Mental Health Issues Are Not Fucking Sexy

When you look up "depression" on Google images you get a lot of beautiful young white slender cis people crouching, or clutching their heads, or silently crying. It's so pretty, almost glamorous, this universal melancholy that is touching and almost lovely to look at. Poetic, even.

I don't see many images that show what depression means to me- days without showering, lying in a messy bed with clothes discarded all around me, unable to focus on a book or my phone or really anything. Not tired, but unable to do anything but sleep. Not eating. Just barely existing. It doesn't show the diversity of people who have depression- the trans people, the people of colour, the fat people, the people with disabilities, the elderly.

I don't see photos of that. Keedy did a good job with anxiety, which is entwined with my suicidality, personally, which got to the top for image searches around anxiety, but depression is still quiet and beautiful.

Until you have it.

Or your partner has it. Or a family member. Or a friend. And you get to know it intimately, in all it's black molasses sticky tar glory. That sense of futility that permeates everything you do.

I was working on a completely different article, and was doing some research about mental health issues (particularly depression) and how people respond to it, when I came across this on my Twitter feed.

The article, of course, goes on to explain that the author doesn't mean CRAZY crazy, like, how does he phrase it, "women who walk around scratching their skin off and chattering to themselves in a mist of crack smoke or anything like that". Oh no. He means "sassy street-smart lasses", "gals with a slight attitude problem all swirled into a shot of hot-blooded swagger", a "beautiful psycho". Someone who yells at him sometimes, I guess, when he's being a tool, which judging from his writing is likely often.

It seems in fairly poor taste on the heels of the suicide of Robin Williams, is all I'm saying.

This is the romanticization of "crazy" for women, where basically it means we have a lot of feelings, and we express them, and yet are not *too* dangerous or unpredictable when our feelings are dismissed and laughed off as our mentalism.  Now, many men say that all women are crazy, a statement that can be found in this horrible, transphobic, misogynist gem, the Hot Crazy Matrix (stolen from "How I Met your Mother", btw). This is a guide that all young men need to watch in order to understand how to get into the situation they want with the women they want. Sounds like the sort of thing Elliot Rodgers was into, huh? This video goes on to warn against "redheads, strippers, anyone named Tiffany, hairdressers" as being too crazy and just not hot enough (according to his chart) to be worth spending time with, also feeling that anyone who is under the "too crazy line" but is between a 5-8 hotness is only worth sleeping with, not settling down with.

I don't know, I find it incredibly confusing.  But I believe the gist is that crazy is hot, until it impacts your life in a negative way, making it difficult to fetishize it. And I want to say, fuck that.

It's not just women whose mental health struggles are glorified, mind.  The moody artist is another example, or the wounded man with anger issues, or the sociopath who doesn't see you as human, just meat. I've dated the first two of these archetypes, which depend on a partner who will try to heal the troubled mind of their partner, creating a weird, fucked up codependency where you find yourself saying "I'm not your mother/therapist" while simultaneously trying frantically to be both. Often it ends up in a codependent mess, with both people resenting each other.

And I've encountered plenty of people who treat the last archetype as a sexy/scary dating prospect. Hell, I had the partner of the guy I called out about acting like sociopathy is hot send me messages about how he might be a sociopath but he's really a nice person. A nice person who tortured animals as a child, stabbed her for sexyfuntimes and threw her into a wall (hot!), and says things on his dating profile like "you deserve no respect, no consideration, no dignity".

I don't believe you. And I find it frustrating, worrying, and dangerous to keep seeing this trend in making mental health issues seem fun! Scary, but cool!

They're not. I've known plenty of people with mental health issues, and I've struggled with depression and suicide for most of my adult life- the romanticization/stigmatization of "crazy" has negatively impacted my life over and over again. It's caused people to push my boundaries in bed, because "crazy women are up for anything in bed", right? It's caused people to ignore me when I sought help from an abusive relationship, because I could be easily dismissed. I'd made me feel unsafe at work because I can't be honest about advocating for myself without fearing being fired. I've had the police refuse to take statements from me because they decided I was "crazy" and therefore anything that happened to me was irrelevant. People have had unrealistic ideas of what mental illness is like, and have made me feel guilty for not getting "better" more quickly (something I'll be discussing in my next piece). Lovers haven't understood that "crazy" sometimes means a decreased libido instead of an increased one. I've felt incredibly isolated because of the truth of "crazy" is difficult to live with, and I don't think that treating it like a fun quirk is doing me or others any favours.

It's not sexy, or fun. And it certainly doesn't help those of us struggling with mental illness, an estimated 1 in 17 Americans, feel supported by our community when it's advertised or joked about as such. This isn't a fetish, it's something we work with on a day to day basis. Every time I see something saying "crazy women are hot in bed" or "sociopathic men are the best fucks" I just want to shake people. What would you say if someone said "I love people with eating disorders, they're really sexy" or "man, depressed people are the hottest"? I imagine you'd find that weird, creepy, and possibly predatory. Let's call it that, then, and do away with this trope. We don't have enough social care for people with mental health issues as it is, let's not aid in stigmatizing them further and instead, talk to them (to people like me) as people. We want your love, and compassion, and understanding, and care, genuine care, not just the desire to get in our pants because you think we're "wilder" than "normal" people.

Categories: activism, media, personal, psychology, rant, stigma


Queer Key Party: The Dream is Born

If you're even vaguely following my social media, you may have figured out that I have become obsessed with the Seventies.

Specifically, I'm obsessed with throwing a swingers party.

Even more specifically, I'm obsessed with throwing a queer key party.

I've had a fascination with swinger culture, even while feeling on the outskirts of it. It seems like "the lifestyle" is so inherently heterosexual, fairly misogynist, and kind of... well. Not entirely with it. Consent doesn't always seem like a concern, judging from what I've read on forums or witnessed at the infrequent parties I've attended (though it really depends on the host). One partner puts in that couple's keys, and the other partner just goes home with whomever picks the keys out of the bowl. Never mind the endless creepiness of having a finger food snack table at a sex party because ew gross seriously who does that.

I'd end up forgetting my keys, I bet money.

Despite all that, swinger parties seem very structured, unlike the parties I go to where it's a negotiated back and forth free for all. I don't do very well in those environments. When anything might, conceivably, go, I end up sipping cocktails, plastered against the wall, feeling like the girl with braces at the prom that no one wants to dance with.  Despite the reputation I have for being intimidating (which I'm sure lurking by the wall doesn't help), I'm really super shy, and most sex parties don't help me engage people in conversation or even flirt.

