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The Unsolicited Dick Pic and Why it Sucks for Everyone

April 6th, 2014 by

Once upon a time I was engaged in a correspondence on a certain dating site with a man who I’ll call…well, let’s call him Richard, shall we?

He sent me a one-line message. I don’t remember what it was, but in it, he essentially asked me to dominate him. I was bored and I was lonely, and he was submissive, so I replied. (I don’t meet submissive men on vanilla dating sites very often, so sometimes I’m willing to give a bit of leeway.) His profile was nothing but wank fodder, and his picture was a close-up of his nipple. My reply was prickly. In it, I told him that if he was interested, he would actually have to get to know me as a person, not as a fantasy. He responded with an enormous amount of enthusiasm and with a well thought-out, grammatically correct reply, bare of wank fodder. I was pleasantly surprised. He told me about himself and inquired about my life, my interests. I asked for a real picture. He offered clothed pictures or naked. I told him that, having only just made his acquaintance (and only online at that) I would prefer clothed. He sent me a number of pictures of himself, clothed, but then once again offered naked pictures. I declined again, but offered to meet him for coffee.

And so we met, and we drank coffee, and we talked about a number of things, for awhile. We talked about our jobs, our hobbies. We talked about kink. It was a fairly mundane first meeting. Richard was polite. He was not at all pushy about wanting to play or date. I told him it was nice to meet him, and it was. Later, I received another message from Richard:

Would you like some naked pictures of me now?

No thank you, I said.

We messaged back and forth a bit, and talked about tentative plans to meet up again, but never planned anything concrete. And then, once again, he asked it.

Are you sure I can’t send you any naked pictures of me?

There were a number of things which struck me about this. One was that he either didn’t listen well or had very poor short-term memory since I had explicitly told him I didn’t want naked pictures of him. Another was that he was awfully intent on sending them to me.

Why are you so set on sending me naked pictures of yourself? I asked.

Because I want you to like me, he said.

I know, I know. I keep coming back to Dug. It's just so apt sometimes.

I know, I know. I keep coming back to Dug. It just seems so apt sometimes.

Richard was not my first experience with unsolicited dick pics. As a female-identified user of social media, I have been bombarded with them, from men I don’t know on dating sites, to friends who get drunk, to guys who are trying to flirt with me.

What I think most men who send unwanted, unasked for dick pics don’t understand, is that to the receiver, it feels like assault. And it IS assault. If the act of sending unsolicited dick pics was translated to “meatspace”, it would look like this: the man in question and I would be having a pleasant conversation, and then suddenly, he whips out his dick, with no warning.

The cowardly anonymous quality of technology allows us to hide behind it, and consequently, do things we wouldn’t normally do otherwise, without fear of “IRL” consequences. It allows for the senders of these pictures to essentially, non-confrontationally flash others. And this is part of rape culture. As women, we are told that our desires don’t matter, that any desires we do have must revolve around men and their desires. Our whole lives, women are inundated with fear, and expectation of sexual assault. To us, the receiver of the non-consensual dick pic, it is just a confirmation that what we want should be subjugated to the wants of others.

And that sucks.

The sad thing about all of this is that I genuinely love a good dick pic. I like dicks. I like the way they feel inside me, I like the way they feel in my hands, I like the way they look. They’re pretty. They are nice to look at! But I have rarely had the occasion to be happy about a dick pic, because it has almost always been thrust upon me non-consensually.

But now, back to Richard. There was another thing he told me that struck me. His profile told me he was bisexual, but he told me otherwise. “This is kind of awful,” he said. “But I’m not attracted to men. I don’t really like it when they touch me…it’s just nice to be wanted.”

