Filed under: Feminism, Sex | Tags: authenticity, female sexuality, Feminism, respect, sex and culture, sexuality, slut shaming, sluts, women
I just wanted to share a quote from an awesome article that you should totally read.
“Anytime we equate fewer sex partners or monogamy or any “vanilla” sexual practice with being more respectable, we reinforce the idea that the people whose sexual desires are outside those boundaries have to trade their sexual authenticity in order to be accepted. I would much rather choose who to respect based on how they treat themselves and other people, which certainly doesn’t have to correlate with the kinds of sex or how many partners they have.”
Filed under: Art, Feminism, Porn, Sex | Tags: camera, female body, nude, photography, self esteem, self image, self portraiture, sexuality
Wow, it has been a long time since I’ve done a decent update here. Over a year later, I am still struggling with my RSI and am now resigned to the fact that this is not an injury that heals quickly as there is no exact cure, rather treatment is a gradual process and can take a very long time. Part of learning to properly deal with an injury is to accept it and as part of that acceptance, I have finally started to train myself to use voice dictation software which I am gradually becoming more comfortable with. This blog entry is actually being written in Dragon Dictation so I apologise if the tone is a little strange, I’m still getting used to doing this.
To be honest, my injury has had a hugely negative impact on my self-esteem as I have spent a great deal of time feeling helpless and useless. Unfortunately, my poor self-esteem has also manifested itself in my body image and it’s been a long time since I felt really sexy or attractive. Like most women, my body does not match current ideals of beauty and as such I often struggle to feel comfortable in my own skin at the best of times but lately I just feel… utterly undesirable.
Tonight I was feeling especially bad about myself, my body, everything. Then I remembered something a friend said to me the other night “it’s like the way you see yourself is completely different to how everybody else sees you”. My bad habit is usually to instantly brush off compliments or reassurances from those who care about me, believing them to be saying it just to make me feel better… However, tonight I wondered if I could try to see myself with fresh eyes, less critical eyes and then I thought of my camera.
When I am using my camera, I look at things in a new way and this also applies to my body. I was not happy when I was taking these photos but I felt a sort of intensity viewing them afterwards… an almost erotic appreciation of myself that I have not experienced in a long time. Yes, I still find myself being incredibly critical of my percieved flaws but framed by the camera lens and put into the context of “art”, I can rediscover the beauty in those “imperfections”.
It’s almost 3AM here and I’m having trouble expressing myself in words so I’m simply going to share some of the photos and perhaps they might communicate something of the experience I went through taking them tonight.
Tonight I confronted myself in the mirror and in the camera… Tonight I am realising that I really do need to learn how to be less cruel to myself.
(By the way, in the slideshow the photos seem to be compressed but if you click “permalink” it will take you to a high quality image.)
Filed under: Feminism, Sex | Tags: degradation, Feminism, pissing, Sex, sexuality
I found this thanks to Beautiful Agony’s blog.
“Written/Produced by Bette Bentley. Directed by Vincent Peone and Bette Bentley. Piss is a short film about a girl trying to convince her feminist boyfriend to pee on her. Official selection of the Miami Short Film Festival and Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and Cinekink Film Festival.”
I found this really adorable, funny, realisitic and I very much related to the scenario. As someone who gets sexual kicks out of the idea of being degraded, I have often wanted to explore this. However, it hasn’t always been easy for previous boyfriends who are taught that good, feminist men don’t degrade women.
And you know what? Good, feminist men don’t degrade women. However, if their partner asks them to “degrade” them in a playful, sexual, consensual context that is an entirely different ballgame. The reason I put that “degrade” in quotes this time is because when you’re consensually degrading someone… what you’re really doing is gifting them with something very special: sexual pleasure and self acceptance.
I believe that to acknowledge and accept a woman’s sexual desires instead of pathologizing them is a hugely feminist act. It allows her a much greater deal of comfort and understanding of her own sexuality and in a world that denies women the right to sexual autonomy, isn’t that ultimately a positive thing?
