50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM by Tristan Taormino


[This is the text of the book review from episode 69.]

This episode’s book review is 50 Shades of Kink: An Introduction to BDSM by Tristan Taormino. I received it for free from the generous people at Cleis Press, but that’s never stopped me from being honest.

First bit of honesty—with this title, if it hadn’t been by the illustrious Ms Taormino I would have never asked to review it.

Recently, though, another sex blogger, Amy, from Coffee & Kink, wrote about how high quality 50 Shades branded things—toys and such—were important because people new to kink would no doubt be overwhelmed by the quantity of gear out there. A lot of it being non-body safe. And if we scoff at these people due to how they found the scene they’ll go away and practise kink in unsafe ways—ways that probably look like what happens in the trilogy. If we welcome them and say, ‘Here, try this other thing/book/this is how consent actually works in the scene…’ Everyone will have a much better and safer time. Let these people come in in the way they’re most comfortable.

This book is written for beginners—if you’ve read 50 Shades (or know someone who read it) and wants to know more about the basics—it’s excellent. Taormino has been writing and teaching about BDSM for years and knows her stuff. She covers a wide range of topics concisely.

It’s the precursor to a book she edited called The Ultimate Guide to Kink, which is for more experienced practitioners—there probably won’t be a lot of new ground here if you’re not brand new.

Particulars of the book. It’s 140 pages so it’s not dauntingly long. I was surprised how much was covered.

In the introduction the author defines ‘kink’ thusly:

I use kink as a catch-all term that includes BDSM, sadomasochism, kinky sex, dominance and submission, role play, sex games, fantasy and fetish.

She further defines the word:

Kink is an intimate experience, an exchange of power between people that can be physical, erotic, sexual, psychological, spiritual, or, most often, some combination. People who practice kink explore the territory between pleasure and pain, eroticize the exchange of power, experience intense physical sensations and psychological scenarios, and test and push their limits.

That’s a pretty all encompassing definition. I like it.

Something else she said in the intro that is one of my favourite things about BDSM is:

BDSM can be a lifelong learning process and way of getting to know ourselves and our deepest, and sometimes darkest, fantasies and fetishes.

I love, love, love that kink is about being encouraged to play and grow and learn about ourselves rather than stifling creativity and stagnating and being a grown up and behaving and being just one way that is defined by very dull people. I love the entire concept of seeing where certain dark (and light) paths go and being with people who will protect you and celebrate those journeys. Once we’re past a certain age we’re no longer supposed to explore our inner worlds—we’re supposed to focus on what the outer world wants of us all the time. Kink says, ‘Lighten up! You’re no good to anyone if you know nothing about yourself! Put on that Minnie Mouse frock and jump in a vat of applesauce, if you want!’

After the introduction, Taormino starts off with a chapter called Embrace Your Inner Kinkster: Myths, Truths and Communication.

Much like it sounds, it covers a lot of the myths surrounding kink—nothing you haven’t heard before if you’ve been around awhile—and dispels them succinctly. This book would also be good for a vanilla person in your life who was just confused by what it was BDSM was about and would sit and read 140 pages.

The chapter also covers how to have a conversation—whether in person or some form of writing or another way—about your new kinky desires. There’s advice on what to do if that conversation doesn’t go well.

Chapter two is BDSM Basics: Terms, Roles and Principles. It covers all the basics I’ve ever heard of so you should be set for the new people, at least.

In this section there’s consent, as well as a Yes-No-Maybe sample checklist. I read the digital version and it would be easier to make a physical copy of the physical version for you and your partner(s) to make checkmarks on than having to draw out your own version of the spreadsheet. Though with your own version you could add extra activities you had thoughts about.

There’s extensive information on good ways to communicate both before, during and after play and examples of how to incorporate communication into play if you’re doing role play or trying to maintain a certain atmosphere.

She stresses that it’s important for tops to remember to take care of themselves after scenes, as well. The focus is often solely on the person having something done to them, but tops are important, too.

Contracts are discussed in this section and a sample contract is given.

Chapter three is Dominant/submissive Role Play.

This chapter includes this quote:

A power exchange of some kind is nearly always present in human relationships. There are people all around us in power exchange relationships who don’t acknowledge the dynamic or call it anything. Consider a husband who gives his wife an allowance but not credit card in her own name. A woman who controls her coworkers, making them eager to please her even though she’s not their boss. That’s right—there are plenty of people wearing collars and others tugging at their leashes, but the gear is invisible and the dynamic unexamined.

The more I’ve embraced my submissive side, and considered it, the more I’ve noticed how power works in the world in general. I prefer the acknowledgment of unequal power and intentionally playing with it.

In this section the author talks about how Dominants don’t have to be tops—a Dominant could order their submissive to flog them, for example.

Then there was this:

But there could also be a sadistic submissive who enjoys piercing masochist bottoms.

Yes? Hello? Hi. Hellooooo.

People don’t have to be just one thing, basically. Which goes back to being encouraged to play and learn about yourself.

This chapter also addresses how, for some people D/s is role play—people exploring playing with power—and for others their Dominant or submissive side is as ingrained as their sexual orientation or their eye colour.

Chapter four is Sexual Power Games: Pleasure and Orgasm Control.

This covers things like tease and torment, forced masturbation, orgasm control (which AliceinBondageLand taught us all about a few episodes back) and sexual service. What these things are, what’s appealing about them and how to do them safely.

The next chapter is on Sensory Deprivation: Blindfolds, Hoods and Earplugs, which is what it says on the tin.

Chapter Six is Sensation Play: Massage Oil Candles, Nipple Clamps and More. ‘And more’ is right. Feathers, edible body paint, stimulating gels and creams. There was also lots of safety information here. People tend to think that you need to be careful most when using pain or hitting someone, but a too hot candle can involve an explanation at the hospital, which ruins everyone’s good time.

There are two chapters on bondage. The first is Basics and DIY.

This chapter is about what you can use around your house and the author starts off by warning not to use athletic tape or duct tape, as well as zip ties. She then goes into what are good choices and why and how to use them safely.

The second bondage chapter is stuff you purchase: Restraints, Bondage Tape, Gags, and Collars.

In this chapter Taormino discusses the hazards of the classic handcuff (keys get lost, they can close too tightly, they can cut into the wrist) and then covers the other basic types of items out there and how they might be used, as well as makes recommendations for quality manufacturers of said items.

Then we’re onto a chapter called Smack!: Spanking, Paddles and Crops. There are instructions on how to give a spanking, including how to spank genitals, in case that’s something you’d like to try. Then there’s the various implements that can be used and how and why. In this section she recommends trying a slapper if you’ve enjoyed a hand spanking, but:

…crave something more intense or with more of a ‘bite’.

The follow up chapter is Smack Harder!: Floggers and Canes. This covers the array of materials a flogger can be made of and how that effects its sting or thud, as well as how to use a flogger. Taormino always stresses education and safety and urges the reader to learn to flog properly before ever throwing it at a person.

Then we’re onto canes—she doesn’t have a great deal to say about canes outside of what they’re made of, what parts of the body they can be used on and how painful and dangerous they can be if not used properly.

Chapter eleven is Rough Sex. I learned something about myself reading this. Rough sex is triggering as hell for me—big hard limit, so that was useful. I didn’t even know what that phrase meant (it’s not exactly descriptive) and thought it meant someone likes bondage or spankings with their sex. Nope. It’s a whole thing of its own and I have a visceral reaction to it. Okay. So, the author talks about how some people don’t consider rough sex kinky—Taormino says:

Rough sex is another kind of dominant/submissive role play where you can explore power, control, and surrender, and use intense physicality to push limits and break taboos.

She talks about the various acts involved in this activity and how, though it’s incredibly intense, there are still ways to communicate and get consent for the specific ways you want to be roughed up or rough someone else up.

The rest of the book is resources. The Epilogue is Fifty Items for your Toy Bag–not all of which are physical. The first three are consent, communication and honesty, for example. Then there’s an entirely decent reading list comprised of both fiction and non-fiction books. A list of films is back in an earlier chapter, so you’ll finish this book with a nice little syllabus to begin your studies.

Overall, 50 Shades of Kink is a great introduction for complete beginners to BDSM or those who are curious about what it is we do and how we do it. It’s straightforward, inclusive and covers a wide-array of topics. I definitely give this one a 5/5.

Decoding Your Kink by Galen Fous

Decoding Your Kink book cover


{This is the text of the book review from episode 52.}

This episode’s book review is Decoding Your Kink: Guide to Explore, Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires by Galen Fous. Whose name I hope I am pronouncing correctly.

I received this book for free, but that has never stopped me from being honest about what I read. Episode 31 or 48 should be proof enough of that.

The author puts right out there that this book is from the point of view of cisgender, heterosexual male in the dominant role. It was still inclusive and recognised the existence of an array of other people—including asexuals. So, points for that.

He recognises that people do kink for a variety of reasons, saying:

No matter how dark or perverse, or light and spiritual you seek to be, there are new maps being created and older ones resurrected, that offer the opportunity to express your authentic sexual desire in a healthy, conscious manner.

Fous starts the book talking about his personal journey to becoming comfortable with his kinky side—and it wasn’t an easy one—then talks about how this influenced his decision to help other people become comfortable with who they are. He says:

Exploring our personal Eros fully, discovering all that has been hidden in the shadows all these years, can lead to a state of greater self awareness and confidence. Confronting and resolving old shame and guilt can lead to psychological breakthroughs personally.

Which is absolutely true—it’s why I started doing what I do. When you suppress and deny a core part of yourself it negatively impacts everything in your life. There is nothing more central to a human than how they relate to other humans intimately—whether that intimacy is expressed sexually, emotionally, mentally or any other way. Well, except perhaps how a person relates to themselves, I suppose.

When a society, government or culture tries to define the acceptable way for people to relate to themselves and one another that society, government or culture are attempting to control what it means to be human.

All a person has to do is get up in the morning—you’re human. You’re you. Complete as you are. Ta da!

The phrase the author uses for what we think of as typical sex is ‘friction sex’. Which I really, really liked. Because we have mindfucks, right? So why can’t we have mind sex? I’ve had conversations with people where you’re right on the same page—it’s exhilarating.

There could be emotional sex, mental sex, what Erica Jong would call the zipless fuck—there are all sorts of profound ways to merge with another person, which is what kink is all about. Finding unconventional ways to connect with someone.

The phrase he uses at one point is ‘straight-up friction sex’. I can hear some of my friends now with that one.

‘I really need some straight-up friction sex right now. So much friction my hair is standing straight up and entire florist shops full of balloons float towards me.’

I want this phrase to make its way into common parlance so I can say, ‘I’m not really into friction sex. Other types—absolutely. Not so much with the rubbing.’

Something the author has created—or conceptualised—is the Personal Erotic Myth. It’s all the things that set your brain (or other parts) tingling. Props, power play, costumes, atmosphere, phrases, all that. The bag of tricks your brain opens up when it’s time to get intimate with someone else or yourself. I’m going to talk more about this later, but wanted to introduce it here, because it’s a big part of his philosophy.

Later in the book the author discusses the physical consequences of holding down or holding in the emotional responses we’ve been taught are wrong. So, if you’ve been told you’re not supposed to express your emotions by your family and society, you’ll close yourself off emotionally, but also physically—you’ll hold yourself more stiffly—cross your arms more, clench your fists and so on—as a way to physically hold back your natural response. And that’s why white men can’t dance, basically.

I’m simplifying greatly because the section is long, but it was quite interesting—in the example provided, he talks about a patient who had been repressing a lot for decades and how he usually used music therapy to help people get in touch with a natural rhythm.

This guy just could not find it. If you repress and repress and repress some things some people will never be able to get it back.

When he was talking about how our emotions affect our physicality it reminded me of how easily I stopped biting my nails once I was out of an awful situation. Bit them for years—until they bled—tried everything to stop. Once I was out of high school—school had always been a living hell for me—I just stopped. Without trying or noticing.

As I was working on the review I realised that since I’ve moved to England what I thought was TMJ has cleared up. My doctor said he couldn’t find anything wrong with the actual joint, but my jaw popped like hell when I ate anything chewy—loud enough to hear it across the room. It seemed like that’s what I had. It doesn’t do that now. I think the muscle in my jaw was very tense—maybe I was clenching it a lot. I had never been happy where I grew up or in the general area where I lived. Liberals aren’t meant to be born and raised in the American South.

They say you can’t move away from your problems, but apparently you can. Some will just go away if you get away from the stressors. Either way—it’s nice to be able to eat chewy bread and yawn without my jaw popping again.

In this book—there’s a lot of talk about archetypes, rituals and symbols and how to understand and use them to your advantage. I particularly liked this bit:

A couple in a D/s relationship could create the mutual intention, for example, to aspire to the highest ideals of their respective positions as Dominant and submissive and bring these qualities to the relationship.

He goes on to talk about how, obviously, people aren’t going to achieve perfection—it’s about intent and commitment, though.

While we’re on not achieving perfection—everything was not perfect, because when is it ever. And you know I like to cover the pros and the cons.

There was more repetition than necessary—several repeated paragraphs. I don’t mean publishing errors, I mean bits that were repeated intentionally.

In a similar vein, the author had a tendency to overstate his case. I understand—it’s hard to kill your darlings. You have twelve paragraphs that are beautifully written, but if you’ve covered everything you need to say in six then the six will suffice. The people reading the book, they get it… you’re preaching to the choir.

I was hoping for more actual exercises on how to work out your personal interests. The book is called a ‘guide’ and at times it felt more like an ad for the author’s personal brand of therapy.

There are some recommendations, and quite a bit of advice for other things, but that could be overshadowed by the overstating of his case. It’s also understandable that you can’t write down exactly how therapy works because it’s going to be tailored to each individual. The title just didn’t seem quite apt. You guys know how much I love my homework.

When he was talking about your Personal Erotic Myth it reminded me of Meg-John Barker’s class, which I attended at Eroticon. The session was about learning about yourself through your fantasies. It included a zine—a pamphlet that was quite a few pages long and had many exercises. We only got through a couple or three in the class and my mind was blown. I learned things about myself just by examining my fantasies for forty-five minutes—and I think we did, like part of three pages of the nineteen pages in the booklet.

This book—Decoding Your Kink—made me want to break that back out and really sit down with it. The zine is available on Meg-John’s site, which is megjohnandjustin.com—the actual document is here. It’s £2.50, but it’s worth it. Whether you’re a writer and are looking for inspiration or just want to learn more about yourself or your partner or how your brain works when you’re not looking (because your brain is doing stuff when you’re not looking)—it’s totally worth it.

I was also reminded me of Madison Young’s homework assignment from her DIY Porn Handbook, which I reviewed in episode forty, where she talked about just having a conversation with your desire.

Hello desire.
What do you most crave?

Then letting your desire guide the conversation from there.

I took the Personal Erotic Myth Survey on Fous’ site (link in the notes, if you’d like to contribute your info) and it’s a fairly blunt tool and really not scientific—which the author admits to. Participants are self-selected from sex and kink-positive communities, which will skew your results like mad. There have been over 2,400 respondents, though. I’ll be writing a separate post about the survey itself that will be up in a couple weeks, hopefully.

It’s just about paying attention to who you are in those private moments and accepting those sides of yourself.

Now I’m going to put on my Pedantic Pants because I cannot help myself. If it drives you crazy, pretend they’re made of your favourite fetish material.

There are flocks of possessive apostrophes when words should have been plural. Including in a paper that had been submitted to a professional journal which was a little…oof

Some people enjoy making up words for things. Sometimes that’s useful—because we don’t really have a word for that thing and when we don’t have a word for something it can be easy to pretend it doesn’t exist. Other times it can come across as precious—it depends on the words chosen.

Other times people come up with new words for things we already have words for (that’s not really the case here—it’s just one of my peeves—‘We already have a word for that’).

The author invented a few new words and phrases, is what I’m trying to say.

Like, Sex Creature. This is described thusly:

Most people have a complex authentic sexual persona, as distinct as a fingerprint and inherent as their eye-color…

Then he goes on to say these sexual personae are ‘distinct and independent from our outer social personas.’

While this phrase is useful—to help people who are ashamed say, ‘Oh see, this is a part of myself, but a separate part and it has a name’—I feel like trying to get the psychotherapy community to embrace the term ‘sex creature’… it’s very Freudian, isn’t it? It sounds like something someone with a German accent would ask you about. ‘Are you in touch with your sex creature?’

‘Sure, his name is Ralph and he sounds like Elmo. Looks like Sweetums, though.’ Sweetums was that giant Muppet on Sesame Street.

Sweetums the Muppet

My sex creature (not the guy in the hat). [source]

Love the concept. The name, though… it’s like English food. Not so great with the naming.

The last thing is Fetishsexuality. Or what Jillian Keenan—who wrote the outstanding Sex with Shakespeare—calls Alternasexuality—I believe that’s her word for it. Something like that. It’s based on ‘alternative’. Both authors are trying to do the same thing, which is establish that kink is an orientation for some people and should be recognised as a valid, separate orientation like being gay or straight.

