Dec 08 2016

Episode 034: Sexual Outsiders

Episode the thirty-fourth; wherein the Pageist is confounded by inconsistent censorship, attempts to perform nonconsensual submission and takes an academic view of kink. The book reviewed is Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities by David M. Ortmann and Richard A. Sprott.

.49 Intro & Announcements:

  • Two new survey responses! You can fill out the survey here.
  • One new iTunes rating–thank you to Drew.
  • I’m now on Quora as Paige La Marchand if you’d like to follow me or ask a question.
  • I’m also on Medium as ThePageist if you’d like to follow my writings there.
  • My Instagram is new, but I’m enjoying it.
  • The Worthy Causes page on the site is available. It will expand over time.

3.41 My Submissive Life:

  • Sites not allowed in public places in the U.K.:
  • Sites allowed in public places (when I wrote this)
    • Grue.space: Nevermind the topless woman in shibari
    • My actual website: This is fine. Thankfully. But, really? If you can’t get to libsyn, just come to my site to listen to the show.
    • Tumblr: Tumblr is 75% porn! Seriously?!
    • Fetlife: Because irony is dead.
    • The Cage: See above.
  • Big hugs and thanks to Muse for offering her internet!
  • Paige tries to provide service to her local coffee shop. Have you ever been so service-horny you’d tried to serve a company?

10.03 Book Review:

  • The book this episode is Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities by David M. Ortmann and Richard A. Sprott. An academic exploration of different types of BDSM and how people in sexual outlier communities can integrate their sexualities into their full selves. It also helps psychologists and psychiatrists understand how to better serve their clients in the BDSM community and instructs kinky people on how to find the best therapist for their needs.
  • Kink Aware Professionals Directory: Professionals in various fields who aren’t going to flip out if you mention a flogger.
  • Different Loving by Dr Gloria Brame. This would make an excellent pair with Sexual Outsiders. I interviewed the author in episode 14.

25.55 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be reviewing The Academy by Laura Antoniou
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to this website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • Subscribe, stream or download from libsyn here. All episodes are available in a pop out player on this page.

Dec 02 2016

How to Support the Pageist

Free Ways to Support the Podcast and Website

Follow the Twitter account (@thepageist) and retweet posts about reviews I’ve published and podcast episodes that have gone live.

Follow thepageist on Medium and like and recommend my writings (if you actually like them). Share them on your own social media if you’re comfortable with that. This spreads my work to a larger audience.

Follow thepageist on Tumblr and reblog my posts and podcast episodes when links appear there. My Tumblr is 18+ and NSFW, but it’s pretty classy—there is no hardcore pornography (though I’m certainly not against that). You should check it out at any rate.

Like the Facebook page and share the posts you find useful if you’re comfortable doing so.

Rate the show on iTunes or other podcast apps (and leave a review if you have time!) This pushes the show up in rankings, helping it find a wider audience.

Tell your friends, people at your munch or dungeon. Just let people know about the show or website. If you’re looking through the site and find something of interest, there are social media links on every post, share on whatever platform you’d like.

Un-free Ways to Support the Podcast and Website

Patreon is the big one. There are a range of support levels, with rewards for each one. My goals (after upgrading my equipment to bring you higher quality podcasts) involve giving back to the kink and sex educator community in various ways. More specific information is available on Patreon.

If recurring payments aren’t an option, you can also order something from my Amazon wishlist. The vast majority of things there are books. I’m not trying to get rich or looking for swag—I pretty much live for the show and site.

If you own a BDSM or sex positive-based site, podcast, book, shop, whatever and you’d like to sponsor the show, let’s talk. If you know someone who fits that description, send them my way. My email address is thepageist[at]gmail[dot]com

Why You May Consider Supporting The Pageist

I’ve written before about how kink has changed my life. The shortest version possible is that I struggled with my sexuality for twenty years (nothing to do with kink—more being gay) but once I realised I was kinky everything changed, overnight. I was all right. I simply approached the world in a different way than most other people and different wasn’t wrong, it was simply different.

I want to give that back.

