Archive for the ‘sex geek writings’ Category

blog hop! also, i’m writing a book.
November 8, 2012

This post is a slight departure from my usual, because I was asked to participate in a blog hop—essentially, a sort of blog-to-blog self-interview chain letter (in a good way) linking writers to each other so you can bop along and discover new work. The person who asked me to take part is Clarisse Thorn, author of The S&M Feminist, among others. Thanks Clarisse! Do go check out her work if you haven’t already. And at the bottom of this post, I’m linking to a few bloggers I think you should watch.

It so happens that the timing of this is pretty good as… drum roll please… I am, in fact, working on My First Ever Book. So… on with the interview, then!

What is the work­ing title of your next book?

Radical Power: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Conscious, Co-Created Dominant/Submissive Relationships (with a side of sex-positive anti-oppressive feminist politics). Or something like that.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve spent a good ten years in one form or another of full-time power dynamic and actively seeking resources to help me think through some of the major challenges that come with such relationships, and those resources are shockingly few and far between. I feel like there’s a big hole in the literature just aching to be filled (heh) and it occurred to me a couple of years ago that with the amount of blogging I’ve done on this topic, surely I have the bones of a full-length book on hand, and some of the meat as well. So the idea has been brewing for years, but the time to write it is now. Partly because the idea of waiting til I finish my PhD before publishing a non-scholarly book just feels like way too long, and this winter is good timing for taking a short not-really-official break from my studies to write. Partly because all my sources—friends who run sex shops, publishers, fellow writers—tell me the market for kink-related books of all sorts has taken a major jump thanks to Fifty Shades (I am dubious in my gratitude here, but I’ll take it). And concretely, because a friend of mine who’s a longstanding fixture in the Canadian queer writers’ world decided to midwife the project by pitching pretty much exactly this idea to their publisher, unbeknownst to me at the time, and then pitching it to me once the publisher gave an enthusiastic response. So clearly I’m not the only one thinking this needs to happen already.

What genre does your book fall under?

How-to, I suppose. Maybe self-help? Possibly philosophy. Definitely relationships and sexuality and BDSM. I’m not sure what list I’m supposed to be picking from here… anyway it’s obviously non-fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your char­ac­ters in a movie ren­di­tion?

See above. If I had characters, which I don’t, I’d like them to be played by Crispin Glover and Ryan Gosling. In a sadomasochistic anal sex scene with lots of really hot kissing. Sorry, what was the question?

What is the one-sentence syn­op­sis of your book?

Read this book if you want to take your thinking about dominance and submission well past the 101 level and into your everyday life.

Will your book be self-published or rep­re­sented by an agency?

So far, it looks like a publisher is on board, but if this one doesn’t pan out for some reason, I’ll find another. It’s just a question of time. I’m not interested in self-publishing right now—I have way too much else on my plate to turn amateur publisher and distributor on top of it all. Much respect to those who pull it off!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your man­u­script?

Well, I can’t really answer that because I don’t have a first draft written. What I do have is a basic structure to write up, which I’ll then fill with six years worth of blog posts; then, I’ll sift through the material, merge things, edit things, update things, and then write all the new material that’s needed to fill in whatever gaps emerge during that process. I’d estimate I have about half the work already done, but since I’ve never written a book before I might be miscalculating. Guess I’ll find out soon! Gulp.

What other books would you com­pare this to within your genre?

Man, I only wish there were more other books I could compare it to. Really. I don’t relish trying to fill a hole quite this big, and frankly I don’t think I should aspire to—there’s room in this area for way more than what I’m going to create. Check out my annotated reading list on the topic of dominance and submission if you like, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s in need of an update, but even if it doubled it would be an awfully short list, and it’s pretty eclectic as it is. There is a LOT of room for it to grow.