Keenan had a great article on Slate about kink being an orientation, actually—it’s something she writes about a lot—anyway… the idea would be a huge step forward in terms of legal issues. If kink was recognised as ‘just the way some people practise intimacy’ then taking children away from parents who are kinky, forcing morality clauses on kinksters and so on would go the way of the dodo.

So I do think a word is useful in that it helps validate the group to the people outside—who are the ones passing laws and making judgments against us—but it also lets people who might be uncomfortable with that part of themselves know they’re not alone. ‘No, you’re fine. There’s a word for that. Welcome.’

And if you think there are too many labels out there—people only started to use the word ‘gay’ to mean exclusively ho-mo-sexual in the 60s. Not that long ago. If you complain about there being too many labels, that usually means you’ve never had a difficult time working out who you are or your place in the world. Congratulations. Not everyone is that lucky. Have some compassion.

So. A word is good. I’m not in love with ‘fetishsexual’ though. I know what it means and it sounds like it’s exclusively for people with abnormally high attachments to textiles or clowns or something. It’s sort of specific sounding. It feels like I’ll be explaining what it means to everyone if I describe myself that way.

‘Alternasexual’ … Sorry, Jillian. I love you, but I feel like Winona Ryder is going to show up and we’re going to listen to a mix tape while wearing flannel… That doesn’t sound so bad, actually. It’s a little 90s, is what I mean, though.

But I don’t have a suggestion! I know! I’m terrible!

However, if either of those caught on and the mainstream started to get it, accept it and defend it—I’d happily explain what it meant to everyone. I don’t care what you call it, just give me my rights and dignity.

I suppose, though, ‘whateversexual’ (maybe that’s what we should call it—since people can literally be into “whatever”)—‘Whateversexual’ would be the technical term and ‘kinky’ would be the slang. Like homosexual and heterosexual are technical terms for gay or lesbian and straight.

I’ve only just realised, bisexuals are only ‘bi’. They don’t have an informal name. Huh. We got really lazy when naming the bis.

Anyway, those are my thoughts and this episode is long. Wrapping up:

Overall, I enjoyed it. Fous has some thought-provoking insights and useful advice. If you are interested in the psychology of kink maybe give it a look.

I’d give this one a 4/5.

Episode 052: Decoding Your Kink

Episode the fifty-second; Wherein the Pageist seems to have become an adult at some point, meditates on the importance of finding your place and learns about her personal erotic myth. The book reviewed is Decoding Your Kink: Guide to Explore, Share and Enjoy Your Wildest Sexual Desires by Galen Fous.

.45 Intro and Announcements:

9.50 My Submissive Life:

  • ThePageist.com is two years old. When I started the site I could have never forseen where it would take me. I’m so grateful for what I get to do.

12.39 Book Review:

Decoding Your Kink book cover


35.55 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be interviewing Graydancer of Kink Sex Culture about consent.
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
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BDSM by Ayzad (Extended Review)

The Italian cover of the book. (source)

This is the text version of the review from episode 48. With a bonus section at the end that wasn’t in the show.

First, the part from the episode:

The book this episode is BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism by Ayzad.

I received this book for free, but that isn’t going to affect my review because this book was a mixed bag if ever there was one.

If you’re a regular listener you know how much I love judgmental people. If you’re new: I’m allergic to judgmental people. I’m baffled by how anyone who wants to have their kinks accepted can be judgmental towards other kinksters.

Oh, the judgment.

The author has twenty-five years of experience in the scene and is around fifty, I believe, which means he’s seen a great number of kinks, but that didn’t stop him from calling people into certain types of activities ‘freaks’, being derogatory about men into cross-dressing and saying that people into scarification were mentally ill.

I started out making a list of all the people on the List of Judgment, but eventually I gave up. [This appears in the bonus section at the end now.]

And it was entirely unintuitive what would be okay. For example, coprophilia—or shit eating—was just fine. He gave tips on how to do it as safely as possible.

I don’t care if you want to eat shit. I also don’t think people into cutting or scarification need psychotherapy. And cisgender guys who want to be pretty princesses can be a pretty princess. Heraclitus on a cloud, leave people alone.

So there’s the chapter on effluvia—people who are the receptacle for everything that is produced by their D-type. Nail-clippings, phlegm, everything else.

Then he says something like, ‘And if you think that’s extreme, wait until I tell you about this next group of people.’

I think, Great Sophocles, what can be next? Cannibals?

It was 24/7 D/s.

Now, maybe because 24/7 makes sense to me or maybe I need therapy, but consuming everything that comes off or out of another person seems a little more extreme than 24/7 power exchange.

In the 24/7 section he offers some sage advice for how to handle kids while in a power exchange:

I’d love to be able to offer a good solution on how to bring the needs of children and those of a Master/slave couple together, but the truth is that none exists.

Yes, all of you power exchange couples who’ve successfully raised children—your experiences are invalid.

Your experiences are probably invalid, anyway. The author describes what he calls:

the typical profile of a couple committed to a full-time domination regime: no kids, above-average education, well-off, 35 or older, where the Dom is generally slightly older and often a self-employed professional.

There were other moments where I laughed out loud, too like this one:

Far be it from me to promote any form of less than totally disinterested BDSM.

Now would be a good time to point out that the author is from Italy and I have no idea what kink is like there. When I met up with Eros [a listener] for books and tea, I was telling him about this book and he pointed out that I had one person to speak for an entire country (in terms of their kink scene), which is a good point.

I’m starting near the end of the book, though, which builds from the gentler arts to the more extreme, complicated side of things. The author recommends reading it from start to finish rather than choosing sections at random. As a way of easing the reader into the activities on offer.

This book is 600 pages long—it has a massive amount of information. There are also a couple hundred photos—many pertain to the subject being discussed, some that don’t.

Now I shall talk about some of the positives for a bit, then go back to some other things that don’t recommend it. I’m not saying don’t buy it, by the way—it could be quite useful for some people. I’m trying to provide enough information for you to figure out if it will be of use to you.

One of the positives is the practical information. There’s info on how to do a lot of things to a lot of body parts with a variety of implements both store bought, pervertible and handmade. In the shibari section he doesn’t provide a map of nerves, but does cover how to be careful of nerve damage and in general is safety-conscious.

It’s basically a torturer’s handbook. In a good way. This is where his twenty-five years of experience is obvious.

There’s also ideas for role-plays and other non-physical funtimes.

Now for the section of things that made me crazy but may or may not bother you.

This was originally written in Italian and the English translation leaves a little to be desired. There are words…that aren’t words. They sound like English, but aren’t. Like ‘sensoriality’ rather than sensually or ‘inexistent’ rather than ‘nonexistent’. And others. And there were a few paragraphs here and there that hadn’t been translated at all. I don’t know if that was just the digital version I had or if it’s that way in the physical version, as well.

[It turns out ‘sensoriality’ is a word, though my computer doesn’t recognise it as such. It’s so uncommon that the general reader wouldn’t recognise it, either.]

I have never in my life wanted to edit a book so badly. The intended audience wasn’t obvious. On the one hand, there was precise, quite excellent instructions on how to safely do things like infusions, needle play, rope work, genital torture, the list goes on, but much of it was also written like it was introducing a third party—vanilla people—to kinkdom and reassuring them we weren’t a bunch of serial killers. Perhaps that’s where all his judgment came from.

The way the author went about reassuring the gentle reader kinksters weren’t out to eat their faces was by using the phrases, ‘In fact’ and ‘As a matter of fact’ A LOT. Which winds up sounding condescending.

‘BDSM may seem dark and scary when, in fact, it’s people who negotiate clear boundaries. As a matter of fact, no one ever does anything they don’t want to do. In fact, anyone who did something bad to someone by accident would kill themselves out of guilt.’

Not really that bad, but it’s not far off. I wanted to control f and delete all of those, which would make those sentences stronger.

This is a quote:

‘The truth is, nothing especially worrying normally happens during BDSM sessions and there are hardly ever any problems.’

Which is the polar opposite of what I’ve heard from … everyone else who say, ‘Something is going to go wrong at some point. You just have to be as prepared as possible. Everyone makes mistakes.’

I had to wonder if some of his attitudes—some of which were rather sexist—were down to his coming from a conservative country. Something he referenced himself on more than one occasion.

One of my favourite assertions was that North American men don’t enjoy going down on women. Maybe he meant Mexico or Canada—I don’t know how men in those countries feel about it, but guys from the U.S. tend to be down with going downtown, if you know what I mean.

He eschewed doctors’ advice on not caning female breast tissue, as it can cause health problems later on because he’d never seen that happen.

The likelihood of breast cancer increases with age, so unless you’re hanging around until those women are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, then you wouldn’t see it happen. ‘Boobs are fun to play with though!’ Ignoring the people who study something for a living is never recommended.

There were some other, ‘Ah, people worry about sickness and death too much,’ statements that made me wonder if I’m just a safety-conscious American or if he’s a lackadaisical European. For example, the author thought the extent Americans go to to be safe when meeting people in the scene was laughable. Well, we’re women and we don’t want to die. Silly women.

One other thing—it’s all about sex. There’s no place in this book where BDSM isn’t about sex. Kink doesn’t have to be about sex. His recommendations for most play also revolved around humiliation and degradation, as well. There wasn’t mention of how to use various types of torture for fun or laughing or gentle play. You’d have to figure out how to use these methods in those ways yourself—not that that’s impossible, you just have to use your imagination.

I will say this—his website is quite good. It’s ayzad.com

So. Should you buy this book? If you don’t have a firm sense of self—no. Dude may not approve of your kink. Or he might! There’s truly no way to know.

He does have some interesting insights. I’d be grinding my back teeth into a fine powder over something or other and then he’d come out with some new idea or piece of information from kinky history that was educational—I do like my historical trivia. And, as I said before, there’s a wealth of practical information on just about everything one person can do to another. It would be a useful reference book on practices.

One thing he talked about was how, in non-English-speaking countries, safe, sane and consensual is translated as safe, healthy and consensual. Which is curious. Why? Do they think no sane person would do kink?

He dismisses RACK—Risk Aware Consensual Kink—as he thinks it’s dangerous. Kink is risky, though. You have to be aware of the risks. Not being aware of them is asking for trouble.

Oh yes. He also says you shouldn’t pay for your porn. For two reasons. One, it’s probably out there for free somewhere. Two, not paying for ethically-made, professional porn will incentivise amateurs to make porn for the fun of it.

That’s not how it works. You give your money to the ethical people so they can make more of the porn you like. Give them lots of money.

I give this one a 3/5 and leave you with this nugget of wisdom that I know absolutely sums up my submission in no way whatsoever:

The truth is that subs are driven by the urge to experience the sensations they so dearly love, and—at least in the early stages of the relationship—they are merely looking for someone capable of giving them what they want. In many cases their actions are guided by simple masochistic narcissism, that is the search for pain and trials to overcome, thus proving their worth to themselves or atoning for their perceived guilt.


This bonus section is brought to you by the email I received from the author, who wrote to me a few hours after the podcast went live.

He felt I had been unfair to him in the episode, going so far as to intimate I had skimmed the book and was intentionally choosing quotes to hurt a struggling, self-funded project. He also pointed to the legions of people around the world who’d loved his book and wondered why I was different.

Nearly every person involved in kink (what the Eroticon people would call ‘erotic creatives’) are struggling and self-funded; including myself. I would never intentionally hurt someone because I’m not a terrible person and also don’t want to destroy my career.

Book reviewers (reviewers of any kind) consume media differently than the average person. It’s why a book or film can be a critical hit and flop with audiences or vice versa. Individuals like media based on whether or not it resonates with them personally. Reviewers take a broader view. We have to look at a work from many angles.

If I had been reading the book for myself alone, the review would have been quite different.

Another note from the author included emotional manipulation and a wall of text listing all of his experience and accomplishments. 1. Not cool. In the years I’ve been reviewing various media this is a first. So points for that. 2. I know. I said in the review more than once the author’s copious experience was obvious. However, all of the experience in the world doesn’t preclude badly needing an editor, nor does it keep a person from developing biases.

Now that I’m no longer constrained to a time (or word) limit, let’s do quotes. I will provide evidence for my assertions from the episode and include some extra points I didn’t have the time to get to.

The Judgement Zone

The author felt I had unfairly categorised him as judgmental.

I refer you back to the phrase about promoting totally disinterested BDSM.

Also, I did stop highlighting sections at one point so this list won’t be complete. Here we go.

I should have known we’d be in trouble when the foreword was by someone who often writes about sex addiction, which isn’t a real thing.

In a section called ‘The wrong kind of BDSM’ there’s a bit about the incorrect ways to get into kink and includes:

Other non-recommended paths to the world of extreme eroticism are those linked with challenging oneself or the world, which are more common than you’d believe…Finally we have the completely clueless characters: stray clubbers, swinging couples, goths, self-styled occultists and kooks aplenty.

There are very, very specific ways to get into kink. Do it right.

Then there’s this:

BDSM has nothing to do with cults, angels, demons, past and present deities, magic, wizardry, exorcisms, demonic possessions, evocations or any paranormal event. Whoever tells you otherwise, including references to an imaginary ‘sex magick’, is trying to take advantage of you or is deluded in good faith.

It’s funny that’s brought up, because I’m looking forward to reviewing Lee Harrington’s Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond later this year.

It’s also funny about saying it’s nothing to do with anything woo-woo when two kindle pages before it says:

As we are going to see in the following chapters [BDSM] is also closely related with more noble and respected activities as meditation, autogenic training, asceticism and the spiritually elevated forms of religion.

But not past or present deities. Okay.

He gives some information about Gor, then says:

If you’re interested, on the internet you can find way too much information.

A disinterested version of that sentence would be: ‘There isn’t space enough to cover the complexities of the Gorean lifestyle, but here is a link for more information.’

He talks about humiliation at one point and says:

Let me take a moment to clarify the term. Humiliating only means creating situations that through actions or words prove to both partners who is in charge and who must obey. Insults, violence or degradation have nothing to do with it and are not part of healthy eroticism.

Lots of people are into insults and degradation with their humiliation. It’s a whole kink.

A bit later under the same section:

It is also wise to refrain from obvious absurdities like calling a thin woman a ‘fat slag’ or a well-endowed man ‘dickless’.

Again, that’s actually something some people are into. It needs to be negotiated, but…that’s a thing.

I referenced this earlier but the actual quote is excellent:

One should also take into account any cultural differences, which may be the result of different regional or family customs. This is particularly true when dealing with foreigners: North American men from certain regions find the idea of licking a vagina repulsive.

Cultural differences are important. More important is knowing what the actual differences are. You can also simply negotiate beforehand with each individual person about their sexual preferences and not assume what anyone is into based on the country they’re from.

Still in the section on humiliation, we’re on to sissification, where the author says:

It goes without saying however that the majority of men look terribly awkward and grotesque in women’s clothes…

Shame is a funny thing, because if I were a man who was into cross-dressing because it felt natural and made me feel pretty, but I thought I wasn’t supposed to be and I read that line, it wouldn’t matter to me that it was in a section about the ways Mistresses humiliate men who want to be humiliated; I would remember it forever. This line could be cut quite easily—it’s clearly an opinion (if it goes without saying then it doesn’t need to be said) without harming the rest of the section.

Then there’s a bit about people being forced to be animals and how humiliating that is, but… some people are puppies…I’ve met them. They’re great. They’re happy as hell—no one’s humiliating them. Maybe they don’t have happy puppies in Europe.

Then we’re on to shaming the people into Mindfucks.

The main problem is that kink is based on mutual trust, whereas mindfucking depends on destroying it… My advice is therefore to just give up on these sorts of pastimes, but if you really want to try them, here are a few classic scenarios.

Big of him to be okay with grown ups making their own decisions. The scenarios include rape play (fun fact, rape fantasies are incredibly common amongst women!), the serial killer, and takedown scenes. Give up on consensually living out that hot rape fantasy, ladies, gentlemen or other fancy people.

When we get to breath play he describes myriad ways people perform breath play then ends the sentence with:

…which, in my opinion, are disturbing evidence of repressed violence.

The phrase ‘in my opinion’ doesn’t belong in anything claiming to be disinterested. The neutral way of putting it would be to list the ways it’s performed, as well as a list of what can go wrong (there is more information in the chapter here and the line about people into it having repressed violent tendencies is superfluous.)

(Gloria Brame’s Different Loving is an excellent example of a book written for a general audience that takes a disinterested tone about a wide array of kinks. Podcast review here, written review here.)

He calls a few people ‘fanatics’ but that word can mean people who are very enthusiastic about something or unhealthily enthusiastic about a thing. This post is becoming long enough so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Some people are fond of the idea of consensual nonconsent—also known by the German name of ‘tunnelspiel’—which consists in authorising the Dom to continue playing without restraint, beyond any set limit and in spite of any resistance physical or otherwise—disregarding even safewords. Although this may sound like an intriguing fantasy (perhaps, and I’m not so sure about that), indulging in such behavior is a criminal and irresponsible idiocy.