The mission statement of The Pageist, in all its forms, is to let people know that, whatever their kink, they are not alone. There can be some heavy judgment even in the BDSM community and everyone deserves to be seen and validated. Also, the aim is to provide education and direct people to sources of information so they can learn more about themselves and how to practise their interests as safely as possible.

I do everything on the site and podcast. I am The Pageist. And I love it. It’s more than a full-time job. I’ve pretty much given up hope of reading or watching vanilla books or films ever again because I simply don’t have time. I’m okay with that because it gives me the opportunity to learn everything possible about this amazing, intense, expansive world and share the best bits with my audience so they—no matter their proclivities—will find something they can relate to.

In order to do a more-than-full-time job, I can’t have a traditional job. Nor do I want one anymore.

Helping people be more comfortable with themselves feels like a calling—something that would have made my eyes roll right out of my head two years ago, but here we all. Having to do anything else would feel like I was wasting my time and energy on something that wasn’t doing as much good in the world. Because I understand deeply what it is to feel completely alone and to live every day with self-hatred so profound it seems to be part of the fabric of your being.

But it isn’t. That’s something someone else put on you like a straight-jacket. Literally trying to make you a straight in vanilla terms. My goal is to get people out of that jacket. (And into heavy bondage, if that’s what they’re into, but only with full consent.)

Status update

There was an issue with episode 33 (me. I was the issue.) It has been corrected and reuploaded. Redownload the episode and it should work. Thank you for listening!

Dec 02 2016

Kelly and Victor

The titular Kelly (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) and Victor (Julian Morris) meet at a club on his 28th birthday. After which they go back to her place and snort something called meow meow then have unprotected sex where it becomes apparent she’s something of a sadist, strangling him (with no negotiation and what appears to be without his consent).

Kelly’s dominatrix friend, Victoria (Claire Keelan) offers her cash to watch her with a client. I wonder how many times this trope has appeared in film/television. (I could not find this trope listed on TV Tropes, but it must be there! Will search further. For science.)

Meanwhile, a couple of Victor’s hopeless and hapless friends are on their way to try to start their drug-dealing business. ‘Hopeless’ is the key word. You know it’s going to go terribly.

Then it’s time for The Vanilla Watches the Dominatrix with her Client. Parts of this are interspersed with Victor thinking about his time with Kelly—she’s very much into breath-play.

Aside from the kinky aspect, it’s one of those films where, within days of meeting, at least one person says they would do anything for the other person. Perhaps I’m not romantic, but this will always make me roll my eyes. After two days this new person could be a serial killer and you wouldn’t know. Hell, she could be the sort of person who’d clean out your bank account the second she had a chance.

Isn’t there some saying about not sticking your dick in crazy? Or about how crazy chicks are always good in bed?

Is it: I try not to stick my dick in crazy, but crazy chicks are just so good in bed?

Whatever it is, it’s like this film was trying to be an extended metaphor for it. I expected one of Victor’s friends to show up at the end and tell his kids what happened to ‘Uncle Victor’ like some warped version of How I Met Your Mother.

There’s some very unconsensual cutting with a piece of glass—where he’s actually saying he doesn’t like something and she does it anyway. It doesn’t show blood or her doing it—just his reaction—but that was intense and especially horrible.

Then another trope happens later that’s a big eyeroll, but I can’t say what it is without spoiling anything. Kelly’s into kink due to an abusive ex. Can you hear my sigh from where you are? Trying going outside and waiting for the wind to shift direction.

She's cute as a button, but you can choke to death on a button, too. (source)

She’s cute as a button, but you can choke to death on a button, too. (source)

They eventually sort out a non-verbal safe signal, but, by the time they got to that part Bean collapsed over and said, ‘Do any movies get kink right?!’

When your vanilla friend is exasperated by this sort of thing it’s time to call everyone and say, ‘Hey, folks… No. Even the aware vanillas are fed up.’

It’s based on a novel of the same name by Niall Griffiths, which has me somewhat intrigued, but also not. I have a feeling the appeal lies mostly in the scenery and the performances, which were quite good.

Kelly and her dominatrix friend had an interesting conversation about why she did what she did for work. She seemed far more knowledgeable about human nature than Kelly, who thought the man who was paying them was weird.