I think one major flaw is that most how-to books on BDSM, including the relative few that focus on power dynamics, dominance, submission, mastery and so forth, don’t define their terms very carefully. (This is also true of a surprisingly high percentage of scholarly works on BDSM, sadism, masochism and so forth—a situation I continue to find baffling, given that scholars are in theory supposed to be trained to be thorough little fuckers and the whole “what exactly are you talking about” part seems like pretty basic element of that. But I digress.) The result of this is that every book takes its own set of definitions and conceptual foundations for granted, and you can’t really figure out what they are until you read the whole thing and deduce from the content. So basic elements—like, say, the distinction between “you are doing this as a fun way of spicing up your sex life” and “you are doing this as a full-time lifelong commitment because it is your spiritual calling,” to name just two—aren’t explicitly addressed. And I think those elements make crucial differences in the meaning and usefulness of a given work’s content to any given reader.

Maybe this happens because the writers are aiming to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, and in a sense I don’t blame them. It may be that publishers have demanded broad relevance, for that matter. But I think it also happens because a good portion of the people writing about power relationships write as though everyone does them for the same reason. The control fetishists think everyone’s in it for the pleasure of power and control. The kinky sex perverts think everyone does it because it turns them on. The spiritual-calling folks write as though everyone’s following their divine path. Beyond that, the gay authors write as though all their readers were gay men, the straight authors write as though all their readers were straight, and the dykes… well, even though some of the best thinkers and teachers on SM right now are of the dyke persuasion and similar, they don’t seem to be writing books on the topic of everyday, ongoing power dynamics.

And take it yet another step further: the existing literature, for the most part, doesn’t even state those biases up front—and that would make all the difference. I don’t think taking a narrow approach to a topic is a bad thing, but you have to own that this is what you’re doing. Otherwise even the most well-intentioned and thoughtful material can come across as “here is the one true way to do this right, and if my work doesn’t speak to you, well then clearly this whole thing isn’t really for you.” It is really, really hard to step far enough outside yourself and your relationship philosophy to be able to look at them as a stranger would and explain them in a way that acknowledges your own biases. I’m sure I’ll fail, myself, on several counts when I try. But I will very carefully try.

The writer who’s currently doing by far the most interesting, thoughtful, targeted writing on power dynamics is Raven Kaldera, often in collaboration with his boy Joshua Tenpenny. Their works cover topics that just about nobody else’s even touch, such as M/s relationships and disability, polyamory in power relationships, the intersections of transsexuality/transgenderism and BDSM, and ownership-based power dynamics. I aspire to write work that’s as sharp, aware, ethically rooted and relevant as theirs. At the same time, I can already tell you that my approach differs from theirs. They’re heavily Pagan in their framework, while I’m spiritual in what I’d almost call a secular way, and I won’t be making spirituality per se a major focus. I don’t take the same tactical approach to internal enslavement as they do, and my writing will likely be a lot more self-consciously concerned with sexual and social politics thanks to my feminist background and the many heavily politicized topics I’ve been reading about for the past few years in grad school. I’m also a gender-fluid female, not a trans or intersex person; Canadian, not American; and resolutely urban, whereas they live on a farm. All of this will doubtless make a huge difference to what I produce, and probably in ways I can’t even know from the inside.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I think I’ve kinda covered this one already. Beyond my existing responses, I’ll just add that I feel a major debt of gratitude to the people who’ve been reading my blog and other writing for the past six or seven years, and giving me feedback. I’ve always been a writer, but there’s something about the experience of having an actual readership—one that has grown and morphed over time—that creates a sense of responsibility, a framework within which to develop, a sense of parameters and places to grow. At various points I’ve asked my readers for guidance: what do you want to read from me? What do you NOT want to see me write about? What questions would you like me to weigh in on? And the response has always helped shape what I produce. My readers hold me to a very high standard and I am grateful for how exacting they can be. I mean, haters are gonna hate, right? So I’m not talking about the people who get mean and stupid, those aren’t the ones I’m trying to speak to anyway. It’s the ones who take the time to critique, to ask hard questions constructively, to give the benefit of the doubt, to truly engage, and to hold me to a pretty high set of expectations—they’re the ones who motivate me to write in as thorough and thoughtful a way as I can. Every writer should be so fortunate.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s inter­est?