But what if I could queer a swingers party? What if I could take the structure I like, and take out the misogyny, the assumptions of who wants to sleep with whom, and the lack of negotiation? What if I could throw a swingers party where male bisexuality was equally celebrated? What if I could take all of the interesting nostalgic swinger party ingredients and make something different?

This of course involves rethinking a lot of the basics. I mean, I know I want this to be traditional in some ways, like maintaining that 70s theme. Outfits are going to be entertaining to put together. The music will be killer and cheesy which I think will make people laugh and relax. We'll likely have a hot tub. Hopefully we'll have a butler. I've even picked up classic 70s games like Dirty Words for us to play to get things going. Fingers crossed, we'll have vintage porn- not just Deep Throat, but unearthed ones like "Pizza Girls" and  "Wham Bam Thank You Spaceman" (which I haven't found, yet, but I will!)

It comes down to finding the right space for this venture, and the right, small group of people to come with me (haha, yes I made a pun).

I learned quite a bit from this Nerve article about a key party. I love the idea of everyone getting a new name, so they can portray a character for the evening, which when added to the costumes may be a really useful idea. I did learn that people might leave their keys, and therefore having symbolic keys was probably a better idea. I don't want to be responsible for everyone's car/house keys!

Because I won't be working with people's actual keys, I'm working on a way for everyone to have their own key token, so they can submit a key individually, or as a couple. And the key will signify right of negotiation, not any particular acts. No one will be pressured into participating, but for people like me who are super shy, this will be a way to approach people playfully. Not all couples will be straight, or binary gendered, so dividing into men/women will be pointless as well. We're going to have to throw an experimentation sex party to test mechanics, which I think is kind of hilarious and also really fun.

Dancing is going to be important. I'm going to have to learn the Hustle, the Bump, the Bus Stop, and god knows what else. I'm not the best dancer but I feel like for this I'm willing to do what I can to learn. And the music is going to take time to cultivate, from disco legends to funkadelic tunes for getting it on, hopefully without laughing hysterically.

Never mind the food, of course. And the cocktails. I've been going through an erotic 70s era cookbook, "Fanny Hill's Cookbook", and not only are the directions to prepare the food pretty vague and weirdly misogynist, but the food is pretty awful sounding. How can we make a better shrimp cocktail? What about Duck A L'orange?  Or carrot cake? Can I make this stuff vegan? What about gluten free? It's going to be a challenge, but you can expect to see the occasional post about the 70s popping up as I plan this event 6 months in advance.

Basically, I have had a suspicion for a really long time that I might be more of a swinger than a polyamorous person. Fucking at parties and going home with one partner is typically my MO. Amusingly, I'm driven to throw this party now that I'm dating people not just at parties, but I think it'll be just right for a birthday. Now to figure out how to contain my excitement as I hammer out the details... and I think I'll need lots of practice sex in the meantime.

Categories: boundaries, communication, community, consent, nonmonogamy, parties, personal, swinging


Guest Post: Why "Up Your Alley" Is Not Up My Alley Anymore

Denali Winter, the brains behind Petplay Palace, a new local petplay website, posted on their social media last night that their hope to shoot some hot content at the Up Your Alley fair (also known as Dore Alley) was shattered yesterday, much to their surprise.  Volunteers and cops alike informed Denali that "no touch that might provoke ejaculation" was allowed, but that they could kick or punch their submissive in the balls as much as they liked.


I mean I know we culturally feel that violence is far more acceptable than sex, but REALLY?? There's something seriously messed up when violent touch is fine but sensual touch is Forbidden with a capital F.

I have my own post coming about this situation, among other situations in San Francisco that makes me feel like sexy is being slowly, systematically picked off by the local and state governments.  But in the meantime, please read this account by Denali Winter about their experience this Sunday, and, if you feel so inclined,  check out Petplay Palace and Alice in Bondageland!

My friend and mentor Mistress Alice of Alice in Bondageland, roommate Mistress Claire, her submissive Beau, and myself were planning a shoot today at Dore Alley. Public sex and kink have always been permissable (at least, in our experiences) at Dore Alley, Folsom, and Pride. Alice has been shooting hardcore content at pretty much every public even allowed for years and years here in the bay area.

It was Claire's and my first Dore, but I have 3 years of experience doing public bondage and kink. Among my many stunts with Alice was our 2012 human pride flag shoot on Solstice in the middle of the Castro. At that shoot we were not only never harassed, but encouraged and applauded by members of the gay community for our "performance art piece."

Claire's sub specifically came to San Francisco to shoot porn and party it up, SF style. Last year he went to Dore Alley ​and sucked tons of cock in the street, with no questions asked and nobody stepping in to interrupt. Alice, myself, and many other people use the kinky street fairs as opportunities to shoot crazy, artsy, only-in-San-Francisco videos and photos.

So, we went to the corner of Folsom and Dore and started setting up our shoot. Our sub, whose on-camera name is Beau, wore a brand new puppy play hood, and the shoot was intended to create shared content for my new website, Petplay Palace, and Alice and Claire's clip stores. The hood has ears, a snap-on blindfold option, and a snout/mouth that zips open. We got our sub naked in front of a big crowd and alice, my roommate claire, and I got strapped on. Our big plan was to make him suck our cocks (strapon dildos, obviously), show him off to the crowd, make him do some puppy play stuff, and maybe let him out of chastity. Maybe fuck his ass, if the vibe felt right.And the vibe did feel right as we all got ready... we had a huge crowd around us, taking photos and meekly asking us if they could join in (sorry, boys!).

Then, all of a sudden, a very friendly, apologetic, but firm Dore volunteer leader (Jesse, actually, who's Mr SF Leather 2012) came and told us NO penetration was allowed any more at Dore Alley. That meant no pegging, no fingering, no blowjobs. Even with dildos and condoms.

Oooookay, that really sucks. But we can still give our sub the scene he deserves, right? We were determined to make something work, even though we'd only packed a bit of rope and strapon supplies. We're creative. So we zipped his hood shut and whacked him in the face with our dildos, like you do. Made him beg for cocks he now wasn't allowed to touch. Tease and denial is fun!
Then, when we hoisted him upright again to tie him up and show the crowd his chastity device, we were interrupted by another staff member."No touching his penis," they told us.

