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Fear Itself: Why I Hate Horror Movies, Haunted Houses, and Other "Fun" Scary Things

I was raised as a fighter, in multiple ways. I marched outside of abortion clinics with my dad, protesting the protesters so women could have some sense of solidarity going into their appointments. I took karate and Model Mugging, preparing myself by learning how to get out of holds, where to hit a man for the most impact, how to improvise a weapon. I wrote letters to the President about environmental issues and was furious when I got a form letter in response.

The other side of the coin of being a fighter, though, in my opinion, is fear. Fear of a loss of control. Fear of losing a conflict. Fear of the consequences if you lose.

Looking back, I see that while I was in many ways a seemingly fearless child, a lot of my behaviour came from a deep place of fear. I was afraid about the future of the world, afraid for my own future, afraid of my struggles in school and afraid of men, who I knew would, eventually, hurt me. I am still wrapped up in fear like a fucked up insecurity blanket.  I tuck my feet under my blankets because there is some deep inner part of me who still feels their heart turn to ice at the fear that something is under my bed, waiting to grab me and drag me under.

I think because of this, I kind of hate being scared. It's one of the things I really hate about Halloween, where people think it's "fun!" and "interactive!" to jump out from behind things to shock you. For some people, I'm sure these experiences make them feel more alive. For me, it can take hours to get my heart rate back to normal, the stiffness out of my body.  Movies that depend on jump scares leave me feeling traumatized, not excited. I once punched a poor haunted house actor who jumped out at me because that was just my trained instinct. I don't go in haunted houses, or mazes, or hayrides anymore.

Because the fact of the matter is - I spend a lot of my life on edge. I am so used to this feeling of fear that relaxation feels alarming and strange to me. I go to parties and walk down streets at night like I have no fear, because if people smell fear on you they'll attack, at least that's been my experience. I am never without some sort of weapon.

I would say that part of this is because I've experienced sexual assaults, but most of those were in private, with someone I thought I could trust. And frankly I acted this way long before I had anything concrete to fear from my own experiences. I think it's just part of being socialized as a woman, as much as my parents tried to shield me from it. Intimate partner violence only taught me that I wasn't safe then, either, that there was nowhere I was safe to let my guard down.

I mean, I have a lot of privilege, being white and cis. Part of me is angry at myself for being so fragile when other people are struggling much worse. But I can't shake out of my head that time a stranger grabbed me and refused to let me go until I kissed him, or the man a friend recommended should drive me home who then refused to leave until I gave him a blow job. The world is a coercive, scary place where I feel that lack of control often, and I personally don't understand seeking out that disempowerment for fun. But, hey, to each their own, right?

Sometimes I wish that I didn't jump when my partner touches me unexpectedly. I wish I didn't feel dread when I have to walk in the dark. I wish I could go to a horror movie and shriek an giggle and have a good time. Maybe someday I will. But this Halloween, I think I'll stick to the treats instead of the tricks, thanks.

Categories: abuse, anxiety, best of, boundaries, fake it til you make it, personal, rape culture

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The Manic Pixie Sidekick

I identify pretty strongly with the manic pixie dream girl archetype. I've always had a weird sense of style, for a start, and quirky interests that have made me interesting to talk to at parties. Throughout my life, I have often been the whimsical, kind of crazy, sexually adventurous, super supportive partner, friend, and coworker. I'm pretty good at helping people make their dreams turn into reality, translating concepts into a plan.

It rarely bothered me, honestly. I like being useful, and while I like getting acknowledged for my work, I don't really feel driven to perform in the spotlight. And I have a good mixture of ideas and practicality, which makes me an excellent person to have on hand when planning an event, or a set, or a costume. I genuinely love to help people uncover new things about themselves, or to see something from a different point of view. All of that gives me strength and hope and a sense of purpose.

I used to channel this energy into submission, I suspect. I genuinely thought I wanted to be a service submissive, someone who was so helpful and so good at anticipating my dominant's needs that I impressed them and made them proud. I looked into service training classes, read loads of books, took every sex tip workshop I could so I could be the best submissive I could be. I wanted to be like Jeeves, from P.G. Wodehouse's classic books. Jeeves is sort of a manic pixie dream butler, I guess, though he's a little more organized and less whimsical (and Wooster and Jeeves probably don't fuck, though, tbh, if they did I bet Jeeves would be the top).

His real job, however, is to be the companion that drives the main character along his path. And when I look back at the relationships in my life, I am so often that person. I'm not acting as the protagonist of my own story, but a sidekick for someone else.

I think about the big life shifts I've made - moving to California, moving to London, being involved with Mission Control, modeling for erotic photos, performing in porn, building a rocketship, becoming poly. So many of them were, yes, things I wanted to do, but I did them to be a companion to someone else, to help them or their project along. I was a support figure, not a main participant, and I went along with someone else's plan, because why not? I'm pretty flexible and generally up for an adventure. Sure, many of these things went relatively unacknowledged, and I would reassure myself that it was ok, because a Good Submissive is able to improve other people's lives without them even noticing, right?