Filed under: Feminism, Sex | Tags: ethical slut, love, monogamy, open relationships, polyamory, romance, sex at dawn, sexuality
So as I write this, it’s ten o’clock on a Monday night, and my boyfriend, W, is on a date with one of my best friends, R. See, we’re in a polyamorous relationship. In fact, over the almost three years that we have been together, our relationship has been open in theory. However, it’s only recently that theory has become reality.
W and R have been dating for roughly two months now with my explicit blessing and encouragement. I am not currently in any other relationship, as I’ve felt myself to be too busy to pursue anything much. Besides, the few crushes I do have seem to be of the unreciprocated or un-pursuable type because I always aim to be an ethical slut… Er, not to mention the fact that whenever I experience attraction to anyone, I become a nervous, incoherent wreck.
But this is not going to be a blog entry about what a silly, wimpy loser I am, this is going to be about why I am happy that my boyfriend is dating my best friend.
Polyamory and me – in brief because I’m sleepy!
The notion of monogamy has never sat well with me. Even as I’ve loved several people and only been in long-term relationships, the idea of only ever being able to love one person seemed suffocating and the thought of only ever being able to fuck the one person… ever… for the rest of my life was almost inconceivable and libido destroying.
My first “proper” boyfriend was incredibly monogamous and also quite possessive, not in any sort of dangerous way, but rather in a way that many would consider loving (and which was, for him, for he was a good man but not meant for me) but I felt incredibly constrained by my relationship with him, for he even insisted that if I ever so much as posed naked as a photographer’s model, he would leave me. To me, monogamy meant sacrificing autonomy over my own body and life and this made it feel hard to breathe.
So of course I internalised the idea that there was something wrong with me, that I was a bad person, a slut. Destined, ultimately, to be alone and riddled with STDS. Inevitably, it seems, in 2003 I fell in love with two men at the same time and not just a little in love, deeply in love. And they both loved me. I felt ripped and torn apart, I felt intense pain, helplessness and, well, an incredible erotic charge from it too. The Unbearable Lightness of Being became my all-time favourite book and I made angsty art about my emotions. I was about 18 or 19 years old at the time. Here’s one of those old artworks:
There were a lot of tears, there was a lot of pain… but through it, I learned to be as honest as I possibly could with them and through it all, they both still loved me and I loved them. I learned a lot from and because of these wonderful men and have a lot of gratitude towards them.
Unfortunately, because I did not move to Melbourne until 2006, I was not exposed to polyamory nor any discussions about open relationships outside my own until then. At one point in 2005, I had tried discussing open relationships with a therapist but she slammed the idea down there and then, telling me that open relationships never worked and bringing up the fact that she was a Christian. I did not go back to her after that but her words stayed with me, like a grey and looming thing that looms and is grey. The only bit of hope I got was from reading about one of my heroes, artist Len Lye’s beautiful, happy and open relationship with his second wife, Ann. They were not monogamous, yet they were together until death parted them, the “happily ever after”, fairytale, marriage mantra and their life was nothing at all conventional.
But yes, moving to the city of Melbourne meant that I was actually meeting people who were in healthy, communicative, polyamorous relationships and the privilege of having my own personal computer for the first time ever meant I was actually able to research this stuff. It helped me feel like I wasn’t a freak for not being into monogamy (I respect it if it works for others, but it just doesn’t for me and I hope people can learn to understand and accept that) and it confirmed my notion that one could be non-monogamous and still have healthy, happy relationships. Fuck, it was awesome.
So before my current partner, W, and I entered into this relationship in an official and serious manner… I wrote him an email. A ten page long monster explaining myself, explaining who I am and what I need, laying out my deal breakers before jumping into the deep end with him. Because it was always going to be the deep end with W; we already had a long, complicated history and beautiful friendship behind us. This was going to be serious, but I was tired of compromising things that were fundamentally important to me and polyamory had become that important.
