Unpopular Opinion: Satire Should Punch Up. Charlie Hebdo Did Not.

Part 2 here!

ETA: Here's a bunch of articles that have come out since I wrote this piece that I concur with, so some of your vitriolic comments can be spread out to all of us at once:

On Satire – a response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks
Trolls and Martyrdom: Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie
Charlie Hebdo: Understanding is the least we owe the dead
Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie: On The Charlie Hebdo Massacre And Duelling Extremisms
Charlie Hebdo: This Attack Was Nothing To Do With Free Speech — It Was About War
Charlie Hebdo Is Heroic and Racist (I disagree with heroic but I understand what they're getting at)
No, we’re not all Charlie Hebdo, nor should we be

So, I'm generally pretty anti-censorship. I mean fuck, I just worked on a porn where we gently poked fun at the new British porn content laws by enacting all of them in a playful, consensual space. I am a big fan of art, and using humour to hopefully make people think and change their minds.

That said, I do not believe that racist, homophobic language is satire. I think it's abusive, and I think it punches down, harshly and often. And that was exactly what sold magazines for Charlie Hebdo.

France is kinda known for racism, particularly against Muslim folks, so I find it difficult to treat a magazine where that's their primary "hook" to not be a reflection of widespread racist, xenophobic attitudes. I couldn't believe it when I found myself agreeing with the Catholic League on anything, but yeah- Muslims have a right to be angry.

"Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.” Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him." - Bill from the Catholic League

Reminder, folks- there is no such thing as "just a joke". Humour impacts how people treat others, especially marginalized people. From that humour study I feel I quote all the time:

“By making light of the expression of prejudice, disparagement humor communicates a message of tacit approval or tolerance of discrimination against members of the targeted group. Our theory proposes that the recipient must accept the disparagement humor for a shared norm of tolerance of discrimination to actually emerge. Furthermore, our research suggests that people high in prejudice are more likely to accept disparagement humor and thus perceive a norm of tolerance of discrimination in the immediate context. Finally, people high in prejudice are likely to use the activated normative standard as a source of self-regulation, or a guide for interpreting discriminatory events encountered in that context.”

Additionally I'm really struggling with this expectation of freedom of speech not being related to "freedom from the government prosecuting you". Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from consequences, after all. And supporting a massively racist magazine's freedom to incite hatred seems pretty fucked up. You can't look at the shit Charlie Hebdo printed, making fun of raped girls as welfare check grabbers, or depicting black women as monkeys, and tell me that it's "just a joke" and they were fucking martyrs of free speech, here. I hate how many people are saying "terrorists can't kill an idea"- an idea like sexism, racism, rape culture, and xenophobia. Thank goodness those ideas can live on! Phew! Otherwise what's a journalist to do?!?!?!

I don't think that shooting up the Charlie Hebdo office was ethically Right with a capital R, ok? But I do think it's understandable (and I'm not alone). I think that after extended periods of police violence, if a protester attacks a cop, that's pretty understandable too. Do I think that's the best way to go about things? Not really, but I think to pretend that people being abused by people in power should just turn the other cheek or as those people in power to stop abusing them is the best method is fucking absurd. THAT DIDN'T EVEN WORK FOR JESUS.


Saying that I understand why a culture that is being systematically and individually mistreated and ignored by the privileged in power may eventually spawn some folks who resort to violence doesn't mean I condone that violence! It means I can see why decades of hurt, fear, and institutionalized abuse may lead to a violent reaction. Understanding is not supporting, it simply means I can connect the dots. Can you not?!?

What I find incredibly disappointing is that on my social media, I see a bunch of white people "standing up" for the "bravery" of a racist magazine to incite hatred against people of colour. I have seen next to nothing about the bombing of the NAACP by a white man on our own soil. I see anti-Muslim protests being started in Europe, and people calling for the genocide of Muslims on Twitter, but very little attention to the number of Muslims who condemned the violence.

It just makes me think about what gets justified under "freedom of speech"- Porn WikiLeaks outing sex workers legal names putting them at serious risk, or Gamergators doxxing women and threatening to rape and murder them, often graphically, or radical feminists claiming trans women are all rapists.

Is that really the hill you want to die on?


It makes me sick to think that the people working for Charlie Hebdo got exactly what they wanted- the public riled up into violence against Muslims.


Categories: activism, angry, censorship, politics, racism


Welcoming in 2015

When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. In order to combat depression and take some of the energy out of my mania, over the years I learned the coping strategy of working and playing hard. Being busy was my main way to keep myself from sinking into despair and enforced focus helped my mind stabilize... or so I thought. But I was ultimately kind of miserable, exhausted much of the time, feeling overworked and way underappreciated. I spent a lot of time wanting off this planet, because I couldn't think of any other way to chill the fuck out.

Then I had a mental breakdown, spurred on by an abusive partner and a feeling of isolation in the Bay. I felt completely alienated, my closest friend at the time wanted to call the cops on me which was terrifying, and I felt like my body was this horrible fat skin suit I couldn't escape, that was smothering me. I felt weighed down in every way.

And then I was diagnosed with severe anxiety instead of bipolar, instead of borderline, instead of all the other misdiagnoses I had been medicated for. I read about how it manifested, how it felt in the body, and immediately recognized myself. I began to realize why I felt so trapped- I wasn't suicidal because I was depressed, but because I was just so tired. So slowly, I began to reel back on social commitments, on presentations, on traveling. And I began to actually feel... *happy*.

It's still an ongoing process. I'm still a workaholic who struggles with patterns of procrastination and panic. But it's been over a year since I've been depressed or suicidal, and I think that focusing my energy on self care over "productivity" has both increased that productivity and made me a more stable person.

So my goals for 2015 continue those better habits, allowing me to be gentle with myself.

Give up FOMO

Fear Of Missing Out is a severe Bay Area twinge, and it's one that can be contagious. I used to try to make it to several events a week because I didn't want to be disappointed by the stories and photos from various events. Everything required a different costume, and it just all took so much effort. I got to a point where I dreaded going out, and costuming was a chore. "Parties are supposed to be FUN" I'd grumble as I pulled on stockings and put my face on. But they weren't fun anymore.