There's a big problem with this though, I'm discovering. Or there's a couple of problems, really. One of them is that it's really hard for me to figure out what my needs actually are. It's so much easier to force myself into the mold of what a partner wants, to adapt to their desires, than it is to ask for what I desire. I've never really sat down and been proactive about what I want, just reactive about what I don't want, away from what doesn't feel right rather than towards what does. It's part of codependency, in a way - make yourself into the ideal lover and your lover won't leave, is the theory, though I don't know if that's even true. It hasn't been, certainly. And when do you compromise your needs and wants, versus sticking to your guns? What are my dealbreakers, really? I'm so used to navigating other people's boundaries and wants that it's difficult for me to name my own. But I forget that when I do that, I'm also serving my partner's unhealthy relationship patterns, because I'm giving them the expectation that it's fine to always get their way, that I won't ever say no, that the only compromises will be mine.

Another is that when you're never acknowledged, it's hard not to feel kind of resentful. Always the helper, never the artist or the muse, at least that's how I've felt.  I worry sometimes that my desire to be Seen is just my insecurity or my ego, but I think there's also just a wish to be acknowledged for who I am and what I do so it's not just invisible labour. I don't think that's a bad thing? I think that's a reaction to being a hidden girlfriend, an unseen volunteer, a forgotten backstage worker. I've had women flirt with lovers in front of me like I didn't exist... and lovers who responded to that, making me feel even less seen. I've worked on projects and come up with ideas only to have my name written out of them entirely. I don't want to be possessive, but I don't want to be completely ignored/deemed unimportant either. But I'm not entirely sure how to ask to be Seen without it seeming self-centered. I don't want to take up too much space, but I also feel like I've been trying to shrink myself so small I barely exist sometimes.

Lastly, I feel like when people expect you to be That Girl, the manic pixie that flies into their life as a happy secondary character, does magic in their messed up life, and then flits off... when you have any needs of your own, the people around you are surprised and a little dismissive. You've never needed that kind of thing before, after all! Maybe it's a phase. If it's not a phase, then the people who were happy to benefit from your emotional labour while giving the minimum in exchange are unpleasantly surprised that you're suddenly having expectations and limits and rules of your own, that you want it to be an even trade. It makes it difficult to decide whether it's worth it to be Seen, if that means that the people around you will begrudge you it.

I have had a sudden realization about how I have allowed things to happen in my life that feel at my expense. I have been so scared of being dramatic or volatile or selfish that I've just let these things happen. I want to be "GGG" after all, I'm terrified of being seen as needy and I try to communicate directly and ask for as little as I can. But that's part of my socialization as a woman and as a femme, that I should be the Giving Tree and give of myself and compromise myself until I am destroyed (which will then be my fault and responsibility to recover from). I need to stop being a secondary character and really figure out who I am and what I want, separate from the people in my life. It's good to consider other people in what you do, but I need to learn to consider myself and put on my own oxygen mask. I need to learn how to be the protagonist in my own story.

Categories: balance, boundaries, communication, fake it til you make it, intimacy, love is a dog from hell, male privilege, manic pixie dream domme

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New Paths, New Porns

Well, if you follow me on social media, you probably know I got fired from TROUBLEfilms a month after being promoted to Head of Production. I'm not going to publicly go into the reasoning, though suffice to say, I feel pretty hurt, used, and angry about it, even two weeks later.

HOWEVER!

Silver linings are everywhere, and this is no exception. I'm back to writing more, or at least I intend to be, and I've had some extra time to work on my site (bye steampunk, hello rococo!). I'm hoping to be in the running as one of the best sex bloggers (this will be especially meaningful as I go back to leaning on writing as my main profession, so it does make an impact! Kinkly is one you can vote for me for, and Between My Sheets is another. Thank you!) I have a somewhat damning piece I'm working on about the porn industry, questioning how radical sex work can ever be under capitalist patriarchy, and if the fact it's not radical inherently means we shouldn't support it (spoiler alert, it's complicated).

Also, with the split from TROUBLEfilms, I've found myself spending a lot of time developing my own vision and my own voice when it comes to coming up with porn ideas, editing video, and other stuff. It's exciting to sit down and figure out what *I* want to do, especially as I've never really defined myself as a visual artist before. I never thought I had that drive that artists needed to have, but here I am, making stuff and really enjoying it!

Currently I've been making porn music videos.

Everyone needs a hobby, after all, right? This is mine, at least for the time being. I've been loving mixing my porn work with the beautiful music of Unwoman  (who you should support on Patreon by the way).

I plan to work on a couple DVD projects once I figure out how to master the damn things when Apple doesn't support it anymore (or I cave in and learn Encore). "Here Kitty Kitty" will be out on DVD, and I have an idea how to make a fun, limited edition collectable. I'll be crowdfunding for another couple of ideas, and making clip content in the meantime, getting better at filming and editing. One plus side is that I'm not the only one who has been burned by my boss, and no longer working there has opened up a host of possibilities for collaboration that I didn't realize I was missing out on.