But unconsensually strangling and cutting people during sex without so much as a, ‘Hey? Know what I think is fun?’ is normal?!

There are many scenes of the countryside, which is stunning. IMDB says it was filmed in Liverpool, but it also says it’s an Ireland and U.K. production, and the countryside looks quite Irish to me, so take that as you will.

The acting is top-rate, as is the cinematography; my only complaint is the lack of accurate BDSM, but that’s sort of a given in films, as I’ve discussed on the show.

Overall, I’d recommend this one if you’re into relationship films that aren’t the typical light-hearted fare. 4/5

Dec 01 2016

Episode 033: Dr David Ley

Episode the Thirty-third; Wherein the Pageist thanks her first Patrons and talks porn with Dr David Ley.

.48 Intro & Announcements:

  • The show is in Turkey.
  • Thank you to my first patrons: BeeTee, deebs, Nug, Peej and PC!

2.06 Interview:

  • Dr David Ley, clinical psychologist and author of books about the myths of sex addiction and porn addiction.
  • Last week I reviewed his incredible Ethical Porn for Dicks: A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure.
  • Twitter account: @DrDavidLey
  • Amazon author page

55.21 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be reviewing Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities by David M. Ortmann and Richard A. Sprott
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to this website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • Subscribe, stream or download from libsyn here. All episodes are available in a pop out player on this page.

Nov 29 2016

Ethical Porn for Dicks

[This is the text of the book review from episode 32 of the podcast.]

The book this episode is Ethical Porn for Dicks: A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure by Dr David Ley. I received this book for free, but if you want to know if I can give a negative review about a free book listen to the previous episode.

This could be my shortest review yet. I could say:

This is possibly the most useful, best book I’ve read this year.

And then be done with the review.

And I have read some really useful, incredible books this year.

Or. This review could be two hour-long episodes because there are so many quotes and thoughts to expand upon. I’m going to try to find a balance. This is the first review I’m going to do without quotes because if I have to choose I’ll lose my mind. If you’re here for the quotes, I’m sorry. You’ll just have to read the book. I was highlighting something every third page or something insane.

Happily, the author will be on the show next week so it’ll be sort of like two episodes on the subject.

You should read this book.

Early on, Dr Ley says it’s geared towards men because that’s who our society punishes most for their porn consumption and also who he sees in his therapy practise talking about their guilt over porn use, but it’s for anyone who struggles with guilt, shame, or any sort of ethical or moral issue around porn or masturbation.

I would expand that and recommend this to spouses of people who view porn, people who are curious about the differences in the way men and women relate to porn and the way our culture views male and female sexuality in general, who want to consume porn more ethically…

Look, just read this book.

If you’re pro-porn or anti-porn I’m not trying to change your mind and neither is the author, but this thing will make you think. About, like, so much. It was blowing my mind, man.

There’s so much practical advice. About how to talk to your kid if you find out they’re watching hardcore BDSM and you want to be sure they know that’s—what Dr Ley calls ‘varsity sex’. About what to do if you accidentally download child porn.

When he was talking about that he said that was a common fear of the men he spoke with and almost none of the women. Yeah, I’ve never worried about that. Dr Ley contacted the FBI and asked what to do in those circumstances—I will be asking about that experience, which I’m sure was delightful during our interview—and he explains what to do. It does not involve setting your computer on fire and it does involve alerting the authorities and having an uncomfortable conversation about how you wound up with the images, but he explains why that’s the far better way for things to go.

There’s also advice on how to know if the porn you’re watching is ethically produced or pirated and how to find and support ethically-produced porn so more of it is made.

An overarching theme is that porn is not the problem—you are. Porn is a coping mechanism like alcohol. It’s something that feels good. If you’re depressed or anxious or nervous or whatever, and you’re not allowed to talk about your feelings—like men in our society aren’t allowed to do—then you go to your coping mechanism. You do the thing that feels good. Some people eat comfort food. Some people shop. Some people grab their crotches for dear life.

It’s like that joke: Why do girls play with their hair? Because they don’t have dicks to grab.

People with dicks get nervous and they grab their dicks like it’s a safety railing.