I’m not rewriting this entire book. But this isn’t disinterested. Describe what a thing is and why people are into it. Say it’s edgy and requires negotiation. No opinion required.

Some diabolical ladies even force their slaveboys into preemptive masturbation for guaranteed ultimate vulnerability—I don’t approve, but to each their own.


Up next in JudgementTown, medical play.

This is the clinical games genre, also called ‘white art’ in German-speaking countries. These terms refer to situations inspired by the medical sector, just like the classic doctor and patient role play. … These practices aren’t terribly common—for every fan there are at least another ten who consider them to be in bad taste—but a niche of enthusiasts see them as the ultimate in extreme eroticism.

I wasn’t aware it was all that rare, being that most dungeons have medical play rooms. But it was good of him to let everyone know most people think it’s in bad taste. So if a newbie into it is reading this book they’ll be aware. (You’re not alone, newbie—it’s not at all rare.)

On Cutting and Scarification:

I must stress that this practice is not normally considered part of BDSM and is generally even rarer than fire branding: I am only mentioning it for the sake of thoroughness and to avoid misunderstandings. Outside of the artistic context of body decoration, attacking the skin with blades or scratches, feeling the urge to disfigure it or to draw blood must be seen as indicators of a potentially dangerous mental illness, which has no place in the world of eroticism.

Must it? It must, apparently. I know some mentally ill people. They seem so nice and productive, too.

It was somewhere around in here I stopped highlighting The Judgements, but I happened to remember one and went to find the quote. It was about FinDoms. It only caught my eye because I recently met one, who was a lovely person and explained what it was like. She was basically on call all the time so she hadn’t done it in awhile because it was exhausting.

FinDom is short for financial domination. The author explains what this is over a long paragraph, his disdain apparent, then ends with this:

I will refrain from making unpublishable comments.

But that lets us know what he thinks anyway. So much for disinterested. Maybe the word he was looking for was a different word.

People into cybersex and webcams:

Apparently it is the sport of choice for unhappy spouses, immature people of all ages and —in perhaps the only remotely understandable case—couples who are temporarily separated by long distances. The perversion lies in how the people who love this type of activity often refuse to meet their online partners in person, which frankly sounds a bit unhealthy to me.

I bet people reading this can say how to re-write this to make it unbiased. Go on, try it yourself at home.

Amongst all of this, he gave advice on how to practice some highly extreme and complex kinks. As I mentioned before–he was cool with people consuming other people faeces. The man isn’t a prude. But it doesn’t matter if you accept 98% of the group if you make the other 2% feel like crap about who they are. That actually alienates that 2% even further.

‘Oh, you’re okay with people who [insert extreme fetish here], but my interest means I need professional help.’

That was one of the more confusing aspects–the reader would truly never know what he would be okay with.

It was the kink version of ‘I’m not racist because I have a black friend.’

‘I’m not biased against extreme kinks, see? I’m totally cool with people doing this one! And that one. And those over there. But you know, those bad kinks… they’re the problem… Those are the ones you have to look out for.’

How To Do Kink Right:

…it is also true that unless you explore your presumed limits and attempt to overcome them, albeit slightly, you will never experience that magnificent ecstasy which for the sub is achieved through total loss of control, and for the Dom by savouring this condition in his partner.

Never. Be sure to do it right.

Another important note for all you D-types out there:

In this regard the dominant is also responsible for ensuring that his affection for the person in his hands doesn’t lead to treating them too tenderly.

No comment.

Other quotes of note.

Taking control of a sub’s most intimate physical dimension—especially in the case of anal penetration—is tantamount to possessing their mind, in a lesson on domination you both will never forget. While during the first few minutes even the slightest attempt to resist causes discomfort or pain that leads to unconditional and voluntary submission, soon thereafter instinctual reactions kick in and make the sub lose control of their body, which becomes a puppet in the hands of the dominant.

Is…is there some sort of internal ‘sub’ switch in the anus I didn’t see in my anatomy 101 book? Or is this kink jargon? You can possess someone’s mind through their butt now. No wonder straight dudes are so jumpy about the backdoor.

According to some frescos dating back to ancient Greece, ladies have been using objects tied to their pelvis to penetrate their play partners as if they were men for a few thousand years.

‘As if they were men.’ Or, as if their play partners enjoys being penetrated and they enjoyed penetrating someone. Lowkey homophobia and sexism for the win. Men don’t tie things to their pelvis in order to penetrate people. That’d be like saying, ‘That guy went down on that woman until she came—just like a lesbian!’ People who have sex with people who have vaginas do that.

In the ‘where to meet people’ section he talks about ‘Fake Parties’, which are fetish parties held at clubs that aren’t dedicated BDSM dungeons. The derision in this section is palpable. Everyone doesn’t have access to a nearby dungeon or munch. Sometimes being able to be around other kinksters during a fetish event for one night is the best they’re going to get. Don’t make people feel bad they don’t live in a metropolis.

‘Fake parties’… It’s like kinky Mean Girls…

Among the many alternative styles of bondage, Japanese kinbaku—also improperly known as shibari…

Well, excuse me and everyone else.

While we’re on incorrect language, though, I mentioned inexistent and sensoriality. Others misused in the book were ‘contraindication’, which is a medical term and was being used to mean something like ‘there is no reason not to’. Also ‘deresponsibilization’, which isn’t a word at all, but was supposed to mean something like being in subspace or being removed from all sense of responsibility.

Then there was a particular use of the word ‘organism’ you see with people who speak English as a second language. It’s used to mean the person’s entire body. English speakers never say, ‘I need to rest my organism,’ but there are a few instances of sentences like:

Having multiple partners, a weak organism or bad hygiene increases the risk of contracting the disease…

Which sounds—to a native English speaker—like you have a little, single-cell amoeba in a dish who isn’t feeling so well. Which is kind of adorable.

I only bring this up because when I mentioned English issues to our good author he didn’t get how his two English readers could have missed the problems.

Maybe they skimmed it.

Sex Sex Sex

The author didn’t like that I said his version of BDSM was all about sex—he felt he represented non-sexual BDSM well, I suppose.

To that I have some quotes:

For our purposes however there is only one aspect to keep in mind: sexual arousal. In simple terms, the more aroused you are, the easier it is to bear the suffering.


Relationships founded purely on domination without sexual contact, do exist and may well be very thrilling, but they cannot completely replace a normal adult relationship and its carnal components without transforming into a pathology.

There are many, many people who have non-sexual M/s or D/s relationships. Some people are asexual, some people can’t have sex, some people choose not to introduce sex in order not to cloud the purity of the power exchange. Some people have sex with their vanilla partner and a power exchange with someone else.

The phrase ‘normal adult relationship’ is remarkably condescending, as though relationships are only valid if sex is involved. I do enjoy ‘may well be very thrilling’, though. You can hear the chuckle. ‘I’m sure that’s fun for you amateurs, but us grown ups who are doing the real kink are having sex.’

Another questionable assertion about sex:

So at the bottom of all this is sex, done right: committing to BDSM before having explored the range of possibilities offered by vanilla eroticism would be a pity to say the least.

Sex is the point. This is a myth of BDSM. It doesn’t have to be about sex at all. The idea that a person has to get their bachelor’s in vanilla sex before going on to get a master’s or PhD in kink leaves people out who’ve never been interested in vanilla sex. Or are asexual. That’s like saying ‘Going on to gay sex without trying straight sex first is a pity.’

How is it a pity? What’s pitiful about not having something you don’t want?

More sex:

[Sex is] the greatest pleasure life allows us.

Wow. I’m missing out. For every single person on Earth it’s the greatest pleasure? What does that mean for people who can’t have sex?

Sex again:

Regardless or not a persona is used, this is the essence of BDSM: one directs the action, the other follows in the oldest game in the world: that of arousal and pleasure.

It doesn’t have to be about that. It can be about control, trust, creativity. The author is big on people exploring every type of physical sensation but seems to forget the range of emotions involved.

Incorrect Information Ahoy!

He asserts that all STDs can be treated or at least kept at bay. This is not true when it comes to HPV—people with cervixes can find out by pap smear if they have the cancer-causing type after they’ve developed abnormal cell growth, but they will have had it for quite some time (years, even) before then and can have been passing it around. There is no test for people with penises. People with penises can pass it around, though, and get all sorts of delightful cancers from it.

The only way to prevent getting it in the first place is to have children vaccinated and using latex or other barriers.

Fun fact: HPV is the most prevalent STI in the U.S. A quick search says 50% of people in Europe with get HPV in some form in their lives. But go ahead—bathe in other people’s bodily fluids. Your body will probably kick the disease easily, and if not, cervical, anal, penile, vaginal and mouth and throat cancer are no biggie.

Under lubricants, he recommends KY Jelly. This is a bad idea, as it can cause infertility and yeast infections.

I covered the whole ‘I haven’t seen anyone get breast cancer so it’s fine’ thing already.

Who This Book Was For and Why That’s a Problem

While I’m giving you quotes… The author answered my question about who the intended audience was—it was for a general audience. Average Vanilla-Person.

This is hugely problematic.

If it were for kinky people, then some people reading the book would know this guy didn’t speak for everyone, but since this was for people who know nothing about kink they’ll take his word as gospel. If this person is calling certain people freaks and saying other people are mentally ill and taking the tone of ‘wait until you see what’s behind this curtain’ then it’s okay for them to, as well.

Perhaps all those great reviews were from people who had their fears confirmed.

Early on, the author says this book isn’t his way of saying his way is the only way of doing things, but he doesn’t offer other philosophies when it counts. For example, when he’s discussing how D/s works, it starts with the quote from above:

The truth is that subs are driven by the urge to experience the sensations they so dearly love, and—at least in the early stages of the relationship—they are merely looking for someone capable of giving them what they want. In many cases their actions are guided by simple masochistic narcissism, that is the search for pain and trials to overcome, thus proving their worth to themselves or atoning for their perceived guilt.

Not all bottoms are masochists. People in the scene are supposed to know themselves and what they want and negotiate… I’m getting ahead of my rant.

Here’s the next part:

[The Dom’s] starting point must be the ridiculous concession of ‘do everything I want to me’ to gradually suggest new situations, introduce unexpected delights, inch their way closer to their own desires. If they manage to do this, the subs themselves will want to renegotiate the original terms in order to enjoy new pleasures. The game consists in softening limitations, doing away with embarrassment and entertaining the will to experiment—turning egotism into openness, and provocation into possession. This way, step by step, what was initially a mere illusion of submission is transformed into something real and tangible.

Subs are narcissistic masochists who want to experience pain and need an all-knowing Dom to manipulate them into being good submissives. Do I have that right?

The next section is called ‘The Contract’ and includes this:

For this, all you need to know is how to seduce your partner until they stop resisting, which may take some time but shouldn’t really be a problem for any sensualist worthy of their name.

Oh, I do have it right. Manipulate your sub.

(There’s no other description of how two people might approach this sort of relationship—nothing about two people actually being self-aware adults who intentionally build a power exchange together.)

When talking about negotiation he says this:

…agreement is as annoying as it is essential.

Which may explain the manipulation part. If you find negotiation annoying (rather than an interesting way to learn about your partner) you agree to whatever and then manipulate—I mean seduce—them around to what you actually want.

Not only is this enormously problematic in terms of non-kinky people thinking this is how all kinky people work, but if someone is new to the scene or considering joining and this is their first information from an authority there are some questionable assertions here.

If I read this before anything else and seriously thought the first Domme I was with was going to try to ‘seduce’ me to her way of thinking or out of what I wanted to do or that sex was the entire point… I wouldn’t trust one single D-type I met, for one, and for two I’d think I’d never be able to do kink ‘right’ as a nonsexual person.

Which, if there’s one thing I absolutely know, it’s that there is no one right way. There’s no one way that is going to be perfect and correct for every single person. People come to kink by all sorts of paths in order to achieve all sorts of ends. The point of kink is to grow and learn about yourself and as long as everyone is aware and consenting then other people need to shut up.

No one else can know how profound your own experiences are. Never let anyone tell you your experiences or your kinks are invalid.

[This was only about 1/3 of the quotes and notes I had. I don’t skim. I take a selection of what works and what doesn’t and compress for time on the show. I am 100% done with this book now, as I’ve spent far more time on it than I ever intended to and have much more important things to be getting on with.]

Episode 048: BDSM by Ayzad

Episode the forty-eighth; Wherein the pageist is glad to be back, expresses gratitude for fans, and talks about why nudity is boring. The book reviewed is BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism by Ayzad.

.54 Intro & Announcements:

  • TPOK Radio is now streaming 24/7 just like … well, radio. You can listen to all the shows on the network without downloading, by going here.
  • Welcome Darkside Magazine! It’s an online and print magazine for kinky people of all persuasions who are also sponsoring TPOK Radio shows. Check them out at Darksidemag.net If you like what you see–let them know where you heard of them.
  • I’m personally going to be running a giveaway for listeners and readers of the blog of adult colouring books and other fun things–I’ll announce more information about that in the next couple weeks.
  • New countries: Croatia, Philippines, Vietnam.
  • A few new Facebook follows and a like from Jess. Welcome!
  • Thank you to the recent survey responders. More information is good information. The survey is anonymous and short and can be taken here: http://www.podtrac.com/audience/start-survey.aspx?pubid=iPbbHhuqVWOI&ver=standard
  • And finally. A big thank you to drut and Eros. Two listeners who said exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it.

7.04 My Submissive Life:

12.34 Book Review:

  • This episode’s book is BDSM: A Guide for Explorers of Extreme Eroticism by Ayzad. It’s a 600 page mixture of excellent practical advice on how to do a wide array of activities combined with judgment on any number of kinks and fetishes the author doesn’t approve of. Whether or not the book will work for you will depend on what you’re looking for.
  • The author’s website Ayzad.com has a wealth of resources, though.

26.54 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode the topic will be kink and health–mental and physical.
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to the website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • All episodes can be heard in an embedded player on this page.

Girl on the Net: How a Bad Girl Fell in Love


[This is the text of the book review from episode 45.]

This week’s book review is Girl on the Net: How a Bad Girl Fell in Love by Girl on the Net.

The author has a sex blog called Girl on the Net, where she writes about her fantasies and actual experiences with men in graphic detail.

Even I, an asexual lesbian, find this heterosex hot. The lady is an excellent writer. She’s also hilarious as hell.

The book is broken into chapters, each of which is titled with something from an actual blarf-worthy magazine article like 13 Scientifically Proven Signs You’re in Love and Can You Have Sex Without Love and Is It Healthy? And 10 Simple Ways to Get Laid. I read the digital version and there was a hyperlink to each of those articles. I didn’t click on them, but I’m pretty sure that last one was just: If you’re a heterosexual woman, Step one: Go outside.

Each chapter is then similar to a long-form blog post, in that it explores one particular facet of Sarah’s life, whether it’s the howling terror of being outed as a sex blogger and how to prevent that, the joys of anxiety (hi! Hello!), or the societal double standard of why women should have kids even though all the work will be put on them.

There’s also lots and lots of sex. Dirty, raunchy, hot sex.

The over-arching story—it’s a memoir so it’s not a story like fiction, but it’s still a story because she understands how writing works—is how someone so fiercely single, happy to shag her way through the men of Britain wound up ensconced in domesticity with a quite nice, if equally filthy guy. I nearly said bloke and I’ve only been here six months.

Speaking of how writing works—this is exceptionally well-written. I was expecting moderate-to-good with the focus being on her life, but it turned out to be remarkably well-done.

Not to mention a fucking riot. I was laughing out loud nearly every page.

It’s not all fun and games, though—she doesn’t hold back. If regular readers of her blog would like to maintain the belief that Sarah’s life is spanking and genitals and bodily fluids all the live-long day, then they should avoid this book like … whatever they would each most avoid.

This is the time when they will find out their Lady of Perpetual Shagging is, gasp! A human woman! With faults and insecurities and hair in weird places! Oh noes!

Some people don’t want to know—this is a warning.

Respect for being that honest. I guess I’m pretty honest here, but she lays it right out there. When she’s not getting laid like parquet flooring.

So let’s do some quotes.

This book is not just about the sex and her personal life—there are also many observations about the way we view sex as a culture for example:

Whether it’s envy, disgust, or naïvety about what humans get up to in the bedroom, sexual confessions turn everyone into judgmental tabloid editors. It’s easy to break this cycle, though: talk more. Moral outrage and envy generally spring from a place of ignorance: ‘I don’t know what that’s like, but I have to have feelings about it, so I am either jealous, angry, or both.’ If we strip that ignorance away, all that’s left is the titillation: ‘Really?’ someone chips in. ‘You’ve had a wank in a train station?’ ‘Of course – I paid thirty pence to get into the toilets so I wanted to get my money’s worth.’

