Four Star Turds; On Being Constantly Disappointed by Humanity

There’s a trend that’s got right on my tits. A sex positive (or kink-positive) company or feminist person is out there, being sex positive and repping the community and saying some good things and just being great.

And you share some stuff of theirs online—on social media.

Then someone says, ‘Oh, didn’t you know, that person is an abuser.’ ‘That person is transphobic as hell.’ ‘That company has some toxic views on women.’ Uh… it’s a sex toy company… ‘Yup, owned by someone with some GROSS views on women.’

I’m not referring to any one person right now because I was thinking about certain people and companies when writing this piece for the podcast and in the ten days between then and adapting it to post, other things have happened. Both in the vanilla world–where people with a long history of feminism have behaved in misogynistic ways–and in the sex positive industry, where a sex toy company reacted entirely the wrong way to being gently corrected on someone’s gender.

It’s something that happens so regularly that if I used names in this piece, future readers would think, ‘Wow, since then we’ve had the news about [whomever] being a massive disappointment in three weeks’/six months’/two years’ time.’

This is the sort of thing that becomes dated fast. And that is fucking depressing.

Now when some new human arrives on the general scene of life–be they celebrity of any calibre or politician I just wait until they say or do something terrible.

Other people go right into fangirl/guy mode, swooning away. And I’m in the corner, squinting. Suspicious as hell.

There’s the saying, ‘All your favs are problematic.’

But they shouldn’t be. Perhaps we shouldn’t idolize trash humans. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic here, but asking people to not be giant, spicy assholes shouldn’t be an imposition.

And it’s not just out in the world of vanilla people with their fuzzy consent and rampant rape culture. Every week it’s some other company or person within the kink or sex community who’s being gross. And forget the general population. After fifty-three percent of white women voted for someone who bragged about sexual assault I knew exactly who I could trust on feminist issues. (Not most white women.)

My life, professionally and socially, resides in the realm of sex and kink education and entertainment so I don’t have to deal with the unenlighted vanilla masses most of the time. Yet, still, some ideas from the wider world make their way in and just ruin my good time.

Yes, humans are judgmental dickweasels, as a group, but the sex and kink positive community should be more aware and accepting of wacky things like consent, identity, gender issues and all the things that come up surrounding bodily autonomy and individual freedom. I expect more from my team. You want your group to be better.

Long term experience has made me not trust anyone.

Them: ‘Hi! I’m new to the sex positive community!’

Me: :squints: ‘What’s wrong with you?’

Them: ‘I’m sorry?’

Me: ‘Something’s wrong with you. State your malfunction, please. Racism? Homophobia? Whorephobia? Kinkphobia? Do you use your place in the community to abuse people then gaslight them? What? Eventually we’ll all find out just… out with it. Save us all the time and disappointment.’

You can’t live your life that way, though—not ever trusting anyone. So for me it’s about long-term actions. Because people can write some beautiful words for a significant period of time and turn out to be turds of the highest calibre. Four Star Turds. Turds with security clearance.

Don’t tell me you’re a safe person—if you’re actually a safe person that will become apparent over a period of time. If my instant, unwavering trust is more important than my genuine peace of mind and intellectual connection then that’s a warning sign for me. Why do you need to convince me of your goodness? Just let me see it over time. And if I don’t see it then that’s my loss. I’m just being a distrustful meanie poohead and you’re an innocent in all of this. Take that knowledge and be on your way. Be mad at all the people I couldn’t trust who turned me into such a jerkface.

I don’t get what’s so difficult about letting other people live their lives. People of colour, people of all genders and orientations, sex workers, people with kinks that aren’t yours, whatever. These are all things that have nothing to do with your life. If you leave any of these groups of people alone, they’re going to say, ‘We’d like equal rights,’ but they’re also just going to go about living their own lives, minding their own business.

Hatred of any of these groups is like seeing someone walking down the street and walking over and going,

‘Hey! Your simple existence makes me unhappy!’

Which is your problem, not theirs, until you make it theirs.

The hater is the disruptive one. The thing they hate about the other people is immutable. You can’t legislate away … any of it. Even sex work. Still gonna be there. Making it illegal just makes it more dangerous and puts women at risk.

Why do you give a shit what other people do?

Speaking of what other people do—these cheesedicks who use their place in the community to abuse people. What they do does harm others and so they can be chucked off a pier with a concrete helmet on. It harms the community, it harms the individuals involved and it sets the precedent that that sort of behaviour will be tolerated or even condoned.

It shouldn’t be tolerated or condoned. You know better. We know better.

Stop being Four Star Turds.

[This originally appeared in an abbreviated format in episode 63 of The Pageist podcast.]

Gynecologist Appointments and Sexual Assault

[CW: sexual assault]

I’ve had six pap smears and one colposcopy. Seven times speculums have been introduced into my body. The colposcopy (which is to test for HPV after an abnormal smear result) was done under anaesthetic, due to the pain involved during regular exams.

So I can remember six glorious experiences. Only one of which wasn’t horrible.

Doctors, you need to do better. It can’t be that I’ve just happened to get three uncaring physicians. (One person did three of my delightful procedures, another did two.) And I do give them credit—they were each awful in their own distinct ways.

If I’ve had to deal with this level of callousness, then other people have, too. People have to deal with this every day.

Dr. Guy

So named because he was the only male doctor I’ve seen for gyno reasons. (Did you think all of them would be men since they’d been terrible?)

I can’t recall how old I was—due to sexual assault and mental illness my late teen years 16-19 blur together. This happened after my assaults and molestation and I was probably 18 or 19. Possibly 20.

There was a nurse in the room with us and all I recall was bursting into tears during the actual speculum part of the exam then, as I was crying, him putting his finger in my rectum as I sobbed. He didn’t tell me he was going to do that and because there was a sheet covering my lower body and legs the nurse couldn’t see it.

He’d been a long-time friend of my mother’s so for years I thought that must be part of the exam until no other doctor ever did that.

The doctor and nurse were both very consoling and calm and saying how it’s humiliating and the nurse said, ‘You never really get used to it—even after you get married.’ Because I come from a place where people stay virgins until marriage. Whatever, lady.

Several years go by before I wanted to have another pap smear. Even then, I didn’t want to, but I thought I should.

Nurse Doesn’t Listen

I’m not sure of this person’s title. She may have been an RN or a PA. I don’t know.

I do know I told her I didn’t partake in penetration (and hadn’t done so) and so needed whatever speculum she used on virgins.

Fine. Sure.

We do the exam and it hurts like hell. I nearly pass out.

This is when she informs me she used the regular speculum because ‘You’re a grown up now—you can use the regular speculum.’

Sidebar: I don’t have vaginismus, for those of you wondering, I’m just unaccustomed to penetration.

Those results came back fine and I was relieved not to need another smear for years.

But years do pass and I needed to see her again.

I know it seems insane that I would return to the same person. Life is difficult for me to manage. I thought if I explained about the previous time and made myself really clear, she’d listen.

Nurse Doesn’t Listen Round Two

My husband went with me this time, as I was married, but we explained we were asexual and didn’t have sex and last time, etc.

I don’t know which speculum she used but I thought I was going to faint and informed her of this.

Her response: ‘You’re not going to faint.’

Weirdly, she did tell me to lie back and rest a bit, though. If she really thought I wasn’t going to faint she would have hurried me along.

What? Is just saying ‘You’re not experiencing the things you’re experiencing’ supposed to work?

Then there was a reprieve! I got a doctor would was good and listened. The experience was still difficult and painful, because trauma and such, but…

Doctor This Is How You Do It

She listened to how things had gone at the previous place and that I was small and nervous and so on.

Her approach was military-like. Got in, did what she needed to do and got out again, while just asking questions about what I did and my hobbies to distract me.

It was the most pleasant unpleasant experience you could have.

Alas, my insurance changed and I had to switch providers.

We return you to our previously-scheduled horror-show.

Doctor Stunningly Beautiful but Cruel

This doctor was a doppelgänger for an actress I had a crush on for years—someone who was my ideal of beauty. When she left the room the first time I turned to my husband and said, ‘Is it just me or does she look like [Probably Very Nice Actress]?’

Him: I was just thinking that!

That didn’t stop her from being the worst of the bunch.

You might ask yourself how a person could top the crew I’ve listed above, well, hold on to your britches.

The first round doesn’t go well because it never does and I nearly pass out. They do bring me orange juice and crackers, though.

There’s some abnormal cells and they need to do a colposcopy.

Dr Maleficent (she doesn’t look like Angelina Jolie, it just seems like a good name) did the colposcopy, but that was under anaesthetic, because apparently it was unpleasant even for people who handle smears well, so no thank you. The bill for the anaesthetist was $1000, though, which they didn’t tell me about beforehand and yes it was with the ACA. Don’t need health care in the States, kids.

The colposcopy came back and yup, I had the HPV. I’m not thrilled with how this is handled, as I find out through my insurance provider rather than the doctor’s office. So that’s how I found out I had HPV and when I had to come to terms with something I had been in denial about for many years—having been sexually assaulted.

We finally have a face-to-face meeting about this after I’ve processed and written about it and done my own research and cried and all sorts of things. She’s telling me how it’s spread and talking about sexual activity and I tell her I got it from an assault. It’s the first time I’ve said this out loud to another person. So she knows and I assume it goes in my file.

During this conversation I also learn I’d need smears every six months for 18 months to 3 years to keep an eye on the cells

This was when I decided to take up medicinal masturbation, so I could at least get through each smear without wanting to die.

The next smear came up. I’ve been fiddling with myself even though I didn’t really want to and it was less terrible. Dr Maleficent exclaimed, ‘You’re getting better!’ Like I’m improving at being able to take a stranger touching me somewhere I really don’t want to me touched.

She knew how I contracted HPV. She knew I had no other, positive sexual experiences and she congratulates me on getting better! at dealing with pap smears.

Then, the second the exam is over, she’s off, out of the room. To see another patient, I guess. They must be busy, I figure. Nope. She’s just chatting in an empty room with her nurse. Really? You couldn’t sit and make sure the assault victim was okay after that?

Trauma Doesn’t Vanish in the Exam Room

Just because you’re a doctor and you’re trying to help or don’t mean any harm or aren’t even doing anything you consider sexual doesn’t mean the person on the table in front of you is experiencing the situation the same way. After awhile all bodies probably look like lands to be mapped or mysteries to be solved, but we’re individual people with fears and traumas and pains.

Luckily, the results of that final exam were clear, but I have to have a pap every year now to be sure it doesn’t return. I had a go at the medicinal masturbation last week and it hurt like a motherfucker. I thought I was warmed up and ready to go, but apparently not. Really looking forward to my next smear test, which is this Thursday. It’ll be a brand new person. Can’t wait to find out what their nickname will be.

[Update: Post-appointment]

Nurse NHS FTW

The more I deal with the NHS, the more respect and admiration I have for it. My appointment yesterday was with a nurse, who listened, was compassionate and said, ‘There’s no need for that [attitude from the doctors and nurses]’ when I explained how I’d been treated in the past. When I gave details of my lack of sexual experience, she switched out the medium speculum for the small without prompting and even had me laughing by the end of the procedure.

I felt a little light-headed during, but she checked on me in that regard to make sure I was all right, and it passed quickly. There was no physical pain for the first time during one of these exams.

I actually don’t dread returning for my next exam, which is pretty much a miracle. Perhaps I should have called this one Nurse Modern Miracle.

[This piece was also shared on Medium–if you’re a member there, please consider giving it some love.]

A Solution for All Your Unsolicited Peen Woes

If WikiFeet is a new site to you, please read my post first. It’d mean a lot to me.

In episode 56 of my show I mentioned a writer and comedian named Sarah Benincasa. She wrote a book called Real Artists Have Day Jobs.

Awhile back on Instagram she posted a photo of her entry on WikiFeet, which is an open source wiki for images of celebrities’ feet. A couple people were appalled and her response was, ‘It’s just a site for foot fetishists—nothing wrong with that.’ So, you know, A+ for her on that front.

This was my introduction to WikiFeet, which of course I had to share with Walter and he instantly had an idea.

WikiDicks. :extravagant hand gesture:

It’s not what you think, though. Or maybe it is.

It’s a site where people can send aaaaall the unsolicited dick picks they get and then, like WikiFeet, they can be rated from one to five stars.

There could be a second rating for quality of the photo, because there’s a skill to taking a shot of your junk.

There are problems, yes. Like if it’s a really good photo and a really attractive dick (that still doesn’t make it okay to send to someone without their permission), then people would be stealing it to send when someone requested a dick pick to find out what they’d be getting.

So this conversation would become common:

‘Hey, how’d that date go?’

‘It didn’t. I asked for the dick pick and he sent that SAME WikiDick I’ve got from the last three guys. I don’t have time for liars.’

‘You know, one day, that actual dude is going to send you a pic of his actual dick and you’re going to turn him down. Imagine—that dick with those photography skills and you’re going to miss out.’

One set of ratings on WikiFeet.

There could also be user-submitted pics, if they wanted tips on how to take a better crotch shot or were simply looking for a rating in general. That would be a paid service.

Because we’d need to make money to fund the massive number of servers we’d be operating.

I could totally see groups of women cracking open a bottle of wine or four and cackling over the stories of the unsolicited cock-shots. Because that would be part of the fun—the story behind the photo. ‘This was this guy’s opening salvo—his salutation, if you will. No words, just a blurry shot of…this. Luckily, he then included eight more angles in case I didn’t get the message of the only thing he was offering. Not a word did he type, though. For I did not need to know more. And he was right!’

I’m sure gay men would have a great time with it, too. Oh honey, would the gay men enjoy it.

There could be tags! Like keywords, so if you were in a mood to see a whole bunch of five star photography level, veiny cocks with a slight leftward curve, there you go!

Strangers around the world have provided them for you. With comedy commentary.

Another set of info. Guess who I searched for.

There could be a third rating, as well. ‘Ability of user’ or ‘cocksship’ or something. For those who’d tried out said appendage. It would be difficult to verify actual contact, of course, so all reviews of that nature would have to be taken in the of spirit of camaraderie. Or some other gender-neutral term for people exposed to unwanted cock. Cockraderie? ‘We’re all cockrades. Putting up with unsolicited dick in the inbox. Pass the wine and let’s gripe.’

Inevitably, dicks would be recognised. ‘Wait… that’s my ex. He was such a douche, always sending his dick out to everyone and had that birthmark that looked like Texas. Let me tell you—it’s a nice piece but he just lies there.’

Others would be okay with this. ‘Yeah, but I’m into that… do you still have his number? Private message me.’

WikiDicks could work on many, many levels, I’m telling you.

Of course now, someone is going to contact me and say, ‘Oh, this is a real site—it just has a different name.’

I pre-emptively respond to that with: WHY ISN’T IT CALLED WIKIDICKS—THAT’S THE PERFECT NAME.

{I used male pronouns for the cock-owners throughout because it seems unlikely female cock-havers are throwing it around without consent.}

{This originally appeared in an abbreviated form as part of the My Submissive Life segment of episode 58 of The Pageist podcast.}

Anxiety, Indecision and the Looming Spectre of Death

[CW: suicide, depression]

I’ve taken a break from all the work I haven’t been doing to write this, in the hope it’ll help get some of it out of my system. This post has a little to do with kink, tangentially, but if you’re looking for something hot and sexy, it’s not going to be here.

How It Started

Three weeks ago, my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour—it’s highly treatable and most likely he’ll be fine. If you have to get a brain tumour, I recommend one on your pituitary gland.

Cognitively, I know this will probably be a blip in his health history. That hasn’t stopped The Anxiety from creeping in and settling in my stomach like an unwelcome thing that’s had too much coffee. It’s got the jitters and it won’t stop yammering.

My husband is my best friend and the first person I’ve known whose presence doesn’t drain me. We can spend days together and I don’t feel the need to recharge. I can’t imagine my life without him. He is kind and sweet and funny and gentle and nerdy and goofy. He’s the first person I fell in love with—prior to him I didn’t know I had the capacity to love anyone.

What I Worry About, How Likely it Is, and What the Outcome Would Be

I worry…

he’ll have another seizure (or some other medical emergency) when we’re not together. The seizure he had that prompted the trip to the emergency department didn’t look like anything from the outside. He just got very confused and couldn’t think of the words he wanted to use. Now that he’s taking medication to shrink the tumour (the seizure was caused by the tumour pressing on his brain) it shouldn’t be a problem, but that doesn’t stop me worrying about it.

he’ll die in his sleep. That’s not a listed side effect of the tumour or treatment, just an irrational side effect of being confronted with his mortality. Cue picturing what that would be like to wake up to and cope with step-by-step. Thank you, brain.

if something does happen to him, I won’t be able to support myself. We have life insurance but who knows if it would pay out and, at this point, no, I wouldn’t be able to support myself. More on this in a later section.

if something happens, I’d have to return to the States. I would, as I have no claim to remain in the U.K. This would be particularly terrible, as I love it here. This is the first time I’ve been happy in a geographic location in my life. Not only would I have to return to the States, I’d probably have to live with my mother, which is a circle even deeper in Hell for reasons covered in a later section.