I'm still planning to go to AVN, both to hang out with performers and to film more stuff, and I have clips up at Clips4Sale and AmateurPorn. I'm also planning to make some custom clips, which you can email me about if you're interested! And when I make trailers and music videos, you can find them up at PornHub (please rate them!)

So, onwards and upwards, right? I'm not convinced I want to start a members site or anything, but I do love porn, and I want to make subversive, body positive porn with sex negative critiques firmly influencing what I do and how I do it. It's gonna be a bumpy ride, but I think it's going to be a fun one!

Categories: anxiety, best of, boundaries, capitalism, personal, porn

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The Incredible Work That Goes Into Having Fun

I have a confession to make.

I don't know how to "have fun". Or to "relax". Things that people seem to be able to recognize more readily than "what should I do with my life" or "how to I navigate this complicated emotional situation". I can do those things easily enough, but taking a step back from work is confusing and often anxiety provoking for me.

My boyfriend asked me what I wanted to do for fun that night when we were on a date a week ago. I had to think really hard about it.  As I try to step away from drinking, I'm realizing how many things I find "fun" involve going to bars. Not just going to bars, if I'm honest- the drinking is the fun thing, the relaxing thing, the enforced giving up of some measure of control. I'm having to relearn how to enjoy myself when it's not based on consumption - eating nice food, drinking cocktails, buying pretty dresses. Those things are all pleasurable, certainly, but I'm finding them really empty and without them I'm at a loss of what else I can do, especially at night, that's "fun".

I used to drink and smoke and do drugs and fuck for "fun" but I feel like really I did a lot of all those things in order to fit in. I felt, especially as a fat femme, that I had to be "fun" if I wanted to be liked, and that often meant doing things I didn't want to do in order to maintain social and sexual capital. While it was vital in the moment to pretend that fucking a bunch of men I wasn't that interested in at sex parties was "fun" for me, it wasn't. It was a desperate plea to be seen and treated like a viable person within these party spaces. The more I pulled away from fucking randos and moved towards talking about politics, the less "fun" I became and the more people kept their distance from me. It was ok to be fat as long as I wasn't picky about who I fucked (often aided by drinking, of course).

It's a tough choice- conform, and kind of hate myself, or refuse to conform and end up disappointed in the people around you. But people thought I was fun back then, and would flirt with me, and talk to me, and invite me to things. They don't, now. And in some ways I'm glad, because do I want to be in spaces where people are pushy and ignorant and manipulative?

I miss being fun though. I miss having fun. I miss smiling and laughing til I cry and being in social situations that don't make me want to crawl into the wall. So I need to do some work in figuring out how to invoke fun back into my life.

I'm going to start, here and now, with trying to come up with a list of 10 daytime and 10 nighttime activities (some of which could be both tbh) that might conceivably be "fun" that don't revolve around being at a bar. Whew. Here goes.

Daytime:

-swimming
-petting animals
-having a picnic
-going to a museum
-day trips to new places
-picking fruit
-taking a class in something
-having a spa day
-geocaching
-leisurely walks in nature

Nighttime:

-stargazing
-playing a board game
-doing crafts
-being read to
-making a blanket fort
-going to a hot tub
-seeing a movie
-cooking a meal
-seeing some sort of theatre
-having a bath with bath bombs

Can I be honest? That took me over a half an hour to write, because the things I kept wanting to add were things like "write" or "take photos", both of which I find fun sometimes but are also money making work endeavors.  I mean, it's great that I love my work, but "work/life balance" is a thing I know nothing about. When I have something to do, I'm all in. Which is good in a lot of ways, but I think it's also wearing me out. I'm on the clock from when I wake up til I go to sleep, because when I'm at a loss for what to do with myself, I figure I might as well work... but that's not really self care, I guess. :)

I'm so blessed to have partners who understand this about me and both make space for my workaholism but also gently push me to get away from staring at a screen. Though I do worry that my struggle to be entertaining is a lot of work for them. What do I bring to the table that's pleasurable, if I'm not fun? How can I learn to be fun without betraying myself and my values?

What do you do for fun? How do you relax? Do you have a hard time relaxing? How do you let go of that nagging feeling that there's always more work to be done?

Categories: anxiety, best of, body stuff, boundaries, community, depression, fake it til you make it, parties, personal, rape culture, sexuality

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Letting Go: Bad Habits As Relationship Debris

I decided this week that I was going to seriously attempt to end two of my "bad habits". I say "bad habits" in quotes because I think that they can be thoroughly enjoyable vices for some. For me, though, I have found that these two - smoking and drinking - are ones I reach for without thinking more often than I'd like.

Both things developed while I was in toxic relationships. I had a lover who smoked regularly, far more than I ever have, and I picked up smoking while with him as a way for us to bond. There was also a chivalry to smoking, with him- he would light my cigarette with a little flourish that made me feel very seen as a femme, and I was attracted to that dashing demeanor that really shone through the ritual of smoking. And I had a lover who would drag me to social settings I felt uncomfortable in, around people I didn't really like, which is where I learned to have a couple of glasses of hard liquor in order to muddle through without feeling too lonely or out of place.