"Even through a solid plastic chastity device?" Alice asked.

"Even through the device." Uuuuugh, fiiiiiine.

Over the next 20 minutes or so, as we tied up our submissive, wrote on his chest, and posed with him for pictures, any hand even *slapping* his chastity device drew the attention of either a cop or volunteer, all giving us slightly different interpretations of the "no naughtiness rules."HOWEVER, every SINGLE person who stopped us from doing something sexy made a special point to tell us that we COULD kick our friend in the balls, or punch his balls, just no fondling or "risking ejaculation." Chastity devices specifically prevent ejaculation...and how does putting a dildo in someone's mouth fall into that category? Violence good, sex bad. Really? This is right out of the mouths of cops.

This happened four or five times before the mood was so ruined and we were all so irritated that we called it quits, threw our clothes on, and regrouped back at Wicked Grounds.

Alice has been shooting porn and toeing the legal lines for about 15 years (since her 18th birthday, she tells people), and told me that she's never felt so censored in San Francisco before. "When rubbing fake cocks on a fake mouth is all you can do towards pleasure but HURT cocks and balls all you want...Shitty priorities." she texted me after we parted ways. "Is fucking myself with a hitachi while clothed a sex act? More likely to cause orgasm than touching a guys junk through a chastity device..."
Granted, we had some good moments, too. At one point, this hot lady cop approached us. We were tying our puppy to a street sign, and she beckoned Alice over."Make sure your puppy gets enough water," was her only comment. "You get dehydrated extra fast in those hoods." And then she smiled and walked away.
This whole experience took us all by surprise. Overall, we were treated really nicely by staff and security, and we got warnings and wrist slaps instead of, say, getting arrested, so I guess we should be grateful.But the weird standard of "no 'provoking ejaculation' but yeah totally have fun smashing his balls up" made me uncomfortable. And the fact that we were interrupted probably 5 times in 20 minutes for *tapping* someone's locked-up cock, but several of our "audience members" were wanking freely in plain sight reeeeally bugged me. The three of us female-reading dommes, all of us queer as all hell, felt very targeted due to our gender. We were very popular with the crowd, but I think the combination of us being some of the only women (I use the term loosely) at the event, and being porn people with cameras, made us one of the main targets for shutdowns.

I heard, however, that Bound in Public (a kink.com site) did a fucking scene in front of the crowd that included actual sex, and nobody stopped them. Grumble. Grumble grumble grumble.

It really is a massive disappointment that the "porn freaks" are no longer welcome at Dore Alley.Unless, of course, we were kink.com.


Categories: activism, bdsm, censorship, community, consent, female sexuality, fetishes, guest post, public, stigma, the stupid States, think of the children!


50 Shades of Fucked Up: How BDSM in Film Fails Everyone

I've been seeing a lot of frustration and anger about the 50 Shades of Grey trailer that went up at some point in the last... week, I guess? I don't know. I haven't watched it and I'm not interested. I already livetweeted reading the first book and wanted to shoot myself in the face. I am ashamed for fan fiction writers everywhere that E.L. James is now a success, because she's an awful writer and her idea of romance is incredibly messed up.

I could rant about how 50 Shades is a manual for how to get women to eroticize abusive relationships, but there are many people who have done that. I could make fun of it, but that's been done too by people who are better equipped for that sort of thing. I am a Serious Feminist who has no sense of humour, so I'll leave it to those goofballs. ;)

But I'm also seeing people compare 50 Shades of Vom to Secretary, like Secretary was worlds better. Now, here's where I do that thing I do where I ruin everything that people love, but I think it's important to discuss anyway.

You've been warned: you are entering... the Feminist Killjoy Zone.

Secretary starts off suggesting that BDSM is a decent alternative to self harm. Which... I have weird feelings about. Is it used that way? Yeah, probably, but I think it's possible to still self harm using someone else and ethically I think that's fucked up.  Lee Holloway comes from an abusive household, perpetuating the "people into kink are messed up" story. And E. Edward Grey is also filled with trauma, possibly (probably) coming from an abusive relationship with his ex wife, and certainly having overcrossed his boundaries with other women before Lee. Which is fine, of course, and honest, that does happen- a lot of people have been touched by abuse, whether kinky or not, and while self harm isn't a path to kink, it can be for some. So... not great, but ok, fine.

Then you have Mr. Grey sexually assaulting his assistant.  I mean I have a whole other issue with the fact that of COURSE she's a secretary, and the tasks she's given are menial and often pointless, which says a lot about women's work. Perhaps it's a critique of that, perhaps not. But he sexually assaults his employee, and then she likes it and even tries to provoke him into doing it again. But fundamentally you have a person in power abusing that power and it's all ok because she falls in love with him.

Now, it's a cute romantic comedy in a lot of ways, and points out some interesting ideas about consent and agency (like the consensual but not enthusiastic sex Lee has with her boyfriend) so we forgive the problematic things, or at least push them to the side. They're still there, though.

And it doesn't stop there. I mean, I watched 9 1/2 Weeks after hearing what a sexy and kinky film that was. The scene that stuck with me, though, was not the food scene that everyone remembers, which is cute and playful and as someone who enjoys mixing food and sex here and there, I could appreciate it. No, the scene that stuck with me was the money scene. "We're going to play a little game", Mickey Rourke says, before throwing money onto the ground and lashing his belt at her while she crawls around, sobbing, grabbing for the bills as she's been told. "I don't want to negotiate with you- now crawl!" he demands, and it's incredibly dark and creepy and traumatising. Apparently the scene was cut on HBO, and I'm not surprised. It's pretty clearly abusive.

But here's the thing that gets me about 9 1/2 Weeks, what I think sets the scene for how BDSM between a dominant man and a submissive woman is portrayed.

In the book of 9 1/2 Weeks, the main female character is not a gallery worker looking for love like she is in the film. She's a successful, well-paid executive looking for casual sex that gets her off. She has agency, and she chooses this fling with a stranger because it turns her on, not because she hopes for love, and she certainly doesn't seem like she'd put up with a dominant type who makes her feel unsafe. In the movie, his dangerousness is part of the allure, part of what makes her desperate to please him.

Don't even get me started on The Night Porter.

