Episode 062: Sinclair Sexsmith

Episode the sixty-second; wherein the Pageist discusses consent, feminism and just why so much erotic writing is so bad with author Sinclair Sexsmith.

.43 Intro and Announcements:

  • I’ll be teaching a class on lucid dreaming for otherwise impossible sexual fantasies at Eroticon in March! My bio will eventually appear on this page.
  • From the endlessly wonderful Reid Mihalko, I won a ticket to next year’s Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, which I will hopefully get to attend (dependant upon finding a sponsor for airfare/lodging).

2.27 Interview:

photo by Bill Wadman

43.07 Closing Remarks:

Episode 053: Graydancer

Episode the fifty-third; Wherein the Pageist talks with Graydancer about consent. Also: The importance of giving blood.

.45 Intro and Announcements:

  • My first giveaway has ended. Two of the winners are Margaret and Amanda. Congrats to them! I’ve contacted the third person and am waiting to hear back.
  • You can subscribe to the show’s rss feed of the show here.
  • My birthday is this month! Help me celebrate by visiting this link!
  • Ramadan Mubarak. May your Ramadan be one of renewal and peace.
  • Happy Pride, people who celebrate it!

3.21 My Submissive Life:

9.41 Interview:

Graydancer in a kilt with rope

1.13.27 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be reviewing Approaching the Swingularity by Cooper S. Beckett
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
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Game Review: Radiator 2

This is a screenshot from Steam.

Radiator 2 is a collection of three games by Robert Yang. The set is available for free on Steam, which is how I played them, though you can also get them on itch.io and pay what you like. They are available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

The games included are:

Hurt Me Plenty

Concept: Spank the hell out of a dude the way he wants. It’s all about consent. And hunky dude butt.

Storyline/Narrative: Hunk of a guy conveys his spanking preferences through emoticons while you shake hands then gets on all fours and you spank him until you get bored. He can also safeword, though he’ll let you know if you’re being too rough (also through emoticons) and you can slow down. If he says stop you get locked out of the game for forty-eight hours. Afterwards you provide aftercare by rubbing his shoulder while he sits on a bed with a couple of candles.

Your phone immediately rings/vibrates and someone (same guy) wants to play again and you start over, but the guy has different limits.

My husband and I both played the game and the order was the same both times: Dude in jeans, dude bare-assed, dude in under-pants. Always the same guy of indeterminate race. As the top, you don’t get a say in what happens—you’re just the spanker.

Game play mechanics: I played on a Mac using a trackpad and had no problems. Walter played on a Windows machine using a game pad and he said it worked really well.

It’s not a complicated game in terms of technical game play. You shake the bottom’s hand while he’s telling you his limits, then a hand appears (even if the guy has requested a crop, dang it) and you use that to smack his butt. Butt smacks are right-handed but they can be fore- or back-handed and are a click and swipe on a track pad. Aftercare is the same right hand on the bottom’s shoulder, rubbing back and forth until he’s recovered.

You can play this game one-handed. … Oh. I typed that before I realised what… I’m leaving it.

Learning Curve: There is no tutorial. I had seen a video of some people playing it so I had some idea what to do (and it’s not the most complex game to master) but the emoticons the character communicates in aren’t the most straightforward so I’m still not sure what he was talking about all of the time. Particularly in the negotiation section. At the end he gives you a review of how you did as a top—I don’t know what all of those symbols meant, either. I got a star each time, which I took as a good thing. I’m a submissive. I like stars.

When doing the actual spanking, he speaks not only in emoticons, but also colours, so as long as you know green means go, yellow means slow down and red means stop, you still know how to handle yourself.

Replayability: It was great fun! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’m not a top, though. If I were into topping dudes—particularly spanking guys—maybe I’d play this occasionally to let off some steam.