This is more of an ongoing goal rather than a new one, but I want to continue to make decisions that leave me feeling happy, rested, and comfortable, rather than pushing myself to be at this big event or that performance because I just can't miss it. I can miss it. I've missed a lot of things, and that is a-ok. I'd rather be mentally stable than at All The Things. I missed Dickens Faire, and several Kinky Salons, gaming conferences, karaoke outings, craft days, all sorts of things. But when I did go, it was to things I wanted to be at. And that was worth it.

Accept my introversion 

It's a big misconception a lot of people have that because I am relatively skilled at overcoming my increasing introversion, I'm actually an extrovert. Nope. Actually big groups of people are increasingly draining for me, and increase my social anxiety (and, more often than not, my drinking). I have to admit to myself that I am not typically invigorated by large group things, but by small, quiet things where I can get to know people.

If you're reading this, know that I am almost always completely having a mild panic attack at large parties, ESPECIALLY sex parties. If I'm not talking to you, it's because I'm trying not to hyperventilate. If you like seeing me at these things, make it easier for me by coming up to me and talking to me? I am genuinely more intimidated by any and all of you than you are of me. Promise.

Allow myself to feel safe

Sort of to go with the above, I have a tendency to want to "challenge myself" and make myself grow. In theory that's an awesome thing! Sometimes, though, that just means that I put myself in situations that actually feel emotionally unsafe. Instead of growing from these experiences, I just tend to feel sad afterwards.

I did some things this year that were scary- admitting I was in love when the other person was not in a space to meet me there, having some intense discussions with my parents, writing pieces that were potentially going to get me streams of harassment. While they were scary, though, they were also things I felt needed to happen.

On the other hand, I don't need to keep charging into situations where I feel disgusting, invisible, or like a lover's baggage- it doesn't help me evolve, it just makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm going to do a lot better about checking in with myself around these situations, and asking myself- is this scary-exciting? Or scary-traumatizing?

Learn it's ok to say "no"

And, to go along with that- if it feels like it's going to be more hurtful than helpful, or if it involves being around people who haven't reached out to me in the past... it's ok for me to say "no". It's ok to say "no" when something is important to me and I'm being asked to rearrange it. I feel like I'm pretty generous with my "yes", but on reflection I think I've also not said "no" when I maybe should have.

It hasn't done any severe damage this year, the stakes weren't high or anything... but I think I say yes as a knee-jerk thing, because I want to please people, because I don't want to be rejected or left for saying no too often. I want to reflect thoroughly on consent, and personal pressure, and social pressure, and how these all intersect this year, as I learn to say "no". Yes, that has consequences, and it may not always mean I get what I'm hoping for- but "yes" also has consequences when my gut or heart isn't in it. People will still like me!

Trust my sexual appeal

I've decided 2015 is the year I step up my porn performances a notch. I've always been relatively flexible, but while that's translated to the sex I have offscreen, I've tended to be a pillow princess in the stuff I shoot. No longer! Rather than always highlighting my costar by being a rag doll, I'm going to shine my own light. I've tended to feel people aren't that interested in my body, or how I fuck, and that's just not true. So I'm going to start wearing more femme heels, trying some new positions, and... well, opening myself up to being desirable. No more hiding.

Additionally, 2014 was the year my libido raged back into action. I want to try new things, explore new places, and do those new things in the new places. I want to maybe do anal play with a lover again. I want to shoot a creampie porn. I want to be fucked by two men who are also making out and maybe fucking each other. I want to have my face pushed down into the dirt while I'm fucked from behind, overwhelmed with feral screaming because no one can hear us. I want to fuck in a damn train already. I feel like I'm finally starting to accept that my partners really do desire my body, and while I still definitely sometimes feel ignored as a sexual being when at sexually charged spaces, I'm going to practice letting that go.

Those people don't know what I can do with my cunt muscles.

Trust myself as an artist

I've always said I'm not an artist. I mean, some consider writing an art, and I suppose it is, though I'm not terribly good at it and almost everything I write is nonfiction. I'm terrible at creative endeavors- I'm not able to craft a pattern from my mind's eye, or play with a recipe to make something better, or turn a piece of paper into art. I can do some simple crafts, but the more I can follow someone else's pattern, the better for me.

But this year, I rediscovered my love of photography, and I've found that I might have a talent for directing. Working at TROUBLEfilms has got my creative juices flowing (gushing, so to speak) and I'm starting to feel... inspired. Excited to create. It's a situation where what I have in my head can be enacted in front of me in a way I find deeply satisfying. I'm starting to realize I might actually have a good eye for this, and it's kind of awesome!

So this year, I'm going to let myself pursue art a little more. Learn more about light, and relearn all my old camera skills. I'm going to shoot many many nudes- maybe I'll even restart my Andro Aperture Project! And maybe I'll get lucky and someone will gift me a light kit for my birthday...

Take care of my body

I've been so overwhelmed with paying bills and repaying credit cards that I haven't been to the dentist in 2 years, and I rarely go to the doctor unless I'm worried about something and can't ignore it anymore. It's going to be a rough few months ahead, as P just lost his job again, and I'm back to being the primary breadwinner... but I need to make sure that I have enough money to take care of myself. I've started getting massages every other week, which is finally starting to work out the pain in my lower back that's also been affecting my left knee (I have a suspected ACL tear that's made some activities really difficult).

Will I be able to quit smoking, or quit drinking soda? I don't know, tbh. Maybe. But rather than push that on myself, I'm going to try to be mindful of not smoking when my throat hurts, and switching out soda for sparkling water or homemade iced tea. I'm going to stretch more, walk around more during long days of writing, and keep adding veggies and water into my diet. If I get back into Wii Fit? Cool! If I find a good fat friendly yoga studio near me? Awesome! But if not, I'm going to just keep up the better trends I have, and trust that my body will tell me what it needs.

How about you? What're your goals? What goals did you accomplish last year? 

