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Real Talk about Bodies, and a Fierce Desire to Transcend Them


CW: suicidality, mental health struggles, the questionable community vs who shows up, isolation, body image

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I took about 10x the normal dose of klonopin last night. I knew better from past experience to think it would kill me, but I wanted so desperately to have a vacation from this constant state of anxiety I vibrate through on almost a daily basis and sleeping for half a day sounded like a good start. I have not felt this low in a while and I know exactly where it comes from- money. Lack of money. Working multiple jobs nonstop and still never having enough money to get by, while living in a city where people squander money on all sorts of frivolous shit while stepping over the homeless. And I'm doing better than most, I have resources to throw a fundraiser or get paid through Patreon (though, less every month). Most people don't have that.

Feeling like giving up is a difficult space to be in. To talk about it is to stir up drama, to be attention seeking, someone people want to avoid. Yet if you don't talk about it and just silently self harm, or maybe even succeed in your attempt, the survivors gather around to discuss how shocking it is, why didn't they ask for help, if only they had reached out.

We are killing these people. We are making a choice to prioritize other things above mental health, and this is obvious because look to the funding. We build multiple new stadiums while people can't get access to food stamps and medical care. This is on us. We make time for what we care about and people who are being pushed out of homes threatened in the streets, raped by community leaders, we don't actually care, because that;s not where our time and money goes.

No wonder people are dropping like flies.

Maybe I'm just judging from my feed, but people are suicidal all the time. They reach out in a myriad of ways constantly, and they are patently ignored, or at the very least, told how strong they are and that they can do it. I know this is a sentiment that means well, honestly I do, but it's a kind way to say 'stop whining and pull yourself up by your bootstraps... no, no, don't hang yourself on them, you're getting this all wrong, please go back to being a part of society that doesn't challenge my ideas that hard work fixes everything".

I can only speak for me, but during a given week, probably about 20-30 hours is on paid labour. The rest is on giving rape counseling to marginalized people with no where else to go, a traumatizing experience that is left only to me because my original cofounder left when it got too difficult and my coeditor is being accused of assault and has stepped back out of respect. Which is fine, take care of yourselves, right. But who the fuck takes care of me, and the nightmares I have of graphic rape every night. I am regularly told that my activism is fake, that I'm a horrible person because I feel that abuser/victim is a violent and dangerous dichotomy that can and does hit us all at some point in life. I genuinely think the queer "community', or some portion of it, wont be happy til I'm dead, at which point I'm sure they'll valorize and maybe steal
my fucking work.

Oh, ok, right, bootstraps. I'm so strong. I'm a survivor.

Fuck that discourse. I am not surviving, here, I am barely scraping through. And I have a "community" of over 8000 who want to engage with me in terms of staring at my boobs or maybe being snarky on my wall, but maybe 6 who actually SHOW UP. And I'm wearing them out. There will come a time where they can't anymore. I know this, I've seen it happen before, and I don't blame them. It's hard to take care of someone who's anxiety is so strong they sometimes can't leave the house without bursting into tears.

I feel like I am often asked to help with events, fundraisers, signal boosting your projects, making your performance a success, giving you extensive counseling, mediating issues.

But you don't ask me out to a party. You don't ask me to dinner. You don't ask me on a date. You don't want me to participate in these spaces, you want me to work them, for free. You are not my friend, you are a coworker who doesn't really indicate any value for my work, and that fucking hurts my feelings. I notice it.

I see you, person I did lots of unpaid, heavy event work for but who doesn't think I'm pretty enough to hire for performances.

I see you, person who says I'm too intimidating to approach but only sleeps with young slender people and doesn't acknowledge me in public.

I see you, person who wanted help with their fundraisers but won't signal boost mine.

I fucking see you. And I'm not mad. I'm disappointed and hurt.