Coming back to the States, I found myself smoking and drinking almost exclusively in social situations as a way of trying to manage my ever increasing panic. After one too many parties where I found myself throwing up and pretending everything was fine, I knew it was time to reassess my relationship to my vices. And it feels like they're both residue from relationships I'm better off without.

So here I am, with bottles of kombucha and sparkling water, with my vaporizer holding half the nicotine. This has been an incredibly harsh week for a lot of reasons, and I cursed myself a bit for deciding on this as the time to start this... but I want to be able to go hiking with my boyfriend without gasping for air, and a large part of that is giving up smoking. I've given myself alternatives to fill the space left behind by these security blankets, and I'm curious to see how I do with it.

A big part of why I want to change both of these habits isn't really for my physical health, though that's not a bad side effect. It's the mental health aspect I'm more focused on, if I'm honest. I've been struggling with social anxiety for a while now and I can't imagine clinging to these habits is helping me overcome that particular issue. At the same time, I think that rather than trying to OVERCOME my social anxiety, I'm going to stop putting myself in situations where I feel at a loss or ignored. I am lucky enough to have supportive friends who I feel safe around, and not tempting to automatically reach for an intoxicant, so I'm going to try to refocus my energy on those spaces and those people.

One of the things that I came across recently was this interactive self care guide. The idea of it is to ask questions that we might be used to ignoring in our day to day lives in order to get by, questions like "when have you eaten last" and "how many hours have you slept in the last 24". What I especially love is that none of the answers cause the game to shame you, but gently encouraging you to make decisions that could be healthier. I think it's easy when trying to change our lifestyles to blame ourselves when we falter or stray from the path we've set. It's hard to remember that it's ok to fail.

I'm kind of curious what will happen the next time I'm in a social situation I want to nope out of. Will it be more awkward for the lack of cigarettes or booze? Or will I feel like it's easier to be direct about my discomfort? Only time can possibly tell.

If you want to help support me with this effort, I put some bitters on my wishlist that I can use to make mocktails!  I also would love recommendations for a soda stream like thing that isn't soda stream, if anyone has any ideas.

Categories: anxiety, balance, body stuff, breakups, fake it til you make it, growth, personal, resolutions, self care

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Review: The (Terribly Named But Amazing) Womanizer

It's been a little while since I reviewed a sex toy that made me feel really excited. I kept hearing rumors about a toy that managed to have both rumbling vibrations AND suction, two of my favourite things when it comes to my clit.

I poked around, looking through various sex toy reviewers blogs, til I came across it, and I'll admit I was skeptical.

Not only is this toy called "The Womanizer", which is obviously an awful name, but it looks and feels like a cheap novelty you'd find in one of those porn shops with the beaded curtain back room.

DON'T BE FOOLED!

In my experience, this toy was like if you walked through that beaded curtain and stepped into the hottest most diverse queer orgy where everyone felt safe and their bodies were loved and no one felt awkward for what they did or didn't do. It was a revelation, an unexpected joy.

Good Vibrations sent me the Womanizer in the colour of my choice- I picked light pink because why not, but you can also get it in black leopard, purple leopard, baby blue crocodile, red roses, and black fiery tattoos or something. See below for the selection:


They all have this sparkly plastic gem as the button, and come with a black carrying case for subtlety (cause god knows the vibrators themselves are pretty tacky!)

It's a rechargeable vibrator, micro usb to usb, pretty easy to charge. It comes with the cable and also an extra silicone head for ease of cleaning and for switching them out when your wear out the first one.  The toy isn't waterproof, but with removable heads, soap and water makes clean up pretty simple.

ANYWAY what you want to know about it is how this toy felt, right?

It's got 6 settings, and a low rumbling that doesn't seem too out there til you slip the silicone cup around your clit. There's something about having the reverberations all around you that feels incredible, and while there wasn't a lot of suction, there was a gentle tug on my clit that added a special something.

I started slowly, but as a hardcore Hitachi user, I found myself mostly rocking the 6th setting. My clit jumped to attention almost immediately, humming with the sensation. It was almost too much at times, yet not quite enough to get me over the edge- really great for orgasm denial and teasing, which is something I like, and want to incorporate more into my life.

I personally didn't have the one minute orgasms other people did, but it was a very satisfying experience regardless. Because the whole toy doesn't vibrate, I can imagine using this while someone eats me out, because their face won't go numb while they're doing it. I think that'll be really fun, switching between tongue and vibrator!

I think this would be an excellent toy for people who are shy about using something intimidating- it's very easy to use, no complicated settings, and it's not heavy to hold. I can imagine it being a lot more practical for couples play, especially penetrative sex, as it wouldn't get as in the way!

Good Vibrations sells this toy for $189, making it up there with other luxury sex toys. I wish the manufacturers had thought a bit more about the design when they made this, because a sleeker design might feel like it matched the price a bit better. I also wish it had some less femme options, because I bet this toy could be a great Fleshlight stand in for trans men!