Categories: blog, boundaries, communication, community, fake it til you make it, fat is fit, female sexuality, growth, identity, love, mistakes were made, parties, personal, resolutions, stigma, sweeties


Punching Up: the CAH Conundrum

I've been sitting on this post for a little while as I sorted through my thoughts about humour that brands itself as offensive, especially after reading this piece on Daily Dot.

I am regularly called an uptight bitch, a humourless feminist killjoy, overly sensitive, etc etc etc because I don't find jokes that punch down to be funny, and ok, fine, whatever, I can live with that. I don't watch South Park. I don't laugh at Family Guy. I find poop jokes boring and always have. I don't watch stand up comedy, or most sitcoms.

But I do play Cards Against Humanity. And it's something I have sat uncomfortably with, often, as I consider it definitely a Problematic Thing that I like. I don't think I'm a horrible person, but I think that CAH has taught me how much of an influence humour that punches down has on groups of otherwise pretty social justice-y, politically conscious folks. And it's certainly taught me how little people like being told their sense of humour is both lazy and cruel.

There's a number of people who no longer play the game (and understandably so) because there's a lot of cards that require racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, etc for the "punchline". It annoys me that there's a belief that these jokes don't have a wider cultural impact, or are not a reflection of problematic power structures.

Look, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but no, Cards Against Humanity does NOT make fun of people equally. In order to illustrate the point, I wanted to give you a general count of cards that are pretty explicitly about people with privilege (white, wealthy, straight) vs marginalized people (POC, people with disabilities/chronic illness, rape victims, fat folks, poor folks, queer folks). 

 I have 848 white cards or so. I counted these being somewhat generous to the game, as some really do depend on context to punch down. These ones do not.

Out of that, there were about 21 punch up by explicitly mentioning privileged people (and that's a mixture of all references to white people, wealth, being straight). 

There were 43 where the punchline was about race. 3 about Jewish people, 3 about Hispanic people, 4 about Middle Eastern people, 4 about Native Americans, 7 about Asian people, and *16* about Black people. 

There were 11 about rape.  There were 16 making fun of people with disabilities, STIS, or chronic illness. There were 9 using LGBT people as punchlines, with 3 being specifically about gender. 5 were about insulting fat people. 5 joke about classism. And I didn't count the "chunks of a dead prostitute" card as I burned it.

That means that ultimately while there's 21 cards that seek to punch up, there's 90 that actively and gleefully punch down.   

Arthur Chu addresses this in a piece for the Daily Beast-

"Every time I play “Surprise sex” as a punchline in Cards Against Humanity I have no way of actually knowing why anyone in particular is laughing. I have no way of knowing if I’m making a rape joke with an actual rapist. But if I play enough pickup games of Cards Against Humanity, someday eventually I will. Hell, even if I only ever play with close friends that I trust, that’s no guarantee—I really, really don’t want to think any of my friends are rapists, but how would I know?

Just like I want to believe that we’re all laughing at jokes about “black people” or “The Third World” purely because they’re horrible and not because some tiny part of us enjoys the schadenfreude of being able to make the joke and not be the one joked about. I want to believe games that devolve into crudely insulting each other based on our sore spots are truly meant “in fun” and not a socially approved way to get away with bullying. I want to believe everyone’s motives are pure, even though I honestly don’t even know that about my own motives.

I want to believe that I can have absolute confidence that neither I nor any other people around me are horrible. Cards Against Humanity is built on that wishful thinking."

I absolutely agree with this. I think it's vital to remember that humour does actually have an impact in how we respond to real life situations. There is no such thing as "just a joke", especially when that joke depends on stereotypes. I'm constantly referring to this study by Thomas E. Ford and Mark A. Ferguson, on the social consequences of disparagement humour. Here's a part of the conclusion:

"By making light of the expression of prejudice, disparagement humor communicates a message of tacit approval or tolerance of discrimination against members of the targeted group. Our theory proposes that the recipient must accept the disparagement humor for a shared norm of tolerance of discrimination to actually emerge. Furthermore, our research suggests that people high in prejudice are more likely to accept disparagement humor and thus perceive a norm of tolerance of discrimination in the immediate context. Finally, people high in prejudice are likely to use the activated normative standard as a source of self-regulation, or a guide for interpreting discriminatory events encountered in that context."

But that's not all. There's also people who don't play because of Max's rape accusation and following behaviour, and that also really needs to be addressed.

Max Temkin, the game's creator, was accused of rape and dealt with it pretty poorly- he deserves to be held accountable for that. I absolutely support that accusation and his response having real life consequences, as it did when he ended up not appearing at XOXO.

Culturally we have taught people there are two ways to deal with accusations- ignoring it or total ostracization, which hasn't made people any safer, at least in my experience with the BDSM community and Consent Culture. I think ongoing education and actions to demonstrate what you've learned while not silencing the initial accusation in any way, but rather using it to check in with yourself and reflect, is more effective.

Can I be brutally honest? Most people you and I know have violated consent in their lives. You have probably done it. I have, I've even written about it. That absolutely doesn't mean that it's ok, or something to be ignored, but I also think that if you really think you can 100% avoid being complicit with rape culture more power to you because you must be a goddamned saint. It's about confronting abusive behaviours, yes, but it's also about how you deal with being held accountable for your fuckups.

What accountability would I like to see? I think apologizing is a good start, and not in a "sorry you feel that way" sort of way. I think he still needs to write a piece that indicates his understanding of how rare false rape accusations are, that college nonconsent stats are incredibly high and that college aged men don't always identify rape as rape because the interaction wasn't violent. I think he needs to call out people reposting his statement as proof women are lying bitches. I think vulnerability is required, not defensiveness.

I feel very strongly that nonconsent is a massive, ongoing, difficult to get a hold of issue that requires multiple responses- including, but not exclusively, banishment. Fundamentally, above all, I believe in holding people accountable. I think shutting down conversation has not helped people who were raped in BDSM community, but ongoing discussion HAS created a better dialogue about the issue. And I think that as aggravating as it is sometimes, internet activism has been pretty damn good at holding people accountable and raising awareness at how widespread of an issue this is.