We drain members of our community willing to fall for the "do-ocracy" myth and expect them to have the resources to keep doing it ad nauseum. And we also abandon them to their own devices, rarely offering to inconvenience ourselves to be there in their times of distress, and yet when we wake up to find they've shot themselves or jumped the bridge we are selfish enough to be angry at THEM for not, what, being more clear they needed us? That clarity is usually there, when you look. You just choose not to see because there's some fun event or a hot date and that's more important. I'm not mad, not really, I just think it's unfortunate that so much of this is preventable. Many of us cannot afford therapy, which is from $40-80 a pop and often not covered by Obamacare. We certainly can't afford involuntary hospitalizations, which cost upwards of $5000 a night... leading someone who is suicidal and panicking about money now with debt to fight as well. Many of us give up then.

Shout out to Courtney and Nick, who would have driven an hour to take me out to a diner or given me a place to stay - honestly I refused because I felt ashamed to be crying for hours with no indication of if it would end. We isolate ourselves believing that to be kindness to others, even if it creates a downward spiral of mental health, because we love you and the last thing we need is to scare you off. Having this intensity of feelings seems like a guarantee for scaring people off and we're already pretty isolated. I am honestly terrified my lovers are going to leave me over this, and I've been bottling up for weeks how bad it is because I need them... but then I also feel if I do completely crash, I need them to know its not their fault, but the fault of a culture that demands individualism at any cost.

I would be lying if I didn't say a certain amount of this is the desire to shed my flesh. I know, I know, I'm a fat activist and am therefore required by law to love my body. When left to my own devices, I feel good about myself. But then I leave the house, and I see how people look pityingly as my lover, a fit white cis guy, and disgustedly at me. I look on Facebook and it feels like every woman I know says to love their body but are also posting regularly about the diets and gym work they do and how they feel SO MUCH BETTER, and all the praise they get for being SO GOOD is like a slap in the face. I go to a sex party and watch people approach and flirt with him and it's like I don't even exist, despite being one of the first members, because my rolls act like an invisibility cloak. You can say whatever the fuck you want about body confidence- I have it, plenty of it- but it's other people who make me feel tolerated at best and an inconvenience, a flaming hoop standing in the way at worst. Ok, no, maybe at worst is the impression that my fatness disgusts others to the point they can't even be around me. This is why I require flirting with me to be purposeful and direct, because no, threesomes don't "just happen" in my world, they are often spaces of trauma and being left out and trying to smile while digging a fork into my thigh because I don't want to be the killjoy yet again. When I live in a world where almost every woman I know is obsessed with being fit and hooking up with each other, my body is a lonely monstrosity and I am ashamed of it.

These are all things that lead to my feeling of valueness. Like sure I get it I have value as long as I'm promoting your book or performing for free at your event or running your fundraiser campaign, but god help me if it's something I need you to give me back. That's just selfishness. And maybe thats the gist of all this- if I was truly true to my selfishness, I'd have fucked off long ago. I am genuinely afraid to say no to being generous because I'm afraid if I do my uselessness will be laid bare- my body's grossness, my lack of effectiveness as a solo non-non-profit who can't get a paid lecture much less a book deal because who gives a fuck about consent. And that's when I'm not being told I do it for the rock star cred, to be popular and liked, because I guess endless rape and death threats is indicative of how much people love me. I get about 20 more messages telling me to kill myself for being a fat SJW whore than telling me I'm doing something good.

Eventually that will probably kill me. I don't want that to come as a surprise, but I want you to know I really did do the best I could. And god, please, I don't want to be pitied. Look, either you want to start taking this shit on, confronting fatphobia in sex spaces verbally and consistently, refusing to let social norms about how flirting with fat girls devalues you somehow impact what you do, hire BBW women to perform in your spaces, ask someone chubby to join you for a threesome and then actually pay attention to them, offer to take on making meals or cleaning for your local overwhelmed and completely underappreciated SFW, pay for their damn patreons and fundraisers knowing that this is about their survival.

Pity is bullshit. It's the time for action.

