Recently I’ve been involved in relaunching a kink group in my town. It has been . . . challenging to say the least. I’ve realized that in the sex blogging world, I always so easily gravitated to the people I had something in common with. It was never just sex but some sort of nerdiness about sexuality, a concern with feminism, an academic interest in kink. One of those things usually lined up and bam, new friend.
In the kink community, especially locally, it isn’t so easy. I don’t have a repository of writing to learn about someone from. Fet stalking can get you part of the way but only so far. And, as a leader in a group, at the end of the day I’m in interaction with people that I really don’t have much in common with. Some days I really struggle with it. I don’t always feel that enjoying hitting or being hit with similar objects is enough common ground to build a friendship on.
Has anyone else experienced this before? How do you handle it? Where are my nerds at?
I’ve been grappling with something over the past few months as I embark on a serious relationship with a woman for the first time. My femininity feels under fire by my own fucked up gender programming. The reality is that it doesn’t matter how much Judith Butler and Eve Sedgwick I read. It doesn’t matter that I have idols like Tristan Taormino, Lee Harrington, and Bear Bergman. It doesn’t matter that I love genderbenders and all level of gender fucking. I have some fucked up assumptions and ideas about sex and gender and sexuality that infect my ability to be as fearless as I want to be.
This is a confession of sorts but also a cry for help. I think about myself in reference to kink and sex and realize that I associate submission and service with being feminine. I associate beauty, weakness, and delicacy with being feminine. And I also realize that I am so terrified of being seen as anything other than feminine that I put up some strange defenses against this.
Case study A: Ariel
Ariel is my gorgeous girlfriend. She is beautiful and petite and has long flowing hair. She moves gracefully on high heels. She also has a powerful job in a male-dominated industry and changes car batteries and asserts herself aggressively in conversations. She looks high femme but has always thought of herself as butch. Still, when I touch her I sometimes feel huge, ham-fisted, rough, and all-together ugly. I know she longs for me and I fail her because I don’t know how to be. On the one hand, strapping on a pretty dildo and fucking her for hours sounds like pure bliss but I know that getting to that point will be full of second-guessing myself and my desires and my actions.
Am I being entirely heterosexist in my view of this sexual relationship? Abso-fucking-lutely! Because she is feminine, I feel masculine. (We won’t even get into the terrible fact that I associate masculinity [on myself!] with ugliness) I don’t want to feel this way. It isn’t enlightened, it isn’t sex positive. I wouldn’t teach it to my students. But it infects my reality and I don’t know how to deprogram it.
Case study B: Michael
[Note: This section has been edited for nuance. The lack it previously exhibited, though, is likely symptomatic of my issues with binary thinking.]
Michael is a petite man. We are the same height and I outweigh him significantly. When we first met I didn’t think the relationship would work because of this. I thought I would feel huge and be self-conscious and afraid. So I submitted myself to him. He felt like he was capable of being in charge and I let him be. Even if I couldn’t be delicate and small by comparison physically, I knew I could shrink myself mentally. It works out well that he has discovered enjoyment of beating me until I cry, pulling my hair, grabbing my throat. (Again we won’t get into how fucked up it is that my way of feeling feminine involves simulated victimization) Even when I am initiating sex with him, it feels like an act of service and devotion. He often gives me feedback on how to touch and where and when. I siddle up to him and slither a limb around his body. I kiss gently. The touches are a seduction and they are a worship and only in my most wanton and least self-conscious moments do I allow myself to be aggressive and take up space.
Taking up space
I haven’t really defined what this means to me just yet. You may have guessed some of it by now, though. I think of it in terms of physical space – my body is larger and I attempt to diminish that regularly. I also think of it terms of political space – my voice should be smaller, my needs should be less important, my desires should be locked away.
This might seem ridiculous to some of you that have met me or read this blog. Of course I take up space in terms of talking about sex. Here I am now with this presence on the internet. Blabbing, opining, discussing in detail, issuing edicts and judgments and ideas. But some of that strength leaves me when I’m making love to some of the people I adore most in the world.