The idea of having to deal with an international move after losing the best person I know… it’s doing my head in, as they say here. Usually when I should be sleeping.

How These Worries Manifest Themselves

I can’t sleep. I can’t read (which is part of my job so it’s important). I can’t write (see previous parenthetical). I can’t get back into a routine, which is important for my mental stability.

Trying to form a plan in order to feel a bit more in control, let alone implement the steps in said plan, is shall-we-say ‘difficult’ under the circumstances.

The phrase ‘paralysed by indecision’ keeps coming into my head. What should I do? Should I give up trying to make this business work and try something more stable, if I can even make that happen? How long will it be before I feel safe and can stop worrying about him every second he’s not in my sight or asleep?

‘How Is It Possible a 39 Year Old Can’t Support Herself?’

Mental illness is a hell of a thing, what can I say. It prevented me from finishing high school and college/uni. The jobs I’ve been able to hold in the past never paid enough to support a whole human being. My mother helped pay my rent for a long time (and I didn’t live extravagantly, my two jobs and still no insurance simply didn’t cover rent and food and bills) and I had some delightful credit card debit. Because food had to be purchased so I didn’t die.

My mother can’t afford to help with rent now, but she’d be thrilled for me to move back in with her. She lives in a town of 8,000 in the Deep South in the U.S. When I lived there I bit my nails until they bled and pulled my eyelashes out compulsively. It’s called trichotillomania and it’s not a good time. I don’t like there and there don’t like me.

In the last two years I’ve actually figured out what I can do with my life and I’ve begun taking steps to make it into a career. It’s writing and podcasting about kink. Also eventually doing voice-overs and audio books and teaching and other things in this field. Other people do this and don’t starve so I know it’s possible; it’s about building an audience and marketing and doing the boring business stuff that’s required while your incredible partner does most of the financial heavy-lifting in the household.

I recognise how incredibly privileged I am to be able to attempt to do this full-time from the start. Simultaneously, if I wasn’t doing this, I don’t know what I would be doing, as mental illness is a hell of a thing, as I’ve said, and doing jobs out in the world were both mentally and physically draining to the point where I was only just surviving—going to work then going home. I wasn’t contributing anything to the world, I wasn’t improving myself and I wasn’t making enough money to even pay all of my own bills.

The thought of having to return to that non-existence, in my hometown, with my mother (who is nice in her own way but drives me completely insane) is enough to put me back in that headspace of ‘I could always kill myself.’

I know that sounds glib, but that was a serious option in my mind from the time I was 12. And remained so until shortly after I married my husband. Finally, for the first time in 25 years, suicide and self harm didn’t seem like a good idea or even an option. I wanted to be alive even if I didn’t feel like I had a purpose. Then, I found a purpose in life! Something I never thought would happen—figuring my life would be spent passing time, just trying not to be a raging jerk to other people.

Discovering a reason for living was a revelation. Partially because I didn’t think I’d ever have one and partially because looking forward to getting up in the morning was an entirely new experience. Rather than having zero ideas or motivation for living, I suddenly had a plethora of ideas and plans for what I wanted to do and it could benefit other people. I felt useful and energised for the first time.

I’m not having suicidal ideation now, but remembering what it was like living like I was before immediately puts me back in the ‘what’s the point of this again?’ state of mind. I could easily be right back there again, mentally.

How I’m Trying to Combat This

I may need to return to seeing a therapist, but who knows how long it will take to get in and whether or not that person is kink-friendly, since part of my anxiety is being able to make my kink-based business self-reliant while staving off the terror my favourite person in the world is going to die horribly and far too young. I’ll never meet anyone else like him and living without him scares me to death.

I’m trying to be rational, though. This tumour (that he has named Lurker, since it’s been there for months) will most likely take his leave with little fanfare, in the grand scheme of things, and it would be best for me to focus my efforts on building the business. Knowing I was working towards being able to support myself (as well as being productive in general) would help allay much of my anxiety about life, the universe and everything.

Knowing what would help and actually implementing the plan are two different things, however. I try to work and … just can’t. My brain would rather play mindless games on my phone or check social media for the hundredth time. I can’t seem to get it together to do the things I know I need to. My brain goes to white noise when I try to concentrate. I’m probably supposed to be being kind to myself right now, but that would be much easier if myself would do the things that would help mitigate my anxiety most.

Me: ’Hey, brain, if you do these things, it’ll help you feel better.’
Brain: ’Yeah, I know but have you considered [hanging cadence].’
Me: ’Focus! Just do this one thing! You’ll make money and it’s been on your list for two months!’
Brain: ’Okay, let’s check Twitter for five hours first.’
Me: ‘Fine. I’ll lower the bar. How about we accomplish this one thing today. One thing? Please?’
Brain: ‘Okay. Have you seen this game, though?’

I carry the (quite good!) book I was supposed to have finished reading days ago from bed, where I intend to read a bit before sleep but don’t, to the sofa in the morning, where I intend to read, but don’t. I make notes on the various pieces I want to write for my site and to pitch to other sites but can’t wrangle the attention span to send the pitches or write the actual pieces. I can’t sleep until I’m utterly exhausted and the sun is high in the sky. Then I sleep a bit and get up and have that conversation with my brain again.

It’s exhausting not accomplishing anything and I don’t know how to deal with it because I’ve never been in this situation before. I’ve never had things I wanted to do and not been able to make myself do them because everything just seemed to require a bit too much brain power.

So here we are. I’m trying. I’m struggling, but I’m trying.

The Things We Wish For: A Cautionary Tale

At eleven pm last night, as I was finally settling down in my too hot bed (because they don’t really do A/C in England), after being awake thirty-two hours (because I have a terrible time sleeping) there began fireworks.

On a June 17…

It wasn’t a long display, but immediately after, live music kicked off.

Was it for the Queen’s birthday? I asked my English husband. No, they don’t usually do that (fireworks or live concerts in the middle of the night) for her Majesty.

It sounded like it was nearby.

The music was loud enough I could make out songs—it was a cover band. ‘Living on a Prayer’ and a manic version of ‘I Will Survive’ a la Cake were a couple choice selections. The bass was reverberating in the bed that I desperately wanted to be sleeping in.

Mystified, my husband went out to investigate while I lie there, looking through dailyinfo.co.uk, the local events schedule for Oxford. Nothing that matched this cacophony was scheduled in our suburb or in Oxford itself.

Eventually, Walter returned and reported that it was ‘so strange’ because the music seemed loudest on our street, but it wasn’t even in our suburb. As he was walking, the cars driving by and the wind seemed to be knocking the music in different directions, but it became clearest when he turned back up our street to return home.

Enigma unsolved, he got on NextDoor, a neighbourhood forum, and asked any neighbours who may be awake and aware of what was going on.

One responder didn’t know the exact reason but added jovially, ‘Oxford in summer, eh?!’

Wait. So this is normal? But why? They didn’t say.

Finally, someone else on NextDoor did know. It was the Christchurch end of year ball.

We live nowhere near Christchurch. But sure enough. Fireworks at 10.20 and live music until 3. Then a silent disco from 3 to 5am. (That’s where you wear wireless headphones to listen to the live music.)

So this is something that happens every year this time. Okay.

Of course, other colleges have them, too. Not all 33 colleges, thank the old gods and the new, but several. Enough that the upcoming weekends are going to be an emotional whirlwind.

This is a Difficult Timeline for Me

Oxford has been my happy place since I was 22. England has been my happy place since I was 16. When people have difficult childhoods they develop ways to escape—some use drink or drugs or sex, others use fantasy worlds they create or read about.

England was my escape. It was a real place I could move to one day. I understood people left you alone in public and didn’t pry, it was beautiful, liberal, and, most importantly, it was very far away from where I grew up.

So when I decided to really settle in to writing my first novel (my actual first had no plot or direction and was abandoned a few chapters in at 17 years old) it would, of course, take place in England. So I could live there in my mind at least.

I chose Oxford University as the setting and the more I learned about the city and the university, the more I loved it.
After that, Oxford was my go-to fantasy place. All of my stories were set there. It’s just where I lived in my head.

That novel was 2,400 words long and took two years to write—I learned much about England and Oxford in that time, but somehow not about these end of year balls. Or, if I did, I didn’t realise how loud they’d be. When I’d visited the city for research it had been in November so I’d missed out on the music blaring across the city.

I didn’t really think I’d ever get to move to England. And certainly not to Oxford. When it happened it was a dream come true.

But the dream wasn’t supposed to work out this way. And when you only get part of a dream you’ve had for the majority of your adult life it can be disappointing. If you want to laugh at the white woman who didn’t get everything she wanted, that’s fine. I understand how entitled that sounds. Read on—my pain can be your hilarity.

The University and Why End-of-Term is Going to Be Unpleasant

Oxford University is the second oldest university in the world. It’s the oldest English-speaking one. People have been teaching in Oxford for a thousand years.

In my first novel, my protagonist was a student at the University (New College). Because I thought I could have gone here. And I probably could have if I’d had help for the mental illnesses that kicked off when I was eight and if my alcoholic father had spent more time giving me confidence rather than telling me women couldn’t do anything.

Instead, my mother was dealing with her own burgeoning alcoholism and mental health problems—possibly due to dealing with my father. She didn’t have a lot of time to pay attention to me or my issues.

I had a high I.Q. though and everyone told me I was going to do amazing things—my parents were already saving for college when I was eight. This was something no one in my family had done before—gone to college—so saving for it seemed like they were doing something radical, but I was crazy smart, so it was going to be worth it.

(Yes, my father simultaneously told me I was pointless for being female and put money aside for college for me. I don’t pretend to understand him and I didn’t cry when he died.)

The thing about achieving academic success is that you have to show up. And study. It’s much easier to do both of those things when you don’t have untreated depression and anxiety and don’t go through a period every. single. year. where you want to kill yourself.

So Oxford was the place I could have gone in the timeline where my parents weren’t shit parents but I had the exact same genetics.

Everyone in our culture receives the message that in order to be smart you have to have a degree. (I worked at a university in North Carolina—plenty of people got degrees by simply showing up and doing what they were told. Trust me—a piece of paper proves nothing.)

If you’re naturally intelligent, though, you really receive this message. You have to use your intelligence in a way that involves getting paper that can be framed. When I was converting to Judaism, after several meetings and a dinner with his wife, who was a professor at the local university, my rabbi said to me, in a rather surprised tone, ‘Rose* noticed how smart you are, too,—now we just have to get you a degree.’

Not in anything. Just a degree.

Being smart doesn’t count unless someone else says so. You have to prove it by following the rules.

The Degrees I’ve Attempted—The Money I’ve Wasted

Every dinner I had at Rose and the Rabbi’s house people would ask what I was studying (I was young enough to be a student). Then I’d have to explain I wasn’t at university (while my face turned brighter red than my hair) because I just wasn’t any good at organised education.

People don’t take your word for it, though. They never do with mental illness. They don’t see what goes into dealing with whatever you’re dealing with because it’s invisible.

‘But you’re so smart!’ They’d all exclaim.

They don’t give degrees for just being smart, though. You have to be able to walk into the classroom. And sit for the duration. And focus on the topic—not on the fact that you’re surrounded by people or your own breathing in an effort to calm down.

You have to be able to actually get out of bed and get dressed and washed and there and still have the energy to do all of those other things.

And not only once. You have to do it a lot. For many classes.

Then you can’t just go home and collapse from the exhaustion involved with all of that—you have to study and do coursework.

This is if the only thing you have to do in life is school. No chores, no family, no work to pay bills.

For a person with depression and anxiety that was impossible.

It took me six years (and three schools) to get to within two classes of an Associate’s degree, signing up every semester for full-time and winding up dropping (or just not showing up).

An Associate’s degree is usually a two-year degree that can be obtained at the easiest of easy institutions in the U.S.

I was at one of these institutions, during one of my better periods, taking a class that was easy for me and the teacher said, ‘You shouldn’t even be here—you should be at Harvard.’ He said it like he was disappointed in me for being in his class.

Professors at the university I worked at as an admin assistant would mistake me as another professor and be surprised I didn’t at least have a Masters.

Other people should really be thankful for their neurotypicalness.

It doesn’t matter if you’re intelligent, though. It’s that degree that says you can follow the rules and show up and turn things in on time. That’s what matters.

And it is so hard to not internalise this.

I offer these examples not as a way to brag, because they only made me feel good for a quarter of a second. Then, the message behind the statement gets nice and comfortable in my brain, which hates me.

‘You are a failure.’

‘You are inferior.’

‘You have a natural gift—this should be easy for you.’

‘You’re wasting your potential.’

‘If this is how you are without formal education, can you imagine what you’d know with it? Can you imagine what you could accomplish in the world?’

‘Oxford in Summer, Eh?’

Every year we’ll be able to hear those celebrations. And fair dues, those kids worked hard! They deserve to have a party.

Some part of me feels cheated, though. Years ago, I should have been at one of those celebrating my hard work and graduation from one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.

I could feel it. Lying in bed, I could imagine being at that concert in black tie and evening gown, surrounded by other people who had their whole lives ahead of them, but at that moment, who were there, celebrating the achievement of making it as far as they had. Some coming from other countries to study here. How hard did they have to work? How proud they—and their families—must be. It must have been a night to remember.

I was jealous and miserable.

That was before learning there would be balls over the next several weekends, as well.

The Degree I Could Get

The University of London, Goldsmiths has an English literature degree that can be achieved online in three years. Unlike courses in the U.S., you only study the subject you’re there for in the U.K. Part of my difficulty in America was the requirement to take classes I had no interest in, which gave me much more time to focus on panicking or simply left me with zero motivation to show up.

But why should I get this degree now? I’d finally have one and I’m sure I’d learn a lot—Goldsmiths is highly respected. But the chief reason I’d go for it is to be able to say I had the degree. I would have to put my new business on hold (or at least devote far less time to it), just when I’ve finally found what I want to do with my life.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want a degree. Those voices up there are still there. But, rationally, I don’t have good reason to spend the money or time getting this one.

This Timeline, Man. It Gives and It Takes.

I’m writing this in the tiny back garden of our bizarre little terraced house in suburban Oxford, where I never thought I’d live.

Neighbour’s lives in every direction are audible, because people live right up next to one another, but it’s not stifling like it would be in mid-June in coastal North Carolina, which is A+. A posh couple has just moved in next door and hearing the woman say ‘Funky’ in her accent makes my day.

I’m ridiculously happily married (to a man?!) and we had our eleventh anniversary last month. He’s having some sort of male menopause at the age of forty and has become obsessed with grilling chicken on the barbecue—something he’s never cared about before in his life.

He’s just worked out how to warm English marshmallows (3/4th the size of U.S. type) on the prongs of the tool he uses for moving the meat around and offers one to me. ‘Gooey,’ he says, offering one. They’re excellent.

If it weren’t for his financial wherewithal I’d be in who knows how much debt, as I like to shop when depressed or drunk. Now we’re completely out of debt. We have no savings to speak of, but we don’t owe anyone anything. This is basically fantasyland for me.

I’d probably also be a raging alcoholic—it was a lot easier to stop drinking with his help.

Or dead. Honestly. I’ve been suicidal in the time we’ve known one another and he got me to the hospital when I was unconscious and vomiting.

When I finally worked out what I wanted to do with my life—a podcast and website about kink education—he’s been enthusiastically supportive from the start.

It was through his English citizenship we were able to move to England. Neither of us could believe when he got the job at Oxford University, as he doesn’t have a degree, either, and U.S. institutions wouldn’t give him an interview without even a Bachelor’s.

They flew him out for an interview—the first time he’d been to the city as an adult—and he loved it. He was as in love with it as I was by the time he left.

So we got to move here. For weeks—maybe a few months—I’d wake up in the morning and think, ‘I live in England!’ I still have these moments.

He was so happy to have been able to bring me back. He was happy to be here with me, too.

And we both love Oxford. It’s beautiful and has such history and so many things to do.

But after dreaming about living here for twenty-two years, I relocated just in time for Brexit. For the Tories to try to dismantle the NHS. For a coalition government with the DUP (?!)

Americans, imagine if the Tea Party (picture the most right-wing humans you can) was its own party and they only had three senators, but in order to have a majority number of votes in the Senate, moderate Republicans formed a whole government that included teaming up with them in order to secure their votes when they needed them.