Categories: best of, capitalism, community, consent, depression, intimacy, loss, not feeling well, reflection, self harm, sex, stigma

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Pinball Princessing and Creationist Dinosaurs

So a couple of weekends ago, I took a long ass van ride down to Southern California, a place I swore I'd never go again. I have a lot of irrational judgments against the area, from LA to Palm Springs- my experiences have been pretty wretched, and frankly a good portion of the road from Northern CA to Southern CA smells like cow shit. I had a throat that felt like it was full of ants and I was going to ArcadeExpo in Banning, a small, quiet town in the middle of nowhere.

I had played some pinball before with my girlfriend J, but I was never a big arcade gamer growing up. Computer games, sure. Board games, no problem, but arcades weren't really part of my social life. My friends were more interested in art and fashion for the most part. I enjoyed text based adventure games, but I didn't really go out and play games with other people so much. So for me, I wasn't sure what I'd get out of a convention heavy on pinball and arcade cabinets. My attention span is a bit short for spending a bunch of time examining each machine.

Turns out J had a plan to follow me around and interview me on my thoughts after playing a bunch of different machines, like what drew me to them, how I think I did, etc. It was fun- I enjoyed the art, and the cacophony of music, and all the flashy lights- but eventually I was ready to go back to my laptop for Civilization V or Long Live the Queen.

But it was only day one.


The next day I decided I needed to find some sort of weird roadside attraction, and I found an amazing one in the Cabazon Dinosaurs.

Originally created to draw attention to a man's little roadside restaurant, it's now owned by creationists and is a haphazard, desert-worn collection of sad looking dinosaurs, a scattering of snakes, tortoises, giant frogs, and other creatures that don't belong. I paid for everyone to get in because it was my idea, and we shuffled around looking at the heads of raptors on the wides of wild west looking shacks.

It was all very strange, but not very creationist-y. That is, until we found our way inside the T-Rex, wherein lay posters declaring that it was QUITE POSSIBLE that dinosaurs still roamed the earth and cited Doctor Who as a reliable source of facts. We gaped at the declarations that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth together 6000 years ago, and tried not to laugh too loudly in front of other people who seemed to be taking all this seriously.

The signs promised robotic dinosaurs and we didn't find any until we went in the gift shop. I was even startled by one, a groaning triceratops that was apparently being hunted by a medieval knight (?!?!?). The teenage boy who was at the ticket counter/gift shop register seemed completely nonplussed by the entire ordeal. I suspected this was one of the better jobs in the area.

I plugged in my phone inside the T-Rex so I could charge it and send into the world the dirty photos I made J take of me (because I'm a pervert and it was a great opportunity as long as no one caught us). Of course I immediately sent a photo of me flashing my boobs in front of a raptor to my boss because how often does one get to do that at a creationist museum? They, at least, laughed- my other partners, N and P, were apathetic about my exploits. It takes a lot to impress them, and, tbh, I send out a lot of photos of my boobs.

The other notable thing about this whole trip is how, when you leave the Bay Area, everything seems to be fried and either covered in sugar or cheese. Maybe ranch, for variety. But it's a salty fatty meaty wonderland and it was definitely making me a bit sickly. That plus my sore throat laid me in bed most of the day Saturday, lying in the hotel room, groaning a bit to myself and flopping around. Coming back involved rather a lot of salad eating. I became very passionate about my kale intake after this trip.

What I learned, though, was that while pinball can only hold my attention for a couple of hours, roadside attractions are kind of amazing and I want to visit a lot more. They've been my thing for a while and I desperately want to run away for a couple of weeks to visit some of the more obscure attractions in the US.  I'd love the chance to ask the curators their stories, maybe even on video, to save these things as they're quickly disappearing and falling apart.

I think perhaps my interest in pinball, and roadside Americana, is related to my current obsession with wholesomeness and playing around with that trope in myself. It's so new and strange to me that it's fun to explore. Many people wouldn't drive for days to visit the world's largest ball of twine but that is one of my life goals, because to me, Americana and these roadside wonders/horrors are tribute to the hustle of the everyday American in a way that I find remarkable. For many people, their collection or their giant chair or whatever is something that puts much needed money in the bank- not much, but enough. Many of the towns housing these things are on the verge of becoming ghost towns. I want to remind people that they don't have to go to another country to have an adventure, that we have plenty amazing and strange right here at home.

