So, below, is a fairly large excerpt from this other post I wrote for Urban Meliad as part of the New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (if you’re a Woo Person, you may want to give it a go yourself). Given the subject matter, I thought it was appropriate to post it over here, as well.
As a heads up, I’m talking a little bit about dissociative things I do in (some) sexual situations but I’m not getting into discussions or depictions of sexual trauma. Also, I talk a bunch about tarot cards which might be a little out of left-field here, but is context-appropriate for the way I’m doing the Experiment over at Urban Meliad.
The first time I looked at the Osho Zen depiction of the Queen of Cups (Receptivity), what I saw in her double-helix-stemmed lotus blossom body was the Chalace (Brittish Traditional Wiccan style, in case you missed the metaphor). I keep thinking about the message to Slow Down from back in early April, and about not being as in my body as I thought I was and, maybe it’s because of the afore-mentioned sex-and-money rabbit hole, but I kind of feel like the Hard Thing I’ve been putting off is sex, specifically bottoming in sexual situations. (It’s something I can do, and something that I can enjoy a LOT… but I’m also really out of practice, and the last few times I’ve tried it, things have not ended well. I’ve wound up clinging to my various partners asking them over and over “Are you safe? Are you okay?” – a dissociative Thing where it’s pretty easy to spot what I’m really asking. FML.
I’m fucking tired of it!
So I did a Hard Thing the other night, and asked for something sexually specific from someone specific. And the someone specific said Yes.
Which you’d think would have been it for the hard part, but you would be wrong!
Turns out, there’s a whole other Hard Part that I didn’t even know was there!
So. Working this out:
Brené Brown writes (in The Gifts of Imperfection, iirc) that Joy is one of the most vulnerable feelings out there, and that because of this, people (i.e.: ME) are quick to numb out joy with things like Preemptive Tragedy or by setting up a permanent campsite in the Slaugh of Despond (perpetual, pre-emptive disappointment).
Slogging through the internal landscape of what I think I am, and am not, Supposed To feel:
I’m not supposed to want things
I AM supposed to “want things” but only in-so-far as I’m able to psychically predict what other people want to me to want, which I an then present to them like it was all my idea OR Wanting specific things is greedy, and makes you a burden/bother, and you should know better than to be like that
You can WANT things all you like, but actually ASKING for them is heaping social pressure on someone else to do what you want, whether they want to or not, so you might as well just tattoo “rapist” on your forehead and get it over with, you horrible, horrible, self-centred, demanding jerk
…Slogging through that stuff is hard. Getting the words out of my mouth is hard. But, for me at least (and in a situation where there was at least a 50% chance of getting a Yes in the first place), it was even harder to get through what came after.
The Hard Thing, it turns out, is stopping myself from slamming my own fist down on hope and joy by telling myself All The Stories – stories like:
They’re just saying yes to be ‘nice’ to you, they don’t really want to do this and you should just let them off the hook before you screw this up even worse;
Okay, you’ve asked, and they’ve said yes. Now what happens if you freeze up and reneg on the deal? What happens then, huh? You’ll have Led Them On and then Let Them Down, that’s what! Maybe you should just call the whole thing off before you screw this up even worse.
The hard part is staying open, and it took recognizing the feeling as one I’d had before (over a year ago actually, back when C first said they were interested in me and I spent a train-ride home from Toronto wanting to sob my eyes out because I was so full of hope that was trying so hard to turn into despair) for me to figure out what was happening.
Maybe if (when?) I feel that feeling again, I’ll be able to recognize it and tell myself: “Wait! This isn’t something that you have to squash! Stay hopeful! Stay open! This is already going somewhere good!”
Staying open felt like being filled up to overflowing (with something really positive), feeling a little overwhelmed and like I needed to dial things back or else Something Would Go Wrong… But it didn’t, in and of itself, feel bad. And staying emotionally open had some er… pleasant side-effects on the physical front? Yay? 🙂
I think that feeling – brim-full and possibly overflowing, but able to accept that more is coming – is the Queen of Cups Feeling.
I read something in Healing Sex (which I’d forgotten I’d bought years ago and in-which I’d already made a bunch of notes) the other day, about how as you push through barriers, you are going to feel all the uncomfortable, crappy feelings all over again, and you’re going to have to figure out which of those uncomfortable (emotional and/or phsyical) sensations are crappy-and-triggering because you don’t like them, versus which ones are uncomfortable but actually okay (like: If you try to stop yourself from getting turned on because of bad experiences or feelings around getting turned on during a Bad Situation, it’s okay to continue with a Good Situation, even if you are trying not to get turned on, and you might be able to let yourself get turned on in those Good Situations eventually). This reminds me a little of that.
Learning (or remembering?) how to discern which Intense Feelings mean “stop” versus which ones mean “keep going”, rather than treating all of them as “This is Too Intense! ACK!” is… kind of a big deal? I feel kind of like I’ve had a penny-drop moment, albeit probably one that’s going to involve a lot of practicing before it becomes something I can do without having to talk myself thorugh it on a concious level. (Although talking myself through “stay hopeful, stay open” in the emotional sense is actually a mega-tonne easier than talking myself through “stay in your body, don’t over-think everything” in the physical sense has ever, ever been, possibly for obivous reasons).
