples may not want to ride the relationship escalator in a standard way — they may never want to live together, etc.

Don’t hypersexualize ethically nonmonogamous people. We are no more or less likely than anyone else to be sexually voracious/indiscriminate, or perpetually sexually/romantically available (seriously, we have lives and limits too!), or seeking casual hookups, or predatory, or willing to engage in deception or cheating (yeah, we’re generally serious about the “ethical” part), or “sex addicts” (which itself is a pretty biased concept — basically, anyone has/wants more sex than you think is “normal”), or even interested in sex at all (many asexual/demisexual people consider themselves poly/open). If a poly/open person invites you to coffee or offers to let you crash at their place, don’t automatically assume they’re hitting on you. React as you would when getting such an offer from any other person.

Don’t conflate love and commitment with exclusivity. Don’t assume that poly/open people, and also anyone who prefers to be solo, are averse to or incapable of deep emotional investment or lasting commitment in intimate relationships. Don’t assume that our relationships and partners mean less to us than yours do to you. Don’t assume that our breakups hurt less because we may have other partners at the time. Don’t assume that exclusivity is required for love or commitment to be “real,” valid, significant, “serious,” or healthy. Remember that plenty of exclusive relationships end up being shallow, fleeting, or unhealthy.

Similarly, when talking about love and commitment with people you believe are monogamous, don’t act like, or talk like, exclusivity and the relationship escalator are synonymous with emotional investment and commitment.

Don’t make the verbal evil eye. When someone mentions polyamory, don’t automatically say, “Well, I could never do that!” Seriously: do you feel the need to react that way when someone mentions that their religion is different religion from yours, or that they prefer a different type of dancing than you do? Unless someone is explicitly suggesting that you, personally, should try polyamory, don’t react as if they’re talking about you. You don’t need to defend or distance yourself from other people’s choices.

Don’t ask, “Can polyamory ever really work?” Let me answer this up front: ANY type of honest, mutually consensual relationship can be healthy and happy — or not. This includes monogamy. It all depends on the people involved. I’m sure you know that, monogamous relationships can be unhealthy, drama-prone, and detrimental, too. The potential for relationship dysfunction is equal opportunity. The main difference is that monogamy enjoys a ton of social, legal, financial, media and governmental support — which serves as exoskeleton, and as role modeling, and as discouragement from developing skills for dealing with diverse relationship types. All of this makes it much easier to enter into, and to stay in, a monogamous relationship.

Maybe you’ve asked this question because the only nonmonogamous relationships you’ve heard about are ones that have had messy breakups. Well, guess what? You probably hear more details about monogamous relationships with messy breakups, too. Healthy relationships are peaceful and boring; people don’t really talk about them much. Sex advice columnist/podcaster/author Dan Savage has a lot to say about why you don’t hear about successful open relationships.

Do take media portrayals of poly/open relationships with a grain of salt. Most mainstream media portrayals of polyamory focus on the couple+ model (implying that it’s mainly done by and for couples), and emphasize rules and hierarchy, or family-style polyamory where everyone lives together in one household. Speaking as a journalist, that’s lazy journalism: writing the story you already know how to write, rather than the one that exists. There has been some fair, accurate coverage of polyamory — but so far that’s the exception, not the rule.

And as for reality TV shows about polyamory: You know the “reality” in “reality TV” is always ironic, right?

Don’t assume that solo = lonely, or antisocial — or that someone’s only solo because they’re they “couldn’t land a partner.” In fact, many solo people (poly, open, or not) are involved in pretty significant, ongoing intimate relationships — just not escalator-track ones. Also, lots of solo people are really happy that way; and lots of partnered-up people are completely miserable.

Don’t assume someone is cheating if you see them out on a date, or being affectionate with, someone other than the spouse/partner you know about.

Don’t ask poly/open people rude questions about their sex life. Hey, if you’re monogamous, guess what? People probably assume that you have sex, too! (Or at least, that you want to — which shows how marginalized asexual people are, too.) Do you want them to ask you about your sex life?

Don’t out people as poly/open. Just because someone has outed themselves to you doesn’t mean they are out in general. Many poly/open people are selectively closeted — they’re willing to be out in some contexts, or with some people, but not others. And they should be the ones who decide when, how, and where they share this information. Poly/open relationships face a lot of stigma and judgment, and get no protection. People do get fired, ostracized, lose housing, lose professional advancement, lose child custody, and more for being ethically nonmonogamous. These risks are very real. You don’t get to decide which risks other people take. But by acting everyday to make the world a friendlier place for poly/open relationships, you are reducing those risks. (Thank you for that.)

Don’t perpetuate or tolerate polyphobic stereotypes and myths. Such as: all nonmonogamous people must have commitment issues, or be sex maniacs, or are hippies, or have low self esteem. Don’t say these things, and — more importantly — don’t just stand there silently when you hear others voice them. Say something. You can be nice about it. You can be gently educational or humorous. Or you can get pissed off if you want to. The point is to let people know those remarks and stereotypes are as wrong, and as damaging, as racism or sexism.

Don’t concern troll poly/open people. This is when you question/criticize/judge someone under the guise of acting “concerned” that their identity, choices, or behavior may cause harm to themselves or others. This happens to ethically nonmonogamous people a lot, and it’s really hurtful, patronizing, and insulting — even when it’s well meant.

Concern trolling is especially damaging when it comes from medical, legal, social services, or education professionals — it actively interferes with people gaining access to services or exercising their rights. Also, it’s common for poly/open people to concern-troll solo poly people.

Not concern trolling people mainly comes down to not asking stupid, biased questions, such as:

  • “Aren’t you worried that you’re more likely to get a sexually transmitted disease?” (Lack of testing, communication, honesty, and safer-sex skills and supplies are what increase your STI risk — not whether you’re monogamous. Plenty of mono people get STI’s — because very few people are 100% monogamous, and because monogamous people are probably less likely to be comfortable with or skilled at safer sex and sexual health communication.)
  • “Aren’t you worried that this is bad for your children?” (Parenting skills do not depend on monogamy. Single parents often get this same kind of concern trolling.)
  • “Don’t you feel like you’re missing out on having a real relationship?” (Nonexclusive relationships are just as “real” and valid as exclusive ones. In fact, you could argue that exclusivity of any kind might be more likely to cause you to “miss out.”)