Ummm… I dunno. Clearly I have to work on my elevator pitch a little more. Or maybe I just already answered that question. I can tell you for sure it won’t be all the glossy photography or the sound advice on physical technique.

Here are the writ­ers whose work you can check out next:

For this I’m choosing to spotlight some rad women from four different Canadian cities who are doing new, exciting, fresh blogging on topics that are dear to my heart. Also it so happens they are excellent writers, which gets big points in my world!

Kaleigh Trace at The Fucking Facts – an awesome young voice, her writing takes a no-bullshit approach to a range of questions on sex and sexuality, including but not limited to dis/ability as it intersects with sex. To wit, from her About section: “I want to write about feeling good, about feeling bad, and everything in between. I want to write about what you should and shouldn’t put in your bum.”

The smartyskirts that is Cuntext – young, queer, femme, and super articulate, Cuntext writes about identity, sexual politics, racism, cissexism, anxiety and mental health, and all sorts of other brain-stimulating things, and she keeps it personal enough to be super-engaging.

Juliet November at Born Whore – This “angry revolutionary hooker” writes, “I’m not aiming for instant insurrection but to leave the ground we walk better for those who will follow us.” She doesn’t have a ton of posts up yet, but if her future work is anything like what she’s got so far, you can expect breathtaking, evocative writing that’s politicized in the best kind of radical way—a radicalism that’s focused on kindness as a necessary component of reaching justice.

Shelley at Pass the Herpes – Shelley’s the founder but not the only contributor to this young blog, which is “an attempt to create a space for people to share their thoughts about living with herpes, ideas for pain relief and virus suppression as well as the experiences of coming out, responses from partners, family and health care people.”

 

basic, bizarre and beyond: your sex questions!
November 15, 2011

Today I had a phone conversation with the editor of In Toronto magazine, a gay and lesbian monthly entertainment and lifestyle glossy. He’s asked me to do a trial run as a Q&A-based sex columnist. Fun times! I did listening work on a queer hotline for seven years and have been blogging for five, but I’ve never combined the “listen to people’s problems” thing with the “write about sex” thing in any kind of public way before, so this’ll be intriguing new territory for me. At the same time, friends and readers regularly send me the wildest of questions, which I answer on my own (unpaid) time, so the process is not entirely unfamiliar, either.

Here are a few of my favourites in the past couple of months:

***

Q: What’s the technical term for when a bunch of guys jizz in a condom, freeze it, and use it to fuck someone?

A: Devil’s Dick. (It took a rather extensive squeezing of my social networks to find this term, and in the end none of my leathermen friends were able to help, even the ones who do porn—the answer came from a dyke!)

***

Q: Where can I source industrial quantities of lube, and what’s a good venue for me to hold a pervy party where a mixed-gender bunch of us can roll around in it?

A: Ask your local progressive sex shop about bulk purchasing the first item and talk to the edgier public play clubs or gay men’s saunas in your city for the second—if they allow gender-mixed crowds on certain days they’re less likely to freak out about female cooties, and if they have large communal showers, they’re more likely to be equipped to handle big mess. If you have a women and trans bathhouse event in your city, ask the organizers which clubs are most amenable to being approached about things slightly outside their usual mandate. Straight swingers’ clubs are an option but you may have to deal with a lot of cumbersome and expensive membership requirements, and not all swingers clubs are especially perv-friendly, so ask them frank questions before you book.

***

Q: My girlfriend really wants to vaginally fist me, and I really want to get fisted, but when she gets to the fourth finger and tucks her thumb, I tighten up and I just can’t let her in further. What should I do?

A: That’s often the biggest challenge point of a fisting—the thickest, widest portion of the hand. A lot of people would tell you to just use a ton more lube. While using extra lube may be a good plan for you depending on your hydration levels, the state of your hormones, your age and various other factors, in principle I believe that you’re better off listening to the body and treating it gently than dousing it with slippery stuff until you can force things to happen when the body is sending you the message that it’s not ready yet. For this particular challenge point, a favourite trick of mine is to have the top stop pushing, and simply hold steady. The bottom can then relax because she doesn’t feel like there is any “threat” to her tender inner bits, and she can essentially use her vaginal muscles to gradually, slowly pull the steady hand inside her at whatever pace suits her best. She can stop at any time, ask for adjustments, masturbate if it feels good, and so forth. Make no mistake about it: being the receptive partner can be a very active process!