I needed to feel free. Not free to do just anything, not inconsiderate, cold or cruel… but free to feel unashamed, free to love where love blooms. Free to have a few exciting adventures before I die.
And to W, everything I said in the email made sense. And with W, I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I feel safe and loved, solid as a rock and light as a feather. Gush, gush, puke. I know!
To be honest, since I’ve been with him, I have not been with anyone else (apart from long distance flirtations with a dear heart) but I know that if something right comes along, we can discuss it and unless W has any deeply felt objections, I can pursue it. No, it won’t be uncomplicated, yes there are risks, yes only time will tell if this is a good idea but we always talk so openly, I trust W deeply and I really feel so good to know we’re pursuing happiness in our own way, in a way that feels constructive, liberating and right for us.
And that is why I am sitting here typing this, happy and content while my boyfriend’s on a date with one of my best friends. Because I love him, I love her and I love figuring out my own life in my own terms.
As a small aside…
Just recently I’ve been reading Sex at Dawn (along with everyone else in the sex blogosphere!), a book which very strongly puts forward the argument that humans are not inherently monogamous but that monogamy is an institution which evolved relatively recently and is very much intertwined with agriculture and patriarchy. Though I am sure the book is not holeproof, the references seem solid, interesting and a lot of the observations in the book ring true to my own experiences. I highly recommend reading it, not just as a book about monogamy but about human sexuality in general. It’s some fascinating shit and has some great stuff one can use to shoot down people who use Darwin to say bullshit about sex and women. Wicked.
Filed under: Feminism, Sex | Tags: exhibitionism, Feminism, masturbation, sexpo, sexuality, wanking
I wrote about this at the time, but can’t find my original transcript so this is going to be written entirely from memory. So any of my friends who might remember the original story will have to forgive any embellishments or omissions!
In 2007, when I had only been living in Melbourne for about seven months, I went to Sexpo Australia with my partner at the time. It was pretty tacky for the most part, oceans of stalls selling overpriced sex toys but we’d never been to anything like this before and I think we were resolved to having a good time.
So we walked around wearing red, fuzzy handcuffs (ah so gloriously vanilla!), checking out the $2 peepshows, riding on the sexy ghost train (there really was one!) and talking with various stallholders about their wacky wares. It was fun! Anyone who knows me knows I’m fascinated with kitsch and especially the way we make the sexual experience into a kitsch one.
At some point during the day, we came across a stall with some very strange contraptions indeed – I believe they were either Sybians or Sybian imitations. To me, at the time, they just looked like ridiculous, vibrating boxes with nubs attached to them. While we were wondering over these weird, ugly boxes a salesman came up and asked me if I’d like to try one, to which I politely declined and quickly walked away. The whole thing struck me as a tad seedy.
However, later on we passed the same stall and noticed that a crowd had gathered. A fully clothed woman was sitting on one of the machines, bright red face screwed up and looking utterly gleeful. Very shortly, she brought herself to climax and then had a dazed, shocked expression as the salesmen helped her stand up and get off. At this point, the intrigue got the better of me and as the crowd dispersed, I went up to the machine for a closer inspection. Once again, I was offered the chance to try and this time I thought “What the hell?” and clambered on, fully clothed.
One of the salesmen, wrinkled beyond his years, explained to me how to press myself against the powerfully vibrating nub on top of the machine: “Put yer clit here, darlin’”. I was shocked by the power of the vibration but didn’t instantly feel anything in the way of sexual excitement; it was all too strange… but gradually, the tingling that had only recently become familiar begun to take over and, well, I sort of started humping the thing! Still, I’m usually pretty awkward and uncomfortable in social situations (social anxiety is a constant struggle for me) so I was fluctuating between arousal due to intense sensations, and then bursting into nervous laughter as I realised that a rather large crowd was gathering.