Do acknowledge that ethical nonmongamy is an option.
When you get involved in discussions involving fidelity, monogamy, and cheating (because most people talk about these issues at least sometimes), mention that ethical nonmonogamy is a viable option. Or at least, don’t avoid mentioning it because other people might think it’s weird.

For instance, if someone is saying how another person is cheating on their partner, you might ask, “Are you sure this is cheating? Maybe they’ve agreed to have some kind of open relationship.”

Don’t believe in guilt by association. Stigma is only contagious if you buy into it. Are you concerned that if people knew that some of your friends, colleagues, family members, neighbors, etc. are poly/open, or that they prefer solohood — or that if they hear you speaking up on behalf of such lifestyles and relationships — then they might assume that YOU could be “that way” too? And that then they might start treating you like you’re weird/dangerous/flawed, and that you could be ostracized, judged, or otherwise suffer as a result? Let that go. You can’t control what others think.

Also try not to decide whether to invite/introduce/include people in your life or events on the basis of their lifestyle. That is, don’t worry: “Well, if I invite that poly/open/solo person to this party, what might people think that says about me?” Rather, consider this: If people were to judge you on that basis, what might that say about them?

Don’t issue “+1″ invitations. If you’re holding an event (like a wedding) where seating is limited, simply ask people to indicate how many guests, if any, they want to bring. Don’t imply that people should bring a date (and only one date) — as if attending solo is unwelcome. Similarly, don’t imply that people must choose among their significant others in order to attend your event. Issue invitations in waves, count the RSVP totals as they come in, and issue more invitations until you’ve reached your seating/space limit. Or better yet, build in flexibility to the number of people you can accommodate. Events that only accommodate people in pairs tend to be stultifying.

Don’t ask poly/open people, or people who prefer solohood, to conceal that aspect of themselves. Don’t say, “I’m fine with your lifestyle/relationships, but please don’t mention it to X” (my family, my dinner party guests, my kids, my friends, etc.) If you ever feel someone is inappropriately raising ANY topic (like Walter re Vietnam in The Big Lebowski), that’s a separate issue to address. But don’t assume that your poly friend/acquaintance mentioning their relationship(s) or lifestyles in a casual, non-sexually-explicit way is any more or less appropriate than other people mentioning that they’re married, dating, single, pregnant, etc. And if your family/guests/etc. react strangely to such mentions, you can be an ally by demonstrating through your behavior that consensual, ethical nonmonogamy or a preference for solohood are no big deal. Let your family, etc. deal with their own reactions; you are not responsible for managing them.

Do watch your language. Even poly people fall back on couple-centric and hierarchical language and concepts. Be aware of them, and be willing to catch and correct yourself when you do it.

Do educate yourself about polyamory in general (the Polyamory Weekly podcast especially rocks), monogamous privilege, solo polyamory, swinging (and where swinging shades into polyamory), couple privilege, the relationship escalator, and the perspective of non-primary partners. And share those resources with others!

…That’s my list so far. What would you add? Please comment below. I’ll be revising this list as new stuff comes up, so consider this a living document.

Thanks to the many allies of polyamory, open relationships, and other approaches to ethical nonmonogamy. We really appreciate you, every day, for supporting us in everyday ways.


11 Oct 05:51

.self-care.

by peace.love.free

buy a lavender plant.  fall asleep with sprigs of it on your chest.  breathe it deeply, all the way inside.  back to the mat, no exceptions.  fall asleep in savassna.  cry in pigeon.  laugh out loud in happy baby.   mascara and groomed brows, always.  red lipstick when you need it most.  save your highest heels for the days you feel the lowest.  wear clothing as costume.  match it to your mood.  chin up.  best foot forward.   find comfort in words and wine and the women who love you.  leave your comfort zone, at least once a week.  dance alone in the living room, at least once a day.  guyatri by candlelight.  inhale.  exhale. inhale again.  do the work. do the work. do the work.    spin your hoop, your hips, your dreams.  mountain top church every wednesday – never you mind the unmet dreams, you still can kiss the sky.  cuddle sleeping children.  remember why you are here.  remember yourself. remember yourself.  remember yourself.  feet to pavement, music blasting in ears, forget everything but the run.  cultivate presence.  become fierce about your autonomy. take long drives with the windows down.  bless everything, even your regrets.  accept your regrets and allow them to teach you.   welcome admiration but decline the pedestal.  make friends with your unmet hope and allow it to guide you.  kiss your solitude and allow it to work through you. let the sadness flatten you.  stay in bed until it lifts.  do not rush your grief. do not rush your grief.  do not rush your grief.  tidy your space before bed, know it as an act of love.  be infinitely tender.  show up for others.  live out loud.  live  as the personification of wide –open-vulnerable-crazy-free.   stick your landings.  live in kindness.  keep a prayer candle burning for someone at all times.  give thanks, every day.  practice intentional, loving touch.  om namo guru dev namo.  make your bed tightly with the brand new sheets.  when your naked skin slides inside them for the first time, know it as a gift to yourself.  honor the divinity that is everywhere. get down with your inner badass.  turn off your phone, and your computer and your mind.  find your heart center and send it compassion. see the holiness in everyone you meet.  honor it.   know your worth.  know your worth.  know your worth.   accept no less.  become familiar with the space where compromise is unkind.  nuture your exquisite loneliness.  let it teach you.  light candles at every opportunity.  always wear perfume, it helps you remember yourself.  touch your inked ribs lightly when you forget who you are.  let yourself be moved.  seek out art.  surround yourself with artists, creative, deep thinkers, high divers and earth shakers of all kinds.  accept gifts offered with whole heart, even when such acceptance is difficult.  stop behaving.   eat food that nourishes body and soul.  cook with those you love.  seek perspective.  do not chastise yourself for believing and dreaming and trying.  open yourself always to love. know your body as holy, your want as holy and your shattered heart as whole.  continue to believe in lucky pennies, shooting stars and signs from the universe.  get rid of what does not serve. let go of what no longer feels like you – clothing, decorations, people.  holding on just fills up space that could be put to much better use.  hold tight to that which brings you to your highest realization of self.   ground your feet to the earth, at least once a day.  reach for the sky every night.  sit in the quiet darkness and let your mind go wild.  find quiet peace in the midst of chaos.  drink as many lattes as you want.  own your losses, wear them clean.  write the letter, speak the truth, unleash your voice.  let the music be your mourning and your memory.  let the music be your celebration and your reclamation.  let the music be.  let it wind it’s way through you.  let it all wind it’s way through you.  it will anyway, so don’t try to fight.  it’s okay if you fight.  remember your inherently flawed humanity exists nestled side by side with your inborn divinity.  forgive yourself everything.  and make sure you don’t forget buy a lavender plant.  fall asleep with sprigs of it on your chest.  breathe it deeply, all the way inside.  it makes all the difference in the world.