But also remember that inserting the entire hand shouldn’t be a goal to achieve as much as a really super sexy enjoyable process to get into together. Anytime you impose a sense of deadline, obligation or accomplishment on a sexual act, it’s guaranteed to load it with the kind of stress that sends a lot of us into a state of increased muscular tension, which doesn’t help the whole “relax and have fun” thing to happen. Trust is paramount here, and pressure is often at odds with trust-building. Chill out, have fun, and if you get there, great—but if you don’t, at least you’ve bonded over hot sex rather than over performance anxiety.

***

Oh, there have been more… many, many more. I have often dearly wished I could share them with the world, because the questions are often so brave and the situations at times so very intriguing. At the same time, I did a reader survey here a couple of years back, and y’all were quite clear about how even if you like sex advice columns, you didn’t want this blog to become a Q&A blog, because you could get that elsewhere.

So this is kinda the best of both worlds, right? No Q&A here, at least not of the classic variety (this post excepted, and only for demonstration purposes). But now you have a place to send ‘em if you would like to hear my take on whatever you’re going through in your sex life. And yes, I mean you. This is definitely the part where you come in. I wanna hear your questions, so fire away! I’ve got 500 words (one question and one answer) once a month for the next coupla months at least, as In Toronto and I figure out whether we’re a mutual good fit. Y’know, kinda like having sex a few times before you shack up. That sort of thing.

Let me specify that while the editor is quite enthused that I’m approaching things from a kinky-poly-queer perspective, this isn’t a kinky or poly or general edgy-sex column per se—it’s broad enough to include the whole spectrum, so don’t feel you need to have a totally freaky out-there question in order to ask. Bring on the basics as much as the bizarre! I promise I’ll aim to answer with clarity, pith, politics (always), and a good dollop of geekiness. Just e-mail me at veryqueer3 at yahoo dot ca and specify that your question is for the In Toronto column. Or, if you’re comfortable being more public and less anonymous about it, feel free to post ‘em here. If you want me to use a pseudonym, feel free to make one up, or tell me and I will.

I look forward to hearing from you!

non-monogamy and d/s: the warm and fuzzy and the cold and clammy
June 17, 2010

I’ve noticed that a lot of what draws me to power relationships is the same stuff that draws me to non-monogamy and vice versa. Let me lay out a few common points. Interestingly, all these points can be experienced as warm and fuzzy, but they can also be pretty darn hard. If you’ve experienced the hard version, take heart: warm and fuzzy is still an option, even if it hasn’t happened to you that way yet.

Personal growth. Have I ever mentioned my fetish for constant improvement? Well, I have one, and it comes into play in both non-monogamy and D/s relationships because both involve intense trust and deep communication. They often force us to face our demons and exorcise them (or at least learn to manage them well), deal with our insecurities, figure out how to love ourselves better, and do some serious fine-tuning of our communication skills. When this goes well, we grow. When it goes badly, we see a lot of our own ugly shit and run away from it or collapse in despair.

Intimacy. When you’re doing that much personal growth in the context of a relationship, and so are your partners, you’re on rich territory for the development of incredibly deep intimacy. That’s beautiful and amazing. It can also be terrifying, both because intimacy is often so vulnerable and because once you’ve experienced such depth, the idea of losing it can be really frightening.

Transgression. Both non-monogamous and power-based relationships fly in the face of all manner of social norms that tell us who and how to love. So in order to do either, you have to get comfortable with the idea that you’re now beyond the pale of mainstream acceptability. That can be thrilling and titillating, or you might simply feel a sense of relief at finally coming across a way of relating that works for you. On the flip side, there can be consequences to transgression. Society is not always kind to sexual deviants—and no matter how many times you might say “it’s not about sex,” the bigots don’t care. As soon as sex as involved, and sometimes even when it’s not, you’re still a freak in their eyes. And if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, that can lead to serious problems, including child custody loss, job loss and much more.