I appreciate what Patricia Hernandez said on Kotaku:

"Consent is not about being perfect, not to me at least. Yes, consent teaches you the importance of asking for permission and making sure you don't cross any boundaries, but it also teaches you the importance of being honest about where you fall short. Consent exists not just as something that should be used to get the green light for a hook-up, but as a mode of thinking about and processing experiences you've had in the past.

Temkin almost gets there: he presents the idea that maybe the woman read the situation differently than he did. But you have to remember the context is how the accusation is "patently false." It happened a long while ago. He broke up with her. Maybe this hurt her feelings. Maybeshe read it wrong.

Temkin sets an example for the community, but he's not willing to really contemplate the possibility he might've messed up, nor does he do much to further a crucial conversation about consent that everyone should think about. And when Temkin is one of the minds behind a hugely popular game, and has gained profile as "one of the good guys" who supports progressive organizations and people, this is a problem.

I don't expect everyone to get consent right all the time. But having better conversations about consent—and being willing to admit the possibility of past mistakes—would be a start."

It's all so contrary to the behaviour of the game company in other ways. I support their hilarious protests of Black Friday, whether it's sending out actual bullshit, or raising their prices. And yes, they have also *removed* a number of cards from print. After being called out about cards like "date rape", "passable transvestites, and "chunks of a dead prostitute", those cards have been removed. CAH helped fund queer gaming convention GaymerX, who called out Penny Arcade about their "dickwolves" bullshit, and Max has apparently been quietly funding trans women making games (and me, as of this month).

But then, you can have great behaviour in some ways and fucked up in others, right? Because humans are messy.

I was talking to J about this and she proposed that perhaps CAH were trying to work on their ethical carbon footprint. I'm not sure about that, but I feel kind of irritated when marginalized people are being finger-wagged at for taking money from a problematic source because of ethics... that money is helping people make rent and eat food. Unless you're volunteering to take the place of that financial source, I think it's worth considering how we all are complicit in rape culture, patriarchy, capitalism, racism, and many other things. It's a valid critique, sure, but I absolutely will take money to fund consent writing from someone who may have sexually assaulted someone. In fact I wish that was a thing, that people working on consent were funded by people who violated it as a way to help encourage education and more work on the topic rather than survivors always ending up footing the bill. I think that's part of being responsible.

I also think its possible to play the game with people also interested in punching UP, not down. People tend to say if you took out the offensive cards it'd be 20%, 30%, 50% of the deck. Well, having now gone through and counted, I have to say removing 90 out of 843 does not seem to be that significant. I think you can still manage to have a fun game without actively engaging in bigotry. Yes, I think that CAH should get rid of more of those cards (especially all the ones that are about Black people, are you serious, CAH?), though I've also seen some of them (like the sexist cards) be played intelligently as a way to still punch up.

For me, CAH can provide a vent for my anger at institutionalized oppression, because I play with people who also prioritize that and who are open to being called out if they hurt someone's feelings. Personally, I learn a *lot* about people by how they handle various cards, and yes, I socially pull away from people who find "big black dick" jokes hilarious. I have yet to meet someone who can tell me, a sex worker, a joke using "chunks of a dead prostitute" in a way I laugh at. And I appreciated Max apologizing to me for that card, and acknowledging that between 8 people, it sometimes takes time for compassion and an intersectional awareness to really sink in.

And I think that's really the crux of the matter. If, when people say "this game relies on some fucked up, not funny shit", your response is "CENSORSHIP!!! YOU'LL NEVER TAKE MY RACIST RAPE JOKES!" and not "man, I definitely don't want to hurt someone's feelings, or laugh at an experience of trauma I don't know about, especially when I don't know who might be triggered by what!", you're not pretending to be a horrible person. You ARE a horrible person, and selfish to boot.

It's not hard, or impossible, to make CAH something people can enjoy playing. Isn't that what party games are for? And I think the onus of that is on the creators of the game AND the consumers of it.

Quick reminder that Ladies Against Humanity is a great tumblr, and where I took these various images from.  I plan to use some of their suggestions for my blanks!

Categories: activism, ah youth, best of, capitalism, censorship, communication, consent, feminism, games, male privilege, mistakes were made, personal, politics, pop culture, racism, rape culture, sex work is work, snark


How to Have a Jolly Poly Christmas

It's December 28th, which means that Christmas is over and I have survived it yet again. Hooray!

I'm half joking but seriously, holidays are rough. There's a desire for everything to be perfect, for people to feel comfortable and happy, to manage food and drinks and emotions and social awkwardness while smiling and not chugging too much mulled wine.

For me I really wanted to put together a Christmas dinner that could embrace my various groups of friends who didn't have a place to go for the holidays, and also balance that with spending one of my favourite holidays with all my lovers.

Can I be honest? I probably should've picked one goal or the other. So learn from my experience, folks- especially if you're socially anxious, trying to be on top of multiple human-wrangling activities at once is a bad idea.

Don't get me wrong- in many ways I had an amazing holiday! J saved me from kitchen duties and cooked like a demon with help from P, and N was there to pet my head when I got overwhelmed. Opening presents all together was lovely, too, while we drank eggnog and listened to records. Granted I also felt like I was going to burst into half happy, half exhausted tears.

However, I learned some stuff from this:

-It's tempting to start the day out drinking eggnog with brandy.  DON'T DO IT. You won't be able to really eat properly, and you'll be drunk before you're done shoveling wrapping paper into bags. Also, too much eggnog means a lessened enjoyment of cookies.

-Assign a person to be in charge of each important thing. Have a kitchen coordinator if a potluck, who knows when to send people into the kitchen to make food and when they need to be busying themselves elsewhere. Have someone in charge of table setting and decor. Have someone in charge of refreshing appetizers and drinks.

-I don't know about other folks, but I felt that I actually didn't spend all that much time snuggling and kissing my lovers, which was kind of the point of the thing for me in the first place!  So, figure out what your goal is for Christmas (a family feast? intimate time? playing games?) and keep that a major part of your game plan. Additionally? Communicate that to the others. If you need 10 min of one on one time with them, let them know and make sure it happens.