 

 

07 Oct 08:32

Seven (Random) Suggestions for Dominant Types!

by Mollena Williams
Bonus freebie? Don't be a dickhead.

Bonus freebie? Don’t be a dickhead.

There is no one rulebook for how to do this thing we call BDSM, Power-Exchange, Master/Slave relationships, etc., etc. One of the things I most enjoy about perverts is our limitless capacity to forge our own damn path, thank you very much! I’ve done a lot of weed-whacking through the jungles of kink in order to find ways that work for me.

I have observed many successful and many more unsuccessful forays into power exchange relationships. And I can report back with a few nuggets of wisdom on which you can nibble as you see fit. You may even dunk the wisdom nuggets in the sauce of sagacity. Whatever.

And yeah, the fact is, all of these can be applied to you regardless of which side of the slash is yours. Top or bottom, dominant or submissive, master or slave, owner or owned, you can twist these tips around to suit you. Think of them as launch pads, if you will, for your own explorations and discussions.

Yeah yeah, I know each and every one of you D-Types are special snowflake lone Alpha-wolves, running along the dark paths of kink , howling at the moon, sniffling the tender flesh of nubile submissives, and doin’ your own thang. Respect. Mad props to ya. But keep in mind? With power comes responsibility. You can call the shots all you want. But without humility, discipline and flexibility, it’s not likely you’ll be the boss of anyone for very long.

Over my years involved in kink circles, I’ve noticed that some dominant-types take pride in not taking advice from anyone, insisting that they make the rules and it is the responsibility of the submissive to adjust themselves and adhere to their world-view. And ultimately, yes: the master masters, and the slave slaves. But without negotiation, compromise and compassion? The stage is set for breakdowns, conflict and the corrosion of resentment.

Feel free to add your own off-the-cuff recommendations and thoughts of helpful hints in the comments! I’m always looking to hear what works for other kinksters!

Insist on having your submissives tell you what is really going on for them…and listen without defensiveness.

It can be amazingly difficult for us submissive types to open up on tough things. One of the ways that you, as the one in charge, can facilitate a safe space is to not only let us let you know where we are emotionally, but to make it our responsibility to do so. If you create safe space, encourage and insist upon hearing the feedback, keep it flexible; being encouraging and supportive means that the lines of communication are healthy and open and strong.

I was in a long-distance relationship with one of them dominant type guys. One of the hardest things I had to do, when we were initially seeing if any of this would work out, was for me to share with him my overwhelming doubts about the likelihood that this relationship would work at all. We don’t live in the same state, he’s quite poly, and happily married. I’m…not really poly. I enjoy playing with friends, sure, but I only find myself opening up for love and deep connection with one person at a time. I swore I’d never do an LDR (long-distance relationship) again, and the whole thing just seemed a fool’s errand. He acknowledged that it was a challenging situation, and that the only way it could work is if there was a high degree of emotional transparency. This meant talking about the hard feelings as they happened. Not letting resentment pile up and miscommunication become fodder for issues down the road. Directly ordering this sharing was a way for me to tap into the reflexive obedience I felt toward him and ensure I was set on a path to become comfortable and feel safe telling him how I was doing. Not only when I was feeling lost, adrift or unsettled, but also when things were working. This is reinforced by his consistency in hearing what I have to say, and respecting me enough to try his best to provide me with answers to my questions and to remain candid when there were NOT tidy, clear-cut answers.

Apologize specifically for your fuckups and missteps, and talk about how to avoid repeats.

Too many people have this “the dominant is always right” attitude. You are human. Humans are fallible. Putting yourself on a pedestal only means you have that much further to fall. Taking responsibility for yourself reinforces that you can take responsibility for us as well. There is an inherent risk to this level of maturity, and that is that you are indeed partnered with someone who sees apologies or acceptance of poor decision making as a sign of weakness. Or some such bullshit. Fact is, you have a right to be wrong. And you have a right to be forgiven for your mistakes and to learn from them.

Taking the stance that your errors are simply to be accepted by those in service to you and you owe them neither apology nor reparations for your mistakes is not going to serve you well. Humility and humanity are vital facets to being the type of dominant or master who commands loyalty out of love and respect rather than fear and intimidation.

Say “Please” and “Thank you.”

No you don’t have to. But doing so is a gracious gesture. And a gracious ruler gains the hearts and minds of their followers. Emotional largesse will gain you faithfulness. It sure as hell can be fun to be dehumanized, taken advantage of, reduced to chattel property and treated like a piece of meat. Like, really REALLY hot…to be treated like a slatternly, desperate creature, fit only to be used and then carelessly tossed aside, shuddering in a corner, awaiting the caress or cudgeling from a stern-eyed slave-driver…

…but I digress.

Yeah, the fantasy can be hot. In reality, keeping that up all of the time is taxing and actually not the way many of us want to live. If common courtesies are not your cup of tea? Awesome! Specify that. But respect, courtesy and gratitude are very, very sexy. I find it of profound beauty when someone who could order me hither, thither and yon without second thought actually takes the time to extend to me those small courtesies. Treat me with respect and courtesy and I’ll go to the ends of the earth for you.

Acknowledge your submissive’s service to you.

Again, you don’t have to. But again, being seen by the people we serve is a precious emotional jewel that we hold close to our hearts and that feeds and sustains us as we grow in service. For me? Hearing “good girl” is its own unique reward. It is so very, very important for me to hear positive reinforcement while I am in service. Plus, frankly, it makes me wibbly in my nibblybits. And believe you me, when my nibblybits are wibbly, I am putty in your hands.

If correcting missteps is the only time you give us feedback? You’re setting the stage to place the people in service to you in a particularly vulnerable position. Rather than coming from a place of self-assurance and positivity, it can generate an atmosphere of mistrust and fear.