I know that every relationship goes through growing pains and these are no exception, but this issue feels bigger and scarier and more about me being fucked in the head than any I have run into before. So, dear reader, tell me what you think. How do I get my theory to line up with my practice? How do I deschool myself of gender? How do I embrace femininity in a way that doesn’t make me need to masculinize others? How have you done it or how do you wish you could?
January – Jay and I started the year by celebrating our 2nd anniversary together. If you want to refresh on how we first met (and the aftermath of that) you’ll have to look back to January of 2006. We were in Thailand for half of this month and pretty depressed to back in the US again. So, you didn’t hear from me again until. . .
April – Where I attended Sex 2.0 and had a fire lit under me. I started a Twitter account, got involved with FetLife, and relaunched my podcast. I finally realized that I was part of a community and felt like I belonged.
May – I started reviewing products on my podcast and blog for VibeReview.
July – I had my first freelance work published in The Naughty American and dug up some old camwhore shots. I also experienced a bit of heartbreak, but it turned out a great piece of writing if I do say so myself. I also got tied up by Artemis and finally hooked up with Carmine who had previously only been known as “cross-dressing law student“. Finally, I began publishing the Musings on Masculinity series.
August – The biggest news and one of the happiest days of my last several years was telling my dad about my “secret identity”. I’m still basking in the joy of that moment as I remember it. Also in July, Jay and I got to know Hania much better.
September – I was named #5 on the list of the Top 100 Sex Bloggers of 2008 among started a bajillion other projects. We also went to Dark Odyssey Summer Camp which was a watershed event for me despite the fact that I haven’t talked about it too much. I also presented at the Fetish Fair Flea Market and got to meet Catalina and Marky for the first time.
October – The posts slowed down and the earth stopped moving because something remarkable happened. We met Ariel and Michael and fell in love and my feet still haven’t touched the ground. At first I could only express the feelings in music. But. . .
November - . . . soon I found more detailed words and images to express my thoughts. I captured the unique sadomasochistic relationship that Michael and I have developed as well as the experienced of being fucked by Ariel for the first time. And the sexy gave way to the mundanely profound as we found ourselves forming a type of family, broken hollondaise and all.
December – Ariel starts lending a hand with reviews and I think that the format suits this site. Jay and I also visited New York and saw tons of the friends that we met through the year. I also spent a sedate Birthday and Hanukkah at home with my new chosen family.
There are days when I crave his words more than his touch. Exhibit, a series of instant messages from Michael that left me gasping:
Fuck me until I cry.
Fuck me until I pass out and keep fucking me until you’re done.
Fuck me like I’ll die when you let go.
Fuck me until your name is a prayer on my tongue that I can’t articulate over my gasps.
Fuck me ragged until you scrape away the rough edges and mend my jaggedness like a river-washed stone.
Fuck me broken. Fuck me whole.
Fuck me until I forget my hangups, my catch-22 codes and the traps by which I condemn myself.
Fuck me until I remember that sex is good, love is straightforward and it is ok to just be held.
After he wrote all this, I observed that he never hesitates to turn casual conversation into poetry. He insisted that he didn’t know anything about having a casual conversation.
In literary studies there is a concept of writing “for the drawer”. It refers to writing that was done in a historical period or within a socio-political situation that did not allow for it to be published or even openly shared. Some of the greatest literary works produced in early Stalinist Russia were not published until 30-40 years after their initial inception.
People like Andrei Bely, Mikhael Bulgakov, and Anna Akhmatova had important things to say and vivid artistic expression that simply could not be expressed. Their ideas were not just unpopular, they were dangerous to the government. And, the simple knowledge of the existence of these writings would have been sufficient to cause them and their entire families to be imprisoned or killed. Writing for the drawer was a political reality and necessity.
People still write in this way today, but not for such dire reasons. The cloak of anonymity that most bloggers maintain is significant but sometimes even it isn’t sufficient. What if I told you that even on an anonymous blog, the community that exists is enough to cause some to self-censor?