And for the Digital Economy Bill to pass.

I finally work out what I want to do with my life, after nearly forty years of a philosophy of, ‘Everything is a way of marking time until we die,’ and that thing revolves around kink and sex education and the DEB happens.

The DEB aims to ‘protect the children!’ by banning all sorts of things on the internet that anyone with VPN or Tumblr can still see. It’s poorly thought out and misogynistic. This country is supposed to be liberal. Are they going to bring back capital punishment and handguns next?

The Big Blue Tick Mark of External Validation

I’ve never been more myself or more of an adult—I have solid plans for growing a business I’m serious about that I feel has value. For the first time, I look forward to working. There are so many ideas jostling for attention it’s difficult to focus on just one sometimes.

That doesn’t stop the voices saying what I do isn’t worth as much or that I’m not living up to my potential because I don’t have that piece of paper and that I didn’t get it when I was supposed to. That I’m not doing something more conventional that can be written about in the paper. That I can’t get that blue tick mark—that I can’t be verified by life.

When your worth is measured by external validation from a young age—by a degree, for example—you value verification over your own feelings of self worth or accomplishment. Perhaps I don’t trust my own ability to judge my achievements. I just have to be happy being happy. I’m working on it.

*Not her real name.

All the Smaller For It: Kink as Orientation & Nonsexual Kink

All the Smaller For It a.k.a. Everyone Doesn’t Have to Experience Relationships the Way You Do

This week hasn’t been so swift, as my Mother likes to say when she doesn’t feel good. ‘I don’t feel so swift.’

I started Monday morning being compared to a rapist and pedophile for being kinky. Here’s what happened.

Sunday, in a conversation on Twitter, giver of hilarity and taker of will to live, I pointed out that some people believe kink is an orientation, since it’s unchangeable and present from an early age. This didn’t feel like a controversial statement to me.

Monday I woke up to someone saying that NO, kink is only sexual and if we’re going to include kinky people in LGBT then we have to include rapists and pedophiles.

I said that first—kink doesn’t have to be sexual—asexual people can be kinky (the person disagreed) and that kink is all about consent. Rape and pedophilia very much aren’t.

Then I realised—this person doesn’t know what my job is.

So I explained this is what I do—I read (books, articles, essays) and write and listen to podcasts and learn from other people and have a show, sharing information about kink. Teaching is an excellent way of learning—it helps you remember what you’ve read, synthesise information from various sources and forces you to solidify your opinions, as well as form sound reasoning behind those opinions.

This is what I do all day, seven days a week. It’s my job and my personal life.

Sarah McDonald Kinky Nerd

This is the safest image that came up when I searched for ‘kinky nerd’. It’s Sarah McDonald.

I figured they just thought I was a random person with as little information as they had.

The response I received: Good for you.

Then they told me to pick up a biology textbook because I didn’t understand how sexuality worked.

That person (and the people who agreed with them in the thread) will never listen to my show (or read this) because they aren’t interested in learning anything. They’ve decided what kink is and is not. And that is sad and infuriating, but their lives will be all the smaller for it.

They know what kink and sex is for them specifically and that’s enough for them. Which is fine—my knowing that other people experience the world a different way because either I do so myself or because I’ve read about or spoken to people who experience the world differently is enough for me.

Some people don’t believe other people when they talk about their experiences of the world—if they don’t experience it for themselves it doesn’t exist for them. They believe only their experience of anything is ‘correct’ and everything else is wrong and must be explained or accounted for rather than simply accepted as a different way of living in the world.

I need to learn to leave people alone when they don’t want to learn.

I have this wacky thing, though, with information. It’s free—here—understand the world and humanity better.

If you’re reading this, perhaps you’d like to understand some of the world and your fellow humans better. So, here is some information.

My presents often come in the form of information. (source)

Kink as Orientation

Kink is an orientation—for some people—because it’s how they relate to others intimately. Not just sexually, but emotionally. They are ‘oriented’ that way.

You can’t un-orient someone from their particular thing.

I should say ‘we’. Looking back, my service-oriented submissiveness was present for years before my romantic feelings for women were. I didn’t have a word for it, but I knew I wanted to be useful to a woman I admired.

For years I could describe, with many, many words how particular women (who I’d now just call Dominant) made me feel using many, many words, (which I’d now just say submissive). I could also sort of describe the type of relationship I wanted (now it’d be called a power exchange) and all the things I’d like to do (now it’d be service).

When Jillian Keenan was on Why Are People Into That?! with Tina Horn and they talked about spanking Tina asked her if she had to give up spanking or sex which would it be Jillian said sex without much pause. Tina said the same.

If that isn’t oriented towards spanking, then I don’t know what is.

(Keenan has a great article on Slate called Is Kink an Orientation.)

In the recent episodes of Tina’s show about masochism with Dirty Lola (pt1, pt2), she actually said she felt she was oriented towards sadomasochism. That it was profoundly part of her.

For some people, BDSM isn’t an orientation. It’s just something people do on occasion to spice things up—to goof around. To feel naughty. There’s nothing wrong with that.

To say that kink isn’t an orientation is like saying that because some people fool around with the same sex at a play party, no one is ever completely gay or romantically oriented towards the same sex.

Just because something works one way for you doesn’t mean it has to work that way for everyone else. Other people’s experiences are just as valid as yours.

If it’s something that you couldn’t give up—if it makes up a part of your core being and has been present since a young age—you’re oriented that way. Just like you’re whatever gender you are (or aren’t), or whatever sexuality you are.

Speaking of sexuality.

Relax. It’s not what you think. (source)

Non-Sexual Kink

Kink can be non-sexual. Even for sexual people. If your thing is rope you can enjoy tying up everyone for the art and creativity and challenge. You don’t have to want to fuck everyone in the rope.

Though I suppose some people could be so turned on by the act of tying—if they were pansexual and had a high libido—maybe they could find everyone in their rope sexy.

The point is—lots of kink can be non-sexual. Power exchange isn’t called ‘sex exchange’. It’s about power and control and trust and a thousand other things. Sex can be involved, but it doesn’t have to be.

A lot of people think power is sexy, but a lot of people think cars are sexy, too. When someone buys a new car you don’t automatically say, ‘When are you going to fuck in it?’

Just because something is deemed ‘sexy’ by the wider world doesn’t mean sex is involved.

Someone I know who is a Master and is married to his slave—he also had another slave for a time (they were all poly) and he intentionally didn’t have sex with his second slave because he didn’t want that energy to cloud the power exchange. If a full-time Master/slave relationship isn’t kinky, I don’t know what is, but they didn’t have sex.

There are also several groups of asexual kinksters on Fet. I don’t know what to tell them. ‘Some people on Twitter think you don’t exist so… Sorry.’

Kink is definitely about sex for many people. Just because it is for you doesn’t mean it has to be for everyone.

Because I’m a creative person and this is how my mind works—I began trying to work out if there were any kinks that couldn’t be practised non-sexually. The only ones that were really difficult were chastity and things like prostate milking.

Even forced orgasms could be non-sexual. It’s not something I have any interest in, but if I were in a long-term power exchange and my Ma’am was really into that, I’d do it as an act of submission. Orgasms feel good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not something I’d ever ask for or care about. After about the third I’d be yawning.

But with penises and their accoutrements—if you don’t care about that stuff…I mean, I could lock my husband’s junk up and his biggest issue would be bathing. Trying to clean an uncircumcised cock in a chastity cage is probably a real issue.

But: ‘Now, keep your hands off yourself!’

‘Okay.’

I really never thought I’d wind up writing about Walter’s dick, but there we are. It has a little turtleneck and he washes under it and then goes FOONK and pulls the covers back over its head. It’s sweet.

And it never bothers me for anything. That’s the best part.

It couldn’t make me happier if it had its own Minion sweater. (source)

The Devaluing of Sex Education

Now. The ‘Good for you’ where the person dismissed the time, energy, money and effort I put into learning and sharing information about kink.

I was shaking with rage. I’ve never had my intelligence dismissed before—to that degree, I mean, I am a woman—and I did not care for it.

They had made up their mind about what kink (and kinky people) were and didn’t care that someone else knew more and was happy to share.

I think much of this comes from our culture’s devaluing of sex education. Sex is simple and straightforward and anyone can have it. There’s nothing new to learn about it, right? So you probably already know everything there is to know. And you certainly don’t want to know more—especially about anything deviant like BDSM. Mainstream media will tell you everything you need to know about that, except that’s nearly always written by non-kinky people who don’t do research and perpetuates incorrect and harmful information from other non-kinky writers.

One of the most profound things I have learned in studying sexuality—about myself and the rest of humanity—is that sexuality is far more complicated and nuanced than we’ve been led to believe by religion or government or society. It’s beautiful and amazing. If people were just allowed to be themselves and explore, with other consenting adults, obviously, we’d all be better off. I don’t know how much work we’d get done. But there’d probably be fewer wars.

How we are oriented—how we connect with others intimately—whether it’s sexually, emotionally, how we need to structure our relationships to be most fulfilled, whatever… is when we’re being most true to ourselves. If we have to lie about that—about who we are at our core—then we’re lying about everything else. You can’t build an honest life on top of an untruth.

People who give you resources to help you be more honest with yourself and those in your life—because we can’t ‘teach’ you anything, we can just give you resources and hope you make the most of them—hope they work for you. We want you to be your most authentic self. Because when you are—you’re happier, as are the people around you. And there’s no reason to be miserable. Some people have to remain closeted due to the country they live in—or the specific area—and my heart goes out to you. But knowing yourself and knowing you’re not alone is vital, I think.

I’m a fucking sex and kink resource librarian. It’s my goal in life to accumulate even more resources to help even more people in future. If you ever come across a useful resource, send it my way, (thepageist [at] gmail) and I’ll add it to the pages on my site.

I’m going for the virtual, kinky version of this. It’s the long room at Trinity College, Dublin. More photos here.

We’ve Been Here For Years, Mofos

So this Twitter person (and several agreed) that we shouldn’t allow kinkily oriented people under the LGBT umbrella unless we were going to allow in rapists and pedophiles, too.

Well, uninformed individual who didn’t want to listen to the person who devotes their life to this, but who has a podcast, kinky people have been marching in gay pride since 1981. So HA-HA.

I thought so, but I wasn’t sure of the dates, so I would like to thank Laura Antoniou for the following information, who very graciously answered my questions on Twitter (which isn’t all evil).

My question to her was when did Leather people start marching in pride?

She had to look it up—thank you, Laura! (I wasn’t even sure where to start with that) and said the Gay Male S/M Activists (GMSMA) and the Lesbian Sex Mafia (a lesbian BDSM community) marched in 1981 in Gay Pride in New York. There was also a big Leather contingent at the 1987 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, which was possibly the first appearance of SSC—Safe Sane and Consensual—on a banner.

It’s not like regular old gay folks are promoting consent on banners out in the world. Neither are non-kinky people, for that matter. But the Leather people were.

SSC was created by the Leather community, as a way of putting the non-kinky people’s minds at ease. Because, you know, we’re so terrifying. Doing things with other people who want to do them.

Meanwhile, thirty-five years later, the vanilla world still hasn’t caught up and started using the consent model we do, which is more conscientious than theirs. The irony. It burns.

Back to Laura, though. She said her first Pride was in 1984 and she was marching with the Lesbian Sex Mafia in the early 90s, where they had regular debates on whether or not to march with the lesbians of the leathermen. To which she added ‘Imagine!’ I can just hear that in her New York accent.

She also said back then there were protests to them marching, where they were called rapists and child molesters. Charming. Good to know the haters haven’t come up with anything new in decades.

This comes back to people thinking they already know everything they need to know about those dirty perverts, though, right?

Anyone reading this who worries they are anything like that—you are fine how you are. As long as what you’re doing is consensual with another adult human being you are fine exactly how you are. It’s not your fault the people around you think they know everything there is to know about human sexuality. I know I don’t know everything and I’m excited to learn more. I know that my world is only going to expand, though; it’s not going to contract—that’s not how it works. You just learn about new and varied ways people connect and relate—both to others and themselves. Physically and emotionally, sexually and intellectually.

This experience has made me endlessly grateful for the community of kink and sex educators I am proud to call my peers and mentors and it makes me even more determined to work to eradicate such narrow thinking. It also makes me grateful for and proud of my friends, who have been open-minded and supportive and of me and my career from the beginning.

This is for you. (source)

(This piece originally appeared in a shorter form in episode 54 of The Pageist podcast.)

Sexual Health and Kink

STDs/STIs and What They Don’t Tell You

I have HPV—it’s something I’ve written about before a few times. From the responses I’ve received and the news in general and information that’s just out there about STDs and STIs…people really don’t know much about HPV.

My first writing, had some incorrect information because I was freaked out and it can be difficult to find accurate info about this one. Which is odd, because it’s very, very common.

People like to tell me that it’s fine, they had it and it cleared up and now they’re fine.

If you have a cervix and you contract one of the cancer-causing types of HPV—it doesn’t go away. That’s why, even if abnormal cells no longer appear on your pap smears you still have to go in once a year, rather than every three years like other cervix-havers. Because it can return at any time. You can also pass it on even if you don’t have abnormal cells on your cervix. (This is less likely, but still possible.) Even if you develop cancerous cells and have them removed by the delightful procedures available, it can return. It may not, but it can. And you may still pass it on.

Penis-havers—there’s still no test for you. There’s no test for cervix-owners, either. You can have it for years and not know. I had it nearly twenty years before I found out. There is no ‘positive’ diagnosis. You find out you have the cancer-causing HPV when you develop annoying cells on your cervix. Other, less likely but possible places are the tonsils, throat, penis, vagina or anus. You know, nothing you use or care about.

There are one hundred strains of HPV. Most are harmless and your body will throw them off. Some cause warts—the ones that cause warts are NOT the ones that cause cancer. Warts are just annoying and ugly. Though, apparently, severe cases of warts have to be removed by lasers and can cause scarring. My research sometimes is disturbing.

Let’s talk about Herpes.

Herpes has a bad rep. All it is is an ugly sore. Some pharmaceutical reps weren’t selling their medication like they wanted in the 70s so they made it into a huge deal. Marketing! There’s a great video from Adam Ruins Everything that explains a bit about it.

Loads of people have the herp. Eighty percent of the US population has it. Ninety percent of people worldwide have it. People do need to know if they have it for pregnancy reasons—it does cause issues for pregnant women and foetuses, but in general it’s not going to do all that much to you except not look pretty and be owie.

It certainly doesn’t give you cancer of the squishy bits that’s untestable.

Look. If I met someone who was a great match for me in all the ways and they had HSV I’d be: So what?

I have one other phrase for you, this one comes via Cooper Beckett:

Antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea of the throat.

That’s a phrase that sticks in your mind forever.

It’s also self explanatory, I think.

People like to say, ‘If you’re going to have sex, you’re taking a risk; everything we do is risky—getting in a car is risky.’

You still wear your safety belt. You still don’t drive 110 mph in a 30 mph zone.

They also like to point out how many people have certain infections or diseases, like I did above with 80%. Often, when giving a percentage—particularly a high percentage—it can sound like, ‘Well it’s okay then, let me dive in, too.’

And sometimes, it kind of is—like HSV—basically, don’t worry about it if you do get it. If you get cold sores—congratulations, you have a type of herpes. Cold sores aren’t going to make your mouth fall off.

But with other high percentages, it can feel inevitable. I remember years ago reading an interview with a gay man who was talking about how it almost felt like, eventually, of course you and everyone you knew was going to be diagnosed with HIV—AIDS was such an epidemic.

Recently The Washington Post published an article about a new report from the CDC (the Centres for Disease Control) that found that around twenty percent of the adult population in the United States have the cancer-causing type of HPV. A little more than one in five people. This number had increased dramatically from a few years prior.

Now, you can look at it like, ‘Well, I’m probably going to get it/my body will probably kick it’ or you can just not have to worry about it at all and use protection.

I get that fluids are sexy to some people—I can follow why exchanging fluids would feel more intimate than clinical cling film and latex sex, but chemo and anxiety isn’t fun either. Particularly if you find out years later and you don’t know who’ve you’ve passed it around to.

Also, get your kids vaccinated. It’s a vaccine against cancer.

This is an area straight people can learn a lot from gay men, who’ve made condoms de riguer since the AIDS crisis. Now they have PrEP—which is a daily pill that can be taken to reduce the risk of contracting HIV. It’s controversial within the community for complex reasons. I don’t feel like it’s my place to advise gay men whether or not to take it—it’s understandable why some think it’s not a great idea; it’s understandable why some think it is. But for a very long time, in the gay community, unprotected sex was Russian roulette. It was a possible death sentence. Wrapping that shit up wasn’t a question. You just did it. I wish everyone else could get there.