Hey, guys! There was once a woman who enjoyed dick pics! She doesn’t anymore—don’t send any—but this is the story. The section about them started with:

if you have a fetish for contextless, blurry phalluses then the Internet is the place for you.

Then she requested some, thinking she’d enjoy them, but it was too much.

In the first two years I was blogging, I received 708 pictures and videos of people’s penises. Not from 708 individuals – there were 395 people in total who sent me a snapshot.

She also talks about what it’s like being a sex blogger in general and how you can see the search terms people use to find your site—I also find this interesting and have written a couple pieces addressing some of the more intriguing ones. One of hers:

I really hope that the person who asked ‘what if a girl’s vagina is fucked 50 times’ now understands that the vagina isn’t a limited-use item, like a sponge that gets gnarly after two weeks next to the sink.

Then there’s a chapter about porn—she and her guy, Mark, vary wildly in their tastes. This is how he sometimes like to watch his pornography:

Sometimes – and I find this strangely adorable as well as intensely hot – he will sit in the lounge with every available screen tuned to a different part of the same video. TV, laptop, second laptop, iPad, phone: each one showing a slightly different moment in one glorious, high-definition visual orgy.

What?! That’s waaaaay too many orifices. At that point it’s just mechanics, right?

Sarah is more into ethical porn, while Mark is into the mainstream deal, and, being the rad feminist she is, makes the observation that his kind is more about women than for women and talks about what it would look like if the roles were reversed when it came to watching porn, since heterosexual women do, indeed, look for porn on typical sites:

Would a straight guy wade through an obstacle course of cock in order to get a five-minute glimpse of the kind of porn he fancies? A guy with splayed buttocks inviting him to enter? Ads for hot DILFs who really want to fuck?

She doesn’t really blame the porn companies, though,

But that’s unsurprising: given a fairly misogynist world, in which women are often told that our place is to inspire arousal but not experience it, it would be a genuinely newsworthy miracle if porn itself were immune.

Earlier in the episode I talked about how her life is so different from mine in terms of all the sex and wanting to have it, but in many ways we are so similar I found myself doing the ‘I get you, lady’ gesture at my phone screen. We weren’t Facetiming—I read books on my phone. One of those moments was when she said:

the idea of having nothing to do is far more terrifying than the idea of fumbling madly through a forest of tasks.

I used to be fine doing nothing whatsoever for weeks at a time, but now, if I try to take a day off I panic. I panic if I’m only doing one thing because it feels like I should be doing five other things simultaneously like some sort of cracked out octopus.

So you don’t get intimidated by all the sex—one of the things the author is up front about is how sometimes sex doesn’t work. How, sometimes, the human body doesn’t cooperate. She didn’t believe in the popular tale that sex dies once a couple has been together long enough.

If your relationship is built on a foundation of angry banging, then it’s not like the fuck police will turn up at your door seven years down the line and confiscate your libido.

But then… oh dear… The fuck police didn’t show up, but things didn’t go so well. She talks about how they dealt with it. Even sex bloggers get the blue labes.

Basically, if you’re looking for an incredibly well-written memoir about kinky sex with some feminism, pathos and gold star comedy thrown in go to here. Read this thing.

Girl on the Net will be at Eroticon in a couple weeks and I am beyond excited to meet her now—even more so than before.

5/5 if I need to say so.

Episode 045: Girl on the Net

Episode the forty-fifth; Wherein the Pageist explains why darning socks is so fascinating and freaks out over humans. The book reviewed this episode is Girl on the Net: How a Bad Girl Fell in Love by Girl on the Net.

.47 Intro & Announcements:

  • I’d like to thank my special guest, Winter Storm Doris, for providing the atmosphere of being on a ship at sea.
  • No new Facebook likes, but I’ve just noticed the ‘follows’ number. Hello to all 41 of you!
  • The show is now in Croatia, Pakistan and Zambia. A special hello to the scads of Danes who’ve been downloading the show in the last week or so.
  • A brief, anonymous survey, if you’d like to provide some much appreciated feedback.
  • Many, many thanks go out to my supporters on Patreon: PC, Barrett, deebs, AuntieSocial, BeeTee, Peej and Nug.
  • Where you can listen to my live interview on Sunday 7pm Eastern Standard time or midnight UTC: TPOK Radio

4.10 My Submissive Life:

12.58 Book Review:

23.31 Closing Remarks:

The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy


[This is the text of the book review from episode 44.]

The book this episode is The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy by Violet Blue.

Shortest version possible: The internet is out to steal your information and sell it to the highest bidder. Or everyone. It doesn’t even have to be the correct information.


You can lock down as much of your online life as possible using the tips in this book, which is good to know, because I was holding my phone in one hand to read and packing to move to a cave with the other hand.

Walter the Intern(also known as Walter my husband) put together a resource page of the apps, extensions, browsers, data back ups and other things Blue suggests.

The reason this book is aimed at women (I admit ‘girls’ raises my hackles and it’s the word for women used throughout the book) is because women are targets online merely for existing. A man and a woman can make the same controversial statement on the internet and the guy may receive a ‘fuck off’ but the woman will receive gendered insults, rape threats and death threats.

These tips can be used by any person who wants to have control over who receives their information.

There’s a long section where the author explains exactly what a malicious person could do with only a phone number and email address that’s more terrifying than any horror film.

What I learned is—never use your phone number for two-step verification. Facebook doesn’t need it. Facebook just wants all of your information because the more info it has on you the more your information is worth when they sell it.

If this sounds like paranoid fabrications—warnings about the evils of the internets! Everyone’s out to get you! Then have some background on Violet Blue. This is from the end of the book.

Violet Blue is an investigative tech reporter at CNET, Zero Day, ZDNet, and CBS New, as well as an award-winning sex author and columnist.

She also broke the story of Anonymous hacking the U.S. Federal Reserve, when Snapchat was hacked and its user database was exploited and when Comcast was hacked, amongst other stories about large companies like Apple being hacked. Do you remember that video of hackers showing how to hack an iPhone in 60 seconds? That was her story.

This isn’t some random person in a tinfoil hat in a shack in Nebrahoma, ranting about the Government trying to steal your memories through your phone.

Some companies want your information so they can target ads to you. But some of the things people can do (or actually do) is malicious. If you want to shut these evil bastards out of your online life as much as possible—start with this book.

The first section is called Get Smart and covers several things you should do right now like covering your webcam, since they can be turned on remotely and in such a way you won’t know it’s on. I bought this book bundled with a set of stickers made for this purpose on Violet’s site—they’re easy to remove and won’t leave a residue. You can also get the stickers on their own. Or just use a post it note.

The second section is about why your phone number is not ‘just’ a phone number. It also has a list of information that’s safe to give out, information you should be wary about giving out and information you should never give out when signing up for an account. These are labeled with traffic light (or consent colours) green, yellow and red. If a site is asking for Red information—that’s no good. That’s information that leads directly to you.

The third section covers what to do if you’ve been hacked. Just having that information laid out where I can reach it easily made me feel better, somehow. I’ll do my best to keep it from happening, but if it does, at least I have a guide to something other than ‘have nervous breakdown, rinse, repeat’.

The section after that is about a special kind of miscreant—it’s how to deal with revenge porn. Any woman this has happened to—more power to you for getting through it. If you’re dealing with it right now, we’re with you, okay. Whatever scum on the bottom of the dreg of humanity did this… This is not on you, okay. There were some excellent resources and ideas in this book for how to deal with the situation. None involved breaking kneecaps, unfortunately.

Section five is Identity Theft—what to do if it happens and how to do it and how to avoid it happening in the first place.

Then we’re on to Social Media. The section that made me want to set Facebook on fire. It seems to exist to get personal data out of you so it can sell it to other people. This section also includes information on setting up a new phone for minimal tracking and stalking from all the companies who want to do so right out of the gate and how to dispose of phones and computers in ways that keep your information private.

Section seven is the one that gives me the screaming jeebies. People Search Websites. You may have seen the sites that claim they’ll help you find your high school classmates or long-lost family members or whatever. Go to one of those and type in your own name.

I did one of these (and cannot recall the name now) and it returned my name before I got married—the first name I was given at birth (which I changed in my early twenties), every address I’d ever lived at, several phone numbers I’d been connected with and most of my relative’s names. As well as my husband’s name.

Nnnnnooooooope. That site had an easyish opt-out form, but many don’t. Some require you to sign up—giving them all of your information—in order to ask them to remove you from the database.

Where do they get all of that info from? Facebook. Anywhere and everywhere you’ve put in your details. They purchase it, combine it (it doesn’t matter if it’s correct—some of mine wasn’t) and charge people who use the site to make their money back.

I nearly had a damn heart attack. If you’ve ever known a person who has looked you in the eyes and said, ‘I know you. I love you. And you would love me back if you’d stop being such a bitch.’ And you know that they genuinely believe what they are saying and you also know they ‘know’ a fantasy version of you and they have a temper and a gun—you don’t want your information out there. The idea that people you don’t consent to having your address having it… god. And they know all your relative’s names so they can find them on Facebook, too? They’re are some crazy people out there.

Many of those sites not only make it really hard to find a place to even ask to have your information removed, but you need to check back every 90 days. If you don’t lock down your data, they’ll keep buying it, scraping it or getting it from somewhere else in order to sell it to the people who access the site. This book has a sample letter to send to various sites so you can type it up, fill it in with what you need to add and send it off—probably while swearing.

Section eight—online dating and sexytimes. How to do it without ending up in an array of garbage bags along with countryside. Also—how to tell if someone was on your computer.

Then there’s a section called Ninja Tricks and Advanced-Fu, which has some pretty interesting things in it—the sort of things that sound like something a television writer made up on a TV show—except it’s real, which is cool. Ways to encrypt communication, stealth your mailing address and phone number and other things that would have me humming the Mission Impossible theme whilst setting them up.

The final section is called I Hate Passwords. Preach it. It’s how to deal with password hatred and not have a series of passwords that are some variation on 123456stealeverythingiown789.

Actually, that wouldn’t be too bad.

Within all of the tips, tricks, hacks and information about how these companies work are some insightful observations about being a woman online and how safety is perceived so differently between the sexes. For the men reading this—which they should because, guys, you don’t want companies having all this info, either, I’m guessing, seeing the nonsense women have to deal with for simply being a woman and going online will be enlightening. Don’t worry, though, most of the book is how to keep your info to yourself. The feminazis aren’t going to keep you from your MRA meetings.

This book is U.S. based, to a large extent. The privacy information for Facebook and other apps is useful globally and learning how everything is connected was fascinating/terrifying, but how to handle fraud alerts and some other things were for Americans only. In the U.K. it would be illegal to have some of this information on people—privacy is muy importante here, let me tell you.

The U.K. has a ‘yes means yes’ policy about data—you have to opt in to people getting your information—every site that uses cookies tells you and you have to click ‘okay’. If you try to sell data on people here the authorities are likely to go after you due to data protection laws.

Meanwhile, the US has a ‘no means no and we’re not going to tell you you’re allowed to say no’ policy. Selling personal data is an entire industry. Capitalism!

I would still recommend this book to people outside the United States, but how private data is handled where you are will vary wildly so you may need to do some research in your own country. Learn how to handle identity theft in your country.

Of course, being that right now, the U.K. and the U.S. governments are both being increasingly nosy about what their citizens are up to (in the U.K. is just our porn habits they want to know about—we can have all the other privacy we’d like) The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy is incredibly useful.


Episode 044: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy

Episode the forty-fourth: Wherein the Pageist celebrates her second kinkiversary, goes in search of a good night’s sleep and makes an exciting announcement. The book reviewed is The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy by Violet Blue.

.47 Intro & Announcements:

9.44 My Submissive Life:

  • An assignment for my American listeners: next time you’re in the grocery store–go look at how much melatonin and baking soda you can buy! It’s amazing!

20.57 Book Review:

34.31 Closing Remarks:

Sex with Shakespeare by Jillian Keenan


[This is the text of the book review from episode 42 of the show.]

This week’s book is Sex with Shakespeare: Here’s Much to Do with Pain but More with Love by Jillian Keenan.

I received this book as a gift from a listener who is a very kind, gentle Englishman. Thank you, friend. I loved it, just as you thought I would.

The listener of my show had mentioned Sex with Shakespeare and how it was about spanking and Shakespeare and he thought I would like it and a few weeks went by and I was listening to an episode of Why Are People Into That?! Tina Horn was interviewing Jillian Keenan about spanking and she mentioned she was writing a book about Shakespeare (I was listening to a quite old episode).

Horn also mentioned an article Keenan had written for Slate about whether or not BDSM was a sexual orientation.

They discussed this a bit. The premise is that, for some people, being kinky is as part of your identity as any other part of yourself. Some people it’s just a fun thing they do sometimes to spice things up, but for others, it’s immutable.

That would certainly explain the people (ahem) for whom kinky proclivities have been present long before they had words for it or even what we’d think of as budding sexuality. I was walking to my coffee shop, listening on my headphones and nearly stopped walking this concept (which seems rather obvious in retrospect) so blew my mind.

The ramifications for kink being an orientation, though, that would be something. Where they couldn’t take your kids away from you for being kinky anymore than they’d take your kids for being straight.

You’d start a new job and someone would find out you were single. ‘I should set you up with my brother!’
‘Oh, I’m an asexual lesbian service-submissive.’
‘Oh, he’s vanilla. Are you any good with leather, though, because these boots look like hell!’

So that was my introduction to Jillian Keenan. I liked her from the interview and this book is great.

Sex with Shakespeare is a memoir of the author working to accept her orientation as a spankophile. (She hates the word ‘spanko’ and thinks it sounds like a processed food product.) For, if ever someone was oriented towards kink, it is she.

Spanking is the only thing that interests her, sexually. It’s what she thinks about every day, and has done since she was very young. Single digits young.

But she’s not comfortable with this side of herself—she’s not, ‘I am kinky, hear me squeal.’ She tries to be vanilla and that’s not a great time.

But I’m getting ahead of everything.

The reason the book is titled Sex with Shakespeare is because Keenan is a Shakespearean scholar. The book is divided into five acts acts and within most acts are a few chapters, each named after a play. The author uses that particular play to examine whatever part of her life she’s talking about at that time.

It’s much more interesting, poetic and less-snooze-worthy than I’m making it sound.

One thing Keenan does that I sympathise with is she has conversations with various characters as though they’re actually there with her.

There’s a hilarious argument that nearly turns into a fist fight in the back of a cab between herself and about ten characters. Something that can only happen when everyone you’re arguing with is fictional. She calls Lady Macbeth ‘Purell’ at one point and I laughed out loud. Nice. Keenan is a funny lady.

I so identified with this habit because my entire life I’ve created characters—usually when writing—that are so real to me that I’ve had conversations with them in the car, or the store, (which I keep in my head) but then I’ve gone to open the car door for them. Then remembered I was alone and had to pretend I was putting my bag on the passenger’s seat so I didn’t look like I’d completely lost my mind.

Her characters recognise they are fictional and reference it occasionally, as do mine. Freakin’ self-aware imaginary friends. Mumble grumble.

This book is one way to learn about several of the plays—as she gives a plot synopsis of quite a few of them, as well as some rather interesting readings of certain plots. You don’t have to already know Shakespeare to read this—she explains everything.

I realised while reading this that I had neither read nor seen Hamlet. Somehow. I knew all the plot points and the big soliloquies and slings and arrows and all that, but I’ve never seen the thing.

Plays mentioned: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Cymbeline, Love’s Labour Lost, Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth, King Lear, Othello, As You Like It.

If nothing else, you will come out the other side knowing more about many plays than you did before. Probably. I don’t know what you know. She makes some compelling cases for certain female characters being masochists or submissives, though. It may change how you look at fusty old classics. Keenan also tells you about many of the sex jokes.

She didn’t cover my favourite, though. Titus Andronicus. Now that is a play. It’s the first tragedy and it’s as though the man thought he would get to write another so crammed everything in that one—human sacrifice, multiple mutilations, rape, cannibalism. Jeez, dude. Relax.

If I ever have Keenan on the show we’ll talk about spanking because oh yeah we will, but I want to know her thoughts on Tamora. Tamora is one of my favourite fictional characters ever. She could eat Lady Purell for breakfast and not belch. She’s my woman.

Let’s do some quotes.

We start out in Oman, where the author has taken some time out from university. She’s trying to rid herself of her impulses. She says:

In Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky wrote: “There are things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind.”

Look, lady, if you’re going to quote Dostoevsky at me in the first chapter I’m going to buy you a Valentine. Watch yourself. She continues:

That’s true. Here’s what I, for decades, was afraid to tell myself: I’m obsessed with spanking.
My fetish is my sexual orientation, or maybe just my orientation. It isn’t something I chose, or an experimental phase, or a “preference,” or a trend that I opted into. It’s the core of my sexuality, and an innate, unchosen, and lifelong center of my identity. … If I had to give up sex—all kinds of sex—or spanking, I’d flush sex like a drug smuggler ditching his stash in an airport bathroom. My fetish isn’t something I do. It’s something I am.