Fetlife, the great normalizer, the place where everyone’s kink is respected and everyone is equally represented </sarcasm> has no room for dick pics. All over Fetlife, people say “Don’t put a dick pic as your profile picture.” Some go even further and say not to have any dick pics in your profile at all. “Nobody wants to see that,” people say. Men say it. Women say it. Genderqueer folks say it. Nobody wants to see a penis. Nobody wants men. (I am going to leave off the fact that men are not the only ones who have cocks and that gender is more complicated than penis-havers and penis-not-havers. That is another post.) Men are not allowed to be objects of desire. And you know what?  That sucks too.

I just wanted you to like me, he said.

I just wanted. you. to like me.

I never saw Richard again. Besides the fact that I wasn’t sure that we had any chemistry, it was clear that it wouldn’t work out between us–he clearly couldn’t listen to my wants and needs. I told him that sending me things I specifically told him I didn’t want wouldn’t be a good way to get him to like me, and yet he persisted. I haven’t heard from him in well over a year now. But my thoughts keep coming back to him. His eagerness to send me dick pics was just a symptom of an overall need he had that wasn’t fulfilled: he just wanted to be wanted.

Richard’s desire to be wanted overpowered his ability to respect me when I said “No.” This is not something that should ever happen. But it doesn’t invalidate the fact that the desire to be desired is a real, legitimate desire, and something that, as a whole, men aren’t allowed to experience in our society. The prevalence of unsolicited dick pics are not only assaultive to people, but they make dick pics something that people don’t solicit. This just contributes to the overall problem of how, societally, we brand men as unwantable. We frame men as the pursuers and women as the pursued, and we don’t allow it any other way. We don’t allow men to be wanted. We don’t allow women to want. This post is not about which one of those is worse–it’s not a contest. This post is about the fact that they both suck. These things are not unrelated. We need to get to a place where everyone is allowed to be wanted, and everyone is allowed to want, and just as importantly, everyone is allowed to not want.

Until then, it’s just going to suck for everyone.

The Sex Factor

March 5th, 2014 by

I do not exactly feel comfortable talking about my sex life on the internet. Yet here I am.

As I’m sure many of you who already read Peroxide’s blog know, he is a virgin and, up until quite recently, has intended to remain that way until marriage.

I, on the other hand…

I, on the other hand, have had more sexual partners than years I’ve been alive. Frankly, I’m not quite sure I believe in the concept of virginity. I find the idea to be outmoded and patriarchal.

This is the first romantic relationship I have been in since I was high school that has not included intercourse. This is the longest I have been without intercourse since I lost my virginity.

I absolutely refuse to make any demands on him in this respect. This is a hard limit for him and I badly want to respect that. But I have been struggling. This is something that has been a routine, regular part of my relationships for the past ten years.

It’s not just that I really really like sex. (I do.  I really really really like sex. It is probably one of my favorite things.)

It’s also about intimacy. I am not sure I can reach the same level of intimacy with someone without having intercourse with them.

And I am an intimacy junkie. Of course, we have other ways of expressing intimacy. If we didn’t, I don’t think I would be able to handle it. But there is still something missing.

Peroxide has decided that this is something that he is ready for.  And, while I am feeling elated, while I am feeling excited and impatient, I am also feeling oddly hesitant. I want him so. fucking. badly, possibly more than I have ever wanted anyone

And yet.

More than that, I feel responsible for him. And I feel scared. I want to be a Good Dominant. I don’t want him to look back on this and regret it. I feel it is my responsibility to take care of him, to love him and protect him. What if he decides this was a mistake? Isn’t it my job to guide him, to help him do what’s right for him? And how do I know if this is right for him when my own desires are getting in the way?

No Means Nothing

July 30th, 2013 by

TW: sexual harassment, mentions of rape. I wrote this a year ago, and never got around to publishing it. Sadly, it is still relevant.

It’s three thirty, in the afternoon. Broad daylight. I’m on my way to meet a friend for coffee, and I’m anxious because I’m running late. I’m hurrying down the street, and that’s when he comes up beside me and walks next to me, his elbow jutting out towards me, just a little too close for comfort. My heart starts to race and I think to myself that I’m imagining things, that it’s nothing and he’ll go away without confrontation. I quicken my pace and turn the corner, hoping that he won’t follow. No such luck.