I have a chunk of rose quartz tucked into my bra, near my heart. I have Plans for this, but one of them is a little bit of self-glamoury to keep some love-for-me close at hand when I need it.
Touching on the Two of Cups again [EDIT: this is the tarot card I chose to represent this prompt over at UM for a bunch of reasons which you can read all about in the original. /EDIT], the Mary-El version, as Beth Maiden puts it, depicts the “[…J]oy of emotional connection, the sublimity of blending energies[…]”. Of offering and accepting and receiving and offering back; of feeding each other.
I want to do this with my partner(s).
I want to build on this and keep opening.
Tag Archive: Sex Positivity
So, below, is a fairly large excerpt from this other post I wrote for Urban Meliad as part of the New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (if you’re a Woo Person, you may want to give it a go yourself). Given the subject matter, I thought it was appropriate to post it over here, as well.
So, about four months ago, maybe five, my wife formally came out as sex-positive asexual. The way she describes this is “It’s like… I love food, it tastes great, eating is wonderful, sharing a meal is fantastic… But I never get hungry”. Basically, any time she’s inclined to pursue sexual interaction with someone, it’s because she’s made an intellectual/emotional decision of “Oh, hey, don’t mind if I do,” rather than because her body is sending her physical cues that translate in her unconscious brain as “Maybe this would be a good idea now”.
It’s a good analogy. One that I’m planning on stretching all out of shape over the course of the coming post.
Yeah. In the going-on-six years that I’ve been with the woman who is now my wife? I’ve generally been the “good partner”, meaning that I’ve tended to be the one who didn’t need constant reassurance, or late-night crisis counseling, or otherwise demand that she be On Call for emotional and psychological support 24/7. For good or for ill (oh, for ill…), I’ve put a lot of store in my “status” as The Good Girlfriend, the one who was NEVER Too Demanding, or High Maintenance, or Neurotic, or whatever. The one who could, more or less, process her own crap most of the time.
And, right now, that is emphatically not the case.
Blogging, as they say, is cheaper than therapy. I did a tarot reading, almost a month ago, that basically said “Honey, get out of your own way”. So I’m going to blog about this, and talk a little bit about where my head is at, and how I’m getting in my own way.
So. If my lovely wife describes herself as “never getting hungry”, I’ve personally felt like I’ve spent the last couple of years, well, starving. Hungry to the point that I’ve forgotten what “normal hunger” feels like and don’t even notice it until I’m shaking and having trouble staying upright.
Recently, I’ve come to learn that:
A) What I thought were pleas for food (“food”) so loud and obvious and desperate that they were laughably pathetic in their naked neediness, were actually so subtle – or so easy to lose in the generalized “all smoulder all the time” signal that I’m apparently constantly putting out (really?) – that my non-Ace partner couldn’t spot them either.
B) All the things that made it difficult for my wife to cook (“cook”) with me? Those are still factors. She still has constant joint pain. I still have constant back problems. Our respective ideal sleep schedules don’t overlaps as much as we’d like. She still has as many partners as fingers and we all have a claim to some of her time, energy and attention. That hasn’t changed (much), it’s just that now I know there was a root cause underneath all of those factors that played a larger role than I ever knew.
C) I’ve buried my need to eat under so much shame and guilt (“I shouldn’t be this hungry, she’s not hungry, what’s wrong with me?”, “Stop pestering her for food, she obviously doesn’t want to cook, just wait ‘til she’s at work so you can eat crackers without her having to see you doing it”) that I seem to have developed some kind of an eating disorder where being offered food, sure, fills me with longing… but it also fills me with aversion and the distinct impression that I probably won’t be able to digest that, no matter how much I want to eat it.
…Which, I think, probably stretches the “hungry” metaphor to the breaking point. Moving on.
When my wife got shop space outside of the house and was able to Quit Her Day Job (more or less) and work for herself full-time, I had high hopes that my over-worked, exhausted beloved would suddenly have the extra time and extra energy to come back to me and be my sexual partner again.
And she did.
Maybe not in the way I was expecting. I wasn’t particularly expecting a “Honey! I know what’s up with me! I never wanted you sexually in the first place! But also I still love you and do want a sexual relationship with you, even though I’m not wired to feel sexual desire!” (I’m paraphrasing, although not by much).
Cue a solid MONTH of trying to find a way of talking about this that didn’t send me into a complete tail spin. (This is where the “never feel hungry, but enjoy food” analogy came from).
What I’m saying is that she did come back to me, sexually. She started making advances. She started flirting with me a lot more. She was trying, and still is.
But I was running smack into a wall of rage and resentment that I hadn’t even known was there. Telling myself that she didn’t really want me, couldn’t really want me, so why was she faking it for my benefit? Telling myself that, if she’s faking it for my benefit, and I’m faking it for her benefit (so she feels like a good partner, so she’s not wasting her efforts), why the fuck are we even bothering? Why can’t we just fall asleep in each other’s arms like we’ve been doing for years? Why can’t I be left with my loneliness and sadness which, while they suck, are at least things I know how to fucking deal with??