What does this have to do with kink?

If kinky people talk about one thing—it’s consent. Not telling a potential partner about your sexual health situation removes their ability to give full consent.

Learning you have something that’s not eradicable that can be dangerous or annoying to another person sucks—it can be devastating. Educate yourself as much as you can. Don’t try to push down how you feel like I did and tell yourself you’re fine. That doesn’t work. Just feel whatever it is you feel. You’re human—you’re allowed. Be kind to yourself.

Explain to your potential partners calmly what you know and how to keep you both safe.

Get creative. There were certain things I had been curious about that I know I can’t do now and I feel like I’ve been robbed of potential experiences by a horrible human. Dealing with those feelings is it’s own other Gordian Knot of nonsense I don’t have the time or energy to get into at the moment.

My doctor said it’s difficult for women to pass it to one another (but not impossible and I would worry—it’s my hobby) so I’ve had to come up with new ideas. My imagination has risen to the challenge. I’ve worked to eroticise barriers in my own mind so whenever the time arrives it won’t be any more awkward than I am as a human in the world in every other way.

Absolutely explain to your partners. Don’t be the person who doesn’t. It’s hard, I know. Tina Horn has some good suggestions on how to have these conversations in her book Sexting. Write it down if you need to in order to get the words right and allow the other person time to process. People often treat you how you act so if you are relaxed and straightforward and present your facts and ideas they have no reason to be a jerk.

If they are a jerk—that’s all on them. You’re the same person you were before the conversation.

If you’re with a kinky person, hopefully they’ll be used to improvising and being creative and will be cool. If not, oh well. Don’t fuck them. They’re not worth it.

[This writing originally appeared in a slightly altered format as part of episode 49 of The Pageist: The Pageist talks Health and Kink.]

Joan Ferguson is Not the Domme You’re Looking For

[Disclaimers: This post is about Joan Ferguson from Wentworth (or Wentworth Prison), not the character from the original show Prisoner: Cell Block H. This post has spoilers up through series five.
I owe a great deal to Joan Ferguson (and the actress who plays the role so well), as she’s helped me realise some of the darker truths of my nature. Due to that I now have a podcast and website devoted to kink.
I love the character and wouldn’t change the way she’s being written or portrayed—this post is not a criticism of those things, as I believe creative decisions belong to the show-runners who have a longer view and wider vision than viewers. I’m enjoying watching their vision play out.
Also, there are a couple gifs I don’t have a source for–if they’re yours, please let me know and I’ll credit you.]

Introduction to This Very Long Post

Two years ago I wrote a post entitled The Ultimate Domme about this character—in it I asserted that Joan Ferguson, then Governor of Wentworth Correctional Centre, was the ultimate Domme.

Over the previous two years I’ve learned a decent amount about BDSM, and the character has been developed more completely by the writers and actress.

Now: Joan Ferguson is the person we’d warn people about in the kink scene.

It’s not all bad news, though. If Dommey-Joan is your thing, I have your back.

In this piece I’ll talk about what we have about Joan kink-wise in canon, then why she’s all the red flags you could want, then I’ll give you why she could have been a Domme and finally, what she’d be like as a Domme in an AU.

First, some good news:

Evidence Canon Joan Would be Excellent at Kink

  • Joan is a sexual sadist—the actress who plays her (Pamela Rabe) has said she believes the character gets a great deal of sexual satisfaction from the things she does to people. She clearly enjoyed doing a cavity search on a particularly difficult inmate…
  • …and during a scene where another inmate used her to commit suicide (it’s a complicated situation, but trust me), Joan couldn’t have been more into it if she’d been wearing one of those strap ons that press against the pubic bone just the right way.
  • Sexual sadists are all fine and good when everyone is consenting, but when some people aren’t on board it’s a felony. (Felonies get you thrown in prison and then you don’t get to wear your hot-ass uniform and have to wear the Teal Jumper of Penance. It’s not worth it.)
  • She’s more of a reaction junkie—another word I’ve heard kinky tops called—because when she witnesses someone she likes moaning over ice cream it gives her some jollies. This is positive because she could do any number of things to another person and enjoy it as long as the other person had an extreme reaction.
  • She’s germ-phobic and would therefore be A+ with barriers and other safety protocols. I don’t believe the woman would ever touch another human being with her bare hands if she didn’t have to.
  • Joan loves props. Leather gloves, batons, pencils, fencing foils, etc. And she’s no slouch. She knows how to use any prop she comes into contact with like a pro. (See next point.)
  • She’s strong. She throws other women around like it ain’t no thang.

I am suddenly very, very interested in rough body play. (source)

  • She’s incredibly inventive. Whether in a bare ‘Correctional Officers Only’ room with a bucket of water and mentholated spirits, a prison psych ward with naught but a red pencil and a mentally unstable inmate, or a dentist’s office with a slightly loopy rapist and bog standard dental supplies, Joan Ferguson can put together an entire kink scene in a matter of seconds. It is a goddamn shame she’s a lunatic, let me tell you. Loss to the entire kink community.
  • It’s not just about physical domination, either. We’ve seen her mentally and verbally top people time and time again—sometimes in conversation, sometimes in humiliating/degrading ways. Without negotiating, she can work out exactly what will have the most profound effect on another person. Imagine what she could do with a CEPE checklist.
  • She also understands the anatomy of a kink scene. One person describes some of the ‘quality treatment’ she’s received (she doesn’t call it that, but that’s what it was) and afterward she says Joan was ‘so nice’. Which sounds like aftercare to me. This also sounds like Joan got something out of it and was basking. This is an image after one of their moments.

I prefer my cuddles on a soft bed, but you do you. (source)

  • The bottom from that scene is in the front. Joan is in the back—she seems dazed herself and I wonder what the script said.
  • She has more money than God. Toys for days. You could go to kink conferences all over the world.
  • She fences, which requires focus, strength and practise, much like throwing a whip would do.
  • And she looks like this the rest of the time.

I mean. (source)

Unfortunately:

Canon Joan is the Bad Kind of Sadist

Two years ago we couldn’t have known that Joan is one giant red flag—she appeared to have many traits that would make her an ideal D-type (Dominant, Mistress/Master, Owner, etc).

She was calm, intelligent, had an encyclopaedic understanding of human psychology. She wanted to ‘protect’ a person who was important to her (this is very Domly).

Contrary to how the media likes to portray BDSM exchanges, it’s not all about what the D-type wants—if the s-type (sub, slave, pet, property, etc) doesn’t get things they want they won’t stay. D-types generally want to make sure their s-type is well cared for.

After awhile the red flags began waving like a storm warning.

This. In every direction you look. It’s weird. (source)

The writers have made her a psychopath—or, as we like to say, one of the bad sadists. (Important note: Not all psychopaths enjoy physically hurting other humans.)

(Another important note: Not all people who enjoy hurting other humans are psychopaths. Some are fun people here to give you a good time!)

  • Psychopaths get bored very easily. She had to get into general so she could manipulate the hell out of everything with a prefrontal cortex. While that’s fun to watch (and I will follow her into Hell—don’t get me wrong), it’s not the sort of person you want to be in a relationship with. And it’s certainly not the sort of person you want to be in a power exchange with.
  • Good D-types don’t manipulate—they’re straightforward with what they need and want.
  • Joan doesn’t open up easily—I’ll get more into this in the third section of this piece—but good D-types need to be in touch with their vulnerability. They need to know their weaknesses and be able to show that side of themselves to their s-type. This one isn’t entirely her fault, but the stone-cold-Dom/me is not an ideal. It allows the s-type no room for humanity, either.
  • Psychopaths are who they need to be moment-to-moment to get what they want. There’s nothing on the inside of a psychopath. They’re sort of wearing a people-mask. Jess Warner hadn’t mastered the art of keeping her mask on all the time. Joan playing people by being 900 different characters is delightful, but good D-types have integrity. They’re the same person through-and-through. Lying about who they are is anathema to them.
  • Joan would probably enjoy someone doing everything she wanted and who allowed her to indulge her sadism, but she needs to feel like she’s outsmarting people.
  • Even if she had the most hardcore masochist and devoted Leather slave at home, she’d still go to work at Wentworth and torture people there all day. (In my AU, she’s still Governor, okay?) Because there would be people getting in the way of whatever she was trying to accomplish and they’d have to pay. I love her, but she doesn’t lack ego.

For her to be a good D-type she’d have to not be dangerous to society. Here’s how that could be.

How Joan Ferguson Could Have Been a Domme

I have been fascinated by serial killers and sociopaths since I was a young teenager and have read quite a bit about them. It’s rare for psychopaths to be born—it happens, but it’s odd—usually psychopathy is created. Severe child abuse is one part of the equation, as is some other mental illness. You need a combo. (Thankfully, or else there would be many more of them out here.)

It has been intimated that Joan’s father raped her. Though that could have been a manipulation. He certainly was a difficult man to please as a human being. One thing after another has happened to Joan to remove her further from humanity.

As mentioned before—she doesn’t open up easily, due to her father teaching her emotions were weakness—when you grow up without access to your emotions you lose the ability to reach them. They atrophy.

If she had been met with kindness at some point—if she had been given the opportunity to experience someone seeing her for her, meeting her on her level, and accepting her that way—things could have gone differently.

I’m not saying she wouldn’t still have had a propensity for kink—a person can be oriented that way no matter their background.

In one of Gloria Brame’s books she interviewed a person who said she was glad she’d discovered BDSM when she was 18 because otherwise she would have gone through life being ‘a complete shitfuck asshole’. She was very dominant, but because she had people to do these things with consensually she didn’t feel compelled to non-consensually dominate every person in her path. She could also identify what she was in the first place, which is the first step to not being a terrible person.

I rather feel that if Joan had met the right sort of submissive when she was eighteen or so, maybe things would have gone a bit differently. Someone who could have helped her realise some things—smell the kinky coffee, as it were—and given her a creative, consensual outlet. If that had happened there’d be a different Joan Ferguson out there in AUland. Even later she would have had a chance. After the last couple years, I don’t know if she has a chance—she’s been humiliated, degraded and had to do too many things that further separate her from the rest of humanity.

At the same time—she doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong. Psychopaths generally don’t.

However, we’ve established that if you want someone in charge of your body, mind and life, you want it to be the Joan Ferguson with a full compliment of empathy, compassion, self awareness and vulnerability, though, so, not the one we currently have in canon.

[If you were with canon Joan and someone convinced her you’d betrayed her she’d kill or maim you. She’s not the most stable person so it wouldn’t be that difficult to convince her of your betrayal, since she’s been betrayed so many times. If you’re okay with being killed or maimed for her…well, I’m more interested in realistic power exchange, which is what this piece is about.]

What Sort of Domme AU Joan Ferguson Would Have Been

There are different types of power exchange styles but I’m pretty certain Joan would have been into Leather. Not just because she likes her leather gloves, but because it’s based in a military background and can have quite strict protocol. She likes her things just so and while any D-type can have everything ‘just so’ in their relationship, I feel the military background fits.

{Though I’m of two minds on Joan’s father being military. He had a certain bearing, yes, but they also have an enormous amount of money that makes me wonder about a drugs connection. She mentions his ‘foot soldiers’ at one point, which is a term for people who actually sell drugs on the street, as opposed to the people who handle the money and other aspects of the operation. As he’s Russian, and they eventually left Russia, I wondered if he was in the military and eventually ran a drug operation much like a military regime then they fled their home country for this reason. Either way, she grew up with strict control and being allowed to have that over another person would give her great pleasure.}

Mothering: Speaking of Joan’s childhood—we know nothing about her mother. Jianna wrote a letter where she said Joan could get her son off to sleep better than anyone. She has a fondness for babies, even if it seems counterintuitive, but she’s never been allowed to explore that side of herself. Her father actively discouraged feelings and emotion (and probably gentleness), which would explain why she’s so awkward with affection.

If allowed, within the context of an established power exchange, I believe Joan could learn to be gentle and nurturing with another person in a mothering role, which would help her heal some of her own wounds. I’m not necessarily talking about sexualised age play—kink encourages playing and exploring various facets of a person’s personality in non-judgemental ways. If an s-type enjoyed being bathed, cradled, dressed or put to bed, as it made them feel submissive, they could request this and it would allow Joan to care for someone in a way she’d never been able to.

Mentorship: Joan loves to mentor someone. She loves to protect and guide, as well. She wants someone who is absolutely and utterly on her side, who wouldn’t dream of betraying her. And she wants to be the same to that sort of person. She wants to be recognised as the chief authority in another person’s life—someone who knows absolute best. For this reason I think Joan would be into:

24/7 TPE: (24/7 Total Power Exchange) This is practically what she has with the inmates. She tells them what to eat, what to wear, when to get up, how much money they can spend, etc. If someone she respected, who she thought was a worthwhile person, chose to give up all of that authority to her—woo, talk about a head rush.

Some Aspects of Leather: There are what feels like billions of protocols for Leather and I don’t want to get into Old Guard vs New Guard. I’m not well versed enough to really get into it, for one, but one thing that is popular is the s-type removing the D-type’s boots at the end of the day. Somehow I don’t think Joan would like anyone touching her feet. But if you were lucky she’d probably let you shine her shoes eventually. And do leather glove care.

It could be the s-type’s job to always walk to the left and two steps behind and to always open the door for her. (Actually, I can’t make up my mind if she’d want to open the door for her sub or if she’d want her sub to open the door for her. It’s the one thing I can’t decide on.)

Other Possible Protocols:

  • To always help her with her coat first before putting on their own.
  • When you were considered good enough you could take care of her work uniform.
  • To make sure the cutlery and week’s vodka were aligned properly in the drawers and freezer.
  • To clean the fish bowl on a regular schedule.
  • Her house has many shiny surfaces—those will need to be cleaned without streaks.
  • Eventually she may allow you to clean her house when she isn’t there—can you make a bed to military bounce-a-coin-standards?
  • Can you fold a fitted sheet?
  • Can you detail a car? You’ve seen her car.
  • Eventually she’ll let you borrow her car to pick up the dry cleaning. Huge trust moment.
  • Some people prefer to be chauffeured around, while others prefer to do the driving, as it makes them feel in control. Joan would want to do the driving.
  • When you go to restaurants she would order for you—you wouldn’t even get a menu.
  • Cleaning her house—you know you’re going to find hair pins everywhere…somehow.
  • Everything will need to be cleaned and disinfected on the regular. We’re talking about Joan Hazmat Ferguson, here.
  • She will like her coffee and tea a very particular way—colour, sugar, temperature, roast. Learn it. This is what a butler’s book is for. (A book with a person’s every preference in.)
  • Your job is to make her life easier. She will run your life so you can make hers run more smoothly.
  • And she will be very good at running your life.

An occasionally she gets in these break-y moods and you have to clean *that* up. (Thanks to provider!)

Harder things to do:

  • She asks: ‘What are you thinking right now?’ [This is AU Joan who is a good Domme. She needs to know what you’re thinking at all times—she needs to know you as well as she possibly can do. Whether it’s: ‘That you look really hot in skinny jeans’ or ‘Why do you name all of your fish Bob?’ or ‘That song I am slowly going crazy 1-2-3-4-5-6 switch, Crazy going slowly am I 6-5-4-3-2-1 switch!’] Can you answer immediately and honestly?
  • Telling her when she’s being a little too pushy. Even in AUland she’s still Joan with a tendency to command before thinking. because she’s Always Right, yes? AU Joan is aware of it, though, and simply needs to be politely reminded that whatever command hasn’t been negotiated yet. AU Joan doesn’t get shirty about it and ask if you had something better to do.
    ‘No, we hadn’t discussed turning over control of my finances yet, but as you’re clearly excellent at handling money, yes, going to the bank to set up an account with a monthly allowance is a good idea. Discussing long-term investment plans sounds like a plan.’

Other notes because I’ve thought about this a LOT:

  • I bet she’d always want to be called Governor. Not ‘Ma’am’ or ‘Mistress’ or ‘Master’ (in Leather, some women choose to be called ‘Master’ rather than ‘Mistress’.) She’d be Governor at home, too.
  • She’d be a heavy sadist. Inventive like whoa, with a vast array of implements and experience, and into all sorts of scenes. But the woman could bring the pain. She’d be into intense scenes of all types. She’d get that gleam in her eye and you’d be half thrilled and half terrified. Interrogation scene? Medical play? Bondage and forced orgasms? Heavy impact? Chemical play? Fear play? Who knows?!

You’d only know she’d be incredible at it.

And she’d be so nice after.

Washing up and the Digital Economy Bill

The Digital Economy Bill has become law.

