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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

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Sexting and the Kitty

I'm a person who has probably received more unrequested dick pics or smutty text messages than the average person, in part because I'm open about being a sex worker, in part because I am a Nice Person and I try to make contacting me relatively accessible so I can offer advice.

Despite that, I still genuinely love sexting. There's something about being on the bus, or at work, or in the grocery store doing mundane shit, and getting that text that makes you want to drop your panties and jerk off right there. It's sexual tension and enjoyment of the taboo at its finest. Never mind that in times of drought having a bunch of super juicy sexts lined up can rekindle the romance realllllly quickly. And it might even be good for your relationship or something!

It's not always necessary to have my sexting companion be a lover or even someone I know, though personally, that does help. When I was 14 I used to enjoy going into the adult AOL chatrooms and cybersexing with folks in various themed roleplaying rooms. Granted, I particularly liked pretending to be a 40 year old man trolling in those chats, which is the opposite of what I was warned about (older men roleplaying as teens). There was something freeing about getting to be anyone I wanted to be, playing around with identity and sexual orientation and fetishes to see what tickled my fancy.

That's one of the things I loved about working for phone sex lines, or a sexting service like Arousr. There was something about the wild unknown when you got a new person at the end of your line. Often, your companion had reasonably standard kinks- spanking, the girl next door, maybe a little bisexual curiosity. But once in a while you'd get someone who would want something really out of the ordinary. It wasn't always my cup of tea, but I appreciated having a space to explore fantasies with someone else, someone who would witness them, have the ability to leave, and then not do it. It's validating, in a way that I can understand as a person with some fucked up fantasies I'd never want to live out.

The written word has always been the spark for my particular erotic interests. I'm glad we've moved from phone calls to texting, because there's something about the filthiness of someone saying exactly what they're going to do, and then being able to look back on that exchange and use it for dirty talk next time we're in bed together. Sexting has helped me get better at finding things to say during sex, though I still have to practice so I don't just blurt out "I LOVE YOUR PENIS" as I am wont to do.

That said there is also some sense of performativity that comes with sexting. It's a bid for attention, and not just any attention, but sexual attention, and not everyone can take a minute out of their day to indulge that bid. I have certainly used sexting as a way of keeping things hot between long distance lovers and myself, and I've felt a little crushed once in a while when my sexy selfies have gone without remark. Sometimes I feel my sexting is more of a self indulgent verbal swagger than actually my desires. Sometimes I can't tell which is which, the performance becomes reality and vice versa. Sex is complicated. Words are hard.

In the end, though, I don't imagine I could have a lover who didn't sext at least once in a while. I may watch porn as often as I read it anymore to jerk off, but the written word is my first love, and someone who can't arouse those senses doesn't stand much of a chance in the long run.

Or at LEAST sexting with emojis. I could work with that.

Categories: ah youth, best of, communication, consent, gender, identity, interwebz, memories, phone sex, sexuality

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What I Learned About Fat Dating Trauma Through Piggy and Kermit

Piggy and Kermit were a huge part of my childhood. From "Muppet Babies" to the Muppet Show, they were one of televisions big couples that I recall from the 80s alongside Westley and Buttercup, Lloyed Dobler and Diane Court, Jennifer Parker and Marty McFly, Samantha Baker and Jake Ryan. They way they struggled, bantered, and ultimately came back to each other over and over felt reassuring as a child, like I would one day meet a love of my life that nothing could break apart.

As an adult, though, I have a different framing of the examples of romance I was brought up with. It’s hard to think of many 80s power couples that didn’t end up being abusive in some way, now that I think about it, and the Kermit/Piggy dynamic is no exception. While I initially felt surprised by the announcement of their breakup, on a personal level it makes complete sense. I know this sounds like a lot of attention being paid to a fictional couple’s breakup (which is kind of obviously for marketing), but bear with me for a minute.

When I was growing up I saw Piggy dating Kermit as a validation that fat femmes could be loved, were worth being in a relationship with, even. Sure, he was commitmentphobic, but I figured that was true of many men and not particularly notable.

Until I began to really watch their dynamic, and hear how they spoke to each other. And I began to realize how close to the bone it all was. How Piggy was always chasing him, begging him for acknowledgement or stability, how he kept her at arm's length. How we would discover in bits and pieces that they had a relationship, but on camera, Kermit would say things like, "Miss Piggy and I have a professional acting relationship. I act like a professional, and she acts like we're having a relationship." He was constantly joking about how he couldn't trust her, invalidating their relationship in public while being sweet in private, and even when he did say they were dating, he would typically snarkily compare it to abusive behaviour.

We, the audience, are taught to see Piggy as demanding, clingy, and hysterical, but I realized that I have acted just like her when I've been in a relationship with someone who has thin privilege.

Her projected narcissism makes a lot of sense to me, for a start, as it's a defense I put up too. When you're a fat femme with a thin person, society constantly tells you that you don't deserve them. You deal with your lover getting pitying looks in restaurants, people flirting with your partner like you don't exist, advice in grocery stores about losing weight when the two of you are just shopping for dinner. I have literally had people ask me how someone like me ended up with someone like him, or her- a question I have never gotten when I've dated fellow fatties. It got to a point where I lost any attraction to fit people for a while, because however I felt about them, it wasn't worth the constant harassment and judgment. I understood why Piggy would talk herself up so much, because I did it too as a rebellion against the idea that I wasn't sexy and wasn't deserving of adoration.

Or there was the way they would escalate. I was watching this clip where Piggy says that she's feeling uncomfortable going to the swamp with Kermit (I mean to be fair, he's often naked, and she's high femme). He initially says it's ok, they don't have to go to the swamp, where his roots are, and then starts yelling at her about going to her roots... the sty. "Remember that?" he says pointedly, while Piggy looks more and more embarrassed and upset. The skit ends, as many of them do, with Piggy hitting Kermit- also not really a healthy dynamic. It speaks to me as someone who has had partners lambast me for my history as a sex worker or being dirt poor when they want to manipulate me into giving them their way.