Note For Readers: I do not actually want to be left with my loneliness and sadness. They suck, and they are not improving with time.
It’s easy to get angry. It’s SO easy to think things like “Why do you even care? It’s not like it’s any skin off your back if we NEVER FUCK AGAIN!” So easy to think “Oh, sure, after years of NOTHING, years of broadening my definition of “sex” to the point that I could claim “two minutes of making out, in a four-month period” as a reason to believe we were still sexually involved, NOW you expect me to turn on a dime, rebuild all of the desire that I fucking squashed out of existence, and act like none of it ever happened?”
Maybe she was expecting a dam to burst, too.
I know I was.
She says she misses me.
I know I miss her, too.
My Feeeeeeeeeeeelings situation is affecting our relationship – because the last thing someone who’s devoting most of their spoons to pain management wants is to have to play counselor to someone else at the same time, but also because the amount of ruminating I’m doing means that I’m distracted and miserable half the time we’re in the same room – and it’s affecting my relationship with my out-of-town partner, too (because she can’t, by her own admission, be the only “place” where my sexual needs get met. That’s way too much pressure to put on someone who only sees you for two days in a given month).
Every message I’m getting (like “message from the universe”, ‘cause I’m Woo like that, but also straight up “message via actual words out of someone’s mouth”) is all Baby, Just Say Yes! and I’m still balking like woah. My wife says “Be selfish, it’s okay.” She and my girlfriend have both noticed that kissing me tends to drag on and on and not get any farther than that and… I sort of know what that’s about. But that doesn’t tell me how to move forward. How to move myself forward.
For whatever reason, I’ve convinced myself that I’m always going to want my partners more than they want me, and I’ve been watching for “back off” and “that’s enough” cues to the exclusion of the ones that say “come closer” and “I want more”. Thing is, I’m doing that around myself, too, and I’m learning that the way I talk myself back into my body isn’t helping, because it involves a lot of “calm the fuck down”, a lot of clamping down on whatever I’m feeling and quashing the good stuff as well as the stuff I don’t want to be feeling. (Like that thing that Brené Brown says about how you can’t just numb the “bad stuff”, you numb out everything).
My wife says “Why not come to sex with goals of what you want to get out of it?”
And, big surprise, I’m drawing a HUGE blank on that one. The only “goal” I ever learned, around sex, was “everybody (in theory) gets an orgasm” and that’s… not actually reasonable under the circumstances. So, to take a page from Captain Awkward (I read a lot of Captain Awkward), let’s see what kind of goals I can set wherein the accomplishing of those goals is something I can actually control:
A) Suggest one thing that I would like to try – “Could you touch me like [xyz]”, “Can I do [xyz] by [abc]?” “Put your hand [here]?”
B) Use my words to express a particular need – “I need to stay warm while we do this”, “I would like you to do the thing that you mentioned wanting to do, but I need you to do it specifically like [lmnop]”
C) Try a thing that you suspect might feel good, regardless of what your brain weasels are telling you. (It’s okay to stop if it’s not as fun as you thought it would be).
These are things I can try. These are goals I can accomplish. Even though it’s scary as fuck. Even though the starving part of me is insisting “You can put up with things not being exactly what you want, if it means getting something into your system”, even though the entitled, angry part of me is demanding “Why do I still have to do the hard things??” These are still things that I can try to do, can make a point of doing.
Wish me luck.
 She says she sometimes wishes she’d never told me, because I’ve got such a hang-up about it. I’ll get to that bit in a minute, though.
 Which is, in fact, the opposite of what she was saying in both word and deed, but conveniently (“conveniently”) was exactly what my Jerk Brain has been telling me for the past 25+ years. Funny thing, that.
So one of my partners and I were fooling around the other day, and she wanted to check in to see if I was up for something a little more hot and heavy than making out for the sake of making out. The way she asked was… a little awkward, to say the least, but it gave me some Useful Information about my own sexuality and what my pacing is like. So, in true Challenger Generation fashion, I’ve decided to talk about it on the internet.
See, one of my Nearest and Dearest identifies as Grey-A, and we’ve talked about it using the metaphore of “mainland” and “island”. It goes like this:
Non-sexual interactions take place on the mainland. Sexual interactions take place on the island. (This is where the metaphor starts getting a little bit clunky, but bear with me). Most people live on the mainland, most of the time (some people live on the island, most of the time, but that’s another story) and, if they want to have a sexual interaction with somebody, they need to take the bridge across to the island.
With me so far?
My Grey-A Interlocutor says that, for her, there is no bridge. She either has wings that day (and can fly across the water, which is also tiring) or she doesn’t, in-which-case the island might as well not exist no matter how much she wants to get over there.
For non-ace-spectrum folks, it’s more like “how does a given person cross this bridge?”
Which is what I wanted to talk about.
I figure that, for some people, there’s the mental/emotional/cellular-leve equivalent of a shuttle bus that goes by every 10 minutes if you happen to want to hop on and go to Sex Island for a quick stop-over or an afternoon of fun. For others, there might not be a shuttle bus, but maybe they can phone a private car that will, at a moment’s notice, turn up to collect them and deliver them to their destination in style and comfort. For still others, there might be a swaying, rickity footbridge of rope and half-rotted planks, and getting to Sex Island means edging along above turbulent waters, one very-carefully-placed step at a time, with a lot of safety precautions in play… and they might still have to abort the mission unexpectedly.