I see that dynamic in BDSM relationships in real life, and it's really fucking concerning. Maybe I was brought up in a different kink, but I was always taught that a submissive should be self-sufficient and have agency, because if they gave you control because they were in control of themselves enough to give it, that meant something. If a submissive gave up control because they wanted no responsibility, that not only reflected poorly on them, but on the Dominant taking advantage of them. Codependency is not sexy, but you'd never know it to look at how male romantic leads in films, especially with a kinky theme, behave. I think there is harm done when the only depictions of BDSM (and most depictions of romance, to be honest) in popular media are abusive in nature. It's boring at best, and deeply troubling at worst.

But you know, it's not just how male dominants are depicted. Because female dominants are also shown in media, sometimes. Rarely. Almost always in heels and latex, slender and young and beautiful. If they're lucky, they get to be smart, though often never as smart as the male romantic lead (of which there is always one), and ultimately they desire to be overpowered and outsmarted by said male lead. And usually they're professionals, because obviously women aren't interested in kinky sex by themselves, they need a guy to persuade them in either case. Female dominants are depicted as bored, cold, mentally ill, only in it for the money, laughable, or some combination of the above... and the men they dominate are not seen as romantic possibilities, but pathetic. Their cries for their limits to be respected are the punchline of a joke, or meant to be humiliating. No wonder the male submissives in the kinky scene are so often completely lost about how to engage the female gaze or interest. There's no examples of it, really, except maybe subtext you look really hard for.

I think the difference in how male dominants and female dominants are portrayed is somewhat beautifully depicted in this proposal of what 50 Shades of Hogwarts would look like. The joke of this, of course, is that you have an older woman in a smart suit sadistically hurting a younger, pretty man she has systematic power over for her own pleasure, to exercise her power, and because on some level she thinks it's good for him.

Of course we'd never eroticize someone like that...

...well, not a woman, anyway.

PS: Wanna know what was the closest thing to a depiction of my kinky love life? Here it is.

Categories: abuse, bdsm, best of, bondage, books, community, consent, dating, media, misinformation, oh ffs, pop culture


Femme Friday Review: Seagrape Soap

I'm not the most femme of the femmes. I'm new to skin care. I never used moisturizers, and even struggle to remember sunblock on a regular basis (I remember when it means I'm getting it rubbed into my skin by a babe, but otherwise, eh). Still, I've started to use lotions and such on my skin instead of ignoring it, and, fancy that, my skin is loving the TLC!

I am in love with my Seagrape Soap products, particularly the rose serum. And it's a requited love, judging by my skin's reaction to being massaged with rose serum on a daily basis for the past month. I don't have particularly oily or dry skin, just the occasional breakout- and the rose serum has made me skin feel glorious and soft without drying me out or making me feel greasy. Also it smells lovely! I've been using it when I wake up, especially as my makeup glides over it easily. It takes very little to get full coverage and feels pampering while also not taking a lot of time.

While the rose serum was my runaway favourite of the products I received from Seagrape Soap for review, I also got some massage candles (Dark & Sexy and Exotic Fields), a lip tint in Bad Girl, a solid shampoo bar in Tea Tree Lavender, and their Sexy Travel kit, which includes a massage candle (Deep Light), a cocoa honey dust, a bath soak (Aches & Pains), and a massage oil (also Deep Light). The only thing I haven't gotten to try yet is the bath soak, but it smells herbally and divine. I love earthy, green smells and this totally hits the mark.

The massage candles come in such incredible scents. As someone who can find vanilla cloying and lavender sleepy, I found the scents Seagrape Soap has created to be refreshing- the spiciness of Dark & Sexy, the freshness of Exotic Fields, and the tanginess of Deep Light are all pleasant, gender neutral, and harmonious. I also liked the way they melted into some really nice massage oil. And the travel sizes helps make these the kind of thing you can have in your purse "just in case", taking up the same space as a potted lip balm. Similarly the massage oil has a lovely scent and soaks into the skin beautifully, leaving you not feeling overly greasy or needing to reach for the bottle over and over again.

The cocoa honey dust falls into that realm of products that I often giggle at. I remember being a teenager and seeing the Kama Sutra branded edible dusts, which always tasted very much like flavoured dust. Why would one need a persuasion to lick their lover? But I know that I'm pretty adventurous and really into sweat, so I can see that for other people this would be a nice alternative. This one has a dryness to it, but it's not overly sweet, which I appreciated. If I want a sugar rush midsex I'd likely just use pixy stix, you know? Instead this is fun to sprinkle a bit on, lick it off, and, well, keep licking, which is the point of such things. As a foreplay item, it's pretty good. Keep in mind though that this tastes like cocoa, and not chocolate, or you'll be surprised!

I hadn't tried solid shampoo before and was curious. I didn't find that it lathered as much as I'm used to, but it didn't matter- this shampoo bar definitely did what it says on the tin. My hair felt healthy and light after use, really silky and nice to touch. You can also use it to shave and as a face soap, which I found I also liked it a lot for. If you want a solid option instead of Dr. Bronners, this may well hit all your marks. I don't have a dry scalp so I can't speak to how well it manages that, but it certainly made my hair feel luxurious.

Finally, there was the lip tint, a bright pink colour they called "Bad Girl". It's cute, and provides a very light colour, but as I tend to go for bolder looks I suspect this one will sit in my purse for when I want a more natural look. It glides on really nicely, and has a light amount of glossy finish- I just personally am more of a lurid colours kind of girl (as anyone on my Instagram may suspect)! If you like Burt's Bees, you'll love this.

All in all I would definitely use more of Seagrape's products. I'm curious to have Phil try out the shaving set, actually! The scents really did it for me, and I think a couple of them would make incredible scented moustache wax. Hey Seagrape Soap! Make moustache wax! :D

Thank you Seagrape Soap for providing me with these products in exchange for an honest and fair review (as well as giving me a chance to pamper myself!)

Categories: femme, femme friday, potions and lotions, review


Go Deep: Lube Wrestling Capitalism is Slippery Business

I've done a variety of things in my life- fucking in coffins, clown sex on stage, human fox hunts, etc. I tend to enjoy dabbling on the outskirts of sexual and sensual exploration, and very few things raise my eyebrows, so experimentation is something I'm into. I joke that I have a fetish for novelty, and that's not far off the mark.