He sticks his elbow even further towards me, almost in my face. “Hey, take my arm,” he says. I can smell alcohol on his breath. “No,” I tell him. “Let’s go get coffee,” he says. “No,” I say. “How about lunch?” he says. “No,” I say. “I don’t want to.” “You busy?” he asks. “Yes,” I reply. “How about the rest of the month?” “I’m busy for the rest of the month.” “How come? Why you gotta be like that?” I stop and sigh, and I think I really don’t have the energy for this and so I give in. I play it. The trump card.

“I’ve got a boyfriend.”

“AWWWWW MAN!” he screams and veers away from me, pounding his fists on a nearby truck to vent his disappointment and displeasure that the thing he wants is already claimed by another. I scurry away down the street, feeling scared and for some reason I can’t quite pinpoint, ashamed.

I parse things out later, the source of my shame, my feelings of weakness. This experience, while not violent, has reminded me that I don’t own my own body, that my male partner does. That if I don’t want to have sex with someone, it’s not my call to make.

This is entitlement culture. This is the culture that we live in, that we operate every day in, that says that a woman’s refusal for reasons of her own autonomy, her own wishes are invalid. This is the culture that we live in, where I walk down the street and I wear my headphones even if they aren’t plugged into anything, so I can pretend not to hear that cat-calls and propositions that come my way, so I can pretend not to feel threatened. This is the culture that we live in, where my male friend touches my body without permission and then laughingly asks for forgiveness, because, you know, that’s easier than asking for permission.

This is why I will speak out in defense of victims and against victim-blaming. This is why I give them victims, not abusers, the benefit of the doubt. This is why I make sure that consent culture is covered in the sexual health panels that I participate in. This is why I listen to Kitty’s story, to Maggie’s story, why I listen to your story, and why I tell mine. This is why I am a proponent of consent culture. I don’t care if you find problems with it, I don’t care if you think it creates “conflict” or “drama,” or that it stirs shit up.

We need to stir shit up. We need to create an atmosphere where people can feel safe asking for “yes,” where people have to ask for “yes.” Because in the culture we live in right now? I’m saying “no,” but no one is listening.

CCSS #3: Asking for What You Want

June 30th, 2012 by

This is part of a series of Consent Culture Sex Stories: explicit posts describing real sex, including the communication around what happened, how we got what we wanted, things that didn’t go right and how we adapted. Their purpose is to make clear and enthusiastic consent more than an abstract idea discussed by sex nerds–to show how this actually works in real life, and that it’s hot. The first CCSS post is here, and the second is here.

 

Robin and I were hanging out with our friend Alex. We’d been friendly and flirty all evening, and eventually wound up at my place cuddling and talking. Robin made the obligatory shy innuendo, and Alex asked lightheartedly if he was suggesting a threesome.

“If he’s not, I am,” I clarified.

“I’d be down with that …” Alex said cautiously, and Robin made an enthusiastic noise.

Knowing that we were all interested, we didn’t have to immediately switch gears into sex. We continued cuddling, and when my face wound up next to Robin’s I nuzzled and kissed him with familiar freedom.

“Want one too?” I offered, turning to Alex.

“Sure,” he smiled, and I leaned over and kissed him. Then Robin did the same, and we snuggled a little closer and got a bit more hands-on. When we started to reach under clothes, I checked in with Alex about whether there were any places he was less comfortable being touched. (I was thinking at the time that for some trans* folk certain sexual touch is dysphoric, and I’d rather be kind of awkward upfront than step on buttons later. In retrospect, the question’s just as useful for a cis partner.) He was startled, and said no, it was all good.

It was all great, actually. Alex was squirmy, responsive, and vocal, all things that I love to play with. We didn’t get particularly kinky–some enthusiastic spanking, and I can never resist biting (after checking in about leaving marks), but other than that it was just friendly exploratory sex.