-Figure out a cap of people you can work with and stick to it.  I had so much fun with all the folks that came but I also ran out of spoons more quickly than expected because of it. Additionally, I think if I'm honest, it was hard to pay attention to the needs of my sweethearts, the needs of people I don't know that well, the needs of my partner's family, and my own needs. It's ok to limit things to manageable levels!

-The host cannot be the kitchen manager. In fact, the host should just host- make sure they know everyone, introduce people around, encourage game playing, that sort of thing. And have things to do- play casual games early on to help break the ice and get everyone interacting.

-Have a poly decompression moment with just the cabal. I got to do this with two of my lovers that night, cuddled in bed, and with the other the next morning... and it was so incredibly helpful for me. It prevented me getting headweasels about the evening and helped me let go of things I was having a rough time with.

-EAT PROPER FOOD AND STAY HYDRATED. Have cut fruit and veg out because otherwise people including you are going to crash very early because of the sugar/booze combo. Have a pitcher of water out to encourage people to drink it. You can even put some citrus in it.

-Let go. It's ok if not everything is as you expected it to be. People will have fun, be happy to be fed, and will help clean up! Sure, you may not get to the rosemary popovers, but no one is going to miss them in the pile of other stuff. And if you need to whine or cry to help you decompress? That is ok too. Make sure to have space for it!

Those are some of my tips for a jolly poly holiday- what about you? What have you learned? What makes it easy or difficult?  Do your lovers/metamours hang out, and how do you manage that?

Categories: advice, family, growth, holidays, love, love is a dog from hell, nonmonogamy, parties, personal, sweeties


Top 10 PurrVersatility Posts Published in 2014

2014 was, for me, mainly a year of writing about sex workers and business resource access. While only two of those posts were big on my blog, other places I wrote about payment processors, Bitcoin, Facebook censorship and crowdfunding really got a lot of attention this year. It was pretty serious, with a focus on politics and less on self, which I think maybe I got energy for because I used this blog less to process than in previous years.

That said, things you want to hear more from me according to Survey Monkey is about fat politics, nonmonogamy, sex community critique, personal experiences, and smutty sexy photos.

OK YOU GUYS I HEAR YOU and I plan to write about what I learned from Poly Cabal Christmas, why I still play Cards Against Humanity (despite burning cards), tales from the metamour trenches, and reviewing "The Passions of Carol", a 1975 Christmas Carol parody porn that was pretty dreadful tbh.

Here were the top posts published here in 2014!

Kitty Stryker's Illustrated Guide to Dick Selfies - how to take a picture of your junk in a way that's consensual, sexy, and aesthetic, with lots of photos to illustrate

Not Waving but Drowning: How WePay Failed Eden Alexander - a post about payment processors and how stigma prevents porn performers and other sex workers from having resources

Fatphobia: A Guide for the Disbeliever - I wrote this piece in response to the number of articles discussing how fatphobia isn't real- welp, here's a blog full of links underlining that it very much is

Facebook Will Ignore Your Bully, Then Ban You - several members of the queer porn community had a serial harasser trying to shut down our accounts, and Facebook ignored our requests for help

Review: Not the Wizard of Oz XXX - on a lighter note, I reviewed the musical parody porn "Not the Wizard of Oz XXX" and found it surprisingly good

Paypal Strongarms Patreon to Deny "Adult" Content Creators Funding - Patreon, who is the reason why my writing is sustainable, got harassed by Paypal for content like mine... and Patreon worked out a way to keep us getting paid

"Radical Self Reliance" is Killing People - a blog calling for some truth around "meritocracy", bootstrapping, and other terms prioritizing individualism over awareness of privilege and access

The Sexy Side of Wholesome - a post about how sometimes the hottest thing in the world is to have intimate sex with someone you love, and that's ok too

50 Shades of Fucked Up- How BDSM in Film Fails Everyone - wrote about how while 50 Shades gets a lot of (deserved) shit for its abusiveness, classism, and sexism, it's not alone in that by far, and we need to examine that

Within & Against- Empowered Porn and Capitalist Patriarchy - finally, I wrote this at the beginning of the year in my desire to discuss how, while I don't think porn is inherently problematic, it's important to have an intersectional awareness of the various ways it perpetuates/signal boosts/underlines shitty attitudes

Also I wanna send some love to the first porn I directed on my own, which is up for free on Queer Porn Tube and features fisting! I was so happy with how it turned out and it was really fun working with a lover.

I think that's a pretty decent year of posts, covering a variety of topics and styles!

Thank you so much, patrons, for helping me create content like this, for helping me gain confidence in my skills.

Your trust and funding has helped me get the attention to speak at conferences, to be asked to write for places like Fleshbot and the Guardian, to be a top sex blogger for 2014!  You literally give me life. <3

(also I just TOTALLY realized this banner is misspelled, trolololololol)

Categories: best of, capitalism, causes, community, fantasy, fat is fit, fuck you facebook, love, porn, reflection, review, sex, sex bloggers, sex work is work, sweeties, why I do what I do


2014 In Review

I didn't really write a list of resolutions as such last year, choosing instead to look back on the last 10 years of my online life to see what trends there were in my goals and what I still struggle with.

I decided I wanted to be a writer, and I certainly followed through with that, between writing for the Frisky, the Guardian, the Daily Dot, Fleshbot, and of course, Patreon.

I decided I didn't want to spend most of my year traveling, and chose instead to have more weekends away with lovers and close to home rather than cross country trips to present for free. Because of that I had more energy to spend with my sweeties.

I went from struggling to buy groceries and barely making rent to sustainability, even able to buy a car to commute to TROUBLEfilms and a new laptop to edit video on.

I struggled with meeting new people, so I made more of an effort to spend time with people in smaller groups, or one on one. This has totally been the year of giving up the Fear Of Missing Out, instead reveling in the smaller intimate moments.