Audio/Video: This is where this game shines. As much fun and creative as it is—the visuals are incredible. All three of the games had great music. In this one, the smacks are satisfying and the guy grunts when you hit him, which I found highly amusing. Walter wacked the guy so hard once (he was really getting into it) he said, ‘I’m really going to town on this guy—he’s loving it!’ and the bottom fell forward onto his elbows, with his butt in the air.

Walter was also impressed with the jiggly butt mechanics. I pointed out that if you got spanked as much as this guy did your butt would be jiggly, too.

Also, if you start warming his butt up a lot, it begins to redden—just like a real ass.

Review: Overall, fun stuff. When you’re in the actual spanking portion of the game, your mobile is in the bottom left corner of the screen and a timer is running… for some reason. When Walter was playing, using a gamepad, he had the rumble setting on and after the four minute mark his controller started vibrating. He asked me why that was happening and all I had was: ‘I don’t know. Maybe that’s how you know when you’re done?’

So there are several things that aren’t obvious but also aren’t necessary to enjoy the game immensely.

Would I recommend it? YES. Unless you’re offended by anything I’ve mentioned above.

 

Succulent

Concept: Stick a phallic object in a half-naked dude’s mouth. See how many ways you can move it around until the object is no more.

Storyline/Narrative: So… there are three identical guys… Who are in a sauna? I think? The two in the background are in tighty-whiteys. The one in the foreground is naked from the waist up. All three are wearing mirrored sunglasses like cops wear. They all have a moderate amount of chest hair, as well as nicely-groomed facial hair.

The one in the front is holding an orange lolly/creamsicle phallic thing that is melting. Probably because they’re in a sauna and it’s just so darn hot. The guy is really into that lolly. He wants to devour the whole thing. The guys in the background are really into watching him devour the whole thing.

Game play mechanics: About as straightforward as can be. Use your trackpad or game pad to put the lolly in the guy’s mouth in various angles and at various rates of speed until it melts.

Learning Curve: Nil.

Replayability: Again, watching dudes suck on things isn’t really my ‘thing’ so, though the first playthrough had me in stitches, it’s not something I’d play again. I don’t know how it would go over with people who are into watching guys put long, thin objects in their mouths, however.

Audio/Video: More great music. Yang’s people are very realistic without venturing into Uncanny Valley, which I think we can all appreciate, since I’d feel badly about making realistic people do slightly perverted things. The hair on these guys… I am in awe of however Yang makes hair on these characters. And the glasses! Really, just the artwork in general. I grew up playing Mario. Now I can make a dude realistically blow a popsicle until his cheek bulges and his eyebrows arch. We live in the future.

Review: Super simple game in terms of concept and play. Amusing as hell, nonetheless.

The ending was… a surprise. I wasn’t expecting it… When watching my playthrough, you may want to skip from 2.55 to 3.49 if you’d like to be surprised.

Would I recommend it? YES, again. It’s hilarious. And the A/V is A+.

Stick Shift

Concept: Have sex with a gay car (as a gay man) by going from off to sixth gear. (The sexuality of the vehicle is provided in the description of the game.)

Storyline/Narrative: A guy who really needs a nap is in his anthropomorphic car. (Then again, if I had an anthropomorphic car I could have sex with, I might not sleep much, either.) Sex is had with the car in a fairly non-graphic way until everyone is satisfied. The car communicates its needs in its own car-like way and you have to learn how to read its signals properly.

Game play mechanics: More complex than the previous two—this one took a bit more finesse—though less than I was giving it. The problem was more with working out what needed to be done than any fancy fingerwork.

Learning Curve: This one has the highest learning curve and my husband eventually gave up trying to play it on the game pad. I managed to work out what the goal was/how to achieve said goal without giving up and I don’t have the greatest amount of patience with video games, so that’s something. A clue is in the title of the game. Just stay with it.

Replayability: Once again, it depends on how much you enjoy stroking the stick shift of a car to bring it to climax. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.

Audio/Video: Like the others, outstanding. A+.