I’m not sure something can be a fetish if it’s an orientation. But, simultaneously, the definition of a fetish includes being unable to have sex without the fetish. However, if it replaces sex… It bears more thought.

After introducing us to why she’s writing the book and how entrenched her interest in spanking is (and how Helena and Demetrius are a couple of assholes in some kind of D/s weirdness in A Midsummer’s Night Dream), we’re off to the second act.

In which she talks about the way her fetish (I’ll use the word she does) was present from very early on:

In one mortifying childhood memory, I told a friend that I wanted to rewatch the paddling scene in Dead Poets Society three or four times because I was “curious about the sound editing” of that moment. I did lots of “book reports” and elementary school projects on corporal punishment. Many, many “book reports” on corporal punishment.

Oh god. I wrote all of my book reports every year on Edgar Allan Poe while wearing all black like some Lydia Deets freak before she was a thing and here’s Keenan and her reports on caning techniques from eighteenth-century Britain.

As mentioned in the earlier section of the episode, the author came to kink through the bedroom. She met someone and had her first spanking after nil proper negotiation. She observes:

If I’m honest, that first spanking, as cathartic as it was, was also a mild disappointment. It just didn’t quite match my fantasies. (Fetishes are nothing if not detailed to the point of absurdity.) It didn’t hurt as much as I wanted it to, for one. John, to his credit, had proceeded with caution—it was our first time, and it’s far better to hurt someone too little than to hurt her too much.


Then there’s also some nerdage. (Ha! Some!)

There is an artery in the pelvic region called the common iliac artery, which supplies blood to both the genitals and the butt; when blood rushes down that artery to one of the two regions, it also rushes to the other region and can cause a kind of blood engorgement.

Her husband (not the first-spanking guy) is a doctor and she learned this from him—she discusses it in the interview with Tina Horn.

First-spanking guy, whose name is John, introduced her to Russian literature saying:

“Promise me you’ll start with The Brothers Karamazov,” John told me. “You’ll love it.” And I did love it. Masochists love Russian novelists.

Oh. Perhaps I am a masochist. That was the first Russian novel I read as well, though Crime and Punishment is my favourite. Dammit.

In this chapter she points out something people really need to realise, which is that Romeo and Juliet is not a love story—it’s about a thirteen and seventeen year old who throw a hissy and several people die because they’re impulsive. Keenan calls it a ‘bloodbath’. Yeah.

She also calls Hamlet a douchebag. Yeah. From what I know of him—a waffling douchbag. He can’t make a decision so everyone dies. That’s not a spoiler—everyone knows that.

There is one piece of information that’s incorrect and I’m going to be that person. She says:

According to the Internet, figging began life as a disciplinary tactic in ancient Greece, and was widely used in Victorian England to dissuade spanking victims from clenching their butt cheeks during their punishments. (That’s probably apocryphal; I can’t bring myself to make the phone calls necessary to confirm the historical origins of anal ginger play.)

Everything I’ve heard or read says figging originated in Victorian England and involved inserted peeled ginger in older horses’ backsides so they’d appear spritely when at market. Which I’m sure worked quite well.

There are a few older poems about kink or same-sex love that I don’t have time to read, but they’ll go into a poetry for Patrons segment because they are naughty and HOT. People knew what kink was and gay people were.

In Act Four, we’re up to Macbeth, which I’m not superstitious so I’ll say if I want. She’s in Singapore now where they have very restrictive laws about LGBT people. The law is called 377A. There are still gay clubs, though. You just have to know how to find them and, apparently, the law is rarely enforced. She says this:

Whenever Singaporean friends tried to defend 377A, they always emphasized the fact that it is rarely enforced. “Homosexuals can do whatever they want,” a colleague once told me. “They just have to keep it private.” … I recognized the expression. “Privacy” is one of the most potent and insidious weapons a sexual majority can use against people with nonnormative sexual identities. “Privacy” sounds good. It sounds responsible and mature. But “privacy” is tied up with isolation and shame. It drives people underground. It puts people in danger.

Well, what does that sound like?! It’s cool. It’s cool. I’m fine.

She continues:

Sexuality doesn’t just appear at age eighteen. Like everyone else, kinky kids grow up with questions about our emerging sexualities. The difference is that, unlike people who grow up with normative sexual orientations, we can’t turn to pop culture for answers. There are almost no books, TV shows, or movies that show people like us, or relationships like the ones I craved, in a healthy or positive light. Our fear and shame doesn’t just come from negative messages; it comes from the lack of positive ones. When culture insists that people keep their “private” lives “private,” those who fall outside the norm fall through the cracks. We have no way to learn how to explore our fantasies safely. One thing we do have is the Internet. Sexual minorities feel “private” online. Predators feel “private” online, too.

We take risks because the isolation and emptiness of the alternative is worse.

This is the time in the story—after many, many years—she got around to Googling ‘spanking fetish’. It didn’t go well. Because there are always going to be Judgersons. I’m sorry she didn’t find Fet or a munch rather than a bunch of shaming dickweasels.

She again talks about the silence we impose upon ourselves:

The hardest part of “coming out kinky,” if such a thing even exists, isn’t coming out to other people. Beyond sexual or romantic partners, coming out to others isn’t even necessary. The hardest part is coming out to ourselves. Many never do. I didn’t share my obsession publicly in the hope that other fetishists would do the same. I did it in the hope that, despite our national epidemic of sexual repression, a few others might feel empowered to confess their desires to themselves.

Coming out to others make not be necessary, but if everyone who had a kink or fetish were to be out—if the truly vanilla people out there saw just how common kink was they wouldn’t be so threatened. They’d see we’re not shadowy monsters. The concept of coming out not being necessary falls into the ‘privacy’ idea.

There were many more quotes that were worthy but I don’t want to keep you here for another half hour.

It seemed the author was still struggling with her orientation—even though she’d written a book in her own name and published articles about spanking and everything. There was an undercurrent of … not shame so much, just… a difficulty with who she is. That is no judgment. I struggle with parts of myself all the time. At once, it clearly makes her so happy and answers a profound need, but she also seems torn by the possible motivations for her desire. Some people would say, ‘This shame proves you have something to be ashamed of,’ but it’s more—if someone receives the message that there’s something wrong with the very core of who they are withstanding that requires a diamond-based constitution.

Sex with Shakespeare is, at times, laugh out loud funny and at other times, poignant. Then other times heartbreaking. If you’re interested in spanking, Shakespeare or memoirs of kinky people, this is a must-read 5/5.

Episode 042: Sex with Shakespeare

Episode the forty-second; Wherein the Pageist comes in through the library, issues a warm welcome to her guests from Malaysia and looks forward to mangling a dead language. The book this episode is Sex with Shakespeare: Here’s Much to Do with Pain, but More with Love by Jillian Keenan.

.48 Intro & Announcements:

  • One new Facebook like. Welcome to Anonymous.
  • The show is now in Chile!
  • Apparently, the show is quite popular in Malaysia. Hello and welcome and I’m so glad you’ve found us.
  • Many thanks to the person who took the survey! The survey is quick, anonymous and gives me useful information on the demographic who listens to the show and what works/doesn’t work for people.
  • The Cage is slowly picking up members. Happily. Hop over and see what’s going on over there.
  • The mobile version of the site has been radically updated and hopefully the experience is much-improved. If you’re not currently looking at the website on a mobile device, check it out here.
  • More info on Romance Languages.

7.31 My Submissive Life:

  • Episode 36 where I mentioned Sophie Morgan’s memoirs amongst many other books.

14.20 Book Review:

33.07 Closing Remarks:

The DIY Porn Handbook


[This is the text of the book review from episode 40.]

This week’s review is The DIY Porn Handbook: A How-To Guide to Documenting Our Own Sexual Revolution by Madison Young.

Before we get started I would like to say I received this book for free, but if there are any doubts about my ability to review a free book honestly, listen to episode thirty one.

The entire point of the DIY porn revolution is very much in tune with my rant earlier in the episode about not projecting your kinks onto someone else. It’s about taking control over how the female body is sexualised—or showing that there’s more than just male and female bodies in the first place and people have sex in a plethora of ways.

Young takes the reader on a journey to creating their work—step-by-step from working out their values to writing a script to casting, funding, budgeting, building a website, distribution, branding, marketing, you name it. And of course actually filming.

Though the book has suggestions for the entire process, Young encourages people to use her ideas as a springboard and come up with something entirely new. She doesn’t think her way is the only way.

She’s clearly spent a lot of time making porn and thinking about it and has this to say:

Porn has been a container to hold our repressed sexual fantasies, a container and a closet that absorbs all the shame our society feels around its sexual desires. Porn becomes the scapegoat for sexual shame.

It was about then (on page, like, FOUR) I started thinking Young and David Ley should have coffee if they didn’t already know one another.

I’ve heard before that porn was political—that making porn was a political act. And I hadn’t really understood it, but in chapter three, which is called Why Does DIY Porn Matter, Young says this:

Documenting authentic sexual pleasure grants permission and creates space for viewers to recognize, explore and express their own authentic sexual desires. It also works to destigmatize sexuality and serves as a chance for us to view sex and sexual desire outside of a shamed mode of expression.

So. The title of this book includes the word ‘documenting’. The author regularly uses that word as well. She writes scripts, but the sex is real—there are no faked orgasms. At one point there’s an example of how she discusses what sort of sex the bottom in a scene likes—what will make that person comfortable. She doesn’t make ‘films’, as in fiction. She makes—and advocates—the making of documentaries. About sex.

This is how some people have sex—so it’s okay if you have sex like this, too.

And that’s when I got extra pissed about the porn laws in the U.K. Again. Because you can’t show legal acts like fisting and that’s how some people like having sex and fuck you for legislating that.

Back to the book.

Also in Chapter Three Young says:

DIY porn expands our minds to include images, sexual stories and narratives of a wide variety of body types, gender expressions, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and differently-abled bodies.

This is a good thing. Everyone doesn’t look like the people in generic white people porn.

Between chapters there are guest writings by artists, scholars, mothers of pornographers and so on. Those are enlightening, enraging and/or fun.

In one of those: Pornography as Protest: Direct Action and DIY Porn, the author of that piece, Zahra Stardust says:

In a criminalized environment, where our bodies, desires and sexualities are deemed ‘offensive,’ DIY porn is protest. DIY porn becomes a form of insubordination, a symbolic violation of laws designed to closet and invisiblise us. When we are excluded from participation in law reform, porn becomes our protest mechanism. DIY porn becomes an act of nonviolent resistance.

There’s lots of homework—you know how I love that. You start a journal for your various ideas and projects. One of the assignments is to write out a conversation with your desire. This is the conversation Young had with her desire:

Me: Hello, Desire.

Desire: Hello.

Me: I wanted to ask you a question.

Desire: Go for it. I’m waiting.

Me: Well, what do you lust for? What really turns you on?

Desire: I want to be full.

Me: Full?

Desire: I want to be so full of cock. I want cock stuffed down my throat, in my cunt, and two cocks rubbing against one another that pump in and out of my ass. I want to be so full.

Me: Wow! Tell me more about that. Where are you when you are full of all these cocks?

Desire: Somewhere filthy. Maybe a garage. Maybe they’re mechanics covered in oil and dirt. Everything is just so dirty and it feels so good, my sweat mixed with the dirt.

Obviously, as an asexual lesbian that is not my desire. But I love that assignment and I’m working on my own. And you’re welcome to anyone who wanted to hear me say those words. I say many more filthy words for Patreon supporters.

Films don’t occur in a vacuum—particularly DIY films, so there’s much information about building community, which is where you’ll be finding talent, graphic designers, crew and every other thing you can imagine.

There’s great advice for people starting out for how to avoid mistakes others have made—Jiz Lee wrote one of the guest pieces about the variety of ways porn directors and talent collaborate—sometimes they trade clips for performances rather than pay or all sorts of other arrangements. I learned a lot about how the industry works—it was fascinating.

Young also goes into the technicals on how to tell a story with a series of shots and gives the prospective director a shot list to use a video camera or even still camera to practice with. Then there’s good info on writing dialogue and a script.

There’s a chapter on budgets and how to keep yours as low as possible, with examples of what she pays for things.

The interlude between chapters is by the Tax Domme—her site is taxdomme.com. She’s a tax preparer with a speciality in the Arts and Entertainment industry, though she also does taxes for non-adult industry people, as well. Her section had some really interesting information about small businesses in general. Thanks, Tax Domme! That site is US-based, FYI.

There’s a section on the conversation that needs to happen during negotiations for BDSM scenes—it’s too long to read to you, but the way Young remembers it is by using the acronym REAL SHAG TOP. You’ll have to get the book if you want to know what all of those letters mean.

Young provides a chapter on production flow—or how she sets things up to keep everything moving as smoothly as possible so she can shoot an entire film in one day in order to save money. She has it down to a science. A sexy, sexy science.

A guest section between chapters is by Shanna Katz and is on how to be disability inclusive. The last piece of advice there is to be ready to fuck up. Because you know you’re going to.

Chapter eleven is my favorite—paperwork, legalities and obscenity laws! Whee!

In this chapter there’s a photo of someone named Elizabeth Thorn filling out paperwork before shooting a film called Bibliophile. So I had to go look that up and now I have an account on Filly Films. Ahem.

In regard to obscenity laws, there’s this:

In some instances bondage with penetrative sex, or bondage with penis/vagina penetration, is considered too obscene. Fisting is generally considered obscene (however, four fingers or even eight fingers is okay). Pee and poo are taboo as well. But many things, like context and distribution, factor into these issues.

Will this film just be screened as a film festival? Is it part of a documentary or a fantasy narrative? Does the film have artistic or educational merit? Are you marketing the film as erotic art, erotic film or porn? Is the film on DVD and are you shipping it to Alabama or Florida? Does it contain hardcore anal fisting with a girl in bondage?

That’s very specific. You really have to know what you can show and can’t show. No wonder she recommends having a legal advocate on speed-dial for if/when you need them.

Then there’s a chapter on the mechanics of shooting—lighting, audio, shots and so forth. Know your strengths and weaknesses and play to your strengths.

The chapter after that is on editing, which sounds about as meticulous and time-consuming (and possibly crazy-making) as can be. Then again, some people feel that way about editing writing, so eh.

But then, you have a finished film! Hooray! Chapter fourteen is on distribution—how to get your filthy art out into the world. There are many, many options—find the ones that work for you and the audience you’d like to reach. In this chapter Young says:

Along the way, you will also discover people who will not be supportive of erotic film, DIY porn or outward displays of sexuality. You are entering into a realm that embraces and celebrates a part of our humanity that is still steeped in shame. Your work is brave and it might frighten some people. Your events might get shut down. You might encounter problems with venues or disgruntled parents or the police. Have a plan. Know your rights, and know that the work you are doing is important. Have a lawyer. Have legal support and allies, and follow your heart, lead with compassion.

The final chapter is on the ever important branding and marketing. It doesn’t matter how mind-blowing your work is—if no one knows it exists they won’t know how to get it into their brains.

The DIY Porn Handbook is only 231 pages long and the font is fairly large, but it has everything I can think of to get someone started—it’s pretty impressive in that way.

For me, personally, this book was a lesson in judgment. I obviously don’t judge people who do or make porn, hello, I did an entire episode on porn, but I have never had a desire to make or be in it so figured I’d be reviewing this purely for my listeners—like service-oriented reading. I’ve always wondered how they got certain shots in porn, but that was the extent of my curiosity, really. Now I kinda want to be an assistant on set. I still have no desire to be in one—it’d be dull watching me, indeed, but I’d help out around set.

Instead of service-reading, though, I learned a great deal. Similar to David Ley’s Ethical Porn for Dicks, which was also going to be service-oriented reading, and turned out to be my favourite book of 2016. As mentioned before—this book showed me how porn is political. It also introduced the concept of Visions and Values Statement, which is something Young advocates writing down to help a person work out what they’re about. I’m working on mine to add to the site.

I would definitely 5/5 recommend this to anyone interested in making their own films for distribution. The legal and tax paperwork is U.S.-based, but that takes up a small amount of space in the book.

If you’re looking for info on making porn just for yourself? There’s still good information here, though the majority of the book is on other aspects of film-making, distribution, that sort of thing rather than specifics of how to hold a camera. So I suppose it would depend on how artistic you want to be with your personal films.

If you’re just interested in the porn industry—particularly the indie side of things then this has a lot of interesting information. Young knows her stuff and has been around—she’s made over 40 films in the last decade and is articulate about what she does and why it’s important. There are also many black and white photographs scattered throughout.