Many people strive to provide what is commonly known as “anticipatory service.” This means being able to look ahead and see what will be needed before the person you’re serving has even realized that they have the need. This isn’t the purview of mind-readers, and it doesn’t happen overnight. One of the ways that dominants and masters can facilitate this flow is to let those in service to you know when they’ve pleased you. From there we can extrapolate what else along those lines may work in service, and those strokes to our submissive and slavish souls go a long way in solidifying the power-exchange dynamic!

Be consistent.

It might seem less than exciting but consistency in your behavior provides the structure that many of us actively seek. I have a seemingly endless amount of mental and emotional energy. I can drive myself like a pack-mule for weeks… hell, months and years at a time. However, focus and direction isn’t something that comes naturally for me. One of the things I struggle with is consistency and structure. I look to external sources for this structure. Not because I am weak and can’t do for myself, but because I am strong enough to realize that I flourish in a place where my energy is harnessed and channeled by another. I value emotional consistency. I need to trust that the person to whom I give authority over me will maintain boundaries, continue to provide guidance, and be there for me… for us… regardless of how the winds may blow.

Consistency in behavior is also important! If you insist on certain protocols, follow-up. If you set up an expectation, maintain that connection. One of the common issues I hear from submissives when they experience frustration in their PE relationships is that they are given a set of expectations, assignments, protocols, rules and regulations…and then there is no follow-up or accountability. In my first d/s relationship, I was ordered to keep a daily “service diary.” I was advised that my dominant would be checking up on it, that it would be a place for me to safely share my day-to-day, so that he would have access to my thoughts even when I wasn’t necessarily able to communicate them in the moment. Weeks, months…eventually 2 years passed and never once did my dominant ask to see my service diary. This generated feelings of resentment, and I felt like I wasn’t valuable to him, and that this assignment was merely busywork. Knowing that you will follow through of that which you give us to do, and value our effort, is priceless.

Tell us what you’re feeling.

Yeah the big tough dominant thing is a hot and sexy image. But knowing about your process and emotional state creates intimacy and lets us trust you with our intimate thoughts and feelings as well. When you are involved in an intimate relationship, sometimes you don’t even have to hear the emotions of another spoken aloud to know when something is amiss, or when they are simmering with joy. Regardless? Letting those in service to you or owned by you in on your emotional state is absolutely necessary. Lets say you have a rough day at the office. You come home, you’re in the mood to just flop down and be left alone, and Mother Theresa herself, bearing a plate of fresh-baked cookies or an icy cold beer or whatever couldn’t cheer you up. In comes your slave, eager to serve you and unaware of your preexisting mental state. Your energy is ruffled, you dismiss them, and you know what the first thing is that goes though their head?

“What did I do wrong??”

Yeah yeah, the world doesn’t revolve around us. But when something goes off-kilter? It often can feel like it does. Believe me, I have worked very fucking hard to shed that thought process but I still feel shadows of that reaction when I am not connecting well with someone if I am in service to them.

Letting us know when you are feeling off, of stressed, or ready to kick-ass and take names, or thrumming with joy means we have a window into your world. We can be better prepared to give you space when you need it, and share in your life with a healthy respect for your feelings. And it assists in us being able to not take personally and absorb difficult emotions when they have nothing to do with us.

Laugh!

Humor goes so very far in salvaging tough times and makes good times even better. BDSM can be serious, heavy, challenging, and tough. It can also be silly and fun. Remembering your sense of humor and sharing in laughter, even through tears, is a beautiful way to keep joy alive.

And yanno what else?

Laughing at yourself once in a while won’t kill ya either.

08 Oct 01:02

My Introduction To Rape Culture

by Charlie Glickman

I remember exactly when I first understood what “rape culture” meant.

I was nineteen and a sophomore in college. I was talking with a woman I knew about gender and sexual politics, and I just wasn’t getting it. She was describing what it was like for her to move through the world as a woman, to be constantly under sexual surveillance, to always be worried about whether some guy would harass or attack her, to never know if she could walk down the street without getting cat called. This was pretty foreign to me, because I’d never seen any of this happening.

Partly, that was because I’d never really fit in with most other boys and I didn’t understand how the performance of masculinity encourages boys and men to compete with each other to demonstrate their manhood. I simply didn’t play those games. But more than that, it was because men don’t do the same things when they see a woman with a man. I had no idea that women’s experiences walking down the street were so different when I wasn’t there.

So my friend gave me a challenge that changed my life. She offered to walk down the street on a weekend night and allow me to walk behind her so I could see what happened. I took her up on it and the next Friday night, out we went. She was dressed in pretty standard “going out” clothes and we headed out to the strip of stores, bars, and restaurants that most college campuses seem to have within walking distance. I stayed about twenty feet behind her- close enough to observe without seeming like we were together. And I was shocked at what I saw.

Individual guys whispered or made comments about her as she passed them. They’d ask her where she was going or simply turn and stare at her ass. Groups of guys were worse, though. I could see them checking her out and talking to each other about her body and appearance. A few times, one guy in a group would say something and the rest of them would laugh while staring at her. And twice, one guy said something, followed by another guy escalating either the volume or the message, with another dude chiming in. I could see them all competing with each other to be the most macho, not caring that their games were at the cost of my friend’s feelings of safety.

It was an eye-opening experience for me. It was the first glimpse I got at the crap that women have to put up with, simply for moving through the world. I started paying attention to it more and thought about how I would feel if I couldn’t go anywhere in public without having to think about getting harassed, how I would feel if I couldn’t feel safe walking down the street. If a picture is worth a thousand words, getting to see this for myself was worth so much more.

Over time, I came to see that I needed to do more about this than simply not participate in it myself. In my workshops on sexuality, masculinity, and gender, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds about these topics. And one pattern that consistently shows up is that there are a lot of cisgender men who act like this without realizing the impact it has. Many of them are so surrounded by the Act Like a Man Box that they see it as totally normal. Some of them would like to break out of it, but they don’t know how and don’t have the support to do it. And a lot of them are scared to change because other people will attack and shame them back into the box. It’s not just men who reinforce this prison.