That said, sleeker designs can also feel really inaccessible to people who are new to sex toys, and in that way I think this is a great entry point for trying new sensations. Also it's kind of hilarious that it lights up. Why, I have no idea, but it'll be great for some weird medical play probing scene!

Thank you Good Vibrations for sending me the Womanizer in exchange for an honest and fair review!

Categories: Good Vibrations, rechargeable, review, silicone, vibrator

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On "Feminist Porn" and its Limitations

I read this really great Tits and Sass piece called “Fuck Your Feminist Porn”. A quote:

”The feminist ideals upheld by this kind of alternative porn are a joke. Their insistence on natural, “alternative” beauty excludes those who cannot attain white beauty ideals or at least have to work to reach them. At these porn companies, makeup is frowned upon, plastic surgery is a hell no, and fatness is as shunned as ever. While the image isn’t one of people actively working to meet fashion industry perfection, it instead enters around only those who can achieve it without effort. Ultimately, their “feminist” message is: “don’t work to be beautiful, but fuck you if you’re not effortlessly beautiful.””

Seriously, go read the whole thing, it’s a good critique.

I agree with a lot of it. I have many issues with so called feminist porn and its lack of representation, how many so called feminist pornographers take a “well if it didn’t happen on set” attitude to abuse/rape, how many have taken credit for other women’s work or hemmed and hawed about paying at all for a scene. God knows I had my own confusions about "authenticity" in sex, which seems to be a feminist porn buzzword, the "feminist porn awards" generally and how they're reflective of white feminism, and what is "natural" in terms of look.

That said. I have also seen how female competitiveness has influenced these critiques in some cases (especially on tumblr, cough cough). How someone I used to consider a best friend has been using the language of labour politics to talk shit about one such company (the one I work for) while buddying up with another producer who once paid this ex-friend just $50 for a scene in which she featured.

(Full disclosure- I’m fucking that ex-friend’s ex. This critique of the company I work for happened after that news went public. I don’t think that’s coincidence, tbh, and I'm really tired of keeping my mouth shut while rumors fly.)

I’ve seen people rant on Tumblr about how queer and/or feminist porn should pay the same as mainstream or GTFO, that by not doing so it’s indicative of a lack of care about worker rights. Yet I know these folks happily work with “feminist” companies that refuse to hire trans women, fat women, or black women, and have no complaints. It's also worth mentioning that to complain or to critique openly is often to burn bridges in the porn world, so rather than having direct discussions to work out next steps when it comes to porn and realistic labour practices, instead performers talk shit about each other behind closed doors or via subtweets. It's tiresome, it's cliche, it's unprofessional, and it's ineffective at actually fixing the problem.

I am often the first to say that critiques of the business I work for are completely valid and I’m happy we’ve taking such incredible strides forward in addressing the issues brought forward. That’s part of what I’m focusing on as Head of Productions, bringing the work that was started forward- creating a better working environment for performers, creating new alternative payment methods to benefit our workers, diversifying our directors, putting a larger variety of performers front and center. I just feel like sometimes these critiques are tainted by personal bias just as much if not more than actual accountability. And can I be honest? I am so bored with rumors behind hands being the gold standard for analysis. That doesn't solve these problems you claim to care about. If you want them solved, speak up!

I have also seen people holding porn to this impossible standard as a godsend job, never mind feminist porn. I’ve watched people move to the Bay expecting to earn a living on queer porn alone. No one does that. Hell, mainstream performers also hustle in many different ways with their own sex toys, stripping, personal appearances, writing memoirs. But with queer and feminist porn, I’ve also seen people get really upset when those jobs aren’t there, like they’ve been betrayed. It’s vitally important to be realistic with your expectations. Queer porn cannot be the financial support system for every queer marginalized person, definitely not if people don't pay for their porn.

Typically, we don’t have the money coming in to pay the same as mainstream. Partially because people don’t pay for their porn, or feel entitled to it for free because they’re sticking it to anti-capitalism when they torrent our shit. That ends up trickling down to how much budget we have to make new work, directly, FYI, and I know this because I see the budget. (which seems like a good time to remind you I have a new film out).

Never mind that expecting small companies to pay $600-1000+ a scene would mean a lot less diversity of content. Many smaller companies run by performers exist because of trade content, and I don’t see that as a bad thing if managed clearly and ethically. I recommend reading Jiz Lee’s piece on trade content best practices… though I do have to laugh that one of the people cited still has yet to send me 3 of the 4 scenes I shot for her for free - and that was two 8 hour shoots with no food, unlike most trades I’ve done which was maybe 2-3 hours and snacks provided.

It’s worth mentioning that, as I point out above, at least our company asks ¼ to ½ the time commitment mainstream has and a lot more artistic agency for our performers, as well as not insisting on a particular look, makeup routine, or wardrobe. You can show up exactly as you are, and many performers do. You can fuck who you want, how you want.

It’s still PORN, though, at the end of the day, and I have to question if sex work (and work, generally, though particularly gendered work)  under capitalist white supremacist patriarchy cannot really be 100% feminist.