This is Bad News with a capital What. The. Fuck.

Even with the way the news has been going in the previous, oh, eleven months :cough:Brexitkickedthisshitoff:cough:, THIS still ranks up there in poorly-thought-out ‘WHY, though?!’ legislative decisions.

{This post is being clattered out in a rush when I’m supposed to be doing other things, but I’ve just received the happy news and have to get this out of my system. It may not be up to my usual standards, but it’s difficult to write coherently while screaming obscenities at your monitor.}

The Digital Economy Bill, for those of you not in the U.K.—this applies to some of you now, so you may want to pay attention—it’s a bill that purports to PROTECT THE CHILDREN! from the harmful pornography by making all sites that feature adult content put in age checks and banning certain types of porn—especially (completely legal) BDSM activities—entirely.

They’ve given so little thought on how to implement this on such a grand scale or how to protect people’s data it’s nearly impressive.

I mean, I’d be impressed if blood weren’t shooting out of my nose.

What Does This Have to Do With Me, For I Do Not Live In the UK?

Well, if a site that you enjoy is based in the U.K. and they can’t afford the identification software (many can’t because they’re small businesses like Pandora Blake’s Dreams of Spanking), they’ll have to shut down. {That first link is SFW–the second link is not.}

Some will self-censor their content so they don’t have to worry about getting blocked in their own country. Like seeing marks after a spanking? Better hope that site you like isn’t U.K. based.

Also banned: female ejaculation, fisting, face-sitting (that was from a previous bill), gags, rape play, anything that shows blood… You know, just a good Saturday night.

If you produce content and you feature that sort of content and would like people in the U.K. to give you money, let’s hope your consumers have a VPN. Because you’re going to get blocked. (You do have identification software in place, right? That’ll get you blocked if you don’t.)

What Does That Have to Do with Washing Up?

I’m glad you asked, hypothetical person.

Lil info about how the political process work over here in Britain. (RUN, Scotland! RUUUUUN and take Northern Ireland and Wales with you!)

See, there’s going to be this here General Election in June (the day before my birthday! happy fucking birthday to ME).
In the UK they can set the General Election whenever they want. Theresa May a.k.a. Satan said she wouldn’t hold one until 2020.

Hey. It’s 2017.

For some unknown reason, bills in process can’t carry over from one Parliament to the next. (Parliament is dissolved and reconstituted for each government.)

So. When a General Election is called, there’s a time called the wash-up period, where, just aaaaall the open bills are dealt with so the next Parliament has a clear inbox.

The Bill was a pig’s breakfast anyway, but with another few (hundred) years maybe they could have ironed out some of the impossible to implement bits. Now it’s been rubber stamped as-in and given royal assent, which is the last step and means it is a law.

Right now.

In 2017.

Which I’m sure you’ll notice is NOT 2020, which is when, at soonest, the next General Election and wash-up period was supposed to be.

Paige, You Seem Very Upset. Have Some Tea. What Do You Need Clarification On?

You’re very kind and a good listener. Thank you.

I need clarification on everyfuckingthing.

This bill was designed by people who have zero experience with… life, seemingly.

At a class at Eroticon taught by Myles Jackman about the laws in Britain surrounding obscenity and such we talked about this bill.

In England they have had a couple laws called the Obscene Publication Acts since 1959—so we were discussing whether or not the Digital Economy Bill refers only to visual porn or also to writing or audio.

Mr Jackman explained that even if your site is for educational purposes it doesn’t exempt you from prosecution—if someone decides they are offended.

Considering that private one-to-one fantasy chat–as in on a messenger service–has been used to prosecute people–that now counts as ‘publication’—putting something on a blog certainly counts.

There are pieces I’ve been making notes to write that for sure breach their new, open-minded standards, and that I had wanted to record as audio bonuses for Patreon supporters, but I can’t do that now without worrying about someone deciding to make an example of me.

Do I go with the philosophy: ‘There’s so much out there, they’re not going to bother with me’?

Because if I were to be fined or imprisoned, I would likely be deported afterwards. I don’t have the security of being born here.

My site is words (and the podcast, but it’s not video or photos, is what I mean) so do I need verification? The wording of the bill is what I call squishy. So they can mould it however they want. Sometimes it says ‘pornography’ and sometimes it says ‘adult content’.

My site is definitely adult content, but I wouldn’t call it pornography.

Will people only find out if their site qualifies when they are prosecuted or fined?

Are these forward-thinking idiots going to issue some guidelines at some point or do they not care what the perverts do because they just want us to all go away?

Are there only very specific age verification sites or software the government will consider legitimate? Otherwise do I have to decide on whichever verification company seems the most trustworthy for the least money (because I’m just rolling in the dough over here).

They were talking about asking people for driving licenses or credit cards for proof of age, but the idea of your information sitting somewhere connected to your porn habits isn’t fucking terrifying. Especially since they hadn’t sorted that out before the big rubber stamp came down.

An Ode to the People Who Read Your Bio Before Messaging You

You know, rather than just looking at your photo and sending:

Hi.

Or.

hello

Or.

Being a guy and telling me all about what sort of interests they have in kink and D/s when I’m a lesbian and it says so in my profile. You could have saved us both time by looking at the description, friendo.

Mrs Davis doesn’t have time for this & neither do I. (source)

‘Dating’ Platforms and Tiring Dudes

This happens on all the social media platforms that could even remotely be considered dating platforms. I don’t consider discussion forums to be dating platforms, but some people do and behave accordingly.

It’s only men who do it. If a woman contacts me, it’s because she’s responding to a writing and engages in conversation.

This is common for most women on the internet. I hear about it All. The. Time.

My personal favourite exchange, ever:

Him: Hi, are you looking for a Dom?
Me: Yes, but I’m a lesbian.
Him: I don’t mind.

As though he would overlook some fault in order to be my Dominant. What a gent.

That’s not how it works, there, guy.

This is why I don’t spend much time on forums or dating apps. Even choosing ‘hide my account from heterosexuals’ on OK Cupid gets straight women trolling for a third for them and their husbands even though my profile says very clearly, right at the top, LESBIAN. You can’t win if you’re a woman on the internet.

I got your unicorn right HERE, lady. (source)

Don’t @ Me

Geez, take it as a compliment!

If gay guys were talking to you and trying it on and making comments all the time even though you stated you were straight, you’d be annoyed, too. Particularly if you lived in a culture that told you your worth was based on if gay guys wanted to fuck you.

Especially if you didn’t know if you were going to be verbally abused (or perhaps physically abused) even if you politely turned them down or simply didn’t respond. No matter how I choose to respond (or not) my heart races every time.

Just block them, then.

That’s the ‘no means no’ version of social media usage and I thought we were supposed to be all about ‘yes means yes’?

No woman should have to block unwanted advances and time-wasting messages from people who haven’t even bothered to read their bios. If they had read your bio they wouldn’t have wasted their own time by sending a message in the first place.

Well, you think a lot of yourself, don’t you?

Not really, no. Although, why wouldn’t I? I get random strangers complimenting me on the internet regularly. Then again, someone will find anyone attractive so that’s neither here nor there. I see how it works, though. You’re allowed to find me attractive but I’m not allowed to acknowledge it. I’m supposed to get all of my self-worth from other people. Primarily men. Right. Nice.

Why would you put your picture out there if you didn’t want people to find you attractive?

What rape culture? Where. Also, why would I write my bio and state I was a lesbian if I didn’t want people to read it? What gets me is that I’m fully clothed in my photo–I can’t even imagine what sorts of messages women get who have the body confidence to post photos showing cleavage or other body parts. I admire their self-esteem, but, man, they must spend entire portions of the day blocking people.

I posted a photo because I actually liked a photo of myself–this happens about once every five years–and I thought it would be cool to have an image to associate with my bio. For the Dommes who may read it.

It’s hard being a man on the internet! You have to do all the work for very little response!

Try being a lesbian. You have to approach women, too, though your pool is much smaller, because there are fewer lesbians in the world than heterosexuals, everyone thinks your sexuality is about them and men still come on to you even though you’ve made it clear you’re not interested. You couldn’t deal. You’d have a mental breakdown in a week, Sonny Jim.

To the People Who Read Your Bio Before Messaging You:

Thank you, wherever you may be. With all the people in the world, I’m sure you exist, I just haven’t met any of you yet.

A Genuine Thank You

The people who treat me like a person are the people who listen to my show. It’s as though, because they’ve heard my voice and information about my life, they know I’m an actual human being. I do genuinely thank those people. But they’re nice because they’ve already learned I’m a human and don’t exist merely to fulfill their fantasies.

Mrs Davis celebrates you & so do I! (source)

Naked People Make Me Fall Asleep

Why the Asexual Is Thinking About You Naked

Not long ago I met a photographer who processes photography in old-timey ways—daguerrotypes, rather than Polaroids. (His name is Nicolas Laborie and his work is pretty neato.)

Nicolas is interested in gender and how people present themselves and so on so we had a thought-provoking chat and exchanged social media information, as you do these days.

After we parted ways, he looked at my website, which puts right out there that I’m asexual and kinky and a lesbian and whatever else. And somehow we got onto the subject of whether people were more interesting with or without clothing on. (I think it was a question posed on twitter you were supposed to retweet with your answer about which you found more interesting.)

I said I found clothed people more interesting by far, which he was intrigued by.

Nicolas is a photographer and artist so it’s understandable that he’d find nudity beautiful and the human canvas and… whatever people think. I can sort of understand it, but naked people do nothing for me.

You’re a Blank Canvas…Mostly

It’s not that I find nudity offensive or dirty or gross or anything—obviously, it’s natural. You’re not born with clothes on.

But to me bodies are bodies. They’re just there. I’ve spoken before about how I don’t care about food or sex. You have to have food to keep yourself alive. Your body is there to carry around your brain.

A naked body doesn’t tell me a great deal about the person inside it. Now, I can look at certain sizes, shapes and gender presentations and think, ‘You have had to put up with a lot of bullshit that I haven’t’ or ‘Wow… the story about that scar must be something else… that that person can tell me in their own time.’ Or ‘That is a person who used to have lots of money. Now they have lots of tattoos. Those on the ribs must’ve hurt, woo.’

In general, though, I’m not learning much.

(I’m so used to seeing people with at least one tattoo now, that when a person doesn’t have any—or if they have no moles or freckles or other marks, they just look… blank.)

There’s a particular fascination to flawless skin, but when it’s an entire body it seems like something that’s waiting to have an image projected onto it.

Because I don’t sexualise nudity it’s all body parts to me. Which only sounds a little like something a serial killer would say.

But clothing—that tells me loads about you. How you feel about yourself that day. How you feel about the world. What you could find in the dark after that one-night-stand.

Clothes have thousands more textures and layers—both figuratively and literally—than bodies.

The Clothes Don’t Make the Woman…but They Don’t Hurt, Either

Some clothes, on some people, carry a particular frisson for me. A woman in a pinstripe suit or a frock coat? I don’t care how emotionally connected I was to that same woman, seeing her naked wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. Even seeing her in lingerie wouldn’t be as intriguing. And it’s not the clothing, because that frock coat just lying on the bed or hanging up has no personality. It doesn’t have a Dominant woman in it. A tailored, black blazer and a white silk blouse can’t tell me how it likes its coffee then tell me to be good while it’s out at work during the day.

This is a frock coat. A Dominant Lady in this frock coat would have an easy life, indeed. (source)

It’s not all about the clothes on the Dominant woman—I’ll still happily sit at her feet if she’s in her comfy jim-jams with her hair up. And if she wants to be naked then that’s her choice and I’d never be the sort of s-type who was only interested in submitting if my Domme was wearing just the thing I like (or actually dressed at all, in my case). If being naked made my D-type happy, then naked she shall be. ‘And what SPF will that be, ma’am? Nipple burns are not to be trifled with.’

Brains vs Tongue First (Again)

I engage with the world intellectually rather than ‘tongue-first’, as a book my friend Bean recently discovered called it. Tongue-first is tasting, touching, smelling, sensing things rather than thinking about them—something I discussed in this essay. I’m decidedly in the brain-first camp, and due to that, I’m more interested in what a person looks like dressed for the reasons listed earlier. Your clothes give me more information about what’s important to me than your bare skin does.

(Also, naked people always look cold to me—probably because if I’m nude I’m cold so I’m projecting, but I always want to give the nudies a caftan or something.)

If you want to run your senses all over someone then it follows that nudity would be A+ in your book. The ‘goods’ are available for assessment, a naked person’s pheromones would probably be easier to smell than someone layered in textiles, their hairy, smooth, stubbly and…whatever else bits are there to be touched in whatever way you both agree is a-okay, and, if you were inclined to lick them, well, everything is at your disposal.

Seeing how a person holds themselves when naked would possibly give you an idea of how comfortable they were with their sexuality or within their own skin, as well, which would be useful information about their capacity for sensuality. Though you may not process it so coldly and rather intuit it.

The Squishy Bits

I have other thoughts on the genitals specifically, but I’ll save those for a future writing. I just know you want to know what the asexual thinks about genitals.

{This essay originally appeared in a slightly different format in episode 48 of The Pageist podcast during the My Submissive Life segment.}

The Roles We Are: Complexity in Kink Identities

My submission towards a certain sort of woman has been present since I was twelve or so—by that, I mean the desire to make life a bit easier by doing chores and errands and so on for women I admire and respect has been present since that time.

Once I had the words ‘submissive’, ‘Dominant’ and ‘service-oriented’ in my vocabulary, the world made much more sense. It explained why I reacted the way I did to the women I did, when other people in my peer group were reacting very differently to radically different sorts of people. They were interested in people our own age and seemed keen to do things with their genitals for two examples. Whereas my attention has always been more towards women a decade (or three) older, who showed their appreciation for all of my help by patting me on the head and allowing me to sit at their feet.

After I had the language to describe the entire way I related to the world, I thought that was it. I was a service-oriented submissive—frabjous day! Having a name not only meant there were others out there, but also that there was a chance I could have the sort of relationship that would work best for me—that would meet needs I hadn’t realised I had because I didn’t have a name for them.

Labels: It was the Best of Times; It was the Worst of Times

We live in a label-obsessed culture, for the good and ill. Binary labels are particularly popular and nefarious.

And we all know a person can’t be two things at once. Because humans are very simple organisms. [/sarcasm]

For example—a person can’t be submissive and want to top people. Submissives are only allowed to top someone if it’s in service or to entertain their Dominant.

‘Real’ submissives aren’t tops, though.

So it took awhile to work out I wanted to top men. In one of those ‘Well, that was obvious the entire time’ moments I realised I’d probably excel as a sadistic top to men. Women don’t inspire that in me. (Or I haven’t met one that has yet, anyway.)

Let Me Vanilla-It For You

Everyone inhabits several roles: sibling, parent, child, teacher, writer, spouse, etc. Your parent says your first and middle names and you’re instantly twelve again. But your significant other wears that thing you like and you’re anything but twelve. The roles you are lie quietly inside you until something triggers them. Your child crying, your boss moving your deadline—whatever it is.

Kink-related roles work similarly. It’s not a role like a theatre role—you’re not pretending—they’re always part of you. Different roles are brought to the fore by certain circumstances or people. Or, sometimes, inanimate objects.

There are people who think you can’t be a submissive and a top, but that’s like saying, ‘Well, you can’t be a sister and a mother.’ They’re two different things. A person always has the capacity to be the roles that make up who they are and being one role doesn’t make you less of any other role. Becoming an aunt doesn’t make you less of a CEO.

‘Real’ landscape gardeners aren’t brothers, though. (See how ridiculous that sounds?)

Being One Thing Would Be So HARD

It’s not about being a switch for me—I don’t vacillate from submissive to Dominant depending upon the circumstances. I just want to do stuff to dudes who are okay with me doing stuff to them. (Non-sexual stuff. I’m still an asexual lesbian.) What interests me is the trust and communication and creativity involved.

What draws me to women (and what I want from those women) is quite different to what I’d look for in a guy to play with, which is one of the best things about BDSM—being allowed, and even encouraged—to learn about yourself and explore the manifold ways there are to connect with others. Rather than being forced to choose the one role that is most who you are (as though everyone isn’t a number of things simultaneously all the time) and only being permitted to change that title if you’re prepared to only be that new thing now, like serial monogamy will roles in life. Humans are complicated enough to be several things at once.

Thank pete for that—I’d hate to have to decide which one specific role I wanted to inhabit in life. If I only wanted to be a writer I supposed I’d have to divorce my husband and murder my entire family, because there are far too many ways to relate to people happening there.

Then I’d be a murderer, too, though. So that would be my new role forever—no more writing for me!