Review: Beautifully rendered, short game where you have to pay attention to the details to work out what to do. The very, very end made me laugh because I’m a ciswoman. I may have found the root of all misogyny. (The games are not remotely misogynistic—this one just highlights a theory I’ve had for some time in a particularly amusing way.) If you’d like to be surprised by the ending, stop the video at 9.20.

Would I recommend it? YES. Especially if you’re a mechanophile. Even if you’re not, it’s amusing and very well made.

Overall: these games make me want to play everything by Robert Yang. They also make me want to interview him because I have many questions.

 

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.

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.]

Consent Accidents and Violations with Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is a sex educator and all round awesome guy.

This is a longer post, but it’s full of valuable information about consent.

Consent Accidents and Consent Violations

I was at a discussion group recently and someone shared a term that I hadn’t heard before: consent accidents. This is a really valuable nuance in the ongoing conversations about consent and nurturance culture because it recognizes that there’s a difference between a consent violation and a consent accident.

A consent violation happens when someone chooses to ignore or cross someone’s boundaries. People do that for a lot of reasons, including selfishness, arrogance, not caring about their partner, getting off on harming someone (which is distinct from the consensual experience of BDSM), or being somewhere else on the douchebag-rapist spectrum.

Consent accidents, however, are different because they happen because of error, miscommunication, misunderstanding, or not having all the information. That doesn’t make it less painful. If you step on my toes, it hurts whether it was an accident or on purpose. But how I approach the situation and what we do to resolve it might look very different.

There are some really big challenges for navigating this. First, if something happens that leaves you feeling hurt, it can really difficult to know the difference between accident and violation. That might be because of past experiences, wounds, triggers, or trauma which can amplify the hurt. It might be because it’s often difficult to know what someone’s intentions and motivations are. And in a world that excuses perpetrator’s actions and blames victims by saying things like “they didn’t mean to do it,” it can be incredibly hard to stand up for yourself.

Another difficulty is that identifying where things went awry is really hard when you’re feeling hurt. Pain, fear, anger, shame, sadness, and grief are all ways that you might feel when your consent isn’t attended to, whether it’s an accident or a violation. Any of those emotions, individually or in combination, can make it hard to see the situation with clarity, to talk about it with compassion for yourself and your partner, and to hold each of yourselves accountable for your choices and actions.

On the flip side, if you tell the other person what happened, they’ll also have their emotional reactions. Shame, in particular, tends to make us either attack the other person by blaming them or attack ourselves by giving up our right to our feelings and needs. If your partner gets defensive, they might try to dodge responsibility, take on all the blame, or attack you. Those are pretty common ways of reacting to shame, and most of us have done them at one point or another. Unfortunately, they also dovetail with victim-blaming, gaslighting, and the many other ways in which people who have been assaulted or abused get silenced.

Since it can be really difficult to identify what happened and know whether an event was a consent accident or violation, I’m really happy to have discovered this flow chart that Josh Weaver developed (used with permission).

Update: I dislike the top right diamond that says “They’re a dick” for three reasons. First, using sexual anatomy a a pejorative reinforces sex-negativity. After all, we wouldn’t call someone an elbow or a knee because we don’t see those body parts as bad. (Here’s an old article of mine on the topic.) Second, I think that using the word “dick” implies that the person being evaluated is male since we rarely use that word to describe non-masculine folks. People of all genders can violate consent and I see no reason to reinforce that gendered stereotype. And third, I think this flowchart creates a false dichotomy of “good people who don’t cross boundaries” and “bad people who do.” This kind of thinking actually makes it easier for perpetrators to get away with it since it generally takes a lot to convince people to see someone they care for or were conned by as a bad person.

I think if we took that top right diamond out and edited the chart, it would be amazing. But I still think it’s worth using since the decision-making process it guides you through is important. If you want to edit Weaver’s flowchart, I suggest you either do it (and feel free to send me a link) or contact him about it.