I also started to understand the connections between street harassment and sexual assault. One of the common threads is the belief that one person’s desires for sex, sexual attention, or validation as a man outweighs another person’s autonomy, safety, and consent. Another is that very few folks are actually teaching boys and young men about respect. Most of the conversations that I’ve seen center on shaming them without giving them the skills they need to navigate relationships. What if we could actually talk with boys about how to ask for sex, or ways to flirt without being creepy? I know some parents who are doing this, but the “boys will be boys” attitude is still common. Just as most people shy away from talking with girls about these issues out of discomfort with addressing adolescent female sexuality, we also avoid looking at adolescent male sexuality with any clarity. So is it any surprise that people grow up confused about relationships? Is it all that shocking that many of my coaching clients struggle with these same issues as adults?

I’m deeply grateful to my friend for showing me what rape culture is about. For helping me understand that the world she moved through was so different from the one I moved through. For making it possible for me to take my first steps towards understanding what she and other women deal with every day. If you’re a cisgender man, I really encourage you to ask a friend if she’d be willing to do this experiment with you. Trust me. It’ll change your life.


The post, My Introduction To Rape Culture, is from Charlie Glickman's website.
09 Oct 04:43

15 Things to do when you wake up sad on your 38th birthday:

by peace.love.free

IMG_3589web

1. When you wake and feel the sadness flood you, take a moment to honor your broken heart.  She is wise and powerful.  She is never anything but exactly what is needed.   She will break and break and break again, and still choose love.  You know this.  Do not pretend otherwise.  Cynicism is not for you, nor lack of hope.   What has been reborn now will refuse to die.  Nurture it and let it live.  Even unmet hope is a blessing.  Want teaches, if we let it.

2. Go back to bed for a while.  Let her hold you.  She is here and present and knows the truth of the pain and the comfort of human arms.  Trust in what is offered out of friendship and without expectation.  Know that you can take comfort in each other and have that be enough.   Nestled bodies, mirrored pain.  It is good to be seen and held in this space.  Let it be good.  We are human and we crave touch.  There is no shame in this.  Find sleep again for a brief time.   Give yourself over to it because you need it badly, more than you need to work right now.

3. Shower.  Let the water wash you clean.  Instead of frustration at the continued lack of hot water in this apartment, trust that the coolness is purposeful today.  It is not heat that you need.  Not the steam rise but the grounding down.   Let the cool water bring you down from the rush and the height.  Let your feet feel their connection to the earth.  Resist the temptation to float above yourself now.  You need to go deep inside of this.  Feel the shiver rise along your skin.  Hug your arms tight around your naked body.  Allow yourself to feel exactly what you are feeling.  Alone.  Cold.  Grieving.  Fiercely alive.  Raise your face to the spray.  Raise your heart to the truth.  Raise your entire being to the day that lies ahead.

4. Get dressed.  Choose the tight blue pencil skirt that hugs every inch from knee to lower ribs.  Add a cropped white lace shirt. It stops a fraction of an inch above the skirt and shows bare skin through it’s weave and the truth inked on your ribs when you move.  Your heart will show today anyway, this sliver of raw skin seems only honest.  Gold jewelry.  Pile it on.  Carefully.  Take time with the clasp of the bracelet, with the slide of ring over knuckle.  Feel the necklace around your neck.  The stamped words, a purposeful reminder today.  Choice within Grace.  Grace within Choice.  Feel your adornment as purposeful.  Blow-dry your hair into a sleek, straight submission.   Find the hard edge within the soft fall.  Be careful with your makeup.  Glossy red lips and black-rimmed eyes, for certain.  Spanish Amber on wrists and collarbone and behind the ears, the scent of your own seduction.  Slip on high heels.  Let the line of your leg from calf to hip to waist make them want.  This is your right.

5. Go to the coffee shop.  The one that always holds space for your best words.  Sit on the faux leather couch because there is absolutely nowhere else to be.  Look around.  See the brick walls, the old door propped inexplicably against the wall.  The concrete floor.   The exposed beams and ductwork.  See the people.   Really see them.  Allow yourself that luxury.  Catalogue them one by one.   Know that they live and grieve and love and bleed.  Know that they have woken up sad, just like you.  They are whole. They have been broken. Someone in this room is walking dead. Someone is full of resilient hope.   What lives behind the façade?  Nobody really knows.  They do not know when they see you either.  Can you show them?  Can you make the naked pain visible on your face?  Will this bring more humanity to this day?  Yes?  Then do it.  Let tears fall right there when a song comes on that brings memory to surface, or when kindness from a love takes you off guard.  There is no shame in deep feeling.  Stop believing this is so.  It is a story that does not serve.

6. Do the work.  The work that is your purpose on earth.  Make manifest the story in your heart and let the words flow onto the screen.  Live raw and wide and vulnerable inside of those words, as if there were no other choice.  There is no other choice.  You know that.   You make a life out of art and art out of your life.  You are blessed, you are blessed, you are blessed.  Feel that through your sadness.  Know that beyond the edges of your grief.   It is luxury and gift, hard won and fiercely claimed.  Let nobody diminish this for you.  Do not relinquish your right to this life.  The words?  They are why you are here.  Do not ignore them today; let them guide you exactly where you need to go.

7. When he brings you gluten free muffins and a homemade card, stop your work and be grateful for the solidity of friendship.  When she stays with you almost all day, not because she has to but because she can, feel the gift of her presence.  When lunch is bought for you, healing vegetable soup, be thankful for generosity.  When a flattering text comes in out of the blue from someone in the next room, accept it as deserved, and smile and blush and feel how lovely it is to be admired.  When you pick them up at school and they greet you with joy and homemade cards, be aware of the gift and the grounding and purpose of motherhood.

8. Look at your daughters.  Look at them, whole and flawed and goofy and amazing and wild and knowing and resilient.  Know that life will bring them pain, and one day someone will break their gentle hearts.  And that one day they will likely be the one to bring someone else’s gentle heart it’s own shatter.  Know also that those hearts will beat as stubborn and true as yours does, because this is all they will have ever seen.  Their entire lives.  Wide open love.  Giving fullness.  Living from center.   Compromise and trust and faith and a commitment to kindness and the perfect knowing of their own wild souls.  Let that be your truest gift to the universe.