It’d be more difficult trying to be one role than it would allowing yourself to occupy the various roles natural to you.

Not to mention that being one thing is a fast train to crazytown. Ask any stay-at-home parent who hasn’t had a conversation with an actual adult in months. They may love being a parent, but other parts of the mind need to be exercised or they’ll turn to mush.

The desire to watch something other than cartoons, eat grown up food in a restaurant and talk about current events doesn’t make a person a terrible parent or mean they dislike their child. Being allowed to have some time away—to step into other roles for awhile—gives a person a fresh appreciation for the more primary roles in their lives, as well as renewed energy that can be used in approaching them.

[This writing was adapted and expanded from the My Submissive Life section of episode twenty-three.]

Coming in Through the Library

Coming in Through the Library: The Three Ways to Discover Kink, Two Ways to Experience Life & How They Intersect

I often compare kink to Narnia, where, at first glance, it appears to be a wardrobe full of leather, rubber and latex, but if you push through, there’s an entire world of wonders you couldn’t have imagined.

Sometimes I think it’s a bit closer to the building from Poe’s ‘The Masque of the Red Death’, where one decadent, lavishly decorated room leads into another, each deeper and darker in hue. Guests can progress as far as they’d like, but at the centre… Actually, it’d be a hell of an idea of a theme-night at a dungeon. Without the piece de resistance.
Perhaps it’s a combination of the two. Not quite so whimsical as Narnia—not quite so dire as Red Death.

I envision kink as having specific rooms, but, unlike Red Death, there are only three and they are connected in a way to allow a person to move freely amongst all three.

A person can begin their journey in any of the three rooms, which are:

The Three Ways To Enter BDSM

  • The Bedroom. Someone swats someone on the butt during sex or someone tries some scarves or whatever. Next thing you know, kink is happening.
  • The Dungeon. A person knows what BDSM is and they run full-tilt into the dungeon and throw themselves at any and everything that will allow them to be kinky the way they want to be. You know, frenzy. This happens to both tops and bottoms and doesn’t have just to do with activities—it can also be power exchange.
  • The Library. People who read a lot (not fiction) actual information—education, theory. Forums, books, articles. These are the Hermiones. The sort of people who create websites and podcasts about kink to better organise their thoughts, share what they learn and learn from others. (Not that others don’t do this—but I’ve found a high number of library-dwellers out here.)

Whether (or how quickly) a person finds their way into another room depends on a couple factors, the largest of which is which of the two ways the person primarily appreciates life.

Two Ways to Appreciate Life

  • Physically: These are people who see something and want to touch, taste, smell it, fuck it, whatever. It’s not real to them unless they’ve physically engaged with it.
  • Intellectually: These people observe and think about an object/activity’s place in the world and why it works the way it does, how it got there, who made it and the sociological implications of its existence.

Neither of these are correct or incorrect—it’s just the way people are. A person can’t change which one of those they are, though they can be more aware of their inherent nature and either:

  • slow down and read something or take a class or
  • get out of the house and have a conversation with an actual human

Shame: The Deciding Factor

The other factor, which I believe plays an important role in the way a person progresses through the rooms is shame. If a person experiences the world intellectually and would normally research everything that interests them, they may still look for their kink, but perhaps from a ‘why am I this way’ perspective rather than ‘people like me near me’ or ‘how to do what I want safely’.

The internet is always ready to shame you if you ask the right question.

Whereas, a person who experiences the world physically first may simply never look for information, as that would be admitting they enjoy their kink. Black men who participate in the ‘down low’ culture don’t use condoms because that would be admitting someone planned to have sex, (which is gay, which is bad), even if it’s two men who get together to have sex regularly. There will be a pretense of watching a game or show, but sex will ‘happen’ (every time) and every time it will be a ‘surprise’ so no one will have a condom.

For people with shame about their kink, who appreciates the world physically first, I imagine it would work similarly.

This risks not only physical injury to everyone involved, but also emotional and psychological damage. Leaving off that shame is damaging on its own.

Dangers of Both Types

Physically: If a person is a little late in visiting the library (or never gets there) they risk everything mentioned in the previous sentence. They also risk being labeled a predator or being assaulted because they don’t know any better. That may seem hyperbolic, but if you’ve learned everything you know about kink from the media, as a top or D-type you could understandably think you’re allowed to do or say anything you’d like and as a bottom or s-type you could understandably believe you were supposed to take any abuse (physical/verbal/emotional) from someone calling themselves a top/D-type.

People come into the scene, have a few terrible experiences because they didn’t visit the library (and didn’t happen across anyone who had) and then disappear again. That is a damn shame. Those people not only leave with whatever mental scars (and possibly physical ones, as well), but also shame at any kinky desires they still have, and a skewed idea of what kink is really about.

Being labeled a predator simply because you believe what the media tells you probably sucks. (Some people in the kink community genuinely are predators—they know the rules but they also know they’re are new bottoms who don’t know the rules and they use their innocence against them by proclaiming themselves ‘Real Doms’ or some other nonsense. This isn’t about them.)

I know. Reading is boring. Taking classes is deadly dull. Finding a mentor—yaaaa-AAAWN. You know what’s not boring? Being sued. Having to explain that arrest for assault at every interview for the rest of your life. Or doing a scene with someone you genuinely like and respect and finding out they felt assaulted in every way possible afterward. That’ll wake you right up and make you know you’re alive. Probably also make you feel like the worst person on Earth, if you have a conscience.

More information is always better than less. For both sides of the equation.

Intellectually: I’m going to admit a bias here in that, being a person who experiences life brain-first, I don’t think there’s a danger with being intellectual. The argument would be that you’re not really ‘living’, but what is living? Something you can put on your Instagram account? Are experiences the only thing that count as being alive? Does that mean people who are house-bound aren’t living?

Experiences last brief periods, but a vibrant mind—a person has that twenty-four hours a day and it doesn’t need to be packed full of external experiences to be vibrant. Being entertained from without is something small children need to keep quiet.

However, it is possible to be intellectual to the point of losing touch with reality. The argument-for-argument’s sake sadists (life is difficult enough) for example, are not being useful—they’re controlling people with words by having conversations that have nothing to do with anything and that they themselves don’t even care about.

It is possible to hide behind words, thoughts and theory in order to avoid the task of living—certainly—which is why it’s important for the people who tackle life brain-first to remind themselves to engage with the world on occasion. But thinking isn’t going to land you in hospital or the morgue or on a psychologist’s sofa.

When it comes to kink, bypassing the library is the most dangerous thing a person can do.

Get your library card today. Make sure everyone you know has one.

Projecting Your Kink

There is a particular behaviour that I’ve witnessed—and experienced myself—in the kink scene online. It may happen out in the analogue world, too, but I don’t spend much time out there at play parties or dungeons so I can’t speak to that.

From what I’ve experienced, it primarily happens from male-socialised individuals (MSI) towards female-presenting humans (FPH).

Male-socialised individuals are people who were brought up to behave like men—no matter how they identify when they behave in this particular way. It’s difficult to unlearn those behaviours.

Female-presenting humans are people who appear to be female, no matter their specific sex or gender.

The best way I can describe the behaviour is projecting your kink.

Like this, but if the screen didn’t consent. (source)

For example:

A female-presenting human posts a photo or piece of writing because she’s proud of it or she felt good about herself or her art or because she’s free to do so as an autonomous human being.

Nowhere does she say: Tell me what you want to do to me. Or: Tell me how you’d change this to fit your fantasy.

Yet, some male-socialised individuals take it as an invitation to offer ‘improvements’, enact their own fantasy or project their own desires onto the other person without their consent.

It’s certainly not all male-socialised individuals. If every MSI behaved that way, female-presenting humans would have left the internet entirely. Except for the two percent of lady-people who enjoy that type of attention. (It’s totally cool if you do, but the vast majority of lady-people don’t.)

So, you post a photo of a neat item you’ve purchased and maybe you’re nervous about using it, ever. You’re just excited about getting up the nerve to buy it and have a place to show other people without those people shaming you. Then someone comes in and says, ‘Now we just need to get you attached to something with those.’ [This is based on one of the first things that I posted on Fet.]

Hokay! You don’t know my desires, kinks, hard limits, what words I never want to hear (hint, all of those, especially from strangers), or literally anything else about me. Except that I have that item in the photo in my possession.

Also, and this is key. I don’t know you.

That last bit is what changes a great deal. If I know you and we have a history of flirting and playing then okey doke then.

Then we’re as groovy as the Honeycombs and All systems are Go! (source)

There was a video on street harassment—I think it was on Facebook last year—they interviewed guys who catcalled women. The guys were blaming the women (of course they were)—for wearing the kind of clothes women wear when it’s hot.

One sparkling gem of humanity said something like, ‘When I see these women in shorts and t-shirts, looking good, what am I supposed to do?’

I thought, ‘How about nothing?’

He understood you weren’t supposed to touch people—thank god—but the idea that he could keep his thoughts inside his face holes was beyond him.

He actually asked, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ I remember that very clearly because the entitlement and sheer confusion on his face nearly burned my eyebrows off.

‘If I see someone who looks attractive I have to make that person uncomfortable.’

No, you really don’t.

Online, it’s even easier to not do anything, because it takes more steps between thinking the thing and putting it out there.

If you’re tempted to say gross things unplug your keyboard. Keep it somewhere safe. Like the dishwasher. (source)

Seeing this behaviour in the kink scene surprised me because you’d think kinky people would understand consent.

How would these front-runners for the Mr Presumptuous Pageant feel if guys started commenting on their photos and writings the same way?

‘You need another dude in this photo.’

‘That’s a hot tie—I’d wrap it around your dick until you cried then make choke on my cock.’

We don’t need vanilla kink shamers—we have plenty on the inside—who have this attitude of, ‘Well, she’s into all this hard stuff so she’ll love it if I talk to her that way.’

I don’t know exactly how much you want to die today, but submissives and masochists tend to be pretty hardcore, independent humans. The women are feminists who, radically, believe their bodies belong to them.

Hell, most of the men are feminists who believe the same thing. It’s just this one group that makes you want to take a Silkwood shower.

What’s the thinking? That the FPH is just going to play along?

I’ve been pondering this and it must be confusing for both sides of the equation, so I thought I’d try to explain things to both sides as best I could:

This GenericWhiteGuy is standing in for male-socialised individuals. Per usual. Mea culpa. (source)

Why Do Female-Presenting Humans Post Evocative Photos If They Don’t Want My Thoughts?
  • Female-presenting humans feel good about themselves on occasion—despite media and our culture and society’s every effort to tell us we’re too fat/thin, tall/short, wearing too much/little make up, dressing too slutty/conservatively, are too dark complected/too pale, are too loud/quiet, too flirty/withdrawn, too sexually repressed/sexually available, etc. Every now and again, a female-presenting human being manages to find a scrap of self-esteem and wants to share it in a piece of writing or a photo. Crazy! This has nothing to do with you. It is not for your approval. It is perfect as it is. If you think she’s attractive or her work is great, say so. But there’s an enormous difference between, ‘You look like you’re enjoying life,’ and, ‘I want to come on your face.’
  • Sometimes, female-presenting human beings work really hard on something—a piece of writing or a photo or even make up. (If you don’t think make up is art you do a full face of make up and don’t end up looking like Bozo the Clown.) They want to share that with the world. When someone works on something they’re proud of sharing it is a natural inclination. Tearing it down or projecting your own desires on it or, worse, making it about the fact that it was created by a woman you’d like to fuck, makes that person never want to share anything ever again. And what purpose does that serve? Good humans raise people up and help them realise their potential, they don’t tear them down.
  • Sometimes female-presenting humans are sexual beings (gasp! I know!) and they’re tired of being told they’re not supposed to be by society. When they find a place they’re allowed to be more open—to own more of their own sexuality—they embrace it. They post photos of things they enjoy doing, clothes they feel sexy wearing (or not wearing), implements they enjoying using or having used on them. It’s a relief to be able to just be who they are. But then they find out it’s not really any different and people in this new place that is supposed to be more aware also treat them like objects. (If you want to keep seeing those amazing photos of the happily sexually free FPH, be polite. Or else you’re only going to be looking at dicks everywhere. I personally have some photos I’d like to post where I feel good about myself and my body, but I’m not interested in comments that will make me feel gross. So no one gets those.)

This *could* be my cute booty in adorable underpants I love. But nope, because I don’t need the comments. Other people have ruined it for you. (source)

Why Do Male-Socialised Individuals Say Gross Things When I Just Want to Share Something That Makes Me Feel Good?
  • Some men like making people feel uncomfortable—they think they’ll be rejected so they opt for blarfing their desires out there. I don’t think this is the majority, but it probably accounts for some.
  • They genuinely believe it’s a compliment. The MSI is expressing how he feels. Our culture tells us the ultimate compliment a male can pay a female is to say he finds her sexually desirable. Also, we don’t put a great deal of import on the woman’s pleasure so it’s understandable for less enlightened MSIs to respond to something they find arousing with ‘I want to do this thing I find pleasurable, you may not enjoy it, but I don’t have to take that into consideration’ rather than, ‘That is very attractive—it makes me want to make sure you’re satisfied sexually.’
  • Male-socialised individuals would like it if women (they found attractive, this is key) were to randomly say lewd things on their posts. So they don’t understand why FPH aren’t flattered. Meanwhile, female-socialised humans have been told not to share their sexual desires and certainly not to push them onto others so of course they’re not going to say what they think on someone else’s post.
  • They have a life-time subscription to Rape Culture Weekly and believe if a woman posts anything having to do with sex or her sexuality, whether it’s photography, art, erotica or anything else, then he’s allowed to say anything he’d like because, clearly, she doesn’t respect herself. The human equivalent of a garbage fire.

Yes, you’ve behaved like a big ol’ donkey. And not a chill donkey like this one. (source)

Oops, I’ve Behaved In This Way! How Can I Avoid It In Future?
  • Before commenting on a stranger’s photo (rules are different if it’s someone you’re in a relationship with) ask yourself this:
    ‘Would I be all right with a stranger of intimidating build shouting that at me across a darkened street when I was alone?’
  • If someone says: Hey, I took this today—tell me what you’d like to do/How would you improve this.
    Fucking go for it. Here’s your chance.
  • If they say, ‘Feeling cute today!’ ‘Bought this last week—looking forward to using it.’ ‘Finally got my eyeliner like I like it!’ ‘This is my first TK!’
    Appropriate responses include:
    ‘You have beautiful eyes/hair/hands!’ (If you’re female: Your boobs look cute in that top! My boobs would look like pancakes.)
    ‘Wow! That is a well-made crop/flogger/whip—where’d you get it? Have fun!’
    ‘You have such a steady hand—I’d poke my own eye out. Is that liquid?’
    ‘Hey, that’s great! Rope is so much fun. Keep at it!’
    Responses that get you blocked include:
    ‘Your face would look cuter on my dick.’
    ‘I’d teach you how to use that crop/whip/flogger. You wouldn’t be able to sit for a week.’
    ‘Girls wear too much make up.’
    ‘It’s not symmetrical. Meet up with me and I’ll tie you so you can see how it’s supposed to be done.’

I mentioned the almighty block just then. Yes, people can block someone who’s being offensive, but saying, ‘Just block those people,’ is the equivalent of teaching women how not to get raped rather than teaching men how not to rape. Learning to communicate in a way that doesn’t threaten FPHs is more productive for everyone involved than wasting time blocking the people who, most likely, just don’t know any better.

Outing: The Nuclear Option

Outing is the second worst thing you can do to a person as a kinky individual. The first is consent violation.

Outing someone is a consent violation in its own right.

Seriously. It’s NEVER a good idea. (source)

What dragged this to the forefront of my mind and put a big spotlight on it was someone who knew of the show invited me to join a private Facebook group for people into BDSM. They were enthusiastic about my sharing posts from the site and links to episodes—I didn’t ask—they said I should feel free to do so. Excellent.

The invite arrives and I accept and then find I can’t post as The Pageist. I can only post as myself—under my actual name with my face right there. Usually, Facebook allows people to post as their page or themselves—I suppose that because this was a closed group that wasn’t an option? I was invited as my page—not my actual self.

If I had known that as soon as I accepted the invitation the owner of the group, if no one else, would know my legal identity I wouldn’t have joined the group.

So of course I’m not going to post anything to do with the show or site, as I’m not at the place where I’m ready to be completely out. Not for me so much, but I don’t know how it would affect my husband’s career. Do people care what someone’s spouse does? I don’t want to find out in a foreign country where we have literally no savings and no way of moving back to the States.

I want to be out. I want to be able to post selfies at events or doing fun things. I don’t want to worry about what would happen if someone knew about this part of myself because I’m certainly not ashamed of it. Some of my favourite people in the kink world are completely out and I’m envious.