If anonymous blogging is already writing for the drawer and this blog is a space for my most personal and difficult thoughts, then where do I write down the things that I can’t even say here? One solution is personal friendships. I have a friend that frequently sends me emails with pieces of writing and a subject line like, “I can’t blog this”. Sometimes he is correct. For social reasons or political ones or just “good taste”, he really can’t. Sometimes I convince him that he is wrong because I know his subject line is a challenge to both of us, of course he “can” blog it, but will he?
Me? I don’t even commit these dirtiest of thoughts to words in a publishable way. I may talk about them with friends or even allude to them on Twitter but the simple act of stringing words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs seems very risky and final to me. If I write and I don’t publish, I am admitting that the thoughts are unpublishable. And if I don’t publish the unpublishable, what am I doing here?
So, my challenge to myself and to every other reader, writer, and sexual being out there is to think about those controversial thoughts. The ones that are too provocative, too infuriating, too risky for even your anonymous self. If you’re brave, you’ll share them in the comments, if you’re braver you’ll commit it to posterity in some way.
I’ll be writing a series of posts that reveal these thoughts and ideas. They won’t be comfortable and they won’t be nice but they aren’t written in the spirit of burning bridges but rather in the hope of forging difficult and painful connections through honesty.
On this episode I interview Sinclair of Sugarbutch Chronicles. We discuss gender, butch/femme identity, bdsm, and erotic blogging. You’ll also be treated to an incredibly sexy piece of erotica read by Sinclair.
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Scarlet Lotus Sexgeek is a smarty-pants, sexy blogger who also runs one of my favorite groups on FetLife, BDSM Theory. I encourage you to join up and see the discussion, but the post also appears on her excellent blog. She writes:
Just because someone adopts the label of “queer,” for instance, or “slave” it does not mean that anyone else who inhabits these labels looks at all like this person. This queer slave could be male, female, transgendered, transsexual, masculine, feminine, genderqueer, etc. and may be a service slave, a sexual slave, a brat, part-time, 24/7, a pro slave, live-in, or some combination thereof. This person could have various fetishes such as humiliation, force, objectification, boots, heels, non-sexual service, rope bondage, metal bondage, pain, or anything else. This person in other aspects of life could be a CEO, an artist, an auto mechanic, a teacher, a writer, a sys admin, a starship captain, or anything else.
The labels we assign ourselves are the most accurate, personal, hard-fought, and precious. But they are also those that can be co-opted by outsiders and twisted against us in painful ways. I avoid complex labels for these reasons. But at the same time, I find myself with them. Student, teacher, slut, sex worker, woman, femme, bisexual, kinky, fetishist, pervert, whore. Those are all words I’ve used to describe myself in the past and even in the present. But they also, as Scarlet Lotus points out, don’t fully define me.
This isn’t a post where I’m going to say, “Oh! I am so much more than my sex, don’t reduce me!” That is too simple. And sometimes it seems that my days are consumed by sex, thinking about it, writing about it, doing it. Ironically, I am not sure I have much more sex than most other people. Sometimes it seems like a non-stop flow and sometimes it feels quite conventional. I wonder sometimes if people read this website, and see how I label myself and expect me always to be fucking. Clearly I update Twitter too often for that to be true. . .
So, I want you to step up and label yourself for me. Tell me *what* (not who) you are and then tell me what that means or doesn’t mean. Of course we all move beyond our labels but tell me how you embrace yours.
I am so pleased with the connections I have made and ideas that are arising as a result of this post. To get a full feel for what I am trying to get at, please read the comments thread as well as the post. My half-baked ideas are starting to form down there because the original post was written without editing and without structure.
It is official. The connection I find between knowledge/schooling and sex moves beyond the theoretical and beyond the fact that I want to fuck my professors.