While I’m on the subject of ‘people with dicks’ Dr Ley is super inclusive. We’re talking about a straight, white, cis dude, here. But he gets and is inclusive of the spectrum of all the people and kinks. I thought it was going to be uber-heteronormative due to the title, but it’s more pragmatic about the way society treats men—when I say men on my show I mean any person who considers themselves to be a man—in regard to porn and sex. The world does treat people it perceives to be men differently than it does women. And, because of that, we treat ourselves differently.

I mean, why hadn’t I ever worried about accidentally downloading child porn? That shit will ruin your life. Probably because you never see women with it in the news. You never see women called perverts and dragged out of their houses and had all of their computers confiscated, etc.

At one point he uses the metaphor of model trains. If a man’s hobby is collecting model trains and it expands to the point that his wife can no longer get to the washing machine—she’s going to have a problem with it. If someone did an article on the guy whose model trains take over his house and life he’d just be seen as eccentric or quaint or maybe sort of a loser, but if a dude is collecting porn to that extent—well it has to do with filthy sex (which nearly everyone has so how filthy can it be!)–so he’s just a disgusting pervert.

What if there was a story about a woman who was collecting that much porn—if it was taking over her life? That changes the story. That’s kinda hot, right? Our culture tells us male sexuality is aggressive and gross and female sexuality is sexy and tell me more about that. How much porn are we talking? What kind? Like… threesomes or…

Ethical Porn for Dicks covers every myth or concern there is about porn—whether using it is cheating on your partner, does it change your brain, make you bad at sex, make you a bad human, turn you into a rapist, etc.

On that last point—many studies in different countries have shown that porn is good for society and lowers rates of sex crimes. Dr Ley and I will be discussing that because wow.

Could it be because people get to see their fantasies? They get to know they’re not alone in feeling and thinking the things they feel and think? After all, someone else—several someones—got together to write, direct, produce and film the thing they think about. Knowing other people think the same things they do removes some of the shame and when people are less ashamed perhaps they’re less likely to be enraged. Shame exhibits itself in weird ways. Some people hate their own homosexuality so much they beat up people who are gay. Others just pass anti-LGBTQ laws.

In the afterword, porn performer Chanel Preston says people think about things all the time that they wouldn’t do in real life—shoving their annoying neighbour down the stairs, punching someone who cut them off in traffic and so on—but when they fantasize about something unusual they want to know what it means. Chanel tells them, ‘Probably nothing.’ Just like you’re not a sociopath for wanting to gag that loud neighbour.

Our culture gives such weight to sex that if someone is fantasizing about something ‘not normal’ whatever that means people worry about it. Or if they watch porn rather than have sex they feel guilty. Do you feel bad when you have an easy meal rather than making a full dinner? No? Because it’s all food. Just different kinds.

The author does give advice on how to deal with any anxieties you have and how to talk to your spouse about your porn use. He also gives tips on how to decrease your use if you really think you need to once you figure out the role porn plays in your life. If you’ve been jerking it a bit too much and are having some difficulties with biological sex—there’s advice there, too. There’s advice all over the place. As well as observations and information on gender, culture and sexuality. In 225 pages. It’s also funny and accessible.

And there are resources in the back for any further information you’d like to follow up on.

Read this book. Have I said that? No one should be ashamed of their sexuality, thoughts or porn use.

I want to send massive crates of this thing to Parliament. But that’d be no guarantee they’d read it. Dr Ley needs to come speak.

Clearly this is a 5/5.

Nov 28 2016

Sex Toy Reviews: Hey Epiphora

hey-epiphora

Sex toys are expensive so us broke schmoes need guidance, but sex toy reviewers are not made equal. Therefore I’ll be bringing you reviews of sex toy reviewers. Because there are some really good ones out there.

Kicking off this new feature is my favourite sex toy review site Hey Epiphora.

She’s been reviewing sex toys for nine years and her experience shows. Reviews are well-written, hilarious and, if the product isn’t up to the job, take-no-prisoners. She’s also a proponent of ethical, body-safe products. So, you know, that’s good. Her enthusiasm is palpable.

There are other posts—an advice column, as well as blog posts, that are also worth your reading time.

With a boyfriend and a girlfriend, Piph’s toys are tested with another person when the need arises.