Sinclair Sexsmith has an excellent writing on the various ways of being out—there was everything from the not-even-remotely-out option to the completely-and-entirely-out option. Pros and cons were identified for each choice.

I was the middle one—where you have an alter-ego. I call it being a super hero. You have a different name, implausible clothing, lots of gadgets and toys most people don’t and you probably know how to do a few cool tricks that could be dangerous if done improperly. Or properly, come to think of it.

Why I Want to Be Out

Not being out is weird, because right now I’m ‘unemployed’, right? Never mind that I’m working on film/app/site reviews, reading books, writing podcast episodes and essays, listening to other podcasts to review, doing social media stuff every day and more. I work seven days a week and many more than eight hours a day (and love every second of it).

I may look very serious here, but I’m loving life, promise. (source)

But to many people I not only don’t have a job—I’m also not looking for one. They must think I’m the laziest person ever, which I hate. I hate people thinking I’m lying around doing nothing, particularly when I feel like I’m doing something important and useful.

My goal with my job is to let people know they’re not alone, they are perfectly healthy being who they are while also helping them learn how to do the things that speak to them safely. This sort of thing saves lives. I wish I had the kink community when I was a teenager. I am incredibly proud of what I do and would love to be able to tell people.

When we were preparing to move to England my doctor asked, ‘So what are you going to do when you get there? Find a job or just enjoy being in England?’

The words, ‘I’m going to be a professional kinky word person!’ nearly burst from my throat without bothering to pass my lips.

I want to be out is what I’m saying.

However, I do not want someone to out me. It’s a consent thing—a control thing.

Outing someone as an act of vengeance is the nuclear option. You cannot un-press that button.

There’s a Chasidic tale about a man who was spreading gossip about a rabbi—he eventually realised what he had done was wrong and went to apologise and attempt to make amends. The rabbi told the man to cut a pillow open and scatter the feathers to the wind.

The man thought this was odd, but complied. Then he returned and the rabbi told him to go gather the feathers saying that he couldn’t fix what he’d done any more than he could find all the feathers from that pillow.

The damage done from opening your big yap is unforgiveable, as the damage is too far-reaching.

Considering Outing Someone?

Outing a person can literally ruin the rest of their life. Or their current life, housing situation, custody of their children, educational opportunities, career, marriage—everything.

If you think pushing the big, red, glowing button is good because that person did something to upset you—you’re the one who’s going to look like a lunatic. It’s called a proportional response. Is it ever okay to rape a person? (If you said yes, go straight to therapy.)

Go to therapy & out yourself. (source)

Because outing someone can have a devastating effect on the outed person’s life, as well as their family. People will find out you’re the one who outed that individual and even if they didn’t like that person no one will forget that it didn’t take anything to push you to that point. You will be persona non grata. No matter how much someone hates another person—no one loves the person who violated their consent. Even if they enjoy that person’s discomfort for a split second—they’re not going to be friends with you because what if you suddenly turn on them? You clearly can’t be trusted.

You’ve played yourself, as the kids say—you’ve messed up both your lives.

Think it Can’t Happen to You?

There are some petty, insane people out there who will push the nuclear button for the tiniest of reasons. And a person doesn’t have to see you for you to see them. It’s possible for someone to know who you are without you knowing them so the argument of ‘Well, if they know I’m at the dungeon then I’ve seen them, too,’ does not fly. Some screenshots to HR or your mom or your ex and his or her lawyer is all it takes.

I’ve also heard: ‘I’ll just sue them.’ That’s not going to put your life back together and I’m glad you have disposable income on-hand just for that occasion.

Ways to Avoid Being Outed:

Not having your face connected to your kink profiles is the big one.

Not showing your tattoos (I don’t adhere to that one very well so oh well.)

Don’t post the same photo on your vanilla accounts as your kink accounts—a person can do an image search and find all the places it’s posted. ‘Oh look, Carrie Vanilla-Girl has the same photos as Kitty SluttyPants. What a coincidence.’

If someone has your phone number in their contacts on an iPhone you will be recommended as a ‘friend’ on Facebook. With your actual face and name right there. I learned the real names of several people in my local munch back in North Carolina that way. Which means they learned mine. Luckily I trust those people and I wouldn’t out a person, so they’re safe. But if I’m outed in the future, that’s five or six people I can’t account for. All it takes is some random, insane girlfriend/boyfriend: ‘Who’s THIS?!’

You can say, ‘Facebook is just recommending them as a friend. I didn’t friend them.’ But crazy gf/bf is crazy and you know how that conversation is going to go. They look at your profile then they have all sorts of personal information about you. And you just know that happens. Just be careful who you give your number to if you have your face on your FB account and make your account private. Lock it down.

Secure as in ‘old timey’ bank vault locked down. (source)

If You are Outed:

You have all of my sympathies. You did nothing wrong. You wanted to post your face and tattoos? That was your choice and you should be able to do that. Victim-blaming is utter bullshit. It’s like blaming a rape victim. Nagasaki was not to blame, okay? The up-side is you’ll find out who your friends really are. The down-side is everything else. And holy hell, am I sorry.

I can give no advice on how to handle specific situations, as each one will vary so greatly depending on where you are in the world (or even in your specific country), if you have children, your position in the community and other factors.

People will surprise you—for the better and the worst. I haven’t been outed, but I’ve read a lot of outing stories and that is the one thing they have in common.

Though I can’t advise on every situation, if you’re in the U.S. and you need legal help, contact the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCFS)—they advocate on behalf of people having difficulties due to their non-traditional sexualities or romantic relationships. (If you can, support them financially–you never know when you or someone you care about will need their help and everything they do is volunteer-based.)

In general, people will treat you the way you behave—if you act ashamed they will feel it’s something to be ashamed of and will gloat and be even more insufferable (this comes from dealing with homophobes—I know about this). If you behave with dignity and explain whatever you need to with grace, they’re the ones who will look like the bad guy they are.

‘I’m sure you wouldn’t appreciate having your private life dragged out into public view, either. All I’m asking for is civility.’ Summon your inner Michelle Obama.

What All of Us Can Do:

It’s important to make sure everyone in the community knows outing is never an option. If you hear someone talking about outing someone—explain why that’s unacceptable. If someone you hate with every cell of your hate bone is outed—don’t laugh—because it could happen to you. And it’s never funny—it’s a consent violation.

Actually. I take that back. It’s funny if it’s a homophobic Senator from Nebrahoma who turns out to like taking it up the back passage from male escorts. Those guys—after passing anti-gay laws and ruining people’s lives for years—when they get outed—that’s fucking funny. That will never not be fucking funny.

I feel sorry for them for hating themselves so much they have to hide who they are, but get some therapy and learn to love yourself. Once you start taking it out on everyone else I lose sympathy for you pronto, broheim. Just because you had a shitty childhood doesn’t mean you get to be a serial killer, m’kay?

[This is an updated, expanded version of a piece that originally appeared on episode 30 of The Pageist podcast.]

Hyenas: The Ultimate Kink Mascot

It’s generally accepted that the honey badger is nature’s BAMF. It can take a licking and keep on ticking. It straight up does not give af.

I will not be disputing that in this article.

Really. You’re amazing. No arguments. (source)

But I would like to propose the female hyena as the mascot for several marginalised groups. FemDom (and the submissive males who love it), enthusiastic consent, and trans and gender non-conforming people.

One at a time.

Hyenas Are the Perfect Mascots for FemDom Enthusiasts

Female hyenas have three-times the testosterone of the males. So the society is matriarchal because those ladies will mess someone up if they don’t behave. Due to this, the males act submissively towards the females. They bow and rub their faces on their forelegs to show submission. And they back away when departing the female’s presence, rather than turning around.

One does not turn one’s back on the Queen.

When a male would like to mate with a female, he waits until she’s dozing, then waves his forelegs near her face so she can smell him and decide if she’s interested.

It’s just easier if she’s a little sleep-drunk. You know, rather than bench-pressing Water Buffalo at the gym.

So.

Hyenas are an excellent mascot for FemDommes and the submissive males who love them.

Hyenas Are the Perfect Mascots for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals

Possibly due to all the testosterone, females have a faux-penis. It’s around seven inches or 17.8 centimetres long.

When greeting other hyenas they haven’t seen in awhile, both sexes develop erections, which really saves the males having to ask one another, ‘Do you think she likes me?’

In order to mate, the male has to insert his erect penis into the female’s flaccid penis.

:tips hat and nods: Ma’am. (source)

This is possible due to the female drawing hers into herself, where it becomes a vagina and allows for penetration. Try doing that with no thumbs.

Now, the bad news… What goes in must come out. These ladies also give birth through their faux-penises. I’ll give you a few seconds to stop screaming and cringing.

During pregnancy, the skin of the penis becomes thinner and more elastic to allow birth, but, it’s still a relatively small tube, so suffocation during childbirth is not uncommon.

The first birth involves tearing part of the skin of the dick, leaving a line of scar tissue along the underside. For this reason, it’s easy to tell if a female has given birth.

How much of a badass do you have to be to give birth through your vaginadick?

Female hyenas are excellent mascots for trans and gender-nonconforming people.

‘I’m a female, but I can do stuff with my junk you can’t imagine. And if you have a problem with that, I’ll destroy you. Because I’m far stronger than you.’

I’d really like to see someone try to pass a bathroom law on these ladies.

[I don’t mean to equate being trans or gender non-conforming solely with genitals—it’s more about the idea that to be female is to only be one thing—like there’s only one correct way—which includes being submissive. You can be a woman and be in charge of everything. You can be a woman and have a dick, too, if you want. If you want to have a vagina, you can do that, too. Whatever works for you, whenever it works for you.

At the same time—an enlarged clit/dick due to testosterone and turning a penis inside out to make a vag is pretty much what humans do when choosing gender alignment. Hyenas don’t need to jump through legal or medical hoops so they’ve got us beat there.]

Hyenas Are the Perfect Mascots for Enthusiastic Consent

When the female of a species is far stronger than the male and she has to draw her faux-penis inside herself in order to create a vagina before allowing intercourse… that’s about the most blatant example of enthusiastic consent I can think of.

You are not getting anywhere near that unless she is good and ready, sonny jim.

(Fair dues—if I had to give birth through a very thin tube I’d be highly selective and violent about defending my choices, too.)

There’s probably nil whining from Good Guy hyenas, either, about how the ladies ‘owe’ them sex. Rape culture isn’t a thing when the people who give birth are in charge of their own bodies.

I propose a toast to hyenas—truly majestic creatures, who have us beat in so very many ways. Let us learn from them.

From a safe distance.

[This writing also appeared on Medium. If you are a member there and you enjoyed it, please give it some love.]

____________________________________________________________

[We’re working on a shop for the site and will be running a contest for a design pertaining to hyenas and either FemDom, enthusiastic consent and/or trans/gender non-conforming people. The winner’s design will go on merch for the site and they will get one item of apparel with their design on, as well as the rss link for Patreon supporters.

People will be able to submit more than one design. I want to avoid, ‘Hyenas are my spirit animal,’ as cultural appropriation isn’t cool, but other ideas are welcome. The winner will also retain ownership of the design.

Walter and I are working on our own ideas for this concept but I want to see what my listeners come up with.

I’m not sure exactly when that contest will begin, as the shop isn’t populated with our other designs yet, but stay tuned for that announcement in future episodes of the podcast and on various social media accounts.]

50 Shades of BS: What the Media Gets Wrong about Kink

[A slightly different/condensed version of this piece is in episode 28 of my podcast. The episode covers the best portrayals of kink in film and some of the worst, as well as this writing.]

[Secondary note: I use ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ rather than saying ‘top/D-type’ ‘bottom/s-type’ every time. Substitute the title most applicable to you.]

There are certain tropes that are pretty much a given when watching or reading kinky media created by mainstream/vanilla writers. For your eye-rolling pleasure, here is a list of THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS. Perhaps use it to make a bingo card for the next time you’re watching a mainstream film containing kink!

It’s all about/Always about sex. There was a great piece of writing on Fet some time ago—I can’t recall who it was by now, but the repeated line was something like: ‘My dick doesn’t just fall out’. It was about how, when topping, remarkably, his dick didn’t work out how to unzip his jeans and join the party. Yet, in most depictions of mainstream kink: it’s penis time! You…do know people do kink for other reasons, right? Of course you don’t. You’re a vanilla writer who didn’t bother to consult any icky kinky people for five seconds.

It’s only about what the Top wants. This is particularly insidious because we learn how we’re supposed to be by seeing ourselves in the media. If the few times we—meaning bottoms—see ourselves we’re told our desires don’t matter that’s what we’ll believe. Then ethical tops have to drag information out of bottoms who think not liking pain/degradation/bondage makes them a bad bottom or submissive. This again comes from vanilla writers who take how the default world works and think: ‘Well, people with all the power do whatever they want and everyone else just has to deal with it—those people look like assholes so that must be what they’re doing, too.’

As an aside: Do you think anyone has ever done a role play where they’ve topped a vanilla writer and done a bunch of ‘non-consensual’ things to them? As an instructive sort of thing for the ‘script’ they’re writing, I mean?

Kinky people are hot. I don’t mean because every kinky person is a bajillionaire—though, that too—and can afford all the gear they want. I mean, somehow, all kinky people are the sexiest mofos outside of a Prince video. I think this is because vanilla writers think kinky people are having all the fun so they must be the most amazing humans on Earth so they can’t imagine the most amazing humans on Earth look normal. I mean, that’s out of the question, right?

Not only are they hot, but they’re kink prodigies! Everyone knows how to use every piece of kink equipment like it’s their job. Where are the mentors or the classes or people needing to retie a knot? These fuckers are born knowing how to throw a single-tail!

After I did the episode, the incomparable Tina Horn (@tinahornsass) reminded me of the common theme of people practise BDSM as a way of trying to feel anything. Because, of course, vanilla writers look at what kinksters do and think, ‘That can’t be how people naturally connect—they must not be able to have normal relations. They’re just trying to feel something.’ Mary Gaitskill, who wrote the short story Secretary is based on said something similar about what she thought BDSM was about—I wrote a whole rant about it on my site.

You know, you guys. You can talk to kinky people about why we do the things we do. We’ll tell you.

It’s only about pain. 9 ½ Weeks contained some sensual domination, but for the most part it’s spanking and handcuffs from here to the International Space Station. Kinky people know that BDSM is a veritable cornucopia of fetishes and sensations. These writers have no imagination. It makes me sad for them. (Trivia: Do you remember the name of the Mickey Rourke character? John Gray! Another Mr. Gray. James Spader was E. Edward Grey in Secretary. I addressed this on my site.)

This next one is my personal favourite.

It’s what I call Psychic Dom/me Syndrome: Now, Secretary, which is one of my favourites is rife with this one. James Spader is such a psychic Dom he not only knows it’s okay to commit assault and battery at work (and he’s an attorney!) but he does it without even knowing he’s a Dominant! This is because the majority of films and TV shows are written by men. And men don’t want to communicate. Talking is so boring and hard and you have to acknowledge the other person has feelings, which is literally the worst. Besides, if you’re the Top, you get to do whatever you want anyway and the other person loves it because you’re amazing. So, nuh.

You don’t need to communicate anyway because everything always goes perfectly. No one’s contact ever goes astray, no one ever has too much tea and needs to pee 800 times, no one ever gets a foot cramp from hell in the middle of a needle play scene when absolute stillness is really important. And there’s no such thing as aftercare because cuddling is for pussies and shit. Forget any kind of debriefing—you couldn’t learn from that scene and improve—you’re already perfect and a debrief may involve talking, which we’ve already established is the devil. Aftercare is also something a writer probably wouldn’t learn about unless they did research, which we know is really difficult what with computers containing literally all information known to mankind.

And finally, people are always in the mood. Because why wouldn’t you be? Everyone is sexy as hell, rich as the dickens, knows exactly what you like, and can give it to you perfectly.

Unless it involves aftercare. That shit’s for pussies.

Did I leave anything out? (Probably.) What else would you put on your THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS bingo card? What films are the most egregious offenders?

What films subvert these? To hear about my favourites, listen to the episode, though I must proselytize about The Duke of Burgundy. If you’re already a fan or don’t care about all the spoilers, here is a recap with hundreds of screenshots and reviews of all of the DVD extras because it’s my favourite film of all time.

Though Secretary has its issues I love it and wrote a long review/recap (SPOILERS). I also wrote a post about the differences between the short story and the film (spoilers for both).

An index of the films containing kink I’ve reviewed is here.

[This writing also appeared on Medium. If you are a member there and you enjoyed it, please give it some love.]