This is an great tool for making decisions about our experiences, but there’s one piece that I think needs to be unpacked. The box labeled “was it intentional?” doesn’t offer much guidance for how to know. Of course, in an ideal world, we’d all be able to trust our partners when they say that it wasn’t. And I also know that some folks avoid responsibility for their actions by saying they were accidental when they really weren’t. Plus, when we get called in or called out, it’s easy to slide into a shame reaction and try to avoid, rather than leaning into the discomfort and moving forward.

The tricky thing is that while it would be lovely to assume good intentions, we sometimes need evidence. It’s on the person whose behavior crossed the line to demonstrate where their intentions were coming from, and the way you do that is by taking responsibility for the effects of your actions, regardless of what you intended. When someone tells you that they’ve been hurt by something you did despite your intentions, here are some good things to say to help the situation move forward.

Resolving a Consent Accident

The key to effectively addressing a consent accident is being able to bring in all of the pieces. Most people are more practiced or skilled at some of these than others, and they’re all important. There are a lot of ways to phrase each one, so take these as general suggestions and tailor them to fit your language, your relationship, and your situation.

Thank you for telling me. It’s really difficult to call someone in. It’s hard to take the risk of vulnerability when there’s already pain. It’s a brave thing to share that with a partner, especially in a world that blames, shames, and attacks people who speak up about sexual assault. So if someone tells you that they feel hurt by something you did or something that happened, one of the best things you can do in those situations is honor their courage. Express your gratitude that they told you what happened, even if your perspective on the experience is very different.

I’m sorry that you had that experience. If you can empathize with them, it will start to build a bridge between the two of you and heal the disconnection that happened. Let them know that you understand that they didn’t have the experience they wanted and offer some sympathy. This doesn’t mean that you’re taking the blame for things. It’s simply telling them that you understand that they didn’t have the experience they wanted. Some ways to say this:

  • I’m sorry that you didn’t have as good a time as we both wanted.
  • I’m sorry that you were hurt and didn’t feel comfortable telling me at the time.
  • I’m sorry that we did something that you weren’t a full yes to.

Note: this is not the time to problem solve or assign responsibility. That will come later.

I had no intention of hurting you, and I see that it happened. This is where you start to bring in the both/and. You didn’t mean to injure them, and it still happened. Maybe there was a miscommunication. Maybe you genuinely thought that what you were doing was what they wanted. Maybe you didn’t pick up on their nonverbal cues. Maybe they were saying their safeword but the music was too loud and you couldn’t hear it. While it might be true that you didn’t realize what was happening (and I hope that if you had, you would have stopped), that doesn’t change the fact that an injury happened. Whether it was a physical or emotional hurt, it still happened.

There needs to be room for acknowledging both of these pieces because, by definition, this is the crux of the accident. The way you show that you recognize that it took place is by holding these two elements. It’s important to weigh them both equally because they’re equally true. If you overemphasize to the fact that you didn’t mean it, you’re trying to dodge your responsibility to work towards healing and resolution. While that might be an understandable defense mechanism against feeling shame, it’s going to accelerate the situation. And if you under emphasize the fact that you didn’t mean it, you run the risk of taking on too much responsibility and sliding into self-blame. Aim for the middle zone, where both of these pieces are important, and neither is more important than the other.

I’m sorry I did that thing I did. This one isn’t always relevant since consent accidents can happen even when you’ve done everything you could reasonably be expected to do. Consent is about due diligence rather than absolute safety. But when there is something you could have done differently, you need to genuinely apologize for it.

It might not be enough to say “I’m sorry.” You’ll improve your odds if you say, “I’m sorry I didn’t ask if you wanted me to touch you there/use those words/spank your butt/etc.” If you name the thing, you show that you truly understand where the accident happened. That’s a lot more effective because it shows that you understand what happened. You don’t need to go into every single detail, but you do need to show that you get it.