I remember making a lot of jokes with the salesmen while this was happening. I remember being on there for so long that one of the men asked my partner “Is she ok? She can stop if she wants to!” to which I cried out “Do I have to?” The man laughed “Not at all!” I remember one of the salesmen suggesting to my partner “Bite her neck,” to which he kindly obliged. I remember wondering “What the fuck am I doing? I’m in public!” and vaguely wondering why I was allowing myself to be exploited… then, eventually, laughing and gripping my partner’s leg, I came.
I stop up, red faced and sweaty, on shaky legs and realised just how big the crowd of people was. I weakly raised my hand and the crowd fucking cheered! I kid you not! My partner and a salesman then helped me to a chair where I was given some free toys – though obviously not a Sybian!
I remember walking away from that feeling excited, aroused, amazed at my own bravery, and ready for more new experiences.
Reflecting on my very public wank…
I’ve been thinking about that experience a lot lately and about the exhibitionist I acknowledged within myself that day. While the setting was somewhat seedy, the experience was ultimately liberating for me because I felt in control and as if I was breaking down some of my own barriers, a challenge I always enjoy.
The only other similar experiences I’ve had since have been making films for Beautiful Agony and I Feel Myself, but being in front of a camera which you control yourself is a different experience to being in front of a live audience. I admit that only once, so far, have I ventured to any sort of sex club; a BDSM club a couple of years ago and while I enjoyed being a voyeur, at that point I was not game enough to step up myself – nor did I have any idea of how to initiate such a thing.
So it’s occurred to me that I feel very much ready for some new adventures. Perhaps that will be my mission over the upcoming summer months. We shall have to wait and see.
Filed under: Art, Feminism, Porn, Sex | Tags: Art, Feminism, kink, obscenity, Porn, Sex, sex work, sex workers, sexuality, stigma
Hey I’m super busy with various projects but I thought I’d start a segment on this blog where I occasionally share stuff by other people that I like or find interesting. Huzzuh!
“The answer to bad porn is not no porn, but to try to make better porn.”
Sex Workers: Stigma and barriers to health. The UCL Institute for Global Health’s 12th symposium. I found this talk really interesting and though the video is a bit long, I highly recommend a listen as I think education is a wonderful way to challenge people’s assumptions and beliefs surrounding sex work.
Porn Star Lorelei Lee talks obscenity. Here are some choice quotes from the article:
“If we lived in a society in which women’s sexuality was celebrated, and was seen as usually proactive rather than usually passive, I don’t think people would jump so quickly to the concepts of exploitation and dehumanization when they thought of female performers.”
“Porn, I think, is sometimes dark because sex is sometimes dark — because people are sometimes dark. Of course, porn is also often lighthearted, funny, ugly, gorgeous and ridiculous. Human desires evolve out of our varied, complex experiences in the world. Sex is so basic to our humanity, and sexuality is an arena, like dreaming, that connects us to the parts of ourselves we don’t always fully understand or have words for. This is what makes sexuality fascinating and endlessly variable and certainly worth performing.”
Sex is not the enemy. This lovely tumblr blog is a great resource for pretty, sexy pictures and good articles. In fact, it’s where I found a few of the things I’m now sharing here!
Greta Christina on Porn, Social Criticism and the Marginalization of Kink. This article reminds me why Greta Christina is one of my favourite bloggers:
“The problem isn’t with critiquing kinky or rough-sex porn for perpetuating misogyny.
The problem is with critiquing rough-sex or kinky porn for perpetuating misogyny… simply because it’s rough or kinky.”
Copyright Infringements in the Porn Industry. An interesting article on the challenges faced by the porn industry. I’d be interested to hear any thoughts people might have on this one.
“In my experience, people seem to think that women want no close ups of genitalia, and no “nasty” content, while men of course desire exactly these very things. Men and women aren’t so simple though y’all (…)”
1. People have a right to be approached with humility and respect.
2. People have the right to say YES or NO to things that concern them.
3. People have the right to reject harmful social norms.
4. People have the right to stand up to and change the balance of power.
5. People have the right not to be “rescued” by the outsiders who neither understand nor respect them.
6. People have the right to exist how they want to exist.
I think that could be applied to a lot of things. Awesome.