In my case, my footbridge is no-longer the swaying death-trap it once was (Woohoo!!!), but it’s still a long-ass bridge and it takes a fucking while to cross it. Like, yes, sure, sometimes – as with OC Transpo, funily enough! – I can catch a bus when I’m part-way across and the stars have properly alligned, and yes, sure, like all good bridges, it has a bit of an arc to it, so things move a little faster and more easily once I’m past the halfway point, but generally speaking I’m getting to Sex Island on foot, at walking pace.
Which is good to know.
As in: It’s information I can give a partner.
“I’m totally down for beating the fuck out of you, but I need you to be gentle and receptive about how gradually I do the build-up, because this is also the warm-up for me, and I’m a better, more solid and less literally-shakey, top when I don’t rush myself by trying to get to your desired intensity-level faster than I’m actually comfortable with”.
“I’m definitely up for switching sexually, but are you cool with taking the Bottom spot first? That way, I can warm myself up while I’m doing Wonderful Things to you, and I’ll be ready for you by the time we trade places.”
“I’d love to [receive intense-for-me genetal play] but, before that can happen, I’m going to need a solid hour, give or take, of slow, full-body carresses, deep kissing, and breathing each other’s pheremones.”
I like the footbridge metaphor. It helps explain (to myself, if to nobody else) why so many of my “reliable go-to” sexual activities are the kind of “still a virgin” things that geeky-nerdy kids (and probably other kids?) do when they’re not quite emotionally/mentally ready for Actual Fucking, but definitely have all the hormones and neurons and what-not to be physically into it. Things like making out and sensual massage and fooling around with our clothes still on and cuddling & whispering together and, okay, also hanging out together in the miniature hot tub and nuru-gel wrestling in the inflate-a-pool. But you get the idea. I may not know how to turn wrestling into sex, the way S. Bear Bergman describes it in his essay, “Brother Dog”, but – if someone wants to get there with me – I definitely know how to turn cuddling and gentle closeness into sex. It’s the road I know best. I may walk it at a heartbeat pace, but it gets me there every time.
 you can blame/thank Catherynne M. Valente for that term – though I can’t find the post where she first used it. (There’s a handy definition here, though).
 I’ve tried to get there at a run on so many occasions, and it mostly just means that I get tired half-way across and need to straight-up stop, or else I get to Sex Island only to realize that I’ve got a stitch in my side and everything hurts and I need to catch my breath and just… enjoying myself now that I’m here isn’t going to be easy.
 Maybe more, depending on the day and/or how long it’s been since I’ve seen you.
So there’s this JAKEtalk (like a TEDtalk, but really gay) and I haven’t listened to it all the way through, because he opened his talk with a quotation about Gay Assimilation into the Het world, and then spoke briefly about the Queer Bubble, about increasing (ish?) acceptance of The Gay in mainstream society, and what that means, or could mean, when it comes to maintaining a Queer Identity when that identity is no-longer based on, or reliant upon, being The Other or being an Outsider.
Which seems very strange to me, at first blush, so I thought I’d ramble a bit and see if I can parse it out. (The JAKEtalk intro is being used as a jumping-off-point here, rather than this post being an actual response to anything in the JAKEtalk).
So, look. I’m a weirdo. I spent my teens and early 20s wearing All The Velvet and All The Eyeliner because (a) PRETTY!, but also because (b) I figured out fairly early on that, at 6’4”, there is no protective colouration that will make e look “normal”, so I might as well (i) wear what I actually like, and/or (ii) give them something to fucking stare at.
So I’m fairly well-versed in Identity As Defined By Otherness, even if it’s on the relatively shallow level of being an unusually shaped/sized cis chick. I’m pagan – in the “Bioregional Animism” and “Ancestor Veneration” senses of the word, rather than the more widely recognized “Wiccan Offshoots” sense of the word (thank you gods, for a country where we have “Freedom TO”-based freedom of religion), and I’m a poly, kinky bi-dyke femme. A lot of my personal identities/labels/shorthands-for-what-I-am are frequently explained by highlighting the ways that they contrast with more mainstream/normative/normalized identities.
BUT that doesn’t mean that my identities can’t exist without that opposition.
Being married to my wife doesn’t make me Not Queer. Or “not queer enough” for that matter.
One of my poly-leather family members once said (gods, lifetimes ago now, back when my wife and I hadn’t even been dating for six months yet) that being a “married queer” didn’t change the way that she built family, that she didn’t stop being poly (or kinky, or anti-o, or a TIFD) just because she was also a Nice Jewish Girl with a ring on her left finger.
This has stuck with me for years now.