My favorite part was at a lull in the action, after I’d come back from getting some water.

“So, there’s a thing I’ve always wanted to try with two other people,” Alex confessed, “But I’m kind of embarrassed about it.”

I grinned. “I have one too–tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine? Maybe it’s the same one.”

“Well …” he hesitated. “I’ve always wanted to go down on someone while they were getting fucked.”

I blinked. “Okay, no, mine’s not the same one … it’s the complement of that.”

“Wait, what?”

“I’ve always wanted someone to go down on me while I’m getting fucked.”

We stared at each other and then laughed. “All right. So … how do we do this?”

“Uh, sixty-nine plus doggie-style maybe?”

Robin was agreeable, so I settled into place on top of Alex and made a happy noise when Robin slid into me. It was a little bit of a balancing act–not so much that we couldn’t do it, but enough keep me from focusing completely on how nice it was to have a mouth on my clit and a cock in my pussy at the same time. I took advantage of the position to lean down and run my tongue along Alex’s vulva, but honestly I think we were both paying more attention to what he was doing with mine. (I was sheepish later about my inexperience, and he reassured me I’d done fine.)

We adjusted positions a few times, and eventually my hips got tired from straddling Alex’s face. He slipped out from underneath me, I brought my legs together, and Robin and I shifted into a pattern that we’d already learned hit some good angles for both of us. Alex watched as Robin fucked me faster, and I arched back into him and groaned when I felt him come.

“You guys are so hot,” Alex said appreciatively. I blushed. We cleaned up, snuggled up together, and eventually slept in a satisfied pile.

Impromptu D/s for Switches

February 20th, 2012 by

“I get the feeling the next time I see you is going to be markedly different from the last.”

“It’s possible. I do still hope we haven’t ruled out the other stuff, you know? I want you to take control sometimes. And I want you to fight me sometimes. And other times I want to tell you to kneel, and know even without looking that you’ve done it.”

“… you’re a little greedy, you know that?”

“Seems to be working out for me so far.”

 

I’ve been having a subby week. It’s interesting–it wasn’t very long ago that I was questioning what a submissive headspace felt like and whether it was even possible for me to get into it, and the last several days I’ve been slipping into one so readily that I don’t always notice. Sometimes deeply enough that it’s hard to imagine wanting to come back, even knowing intellectually that I will. (It has felt more controlled, though, and much less isolated, than the last time I wrote about subspace.)

Among the results of this situation (and, if I’m honest, the causes) is a telekink tool that Leon and I designed. It started out as a conversation about impromptu orders–how hot it is to be able to give or get an order in the middle of doing something else, and obey or see it obeyed without question. In a D/s fantasy, you can just do that and it works. In real life, pulling it off successfully requires a minimum of two things to be prearranged: consent and interest.

Establishing consent in advance is easy (knowing of course that it can be withdrawn when needed), but in a relationship where everyone switches and we’re not always in any role, establishing interest in advance is hard. Any other time we want to start something, we just ask, but this particular kink is one of the few situations where asking defeats the point. The whole fun of it is the pretense that obedience can always be assumed.

Enter the sigil. My original idea was to have something physical that could be worn in a variable way–the example was a ring, on one hand or the other–and agree that one way means “I am amenable to being given orders” and the other “Not right now, please.” In other words, if I’m minding my own business and Leon feels like making me do something for him, he glances over and checks the sigil; if the ring’s on my left hand, he gives the order, but if it’s on the right or absent, he assumes I’m not in the mood. This gives us the ability to do basic negotiation silently, without sacrificing spontaneity or the illusion of constant control.