I was expecting to write a lot more about pinball but instead I find myself musing on how much I love road trips. I look forward to visiting some new places this year, even if they're just strange cult bunkers in the East Bay.

Categories: memories, not feeling well, personal, pop culture, sweeties, travel

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Key Party. Achievement? Not Unlocked.


So for my 31st birthday I decided I wanted to set up a queer key party. I spent months setting up food, trying cocktails, getting the right vintage clothes, picking music, choosing the people, figuring out the dynamics... 

...and spent the evening having panic attacks and throwing up. I eventually was able to manage to crawl into the living room to make snarky comments about 70s porn, but that took several hours and most people had already either started fucking or left by then.

I learned something, though. I learned that yes, as I get older big sex parties are no longer sources of pleasure for me, but places of fear and sadness and microaggressions. I keep trying, thinking maybe this outfit, maybe I just need to be more open and friendly... but it doesn't make much of a difference.  They're just not spaces I feel safe, anymore, even when they're made specifically for me.

I feel a bit of loss, saying that out loud. I mean, I've suspected it for a while, but I thought it was a funk I'd escape. Instead each time is like reopening a wound, and rather than it healing, it's just getting infected. I am not as naive as I once was, back when I enjoyed feeling like submissive meat thrown to hungry wolves. Now that feeling leaves me tense and frustrated, suspicious and uncertain.

It's time to just walk away. And yet there's still something about that group dynamic that I crave. Honestly, it all goes back to wanting not to be last picked for the team... a very real terror that I'll be the one person at the sex party sitting on the sidelines. It doesn't matter that I'm 31, and should be old enough by now to let that roll off my back. I still want to be wanted.

There were a lot of complications around the key party, one main one being my inability to hold my shit together to move things along. There's also going to be issues when some people at the party are a Kinsey 6, limiting their options. And of course if, in your anxiety, you drink too much, which is common, you're going to have a pretty shit time. Bless my lovers, who managed to salvage the evening for many of the guests and who took incredible care of me.

I realized that the moment I was happiest about was sitting around playing Scrabble, or drinking wine, with my sweeties around me laughing and getting along. That's what I want, now, more than threesomes and moresomes, at least most of the time! I just wish it didn't feel like I can't have the group sex my lovers can, like I'm undesirable and in the way. Or worse, that I'm holding them back.

So, no more key parties for me. I'll stick to one on one sex, at least for now.

Categories: boundaries, caution, community, dating, fail at life, love is a dog from hell, mistakes were made, parties, personal, swinging

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Analyze This! Another Edition of Questions From Google Keyword Searches

One of my favourite things to do with Google keyword searches is to see how people got to my blog, and what they were looking for. Often there's some interesting questions, or looking for very specific toys, fetishes, or porn. Analyze This! is basically an advice column of what I find, and it's fast, easy, and often a bit weird.

Check out Round 1 and Round 2 for more questions about AB/DL, fat sex positions, and if double penetration can hurt a pregnant woman's unborn child.

porn better free or paid for

As a porn performer who gets more work from studios when my work is successful and gets the producer paid subscriptions, I'm gonna have to go with paid, especially in a "treat sex work as work" sort of way. Jiz Lee wrote a couple of great pieces on just this topic, and how paying for porn helps ensure ethical work environments.

Also, many studios save their best work for behind paywalls. Pay for your porn, and not only are you supporting producers, performers, and workers on set, but you're also a lot more likely to have access to higher quality videos, better streaming, better audio, and more types of porn.

girls being throat fucked causing them to gag

So this is reasonably straightforward, being something that a lot of folks seem to be into because of the sudden constriction of the muscles, etc. I'm very familiar with the sensation personally because I have a gag reflex like no one's business- just a relatively normal blow job can cause me to have an intense gagging fit!