Episode 040: The DIY Porn Handbook

Episode the fortieth; Wherein the Pageist discusses the impertinence of projecting one’s kinks, learns of a kinky ebook publisher and is reminded (yet again) to be kinder to herself. The book reviewed is The DIY Porn Handbook: Documenting Our Own Sexual Revolution by Madison Young

.47 Intro & Announcements:

  • Two new Facebook likes: Hellooo to Dave and David!
  • Two new countries: Paraguay and French Guiana. Making headway into South America, yes we are.
  • Thank you to the person who took the survey!
  • The show only has five iTunes ratings. 🙁 If you use iTunes, please give us some stars and rate other shows you enjoy, too. It really does make a podcaster’s day.
  • This week’s review on Monday was Oh Joy, Sex Toy.
  • All sorts of tweaks to the site, including increasing the font weight so you no longer risk blindness.
  • The Book Recommendations page is up as is the Gift Guide.
  • Circlet Press is Erotica for Geeks.
  • The Viscountess Investigates by Cameron Quintain

9.35 My Submissive Life:

  • This week’s rant is brought to you by: dudes who project their kinks onto female-presenting humans. Stop.

15.35 Book Review:

32.11 Closing Remarks:

Opening Up by Tristan Taormino


[This is the text of the book review from episode thirty eight.]

This week’s book is Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino.

Though the title is about open relationships, the book covers anything that isn’t monogamy.

Opening Up is geared both towards people new to non-monogamy and people with experience; those who want to open up an existing relationship, those involved with someone who wants to open up an existing relationship, and single people who identify as poly.

Included are personal stories about every kind of relationship—there are quotes throughout chapters, then a longer interview with a couple or group of people in a relationship at the end of each. It’s always nice to get a real life take on how non-traditional lifestyles affect the people involved. Seeing how people navigate their relationships makes them seem more manageable and less nerve-wracking for those of us who are nervous about exploring the unknown.

The Introduction includes the methodology for the people Taormino interviewed. Woof—methodology. The respondents were largely US-based and it wasn’t a scientific study, but still provided a nice array of personal stories.

Early on, the author says that in writing the book she realised there is no formula for creating a successful open relationship. There were often similarities, but each was unique, so Opening Up is more of a general guidebook than a strict recipe.

The first chapter covers beginnings—the history of swinging and other non-traditional relationships, as well as gay and lesbian contributions and communes.

Chapter two is concerned with myths about the non-monogamous folks. That’s a good one to wake you up in the morning if you’d like to get your blood pressure up.

Chapter three aims to help the reader decide if open relationships are right for them. This includes reasons people do the poly thing, as well as reasons people should not give it a shot. One of those reasons is in order to ‘fix’ a current relationship. Which seems sort of obvious, but okay. I mean, it’s not going so great with the two of you so let’s add an entire other person (or more) with their own emotions and needs into the mix.

Why not buy a house, move across country and have kids, too? That will fix everything forever.

I kind of get it—you’re not happy and think if you can see other people that will help because the problem is you’re bored or stuck or whathaveyou, but… no. You’re just inflicting your awful relationship on other people, which isn’t polite.

This chapter includes questions to ask yourself to ascertain your current beliefs about relationships (we all know how much I love homework—and there were several assignments throughout the book).

One of the reasons people have multiple intimate relationships was stated this way:

People in open relationships enjoy exploring different dynamics with different people—sexual, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Non-monogamy gives them the opportunity to create unique relationships that nourish and support each other.

This is what I am here for. I know people who think married men shouldn’t even hug women who aren’t their wives. The idea that the person you are legally attached to having to not only meet every need, but also not being allowed to explore a variety of connections with anyone else is nuts. How possessive can you be?

Within the concept of different types of connections—the author talks about people in bi/straight, vanilla/kinky or even Dom/Dom pairings. I hadn’t considered that last one, but that must be something else.

Taormino is very kink-friendly and, if a topic can have a kink-related issue, she addresses it.

This isn’t surprising, as she edited The Ultimate Guide to Kink, but still, it’s nice to see, since that’s most relevant to my life.

In this chapter she says:

My mission in sex and relationship education has always been to empower people to explore all their options, discover what works best for them, and go out and get it.

She’s my kind of individual.

Chapter Four is What Makes an Open Relationship Work?

The same things that make kink work—consent, communication and self-awareness for starters. This chapter is full of excellent advice because just because you’re aware of what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it it doesn’t make the jealousy (or whatever) disappear.

The ever popular Non-Violent Communication makes an appearance—you know, the one where you use ‘I’ statements and own your feelings—that one.

Other things that make open relationships work: trust, honesty, boundaries and fidelity and commitment. Taormino delves into all of these in depth and explains why they’re important and how to implement them into your new, awesome life.

Then we get into different styles of non-monogamy in chapters five through nine, which include partnered nonmonogamy, swinging, polyamory, solo polyamory and polyfidelity.

Each chapter provides a definition and other information specific to that style, as well as pros and cons and why you may choose that particular style.

I wasn’t familiar with all of those, so, in case you aren’t either, here is how the author defines each:

Partnered nonmonogamy is for committed couples who want a relationship that is erotically nonmonogamous, where each partner can be involved with other people for sex, BDSM or other erotic activities. The BDSM play may or may not include genital sex.

In other words—you can do sexytimes, but can’t date or get romantically attached. This is what I personally think of when someone says they’re in an ‘open relationship’.

Swinging gets its own chapter, even though it’s a type of partnered nonmonogamy, because there’s a lot going on there. Even within the swinging community you have options galore. I interviewed Cooper S. Beckett in episode eight, where we discussed swinging (amongst many other things) if you’re looking for more information specifically on that.

Polyamory is next and Taormino defines it as:

…the desire for or the practice of maintaining multiple significant, intimate relationships simultaneously.

The relationships don’t have to include sex, but they can.

Solo Polyamory was one I hadn’t considered but made sense once the idea was introduced. This is when someone doesn’t want a primary partner. Legally they’d be considered single, but they’d have multiple intimate, varied relationships that overlapped or coexisted.

The final one mentioned is Polyfidelity, which is when multiple people are fidelitous to one another. Like a sexy, loving sports team.

In the polyamory section the author includes non-sexual poly relationships. I was surprised (happily) that they were not uncommon—according to Taormino. Perhaps poly people are more accepting of non-traditional sexualities and different types of relationships.

That section also covers hierarchical poly and non-hierarchical polyamory. The first is when one relationship is considered primary and takes precedence in one way or another over any others and the second is when all relationships are equal.

After that is a chapter on mono/poly hybrid relationships, which was of particular interest to me, as this is the style I’ll be entering and it has its own challenges and stigmas even within the poly community.

The chapter also addresses how to deal with lop-sided feelings of jealousy—in most open relationships people can look at it like, ‘My partner is going out tonight, but I have a date tomorrow so it’s fine,’ but that doesn’t apply in hybrid configurations, as well as guilt on behalf of the partner who is ‘getting everything they want’.

It’s going to be a good time. I’m looking forward to it.

As a sidebar—something I realised about myself in reading this is that I would like to eventually live with both my husband and D-type. Somehow, my brain hadn’t presented that as a possibility before, but learning that there are people who are co-husbands (or two men involved with the same woman and quite happy about it) made me think, ‘Baroo?’ I could very happily—I think—live with a female D-type and Walter and do the housework during the day while they went off to their respective jobs. We’d all have our separate rooms and it’d be swell. She could date or whatever, but I’m the sub, hmph.

Chapter eleven contains guidelines on how to design your open relationship, starting with things like whether or not you need to share an emotional connection with anyone you’re involved with, whether you can see yourself married/committed/partnered to more than one person or disliking hierarchy. Amongst other things. These are only general guides—every situation is going to be unique, of course.

This section goes into a great deal of detail so you can try to work out what you want—the author says she’s tried to think of everything for you, though you can’t plan for everything—you can be as prepared as possible.

Some of the particulars to consider are Who, meaning gender, coupled status, age, D/s status, etc. There are checklists. You know how that gave me heart eyes.

Then there’s what—as in, what you’re looking for. Safer sex, romance, BDSM activities. Be specific about all of these.

When: Frequency, Specific Days or Times.

Where: Geography, Events, Home—are you allowed to only see other people when travelling? Are you allowed to have sex with someone else in your shared bed?

There’s a chapter that specifically addresses jealousy and other intense feelings like envy and fear of abandonment and other things people write songs about. Then a chapter about compersion, which is the opposite of jealousy—when you get the warm fuzzies because someone you love is happy.

Chapter fourteen is on common challenges and problems and how to deal with them like New Relationship Energy (or when your partner is being really annoying because their brain chemistry looks like a meth lab), Time Management (because they haven’t invented Time-Turners) and Agreement Violations (or visits to the Not-Cool Zone).

Fifteen addresses something that’s important to keep in mind for kink relationships as well—continual communication. It’s called Opening Up Again: When Something Changes.

A relationship isn’t a static thing designed like a house and works perfectly just the way it is. Things change—people change—needs and desires change.

Sometimes people move from one type of nonmonogamy to another. The chapter includes this quote:

People’s self-judgment can be exacerbated by criticism from other nonmonogamous people. Some polyamorous people believe so strongly in polyamory as a lifestyle that they see other styles—even other styles of nonmonogamy—as inferior.

Sigh. The Judgersons. They are legion. It’s important to feel superior to someone, isn’t it?

There’s also this:

If you’ve explored your options and chosen monogamy, remember that your choice is valid. You seek a relationship style that fits your needs, and for some people that style is monogamy. Take all the relationship skills you learned from nonmonogamy and apply them to your monogamous relationship.

I’m not sure how I feel about the word ‘chosen’ there, but I agree with the sentiment as a whole. The more I think about it the more I think people are naturally monogamous or nonmonogamous. They can choose to behave monogamously or choose to try to be nonmonogamous, but won’t be entirely true to themselves. I’m 100% on the side of being true to yourself if you’re not hurting anyone else so…

I guess what I’m saying is, I’d phrase it: If you’ve explored your options and realised you’re monogamous, remember that’s valid.

Of course it is. There are also completely straight people in the world. I’m sorry this is how you had to find out.

The following chapter is on coming out—the hazards and benefits. Why are people so threatened? Nevermind. I know why. They think nonmonogamous people are having orgies in the street and if they were allowed to then they would suddenly partake, too. For some reason. Because sex is evil and irresistible. Or something.

People are insane.

There are chapters on the unsexy but vital topics of STIs and safer sex, raising children in non-traditional familial arrangements and legal issues.

The chapter on STIs was the most out-of-date (the book was published in 2008) and we know more now, but the how to have safer sex information was still accurate.

That last chapter was the most infuriating one of the book, as non-married partners have no legal standing in the eyes of the law without investing time and money into legal services.

Even then, in some ways, non-traditional relationships are still discriminated against.
For example, though many groups are protected under fair housing provisions—people can’t discriminate based on religion, race, disability, sexual orientation, and so on—poly relationships aren’t protected.

Another was that, in some places, it’s illegal for more than a certain number of unrelated adults to live on one property (I suppose to keep it from being a hotel? Who knows.)

So if you’re in a group who all wants to live in a massive Victorian together—check the zoning regulations.

That’s insane! It’s just grown up human beings choosing where to live!

I suppose because the idea of loving more than one person—or being involved with more than one person—has always made sense to me I don’t get what the big deal is. I also don’t get why it took me so long to work out I’m poly, but that’s a different thing.

I was looking at reviews on Goodreads and one person went on a bit of a tear about something this book espouses, which is that no one person can’t be everything to anyone else so it makes sense you’d want to be involved with other people to get different needs met. This makes perfect sense to me, as that’s what I’m all about. The person who was unhappy with this assertion says that makes other people into need-providers rather than separate, complete humans.

Oh. Right. That’s a fair point. What if they stop providing the thing you originally bring them into your life for? Do you cut them out again? Do they become disposable? Yeah. How much of a dick do you have to be to see people that way? It’s one thing if you only have one thing in common and you drift apart if one of you loses interest in that one thing, but if I had a Domme and our relationship moved from power exchange to friendship I hope I wouldn’t be, ‘Oh, well if you’re not my Dominant then I don’t want to know you.’

If I like you enough to serve you then I should hope we can still play board games or talk about books or watch films or, freakin’ something.

Anyway, the book has notes and resources galore, for people who’d like further information, and the book also has its own website OpeningUp.net.

This is a must-read for people considering or those interested in improving their non-monogamous relationships. I would even recommend it over Ethical Slut, though I think both are highly useful this one covers some areas that one doesn’t. 5/5

Episode 038: Opening Up

Episode the thirty-eighth; wherein the Pageist (briefly) returns to her roots, explains why your neurotransmitters LIE and shares some exciting news about the site. The book reviewed is Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino.

.48 Intro & Announcements:

  • A new Facebook follow: Welcome to Richard! And a new like from Darkling. Hellooooo!
  • The listener in Djibouti makes me laugh because he reminds me of me.
  • The show & site has a new Patron: BIG thanks to Barrett! Check out the perks of supporting the show over here.
  • The mobile version of the site is getting a swanky upgrade next month! I am very excited!
  • If you haven’t already, check out The Cage. I reviewed the site here.
  • Episode thirty-five–where I talk about dealing with depression and how the site and podcast have helped me enormously.

4.58 My Submissive Life:

  • A sample of my original accent and how changing the accents we’re born with is similar to challenging unhelpful beliefs.

9.45 Book Review:

28.33 Closing Remarks:

Real Service


[This is the text of the book review from episode 37.]

This episode’s book is Real Service by Joshua Tenpenny and Raven Kaldera. Kaldera edited Paradigms of Power: Styles of Master/slave Relationships, which I reviewed in episode thirteen (and loved).

Like that book, this one is also geared towards people in power exchange relationships, though the focus of this one is specifically service. Both authors have a great deal of experience in giving service (Joshua) and receiving service (Raven) and it shows—the book covers philosophy and psychology behind service from both sides of the slash, as well as practical information. The practical info isn’t concerned with how to do certain things—there are far too many types of service for that—it’s more about all of the things a service sub could do and the various levels of proficiency that can be achieved in each one. That section, which is later in the book, was incredible! There were so many ways to make a D-type’s life easier.

And I really sucked at a lot of them. There were other things listed that I’m good at and enjoy but hadn’t considered as a type of service, as well as things I would like to improve on, so those can go on my submissive resume.

That part would be useful for both s-types—in order to see all the ways they can be of use and assess their proficiency—and D-types looking for things to assign to an eager s-type.

I highlighted so much in this book I thought I’d go over my limit, as Kindle only allows a certain number of highlights. So it was one of those situations.

I loved the digital version so much—and will definitely refer to it in future—that the physical version is going on my wishlist/personal list to remind myself of all of the books I want to read.

The book starts with a section called Basic Assumptions that lays out where the authors are coming from and who exactly they’re addressing. In that section they say this:

…our informal polling seems to have shown that more individuals on both sides of the slash are drawn to these lifestyles because of their attraction to control rather than service. Controlling others, or feeling the control of others, seems to be more popular as a motivation than service.

I enjoy both of those things, so that lead me to a chicken-or-egg conundrum. Which came first? After staring into space with a furrowed brow for several seconds I settled on, ‘I dunno but they both make me very happy.’ I think it’s useful to know where your motivations lie, but, ultimately, you like what you like so it doesn’t really matter.

The next section is ‘Figuring Out Service’ and includes general, level-headed advice like

A service relationship can be role-based, but it doesn’t have to be, and more often than not, it isn’t. It can just be two (or more) people who have an arrangement where one has dedicated a substantial portion of their time and energy to the service of the other. There doesn’t need to be any protocol, collars, or kinky sex. There doesn’t need to be anything formal about it.

Something that kept me from realising I was kinky for a long time was thinking an interest in BDSM had to be based in sexual desire so this was important. They also stress knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. Explore your fantasies as much as possible, but realise you live in the real world.

Then we’re onto Joshua’s Rules of Service.

I do enjoy rules.

I’m not going to enumerate all of them, but the first rule is:

If the master doesn’t want it, it isn’t service.

Y-yeah… I could see me serving the hell out of some woman and her saying, ‘I only wanted a coffee.’

There was also advice on how to deal with conflicts from the s-type’s point of view by letting go of the need to be right because obedience is more important. Find your joy in being obedient in those situations.

The next chapter is Motivations for Service and they say they’ve observed three types of motivations to serve, those being Transactional (getting something in return), Devotional (because you love the person) and Positional (because you were born to serve).

They go over the positives and pitfalls for each type and how to avoid the latter. I learned I’m chiefly a combination of Devotional and Positional. The authors say that motivations may change depending on the situation or person so a person isn’t likely to be only one of those.

To the Devotionally-motivated servants, since you’re inspired by love, they say:

A servant motivated primarily by devotion would do well to cultivate a little of the other two types of motivation to pull them through the “I hate you today” mornings.

I’m training myself to do important things even when I am entirely uninterested in doing so and in those situations I tell myself, ‘Do it anyway.’ It’s a similar concept.

Next up is styles of service, which includes Reactive Service and Proactive Service.

They’re pretty much what they sound like—one is service in response to being told to do something and the other is serving without being instructed to. Anticipatory service is included in the second type.

About the first type they say:

Reactive service, at its plainest, is quite literal, although one of the pitfalls of doing nothing but reactive service for a long time can be the development of over-literality – “Which three eggs should I scramble, Mistress?”