Note that this is only basic negotiation! It works for us because we’ve already talked a lot about desires, preferences, and boundaries, so I know I can trust his judgment about what he might order me to do, and he trusts that if something’s wrong I’ll tell him. Even then, there’s room for error–if I accidentally leave the sigil set wrong, for example, or he makes an incorrect guess about what I’ll be okay with doing. We know this, and explicitly gave ourselves and each other permission to screw up a couple of times while we’re still experimenting. If that wouldn’t be safe and fun for you, I don’t recommend trying this. It’s also not a substitute for suggesting play when you actively want play; if I want to do a scene, I won’t just set the sigil and expect him to see it, I’ll ask.

So that idea was all well and good, except that most of the time we’re hundreds of miles apart and heaven knows that doesn’t stop us from wanting to play with D/s. We needed some way to get the same effect–a sigil I can set without alerting him and he can check without asking me–remotely. Ideally, it would be readily accessible inside the chat service we’re already using, show him how recently I set it, and reset itself after a while in case I forget to.

Long story short, that’s exactly what we now have. There’s a detailed explanation at the end of this post, but in less technical terms, I type a command into my chat program when I notice I’d be okay with getting random orders (or am not), and he types a command into his when he wants to know my last recorded preference. The program tells him how I’m feeling without telling me he asked, and the rest takes care of itself.

This has worked swimmingly. Every time he gives me an order when I wasn’t expecting one, I get a little rush–from the momentary surprise, the strength of his assertion of control, and the feeling that he can do whatever he wants with me. At the same time, I’m secure in the knowledge that we’re playing within our established boundaries, and that security–provided by the scaffold of nonverbal negotiation we’ve erected–does more than just dispense with a background obligation. A huge part of the reason I enjoy submitting to Leon in the first place is that he makes me feel safe. That means that negotiation in general and the sigil system in particular aren’t just practical necessities; by enhancing something that makes me feel submissive, they strengthen the D/s, and thus actively make for a better scene.

 

The technical details of our IRC sigil system are as follows:

I installed cron.pl and fakectcp.pl, both of which are available from scripts.irssi.org, in my irssi. I used fctcp to add a CTCP response to an agreed-upon fake request, and then modified that script so that it wouldn’t echo anything in my client when that specific request was made from his specific nick. (I’d rather have gone by hostmask, but given that he’s registered, runs irssi in screen on a remote VPS, and rarely renicks, it shouldn’t matter.) I set up three aliases which switch the response to that request between dommy/subby/neither and append a timestamp of when the alias was called, then set a cronjob to call the neutral alias at 6am (when I’m probably asleep and my mood is most likely to reset in real life).

The result: I hit the appropriate alias to change the sigil or just update the timestamp, he can send a CTCP request (which I assume he’s also aliased) to read the sigil without me knowing he’s doing it, and it reverts to neutral by itself if I don’t touch it for a day. We’ve debated a few other features (such as letting me add comments like “but I’m in public so keep it subtle,” letting him see when state changes, or making a way for him to query it other than CTCP) but for the moment are quite satisfied.

CCSS #1: This Is What Consent Culture Looks Like

February 15th, 2012 by

This is the first in a series of Consent Culture Sex Stories: explicit posts describing real sex, including the communication around what happened, how we got what we wanted, things that didn’t go right and how we adapted. Their purpose is to make clear and enthusiastic consent more than an abstract idea discussed by sex nerds–to show how this actually works in real life, and that it’s hot.

 

I was having a let’s-see-if-our-interests-are-compatible conversation with someone I’d met a few times but didn’t know well. We chatted a little about vanilla things before cautiously getting into the more personal stuff: D/s, petplay, strapons, impact. I told him about some specific memories I enjoyed, including one of tackling someone onto a bed, biting his neck, and having him instantly recognize it out loud as the alpha-dog gesture it was.

“I like being tackled,” he agreed.

There was a pause. We were sitting across from each other on my big nest of a bed, he reclining against some pillows and I cross-legged, and had been discussing things that turned us on for a while now.

“Can I tackle you?” I asked.

“Sure.”

“ … you’re already lying down.”