I met my lovers' lovers. Most of them, anyway. And it was both incredibly scary and completely soothing, sometimes at the same time. They have been kind, compassionate, friendly, (at least to my face). I've also come to expect that we don't need to be close friends, and pushing myself to envelop metamours as friends just because we're fucking the same person can make things messy and stressful. I've learned how to hold space for other relationships without demanding attention or backing off entirely.

I've found myself having flashes of jealousy over their talent, their bodies, their ease at moving through the world, their opportunities, the attention my lovers give them... yet when sitting with that jealousy, I challenged myself to say yes, to explore my discomfort, to ask for reassurance when I needed it, and I got everything I needed. I let myself be vulnerable, and honest.

When I fell in love, I could honestly say that I was happy being in love with or without the other person, as long as they knew... and I meant it. Not trying to control other people or micromanage my own feelings really helped me sit with how I felt in a much more stable way.

I decided I didn't want to settle for relationships that didn't nurture me, whether in real life or online. I started blocking people who were more invested in playing "devil's advocate" than evolving their compassion or understanding. I stopped asking people to hang out who never followed up.

I said in the beginning of 2014, "I’ve written about community, and how I feel that what makes a community are people who share some standards of behaviour, who mutually care for each other, who share accountability and responsibility to each other. I think 2014 is, for me, the year that I figure out who my community truly is, who raises me up and encourages me to be better, who I can reach out to for support when I’m feeling anxious, suicidal and scared. "

I would never have guessed that my journey to find those people and really invest in them, wholeheartedly, would have led me to one of my dearest friends V,  my tender and fierce girlfriend J, or my deliciously deviant N. My wonderful partner P has also rolled with the punches this year, accepting my love for other people with an open heart. Never mind the joy in having my sweethearts get along together- they sang Christmas carols with me, they prepared a holiday meal with me, they've played games and snuggled kittens and comforted me as a beautiful poly unit and I love them so fully for it.

I know 2014 has been incredibly difficult for many people. I'm glad in many ways that it's over, but I'm also so, so grateful for the bounty I received this year.

2015 will see me throwing a queer key party, speaking at AlterConf on sex work and social media, going to an arcade convention with my girlfriend, and maybe even reporting at the AVN Awards. Also it should be the release of "Banned in the UK" by TROUBLEfilms, my first DVD cover and including my very first piss drinking scene! It's a dvd where I bottom for the 10 acts recently banned as "extreme" by the Brits, including spanking, squirting, and strangulation. I can't wait to show the stills!

2014 was surprisingly good to me. Let's hope it's onwards and upwards for 2015!

Categories: best of, dating, nonmonogamy, reflection, resolutions, review


Review: Liberator Faux Fur Throe

I've had a few sex toys in my life that have changed the game. The PUR Wand. The Hitachi. The The Liberator Wedge. The Rodeoh. The Maverick.

And now, I have the Liberator Faux Fur Throe, a water resistant furry blanket that feels so incredibly soft and luxurious I wrap myself in it regularly, even when I'm not preparing for a squirtathon (though, especially then). I own one of the regular throes, which is velvety on one side and satiny on the other. It's lovely, too, but I have to say the faux fur throe is far and away my favourite.

I've brought it on weekends away, because fucking on it feels amazing against the skin, and it's so nice to squirt all over the place when being fingered or fisted and just be able to wrap it up and put it aside for nice fresh bedsheets. And while it's big (68" x 54") it also comes with a stretchy strap that holds it together in a roll, making transport and storage easy. It's also reasonably subtle- no one will know this is a water resistant sex blanket unless you tell them (or, I suppose, if they have one of their own!) The fact that you can squirt on this and then bundle it into the wash easily is a godsend, and allows me to relax, making squirting easier to achieve in the first place.

I've used throes, and I've used towels, puppy pads, rubber sheets... all sorts of things. I have to say the throe is above and beyond the best option, if you can afford one- they carry a hefty price tag at almost $200 for the faux fur ones! The comfort and pleasure, as well as the ease of cleanup, that this throe has offered makes it worthwhile to me. The faux fur does take a while to dry, though, after getting it wet. You can machine wash it in cold water, and dry in low heat, which should prevent the fur from clumping up. Do be aware that on the satiny side, some types of lube (like silicone, or oil based) can stain your throe- my experience has been water based lubes are totally fine.

The faux fur throe only comes in the grey/black you see here in the photos, though there are other options (like the double sided velvish one, or the shag one) that have a wider variety of colours.

In short? If you're a gusher, or even if you just like sex to get a little sweaty and messy, you need a throe. I personally think the faux fur one looks and feels the best, but you may prefer the microfiber one or the fluffy one instead! Whatever you pick, you probably need a Liberator throe, so you can fuck as you please without worrying about the carpet, the couch, or the backseat of your car. Oh, or your mattress, I suppose, if you're into that sort of thing. ;)

Categories: fisting, my nethers, review, sexyfuntime, toys


My First Poly Cabal Christmas

Holidays are for being with loved ones, at least that's what the songs and the movies seem to suggest. I love Christmas, almost ridiculously so, considering I was raised pagan! I'm actually the holiday card for TROUBLEfilms and Miss December on our company calendar. I have hundreds of holiday songs.

I've spent many with friends, some with family, most with lovers... but I have never spent Christmas, one of my favourite holidays, with my lovers. One at a time, sure, but never more than one. It's just never worked out, either because of family commitments, or relationship dynamic issues, or something else.

I've been nonmonogamous in some way or another my entire adult life. Monogamy never came easily to me even as a teenager, but I didn't start looking into ethical nonmonogamy until I was in my early 20s. I've had a lot of struggles with polyamory, as I discovered when reading old entries in my Livejournal- I had partners who pitted me against their other lovers, or who would "misunderstand" my boundaries, or put me at risk for STIs because they "forgot" to tell me they didn't use condoms with other people. I didn't realize how anxious and traumatized I was for a long time, thinking that the knot in my stomach was because I wasn't doing poly right. The fear of loss, of my own perceived lack of value, often prevented me from asking for what I wanted or needed- I figured that my jealousy was unfounded and if I read the various poly self help books often enough eventually it'd just come easily.