Filed under: Art, Feminism, Sex | Tags: Art, bdsm, Feminism, Sex, sexuality, submissive
Yep, I’m a feminist. Yep, I’m sexually submissive. Yep, I’m a masochist. Yep, I fantasise about boys and girls tying me up and making me cry.
For several years, I have gotten increasingly interested in BDSM and as I have become better educated on it, it is becoming more integrated into my sexual expression and vocabulary. On the one hand, my interest in it seems to disturb and alienate some folks, on the other I am relatively new to it and so far only practice what I consider to be comparatively light BDSM with my partner. Though often my desire is to try more intense stimulation, I like to take this stuff slow so I can be aware of my comfort zones. So, I’m hardly an authoritarian voice, but this stuff is important to me so I’m going to record my current thoughts on it.
I am not going to write this article in a way that attempts to be inclusive of the extremely diverse BDSM community – I am writing this article from my very specific, very personal perspective as a feminist female who identifies as predominantly sexually submissive with a sprinkling of switch. Please keep comments (if indeed there are any!) respectful and remember I’m not pretending to be an expert.
Admitting I’m sexually submissive.
Ever since I can recall the first fluttering of sexual feelings (though I did not fully understand them to be so at this age) my sexual fantasies primarily revolved around submission. I remember, at a very young age, sitting in the school playground, watching while some of the “naughty” kids played pirates – the boys would kidnap the girls and tie them to the trees. I wanted so badly to be one of those girls but my parents were feminists and I felt that game was sexist. So I never played. And I never stopped fantasising.
Later, in my relationships, I would spend a lot of time hoping my partners would be more sexually assertive with me and in fact I introduced some forced fantasy play into our sex life – but this did not always make my partners comfortable and I had my own hang-ups about it. At this point, I did not have a language to articulate my desires properly nor a way to express them and as a result, often felt conflicted and guilty for not being happy with more gentle sexual play.
I actually spent a lot of time trying to teach myself to enjoy the things I was told were healthy and positive. I tried to concentrate my fantasies on a softer sort of sensuality, one that seemed more female friendly – you know, candlelight and rose petals. I tried everything to avoid fantasising about the things that made me a bad person. Guess what? A big part of my sex life was spent feeling unhappy and unsatisfied. I knew sex was important but I came to think of myself as something broken and I came to relate sex to something rather frustrating and unfair – there didn’t seem to be a way for me to find proper satisfaction.
And over the years, as I learned about too many of my female friends being victims of sexual abuse and rape, I felt a sick, blinding, frustrating, helpless rage at the perpetrators of violence against my friends. I also started to feel deeply, horribly awful and guilty for my own dark fantasies. As a result, I started to push my fantasies deeper and deeper inside myself.
But, like my sexual awakening with orgasm, moving to a city with a variety of different people in it really opened me up to new experiences. I met people involved in the BDSM community and we started having conversations about all sorts of fabulous things – consent, communication, fantasy, safety and so on.
In fact, meeting people from the BDSM community gave me a sense of sexual agency and assertiveness about my own desires that I had previously suppressed. Though my experience with BDSM is relatively new and inexperienced, I want to discuss some of the things it has helped me understand.
Submitting in the bedroom is not submitting to the patriarchy.
It is often suggested that women who want to be sexually submissive have just internalised misogynistic, male centric codes of sexual conduct. But isn’t that, well, really fucking patronising? Isn’t it incredibly offensive to deny women ownership of their own sexual fantasies? It’s like saying that there’s no way a woman could have sexual fantasies of her own, that they come from men because women are empty vessels who only learn what to like from men. Hell, even if women have learned what to like from men, does that mean we should just never enjoy ourselves, lest we cross over to the dark side and dance the patriarchy tango? Oh yeah, and isn’t it also very heterocentric? I fantasise about submitting to other women and that’s not about replicating old heterosexual codes of conduct, it’s about me getting my rocks off.