My notes scribbled inside The History of Sexuality Volume 1 could be for a future paper and they could be for this blog and I’m not sure which venue is appropriate anymore. I’m not sure that my identity as a potential scholar is at all divorced from my identity here. Each day that identity gets more fluid. I tell one more person that I am a phone slut for hire or that I am polyamorous or that I am kinky or that I own sex toys or any number of other details that are starting to feel mundane.
This evening I went to a Foucault reading group. It was 6 graduate students plus Jack, a professor in my department. I refer to him now by the name I gave him in a piece of fiction I wrote 3 years ago (and by “fiction” I mean “daydream committed to blog“). That piece was written near the beginning of my graduate studies (and at the beginning of this blog) but I have known Jack since I was an undergraduate. I don’t kid myself that I have come full circle in some way, but over 3 years of documenting my feelings and thoughts about sex must mean something.
The nature of blogging is that it busts up our ideas about narrative, there often isn’t a clear story or arc of reasoning. Especially in the world of personal blogs, the evolution of emotions and ideas is what carries the real narrative quality. With each post I write I know that it will reach the readers that have read every word I have ever published here (a *very* small group) as well as those that stumble upon it in isolation of what comes before and what comes after. They may see it 5 minutes after I write or 5 years but it stands on its own in a way that it absolutely cannot. That is my cross to bear of course, but sometimes it makes the writing unbearable and impossible. An impenetrable wall of hyperlinks, exposition, caveats, and insecurity. But I still write.
This isn’t an essay about what compels me but this is rather a story about how I am longing to set myself free from this anonymity. It sounds like a contradiction, right? Anonymity is supposed to bestow my freedom on me, allow me to say and be the things that I never could be in the rest of the world. But what if I want to be those things out in the open, proudly, and productively. What then of my ubiquitous “head shot” that features my arm flung over my face? Where my body is capsized, the emphasis of my being not on my eyes but on my mouth and my tits. Am I just a mouth and tits? I have a voice and I have a sexuality (or at least desireable curves) but I can’t be seen and perhaps I can’t see out. Perhaps you didn’t come here for a deconstructive analysis of my own dirty photos. Perhaps you are the reader I cited above and (if you are even still reading) you are thinking “what is this chick on? what can I get off to? isn’t this supposed to be a sex blog?”
I know that risk. I know that being a sex worker I have this privilege of being myself that I can only exercise to a certain degree. I do have to be always on, always willing to serve, I do have to present an image of myself that is both real and hyper-real at the same time. Am I horny? Generally, yes. This moment, of course. With you, absolutely. That is my mantra and it reflects who I am to a degree. It also determines me. Is it a fabrication if I have *become* what I strove to represent myself as?
So I was talking about Jack and the Foucault group. I sat with a group of my peers today and I talked about Foucault. Simple enough, something that graduate students do. But it felt like I had so much more at stake. Every fiber of my being was screaming to really dig into the implications of these ideas. What about sex workers? What about BDSM? What about bisexuality? What about a million other predilections/perversions that are all around us but I may not be personally invested in?
But we talked about power. And there is nothing wrong with that, it is the guiding idea in Foucault’s work and it is crucial to understanding what he says about sexuality and sexual identity/orientation. But I craved something else, an honesty that would shock and impress and be productive. I wanted to share knowledge, an ars erotica, with my peers but instead I operated in my usual capacity. I listened to Jack, I nodded my head, and occasionally I re-phrased what he said in order to make sure I understood it. He agreed and all was well but my insides were screaming and my mind was racing with ideas and questions that were both on the tip of my tongue and impossible to articulate.
So, I’m left in this chasm between my academic authority and the authenticity of my experience. Neither is represented here or there and I feel incomplete.
I know this post went in a million different directions and there are more still streaming around in my mind. What would Foucault say about this? Why do I even care what Foucault would say about this? Really, it is an absurd and laughable question but I still find myself clinging to it.
Oh, and happy fucking Half-Naked Thursday, here is a picture of my ass splattered with come. It was taken with Jay’s camera phone after he fucked me during a call with a client. Posting this feels so mundane.