Because I feel like this is info/porn that's catered to quite a bit, therefore, I thought I'd instead let you know that this activity is actually ALSO probably banned in UK porn if it lasts longer than a minute, or if language around  "gagging" on the cock is used, as it would be considered a reference to choking. Learn more about obscenity laws and watch some hot porn with Ban This Sick Filth!

sex on trains

As you may or may not know, I have a massive thing for sex on trains. I'm really glad to find I'm not alone in that, though I'm still trying to work out if there's any ethical way to manifest this fantasy for myself. Probably not.

kinky cum play ideas

So one of my hottest fantasies/sex life things that I've discovered recently is how hot it is to be spread open with a speculum while a partner jerks off into you. I've seen one or two porn scenes with this, but not very often. One of the things I realized, though, is that you can do this using safer sex- just slip a condom (preferably a female condom) over the insertable end of the speculum, and gently insert into the body. Now you have a barrier, but also a hot scene. Yum yum yum.

I'm also really into having come sucked out of my cunt. ::fans self::

gay wizard porn

I've failed you, person looking for gay wizard porn. There's none of it to be had here- just reviews of the Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter porn parodies, both weirdly straight.

But this exists. And it might not be terrible.

Categories: activism, advice, censorship, fantasy, fetishes, porn, sex work is work

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Review: The Doxy

action shots-11 I picked up the Doxy because I had been in a love affair with the Hitachi for so long I was afraid I had forgotten how to orgasm with any other toy. Hitachi was about to do away with the old Magic Wand and I was scared for my orgasms - I discovered them through the Hitachi, which had made me cum clitorially when nothing and no one else could. I had burned out sex toys before and knew that would be a possibility again. What would I do without my old friend?

Enter the Doxy, who not only met my Hitachi needs but also surpassed them in a few significant areas. Another plug in wand toy, heavy, but with large buttons instead of the click switch the Hitachi had, the Doxy also came in less medical colours (mine was purple) and had more vibrational variety. I counted about 20 different speeds and patterns, and while patterns aren't my cuppa, they do come in handy for tease and denial scenes! I appreciated that the Doxy starts somewhere in the middle of their range of intensity, which makes sense (I'm unlikely to go much lower than that on an average wankathon).

action shots-40I decided to give the Doxy a trial during "Banned in the UK", considering it's a British vibrator. I found the head, made of medical grade PVC, to be soft and gentle on my clit, which was nice especially for partner sex. Sometimes a wand vibe against the slit can be dangerous during PIV, but the Doxy was nicely intense as well as being flexible and giving when my partner at the time slammed against it and into me.

The Doxy is pricier than the Hitachi but I honestly think the larger number of vibration settings makes it worthwhile. PVC isn't great when it comes to sterilization, so use a condom or a silicone cover on it when sharing it with a partner or a friend. Obviously, you can't boil it, so I'd be a bit more careful about storage and cleaning the head!

I did enjoy that the Doxy could get an orgasm out of me faster than the Hitachi, along with the longer cord (about a foot more length!). I've mostly moved away from vibrators with cords, but the Doxy is special enough that it'll still be invited along to shoots and dates. This is additionally true as the Doxy has something that makes it WAY better than the Hitachi for traveling - it has a plug top power supply unit, which means a simple adapter will be enough to make it usable all over the world. No more blowing your international friends fuses!

The stats:

  • Long (12 feet) power cord.
  • 7.5 inch head circumference to fit all standard sized wand attachments.
  • Variable speed from approx. 3000 rpm to 9000 rpm. Variable escalating pulse setting.
  • $135

Thank you Doxy for sending me this toy in exchange for an unbiased review! See it in action over on AmateurPorn.com in Banned in the UK parts 2 and 3!

Categories: porn, review, toys, vibrator

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"Ban This Sick Filth"

All photos from my scenes in "Ban This Sick Filth", a collaboration between Courtney Trouble, Pandora Blake and myself

It's been funny, not ha-ha, but somewhat ironic that the last week has been filled with people telling me that free speech needs to be absolute, and that I just don't appreciate the necessity for it.

While I've been working on a porn that critiques and challenges obscenity laws... with more obscenity.