He sat up, obligingly. I shoved him back down and pinned his chest under my body weight. My forearms were over his shoulders, our faces a breath apart. The fine hairs on my cheek stood up.

“Can I kiss you?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, and several minutes later I was straddling him and breathless. I asked how far he  was comfortable going.

“I wasn’t expecting to have sex today,” he admitted, “but I would be okay with that.”

I had been thinking roughly the same thing. Without moving from my position on top of him, I told him how recently I’d been tested and what my risk factors were; he shared the same information, and told me clearly that he wanted to use “stop” or “no” or anything similar to that as a safeword–in other words, that he wouldn’t be saying any of those things unless he meant it. Since we now had a good idea of how far we wanted to go and what precautions we’d be taking, I could move a bit faster. I pulled his shirt off and brought my teeth down to his shoulder.

“How are you about marks?”

“I like them, but I’d want to check with my primary partner first.”

“Mmkay.” I still bit down, hard enough to make him moan, but without the suction that would leave a bruise.

“I’m going to struggle a little bit,” he warned me a little while later. “It doesn’t mean anything.”

I grinned delightedly and noted that while a verbal “no” from him was genuine, physical resistance was play. “Okay.” When he pushed up against me, I grabbed him and held him down. Given clearly-defined boundaries, I was confident enough to slip into the power fantasy. “Nope,” I informed him cheerfully as he tried to escape. “Mine. You know why?”

“Why?”

“‘Cause I’m bigger than you are.”

His eyes widened, and his body language shifted to show me a hint of trapped prey animal. I smiled to myself at having read him correctly and gave his neck another nip.

There wasn’t a lot of explicit asking after that. I just watched his responses and tried to do more of the things that made him sigh and squirm and go wide-eyed, less of the things that produced no reaction. It was very first-time-with-this-person sex: exciting and exploratory, but a little awkward due to the unfamiliar terrain. We had fun, though, and parted on good terms.

Over the next several days, we traded some email to check in with each other. He was having some strange feelings about sleeping with someone other than his primary partner; while their relationship was open and healthy, he hadn’t done that in years, and something about it didn’t feel right. I felt a little selfish disappointment, and told him so–there were things I had been looking forward to trying again with him–but also let him know that of course that was fine. Amicably, we left it there for now.

Galen

February 5th, 2012 by

Chaos and I were arguing with a friend a few months ago about whether it’s possible to submit to someone without their consent. The (vanilla) friend didn’t see it; it seemed to him that if you act submissive to someone who’s not dominating, you are at worst a bad lay. I disagree with him on both counts. Submitting without consent to dominate doesn’t necessarily make you a bad lay, but being a bad lay isn’t necessarily the worst thing that happens, either. Here’s a story, for the second round of Kitty Stryker’s second Safe/Ward Blog Carnival. Decide for yourself.

(TW: There is no nonconsensual touch nor specific trauma in this story, but there are references to self-harm.)

 

I say that Galen was my first kiss. It’s not precisely true, but his was the first one that meant something, the one that came at the end of the sort of intimate cuddly evening where you’d expect to find a good first kiss. Immediately exposing the depth of my self-doubt, I asked him bluntly why he was doing this. I don’t blame him, in retrospect, for not having a good answer; who asks that?

He was certainly a lot of other firsts, over the next year and change. First time I slipped my hands down someone else’s pants; first person I went down on. First time I penetrated someone else or made them come. Several firsts I wouldn’t recognize as BDSM until much later: tying him up with a belt or a ribbon, using knives as sensation toys, and leaving bite marks on him that could last for weeks (savoring the pride and the intimacy).

I still had about eight years to go before someone would teach me the term “D/s,” but in hindsight the signs of it were delicious. He was beautifully responsive, arching his back and parting his lips when I traced my fingertips over just the right spots. When I sat behind him he sank back into my arms, and would sigh if I leaned down to kiss his neck before unbuttoning his shirt. He was beautiful and sweet–still is–and probably one of the defining influences on my taste in submissives.