9. Make a date with yourself and keep it.  Heed the call for the burn of needle that comes at times like these.  Follow the voice that tells you to mark this day of (re)birth with ink on bone.    Know which words are right.   Take yourself there alone.  There are things one does with others and paths that must be walked without company.  For you, this is a solitary space.  Make the plan.  You will bare your skin.  Lie still.  Find your breath.  Find your breath.  Find your breath.  Let the pain guide you to your center.  Allow it to travel to your edges.  Typewriter font on ribs this time.  A proclamation of uncompromising selfhood.   A commitment ceremony to spirt and soul and purpose.    I am this, body and soul. Burn me, drown me, tell me lies, I will still be who I am.

10. And then, when the plan does not work.  When the schedule runs behind and you show up late and the artist has gone home and the ATM does not work and your credit cards won’t release an advance and you start to realize that it will not happen, let your shoulders fall and allow yourself the disappointment.   There are some things we want that are not ours to be have.  Some weeks will not provide you with what was wanted, regardless of how deep your desire runs.  Do not deny yourself this simple heartache.  All of grief demands it’s own expression in it’s own time.  Suppression is only a delay of the inevitable.

11. Take yourself home.  See the prayer candle burning on your patio.  Kneel before it.  A most holy death.   Reverence.  Endings before beginnings.  Beginnings hidden inside of the end of things.  The resilient flame, almost 24 hours old.  A letting go that stays steady. This is sometimes the way of things.  We can say goodbye and still hold true to what is true.  We can release love to be what it will be and yet still love in wholeness and fullness.  The flame calls you to honesty.  The light illuminates the pathway home.  Sometimes to die is the only way to find continued life.    A song plays in the background at random.  Be Still.  Be Still.  Be Still.  Yes, maybe now you can be still.

12. Fill your home with candle flame.  Light every one in the house until the glow fills every corner.  Sit by yourself.   Alone by choice this night.  Because there are nights when alone is the only true thing we can possibly be.  When company and laughter and talking would be more false that we can bear.  Avoid the music that holds the core of this story.  Avoid it fully and completely, until you can avoid it no more.   And then let it play.  Turn it up.  Fill yourself with it until the tears come.  And then let them come.  Let them fall.  Let them shake your shoulders and pound your heart and twist your body.  This life, it is not as you imagined it.  Full of blessings upon blessings, oh holy yes.  And holding grief upon grief intermingled with the good.   There is room for both.  For holy gratitude and the depths of sadness that runs like groundwater beneath it all.   Embrace the complexity.  Own the paradox.  Right in the center of this space is the core of all that there is.

13. Sit down to write.  In the dark.  Let your fingers fly across the keyboard in a way they have not in months.  Feel the freedom of truth spill.  See what can be released with the tears.  It is always interesting to learn what lies on the other side.  Grief fully unleashed is it’s own wild muse.  Just you and the candlelight and the words.  With all of your unmet dreams and all the hope that refuses to die.  With the visions and the knowing and the disappointment and the grief and the blessings and the want and the quiet and the spaciousness and the light and the darkness and the music and the yearning and the truth and the love and the love and the love.

14. Know, in the end, it is only the love that will ever matter.  Know this in your bones.  Know it as the only truth.   Know it as purpose and meaning and light.  Know it as you know yourself.   Deep and solid and whole. This is your 38th birthday.  It is only one day in a long line of many days you have been granted.  Only one of many you will hopefully be given.  Give thanks, even for this sadness.  It is proof that you are alive.  And this, in the end, is the one holy gift for which we must always be grateful.

15. When fatigue finally comes do not fear the dark.  Let your body feel the honest weariness in your bones.  Let it take you over.   Blow out the candles one by one, except the prayer candle outside that lights the way home.  Remove your adornments as carefully as your placed them on your body.  Hang up your clothing and tidy your space.  Dismantling what was created in love can be as much of an offering as the building, if you let it. Turn off the ringer on your phone.  Let the quiet be our gift to yourself.   Slow your breath.  Feel it steady and sure.  Hear your own heart beating as clear and true as ever.  Sink into the cool white sheets. Feel the air of the fan on your naked skin.   Surround yourself with pillows.  Curl onto your side.    Let the quiet of this night be its own gift.  But do not go to sleep without blessing it all.

Blessed be this worthy sadness.  Blessed be this knowing love.  Blessed be the finding home.  Blessed be the kitchen slow dance.  Blessed be the magical sunset. Blessed be the strong arms.  Blessed be the true north.  Blessed be the unmet hope.  Blessed be the unwavering light.  Blessed be the hard goodbye.  Blessed be this holy life.

Blessed be.  Blessed be.  Blessed be.

06 Oct 21:06

Slippery language and couple-centric polyamory

by aggiesez

This guest post is by Eve Rickert, who is co-authoring a new book on polyamory with Franklin Veaux. On the date of this post, they wrappied up a crowdfunding campaign for their forthcoming book by the same name — surpassing their goal of $19,800 to raise a total of $22,757. The extra funding will help support a book tour. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

Eve writes:

I’m writing a book on polyamory called More Than Two. I’m writing it with my sweetie Franklin Veaux, who since the late 1990s has been writing a popular polyamory resource website of the same name.

At the time Franklin started writing his website, couple-centric polyamory was the norm, and primary/secondary hierarchies were more-or-less assumed. His posts such as Secondary’s Bill of Rights were pretty radical at the time they were published. Fortunately, they are less so now.

For the first two decades or so of his romantic life, Franklin himself practiced polyamory in a hierarchical, couple-centric fashion. And I came to polyamory through opening up an eight-year monogamous marriage.

Part of what Franklin and I are trying to do with our book is to reflect the real diversity of structures and approaches that polyamorous people adopt. We’re trying to break free from the couple-centric approach that has long characterized so much of the writing and discourse about polyamory, even on Franklin’s own site. In this process, we’re learning that language can be very slippery. Many common phrases that poly people use — even those who don’t practice hierarchical polyamory — reflect a couple-centric viewpoint. It’s damn hard to root these out.

I’m an editor by profession. Part of my job is to make sure that an author’s true meaning shines through — sometimes in spite of the authors themselves. This includes being alert to sneaky phrases that could imply something other than what I know the author intends. Consequently, I must stay very keenly attuned to all the possible meanings of the language I’m editing.

When I’ve picked up my red pen, so to speak, for the early draft chapters of More Than Two, the book, a few phrases leaped out at me. Now that I noticed them, I’m seeing them everywhere. They’re by no means unique to our writing. These common phrases pop up over and over again on blogs, in articles and on forums. And it’s time for them to go.