I love my Bubble. My kinky, poly, trans-inclusive dyke bubble is awesome. But, specifically because it’s so awesome, I kind of wish 100% of humanity was in here with me. Not in here diluting the awesomeness with their hetcis-normative expectations, with their “stay out of my bathroom” and their “I don’t understand how that kind of relationship could be anything but abusive”, their “porn is the theory” and their “multiple concurrent relationships are a sign of emotional immaturity”, their “you’re in love with your own oppression” and their “you just haven’t found the right man yet”… No. I mean I want 100% of humanity in here with our norms and ideals and social expectations which, largely, boil down to “Your kink is okay, whether or not it’s mine” and that the more options we have, and can put words around, the better.
I don’t think that we stop having our identities just because more people accept, normalize, and celebrate them.
My wife is not “less poly” just because her mother is happy to meet her many partners, and to have us in attendance for her 65th birthday. I’m not “less queer” just because my own gay auntie paved the way for me in our family, or because her parents responded with absolute love (I know, because she read the letter from them, responding to her coming-out letter, at my wedding) when she came out decades ago. My friends are not “less trans” because zir mom took zir shopping for more gender-appropriate clothing, or because her nieces call her their favourite auntie; and they’re not “less kinky” because they can talk about their desires and relationships with their vanilla friends.
We do not stop being what we are just because the Normal People still love us, or let us on the PTA, or look to us as part of our faith community. Being unwanted is not a prerequisite for being us.
It’s sucks beyond all possible measure that any of my poly friends have to keep coming out to their families-of-origin, have to worry about how said relatives are going to handle it when they bring their multiple people home for the holidays. It sucks beyond all possible measure that my family members have fam-of-o or (extended-community-members, for that matter – get with the program, y’all…) who keep getting their pronouns wrong even though it’s been YEARS since they came out. It sucks beyond all possible measure that any of my dyke Fam has to deal with out and out hatred as part of “being a good daughter”.
I know that we face this stuff, that our bubble is (our bubbles are) how we protect each other, hold each other up, keep each other safe, help each other heal. And I don’t want to lose the love that comes with building our own families in spite of the Charmed Circle wishing that we weren’t around being our fabulous, unapologetic selves “at” them. But we don’t have to lose it.
We don’t have to stop being big-hearted and open-hearted with each other just because we’re gaining the chance to be open-hearted with the people we came from, too.
 Less-so The Trans, so let’s keep pushing for that one, shall we?
 Meaning heteronormative, cisnormative.
 TRY IT SOME TIME, I DARE YOU, KIDDO.
 Which, full disclosure: I ain’t perfect yet. None of us are. But I know where I’m going.
 Gender / family-structure / body / employment situation / sexual identity / etc – Choose your own adventure(s).
So this week’s Kink of the Week Prompt is Begging. I’m kind of uncomfortable with begging, at least in the hyperbolic, incessant-until-they-get-what-they’re-asking-for sense of the word. I feel an unpleasant mix of put-upon and embarrassed, like I should probably give in and do whatever-it-is just to shut them up.
And yet… There’s something about “please”, about “let me?”, about that vulnerable voicing of want and hunger combined with the holding back, with not just taking… Now, that I love.
I fantasize about that stuff. About being the kind of top who doesn’t just listen with her skin, but with her ears, who makes sure this, or this, or this is wanted; about hearing please gasped breathless and half-involuntary by someone yearning for my hands, my mouth, all over her lit-up body; that makes me shiver all over, that makes my breath go shallow and my blood race.
But, too, there’s something about hearing it coming from someone who’s buried her face in my neck, who’s risking the terror of letting her own hunger show, hesitant and hopeful as the brush of fingertips along my lower back, breath whispering over my skin. There’s such a delicious power in that, in the inviting and the allowing, when it works, when trust is the right way to go. And I want that, too.
I want it all.
So I recently snagged two tickets to the 2015 Feminist Porn Awards through a POWER fundraiser. This is going to be grand fun, and I suspect my lovely wife and I will be checking out the Feminist Porn Conference while we’re in town.
I also recently spent some time yacking with a friend about what makes feminist porn “feminist” – what the criteria are – and where to find some. (I gave her a few names and sent her hunting). Anyway, there must be something in the air today because, wouldn’t you know it, around about the same time, I found not one but TWO posts on the same subject while faffing about on twitter.
How to Make Ethical Porn
Four Female Adult Film Producers Talk Porn for Women.
In the first one, the author talks about how it’s important that the performers aren’t in it just for the money. And, as a model – meaning as someone who damn well expects to get paid for my labour – I have some difficulty with this. To be clear, she’s not suggesting that people perform sex in a TF capacity [EDIT: She pays her employees and cover their expenses during filming, as she mentions in her comment] (so the rest of this post is going to be using her article as a jumping off point more than anything). And I do understand her reasons for wanting her Talent to enjoy having sex on camera – she outlines them quite clearly, and they boil down to “if people are doing this just to get paid, they may do things they don’t want to do in order to get paid” – but…
Eugh. Sex is a such a fraught topic. It’s so much more intimate than, say, filing or waitressing or hauling heavy stuff on a job site. So it gets this weird treatment like either you’re saying YES to X, Y, and Z because you’re seriously hot to do X, Y, and Z… or you’re not actually consenting to do those things. As if there aren’t a zillion reasons to say YES to a fuck when you’re not necessarily hot for it right now, regardless of whether the context is pornographic or personal.