But strangely enough, I had never lube wrestled before last week. I know, right? Lube wrestling is one of those classic things that people do, and at least lube washes out, unlike oil and fake blood (which stains terribly). I debuted for the evening as Auntie Capitalism for Go Deep, a local queer lube wrestling event here in San Francisco, wrestling Big Business/Jetta Rae (who is a writer in her own right- you can find her piece on lube wrestling here, as well as her Patreon here).

When I think of lube wrestling, I mostly picture "sexy ladies" by mainstream standards, wrestling each other in tiny bikinis for the gaze of the men in the audience, who are shouting out obscenities and waiting for a top to fall off. I was happy to find that this particular event was meant as a safe space for queer people specifically, with straight people allowed but not catered to. I appreciated that free tickets are made available for queer folks, so that it's accessible. Also cool is that there's celebrities (who wrestle for a cause) and then random signups. The celebrity slots are limited and go quickly, so I missed out this time around- no big deal, as I wanted to feel it out without bringing too much notice to myself!

I was honestly pretty nervous. I'm somewhat clumsy, and I was already slipping on the floor when I got there. I've never broken a bone, and I definitely didn't want this event to be the first time! But Jetta and I had talked a few times about what the match was going to look like, and scripted it somewhat, so I at least felt confident that I had some vague outline for what would go down. I watched several other pairings have a go, too, observing what moves seemed to work and what didn't as I built up a strategy.

None of that mattered when we got in the ring. I knew I could throw my weight around with Jetta and so focused entirely on getting on my knees and staying there! Closer to the ground, harder to hurt myself, I figured, and at least this time I was right. Any and all strategy flew out the window as I tried to slide under her legs, slap her, and get her pinned. It was fast, furious, and totally invigorating. I appreciated how we'd grapple and she's take the opportunity of closeness to check in and make sure I felt ok. I felt remarkably safe, and while my muscles were sore the next day, I didn't hurt myself at all!

The best part though in my opinion was being Auntie Capitalism fighting Big Business. It was cathartic to wrestle, to channel some of the frustration I held towards capitalism and push it out of my body into squirming out of Big Business's grasp. The lube cascaded over our bodies, warm and wet, and I just wanted to push myself and give it my all. Fighting and then surrendering is hot whether in a lube pit or a bedroom, right? Of course, no matter how many people shouted for me to smash capitalism, Big Business ultimately won the bout (she would've anyway, that girl is fierce). I definitely plan to be back in the ring, though, so she'd better watch out!

Very appreciated was the showers available for after the lube wrestling. Being able to take a hot shower was pretty amazing. And because we're in a drought, I took it with Jetta, because conserving water, you know?

I think everyone won that bout, but I'll leave the details up to your imagination!

Categories: fetishes, lube wrestling, parties, personal, public, queer


"Take Lamp": how GaymerX reignited my love of gaming

My first real game, the one I remember best, was Zork. Good old fashioned white text on a black background, I was obsessed with it, the challenges intrinsic in playing it, and the mythology attached. I read the books that came with the series obsessively, and even did a school report (sadly not preserved for posterity) on the Underground Empire for a class in school. Infocom ruled my childhood, inspired my imagination, and got me interested in storytelling. Part of what I loved so much about Zork was the lack of a player description. You were an adventurer, and that was that- no gender, no race, none of that mattered. All that mattered was exploration, creativity, and a willingness to accept that sometimes, if you planned poorly, you'd be eaten by a grue. I didn't even really think about my character, because it was just me, wandering through the map. There was no default, except for the person playing the game, whomever they were.

When I was a teenager I was introduced to the idea of MOOs, programmable environments that followed the MUD format but were excellent teaching opportunities by giving players the ability to explore other people's programs as well as creating your own. I participated in a MOO specifically for kids called MOOSE Crossing, which had a great sense of humour as well as a safe space to learn some basic programming. It was an incredibly supportive environment, and one where I not only made friends, but other female, geeky friends. You can read a bit about the experience in this thesis (see if you can figure out which character is me!)

But then, as I grew older, I felt more and more alienated by games. My parents tended to encourage me to play computer games that were based on problem solving, and when I initially wanted to stretch out into console games I didn't find anything easily that had the puzzles I had grown to love. I played Civilization, and Sim City, and Loom, and cursed endlessly at Myst, but couldn't get into console games outside of Gauntlet Legend. As a queer teenage girl struggling with weight, it made me feel sad to not find characters I could play that reflected my body type or my romantic inclinations.

So I stopped playing. Any gaming interests I had I pushed away, because Everquest seemed expensive, Second Life seemed kind of creepy, and shooting games bored me. I gave up being a gamer, because it seemed like games just had no interest in me as a consumer.

Then I found indie games. Indie games initially really inspired excitement in me, a thrill for gaming I thought was long gone.  It was refreshing to see different game mechanics, more focus on puzzles rather than realistic murdering people. Until I started to delve deeper, and realized that even these indie games, so overwhelmingly created by white straight dudes, repeated the same tired ideas, particularly about women. Yet again, male was the default, and you accepted that or don't play. Even worse, the developers (at least from what I witnessed online and in Indie Game) are incredibly sensitive manchildren who are prone to throwing fits if they don't get what they want. Sure, ok, they're artists, and these games are personal, but these are the SAME GUYS who tell other folks to kill themselves for giving critique or tell women they're being hysterical when we're upset by how they portray us. I felt like indie games were often WORSE than the mainstream games, who simply ignored me. Indie games started to feel actively hostile (and sometimes like they were just taking the piss).

There's nothing subversive about a white cis straight dude insulting me or my intelligence, whether he does that through gameplay or on the street. That's just the shittiness of normal life, and, as Merritt Kopas said this weekend on a panel about consent and interactive media, it's not even problematic, or edgy. It's just boring.

Last year, a friend from the internet suggested that I judge a cosplay contest for a gamer convention happening in SF. I didn't know that much about cosplay, but knew something about the format and costume contests, so I said sure. I knew it was a gaming convention specifically for queer people, which I figured meant a lot of white gay men, but the costumes would be interesting I figured. Then I met Matt Conn and Toni Rocca, and realized that GaymerX was a lot more than just PAX for gay guys who like Streetpass as much as Grindr. I felt safe there, as a femme. I went through the entire con never hearing a rape joke. The zero tolerance policy was implemented transparently and efficiently. The volunteers had so much fun they hung out together after the con was over because they still liked each other. This was someplace really, really special.