This is the first time where I actually mostly feel... safe. There's still some anxiety, and I'm still working on my trust issues! But if N doesn't text me back for a few days, I don't have the fear that he's breaking up with me. If I have to reschedule a date with J and I because I'm in dire need of a self care day, I don't freak out that she secretly resents me. If P tells me that my going away for the weekend is ok, I don't spend days worrying that he's lying to me and will have my stuff on the curb when I get home. None of us fight, though we've also talked in advance about our argument styles and our needs when stressed, and I think that information has prevented more than brief hurt feelings and the occasional slammed door between P and I. I mean, N and I had a good 3 minute back and forth thanking each other for our communication skills, which cracks me up but is also really heartening. They even all get along with each other, enough so that I'm taking them all to one of my favourite Christmas celebrations (and a family tradition), the Christmas Revels, for the Solstice.

This is also the first year I will actually have all my lovers, together, at Christmas dinner. I suggested it figuring that they were probably busy, but they were all available and interested. I'm excited (especially since they all cook well, so I can tend to the important job of drinking eggnog) and a little nervous because, let's be fair, I don't have many firsts left! Opening presents with all of them at once, singing carols while we cook a goose... honestly it's probably one of the best holiday presents I could've gotten. I'm honored that not only are they spending it with me, but with each other, folks they're inviting, other folks I'm inviting. It's also going to be the first Christmas I spend with a metamour. Everyone's been assigned an essential part of the meal, bringing their own traditions or holiday tastes into the mix for one big poly cabal Christmas.

It's been interesting as I still definitely have pangs of fear that manifest as anxiety or jealousy. I imagine that it'll take a while before I fully relax. But I've learned some things- that it's ok to ask for reassurance when you need it. It's ok to feel nervous and to express that. It's ok to have boundaries, and it's ok to say no. And I'm grateful that I'm surrounded by people who love me who give me the space to trust them with saying yes, often and enthusiastically. When I worry that my body is broken or gross, I can say something and the love they reflect helps silence those headweasels. When I'm concerned that a lover is overwhelming themselves, I can speak up and they value that feedback. It's like being in an adult relationship, which is terrifying and beautiful.

There are days I am so filled with love I feel like I'm going to explode with it.

Anyway, I know, voms, mushy ickness. Well, I don't have any advice for poly holidays, as this is completely new to me. I'll definitely be writing about it once it's happened. I'm looking forward to cooking together and watching The Passions of Carol, a Christmas Carol parody porn. It's how Christmas ought to be. <3

Categories: dating, fake it til you make it, holidays, love, mushy, musing, nonmonogamy, personal


Holiday Self-Care Giveaway: 1 More Day!

I love the holidays, especially Christmas, despite having spent 5 years working retail and growing up pagan. I currently own about 1500 holiday songs, which range from celebratory to sympathetic. I've been drinking eggnog and spiced coffee all season. I have a sweater with reindeer fucking on it, and multiple sets of holiday jewelry that I only wear this one month. I'm the month of December for the TROUBLEfilms 2015 calendar (see photo) because we just had to take an hour out of the schedule for Xmas mashups and wrapping me in fairy lights (THANKS COURTNEY TROUBLE <3)

But whether you love the holidays or hate them, they take a lot out of you! There's so much social interaction that needs to happen, and scheduling partners and their families, and never mind work parties, where you have to strike an awkward balance of being "off" but also not being too unprofessional. It's intense, even for an extrovert who doesn't want to rip off her own ears when hearing "Little Drummer Boy" for the 50th time.

SO, I'm doing a giveaway to help you cope! Friday at midnight marks the end of my Holiday Self Care Package Giveaway!

You get to choose which package you want, depending on how you feel about the holidays!

For those who, like me, get jingle jangly for eggnog and sweater weather, there's a Holly Jolly Holiday Care Package! Contents will include a homemade card, a mix cd of my favourite holiday tunes, some holiday candy, little surprises (all pro-holiday season, please let me know what winter holiday you celebrate!)

OR if you can't wait for all that red and green shit to get out of the stores, I have a Bah, Humbug! Anti-Holiday Care Package! This will include a sympathy card, a "Fuck Xmas" mix cd, some non-holiday wrapped chocolates, and other trinkets to help you get through.

IN ADDITION I'm going to try to post a couple of playlists for you all to enjoy so you can hear some fun new stuff, but in the meantime I highly recommend Bootie Mashups Xmas cds!

Don't forget, you have until midnight tomorrow to enter the giveaway!

Categories: contest, giveaway, holidays


Polly Superstar: Sex Culture Revolutionary!

Polly Superstar is probably one of the people I've known the longest in the Bay Area... about 10 years of costumed, conscious, sex party silliness. She's gorgeous, and talented, and I was of course terrified of her when I first met her as a self-conscious 20 year old just tiptoeing into the San Francisco kink scene. Polly made me feel right at ease, though, and I felt warmly enveloped into her world of fantasy and fun. In a city where all the places to have kinky sex felt dingy, sticky, dark, and predatory, Mission Control stood out as bright, colourful, and silly.

I really got to know Polly when we worked on a free festival in Maui, the Ua Noa Festival. It was where I really got my feet wet (literally) in running events, in not having control over what happens but only being able to act as a guide, in acceptance of those moments where you're laughing and crying at the same time and also there's a rainbow. People talk about do-ocracies, but Polly really encourages people to make their dreams into actionable realities, both by example and through her resources. I am absolutely in part the person I am today because of Polly Superstar, Mission Control, and Kinky Salon.

She's written a book called "Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary". While I'm a cynical East Coaster who would typically snort at such a title, Polly is legit the Real Deal. Her baby, Kinky Salon, got people in London to have conscious sex in silly costumes. That's MASSIVE, and should demonstrate how Polly's ideas can manifest into real life impact. The book shows where all of that passion came from, and is a hard to put down read. It's got sexy bits, sure, but it's also the interesting, complicated, messy truth, about jealousy, about muses and artists, about holding space and grand ideas.
ANYWAY WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, here's an interview!