If you’re genuinely confident that you performed due diligence, you can say something like, “I really regret that this happened.” That’s a good way to acknowledge that there was an unfortunate event without taking on responsibility beyond what you could reasonably be expected to take. But be careful with this one. You need to make sure that you truly performed due diligence, and if you’re feeling defensive or reactive, you might be dodging responsibility instead.

What could I have done differently? There are actually two questions here: What could I have done that I didn’t do? What did I do that I shouldn’t have done? These are both super challenging things to ask because it puts us in the vulnerable position of looking at any missteps we might have made. One reason it’s helpful to start off with thanking your partner for coming to you is that it reminds you that they took a big risk in initiating the conversation. That makes it easier to take the big risk of asking them where things went awry.

There are two things that are important to hold onto. First, your partner might not know how to put into words what you could have done differently. If that happens, you might need to explore that. What was the moment when things shifted for you? When did you first notice that it didn’t feel right to you? What was I doing? And what could I have done that would have kept it from happening? These questions can be really hard to ask, especially since you need to do your best to set your defensiveness aside and approach them from a place of genuine curiosity. You might find it easier if you have a coach or therapist to help with that.

The other important piece is that if your partner is in a place of pain or shame, they might not have an answer to this question yet. Or they might be speaking from that hurt, which can lead them to make unreasonable demands. I find that before you get into the problem-solving, you need to turn towards the feelings and give them their room. It might take some time for them to move through their trajectory. And your partner might need to get support for their feelings from someone else first. It’s hard to hold space for painful emotions that are the result of your own actions. But until the feelings have had a chance to do their thing, it’s difficult to come up with good answers to the question of what you could have done differently.

It might take some time to find those answers, or they might come in stages. One of you might wake up the next morning and realize there’s something to add. If it’s something you’re available for, tell them that this is an open conversation and that if something else occurs to them, they’re welcome to come tell you. Even if there isn’t anything to add, knowing that you’re open to that goes a long way towards demonstrating that this was an accident because you’re showing that you’re taking responsibility for what happened.

This is what I’ll do to keep this from happening again. If there’s something you can do to learn from the experience and expand your skill set to reduce the chances of a repetition, commit to it. You might need to do some reading about how to do that sex act safely. You might need to talk with a coach or a friend to figure out what was going on for you. You might need to change your habits around alcohol and sex, or learn to have a safer sex conversation, or figure out how to talk about what a potential sexual experience means to you. Whatever you need to do, make it happen. Get the support and the learning you need to avoid this accident in the future.

Depending on the connection you have with the other person, you can ask them if they want you to let them know how that goes. In an ongoing relationship, they might want to hear about your progress. Someone you have a fling with might not. The important thing here is that you need to not ask them to perform emotional labor for you. Get your support elsewhere and offer them accountability.

Do you need anything else from me? Does this give you what you need? It’s easy to think that you’ve taken care of things, only to find that the situation feels unresolved to the person who felt hurt. If they answer with anything other than a clear yes, go back and ask them what else would help them feel complete with this. Maybe they need a more specific apology. Maybe they need to hear that you aren’t angry. Maybe they need a specific timeline for your next steps. Maybe they need some time apart to take care of their feelings.

If they don’t feel like the situation is complete but they don’t know what they need, offer them some space to figure it out. Let them know that they’re welcome to take the time they need and come back to you later. They might need to do this in stages, especially if there’s some old relationship patterns at play or if they have a history of sexual trauma. It can be hard to not have all the answers right away, but if you can sit with that discomfort, you’ll probably get much better results than if you push for an immediate resolution.

Moving Forward From A Consent Accident

The value in taking these steps is that they help heal the hurt and make it much easier to keep the pain and anger from crystallizing into resentment. Resentment is the biggest relationship killer and once it becomes habitual, it’s difficult to shift out of it. As John Gottman points out, in happy relationships, we’re good friends who sometimes annoy each other. In unhappy relationships, we become enemies. Resentment is one of the main ways we slide into enemy territory. That’s true for flings and casual partners, just as it is for ongoing relationships.