When we finished, more often than not, I would pull away from him, curl up in a ball, and cry.

Nobody since has made me feel quite as undesirable as Galen did. With him I was awkward and shy and hesitant, nothing resembling the powerful dominant I found in myself years later. When he didn’t reach out to touch me, never looked for the places he could slide his fingertips and make me moan like I had looked for his, I didn’t know any conclusion to draw except that he didn’t want me. That he tolerated my attention because he was getting off on it, but felt no desire to reciprocate. And why would he? I already had a lifetime of social conditioning telling me my body could not be sexy; this was just more evidence. But he was so sweet, so caring and giving in other ways, that every new time he left me untouched, fully dressed and aching with desire, I didn’t know what to do or to think and instead I just cried.

We never talked about why I was hurting. We almost did, once, but then he had to be out of town again for a while and one thing led to another and he ended up breaking it off (for unrelated reasons) before the conversation ever happened. We never talked about sex. I never said “Will you finger me while I do this?” or even “Touch me. Here,” which I suspect would have gone over famously. But I couldn’t presume then that anyone would want to touch me, and couldn’t bear to hear that rejection or see it in his face.

We didn’t talk about boundaries. He never said “I enjoy being penetrated, but don’t really want to penetrate you.” I never said “It scares me to use a knife on you, when not that long ago I was using one on myself.” Yeah, that was happening around that time too. (The picture you’re getting of how happy and stable I was those days is pretty accurate.) He’d seen the marks on my wrists, though, and when we tried playing with the knife I trembled, then crumpled, and he held me reassuringly. I think he understood, but the most I remember exchanging by way of words about it was “You trust me with this; I don’t.” I had no confidence in myself, and without confidence had no foundation for dominance.

And that’s the point: we never talked about D/s. He never said “I want to submit to you” and if he had I wouldn’t have known what that meant. I never chose to step into the complementary role; I just fell into the vacuum left behind by his passiveness. Accepting exchanged power, without ever feeling in control, is not dominating. I couldn’t give informed consent to D/s because I wasn’t informed, either about what he intended and wanted or about its alternatives. Remember that this wasn’t just my introduction to kinky sex; this was my introduction to sex. For all I knew, touching someone who never touched back was all I could get.

This is why I have a special hatred for the “ice queen” stereotype–the dominant who gets all the satisfaction she needs from touching others. I’m not that dom, never was and never will be, but I have played the part unwillingly for someone I wanted to please because neither of us knew how to articulate what we’d rather have. To this day I don’t know if that’s what he genuinely wanted from me, or if he wasn’t comfortable asking for something else, or if he’d been looking at femdom porn and thought that what it showed was just how this was supposed to go.

Some of the effects of that relationship are still with me. It got easier, later, when I started having egalitarian sex with someone else, and then again much later than that when I started learning and talking about BDSM. But I’m still afraid, always, that no matter how much a lover likes me as a person they’re only putting up with my body. That no assertive touch means no desire. That asking for what I want is imposing. It makes it hard to find confidence when I want to dominate, and after a scene in which I don’t get physical attention it makes me feel used and angry.

My experience with Galen is why it means so much to me to hear and see clearly that my partner finds me sexy. It’s also probably one of the reasons I’ve really enjoyed playing with someone who is, on the whole, more dominant than I am. When I’m bottoming to Leon, his desire is unambiguous. It might not be for sex–he might want to tie me up, flog me, or frankly just get me to comply for its own sake–but whatever he wants, he wants me, this whole physical human in front of him, and when his attention is focused on getting what he wants from me, I can’t forget that.

 

It was a long time before I started to see what Galen’s perspective on our history might be. He was more experienced than I was but not by much; I honestly don’t know how much he knew about what we were doing either. He wasn’t an adult preying on an innocent teenager, he was a slightly older teenager who had a hard time talking about sex, and who, like me, had never been taught that those conversations are necessary or how to have them. I don’t regret my relationship with him, even if parts of it were flawed and hurtful, and I no longer blame him for the fact that they were.