Originally, it was meant to challenge the UK's VOD restrictions- things I do at home, like fisting, squirting, and spanking, are now banned for me to do on film. As we worked on it, however, it morphed into a wider critique of how porn, often decided to be without "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value", can and does serve as validation for sexual diversity, queerness, and an enjoyment of non-heteronormative sex.

In lieu of all the fervor about freedom of speech, I feel inclined to remind folks that obscenity is one of a few things not protected under "freedom of speech". I don't have the right to distribute or advertise my creative work, because I'm naked and orgasming in it and a bunch of white old dudes will argue in a courtroom about the artistic and educational merit of that. Considering a local community makes the decision on what is immoral for them, rather than a national standard, what is obscene and what it beautiful varies wildly from state to state. What might be completely acceptable and even tender in the Bay may well be horrifying and traumatizing to people in a conservative state.

I cannot completely anticipate the possible reactions or consequences of what I do, but I can make a pretty decent guess- I might get arrested, I might get doxxed by someone like Porn WikiLeaks, I might end up shot by some Elliot Rodgers PUA/MRA wannabe. Or I might be pointed at as someone perpetuating violence against women in the work I do. So, knowing those possibilities, I try to reduce by ethical carbon footprint in how I critique.

The thing is, when working on this porn, I recognized that, for example, there are people who watch porn for sexual education. That sense of awareness gave me some feelings of accountability to the viewer.

While it would've been, in many ways, a lot easier to have the banned acts be things that are nonconsensually thrust on me as the bottom, I also knew that we live in a culture that considers fisting violent. I know we live in a society where 5 year old rape victims have been said, by judges, that they were "asking for it". I know we live in a society where to say men shouldn't catcall is considered some sort of misandrist rallying cry. I didn't want to add to that culture by implying that these were acts I didn't want happening to me, I didn't want there to be a question about my consent. I wanted to show how absurd it is that I can do these things with the same people offscreen and that's legal, but if it's on a camera, suddenly it's obscene.

I think obscenity laws are ridiculous and worth making fun of. There are ways, I think, to both critique society, government, and law without falling into the tedious and easy trap of perpetuating ignorance or falling into boring stereotypes. While I know very well fisting isn't inherently violent, I also know that my depiction informs people, and maybe I should avoid having it be part of a rough sex scene involving face slapping and smutty talk so I can show people that it can be intimate and sweet. I choose to do a scene where I giggle through my caning instead of crying, because I want to show that these acts are ok, and a desire for these things is ok to have.

"Ban This Sick Filth" is a pet project I care a lot about, not only because I care about picking away at obscenity laws, but also because it was playful, and fun, and sends the message I wanted to send without being mean. And it's very intimate- doing watersports for the first time with a real life partner was really precious to me, and a challenge. I feel like this came from my heart, inviting people in to see why I love "sick filth", rather than dismissing them as ignorant for not feeling the same. And I can't wait to share it with all of you!

Categories: activism, assumptions, best of, causes, censorship, community, consent, fisting, love, politics, porn, power struggles, triumph, your morals are not my morals

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Freedom of Speech and My Life As a Pornographer

So on the heels of my earlier piece, wherein I indicate that I feel rather strongly that the contributors to Charlie Hebdo consciously consented to creating controversy, including violent controversy, I have been asked why I hate freedom of speech, particularly as a pornographer.

Never mind that I fiercely support freedom of speech - and demonstrate that by critiquing Charlie Hebdo's work, including by investigating the hate speech laws in France - but never mind.

Here's the thing. I know very well that being a porn performer is a balancing act when it comes to freedom of speech (and I actually know that freedom of speech isn't a black or white issue). Obscenity is not protected, after all, and with a long list of what's obscene including fisting, squirting, spitting mouth to mouth, no male/male penetration, no trans people, etc, the sex I like to have is pretty obscene. And I like to have enjoyable sex on film, so I know freedom of speech is not going to save me if I'm hauled into court on obscenity charges. While I've been writing this I found out the porn I've been working on, showing acts banned in Britain by their censors, is also censored by our distributors here in the US. So we'll print it ourselves.