Consent accidents are going to happen. We make mistakes. We get distracted by our arousal or intoxication. We misremember or misunderstand where someone’s comfort zone is. Our preferences and desires change (and we sometimes don’t realize it until afterward). There are a lot of reasons we accidentally hurt someone. The best way to be prepared for it is to know what to do when (not if) it happens. The time to learn first aid is before someone gets hurt.

You can also reduce the odds of consent accidents happening if you use this simple framework for creating room for consent. If you start off with a solid foundation, you make it easier for your partner to tell you in the moment if something isn’t working. That gives you more room to recalibrate and reduces the chances of things going wrong. An ounce of prevention, and all that.

Sometimes, it’s hard to sort out what to do in these situations. If you don’t know where to look for information, support, or guidance, it can feel like a lot to figure out what to do on your own. As a sex and relationship coach, I work with individuals, couples, and poly groups of all genders and sexual orientations, and I’d be happy to help you find your way. I offer a free 30 minute Get Acquainted call (phone or skype), which gives us an opportunity to talk about your situation and how I can support you. I work with people from all over the world, so get in touch with me and let’s figure out how to get things moving in the right direction.

Here is a link to the original post.

You can follow Mr Glickman on twitter here: @charlieglickman

His website is his linked name at the top of the page.

Those Talking Genitals: Consent isn’t Simple

Have you seen those talking genitals? If you haven’t, here they are:

If you’re someplace where you can’t (or don’t want to) watch disembodied, animated genitals then I shall describe them for you.

There are three short ads. In one a brown breast and a white hand are laughing, just enjoying themselves, and the hand grabs the breast. The breast says in a female register, ‘Whoa,’ and the hand says in a male voice, ‘Sorry, I just thought,’ and the breast shakes itself ‘no’. Then the words, ‘Consent is simple. If it’s not yes, it’s no.’

In the second, a white pair of buttocks is in the middle of the frame and a slightly browner, but could be a variety of races, penis strolls in on its testicles, whistling. It casually falls over on the butt. The butt says in a female register, ‘Uh-uh,’ and the penis strolls off whistling. (Which is exactly what those sorts of casual molesters do when you say no. Sure.) ‘Consent is simple. If it’s not yes, it’s no.’

In the third, a white vulva/clit/labia combo and that unidentifiable-raced penis (again) are dancing and the penis intentionally leans against the vulva combo. The vulva says, ‘Hey!’ and the penis says, ‘My bad,’ and they dance facing away from one another. ‘Consent is simple. If it’s not yes, it’s no.’

This is supposed to be a step forward in the consent conversation.

My blood pressure goes through the roof when this comes up on my FB timeline. I have naturally very low blood pressure so, in one way, these are useful. In every other way I become enraged.

Here are the problems:

Problem One: Assumption

In the laughing and dancing ads the hand and penis assume that because the breast and vulva are being friendly it’s all right to touch the body part.

The other one… don’t get me started. The butt was just standing there.

The belief that a person with certain body parts are available by simply existing is infuriating. It’s even in the first one. ‘I just thought.’ Why did you think that? Because she laughed at your joke? If women don’t laugh at jokes they’re considered humorless shrews.

Problem Two: Boundaries & Onus of Responsibility

By the time a person has to say no, a boundary has already been crossed and a person has already been made to feel uncomfortable in their own body.

These ads—and the philosophy behind them—put the onus of responsibility on the person who has no idea of the intention of the other person—of the person who will later complain they ‘meant nothing by it’.

Nope. Responsibility should lie with the person who would like to do something to another person. If your intentions are pure (even if they’re dirty) then you have nothing to worry about. If you’re more concerned about your ego than another person’s comfort in their own body then you have far larger problems and shouldn’t be around other humans for awhile.