Even so, I dismissed a lot of the video games as not being really my thing, instead choosing to spend my time in the tabletop rooms. It was a defensive gesture, I realized, because I didn't trust that I'd find what I loved about games even at a queer gaming convention. I picked up games like Bears!, and played Fluxx, and shrugged off the way console games tended to ignore me. It wasn't anything new after all.

I did pick up a book that weekend in 2013, though. I picked up "Rise of the Video Game Zinesters" by Anna Anthropy, and began to read it, finding myself going from "hm yeah this is cool I guess" to "OH MY GOD I NEED TO MAKE MY OWN GAMES" in a matter of an hour. I learned about Twine and the push back to interactive fiction, I learned about games that were to teach rather than to "have fun", I learned that games didn't have to mimic the same bullshit I saw in the media all the time, but could be used as a subversive art form. As someone who has longed to be an artist, but is, instead, a writer, I realized that I could perhaps create games to communicate in a new way. I started playing the games I found on forest ambassador, a list curated by Merritt Kopas. I opened a Steam account. I got lost in the queer-friendly, riot-grrl-loving game "Gone Home", and I became inspired by the game industry writing of Mattie Brice.  I bought a 3DS, my first console in years, and began to try new games to see how I liked them. I fell in love with gaming again, in part because I found other people, outcasts in gaming who created worlds I wanted to dive into. Their games and their writing exploded my ideas, not just of the idea of what a game is or why people play it, but society in general.

This year I ran the cosplay pageant for GaymerX2, which was as amazing this year as it was last year (even if they didn't have a ball pit). I was delighted to see so many discussions about gaming and representation, along with call out culture working effectively to tell vendors when what they were selling were not ok. I was able to have intense conversations with lots of people and no one told me I was humourless or needed to lighten up. It's the world I wish I lived in all the time.

Anyway I did a discussion on cosplay and accountability. While I spoke I realized that cosplay and DeviantArt should be influencing game developers when they're trying to figure out characters to create for a new piece, because the desire for diversity is there. Learning about how Saint's Row 3 deals with race, gender and body size (via sliders) made me realize that this is not only something companies can do, but it's not nearly as difficult as they make it out to be (yes, I'm looking at you, Assassin's Creed, who inspired the best cosplay I saw all weekend). Also it MADE ME WANT TO BUY AND PLAY THE GAME, so obviously inclusivity works on a purely capitalistic level as well.

As the Queen of Cosplay, I gave out prizes for usual categories like Best in Show and Audience Favourite, but I also got to highlight crafting skills with Best DIY, femme representation with Best Glam, and queering characters with Best Queer Character. I realized Best Original Character should be a thing, too, to encourage people to cosplay their own characters and to let us know about them. I realized that offering prizes legitimized these areas of cosplay that aren't always seen or encouraged, and seeing people new to cosplay bring their all really made me feel teary and honoured.

It wasn't just about the outfits, either! I got a chance to enjoy a bit of the IndieCade game area at the con, and played a game about depression that spoke to me as an excellent way to describe to someone what it's like trying to get by when depressed. I felt that same thrill I used to have, a desire to explore, to learn, to problem solve. And no one told me I didn't belong for being a woman, or being queer, or even being a sex worker. I was a gamer too.

GaymerX2's tagline is #everyonegames. They really made space for that to come to life. I hope game developers take notice, and that people like me start making our own games, cross pollinating new ideas, mechanics and characterizations. This weekend made me excited about gaming again, and I'm glad.

Now I have some Card Wars to play.

Categories: best of, community, current events, games, queer, why I do what I do


"Think of the Children" Is Rallying Cry... While Adult Sex Workers Primarily Arrested

I woke up yesterday morning to my Twitter in an uproar.

That’s reasonably common in my world, as many of the people I follow are marginalized and there’s a lot to be angry about. Turns out that the FBI has seized MyRedbook, a local site where masseuses and escorts could advertise for clients for free, and arrested Eric Omuro, 53, of Mountain View and Annmarie Lanoce, 40, of Rocklin in connection to “using the mail and the Internet to facilitate prostitution” as well as money laundering under several aliases. As of right now it’s not entirely clear if those arrests were the main focus of the sting, or if there will be more upcoming. It's terrifying to many people close to me who used MyRedbook to advertise their erotic entertainment services. Other options, like Eros, were too expensive or less trafficked by paying customers. We don’t really know what options sex workers who had profiles up on MyRedbook have to protect themselves from investigation.

I’m among them: I used to advertise on MyRedbook as a professional dominatrix. It’s a gray area of sex work, because strictly speaking it’s not prostitution (or maybe is- laws around sex and money are often purposefully vague). I chose it after advertising for years on Craigslist before it was pressured to shut down its adult services (along with Backpage). I didn’t find it to be the best site, but it had decent traffic and I got booked when I put in the effort to hustle. Advertising on the internet and communicating via email creates a paper trail in case I don’t come home some night (a reality many sex workers consider when booking clients), as well as offering the possibility of filtering clients, getting references, and blacklisting people who are bad customers. With MyRedbook, the forum for sex workers, MyPinkbook, is also gone, along with the resources it made available for sex workers to communicate with each other to stay safe when the police are not an option.

It’s interesting that every single time an adult site is shut down, “child prostitution rings” or “sex trafficking” are cited as the reasons. Companies like Google throw down big money to support these anti-trafficking measures, even though the statistics suggest the money lines the pockets of organizers more than it helps at-risk populations. I hear how we must think of the children, yet when you look at the statistics of who gets arrested, it’s vulnerable adult sex workers who end up in handcuffs. Teenagers who go into sex work are often assumed to have less agency than they do, studies have suggested- sex work provides a sustainable survival method for many homeless youth, male, female, trans and cis. So if they are not in the danger anti sex work feminists want us to believe they are, who is getting caught in these police webs?

I spoke to one woman who was arrested for sex work in 2010, the cops using money that was earmarked for child trafficking to instead waste manhours chatting her up over several days before coming in for the sting.

“They basically dicked around with me for days over email,” she said. “He said he had never seen anyone before and didn't have references but was willing to meet up with me at a cafe for a meet n' greet. Honestly? He spent so much time writing that I thought what fucking cop would have the time. There was no way that they could have mistaken that I'm on my own and of age- it's obviously not a way to target children or pimps.”

I asked my friend, who asked to remain anonymous, what the arrest process was like.