Categories: activism, advice, best of, capitalism, community, feminism

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"What's Academic About Fucking?": In Defense of Porn at School

I just read a piece by Brigid Delaney on how universities were right to ban porn sites from being accessed on their wi-fi, as porn does not encourage youth to develop a healthy sexuality and might cause crime. Never mind, of course, that studies disprove these beliefs almost as often as they prove it. Who needs research at a university, after all?

Excuse me while I bang my head into a wall.

I believe that Delaney herself makes an important point when she says "students didn’t have to watch porn to objectify women – this objectification was already buried deep within the colleges’ DNA". Society at large regularly objectifies, silences, degrades and dismisses women. Porn is not, of course, immune from that, but it's not exactly the centerpiece of it either.

I'm certainly not in the business of wholeheartedly defending the adult industry- I've got plenty of feminist critiques of my own- but it's absurd to suggest that banning porn is the answer rather than frank discussions and actual consequences for boundary violations. It's an easier answer, absolutely, but I'll be pretty surprised if trying to stifle the masturbation habits of 18-22 year olds is going to have the end result of less pent up sexual energy.

Additionally, and I speak now as a fat queer kinky person... porn did WONDERS for me when it came to realizing that I was not alone in my fantasies. I realized that there were people who found my body desirable. That there where other queer people in the world having all sorts of sex in a variety of delightful ways.

I was not witnessing that sort of accessibility to diversity of passions in my "real life", my offline life, where my interest in kink and women could cause me to be at best laughed at and at worst violently hurt. College kids are not exactly pinnacles of compassion and open mindedness after all, especially around sex, and dating sites often declare unapologetically "no fats no fems" alongside their dick pics and crude language. I, of course, was both, the ultimate undesirable. Porn was a place where I saw people like me having sex and at least seemingly having fun. I needed that, needed access to Cyberdyke and No Fauxxx in my life so I felt seen.

I think about the effects a ban like this might have on the ever-increasing number of students who turn to sex work as a way of helping them pay their bills. Sure, the risk of discovery might go down, but will the risk of stigma increase? How will that secrecy impact the safety of student sex workers?

One of the comments on the original piece asked "what's academic about fucking?" There is some irony to this query, of course, as the same person cited studies that "prove" that porn is objectifying and harmful to women, so I guess fucking is academic as long as it's ANTI porn. Still, there's plenty of academia around sex, and has been for at least a hundred years. Ask Kraft-Ebbing that question, or Masters & Johnson, or Mirielle Miller-Young. Look at the Porn Studies series, or the International Network for Sexual Ethics and Politics. I regularly show porn at universities to illustrate points about authenticity, the gaze, censorship and obscenity- hell I just showed porn at the Royal Holloway at an academic conference last week. There's plenty academic about who and how and why we fuck, it's just not taken seriously because at the end of the day we're all still 12 year olds giggling at the nudie magazine we found in the bushes.

I live in a town where a billboard declaring "PORN KILLS LOVE" literally overshadows my house.  I would imagine that my inability to love would be news to my lovers, friends, and family, who would likely accuse me of too many feelings rather than not enough. Seriously, though, I am so sick and tired of the industry I am a part of being blamed for people's emotional laziness and unwillingness to work on their own shit. I have been a porn consumer my entire life, a performer for 5+ years, and working behind the scenes for 2, and guess what? I can somehow manage, through all that nudity and sex tainting my life, to be an upstanding and ethical human being.

It's not the porn, folks. It's you.

Categories: activism, angry, assumptions, best of, body stuff, censorship, don't tell me how to live, feminism, porn, sex work myths, sexism, sexuality, stigma

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Safie's Choice: A Frankenporn Story

It was a dark and stormy night.

Well, it was dark, anyway, something the Creature was thankful for as he settled in for another long night of peering through a stranger’s window. He told himself it was for “educational purposes”; the fact that his hand very often ended up in his pants was merely coincidence. Correlation is not causation, after all.

That’s a science reference, because this is a science fiction story.

The Creature had been peering through this particular window for many nights. It was a lot more interesting than reading “Paradise Lost”, which isn’t terribly surprising if we’re being honest. The goings on inside the cottage, meanwhile, were a lesson in open mindedness. Not in an intersectional awareness sort of way, but more in a “wow I had no idea all those things could fit inside a butthole” sort of way. The Creature was pretty into it.

The window belonged to a cottage housing three peasant youths, who, despite being peasants, were all strikingly attractive and miraculously free of smallpox. There was Felix, the dashing young man with firm, tanned muscles who seemed sad and therefore probably would have loved “Paradise Lost”. There was his sister Agatha, a blonde haired and freckled young woman with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. And there was Safie, a bright eyed and dark haired beauty who enjoyed accommodating the siblings many pleasures.

Look, it was winter in Germany, there wasn’t a lot else to do. And sex is cheaper than coal. YOLO (well, unless you’re a reanimated corpse, but I digress).