Specialization. While you can certainly be non-monogamous or engage in power dynamics without having any connection to poly community or the leather/kink/BDSM world, those communities do exist and are open to new members. And within those communities, we’ve got specialized subcultural language and codes, books, websites, events, and countless other resources that can be super useful, supportive and thought-provoking. On the down side, this can sometimes lead to insularity, groupthink, messy drama and politics, and the creation of oppressive hierarchies.

Spirituality. Many of us experience our non-monogamy and our D/s as being spiritual in nature, or as having great personal philosophical meaning. And the frameworks of non-monogamy and of D/s do lend themselves well to spiritual exploration and growth. The downside is that sometimes those frameworks can conflict with a pre-existing spiritual or religious path and cause great challenge as a result. Also, I’ve seen some people use the spiritual aspect dishonestly—as a flimsy excuse for exploitation or as a way to live in their heads and avoid the material or sexual aspects of relationships.

Now, I’m not saying that if you’re into D/s you must necessarily be into non-monogamy, or vice versa. But it does strike me as intriguing that so many of the same questions come up, and so many of the same skills—communication, listening, boundary-setting, self-knowledge—come into play.

Good luck getting fuzzy…

***

On another note entirely, here’s some brief news! Or should I say news briefs? (Hmm. Are news briefs cuter than news boxers? Sorry…)

I’ll be teaching in Ottawa on June 28 (about 24/7 D/s) and 29 (about bisexuality). Check out my Workshops page for details!

An Unholy Harvest is back for 2010—our fourth consecutive year! Harvest is Canada’s only annual leatherdyke event, and it’s a total extravaganza. Check out our updated website here. Make sure you glance at the call for presenters. We’re giving a Quick & Dirty Discount to anyone who sends in a workshop proposal by June 21 if the workshop is accepted. 20 bucks for the whole weekend! So don’t be shy to submit one!

My partners and I were featured last week on an episode of Sex Matters, a twice-weekly TV talk show with host Cynthia Loyst, who’s totally great. You can see it online here—just scroll down to the June 10 episode, which is posted in four parts.

Jon Pressick interviewed me for a new website, sexlifecanada.ca. Read the interview here!

My two big projects this summer are 1) finish my master’s degree and 2) write a book. Yup. My first book. It’ll be about fisting. Look out for another survey link at some point soon… I want to get your stories on the topic!

You can still take my cunnilingus survey! It’s short, anonymous and entirely qualitative—now’s the time to tell your stories! Fill it out here.

I recently wrote a few newspaper pieces. Check them out:

And last but not least, if you want monthly-ish news and other fun stuff sent to you directly, sign up for my newsletter by sending an e-mail to SexGeekNews-subscribe@yahoogroups.com!

resistance
June 1, 2010

Warning! Erotic content on the way.

I know, I almost never do this, but much like that time last October, I’ve once again experienced the joy of a surprise short-duration writing exercise which produced some creative juice. And so once again I figured I’d post the results here for your entertainment. This time, the impetus was ORAL, Toronto’s new monthly erotic reading series, the brainchild of Jon Pressick. I read at tonight’s edition of the series, which brought together a grand collection of fine writers, including Midori, Suki Lee, Carlyle Jansen and several others. Jon holds a “quickie” at each month’s ORAL, in which he throws out a theme to the audience at break time and then invites the writers to share their work on stage afterward. Fun! You should come to the next one – I certainly plan to. In the meantime I’m also seriously thinking I might need to get my honeys to call me with a theme once a week and set a timer so this happens more regularly!

Tonight’s theme was “resistance.”