Here are five examples of common couple-centric phrases from the polyamory lexicon:

1. “Dating a couple.” This phrase marks the obvious place to start. By pointing it out, I’m also picking on Franklin a little (he knows), since this is the title of a popular page on his website. True, that essay unpacks many of the couple-centric attitudes people in couples can bring to dating — but still he resorts to the phrase in a prominent way.

The phrase “dating a couple” can mean one of two things:

  • You are dating both members of an established couple.
  • You’re dating someone who is also part of an established couple.

Either way, the phrase “dating a couple” has the weird effect of negating the people within the couple. It turns the couple into a unit, and implies one relationship — when in fact there are three.

Also, isn’t it interesting how the person doing the “dating” of that couple gets to remain an individual, while the people in the couple lose their individuality? In practice, this can be what happens. For instance, people who are coupled up often assume that the people in the established couple must make all decisions jointly — or that someone who dates one of them must date both of them.

Nevertheless, I propose that people DO NOT date couples! People date other people — who may, sometimes, also happen to be part of a couple (or triad, or other established partnership).

2. “Entering a relationship.” This phrase occurs on the same page in Franklin’s website, but it’s incredibly common. Most recently I spotted it in the title of this article: How to Treat a New Person Entering Your Existing Relationship.

Another twist on this phrase is “join a relationship.” Recently (and unexpectedly) I got into a bit of a firestorm on Twitter for uttering what I thought would be the relatively uncontroversial view that you don’t “enter a relationship,” you create one.

Whenever you begin any new relationship, all of your existing relationships will be affected — as will all the existing relationships of your new partner(s). Similarly, you may help create or expand a social unit that you may call a tribe, family, network, polycule, and so on. Any such configuration is a network of relationships — but not a single aggregate relationship, per se. While you may forge new relationships within such a network (as well as affecting other existing relationships) you do not “join” that relationship.

Franklin has pointed out something quite telling: Poly people often will say that a new person is “entering” a couple’s relationship, but almost never that a couple is “entering” the new person’s relationship — even if the new person also has other partners. This choice of words is especially problematic. It implies that the couple’s relationship (the one being entered, of course) is inherently the more significant, or “real,” relationship. Also, the new person can enter or leave — but they do not have the option of forging their own distinct relationship.

3. “All the members of a relationship.” This has also been expressed as “everyone involved in a relationship,” and keeps turning up in our early drafts of chapters and blog posts — as well as in various places online (including on Franklin’s website).

I actually believe — perhaps ironically, given that the title of our book is More than Two — that every relationship contains exactly two people (a dyad, in sociological terms).

For instance: I have relationships with my partners, and they have relationships with each other, and I have relationships of various sorts with my partners’ other partners. All of these dyadic relationships affect each other. But my globe-spanning, 50-person-plus romantic network is not “a relationship” — and neither is the little four-person group comprising me and my three partners.

When you think about this, it should be intuitive. You have relationships with each of your parents (that is, assuming you do) — but you are not “a member” of “their” relationship. Why should it be different with intimate relationships?

Focusing on dyadic relationships actually helps me a lot in navigating tricky poly situations. I think phrasing that refers to relationships as containing more than two people arises from the same place as “entering a relationship” — the presumption that the couple’s relationship is the “real” one (or at least, the more important one), and that other relationships are mere add-ons.

4. “Outside relationships.” The established couple is “inside,” the others are “outside,” get it? Recent I’ve seen this used in LiveScience and, well, all over the place if you participate in any poly discussion groups.

Franklin has done a pretty good takedown of the use of the word “outside” to refer to partners, and what it means: So What Is Couple Privilege, Anyway?. I have heard the phrase “other relationship” used, as well, and it’s slightly better, but not much.

There’s pattern emerging, isn’t there? The couple’s relationship is the “real” relationship. New partners can “join” or “enter” it, thus becoming a “member” of that relationship — or perhaps they will be an “outside” relationship.

And finally…

5. “More than two.” The title of Franklin’s site and our forthcoming book presents some challenges. At first I hadn’t really thought of it as couple-centric. I mean, it just means more than two, right? In monogamy, you’re only supposed to have two people involved with each other romantically; but with polyamory, you get to have more! Sounds simple.

But recently someone mentioned to me that they think More than Two sounds couple centric — and on reflection, I see their point. What might this phrase communicate to people who are new to the idea of poly?

First of all, More than Two might imply that “two” is still the default unit. The simple fact that “two” is a prominent word in the title pushes “two” forward as a concept — perhaps even making “two” appear more concrete than “more.”

Also, this phrasing can conjure the mental image of starting out with two and then adding to that (the “couple+” model of polyamory which borrows much from monogamous culture). Given that couple-centric polyamory is still the default assumption, the risk of such conflation seems especially high.

…Which isn’t to say that we’re ditching that title. Still, this quandary serves as a prime example of how dominant the couple narrative is, even in poly culture. And how — even with the best intentions, and even when working hard to keep our language inclusive — Franklin and I still end up using phrases that assume couplehood as a default unit.

In writing this book, I’ve encountered many more examples of couple-centric language, too many to cover here. I’m not even sure it will be possible to weed them all out.

There are so many different approaches to polyamory, so many structures and configurations, and so many different types of people, that we can’t possibly cover all of them. Nor can we predict where everyone will be coming from or what they’ll want. It’s not realistic to expect that we could. Still, we’re doing our best to maintain our focus on relationships and the people within them, and to make sure our language reflects that intent.


27 Sep 19:00

How to Do the Right Kinky Thing- Ethical Principles for BDSM

by Leatherati
by David Stein The ethical principles offered here are neither esoteric nor theoretical. They’re based in our common experiences of BDSM play and of human relationships, both kinky and more ordinary ones. Many will seem familiar, even obvious, but they can still be challenging to live by or to apply consistently. In a recent workshop... Continue Reading »
27 Sep 14:00

Letting Go: How to Live With the Loss of a Loved One

by zenhabits

Note from Leo: This is a guest post from my friend, Suraj Shah, who wrote this post as a favor to me after a reader asked about how to deal with the loss of a loved one.

Suraj writes regularly about dealing with loss on his blog, Live With Loss.