So, the book is funny at times.

Then we’re on to Styles of Dominance. They include all people who’d qualify as People in Charge, which I like as another way to say D-type. ‘Who’s the person in charge of you?’ ‘This is the person in charge of me.’

There are two types of these: Parental Dominance, which is a high-control style where the D-type may control many (or every) aspect of the s-type’s life. The other is Celebrity Dominance, which is where an s-type’s job is to make life as easy as possible with little hands-on control by the D-type.

Raven then has a chapter where he addresses People in Charge directly and it’s called The Annoyance Factor. The premise is to find the things in your life that are annoying and working out a way for your s-type to handle them. You don’t generally need a plethora of protocols and rituals if they don’t make you happy.

He offers this advice, as well:

The issue of priorities is one that generally comes up more fully in a slightly later stage of relationship development. This is because of the necessary order of give-and-take required by a deeply and consciously inegalitarian relationship. It’s necessary for the M-type to earn the s-type’s trust first, and that’s the way that it has to be, because they are so vulnerable. The M-type has to prove to the s-type that they really do want complete honesty (and possibly transparency, depending on their negotiated dynamic) and in order to do that, they have to meet every “unacceptable” honest thought the s-type hesitantly communicates to them with calm, non-defensive assurance, no matter what they are actually feeling. This process may take months or years.

There are a couple chapters concerning practicals like how to integrate a servant into a new routine and Joshua gives a detailed breakdown of the most conscientious way for servants to build and maintain an organisation system for their Masters.

There are also chapters on correcting problematic behavior, and remedial obedience. In the latter they say that if a master sets reasonable expectations there shouldn’t be a need for obedience training.

In this chapter they break down undesirable behavioural traits into two types: Misdemeanours and Felonies.

Under misdemeanours they include Creative Applied Incompetence, a phrase I love. It’s pretending to be bad at tasks you dislike with the goal of not being asked to do it in future.
Under felonies they include uncontrolled mental illness, which makes me: um. Even when a person is on medication they may still become depressed or anxious or have other difficulties depending on their illness—none of which is their fault. Felonies are behaviours that should set off red flags for a D-type so they should consider if the relationship is worth continuing.

I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they don’t mean someone going through a depression isn’t worth owning.

The next chapter addresses ways for a servant to question an order or disagree with their Person in Charge with respect.

After that is Qualities of a Good Master—it’s a useful list both for D-types to aspire to and for s-types to know what to look for.

The corresponding chapter is Qualities of a Good Servant and includes this:

It seems that there aren’t a lot of standards for what it means to be a good s-type; in fact, there is a distressing tendency for people to casually assume that “of course submissives can’t be expected to act like a reliable, committed, self-disciplined adult – they’re submissives, aren’t they?” This kind of infantilizing of all s-types is counterproductive, as it hardly encourages them to excellence, and indeed it does the opposite. It may stem from a general discomfort with the state of submission on both sides of the slash, where that discomfort is translated into pretending that servants are a lesser class of human.

There are a few places where the authors address the toxic philosophy that servants are inferior to masters, which is nice to be reminded of.

Then there are pages and pages of Skillsets. Each is broken down into Basic, Remedial and Advanced (their definition of each of those is provided). The lists begin with fundamental service, which includes showing up on time and being obedient—just the basics of being a good servant.

The second is housework, which includes an observation that, often, servants are more concerned with keeping a clean house than masters. They say this:

This is often the case with Raven, and when Joshua has talked to other servants in a similar position, all have struggled with feeling like a failure for not keeping the house “clean enough”. … Please refer to the First Rule of Service, and know that you have Joshua’s sympathy, at least.

After the priorities have been firmly established, the master might consider allowing the servant to clean the house in their “free time”. Raven generally considers cleaning to be a “hobby” of Joshua’s, not a service.

I am so a servant. That made me say: wut. Why, though? Why don’t you want a clean house? So confused.

In this section Joshua recommends a book called Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson and says about it:

It is a wonderful book for the detail-oriented servant whose master has provided ample time for housekeeping, but distressingly little detail about how the house should be kept. If a servant would really like diagrams to show the proper method for folding underpants, this is the book to get.

Well now I want to know how to fold underpants. Onto the Amazon list it goes!

Other lists include: home maintenance, yard work, laundry (or as they call it in the UK, washing), cooking, shopping and errands, automotive, travel, secretarial (yes, please), computer/electronic, financial, health care, child care, animal care, arts and crafts, companionship, personal grooming and body service, etiquette and protocol and, finally, sexual service.

In the etiquette and protocol section they recommend learning to kneel by putting both knees on the floor at the same time then standing up without using your hands or leaning forward. Apparently, masters find this delightful.

Of course I had to see if I could do this (it wasn’t pretty) and then Walter had to try it, too.

What I learned from this part of the book is that there are a million and one ways to serve. Yippee! And oh my god, I’m so inadequate.

Finally, there’s a resource guide of books, films and TV that have examples of good servants. In case service porn is your thing (and if so, welcome to the club). Unf. Now I want to re-watch Gosford Park.

This one is a must-read for service-subs, the people who lead them or any power exchange interested in adding service to the relationship. It’s an invaluable guide to how to be a better servant or master. It’s a 5/5, highly recommended..

If you can’t afford it, it’s available to read for free on the BookMate app, as are other books by the authors.

Episode 37: Real Service

Episode the thirty-seventh; Wherein the Pageist registers for a conference for sexy nerds, discovers the perfect mascot for oh, so many wonderful people and shares info on a new site for the kink community. The book reviewed is Real Service by Joshua Tenpenny and Raven Kaldera.

.48 Intro & Announcements:

  • The show is now in Slovakia, Nigeria and Madagascar. Also, some people in Estonia seem to be having a Pageist listening party! Greetings to you, friends.
  • We have a new Patron! Thank you, thank you AuntieSocial. If you’d like to support the show, have a gander at the rewards available on the show’s Patreon.
  • And a new Facebook like. Welcome to Camille.
  • I would like to thank caffeine and the Hanna Soundtrack for helping me produce this episode after a two-day migraine pain-fest.
  • In March I will be attending Eroticon 2017, which is a conference for sex bloggers, erotica writers and erotic creatives. Are you going? Let me know! thepageist [at] gmail [dot] com or any of the social media places I frequent. That list is here.
  • Attending Eroticon isn’t cheap though–if you’d like to help me out in the wallet department or would just like to support the show in general–please consider supporting the site’s Patreon. Other ways to show your support are here.
  • An upcoming freebie for all Patrons will be an audio of How I Sext a.k.a. Hygge Porn. Keep an eye/ear out for that.
  • Earlier this week I was on Lee Harrington’s show, Passion and Soul, talking about kinky books, the importance of handmade kink gear and other wonderful things. We had a great time!
  • If you’re looking for an alternative to Fetlife, check out ThinkKinky. It’s a brand spanking new place for kinksters run by some lovely people.

7.06 My Submissive Life:

13.48 Book Review:

  • The book this episode is Real Service by Joshua Tenpenny and Raven Kaldera. It covers philosophy and practical aspects of both giving service and receiving service within a power exchange relationship. The author’s clearly write from positions of experience in an easy-to-understand style.
  • Other reviews of work by these author(s): Paradigms of Power: Styles of Master/slave Relationships edited by Raven Kaldera in episode thirteen.
  • Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson.
  • Real Service is available to read for free through the Bookmate website and app.

28.07 Closing Remarks:

Books You May Have Missed

[This is the text of the book reviews from episode 36, which was a recap of books I’d reviewed prior to having the podcast, grouped by genre. Some books didn’t make it onto the website so this is the first time some have been mentioned, while I’ve rethought my opinions on others.]



The first book that came to mind after I had my Realisation was The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty—the first book in the Sleeping Beauty trilogy by Anne Rice. It’s now a quartet, as Rice added a fourth book in 2015. The books had been introduced to me when I was sixteen or so by a friend of mine who was both a fan of the author and also wildly horny. I can’t recall if I even finished the first book, but certain scenes stuck with me.

After realising a few things about myself I thought I’d give it another go. Yeah… I’m not a masochist and forced submission does nothing for me. Even in fantasy. The constant crying, humiliation and forced public nudity is a huge turn off. It’s written extremely well, though, and I recommend it to people who are looking for a specific sort of erotica. It’s just not for me, which was kind of a shame because there were three other books and it’s always nice to have your reading list set for awhile. I didn’t make it as far this time as I did as a teen—there are scenes I remember that I didn’t get to—now that I know about how consent works in BDSM I really need it. My fantasy life includes contract negotiation.

Then we have Something Leather by Alasdair Gray. This was an odd one. Quotes from my written review:

The stories felt very different from one another, which, at first, I thought was because the characters each came from different class backgrounds and had different personalities. Then it turned out Gray had reworked several of his plays to use as short fiction. One story was from one play, another was from another, etc.

Something Leather is an odd little book. If you’re only looking for the sexy/naughty bits read Chapter 12: Class Party and maybe Chapter 13: New June. The Epilogue also had some interesting insights into what Gray considered doing with some of the characters and plots at different points.

It’s more of a character study than about plot, though some weird occurrences…occur. To some weird people. Who live in Glasgow, which if probably part of their problem. (Kidding.)

I gave it a 3/5.


Next on the fiction list was Mary Gaitskill’s story collection Bad Behavior. I had high hopes here because it includes the short story the film Secretary is based on, which is one of the very few times the film was a vast improvement on the source material. I did a piece of writing comparing the story to the film (they’re both called Secretary)—the link will be in the show notes—if you’re curious about similarities, differences and so on. It’s a scene-by-scene, sometimes line-by-line comparison so, you know, here’s your spoiler warning.

Anyway, the book—the stories are about a bunch of people you’d never want to know. They’re interesting enough to read about, though. Several of whom are into sadomasochism, but not in a good way. In a—let’s not discuss boundaries—sort of way. A story called ‘Romantic Weekend’ was an excellent example of this.

From the original review:

Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior is a collection of stories about some truly unlikable people. Really. I wouldn’t want to have lunch with one of them. Reading about them was engaging, though–Gaitskill captures the grimy, complicated reality of life, but this isn’t feel-good material. It isn’t redemptive reading, either–where someone triumphs over adversity. It’s a collection of people who live odd little lives and interact with others living odd little lives.

I gave it a 4/5.

Gaitskill herself had some questionable things to say about sadists and masochists and then I had some things to say about that—you know, in my shrinking violet way—in a writing that will be linked to in the show notes.

The final fiction book was The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek. It’s the novel the film of the same name is based on. I’d seen the film first and loved it and the book is even better. The film is so well-made, though, that the book only enhances re-watches. If you’re unfamiliar with either, it’s about a repressed piano teacher, Erika, who works at a conservatory in Vienna. She focuses entirely on her students and art, with the plan/dream of becoming a great star one day. She has many kinks, though they have never been explored or expressed, as she lives with her suffocating mother.

Eventually she meets a student, Walter Klemmer, who is everything she’s wanted to submit to. But he’s a vanilla guy and she doesn’t have the correct language to ask for what she needs. If you’ve seen the film—the book is written from several characters’ points of views and you get more background on Erika when she was very young and how she became the paragon of sexual freedom and expression she was as an adult.

I gave it a 5/5 and said it was a ‘must for any sadomasochistic bookshelf’.

Moving on to


Of which I have read two—both by Sophie Morgan. I’m looking for more memoirs, though, so please recommend good ones.


Morgan’s first was The Diary of a Submissive and was followed up by No Ordinary Love Story. Morgan is a journalist and so her writing is a bit detached—even though it’s about her own life. The first book covers the realisation of her kinkiness and first experiences with various boyfriends. One of whom isn’t the most communicative of human beings to walk the planet.

The follow up—No Ordinary Love Story. Ugh. This title. It sounds like what every teenager would call their first relationship. There’s a marked improvement in the writing—it feels more personal and less journalistic (the writing is quite good overall—it is what she does for a living—but capturing the intimacy of memoir and the subjectivity of journalism are two different talents.)

The second book picks up right where the first one left off and we get to spend more time with Sophie and her friends and her boyfriend (who’s also her Dominant.) One of my favourite parts is when she and her very inventive boyfriend go to a kinky cottage for a weekend. And they played Scrabble the whole time. Weird.

I gave Diary of a Submissive 4/5 and had this to say in the original review:

It was interesting to read about a person whose submission expresses itself in such different ways to my own. And to see what other people find a step too far, just too degrading. She’d happily do things I’d safeword on but other things I wouldn’t think twice about she found the utter end of humiliation street. That sort of thing is fascinating to me.

Morgan is very headstrong and has some brattish qualities. Then again, she will choose some cocky bastards to spend time with. Such a masochist, this one. Naturally submissive she is not, blanching at bog standard Dom requests. But that just goes back to everyone’s submission being a bit different.

No Ordinary Love Story received a 5/5 and I said:

If you’re looking for new ideas for some fun play—or just want to read about two people with an obvious connection having a great, kinky time—this is a good one for it. It gives an inside look at a relationship that’s heavy on the D/s, even if it’s not 24/7.

The next genre on the list is



The first one doesn’t really qualify as kinky, but let me tell you about it, because it was on the site—It was by Mark Twain and was called: 1601: Conversation as it was by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors. Catchy. It was originally published anonymously in 1880 and Twain didn’t claim it for twenty-six years. I read it because it was included in a kindle collection of smut. It’s not really about anything kinky—it’s just ribald and has Queen Elizabeth (the first one) making fart jokes and talking about the plural of the word ‘bollocks’ with Ben Jonson, Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare while some other Elizabethans loll about. It’s a short read—less than half an hour—and is available at Project Gutenberg for free.

From the original review:

I’ve always enjoyed finding risque and out-right pornographic pieces by people who are considered ‘classic’ writers. Part of the fun of this one is that it’s written by the person who wrote Tom Sawyer. You know. Wholesome Mark Twain! We read him at school! Ahem.

I gave this a 4/5

On to Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland, which is billed as the ‘first’ pornographic novel in the English language. It was published in 1748 and 1749. From the review:

The plot is one of innocent young thang (IYT), orphaned at the tender age of fifteen, who makes her way to the big city of London to live with a friend. Said friend dumps her quickly and Innocent Young Thang shelters under the wing of kind woman who turns out to be a madam of multiple prostitutes quelle surprise!

Then again, this is the first book to use that plot device so it’s every other book that’s the cliche. Perhaps it was an actual surprise to readers at the time. Trying to image that breaks my brain a little.

There is very much, a lot of sex—some of which is kinky. Here is one non-kinky scene:

Then the turtle-billing kisses, and the poignant painless love-bites, which they both exchang’d in a rage of delight, all conspiring towards the melting point; it soon came on, when Louisa, in the ravings of her pleasure-frensy, impotent of all restraint, cry’d out: ‘Oh Sir!–Good Sir!–pray do not spare me! ah! ah–I can no more.’ And all her accents now faltering into heart-fetch’d sighs, she clos’d her eyes in the sweet death, in the instant of which she was deliciously embalm’d by an injection, of which we could easily see the signs, in the quiet, dying, languid posture of her late so furious driver, who was stopp’d of a sudden, breathing short, panting; and for that time, giving up the spirit of pleasure.

This is the first pornographic novel. We started here. That’s a high bar. And now… Well…

I gave this a 5/5 and will be reading it for patrons who support at a certain level on Patreon after I finish the current book, which is the Victorian smut-fest Romance of Lust.

Classics-wise, I have read Venus in Furs a couple of times, but haven’t reviewed it on the site and it’s been quite some time since my last read so I’ll give it a proper review on the show once I read it again.

The film was terrible. Avoid. (Source)

The next genre is non-fiction and a book I’d like to talk about overlaps between classics and non-fiction. It’s Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard von Krafft-Ebing. I read it fourteen years ago and, had I been paying closer attention, I could have joined the BDSM scene then.

Anyway. I’ll probably read it again for funsies, but won’t devote an entire podcast episode to it because it’s quite niche. It was the first catalogue of sexual deviancies based on case studies that was to be used, ostensibly, for medical and legal purposes. The more scandalous parts were in Latin.

Yeah, that didn’t stop people, the general public ran out and bought the thing like it was the last book in the Harry Potter series. ‘Ooohh, what are the neighbours doing with the other neighbour’s floppy bits? Those nasty buggers! Turn the page!’

It’s definitely a product of its time—masturbation makes men weak and nearsighted—and people often came from families with a history of neurasthenia, which could be headache, anxiety, depressed mood, high blood pressure, heart palpitations or fatigue. There was all sorts of Victorian goodness like that. That’s just how I feel watching the news now, though. 2016, the year of neurasthenia.

But, Krafft-Ebing thought being gay was just who you were—it wasn’t changeable or necessarily awful. He didn’t think it was entirely healthy, either, but one step at a time. This was 1886—it’d be nearly a hundred years before they’d remove homosexuality as a mental illness from the DSM and the VP-elect currently believes you can torture the gayness out of people. So… This dead Austro-German dude was ahead of that guy.