***

There was no such thing as resistance in her world. Everyone always did exactly what she said. The houseboy did the dishes with the all-natural vegan loofah sponge, and the biodegradable fragrance-free locally produced organic dish soap, to the perfect sparkle every time. Her eggs were cooked for exactly nine minutes from a small pot of cold, and that means cold, water, and served with German rye, thin-cut, with olive oil margarine, one half of an avocado sliced in cubes, four raspberries, eight blueberries and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt. Her boots were always polished, her clothes perfectly pressed, her toilet bowl sparkling clean. In short, he served without any resistance to her slightest whim.

And she. Was bored. To tears.

So she started seeking. But everyone she met wanted so terribly to please, to obey. The girl at Starbucks always made the perfect latte. Her employees consistently met her most stringent deadlines, and she begrudgingly complimented their skill, and resentfully watched them glow with pride. Even her mother only called once a month now, ever since she told her, in no uncertain terms, that more frequent contact was simply unwelcome.

The kink community was even worse. Obsequious men held the door for her, bought her drinks, suffered her lashes without complaint. Fawning females followed her every preference to perfection, even when she once ordered one poor girl to tear exactly four one-inch-wide runs in her fishnets without letting them run together. It was downright maddening.

And then, one day, she met him.

It was an accident, really. She tripped over the corner of a piece of carpeting at the new club, which was still under construction. She got the attention of the closest service boy, and said, “This needs some duct tape. Take care of it.”

He looked at her, stopping at her cleavage. He raised his gaze up again and met her eyes, reached into the pocket of his coveralls, extracted a roll of gooey silver tape, and tossed it into the air, where it hung for a second before falling neatly at her feet. And then he turned and walked away.

Her cunt suddenly felt oddly plump, and she felt a tiny knot of tension just under her sternum.

She approached him. “Turn around,” she said, as he stacked chairs.

He kept stacking. Her cunt clenched.

“Get on your knees, boy,” she commanded.

He remained firmly standing, and she noticed how wide and muscular his shoulders were under the dark blue material, and she felt a trickle begin to work its way down her thigh. Small pulses began to flicker through her clit.

She thought fast.

“Keep right on stacking those chairs,” she ordered, one eyebrow raised.

He stopped. Slowly, he turned. He took a step toward her.

“Stay right where you are.”

He took two more steps, casually, sauntering. He came close enough that she could smell his breath—not unpleasant, she noted. He looked down at her. Her clit was throbbing so hard she almost couldn’t think, but she had one last trick in mind.

“Do whatever you feel like doing,” she breathed.

He paused and looked at her for a long moment, for the first time visibly distressed.

“No,” he said, with a frown.

And the orgasm, which hit her like a series of lightning bolts, was so fucking sweet she almost cried.

shame and shameless
December 8, 2009

Two little items for you tonight…

First, Capital Xtra just published a feature I wrote about queer shame – specifically, about the social mechanism of shame and how it plays out in queer lives. In addition to my own pontifications on the topic, I talked to San Francisco-based sex educator Charlie Glickman, who works as the education program manager with Good Vibrations, as well as Ottawa-based LGBT-, poly- and kink-friendly therapist and professor Peggy Kleinplatz and Shelley Taylor, owner and operator of Venus Envy Ottawa. It’s the kick-off to a series of articles aiming to explore the concept of shame in depth. I can’t wait to read the rest of them – a rich topic indeed!

Speaking of shame, this next bit is a shameless attempt to get my name entered in a really awesome contest more than once. Specifically, the ubercool FetLife contest in which they’re giving away $25,000 worth of kinky gear. But self-serving or no, I wouldn’t post this if I didn’t think it might be of interest to some of you. Seriously. You log on to FetLife.com, click on the red bar at the top of the page, and pick the three kinky goodies of which you are most enamored. The list is long and the stuff is fantastic – corsetry, leather gear, toys, bondage equipment, electrical play stuff, even a couple of those amaaaazing heavy stainless-steel dildos by NJoy. If you win, well, you get one of the items you picked. All provided by FetLife advertisers. And then they ask you to pimp the contest by doing things like this, in order to increase your chances of winning. But you don’t have to.

So, my pervy friends – have fun! Shamelessly.

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