I’ll hand it over to Suraj now:

Editor’s Note: Guest post by Suraj Shah.

In the midst of a busy life flooded with demands from all directions, the loss of a loved one can be striking enough to stop us in our tracks, forcing us to evaluate what’s important and question how to move forward in life.

But the months following the death of someone we care about can be filled with a whole array of emotions ranging from anger and sadness, through to guilt and even relief.

The grip these feelings have over us can leave us feeling stuck, confused and distraught.

The single biggest cause of this ‘stuckness’ is attachment – gripping firmly onto someone who is no longer in your life, and the pushes and pulls that make that relationship what it is.

Lets explore this root cause of the pain that you may be going through and discover a way to calm the volatile emotions.

1. Identify the attachments in your relationship

We can start by looking at the various types of attachments from your relationship.

What pains you the most about them no longer being in your life? What are the pushes and pulls that made your relationship what it was?

  • shelter: You may have depended on them to look after you, to care for your health, to keep a roof over your head.

  • companionship: You may miss them being in your life – someone to hang out with, to have a coffee with, to watch a movie with.

  • someone to confide in: They may have been one of the few people who you could talk to about anything, who you could trust to keep a secret, to help you work through problems in other areas of your life.

  • attending events: They may have been the one attending all events and social functions with you. You may be terrified at the prospect of now attending them alone – perhaps you’re even considering not attending social events at all.

  • doing work around the house: They may have been a master in the kitchen or the DIY expert. Now who will make your meals? Who will fix the leaky tap?

  • managing finances: They may have been the primary breadwinner, or perhaps contributed to your household’s monthly expenses. You may be concerned about how you’ll now manage.

  • organisation: They may have been perfect at keeping everything in order in your life or your business. Without them, you fear that everything will be up in the air.

  • humour: They may have been the playful mischievous one in the relationship – the one who kept things light when the world got too serious.

  • unresolved issues: Perhaps you had a fight before they died, or you both harboured resentment for many years and never managed to resolve it.

  • role of carer: They may have had a painful long term illness where you were caring for them. The role of carer may have been your identity for a long time. Now you may feel their pain has ended and you no longer have to care for them 24/7. Perhaps you feel relieved that you don’t have to be a carer anymore. You may even feel guilty about feeling relieved, coupled with confusion about who you are now that your identity of being the carer has been stripped away.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about the source of the feeling you may be experiencing. They’re there to help you work out what it is you may miss about them no longer being with you – and also what you feel now that they’ve gone.

2. Introspect the true nature of the relationship

Having identified the various attachments from your relationship, we can now start to take a closer look at the true nature of your relationship, and of the attachments that bound you to each other.

It’s time for some important and perhaps difficult questions. But if you can be sincere with yourself, you will be able to start to loosen the grip that these attachments and these emotions have over you.

Q: Were they going to live forever?

The various people we have in our lives, particularly those closest to us such as our parents, our siblings, our husband or wife, and our children – we think will be around forever.

We take them for granted. We expect that when we see them off in the morning and head to work or to school, that we’ll see them again in the evening.

But we know, from our experiences in life and from what we see in the news, that this isn’t always the case.

In life, death is inevitable. It is also unpredictable.

It’ll happen to us all, and to all those we are so fond of, but we just don’t know when.

We started with this question – probably the hardest to think about and to accept – but is one that is essential for us to look life straight in the eyes and say:

“Yes, ok, let me live fully now that I see life for what it is.”

Q: Was your attachment permanent or temporary?

Take a look at each of the attachments in your relationship and ask yourself: Was it permanent or was it temporary? While they lived, did you have that all the time, or did it come and go?

Lets delve into a few of the attachments we identified earlier:

  • attending events: Did you ALWAYS attend events together? What about before you met each other? What about when one person was unwell or just didn’t feel like going? Perhaps at times you went alone or with someone else. Did you manage ok? Now that the one you love is no longer with you, you could comfortably attend events alone or with someone else. You may even choose to reduce the number of events you attend from now on and start to do other activities and form a different social circle. Even that’s ok.

  • managing finances: Did you ALWAYS have them as a source of income for your household? Was there ever a point in your life where you managed ok financially by yourself? Did you ever get financial support from someone else in your life? The loss of a loved one can cause a large financial hit and this can add a lot of pressure to life. But there may be solutions available to help reduce this burden. It may mean temporarily receiving financial support, changing to a job that pays more and where you are doing the work you love, or minimising your outgoings.

  • role of carer: Although you may feel guilty at the relief that you don’t have to constantly care for them anymore, think back to a time when you didn’t have to care for them, when they were independently able to do whatever they needed. Were you ALWAYS a carer? Have you had other roles in your life? Think about what you might want to start doing again, or perhaps take on a new role doing something you’ve never considered before.

    “It might seem sad, but we are forced to reinvent our lives when a loved one dies, and in this reinvention is opportunity. Which I think is beautiful.” – Leo Babauta

You will find, as you introspect further, that you sought some form of happiness, comfort or control from each element of the relationship. But was any of this constant and long lasting?

You’ll see that it wasn’t. Throughout your entire relationship together, it came and it went.

Nothing in the world around us or in the relationships that bind us is constant or permanent.

Q: What is truly everlasting?

So if nothing in the world around us is permanent, then what is truly everlasting? What can you hold onto? What can you blend tightly with your heart?

It’s their qualities. Who they were at their core.

When I think about my mum, I remember what she gave that was everlasting and what I now hold firmly in my heart:

  • laughter and lightness
  • calm and patience
  • always present and a great listener

Recollect what you loved the most about them, what they taught you, what they have helped you to become.

Imbibe these in your life. These can stay with you forever.

3. Let go to cultivate life-lightening detachment

Letting go is a gradual process.

Take a good honest look at each of your attachments and gradually let each one go – allowing yourself the time and the space to appreciate the transitory nature of the world in which we live.

By introspecting on the true nature of your relationship, your pain and sorrow will gradually lift away. You will feel lighter.

This will bring about a type of detachment in all your relationships that keep them rich while together with someone, yet help you to experience less suffering when you naturally part ways.

“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

Wishing you calmer days ahead and clarity over the purpose with which you lead your life.

Suraj Shah is a bereavement support visitor, writer and speaker, based in London UK. Visit livewithloss.com for guidance to help you through your loss and lead a calm, purposeful life.