The thing that really hit my heart though was how often Kermit would say that he didn't want Piggy at all or make fun of her weight. "Bib and napkin, knife and fork is the only way that I'll touch pork!" he sings in Pig Calypso. Or there's his Bruce Springsteen cover, which plays off of a "oh, Miss Piggy is SO FAT" joke. There's "I Won't Dance", which is a skit about Piggy wanting them to dance together (a show of intimacy and presence in the relationship) and Kermit refuses. But if Piggy dances with someone else, he's jealous (and frankly I think the fact that he's ultimately Piggy's boss creates a super shitty power dynamic). And he's heartbroken, apparently, when Piggy leaves him in The Muppet Movie, singing "I Hope That Somethin' Better Comes Along". So why can't he be loving to her in public? Why does he joke so much about their relationship, putting her down? It was very familiar, as someone who has been a secret lover for people (mostly men) who wanted to fuck me in private but didn't want to admit to it in public. No one wanted to bring the fat girl to meet their family or their friends, because while being fat gets a lot of bullying, so does desiring or loving someone fat. It took me a long time to realize I deserved a partner who was proud of me, and wanted to be by my side.

Kermit's emotional abuse and Piggy's physical abuse might seem funny if you don't look below the surface, and yes, I know I over analyze everything and I'm no fun and I get it. But media, even (if not especially) comic media teaches us things about dynamics. It teaches us about what sort of humour is ok and what isn't, who can be made fun of without penalty.  Piggy and Kermit's dynamic is one where the fat femme is constantly chasing a man who puts her down, uses his power as her boss to manipulate her, refuses to acknowledge her as a lover, and makes fun of her weight. She shouldn't settle for his asshole behaviour, and neither should I, or anyone.

In the end, Piggy left Kermit. This is important.  I know it seems silly but children do pick up on messages about what sort of treatment is romantic or ok. This didn't end up being a case of "he's not that into you", but of Piggy finally putting her hoof down and saying enough to being yanked around. Even when Kermit talked about the breakup, he couldn't resist jabbing at her one more time- "we can be professionals. Well, one of us can.... me", he says, while proving the exact opposite.

Apparently he's dating another pig, Denise.

Let's hope he actually acknowledges her in public.

"Well Kermit WAS always trying to manipulate Miss Piggy with his meekness and use his thin privilege to stay emotionally distant.. so not surprised," said fat activist and #losehatenotweight goddess Virgie Tovar on a comment on her Facebook, and at the end of the day, I'm not surprised either. If anything I think this is a positive step for fat femmes, to realize we can do better than partners like that, that we have value and deserve to have that value honoured, not torn apart for some cheap laughs.

Categories: #losehatenotweight, abuse, fat is fit, femme, love is a dog from hell, reflection

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Beauty in the Bruising

Content warning: frank discussion of abuse, discussion of kink as a healing response to abuse

There was a time when I would count my bruises to figure out how bad things were going in my relationship. Under 3 meant they were going reasonably well. Over 5 meant that we should try to avoid going to social events together, because I hated to argue in front of people. None meant that I should lay low and be extra careful with my words, just in case I might awaken the beast. He was like Jekyll and Hyde, all sweetness and snuggles one minute and depression and rage the next. The bruising was, I told myself, the price of admission. Bruises would heal. He just needed a place of his own, I would tell myself, he just needed therapy, a job, a job he liked, more lovers, more friends, more more more. If I gave enough, we could get through it.

We didn't.

It took a long time until I could look at a bruise caused by another person and feel anything other than shame. I had to rethink my relationship to them, to realize they did not have to mean violence or ownership, that violence could leave no marks and that marks could come from play. Learning how to be in a healthy relationship feels like when I tried to learn how to ski and ended up on my ass, going downhill fast, one ski having fallen off and announcing my plummet by ricocheting off other people. Picking myself up, shaking myself off, and trying again has been scary when the price of failure has been so great. But growth can be painful, and scary, and it's still worth doing.

Slowly I stopped trying to cover up my various hickies or the black and blue left from fingertips during a particularly rough fuck. I began to not count my bruises, but to lovingly stroke them, smiling to myself as I remembered how each one was made. I have one right now on my neck that was a lover's orgasm, one on my thigh from being pulled down the bed for easier access during a fingerfuck that left me drenched. My breasts are now often covered with purple teeth marks and I couldn't be happier about it.

Of course, now that they come from hot sex, and I'm not ashamed of them, now is when I'm asked if I'm ok, no, really, am I ok at home.  I'm glad that they ask that. I wish they had asked when I was in an abusive relationship, when a stranger expressing concern might've caused me to re-examine the situation I was in. Now I don't wear long sleeves or too much concealer. I ask for these marks, now, because they aren't there to scare people off from asking me out or as indications of fights gone physical. Now they're physical reminders of consent. of asking for what I want and getting it. I can watch them heal and know if I never wanted another bruise, that would be ok, too.

Healing from abuse can be so, so hard. I have to remind myself that my partners are not my exes. I startle easily, still, when someone moves too quickly or touches me without me expecting it. It will likely take years to unlearn that survival strategy- it did serve me well for some time. But as I watch old bruises heal and new ones form, bruises that now symbolize lust and desire and coming into my body instead of disassociating with me, I feel confident that I'll get there. My past with an abuser will not take my kinks or my body from me.

Categories: abuse, anxiety, best of, body stuff, boundaries, boys, communication, compare/contrast, consent, dating, growth, love is a dog from hell, musing, personal, reflection, sex