I’m not knocking joyful sexuality, spontaneous desire, or enthusiastic consent, and I do think that, as a director, this particular author has found a way to navigate what might have felt like morally ambiguous waters in a way that works for her. These are all good things.
However. I do want to point out that paying the bills is a reason to decide to say yes to sex, and that it’s just as legit a choice as deciding to have sex because your partner is hot for your bod and you love your partner even if you’re not feeling totally horny right this second – basically yes, consent is sexy, but there are lots of reasons to consent.
On a related note: The author talks about making sure that the actors get to do stuff that actually gets them off. This right here? This, I think, is a great way to make sure that your talent are in it for pleasure, rather than “just” a pay cheque.
Look. Maybe it’s because I come from an industry – independent modeling – where there are a lot of potential “employers” who have no intention of employing anyone at all, who make it a point of pride to refuse to pay us for our labour, who don’t believe our work takes skill, who will drop a grand on a camera lens but don’t think someone’s time, energy, and talent are worth a penny… But I give a lot of side-eye to people who are all “Do it for the art!” Even as someone who, when organizing no-budget shows, basically asks people to Do It For The Art and work for low/no money beyond what they can get from selling chap-books at the merch table, far more often than I’m comfortable with.
I feel like the “I want my talent to be in it for the art” (or the sexual exhibitionism, either way) attitude – whether the Talent in question is doing video or stills – provokes/promotes a situation, not entirely unlike the one faced by GFE escorts, in that up-front discussion of the fact that this is work and we ARE doing it for the money isn’t really something we can do. It means walking a tightrope (or at least it feels this way to me) between being an enthusiastic artistic collaborator – meaning actively performing the image of someone who’s In It For The Art, when we may not give a shit about the art as long as we’re getting our $20/$40/$60/etc per hour – and someone who is engaging in contract terms and salary negotiations with an employer. And that’s kind of stressful, to be perfectly blunt. Because, on one side of that tightrope is “not enthusiastic enough; does not get hired” but on the other side is “enthusiastic enough about this project that I can assume she’ll work for free”.
I’m not sure how this works in the porn industry, and I’m aware that it’s WAY easier to fake enthusiasm for some stranger’s art concept than it is to fake enthusiasm for, say, some stranger’s mouth on your body, but, just like you can fake an orgasm, it’s possible to fake Enthusiasm For The Art, and to fake it specifically so that a given producer/director/dude-with-a-camera-and-an-envilope-of-cash will hire us rather than the next professional naked chick with an over-due hydro bill to pay.
Anyway. That’s my thoughts on that one.
So, over on Facebook, I’m part of a polyamoury discussion group and someone was asking for book recommendations. This lead to me deciding to make a post over here about different “love styles” and how going into Poly assuming that everyone does it the same way is… a good way to get tripped up in short order.
The book that I (and at least one other person) recommended was Opening Up (Tristan Taormino). I suggested it – or, rather, seconded the other commenter’s suggestion – because it offers a lot of different examples of How To Do This or, maybe more accurately, Why You (Might) Want To Do This / What You’re Looking To Find/Gain/Experience. Like everyone else (it seems), I read The Ethical Slut when I first started looking into polyamoury. I had a friend, around that time, who described it as the “handbook of everything that can go wrong in poly”. I don’t remember it being quite such a downer but, then again, when I read it, I was in a monogamous relationship that I wanted to open up a bit and I really needed a trouble-shooting guide to Dealing With What Could Go Wrong. So maybe I didn’t interpret it that way because my situation was one where everything that “could go wrong” probably would.
Another friend – the one who lent me The Ethical Slut, as it happens – warned me in advance that “It’s not the be-all and end-all of happy and functional poly”. And she’s right. I find that it focuses more on the “slut” aspect of things – talking about play-dates, trick-bags, and finding your turn-on, as it does – and maybe a tad less on the constelationships end of things. Which is why I’m less likely to recommend it than I am to suggest someone read Opening Up. (Yes, we were eventually going to get back here, thanks for sticking around).
When I first started identifying as polyamourous, I was a recently-separated single girl, a “gay divorcee” as one friend put it, who wanted nothing more from poly than the chance to stop policing her desires and to stop categorizing everything down to the nth degree as soon as anyone had coffee with me or asked me out to a movie.
Looking back on the past six years or so, though, I can see that I’m still trying to overcome that stuff. I’m a little bit better at not policing my desires, but I still freak right out if romantic/sexual/sensual/flirtatious interactions don’t come with some kind of border around them to define what they are and where they might potentially end up going. Case in point: I kissed a friend at a party, and now I don’t know what to do about that and am really hesitant to even, like, instant-message her about something inoccuous, because I don’t know What It Meeeeeeeeeeeeeans.
It’s a bit ridiculous, to be perfectly honest. I need to learn how to chill.
Anyway. Because of the above – and for other reason or three that I’ll get into in a moment – I tend to think of my style of polyamoury as being one where I want (a) a Main Squeeze, and (b) friends with benefits, and the chance to sexy/kinky stuff with people who, outside of a scene, I can just hang around with as and when the opportunity arises. I’m not sure how this is going to develop as time goes on, though.