“Oh my god, there were five cops, multiple cars. It was a big ordeal. I was like seriously? This much time, this many people, all for little ol' me? And they leered, arguing over who got to escort me to the car. The cops asked me so many other really rude and inappropriate questions like... if I was pregnant, if I had any STDs, when my last period was. They took fifteen bazillion pictures of all my condoms, trying to shame me. The sheriff was even wearing a shirt with some sort of weird misogynist sexual innuendo.

It was kind of a jerkoff thing for them. They had the funds and they didn't have anything particularly better that they wanted to do than fuck with me. I was in a cell with a bunch of girls who *did* look young to me, all on the phone crying to their pimps. But as far as I could tell they didn't get the pimps and they didn't try to get the pimps. I went to court over it. My lawyer made the lovely argument that hitting me with a record would negatively impact my bright future... which of course is true for anyone, not just those who are white and middle class. But whatever, the case was dismissed.”

I asked her, “Did they even ask you if you were coerced?” I mean, in theory, the whole point of these stings is to save women who are being forced to do sex work by pimps, right?

Welp, they never asked. I guess they were too busy counting her condoms and asking about her sexual health. Makes it pretty clear who, and what, they “protect and serve”- white capitalist patriarchy.

May I remind you how often the police have raped women they're supposed to "protect". Like domestic violence victims. Or sex workers. In San Jose, where I live, a cop was arrested for raping a domestic violence victim after she called 911 for help. Never mind how well the police deal with rape even when another person wearing a badge isn’t involved… many police officers, when asked, hold to concepts of “rape rape” (violent stranger in the bushes) as the main definition they look for. It doesn’t particularly give me a lot of faith that the police are the best people to deal with the traumatised women and children that these rescue missions are supposedly for. Why anyone would think the prison industrial complex which fails women so often when it comes to rape reports and convictions would be the right way to go on this boggles the mind.

In short, no, I do not trust the police have my best interests at heart, and I'm a privileged white cisgendered woman. Basically, it seems to me that California is determined to ensure that women who go into sex work die on the streets, at the hand of an abuser who will go unpunished, or in jail. That would, of course, include me, and many people I know…. particularly the trans women and women of colour.

I asked my friend what she thought about the MyRedbook bust. She was pretty cynical.

“Let’s be realistic here. This isn’t about helping trafficked sex workers. They want his 5 million dollar property. I mean, that's some nice loot.”

Between this and the mandated condom bill, AB1576, I'm so grateful that anti sex work feminists care so deeply for our wellbeing that they're pushing sex workers to desperation by removing our only methods of making money without any solutions for how to survive financially. It’s great to see how they’re happy to offer us makeup and cupcakes but not practical resources like job connections, education funding, and medical support. What could possibly go wrong?

The next time you read some hysteria about child prostitution stings, look at who gets arrested and how the arrests go down. At-risk people are put at more risk by these measures, and it needs to be exposed for what it is- supporting, not women and children, but the corporate, patriarchal status quo.

Categories: abuse, activism, angry, capitalism, politics, power struggles, sex work is work, think of the children!, whores are people


The Mean Girls of Lesbian Porn

“There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil stuff and those who see evil stuff being done and don't try to stop it.”
-Janis Ian

Judging from the popularity of using femme-on-femme makeouts to sell products from Versache to concert tickets, one would think that lesbian porn is a big seller, particularly here in the United States. The best thing a pop star can do to fan media attention is fake interest in another femme, after all, so we must be eating up lesbian porn. Right?

Studies indicate that this isn’t true, however. in the United States, Pornhub tells us that MILF, creampie, and teen genres are the top categories, and the only place lesbian porn even places in search engines is in the UK (interesting, considering selling fisting and squirting content is illegal). I hear a lot that men love lesbians, but for all that men complain about penises in their porn, the statistics suggest they vastly prefer heterosexual porn to the girl-on-girl genre.

It’s not like women are buying this porn, either. First off, CCBill reports it’s pretty rare that women’s names are listed when purchasing porn through their service… and they’re pretty much the big game in town for XXX content. Lesbians are bored with the standard tropes, the lack of body diversity and the heteronormativity even of the sex shown between women. It’s not queer sex the way a lot of us have it, is the standard complaint. The LA mainstream porn industry is learning it needs to evolve or die, which may explain their sudden interest in feminist and queer porn.

I’ve been watching a discussion on social media about lesbian porn, particularly on whether or not trans women should be included, spurred by performer Chelsea Poe. She asked why lesbian porn companies refused to work with trans women, pointing out that trans women are women and therefore the lesbian genre is an appropriate place for them to perform. In exchange, she was bombarded with accusations that she and other trans women were part of some grand conspiracy to rape cisgendered lesbians. Despite Poe’s mentioning of the lack of women of colour or plus sized women in lesbian porn, women of colour and plus sized women were not accused of attempting to rape lesbians by asking about more inclusive policies… just trans women.

How terribly typical.

Now what’s interesting is that when critiqued about their narrow vision of what lesbians look like, self-identified “gold star” lesbian porn performers (ones who had never had sex with men) spoke up strongly in defense of continuing to focus the vast majority of their content on white, slender, femme, cisgendered women. “This is how we’ve always done it”, they said, “and this is what’s marketable”. I've heard performers like Betty Blac get similar treatment as a BBW performer who is also black- over and over again, she's told that she can be black, or BBW, but to be both is to occupy too many niches for mainstream work.

So it basically comes down to “you can’t sit with us”.

Well, I call bullshit on marketability. How would you know, if you haven’t tried making several examples of the content? In order to make such a claim, you need a control group (how you’ve always done it) and several examples of doing it differently (your samples). When I asked TroubleFilms director/producer Courtney Trouble about the success of their film Trans Grrrls, which features trans women matched with cis women, they told me that it’s their #1 bestseller when it comes to profits… and it’s only been out since September of last year. They also told me that Queerporn.TV launched with a scene featuring Drew Deveaux (of 2012’s cotton ceiling debate) with Mickey Mod, and that of their 5 best selling performers, two are trans women, three are women of colour, and one is plus sized. Every application from cis women includes requests for trans women as co-performers, too, for those who seem to be worried about nonconsentual partnering.

Sounds like there is, in fact, money to be made from moving past the world of “niches”.