Kitty: Do you remember when we first met? I was scrubbing the floor at Mission Control in penance for sneaking into Kinky Salon!

Polly: Wow. I don’t remember that. Who gave you the task? How did that happen?

(side note: I went to KS before I was supposed to. I was 20, not 21. I felt so guilty about it the very next time they had a volunteer event I went and cleaned the floors so they could be repainted as my apology! When I told Polly a year or so later she just laughed at me, which was fair)

K: What's one of your favourite memories at Mission Control?

P: Without a doubt my all time favorite memory is when I realized that Mission Control would be able to continue without me being the sole force in pushing it forward. It was an “it’s a wonderful life” moment for me. There was a room full of people all saying “Yes, what you do has value,” when I thought it had none. That moment is the climax of my book. But now this is a spoiler! Oops!

K: What about a favorite Kinky Salon moment?

P: There have been so many great moments its hard to single one out. I love those surreal end of night scenes. Watching a naked girl in the baby head bounce down the hallway was a treat. Sitting out on the patio having in depth conversations about culture. Having my circuits blown with kundalini. Being sandwiched between my two favorite boys. There are so many!

Check out the Kinky Salon Manifesto, which for some reason will NOT embed, bah!

K: Did you identify as a "sex culture revolutionary" your whole life? How do you define a "sex culture revolutionary" now, and has that changed?

P: No I haven’t been a sex culture revolutionary my whole life. Although I’ve always been drawn to sexuality as a means of self-expression and a particularly fascinating aspect of culture, my identification as a sex culture revolutionary is recent. Sex culture is something I fully articulated when I was coming up with the title for my book. I didn’t like the term “sex positive” because it excludes Asexuals and people who just aren’t interested in sex right now. I wanted to be inclusive to everyone. It also had a political aspect I didn’t resonate with.

When I thought about what to call that all encompassing, non judgmental realm of sexuality within society the idea of “sex culture” made sense. The culture of sex.

Calling myself a revolutionary is provocative, but I want to express how passionate I am about changing culture. I literally took a thesaurus and listed out the options: “sex culture radical, sex culture activist, sex culture innovator.” I enlisted a group of my most creative and brilliant friends to help me decide which term was best. Although at first I thought the term made me seem arrogant and was resistant to it, these days I’m owning it.

K: With all the stuff in the news again/still about sex culture and consent, what's your definition of consent, and how do you seek to manifest consent culture in your life/work?

P: Consent is simple. It’s a yes from everyone. It surprises and frustrates me when something so simple and obvious is in the spotlight as controversial. There’s a “grey area” that’s supposed to exist but I don’t see it. I do understand that relationships and sexuality can be confusing, and traditional gender roles can exacerbate circumstances. I see that our current culture creates unhealthy images of sexuality, where it can be seen as a reward or an expectation. I understand that it’s a complex issue and I don’t blame the people who don’t understand, but I am a little tired of the conversation. People who resist the need for consent, or who blame victims are standing on the wrong side of history. I’m looking forward to reaching the tipping point and moving forward.

For the people who want to be more dominant sexually (they tend to be men) who are confused about how to stay in their power while navigating consent, I have some advice. Demand consent. Say “I’m not fucking you until you ask me to.” You stay in control, it’s super hot, and you can navigate the so-called “grey area” when sex is on the cards but you’re not 100% sure you have the green light. Make them beg for it.

K: From your book, it definitely seems clear you think sex can be a force to change the world. What would you like to see changed? Do you think it's working?

P: Sex is an important part of being human which has been repressed and shamed for centuries. A lot of the problems we have in sex culture are a direct result of this sociopathic denial of a natural and normal part of life. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the religion that denies its holy men the right to have sex lives is the one where sexual frustration is taken out on small boys.

The idea that sex is only for procreation and that our entire relationship to it is based on a subconscious desire to leave our genetic legacy is old fashioned, short sighted, and being proven wrong by scientists. I would like to see a world where sexuality is seen for what it is: as a powerful tool for social bonding, connecting and communicating. Although only time will tell, the trend of the last 50 years does suggest that we are slowly moving in the right direction.

K: Where would you like to see Kinky Salon in another ten years?

P: I would like to see the name Kinky Salon be synonymous with the idea of creative, open minded, and sexually enlightened community. I never see it as being mainstream, because I think we’re too edgy for most people, but I would like to see Kinky Salons opening up in lots more cities.

K: What's stayed the same, and what's changed?

P: Since the very first days of Kinky Salon a lot has changed. Originally it wasn’t a costume party or a sex party! It was more of a leather and latex fetish event. But since it got into it’s swing (pun intended) about 9 or 10 years ago, it’s actually stayed quite stable.

K: What's the next phase for Polly Superstar? Any more books planned?

P: Birthing that book was the most intense creative experience of my life. It took a total of four years and an incomprehensible about of time, energy and love. I can’t imagine being ready to write another book for at least a year. Maybe more. I don’t identify as a writer like some people do. It’s not my vocation to write. I’m a sex culture revolutionary, and that’s where I want to focus my energy next. That means throwing events, growing the global community, and letting the world know what I’m doing by blogging and speaking.

This post is part of the Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary Virtual Book Tour. If you make a comment in the thread below you’ll be automatically entered in a chance to WIN a LIMITED EDITION signed hardcover copy of Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary.

The comedian Margaret Cho called it “Raw, untamed, emotional beauty–Polly is a true supernova. This memoir is as touching as it is hot, as moving as it is a masterpiece.”

Buy your copy of Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary bit.ly/pollybook

Join Polly’s mailing list bit.ly/pollyslist

Check out Polly’s website pollysuperstar.com

Follow Polly on Twitter twitter.com/pollysuperstar

Get updates from Polly on Facebook facebook.com/itsmepolly

Click the image below to check out the other exciting stops on the tour.


Categories: activism, I left my sex toys in SF, interview, parties, sex, sexuality, swinging, why I do what I do