My wife once commented that she, as someone who’s not all that sexual most of the time, wants polyamoury because she wants to love many people. Whereas I want polyamoury because I want the opportunity to (at least potentially) fuck many people. When she said it, I admit I was a little hurt by it which, given my wife, I suspect has a lot more to do with my own internalized hierarchies of “love > sex” than any feelings in that vein on her part. Having thought about it, though, my feeling is that I don’t need to be poly – something that, for me, is explicitely both sexual and romantic – to love someone. Now, admittedly, I’m part of a community where Cheerful Letchery is how we say “I love you” to our friends. So it helps to be comfortable with being non-seriously macked-upon by the people you love. But I’m also someone who falls in love fast and hard when I let myself be sexually vulnerable with someone. There’s a pretty direct link between my heart and my cunt and it’s a big part of why I tend to top, rather than bottom. And probably a fairly significant part of why it’s hard for me to let my guard down and Stay Present when I do choose to bottom for someone. It’s a thing. So aiming for poly as a way to explore sexual desire without risking losing my heart – over and over and over – is kind of where it’s at right now.
And yet… that could change. Maybe I would risk my heart. I just need to do it with my eyes open.
BUT this is about people with different poly-types/love-styles and how that can (maybe) be navigated, so let me talk a little bit about that. See, early in my relationship with Ghost, I was (eroniously) opperating on the assumption that what she wanted from our open relationship was the same general stuff as I did. so when she started falling in love with her other people… I freaked. For real. It wasn’t pretty.
So some questions:
What happens when a more monogamous-acting person hooks up with someone who has Lots Of People? How do they handle it if/when those dynamics shift or do a 180?
What happens if you’re a newly-opened-up formerly-mono couple and one of you is expecting to be unicorn-hunters together than the other is… not.
What do you do if you hook up with someone (liker, er, me… apparently) who has [LOVE > sex] hierarchies, or other stuff (escalator expectations, for example) in their head? Do you have a game-plan for how to bring it up & hopefully address it? Do they?
If your Zucchini discovers she’s more grey than A, does that affect your relationship(s) at all? If yes, in what possible ways?
What happens if you go into a Craigslist Encounter hoping to make a friend-with-benefits, and it turns out she’s looking for an annonymous one-night-stand? (E.G.: Any idea how you’ll deal with the reality that you’re just not going to hear from her again?)
Does it affect how you feel about your crush to find out that she’s a “meet the metamours” poly person, while you and your main squeeze have a DADT thing going on? What about the other way around?
 I admit that I’m not overly fond of the term “love style”. I can’t put my finger quite on why, though, since there’s nothing intrinsically wrong or icky about it… Maybe because it sounds too much, to my ears at least, like “The Lifestyle”? No idea. :-\
 As it happened, I asked my husband for polyamoury and he said “I can’t be married to you any more”. Devistating at the time? Yeah. But I think I dodged one hell of a bullet because of that, and I’m grateful that we split up as easily as we did. I sometimes wonder if the separation and ensuing divorce would have gone as smoothly and cooperatively as it did if I’d been the one suggesting we end things.
 Though I admit it’s been close to eight years since I read it, so…
 Something to unpack in a future post, perhaps?
 …And between my heart and my voice, so… maybe it’s no surprise that I hit high notes when I orgasm?
 I ask myself this stuff a lot these days. How would I handle having a second sweetheart? In town? Not in town? How long would it take for me to start wanting to shift from friends-with-benefits to sweethearts if we were messing around regularly? To what extent am I still navigating by the Relationship Escalator’s unidirectional map?
 Not to be confused with something like “straight-acting”. I mean someone who is seriously limitting the number of slots on their dance card, for a variety of reasons, while still quite happy to be one of many in terms of their partners’/partner’s partners.
So… Being a kinky dyke, I’m kind of swimming in safer sex stuff all the time. Which doesn’t mean that I and others don’t screw things up on occasion. I’ve mopped up the last traces of blood play after taking my gloves off, for example. I’ve had unprotected sex with a hook-up in my early 20s, and I’m aware that fluid bonding, while it’s a harm-reduction method, isn’t necessarily as safe-making as we’d like to think it is. I’ve known more than one woman who accidentally got her girlfriend pregnant because, contrary to popular belief, T-blockers aren’t a particularly effective form of birth control. (Maybe someone who’s on them can shoot me some stats about that?)
None the less, I tend to forget that us Queerdos get a LOT more safer-sex-ed targetted at us as adults than the het population does. Which is… funny, really, given how much hetero sex is the default assumption, particularly during one’s teens when that’s all you get in school (and everywhere, but really: school).
Anyway. With all of the above in mind, here’s a little tiny bit of local information that may be relevant to Ottawa people’s interests:
Places where You Can Get Free Condoms (and other barrier protection) + not-so-free Emergency Contraception:
The AIDS Committee of Ottawa (ACO) – will GIVE you roll-on condoms, insertable condoms, and dams if you just go in an ask. BYO trick-or-treat bag. 🙂 It’s at 251 Bank St, between Cooper and Lisgar, on the 7th floor.
Planned Parenthood Ottawa will give you free roll-on condoms and cheap/free insertable condoms. Not sure if they’ve got dams or not. They may have emergency contraception (2-pill version) available at reduced rates, but call to make sure. They’re on Riverside, just off Bank.