Tobi Hill-Meyer, director and producer of Doing It Online, a sex positive site centering trans women, said similar in an interview at Original Plumbing:

“Mainstream audiences are only ever shown one thing, so that’s what they demand. Producers meet that demand because they get blowback whenever they deviate...Everything is so compartmentalized and formulaic, there’s a strong possibility of losing customers if they change anything. Still, change has to start somewhere. And I think mainstream porn producers often underestimate their audience and how many people would be really excited to see a departure from the same old same old.”

I agree. I remember when I first got my hands on On Our Backs. It was the first lesbian porn magazine focused on a lesbian audience, and it entered the world the same year I did. Looking through the archive (which sadly appears to no longer be online) I saw images of women of colour, fat women, butches and femmes, fisting, S & m, strap ons and muff diving. You know who wrote a piece for the magazine? Christine Beatty, who is credited in her bio as a transsexual and a lesbian… in 1993. People laughed at the idea of a lesbian porn magazine marketed towards lesbians, and On Our Backs was published for 22 years. The protests that no one wants to buy porn featuring an actually diverse range of women seem to ring rather false under that kind of scrutiny.

How is it that 20 years later, we’re still arguing that lesbian porn is for cisgendered women only? Or white women? Or slender women? It’s not even an issue of “times changing” - “real lesbian porn” had begun this process while I was still carrying a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunch box.

“But the porn I make isn’t political, politics aren’t my problem,” is the other thing I hear a lot. *The sex we have is political* whether we like it or not, never mind the filming of it. When I was born, queer sex was illegal in half of the United States. 14 of those states only overturned their sodomy laws (and yes, that included lesbian sex) in 2003. Depictions of fisting and squirting are still questionably obscene, and erotic film festivals in the US tend to shy away from showing them. Filming porn is only definitely legal and considered protected by the First Amendment in California and New Hampshire. The AIDS Health Foundation is trying to mandate safer sex barriers in all porn filmed in California via bill AB 1576, which might also consider any errant drop of fluid on set to be in violation of the new (and vague) policy. Porn isn’t political? Well, tell that to the judge, I guess.

In the meantime, all I can say is… beware of Plastics. Cold, hard, shiny Plastics.

Read more on this topic by checking out the interview in Original Plumbing between Tobi Hill-Meyer and Courtney Trouble (part one and part two), which tackles a lot of things around queer trans women and representation.

Categories: activism, angry, current events, don't tell me how to live, fat is fit, politics, porn, queer, sex work is work, trans


Online Dating: Fun with Tinder

So I'm on this secret dating group, and it's where I go to gave femme talk about my lovers, as well as live vicariously through other women and hear about the online dating triumphs. Or, more often, the pitfalls, of which there are many. We all have our different techniques, of course. There's women on there who swear by OkCupid, others that use niche fetish or swinger sites, still others that use Tindr. Some of us use more than one, depending on what we're looking or in the moment.

Now, I met my partner on OkCupid, so I think it's a reasonably good way to meet people who are a little alternative (poly, kinky, nerdy, artsy, queer, etc). The risk, of course, is that the men of OkCupid tend to not know how to initiate a conversation with a woman, and their messages are often pretty one dimensional at best, forcefully entitled at worst. Pictured here is a conversation I didn't get from OkCupid, but from Facebook... still, you get the idea. I get messages like this all the time, and yet OkCupid offers so many opportunities to discuss interests. I get bored going through so many messages from men who just want to put their dicks in something, anything warm, that I began to turn my sights towards something new.

Enter Tinder. Hailed as sort of like Grindr but for mostly straight people, mashing up the instant judgment of Hot or Not with the one liners of OkC. You check out a photo, swipe left for no, swipe right for yes, and if they like you too, then you can message each other. You can write a mini profile, about a tweet's worth of information, and post a bunch of photos to highlight your "personality", by which we mean "your body, and maybe your style". The trick is, you can never delete your profile, so it makes it really easy to continue to use the service, even if you're in a committed relationship. Since Tinder records when the last time you checked in was and broadcasts that, some couples find themselves checking up on each other... especially if they met on the service.

It can be difficult to stand out so someone bothers to look at your profile. Many of the men I've encountered fail in this regard- photos of them as part of a group as a main photo (which one are you? left swipe) or with a woman cropped out (seriously, that just seems awkward, left swipe) or just blank faced boring selfies (c'mon, you didn't even try?). But some intrigue me- I've found guys riding camels, jumping out of a plane, and this guy to the right, who didn't have a personal photo, just a picture of his cat. To be fair, I would love to go on a date with this cat, because he looks incredibly snuggly and that fur...! Even still, I definitely left swipe more than I right swipe, because I don't have a lot of free time, and it takes a very particular kind of guy to pique my interest. I kind of figure most of them will want to engage in inane conversation like the first dude, and no thanks.

But yesterday I right swiped on this guy. He hit all my marks- he's hot, certainly, has a lot of interesting tattoos, and is shirtless cooking in the kitchen. Um, yes please! I liked what his photo communicated- he's comfortable doing the cooking, he knows that women want to look at sexy man flesh and he's happy to oblige, and he knows how to take a decent picture. I messaged him, complimenting his photo, and we actually got to chatting about queerness, my porn work, and what we were on Tinder for (he did express surprise that I was "willing" to talk to a black guy, which broke my heart more than a little... racism sucks). When I said I was more browsing than shopping, he was understanding, asking me questions about my work that managed to be curious without being invasive. He didn't challenge my queerness, and was flirty without being pushy. He also NEVER talked about sexytimes, which made me feel a lot more comfortable with him. I wasn't expecting to find someone to have a hookup with, but frankly, his attitude was so good, I'm kind of tempted! (also I got his consent for using the image for this)

It made me realize that I don't think many men understand how to create a good, eye catching, clit-throbbing dating profile. A good picture is really important, guys. We judge you, not just on your looks, but what you're doing, if you seem to be having a good time, how confident you seem to be. If your photos show you surrounded by women all the time in a trophy kind of way, we'll likely assume you're not that interested in women as people. If you're particularly sporty in your pictures, we'll figure you'll want someone vaguely athletic. Basically we try to imagine being in the same place as you, and if we can't, we usually keep going. It's the same when women are looking at other women, though frankly I do suspect queer women read profiles more. We know how important words are the the seduction process.

Would you be interested in a constructing an online dating profile guide, at least one according to my own techniques?

Categories: dating, fat is fit, female gaze, female sexuality, male sexuality, personal