Collective Nouns for Kinksters

What do you call a group of kinksters? A munch?

I’ve been thinking about collective nouns in the animal kingdom (names of groups of animals) and how it might be applied to kinky people. Some terms describe physical groups of things like a herd of antelope, a band of coyotes or a gang of turkeys. While many others are less physical like a murder of crows, an unkindness of ravens and a plague of grackles. For many more names of groupings of animals, check here.

If we use the animal kingdom as inspiration for naming of groups in the kink world, then we can use anything to describe a collection of any particular set of kinksters.

Here are my ideas; I know I’m missing several. Please add your suggestions in the comments.

A KNEEL! Of Dom/mes.
An Indecision of submissives.
A Tiara of princesses.
A No! Of brats.
A Cackle of sadists.
A Welt of Masochists.
A Wag of puppies.
A Lolly of littles.
A Spank of Daddy/Mommy Dom/mes.
A Boot of Masters.
A Whip of Mistresses.
A Collar of slaves.
A Change of ABDLs.
A Duster of service submissives.
A Lark of riggers.
A Fly of rope bottoms.
A Tangle of rope people.
A Squeak of rubber fetishists.
A Whalebone of waist-trainers.
A Pedicure of foot worshippers.
A Pollock of sploshers.
A Cenobite of CBT enthusiasts (or other genitorturers).
A Smear of boot blacks.
A Creak of leatherpeople.

Look at these guys. They can't *blink* without everyone hearing them. (source)

Look at these guys. They can’t *blink* without everyone hearing them. (source)

Discovering My Inner Victorian

Power exchange is the most important aspect of kink for me. I’ve known this from the start. But trying to work out what type of power exchange I was looking for had me fairly baffled.

Then I read Paradigms of Power, which is a collection of essays about various styles of power exchange edited by Raven Kaldera.

In the book there are several mentions of power exchanges based on English-style hierarchy, be it Victorian, Edwardian, early 20th century, or as far back as the Renaissance.

In retrospect, what I wanted was blazingly obvious.

It turns out I’ve been a Victorian all this time. If you knew me, this wouldn’t be a surprise.

I like my antique furniture and chamber music, my Pre-Raphaelites and Dickens, Collins and Conan Doyle novels.

(Don’t get me wrong, I also like indoor plumbing, vaccines and civil rights. I don’t romanticize the period. Corsets are for fun—not permanent organ damage.)

Prior to the obvious hitting me in the face, I knew I wanted to be a sort of personal assistant to my D-type. Someone who took care of her clothing and dressed her and did secretarial things and ran errands, got drinks and was a general companion, who was valued and reflected well on her, etc. I had a list that was sort of specific but didn’t describe a contemporary job.

I knew what a lady’s maid was, of course, but being oblivious was very time-consuming and I hadn’t taken the time to sit down and work it out for myself.

Behold, the character I was most jealous of in this film (not Professor McGonagall--the other one). (source)

Behold, the character I was most jealous of in this film (not Professor McGonagall–the other one). (source)

The tone in the relationship I was looking for was warm or affectionate, though it wouldn’t necessarily have to be romantic in nature. It could be, but that wasn’t a necessity.

As I was reading Paradigms of Power, there were various essays (and portions of essays) about the dynamic I was looking for.

In an essay entitled ‘The Victorian M/s Household’ by Sir Stephen (of the Household of Sir Stephen), he talks about the sort of visual media useful for learning about good service.

He includes Upstairs Downstairs and Jeeves and Wooster, and has this to say about the latter:

Although there are wonderful moments of service woven into the comedy, it is a little bit dangerous for slaves to be allowed to view this, as it encourages subtle forms of smart-assery.

Remains of the Day is also recommended, as is Gosford Park. Where we’re meant to look out for this line:

“What gift do you think a good servant has that separates them from the others? It’s the gift of anticipation And I’m a good servant. I’m better than good, I’m the best; I’m the perfect servant. I know when they’ll be hungry, and the food is ready. I know when they’ll be tired, and the bed is turned down. I know it before they know it themselves.”

There’s another line Helen Mirren (Mrs Wilson in the film) says that I remember clearly, which was, ‘I’m the perfect servant—I have no life.’ because when I saw this in the cinema I leaned over to the person sitting next to me and whispered, ‘What do you know, I’m the perfect servant.’

As I was looking through the Gosford Park quotes on IMDb, I came across this one:

Robert Parks: Here we go again.
Mary Maceachran: That’s just it. I’ve never done a real house party before. Not properly anyway.
Elsie (Head Housemaid): How come you got taken on as a countess lady’s maid if you’ve got no experience?
Mary Maceachran: She wants to train me. She said she didn’t care about experience.

Training, you say? Tell me more about that.

For those of you playing along at home: I’ve seen all of Jeeves and Wooster (love them!) and owned Remains of the Day on VHS and have Gosford Park on DVD.

Denser than a dying sun, me.

The second essay in the Victorians section is ‘The Naughty Victorians’ by Sir John of Cawdor and slave girl yoni

He says this:

Lace and the necklaces and earrings of that era replace leather boots and clothing; Victorian deportment replaces leather protocols.

Posture and carriage were important to Victorian ladies, and they were trained to carry themselves well, to have poise, and to gesture gently and elegantly. My slave-girls know to carry themselves with pride and to keep their heads up—never to look down at the ground.

However, her dress must always be carefully thought out; even when it is deliberately provocative, it must be in a mode which I call “elegantly slutty”.

Our cultural dynamic draws its elegance from another era, but we do live in this one, and we modify it to “pass” easily. We are not trying for flashiness and “look at us”; only those who are in the know can discern who and what we are. We wish to blend in in all contexts. We hide in plain sight.

I’d written a piece of erotica/description of a dream I’d had to a friend on Fet and she said she liked how ‘demanding but respectful’ the women was towards me. I hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but all of my fantasies have that tone. And that’s the sort of power exchange I would flourish in. It’s also the way Ladies would treat their maids. They’d expect proper service and respect in return for their own respect.

In a later section of the book, which focused on power exchanges that consisted of a mix of styles, both essays included English-style PE.

In ‘Building a Household Style’ by Master James, the household in question employs Edwardian manners.

I was uncomfortable, early on, with the idea of snapping orders at a “slave”. Growing up in the 1970s, I’d watched Upstairs Downstairs, and The Duchess of Duke Street, both of which shaped my idea on how people of quality speak to people serving them. I also had a distinct opinion that people who were rude or impolite to service people—including their own—were uncouth.

Indeed! And that adds The Duchess of Duke Street to my list of media, which I haven’t watched. I’ve started a page of Victorian resources. It’s rather scant, at the moment, but suggestions are welcome and I’m sure it will grow with time.

Another quote from that essay:

Over time, however, through events, cultural reference, and my influence, an Edwardian manner has become a part of our household ethic. Orders and demurrals should be polite, allowing for an interchange and correction or new information, so that the process of orders is never a source of embarrassment on either end.

The concept of barking orders, in addition to being bad manners, always seemed comical to me, reminding me of Yul Brynner in The Ten Commandments intoning gravely “So it shall be written. So it shall be done!” To me, “I’ll endeavor to do my best, Sir,” “Was that a priority, Sir?” and “I’m afraid that may be impossible with the resources at hand, Sir,” were all perfectly reasonable responses.

I do like ‘Was that a priority?’

Then I'm like: Here I am, just being ready to help. (source)

No worries, I’ll wait until you’ve decided if it is. (source)

The final essay—for my purposes and in the book—was ‘Our Archetypal Array’ by Raven Kaldera, Joshua Tenpenny and Brandon Hardy.

One of their archetypes is Renaissance Manservant, which Raven describes thusly:

Actually, this archetype extends itself well into the eighteenth century, although it had changed a great deal by Victorian times. Wealthy medieval households had many servants of varying ranks, but personal attendants really came into their own during the Renaissance, with the rise of a middle class that couldn’t afford a whole household, but could pay one well-trained servant to cover all but the menial tasks. By Renaissance England, the personal attendant was sometimes referred to as a valet (the word is first found in writing in 1567), sometimes as a “serving-gentleman” or “waiting-gentleman”, and sometimes just “my man” (e.g. Shakespeare’s line “Romeo came not home last night; I spoke with his man…”). The female equivalent was the “serving-gentlewoman”, “waiting-gentlewoman”, or “maid”, not to be confused with the later position of housemaid. Their jobs did include dressing their superior and looking after clothing, but they also encompassed being a traveling companion, carrying bags, taking messages, digging up dirt, making sure that their superior got fed, and many other tasks. Most importantly, their biggest job was to be “in waiting”—waiting for the next order, whatever that might be. They were a plucky, resourceful, respectful, and entertaining (if desired) sidekick who stuck to the side of their master or mistress, no matter where that road led.

Of course, to my mind, desired ‘entertainment’ could be some sort of nefarious kinkiness, if that’s how the power exchange had been designed.

Raven goes on to say:

Long ago, while browsing Life In Elizabethan England: A Compendium of Common Knowledge, written as a handbook for reenactors by Maggie Pierce Secara, I ran across her advice for those playing this specific kind of servant. She wrote: “A servant and master strive to do each other credit. As a lady of quality, it is unbecoming to your dignity to carry your own shopping basket. As that lady’s servant, it is unbecoming to your dignity to let her.” She then went on to write: “The good servant, like a good waiter, is attentive. The best servant is a little bit psychic. He is there when you need him but never hovers. He finds some virtuous occupation when you disappear. He is neither lewd nor vain, but maintains a respectable countenance, to the credit of his master. He is modest but never craven, humble but never base, candid but not insolent.”

I like the ‘doing one another credit’ bit. Both people strive to be worthy of the other just like a good power exchange. Of course, the ‘little bit psychic’ part goes perfectly with the Gosford Park quote (much) earlier in this piece. I’ve always wanted to be one of those secretaries who had a report ready before my boss asked for it and, Bugs Bunny-like, produced the file out of nowhere. Or: ‘It’s on your desk, ma’am.’

Also, the phrase ‘virtuous occupation’ appeals to me greatly, though it makes me think of someone darning socks in a corner. (I’ve tried to learn to darn socks. You know what? We’re buying new socks.)

Back to the essay. Raven goes into what is required of him in order to live up to his side of the equation:

I also absorbed her words about my side of the dynamic as well: “The good master is proud but never despotic. He is patient, governing his household with fatherly care. He does not twist your sincere desire to serve into a sincere desire to punch him out. He lets you do your job. He maintains his superior station, as God has given it him, by honourable behavior, not by argument.”

In practice, this means that my boys are expected to be able to manage the “charming companion” job on top of the “resourceful servant” job. Our public protocol is less formal but more subtle—less about being a silent servant and more about being exactly the companion I want, in exactly the specific ways I want it.

And finally:

Which brings us to my end of the deal. Noblesse oblige literally means “the obligations of the nobility”, and as I understand it, this is honorable behavior. If one believes one’s self to be superior, one should evince public behavior that is better than those one feels superior to. All the time. No exceptions. And, by the way, “public” means “where any other human being can see you, or will find out about it”. The peasants get to be jerks to each other. I don’t. I sometimes fail, but it is never acceptable, and I am always striving to hold to that goal. That’s part of how I earn that special regard. It’s also important to my servants that I show consistently better judgment in important matters than they do, so I’d better stay on my game and make sure I’m thinking deeply enough on each issue to make that happen.

This is the sort of person I want to serve. If I’m being held to a high standard, then there’d better be a good reason and you’d better be spectacular. I see it as a cycle where we feed into one another. I get something out of serving someone outstanding (and being allowed to serve and meeting goals and growing), but that person has to be someone worth serving. The more admirable of a person you are, the better of a servant I’ll want to be. If you’re not living up to your potential as a D-type, I’m not going to get anything out of serving you.

Making Myself Believe It: Rage Like a Living Thing

[Trigger Warning: Rape, Molestation]

I’ve written about having HPV before. Twice. Once about being baffled by the diagnosis and another about working out it was from an unconsensual experience twenty years ago.

And then I was done. I’m a Stoic (head nod to my guy Marcus Aurelius, sup, Marco!) and I was just going to deal with it in my silent, proper, non-emotive way.

I haven’t been saying ‘why me’—I haven’t said it once, because people who say that have always struck me as naïve. Or uninformed about statistics and science.

If you say ‘why me’, well, why not you? The belief that you don’t deserve something bad means someone else does. Or that you believe fate exists. Which means children deserve to starve to death or people in India are fated to handle human feces based on their caste.

During the Chechen Wars of the 90s the women living in the areas of contention said they didn’t care who was winning because it only meant the uniforms of the soldiers raping them changed.

People who say ‘if you send out positive vibes you get positivity back’ make me laugh.

That only works if you live in certain places, look a certain way, and have a certain set of circumstances helping you along to begin with. All the positive thinking in the world won’t help the people with no food or those who live in war zones.

Fate and positive vibes are for the already fortunate.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about the factors in place that facilitated my winding up with this thing that could give me cancer. Several things worked together starting with my parents and their sincere need for parenting skills and military-grade AA.

Then there’s this rage. Fury, really. It swells in my chest sometimes like a living thing and I don’t know what to do with it. I’ve written before about how emotions weren’t to be expressed in our house. To the point where I don’t know how to express them now.

Of course, like an idiot, I went to the man of the hour’s Facebook page. He died a few years ago, but his friends and family continue to post messages to him about how they know he’s in Heaven with God and how they know he’d be proud of his son today because he did this or that. Or how they sure wish he’d’ve been there for whatever moment.

Because what a Swell Guy he was. And he was Taken Too Soon.

And the rage swells in my chest like a living thing and I don’t know what to do with it. And I flip back through each moment that had to happen for us to end up where we did, and I end up back at my parents.

Why didn’t I stop things there? Or there? Or there?

Why didn’t my mother ask why I was spending so much time with someone twice my age?

Why did I trust him when I had just been betrayed by someone else so terribly? I had gone to him for help dealing with a man who’d been putting his hands on me for months.

I know the answers to all of the questions. I can play them forward like a Choose Your Own Adventure story and see why I made the decisions I did, but looking back so much would have been so different if my parents hadn’t been alcoholics.

Maybe I’d be one of those people who thinks putting positivity out there brings it back to you. Maybe I wouldn’t know that if someone sees someone who can’t properly defend themselves, they’ll take advantage no matter how well you think of them.

Because I trusted him. We were friends.

I trusted him so much I didn’t believe anything bad had happened for years. Even after reading articles about how rape survivors often act after rape over the long-term and recognizing myself in all of the points.

Not until I got this diagnosis—twenty years later—did I have to admit that it really did happen and I knew I didn’t want it and, oh yeah, all those articles said you’d been acting like a rape survivor…

I certainly I can’t deny it now.

But I still don’t believe it. Not really. Maybe it’s because I don’t look or feel any differently, as there are no outward symptoms. I had a different name then—I changed it after I moved away. I don’t see or speak to anyone I knew then.

And I feel stunted and angry and baffled and stupid.

My anger is a many-pronged thing. At myself for not being more insular and withdrawn, which I would become later, but if I had been from the start none of this would have happened. For trusting someone so quickly because I didn’t want to be a distrustful person.

At my parents for being more interested in drinking (my father) and staying with someone who drinks rather than moving out, while also drinking herself to sleep every night (my mother) than paying attention to who their daughter was spending time with or for how long or how late.

At the men who were older than I was, who, over months, said things to me that chipped away at what self esteem I had, or did what we’d now call ‘grooming’ or made sure no one would believe me—and who would? I did completely illogical things—that I now know are very common for victims of molestation and rape. I read those articles and said, ‘Huh,’ and kept on moving. I didn’t know what to do so I did nothing. I was a blank slate of a human for a long time. My interior world was the snow of an improperly tuned television.

At the way the world treats perpetrators versus victims and how I still blame myself because the world would blame me if I told them.

Then I remembered something… I had tried to tell someone. A couple of people. One had said I needed to ‘get over it’. And the other had shouted, ‘I’m sorry for what happened to you!’ and that was the end of it. You’re not supposed to talk about it because it makes men feel badly about themselves.

I had forgotten about that until very recently. The years of my life around that time are a blur—I don’t remember when what happened but I must have known something and tried to tell someone something because I recall learning that people didn’t want to know. So I suppose my brain decided that if I couldn’t tell anyone about it I wouldn’t know, either.

But I have to know it now. And I know another thing:

Someone doing something bad to you is all on them.

If an arsonist sets your house on fire—it’s on them. Not you for having a flammable house.

If someone steals your car—it’s on them. Not you for owning a car.

I had a body that someone (two someones) wanted to do things to. I didn’t want them to but they did those things. It’s all on them.

I just can’t seem to make myself believe it.