I think if there were one thing she’d want me to tell you it’s that she wants to teach you to squirt. (If you have a g-spot.) She loves it and wants everyone who can to be able to do so.

The site also has a porn section with some of her favourite films, as well as guides to how to write your own sex toy reviews and her jack off journal. And… more. There’s a lot going on. But it’s really well-organised.

There are lots of discount codes on her sales page and right now, many sales for the holidays right on the front page. She has the hook up.

Speaking of sales—the site has quite a few ads (I’m not judging, everyone needs to get paid) but they actually fit in really well with the site. This is a rare and wonderful thing. Most ads on websites are eye-sores, but the ones on Epiphora’s site … work. It’s impressive.

Some of my favourite posts:

Now, if you really want a good time, go to the Slush Pile, which is the worst of the worst and just start reading. When Piph gets to trash something, well. That’s when things get great. Trying to read one of these reviews out loud without laughing would be a fun game with your friends. Each one take a turn on a review and see who can make it the longest before cackling like a lunatic. Whoever makes it the longest wins a sex toy from the Things that Ruled section.

Epiphora can be followed on:

Twitter: @epiphora

Tumblr: heyepiphora.tumblr.com

Facebook: HeyEpiphora

Nov 26 2016

Periodicals: Sex and Sales

This is the first Periodical Section, which will be replacing Mentor posts.

Like the periodical section of a library, these posts will contain links to articles, essays and sales that have crossed my screens in the previous week or two and may be of interest to the kinky, sex positive people who read the site and listen to the podcast.

Writings may be recent, or they may be older–there’s no expiration date on useful information.

  • Let’s start this entire new feature with a something impressive. How about a Norwegian video series on puberty and sex? Yeah? Yeah!

Nov 25 2016

Episode 032 Ethical Porn for Dicks

Episode the Thirty-Second; Wherein the Pageist deals with misogynistic British people, revamps her website as a service to the community and learns all sorts of interesting things about porn. The book reviewed is Ethical Porn for Dicks: A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure by Dr David Ley.

.49 Intro and Announcements:

  • The show is in Botswana and Laos. Yippee!
  • The Patreon site now has an intro video. It was super hard to make so check it out, please.

5.12 My Submissive Life:

13.08 Book Review:

  • Ethical Porn for Dicks: A Man’s Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure by Dr David Ley. In under 250 pages, Dr Ley debunks common myths regarding porn and its use including adverse effects on a person’s mental, physical and sexual health. Accessible and humorous, this has something for porn consumers, partners of those who consume porn, and people who want to be more ethical in their consumption.
    Other topics covered are the differences between male and female sexuality and the way they’re viewed in our culture and various strategies for dealing with any problems a person may have with their own porn use.
  • Dr David Ley’s page on Psychology Today
  • Dr David Ley’s Twitter (which it’s great): @DrDavidLey

23.00 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be interviewing the author of this episode’s book, Dr David Ley!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to this website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • Subscribe, stream or download from libsyn here. All episodes are available in a pop out player on this page.

Nov 22 2016

Miss Vera’s Guide to Cross Gender Fun for All

[This is the text of the book review from episode 31 of the podcast.]

This episode the book is Miss Vera’s Cross Gender Fun for All by Veronica Vera.

I received this book for free, but after you hear this review I doubt you’ll think I’m lying about anything.

At the start the book is billed as

‘A cross gender guide to practical transformation.’

And that does happen…around page 71. The first half of the book is about Miss Vera and how she got to where she is—when she started Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to be Girls and so forth.

If you specifically want to learn about playing with gender you can start at 71. There are some interesting statements and things to chew on in the first half, but if you’re wondering when the premise of the book kicks in—halfway through.

That’s when you fill out what would be your Miss Vera’s Finishing School Enrollment form. It includes your current gender and cross gender, current name and proposed name, measurements and questions. Questions are things like what would you like to nurture or enhance about yourself and who your cross gender role models are.

Gender play isn’t something I’ve given much thought to, but I’m game. Wow, did I not realise how little attention I paid to men until this came up. Who the hell were my role models?