Being a sex worker is the hill I have chosen to die on. By that I mean, I made a strategic choice that I care enough about sex worker rights and other sex workers to be willing to ride out the consequences of my actions. As a white, cis, middle class woman, too, I felt that for me it was a hill I could defend better than others with less privilege. It's not a safe hill, by any means. I made the choice to be a sex worker and to be upfront about it knowing that the consequences could include being threatened, raped, arrested, deported, made homeless, made unemployable, alone and undefended. And it has led to a good number of those things - I have dealt with some serious and horrible threats to my life. Yet I dig my feet in and keep fighting, because for me, this is the stand I want to take, consequences be damned.

I know that it might harm me some day. I do what I can to minimize the impact on my family, on my lovers, on my friends. I also inform them when there's a threat, and I take them very seriously. But thankfully, they, too, support me in this battle, and fight with me. It's a choice we make consciously and together.

I support freedom of speech, but I do not feel that hate speech should be protected. I don't feel that doxxing should be protected. Since the "freedom of speech" hill often seems to feel that you either have all freedoms or none, it's not a hill I'm willing to die on. I don't feel humans can be trusted with that level of responsibility when that "freedom of speech" has been used to defend racist incitements to violence, abuse of trans women, threatening the safety of women. I refuse to defend the freedom of speech of a magazine that felt making fun of raped children of colour was fair game, and yes, I will judge you for thinking that's defendable.

Standing against rape culture, xenophobia, violence against women, and racism? THAT is a hill I will happily die on. So screw me.

Additionally:

The implication I've now seen more than once that a bunch of privileged white men who courted controversy gleefully being shot for that (and putting other, NONconsenting people in fatal danger) is *the same as a woman walking in public getting raped* disgusts and horrifies me. I think it is possible to say that being abusive to someone and utilizing your power and privilege to do so is an action that is likely to have reactionary consequences. I think to then imply that a woman walking in public deserves to get raped, or that the comparison is at all logical one, is completely absurd and suggests an alarming misunderstanding of how rape culture works.

To say that the contributors to Charlie Hebdo knew full well that they were putting their dick in a wasp's nest is not the same as a woman walking down the street apparently knowing she's going to get raped, unless you believe walking down the street is an action that incites violence, which I do not. I don't think that the contributors at Charlie Hebdo "had it coming", but I do feel that they were very aware that their actions caused violence in the past and might again and, as people with privilege, they had agency in their decision. To compare that to women being raped is offensive, illogical, and disgusting, and yes, I'm sideeying you for that.

I feel sorry especially for the Muslim police officer who died, and the bystanders who were injured.  I feel very sorry for other Muslims, who are now likely to have their homes and businesses and places of worship smashed up, their lives threatened, their ability to travel limited.

I do not feel sorry for people who put themselves *and others* at risk by being intentionally and consistently inflammatory and cruel. Because that's the thing- sometimes your actions impact OTHER PEOPLE. Your freedom of speech affects and impacts other people. And the contributors to Charlie Hebdo apparently and selfishly didn't give a fuck about that, or take any responsibility or accountability for that. So my empathy for them is rather limited. "But they insulted people equally!" I hear cried. You cannot offend people equally when there's systematic imbalances of power and access.

I'll just quote the White House when this issue came up in the past:

“We don’t question the right of something like this to be published,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters. “We just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it.”

Categories: activism, angry, best of, don't tell me how to live, media, politics, racism, rape culture, sexism

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

Part 2 here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ETA: OH MY GOD READERS

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

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

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

Is that really the hill you want to die on?

Gross.

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

 

Categories: activism, angry, censorship, politics, racism

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Welcoming in 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Give up FOMO

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

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

Accept my introversion 

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

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

Allow myself to feel safe

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

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

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

Learn it's ok to say "no"

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

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

Trust my sexual appeal

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

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

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

Trust myself as an artist

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

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

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

Take care of my body

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

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

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

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

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Punching Up: the CAH Conundrum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I appreciate what Patricia Hernandez said on Kotaku:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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