Safie, who was not from around here, was being coached on how to speak French by Felix even though they were in Germany. This ended up being a euphemism for “having a lot of kinky threesomes with his sister when dad’s not home”. It was a hands on education in the various ways one could pleasure themselves with their hands, someone else’s mouth, or a convenient gourd if the mood was right. The Creature, who had never seen such things and had only read about them in whatever the 18th century version of Cosmo was, studied their behaviour obsessively, learning words like “shaft” and “cunt”, and important phrases like “use more lube” and “if you move from that spot on my clit before I come I’m going to punch you”. Occasionally the Creature would see an older man in the cottage, father to Felix and Agatha and blind, but he seemed more inclined to wander around the woods than stay there, probably in part because it reeked of sex and he really didn’t need that kind of intimate knowledge of his children’s sex lives.

The first time he observed the three fucking, he experienced a strange engorgement of the flesh and a wetness in his trousers. Reading Milton had not really prepared the Creature for the mysteries of his body, and he didn’t really speak to his Maker about the birds and the bees. Watching Felix orgasm onto Agatha’s face while Safie stroked his cock gave the Creature some context for what jizz was, and he began to put his hands down his pants in order to catch the curious fluid from its source. He told himself it was to save his clothes from staining, but secretly he just liked to lick it off his palm.

On this particular evening,The Creature peered through the window to see they were left to their own devices yet again, in part as their dad was blind, not deaf. Today’s devices appeared to be a broom handle, a zucchini, and a vibrating contraption which probably shouldn’t have been invented yet but we’ll pretend was in order to aid the story.

Agatha had blindfolded Safie for some sort of game - she held the anachronistic vibrator in one hand, and the broom handle in the other, and was teasing Safie to reach out and pat the arm that would be her pleasure object for the evening. Felix had pulled down his lederhosen and busied himself with the zucchini, putting on quite a show as he thrust the vegetable in and out of his eager asshole for the amusement of his sister. Safie, nipples hardening as she heard the moans coming from one side of the cottage, eagerly reached out and patted the arm with the broomstick, causing Agatha to giggle with devious delight. Because I cannot possibly write about the sexual use of a broom handle without shuddering thinking about splinters, I think we’ll adjourn back to the scene outside.

The Creature stared through the window, transfixed by the whimpers and gasps coming from within the cottage, his jaundiced hand stroking his dick, which was quickly resurrecting.

He felt a hand on his arm. It was the father, De Lacey, home at last from the village.

“Ah,” said De Lacey, “have you been spying??”

The Creature just sort of made an affirmative groan in response, partially because he had been really close to orgasm and this was really inconvenient timing. De Lacey, totally nonplussed by the nonverbal response, began to feel his way up the Creature’s broad chest, past his scars, up to his face.

“You’re a strapping young lad,” said the old man with furrowed brow. “Why wouldn’t you knock on the door and say hello? As you can see they’re pretty experimental, though I wish they did chores with the same enthusiasm.”

The Creature shook his head frantically. “I… I couldn’t possibly. They are so beautiful, and I am so hideous.”

De Lacey snorted in response. “Hrmph! Well looks aren’t everything, my boy, take it from me. An eagerness to please wins out over a handsome face any day of the week.” He grinned, a smile that, sure, was missing a few teeth but made up for that in warmth. “Perhaps I could show you a bit of the old ‘brotherly love’, if you think you’d give an old fellow like me the chance?” And with that he reached down to cup the Creature’s stiff prick in his hand. “It seems like you might.”

The Creature had never been touched like this before, and the warmth of the old man’s hand against the cool but throbbing meat of his cock was a new, welcome sensation. Then De Lacey kissed him, hard but tenderly, his beard sloughing off the top layer of the Creature’s skin - it was ok, because De Lacey was blind, and the Creature couldn’t feel it. Soon De Lacey had spit in his hand and began stroking the hard flesh of his companion, beginning with a slow, gentle jerking off, then getting faster and firmer. “Yessss”, De Lacey murmured. “Just like we used to do in the Army…”

“Um,” said the Creature, feeling a bit embarrassed but also very aroused, “I’m not entirely sure that’s the best idea…” when De Lacey found one particular tug left him with the Creature’s cock in his hand, feeling like a bratwurst that had been left on the counter overnight.

“Oh,” said De Lacey. “Awkward.” He lit a cigarette and offered it to the Creature.

The Creature shrieked and flung the cigarette at the cottage in horror, which immediately caught on fire.

 Written for the Booksmith's event SHIPWRECK

Categories: best of, erotica, fantasy, geekery, your morals are not my morals

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Hating the Game (And Resenting The Players)

There are only a handful of things I like to be playfully competitive about. The occasional Scrabble game. Costuming for an event.

But most of the time, I'm a cooperative player, which is not something society is particularly used to or welcoming of.  I suppose in some ways it's what I was trained for in most situations, being socialized as a woman. Women are expected to bustle about together to make life more palatable for the menfolk at our jobs, at school, at home. When we're competitive with men in these spheres, especially if we take up space by doing so, it's seen as distasteful and masculine.

Yet women are also taught to compete with each other in order to get what they want or to survive. And I HATE it. I feel like I encounter it a lot and it sucks every time, perhaps because I genuinely want to trust that other people aren't trying to fuck me over. Yet women are kind of encouraged to fuck each other over, subtly and overtly, all the time.