The book is interesting in some ways—it shows how fetishes are shaped by our culture. Men often fetishized womens handkerchiefs and gloves—because that’s one of the first items related to women they were allowed near. The same is true of listening to women urinate into chamber pots.

The edition I read was unexpurgated with previously removed case files re-inserted and the Latin was translated into English so you can see what they thought was just too much for sensitive readers back in the day. Here is a link to that specific edition. It’s hard to rate this one because you’ll either find it interesting for historical/scientific/psychological purposes or it’ll bore you to death. Make your decision based on the review.

On to


The first two are by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton. They’re The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book. They’re two separate books, but I think they should be read together. No matter which side you fall on it’s useful to know what the other side is thinking, doing or feeling. And if you’re a bottom then it’s very useful to know what ethical tops will be like so you can identify non-ethical tops.

There was an episode of this show about these books—episode seven—where the Multiamory crew came on and reviewed the books. Their show is about polyamory but they were interested in exploring kink and wanted to know what I’d recommend. I said both of these books and all three hosts read both books. They did a great job.

I think everyone coming into the scene should read these—it should be part of Kink 101.

Both authors are bisexual switches with decades of experience and they include personal stories to demonstrate specific techniques between chapters starting with the basics up to a bit more complex play towards the end.

There are more personal stories in the Topping book than the Bottoming book—it would have been nice to have more stories in the second book, but that’s a quibble.

If you read both books there will be some repetition because most people aren’t going to be so thorough as to read both and some information is applicable to either side of the situation. I read a review where someone was complaining because they’d read both and were upset about some of the same material being in both books. They called it lazy writing and thought they did that to take up space.

Um…no. Most people are only going to read the book geared toward their interest and knowing how to communicate properly is important. The skills are the same. And the majority of the two books are different.

The penultimate book on the list is Living M/s: A Book for Masters, slaves and Their Relationships by Dan and dawn Williams. Dan and dawn have the Erotic Awakening podcast and they put together this set of writings around ten years into their power exchange. I wanted to read it because I’d been listening to their show and they seemed like such a happy couple—really down to Earth and articulate about what they got out of power exchange. I read this when I was really new to the scene and connected with it on a profound level—Dan’s writings are excellent examples of what a good D-type can be and dawn’s writings… Wow.

From the original review:

Multiple times I found myself thinking that this was a person who absolutely ‘got’ me—or at least an aspect of me that others wouldn’t. It’s one thing to be accepted and loved by your friends (and I’m not denigrating that for a second), but it’s another thing entirely to see someone else’s words and realize they completely understand you. They get it.

At the time I gave it a 5/5 and recommended it to everyone, but now that I’ve read more widely—I’d probably say this is a good one for beginners.

If you listen to Erotic Awakening (and you should give it a listen! It’s great!) You’d probably like it, too. They write the way they speak so it’s like getting to know them a bit better.

(source [Internet Archive of dead link])

And finally, The Pleasure’s All Mine: A History of Perverse Sex by Julie Peakman. From the ancient Greeks up to the present, from one country to the next, what has been considered ‘moral’ and ‘normal’ in terms of sexual activity and interests has varied wildly. This book looks at an impressive list of desires, fetishes and activities and compares how they’ve been viewed in various parts of the world during various periods of history.

Hey, did you know male masturbation used to be punishable by death? It was considered murder so it was a capital offence. This book was full of ‘You know…when people say everyone was nicer in the olden days, they were really hardcore dickweasels.’

Some of the topics covered:
Coprophilia and Urolagnia (Scat and Piss)
Flogging and Spanking
Apotemnophilia (self-demand amputation)
Objectum sexuals (people attracted to inanimate objects)
Sexual cannibalism
Infibulations (male, as in piercing the foreskin)
(and more!)

One of my favourite pieces of information (and there was much to love) was that the term ‘heterosexual’ was originally used in 1892 by Dr James G. Kierman to mean ‘abnormal manifestations of the sexual appetite’; this included desire for both sexes.

This means that bisexuals are really heterosexuals and heterosexuals are really homosexuals. Because they only like one sex. Homosexuals are also homosexuals, too. Tell your most homophobic relatives today!

There were some problematic, challenging areas covered—like the discussion of how do you decide the age of consent for people? It’s completely arbitrary from one country (or state) to another and always has been. And what’s wrong with necrophilia? (I mean, if we’re going to tell living women what to do with their bodies why can’t we tell dead people what to do with theirs. They’re dead—they won’t know, right? Why do the dead have more rights than the living?)

There were a few sections that force the reader to think about some uncomfortable topics, but that wasn’t a negative, necessarily. Unless you don’t like thinking. In which case, I’m not entirely sure why you’re listening to this show.

It’s available in hardback, paperback and Kindle. I got it in hardback because as soon as I heard about it I was: GIMMEE IT. And that is a heavy, well-made book with high-quality paper—that glossy kind. It has 180 images, sixty-eight of which are in colour. As an object it’s beautiful—it’s also a little spendy, but it’s worth it. The images are sculptures, paintings, illustrations from literature and history and that sort of thing.

For that reason I would recommend a physical copy—even if it’s the paperback, though I don’t know if they’ll have colour pages or if it will still be the heavy, glossy paper that I may or may not have kept shoving my face into the take a big whiff.

More from the original review:

The weakest point of the book is Peakman’s writing, which isn’t the strongest. It felt like a highly readable dissertation except for some repetitive word choices. That’s a minor quibble, though. Overall, The Pleasure’s All Mine was interesting and thought-provoking. I learned a lot about the history of lots of sexy things and some things kinky. And some things a little blerg. But I believe all information is useful information. Even blerg information.

I gave this a 4/5.

Episode 036: The Pageist Talks Pre-Show Books

Episode the thirty-sixth; wherein the Pageist celebrates a year of doing the podcast and shares thoughts on the books reviewed prior to having the show. Books reviewed… quite a few.

0.48 Intro and Announcements:

  • Two surveys! Thank you, survey-takers! If you’d like to fill in the anonymous survey and make my day, the link is here.
  • Someone has listened to the show using a satellite. Welcome to the ISS, Antarctica or secret government bunker.

5.31 My Submissive Life:

  • I’m going to leave the house and attend an actual munch. This is not a drill. (Thank you, Muse. mwah!)
  • It’s the show’s 1 year anniversary. I don’t know how that happened, but here we are. Here’s to another year or two. Or more.
  • Did an interview with Lee Harrington for his show Passion and Soul. More info on that when that goes up.

12.20 Book Reviews:

40.58 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be reviewing Real Service by Joshua Tenpenny and Raven Kaldera
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to this website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • All episodes are listed and playable from this page.

Sexual Outsiders


[This is the text of the book review from episode 34.]

This week’s review is Sexual Outsiders: Understanding BDSM Sexualities and Communities by David M Ortmann and Richard A. Sprott.

This was an interesting read. The authors are therapists who see patients who identify as kinky or who want help integrating the kinky aspects of themselves into a more whole version of who they are.

It’s the first time I’ve read a book about kinky people that wasn’t written by a kinky person. Or if the authors were kinky they did an outstanding job of writing like dispassionate observers.

It was as though the authors were trying to strike a balance between being too academic while still maintaining academic integrity. For example, transcripts of interviews were verbatim, which came across as stilted, but then they spelled come with a ‘u’, which I associate with high school bathroom walls and informal writing.

It’s priced as an academic text—the paperback is $23 and the ebook is $15.84. That’s what you charge when you expect a book to be used in a classroom. Which may be the point—something the authors talk about it how little instruction psychologists and psychiatrists get when it comes to human sexuality—forget BDSM. They get six-to-ten hours of instruction. That’s it. People need more instruction in this area if you’re providing mental health care to human beings, who do indeed have sex and care a lot about it.

There were lots of sources—I do like my sources—so those were appreciated. Notes were made on other things to read.

Let’s do some quotes and things, shall we?

Near the beginning David talks about the difference between the sexual and the erotic.

‘The erotic is conceptual in that it thrives in a world of abstraction, imagery, and symbolism. The erotic is subjective and playful by its very nature. Sexuality is the embodied, more concretized way in which people experience the erotic. It inhabits the objective, biological, physiological, and physical realms. I often see sexuality as technicality and mechanics, whereas the erotic is more about the mystery surrounding what the mechanic might do to us.’

He then says:

‘We need to make the distinction between the sexual and the erotic because in BDSM, Fetish, Leather, and Kink communities there are many practices and activities that are not sexual, but may be experienced as extremely erotic.’

I really liked this, because the idea that sex is intrinsic to kink is pervasive, but it’s not. It reminds me of the scene in Secretary where Lee’s fiance is looking at her—she’s sat at her boss’ desk because he told her not to move until he came back—and her fiance, the most boring guy on the globe—asks, ‘Are you doing something sexual right now?’
She responds, ‘Does this look sexual to you?’

Much of the book was just good advice—there’s no one way to be kinky, people who are only kinky once a year are just as kinky as people who are 24/7, etc. Then occasionally, something like this would come out of nowhere:

‘What we ignore out of fear ultimately has more control over us than what we acknowledge, honor, and accept.’

Ain’t that the truth.

One section that was particularly interesting was a section on how stigma is created. I find human anthropology and sociology fascinating so this sort of thing is always going to get my attention.

So. Creating stigma. First you name the characteristics of what makes a ‘good’ person. Or in this case, a ‘bad’ person.

Then the authors say:

‘The next step is to connect the name or label with a negative stereotype. The label then describes part of a person, and that part comes to stand for the whole person. Taking one part of a person and using it to explain or describe who he or she is, in every action and situation, is the process of marginalization.
‘But in order to create a fully realized social stigma, this dismissed or rejected person needs to be seen as part of a whole group that is nasty, spoiled, degenerate, evil, or sick. This is the third step, the creation of an in-group (the good people) and an out-group (the bad people).
‘The last step of stigmatization is for society to start creating rules, laws, structures, policies, and regulations that enforce a hierarchy of groups within the society.
‘Those who have higher social status are governed by “different rules” than those in lower social status groups, and often suffer different punishments or consequences when they break laws and rules.’

Holy crap, you guys. That’s the way the whole damn world works. You guys. (And for me, “guys” is not only gender-neutral, it applies to inanimate objects—when I want a pastry I don’t know the name of I’ll say, ‘Give me that guy there.’)

The next time someone tries to throw some stigma at you—or anyone—just be, ‘Look there, Judgerson, who put you in charge of the ‘Good Quality Squad’ Sling it, titstick!

They go on to talk about the way to combat that stupidity in order to be your awesome self:

‘The process involves separating from the mainstream, claiming an alternative identity that is contrary to the stereotyped images of that rejected category, finding others who share that alternative sexuality, and claiming goodness and pride in that alternative. The process continues as the person integrates that former “spoiled” identity, now “good” identity, into their understanding of themselves as whole people with several roles and identities.’

And they kept up the melting my brain by telling me about exactly what I did, put Miss Cleo out-of-business-you-psychic-fuckers, with this:

‘We argue that, for some people who feel that their BDSM sexuality is highly significant, they will need to go through a similar coming-out process. It may be necessary to guide and support kinky people as they “separate” and challenge the stigma, and it may be necessary to guide and support kinky people as they integrate a good, healthy BDSM identity as part of who they are as whole persons. BDSM social and educational groups, kinky art and literature, networks and channels of connecting in safe environments—all of these become important for everyone to support, as they enable and encourage the process of coming out for those people who identify their BDSM sexuality as central to their way of being in the world.’

You think you know yourself then some fuckers explain yourself to you.

There’s a whole section about disassociation that was really interesting, but I won’t read to you. I did learn a new word—alexithymia, it’s a condition where a person is unable to describe their feelings or put their emotional experiences into words.

Hi, hello, hi there.

Something else they say on more than one occasion is that BDSM is neutral—it’s neither good nor bad—it’s what people bring to it, which I think is true about many things. Religion is one of them. If you’re a miserable dickbasket then, it’s weird, but you’re probably going to wind up following the parts of whatever religion you find that says people unlike you are a bunch of useless sinners. Whereas, if you’re a generally upbeat person, somehow, you’ll wind up focusing on the parts of your specific religion that says we should all be nice and everyone can get along because we’re all brothers. And nearly every religious belief has both sides.

You get out of it what you put into it.

What they say about kink is this:

‘One of the main ideas we want to underscore is that BDSM is neutral. It can be used for healthy goals and motivations, or it can be expressions of suffering and dysfunction that can cause harm or prevent growth. Therefore, we can’t recommend that BDSM is an appropriate tool for personal growth for everyone, or for every situation.’

The book has several stories and fantasies from clients and they do indeed tell one couple that BDSM isn’t right for them. I would agree. Actually, I would have gagged both of them. They were horrible.

I love statistics, so here’s one for when you have to deal with a Judgerson who’s trying to save you from yourself. They’re just so gosh-darned helpful.

‘in 2005 there were about 152 deaths per 1 million people in the United States from motor vehicle accidents. That same year, there were almost 2 deaths per 1 million people from accidents involving autoerotic asphyxia, probably one of the more dangerous BDSM-like activities that we can get records on. This is equivalent to the rate of people killed by a fireworks mishap, and a little less than the rate of people dying from skydiving.

‘Involvement in adventurous activities like mountain climbing or skydiving, furthermore, are not classified as psychological disorders; involvement itself is not a symptom of any mental disease. Involvement in sexual adventures, however, can be classified as mental disorders, which underscores that the DSM is influenced by more than a psychological or scientific agenda. There are political, moral, religious, social, and legal influences, as well, in the assessment and diagnosis of mental illness.’

I know someone with a friend working on the DSM-V. There are some serious politics going on with that thing. I used to put so much faith in it because I love classifications, but holy hell. It’s such a product of its time and the bullshit happening behind the scenes.

The book briefly goes into particular types of BDSM like 24/7, age play, voyeurism and exhibitionism and others.

The 24/7 section was quite enlightening—it was clear the authors had a good understanding of the way the relationships worked. They called into question our culture’s assertion that individuality was more important than putting another person or a relationship first.

‘In order to maintain a power exchange, both parties make different but complementary promises. The promises are not the same, but their difference allows for the two people to maintain a polarity in power. By promising and committing to portray different roles, to be held to different standards for each other, but still promising to be steadfast and to place the other as important, the 24/7 vows are in some ways similar to vows from earlier times or from other cultures. These vows are in some ways noticeably different from the twenty-first-century Western vows that emphasize both partners making the same exact promises as signs of equality between independent, autonomous selves.’

I really enjoy the phrase ‘complementary promises’, because that’s exactly what a power exchange is. Two people whose role complement one another.

In the Age play section they say:

‘If we sound offhand about a serious topic, it’s because we write from a confusing cultural binary. Our society is alternately in states of sexual saturation and sexual denial. We face the same conundrum with age play and age-related discussions of sex, eroticism, and beauty. How can we deny or claim to not see the Eros in youthful beauty when we live in a culture and society that literally deifies it? We cannot worship it on one hand, and on the other hand pretend that it’s not really there to begin with. It’s illogical and crazy-making.’

Seriously, okay? What. The. Men. Said. Stop making everyone crazy, you big doofuses. You can start by acknowledging the fact that older women are attractive due to their wisdom and intelligence and put more of them in films and on television.

Preferably in pinstripe suits.

One of the authors, Richard Sprott, founded the Community Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities, which is a non-profit that aims to educate therapists for serving patients in the BDSM community. They say:

The project documents best practices for therapy, from the dual points of view of members of the Kink community and therapists with extensive experience with BDSM sexualities.

Which is how this book is geared—it can be read by both kinky people looking for a good therapist and therapists who want to know more about how to provide better service to the kink community. That’s probably why the tone is half academic half informal.

They still could have spelled come with an ‘o’, though.

The authors recommend the Kink Aware Professionals database, which is an excellent resource to help people find kink-friendly professionals of any sort. Support those who support us, is what I say.

There’s information for people seeking a therapist on signs your current therapist isn’t kink-friendly—that’s very helpful.

One note about the ebook version—some paragraphs were repeated. They’d be in their correct place, then roughly a page later they’d appear again. I’m guessing that wasn’t true for the print version, but it was a little jarring in terms of, ‘Well that doesn’t even make sense’. They may have fixed it by now—I purchased the book awhile ago because as soon as I saw it I went: yoink!

Is it worth $16 digitally? Some of the insights into why people are into various types of kinks were eye-opening and lots of other information was thought-provoking. Academic books take more work in terms of reading papers and referencing sources than fiction (I write fiction—don’t hate on me for saying that). If you’re looking for a therapist—or are a therapist you’ll probably get more out of it. What they’re trying to do is definitely worthy. You’ll have to make that decision for yourself. I wound up with 18 pages of kindle highlights and am certainly glad I read it.

I’ll give it a 4/5.

If someone were really interested in a crash course on BDSM I’d hand them Different Loving and this and smile really big.