Community Health Centres (link goes to a list of Ottawa CHCs) routinely make roll-on condoms available free-for-the-taking in their rest rooms and/or by request.
The Sexual Health Centre at 179 Clarence will hand out free condoms and has Plan B (specifially that brand) available. They can also do IUD insertion and may have hormonal (I think) contraception available at reduced cost if you qualify.
If you are under 25 and street involved, the Youth Services Bureau on Besserer St, near the Redeau Centre, has a couple of regular sexual health clinic-nights (via Ottawa Public Health) and also has safer sex supplies – including latex dams + roll-on and insertable condoms – available through their HIV/HepC Prevention Education Program and their Youth Health Clinic.
Call your neighbourhood pharmacy to ask if they have over-the-counter (2-pill method) emergency contraception available (assume $35-$40/dose).
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ADD TO THE ABOVE LIST.
RELATED: Here is a handy cartoon that explains how Emergency Contraception works.
The Sexual Health Clinic at 179 Clarence Street can do rapid, anonymous HIV testing, plus tests for All The Things – although most of them will take up to three weeks to get results.
Ottawa Sexual Health has a number of satelite clinics (include youth-specific and gay-men-specific ones) around town, the list of-which is available about 1/3 of the way down this page. They offering confidential STI testing though not specifically “rapid” or “annonymous” HIV testing.
Your local CHC will also do STI testing but, depending on your risk level and how many tests you want done, they may suggest that you go to the Sexual Health Clinic (E.G.: If you are “low risk” and want a batery of tests for Peace of Mind reasons, you may want to just go straight to Clarence Street).
PEP – Post-Exposure Prophylaxis – is available at an emergency room near you and can be obtained – sometimes with difficulty, so don’t take No for an answer – if you are worried that you may have been exposed to HIV.
Abortions, Carrying To Term, and Other Stuff:
The Morgentaler Clinic – covered by OHIP, among other things.
Sister Zeus – An online compendium of fertility-related Herbal Stuff that may be of interest to you or people you know. NOTE: You may wish to consult your doctor, if you want to go this route as, iirc, measurements aren’t particularly exact. (Check and see, I could be wrong).
If you are pregnant and want to carry to term, you might want to talk to some of the many midwives in the Ottawa area. Or go with an Ob/Gyn, that works, too. 🙂
The Ottawa Fertility Centre has a page about acquiring sperm if you want to get pregnant but don’t have a donor/co-parent involved already.
And this one. (Hi, Mercedes, I’m a fan…) I find this possibility particularly attention-worthy since, hey, the (struck down as unconstitutional) Bawdy House law was used as an excuse to raid bath houses and kink clubs for ages.
Slightly over a week ago, Canada introduced legislation to replace the anti-prostitution laws that had been struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Conservative government has been trying to race Bill C-36 through both the House and the Senate simultaneously, at breakneck speed. But the text of the bill has raised questions about its constitutionality. Sex workers, mainstream media and even many Nordic model proponents and abolitionists agree that it places sex workers in even greater danger than the previous laws did.
But is there also a poison pill within the legislation that could be used to stifle LGBT and sex-positive speech?
Firstly, here is what the dubiously-named “Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act” does:
- It re-criminalizes communicating for the purpose of commercial sex. While there is said to be an exemption for the sex worker themselves, that exemption only applies if the communication…
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Taking a bit of a different tack today. So far, this year, I’ve managed to talk about Poly or D/s during my GGBP posts. Today, howver, I’m looking at safer sex.
Specifically, and having just done this myself, I’m reminding folks to check the expiry dates on your safer sex supplies. I had a whole bunch roll past their use-by dates recently. My hook-up kit (which, admitedly, doesn’t get a tonne of use) is re-stocked with stuff that’s not going to expire until 2016 or later. I feel a whole lot better.
As a side note: You don’t actually have to throw away expired condoms. You can use them on personal-use-only toys – you might want to do this if your toys are porous or otherwise tricky to clean, or to protect your silicone toys if you prefer silicone lube. Just… don’t get them mixed up with the stuff that’s still within its use period.
Look. It’s not the end of the world to use expired latex (and non-latex) barriers during sex – way better to use them than to use nothing. But the risk of having your barrier fail – tear, break, lose flexibility, lose potency (if we’re talking about spermicidally-lubed stuff) etc – gets higher the further past the expiration date something gets. So, if you’ve got the option of using, er, fresher materials… do so.
On a related note: Yeah, you can generally pick up free roll-on condoms in any CHC bathroom or Q/T community info fair. But if you’re wondering where to find affordable insertable condoms and oral dams – both of which can be a tad on the prohibitavely expensive side, expecially when you’re broke – turn to agencies like Planned Parenthood Ottawa and the ACO who give them away for free as part of their respective mandates.
NOTE: If you’re looking for fisting kits – which tend to contain nitril gloves rather than latex ones – I know that the AIDS Committee of Toronto supplies them, but I don’t know if anyone in Ottawa does. (Commenters? Want to throw some information out here?)
Anyway. That’s your PSA for the day.