I love this sort of thing, though. When you think about yourself or the world in a new way. Realising you hadn’t noticed something because you’re just living your life.

Earlier we were supposed to choose a symbol of our cross gender self. At first I thought it would be a tie. Then it dawned on me—a waistcoat. In the States it’d be a vest. I’ve always loved a waistcoat on a man or a woman and I have several.

Then it hit me. My cross gender role model is Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds. Those smart, awkward (boy can I identify), soft-spoken, well-dressed guys. He even has long hair most of the time, which I like on a guy.

Fun fact: that character was originally supposed to be bisexual and the Emily Prentiss character was supposed to be a lesbian, but the studio nixed both of those plans. Typical.

In general, I had a difficult time with the assignment, though, because I’m not feminine. In pretty much any way. I took a quiz recently and received ‘casually masculine.’ Fittingly, I got the quiz from Laura Antoniou’s Facebook page and she received the same result.

The author of the book says people tell themselves they can’t do the cross gender thing because:

I’m too much of a guy/gal to ever make this work.

For me, I’m already about 65% dude so… yeah. I’m too much of a guy to make this work the way you want, I think. I’m just like, a dude who likes to wear a skirt and riding boots and a corset on occasion. And I really like those kinds of guys, too. The guys who wear eyeliner and nail polish sometimes? Guys who wear whatever they feel like that day.

While we’re on that subject. There’s a lot of talk about the gender binary and how it’s outmoded and such and so, and I’m right there. Indeed. But there’s not really a discussion about two-spirit or agender or the myriad other options Lee Harrington talks about in Traversing Gender.

I mean, what if you’re a bio-woman and your cross gender self is a really effeminate gay guy? Or what if you’re a bio-male but your cross gender self is a really butch lesbian? Do you have to buy into nails and hair and make up? This isn’t addressed but there’s much talk about ‘balance’ and how there’s a man in every woman and a woman in every man. Is it a pendulum? Since I’m in the middle—not very girly the vast majority of the time—would my gross gender self naturally not be very masculine by our current definition?

Which brings me to a part of the enrollment form that made my eyebrows disappear right into my hairline. Under the ‘your goals’ section an applicant is supposed to choose what qualities he or she would like to enhance based on the gender icon they are crossing to. Masculine includes things like: Logical, strong, hardworking, stoic, leader, Dominant, confidant, active. Feminine included: Fragile, playful, sexy, emotional, follower/supporter, submissive, thoughtful, compassionate, desirable.

I’m pulling this podcast over for a second. Mostly because blood is about to shoot out of my nose. This is offensive to both groups because it’s saying not only, say, women aren’t naturally logical, but men can’t be sexy. Women can’t be hardworking and men can’t be compassionate. None of these are compliments! If these are things people tell themselves about themselves I have such sorrow for the average human. Everyone needs to be in therapy! No wonder the world is so messed up.

Also, looking down this list—if these traits really are indicative of typical male and female personalities, then I’m more like 85% male.

Where was I? Oh right.

The author talks about the time she cross…something. It wasn’t really cross-dressing because she remained in her dress, but she had a beard applied. Her experiences with strap-on play were interesting, though. She talked about getting the experience of being a guy after trying it a few different ways.

The stories about real peoples’ experiences, in general, were some of the most valuable parts. Reading how accessing a different part of a person’s personality—something they didn’t know was there before—was quite moving. A book of those sorts of stories, or at least more of those, would have been interesting.

So I’ve done the parts I like, which was the second half. The first half, well, I had some issues.

Well. The first half wasn’t all bad.

Technically, it includes the cover, which has photos of a series by Hana Pesut called ‘Switcheroo’ where opposite sex couples switched clothes. So there’s one shot in their own clothes, then there’s with the couple recreating the pose but in opposite sex clothes and positions. If that makes sense. My friend Bean recognized it instantly. There’s a link to a slide show of some of the pieces in the show notes—it’s pretty cool.

She had also read Miss Vera’s book Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls. Which I had not heard of until that moment.

The first thing I have to confront is a serious health risk: The author advocates binding with ACE bandages. No. No. And no. There are safety risks that include breast tissue breaking down and permanent damage to lungs and ribs. This is a link with more info, and here is yet another one. Short version: bandages like ACE bandages are designed to get tighter with movement. This is not a thing you want!