Problem Three: Phrasing

The phrasing should be: Consent isn’t simple. If it isn’t a yes, it isn’t a yes. (More on why consent is complicated here and here.)

All you have to do is ask first.

Which would you prefer, to hear someone say something as sexy as, ‘Hell, yes I want you to kiss me/touch me/do that dirty, dirty thing’ or hear someone say, ‘You did something I didn’t want and now I don’t feel safe with you and I’m going to tell everyone I know’?

Problem Four: Gender & Genitals

It’s not only genitals that get too close or do things that make someone uncomfortable.

It’s not only female-identified people who are touched by male-seeming people.

Women Can Violate Consent Too

This week’s mentor post comes from LunaLux and addresses the fact that yes, women can violate consent, too.

Having been on the receiving end of consent violations from women and having it disregarded by others as ‘no big deal’ because, as we all know, women aren’t real people and, therefore, aren’t anything to be afraid of, I appreciate this post.

Pay attention, ladies, and I use the term loosely.

Ladies, we need to talk…

Last night, I went to a themed kinky event. My shiny Switch and I decided to go with rubber leggings on and not much else up the top. My entire back was bare, my nipples covered with the obligatory BDSM black cross and not much else stood between my skin and the air.
I was really nervous about going dressed like that. My concern was not around body image, but around the fact that I was going to be inviting a bunch of sleazy men my way, touching me without my consent and acting in all the ways women warn each other about and berate men about. I was part dreading the night because I have had men act in that way to me before in a very vanilla and fully clothed setting, never mind one where I was dressed in a very revealing way. This is what happened:

Not one man touched me inappropriately or approached me with sexy suggestive language. Yes, a few perved at my boobs from a distance, but we all go to these things to perv.
In fact, even all of my male friends were a little wary of even hugging me hello. A few didn’t know where to put their hands and I ended up having a few floaty hand hug moments, with hands hovering a little away from me. Well done boys, you understand consent.

But I was touched up, grabbed, slapped and groped all night.

Not by men, but by women.

Here’s the count.

All of my close lady friends that I have had in my home to both play and share meals with me- they all touched me or my boobs or my arse in some way last night. All of them have previously requested my consent. But each one still checked in with me last night. One slapped me on the butt in a cheeky way when I offered it to her to touch it, but she had my permission to touch me and has had my consent before. She still looked at me afterwards in a way that suggested “Are you still ok with this?” Well done ladies, you understand consent.

One of my lady acquaintances (whom I have only met once) ran her hand down my back which made squirm. She quickly said “I’m sorry, am I allowed?”. I said “Sure”. She did it again, which made me squirm more. She again said “Am I still allowed”. I wasn’t enjoying the sensation but it wasn’t bothering me, so my yes sounded uncertain. She stopped. Well done lady, you understand consent.

Then came all the ladies whom I have met before but have never asked for my consent in any conversation with them:

  • 1 grabbed my arse
  • 1 slapped my arse
  • 1 scratched me

Then, there were the countless women I have never met before who never asked for my consent to touch me even though they have never met me before:

  • 2 ran their hands up my leg in the bathroom to touch my rubber. One suggestively right up to my crotch. Neither asked first.
  • 1 grabbed my boobs. She did not ask.
  • 4 ran their hands down my back
  • 1 rubbed my arse

On top of that- one woman repeatedly came over to touch my shiny switch on the arse and back. Every time she walked past she grabbed him. He did not give his consent.