When practicing BDSM, we are not simply re-enacting established misogynistic forms of sexual expression. When I ask my partner to slap me, it’s because I want to feel the intensity of his touch, when I ask him to tie me up it’s because I want to feel sensations of exposure and helplessness, when I ask him to dominate me it’s because I want to have the intense, screaming orgasms I get from seeing that triumphant look of power in his eyes. But it’s not about him being a man and me being a woman, it’s about us being us. In every aspect of life we are equal and sexually it is exactly the same. We give each other what we want. Shameless, sexy contentment.
This is not to say that there aren’t misogynistic BDSM practices and those can bother me (though my fantasies often revolve around women being degraded, they’re always in the context of fantasy). However, to discuss BDSM and fantasies as if they are in the same realm as the rape and abuse of women is offensive. It’s offensive both to careful, considerate practitioners of BDSM and to women who have experienced real abuse.
Submissives aren’t weak.
People who are sexually submissive are often seen as people who are weak. This is not the case and I think it’s a misogynistic attitude as people often relate sexual submissiveness to femininity. This is a load of hogwash, there are plenty of submissive men who are no less men for wanting to have their bottoms spanked.
Besides, has nobody ever heard of topping from the bottom? Has nobody heard of safe words? When I play with my partner, if he ever accidentally goes too far or I’m just not in the right mood, I have a word I can use (my word is “autumn” because that word is pretty!) and if I use that word, he stops instantly. That’s right, he can have me tied up and be standing over me with a giant whip made of doom but the moment I say “autumn” it’s game over instantly. That brings me to my next point…
BDSM is a game.
Whenever I come across people who are disturbed by BDSM, I must admit I feel a little less comfortable around them. I wonder whether they can separate reality from fantasy. It has to be understood that BDSM is fantasy, is play. Sure, there are people who do it badly, abusively, but isn’t that exactly the same with vanilla sex?
BDSM, as Dan Savage puts it, is a game of cops and robbers for adults… without pants. To play games properly, there are rules, clearly defined boundaries and if you don’t play by the rules, chances are you won’t be allowed to play again.
BDSM has taught me sexual agency.
I would like to further emphasise the importance of a safe word. As I said, it’s like a button that stops the game instantly the moment I’m feeling uncomfortable. A safe word is the thing that helps me know that no matter what I’m still in control. When I practice BDSM with my partner, like while watching a movie, I suspend my disbelief so that I can enjoy myself but we have a language that allows us to pause, play again or stop entirely.
As a submissive, I have a certain degree of responsibility towards my dominant partner, the responsibility to keep check on how I’m feeling and to make sure we don’t do anything I’m uncomfortable with. Before learning about BDSM, I didn’t have a real strategy for checking in with myself and I must admit to doing some damage to myself as a result – even while having calm, “normal” vanilla sex.
In conclusion, I guess?
Nowadays, I am with a partner who is self identified as a dominant and this suits me wonderfully. Although I sometimes still feel residual guilt about making my sexual needs known, I feel a lot more comfortable and content sexually because I no longer feel so ashamed of my desires.
At the end of the day, when the game finishes, we’re ourselves again. Sometimes our game playing ends halfway and turns into languid, gentle lovemaking, sometimes –gasp – nobody even orgasms. Whatever, the point is that BDSM is only one aspect of our relationship, one aspect of our sexuality and ultimately, it’s just a pantsless game of cops and robbers. Now that BDSM have given me a language and framework to explore my fantasies in a structured, considered way… I can finally allow myself out to play.
Because other people are more articulate and experienced than me, here are some links!
I would love for people to read this article, it’s big but it expresses a lot of my own experiences, thoughts and struggles: The Fantasy of Acceptable ‘Non-Consent’: Why the Female Sexual Submissive Scares Us (and Why She Shouldn’t).
Pro-SM Feminist Safe Spaces. I’ve only started reading this but it seems to be a good place to go to for discussions on BDSM.
Clarisse Thorn. A super awesome, self described, “feminist, pro-BDSM, sex-positive activist”.