I've mostly experienced this when it comes to relationships, especially nonmonogamous relationships. My ex was incredibly skilled at playing women who didn't want to engage in femme competition against each other, and then gaslighting me when I pointed it out. I began to question if every incident that felt like him making us compete for his attention was just something I saw that way because I was jealous. I tried to ignore it, or train myself out of it. I tried to look the other way when he ignored me at parties, not checking in before going off to fuck someone else but letting me discover him mid coitus and then accusing me of not being really poly when I felt hurt. I tried to combat my feelings of insecurity by talking to the other women in these situations, who often had not been told we were even dating. It's definitely created a web of anxieties and suspicions that I still find very difficult to navigate.

It's been a couple of years now, but there's been multiple years before that where I was trained to be in a continual state of tension between wanting to trust other women and have femme solidarity and having that trust violated repeatedly. When it came to sex work I knew to trust my gut, but when it came to being suspicious of other women (and my often male's partner interactions between other women and me) I have always had a hard time knowing when my gut is right and when my gut is being reactionary. I want to believe, you know? And even when other women pull competitive shit like wedging themselves between a partner and me or telling me one thing and my lover another, I have a hard time being mad at them, because that's how this game works. Rather than play the game, I just want to take my pieces and go home.

I was reading this piece about polyamory and how gender dynamics can play out within polyamory and it really resonated:

"Polyamory is a way that heterosexual men can “hedge”, or invest, in various women, to the degree that they want to, and benefit from the returns until the investment is no longer worthwhile. There are many things that can make the investment become less worthwhile -when women start to ask for something in return, or demand more emotional, social, or sexual accountability, or transparency, or care activity. The polyamorous hedge then becomes a shield against accountability, and a guarantee that there is other attention to exploit without having to really offer anything back. Should the return gain fail on one relationship, or should you be asked to be accountable for your actions with that woman, or invest more by caring more, you have created other relationships to fall back on and reap gains from...

...While it may be true that men could sexually or emotionally reject one woman in the favor of a monogamous relationship with another, while “cheating” certainly occurs in monogamous relationships, in polyamorous relationships where men have more than one partner it is a common occurrence that women end up competing with each other for the little bit of attention or return on their care labor. This is not always the case, but it hesitates a militant praxis amongst women sharing male lovers-that their sociability remains intact-and is difficult if one of the women do not already have a feminist praxis.

In polyamory, women may have to work double time at their care labor to become more desirable than other women lovers. Perhaps they must be more sexually willful and open, more caring and sweet, sometimes more youthful and simultaneously mature, they must overall have a better performance in reproducing the man in the center in order to continue to earn their part of the attention or by worth the investment, since there is hedging and other investments placed against them."

When I posted about this, I got a lot of reactive responses, especially from one woman who indignantly asked if I was even polyamorous. Questioning how gender dynamics, sexual capital, and class figures into nonmonogamy seems to be incredibly taboo, despite the fact that we pat ourselves on the back as a community for being "more evolved" and more capable of having these discussions. I have found the opposite to be true much of the time, similarly with kink- being kinky or poly appears to be such a vulnerable and delicate identity that to question how power dynamics imposed by cultural norms impact the practice is to desire the destruction of polyness and kinkiness altogether. This adds an extra layer onto the dislike of competitiveness, because when to ask about it or to address it is to invoke defensiveness, I often find myself wondering if I care enough to "fight" for my feelings. Sometimes I feel like I not only have to navigate my own complicated feelings, separating the reality from past trauma, and the impact that has on my partners, but also navigate the overarching complications of social expectations... and how willing people are to name them.

I have my own ways to try and decrease competitiveness in my own nonmonogamous relationships that has mostly worked. I have my partners meet each other and socialize sometimes. I encourage them to talk to each other if they want to. I try to hang out with metamours one on one, and almost always offer up my vulnerability first to foster trust in sharing. But a lot of these things rely on good faith, and sometimes it's still really hard not to caress the scars from times I've been burned before and feel wary of someone's intentions, even when I wish I could.

I am nonmonogamous despite the constant reminder that to be so as a fat political queer is to set myself up to be devalued, ignored, desexualized, dismissed, and humiliated.  I envy those who have the luxury of not feeling jealous, or not feeling like a lack of sexual capital holds them back, or just having access in the first place- I know it would make my life easier, and my lovers lives easier. It is one of very few areas that makes me hate myself for being so petty, and so painfully aware of the impact of sexual capital on how people treat me. I deeply resent the way women are taught to compete (and men to encourage it) but I also hate feeling like an idiot when I give people the benefit of the doubt and they use that against me.

I am a cooperative player, but on some level I suspect it's because I'm afraid if it was a competition I would always lose.

Categories: anxiety, best of, body stuff, boys, capitalism, communication, community, dating, fake it til you make it, feminism, identity, love is a dog from hell, male privilege, nonmonogamy, poly ptsd, reflection, sweeties