This is one of my favourite quotes of the book. I stared at it for thirty full seconds:

My school and I have helped to change the face & the figure of society.

I know individual lives have been changed radically and for the better—that is obvious from the few stories that are included—but the whole of society? Steady on, there, Ozymandias.

There were things in the first half that were thought-provoking, though. For example:

Clothing has always been connected to the way in which we experience and identify gender. The act of cross-dressing, wearing clothing of the opposite sex, changes what we project as well as what we interpret about others. Never just a fashion statement, nor only about pleasure, cross-dressing is about liberation, expansion and a shift in power.

Also, what is defined as appropriate for men or women changes over time. High heels were originally designed for men. And of course everyone used to wear robes. When I was converting to Judaism my rabbi asked me how I would respond to the proclamation that women shouldn’t wear men’s garments like trousers. I said that if the trousers were made for women they were women’s trousers. He said right on.

As a sidebar can we stop calling them pantsuits and just call them suits? It’s also marriage not gay marriage, fuck’s sake.

Back to what the author was saying about the shift in power that comes with cross-dressing. She’s certainly correct there. We imbue clothing with such power and not just male or female but blue-collar versus white collar, as well. And then the colour of the skin of the person wearing those clothes plays into what power we give…just fabric, after all.

Our society, though, has decided that transwomen of colour have the least worth. Someone with a certain skin tone, designated a certain sex at birth decides to wear a certain type of fabric and our society finds that so intolerable that person’s life is worth less than other people’s.

I can’t help but notice that all of the photographs in this book are of white people. The Finishing School has had thousands of people go through, I believe, so I’m sure some have been people of colour, but it’s interesting that there’s no representation of that here. Maybe it’s because no one was comfortable being photographed when the call went out. Maybe there are other factors of which I’m unaware.

But there have been twenty-five trans and gender nonconforming homicides this year and at least 21 were either black or Latinx so it seems like, perhaps, there are others in our society who need to feel seen and worthy and beautiful.

Maybe I’m just sensitive to seeing white people everywhere right now because all we seem to be doing is screwing things up and dismissing people who aren’t white.

Anyway. I mentioned before about the project of creating your cross-gender other. In the first half, the author mentions your iconic other—the person you’ll be creating.

This iconic other will serve as your guardian angel, your personal champion, your inner slut—whatever you need to feel balance in your life.

As a submissive I’ve often thought of this as finding your inner Dom/me. Finding the person in your brain who will get you to do the thing. Whatever ‘the thing’ is. The washing up. The essay. Your exercises. ‘If you had a D-type right now she’d be giving you The Look.’ Subs will know what I mean. No sub wants The Look.

So if you’re not on the Dominant/submissive scale this could work for you. Find that other side of yourself find your inner Dom/me. Or your personal champion, which is sort of what a good D-type is—someone who wants you to be your best and can help you get there.

There’s a resource guide in the back that’s solid. It’s one of the best parts of the book. Kevyn Aucoin books for makeup-yes and yes. Those books are works of art. There’s a makeup guide in this book for men trying to hide a five o’clock shadow, but YouTube probably has step-by-step guides that are easier to follow and pause and such.

She also recommends The Very Short Introductions guides to anything, because there are who knows how many of those. If there’s something you want to know about—check one of those out. They’re pocket sized and accessible.

Then, if you want to be more in control of your finances, she recommends Suze Orman. That woman scares me. She’s very intense. But she’ll get your finances in order. She’s a whole different type of findom. She’ll scare your finances into order.

The font is large and the margins are wide—there are also several full-page photos, which are great. I loved seeing people in their various incarnations, but it has less content than a typical 145 page book. On the other hand, it took two days to read. You could read it in an afternoon, easy.

Overall, it’s a mixed bag. This book made me think about some things I hadn’t before. It certainly made me break out my waistcoats and ties. It could have benefited from more personal stories and explanation and less about the author.

If you’re looking for just fun gender play, especially female to male: 3/5

If you’re a middle class white male interested in exploring his female side, you could probably find more practical information online, but this is still more geared to you: 4/5

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