That’s ELEVEN consent violations for my personal body last night and more on the switch. All from women. Let’s roll in the arguments in defence of women I know I am going to get as comments:

  • Women aren’t rapey- you can’t feel threatened by women because you aren’t afraid they will rape you. Actually, no. I don’t care that women don’t have cocks. When you enter my personal space with sexual innuendo or kinky intent- you are violating consent. End of story. Also, last year, a young male friend of mine met with a woman for play. He told her he didn’t want to have sex. She had sex with him anyway. Ladies- NO. That IS rape. Women can be rapey.
  • Women think it’s ok because they aren’t attracted to you in a sexual way so touching your body is ok because they don’t think of you in that way. Actually, no. I think of women in that way, so when they touch me, it is the same for me as if it were a man touching me.
  • Women have their own boobs so it’s ok for them to touch your boobs. Actually no, personal space is still personal space. I don’t see men walking around touching each other’s cocks for fun.
  • The women you know were just being playful. Lighten up. Actually, no. Not one of my male friends would think it was just being playful if they touched me, groped me or tried to hurt me without my permission. Not one. And if any did, I am sure all of us would tell him off for it.

Imagine that all of the above incidents happened with men against me last night. Imagine. Just for a second. Yeah, are you imaging the lynch mob yet?

Ladies, I am a feminist. I fight for equality and fairness. Every day. And I am fighting now. For ALL women to obey the rules of consent as equally as we fight for men to obey them. THAT is equality. Same rules, same expectations. How can we create a culture of consent with men if we do not model it for them?

If a man cannot touch me in any of those ways without my permission, then neither should women. THAT is fairness.

Sorry for any typos. I am rushing off to uni with a slight hangover and on 4 hours sleep. Joy to the world. All the boys and girls.

Consent isn’t Just About Tea

Me, most of the time. Meaning if I'm conscious. (Image from Buzzfeed.)

Me, most of the time. Meaning if I’m conscious. (Image by Sian Butcher/Buzzfeed.)

Emily Nagoski (PhD), (the woman who wrote Come as You Are: The surprising new science that will transform your sex life) wrote a post entitled: The one reason I haven’t shared that tea/consent thing.

This is what she’s talking about, if you haven’t seen it or need a refresher:

The text of the video (with some spiffy illustrations by Sian Butcher) can be found here.

Emily… Dr Nagoski? She seems like the sort of person who’d say, ‘Please, call me Emily.’ So. Emily, makes a few very good points.

One is that many perpetrators of sexual violence don’t care about consent–they know the other person isn’t interested but feel entitled to the other person’s body. Gross. But that’s correct. Those people think their tea is so amazing you’re going to have it no matter what.

And the other was that even when people don’t necessarily want sex (I’ve just typed tea there) they want what goes along with it so they’ll accept the sex in order to get the other things. A person may say yes to sex when what they really want is just to be held or a relationship or an emotional connection. Or something even more complex like they want to be able to say they had sex with a particular person.

To my mind, the sexual act has been bestowed such importance that any other physical affection is viewed as precursor. (I’m approaching this from a vanilla point-of-view. I think kinky people should have the self awareness and communication skills to be able to express exactly what they want and are hopefully mature enough to honour their partner’s wishes.)

I think that, many (vanilla) people don’t know how to ask for just a back rub or a cuddle or to have their hair brushed and to say, ‘This doesn’t have to lead to sex,’ because they expect to have to put up with sex–even if they don’t want it–to get the closeness or whatever it is they want. That’s what Western culture has taught women and men.

We teach men that touching is bad–men who touch other men are gay and weak (which is terrible!). Touching someone is only allowed for fucking and fighting.

So if a romantic partner initiates contact the non-initiator will often think it’s the go-ahead for sexytimes. I mean, you chose to start touching me/asked me to touch you, so clearly you want the touching to be everywhere. Or in the swimwear region, at least. Touching is for fighting or fucking and I don’t want to fight you (though we can if you don’t want the other one.)

Nope. Sometimes people just need a back rub or a cuddle or they want a control scene. Sorry, I know this was supposed to be about the vanillas, but people can want one specific thing and not every other thing.

The point is, genitals are not the only way to be close to another human being. I know. It’s surprising.

Western culture has lied to you, men. Western culture has lied to us all.