We’re still in touch, and have been close on and off. A few years ago, after a lot of maturing but still before I knew much about BDSM, we wound up fooling around a bit at his place. The day after, he told me he was still feeling sore from something new I’d tried, and described how it had felt as “about a four.” When pressed, he clarified that it hurt enough that he didn’t enjoy it, but he would do it for his dom. (A five would have been what I’d now call a hard limit.) I was incensed. I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t tell me at the time if it was that bad, and then expect me to intuit the scale he was using as if there were a standard I should already know. It hit all the same buttons that our silence had in the past, and I threw up my hands and gave up on the idea of trying to connect with him honestly.

About a year later, I told that story to a mutual friend, venting some frustration that the memory brought back. “I just wish he would tell me these things, instead of expecting me to read his mind!”

“It sounds like he was trying to,” she said.

That stopped me cold. She was right, of course. When we’d talked the next day, he was giving me exactly the kind of feedback I wanted–just later and in a different format than I expected. And I’d yelled at him for it. No wonder it was so hard for him to talk to me about sex!

The next time I saw Galen, I brought it up. “I don’t know if you even remember that,” I said, “but I’m sorry for getting mad about it. I know you were trying.”

“I don’t,” he admitted, “but thank you.” I knew from his smile that he meant it. Words may be hard, but at least there are some ways I know that I can read him.

 

We’re getting better at the talking part, too. I woke up recently from a hot dream, enjoying the memory of it as it faded. I grabbed my phone and sent Galen a text:

“So I definitely just had a dream in which I asked if you wanted to make out some time. And the dream was pretty sexy, so what the hell. *Do* you want to?”

The reply came the next day: “Sure :)”

Such a simple thing, but that’s all that needs to happen: ask and answer. Maybe we’re finally figuring out how to do this thing right.

It’s important to tell the stories of when communication and consent are difficult and complicated–we need something to replace the pattern in people’s minds which says that the only two sides of the consent line are “both partners magically get what they want” and “a stranger leaps out of the bushes.” By the same token, it’s important to tell the stories of when clear communication results in great consensual sex, to replace the patterns which say that talking about it is a turnoff, or that everyone’s supposed to have sex the same way.

On that note, consider this the prologue to a upcoming series of short posts about communication gone right. They will be true, explicit stories of sex and BDSM scenes, including the parts where we talk about what we want and don’t want and the parts where everything isn’t magically easy but we make it work. I’m calling them Consent Culture Sex Stories (or “consent porn” for short), and the first one should be up within a couple of weeks.

Loudly and Happily Deviant (a post for National Coming Out Day)

October 11th, 2011 by

I’m kinky and agender, but you knew that.

I’m also queer and polyamorous. Specifically, I have a boyfriend and a girlfriend, who are also those things to each other. This situation is new (well, my addition to it is), and I’ve been meaning to write more about it ever since Rowdy posted a call for consent culture narratives on the Pervocracy. Coming from longtime friends to lovers to crushes to triad has been exciting and occasionally scary (especially those last two!), but every step of the way I have felt overwhelmingly respected and cared for. I trust them not because I think nothing will go wrong, but because I have seen how they handle it when things go wrong and it made me feel safe.

Fuck the rom-com bullshit, that’s the kind of love story that needs telling. Boy meets girl; boy and girl meet genderqueer; boy and girl and genderqueer communicate openly about desire and emotion, have a bunch of incredible sex, and then realize that they’re actually super into each other. They discuss time, touch, and talk–what they need, what they can offer–and use what they’ve learned to start building a relationship. And then, well, have a bunch more incredible sex. Bam. There’s my pitch. Think the studios will bite?

Me neither, and that’s why I need to post it. With all of our care and straightforwardness and outright joy, we are still the deviants. There are still people who think our relationship must be boring because we talk honestly about it, and others who think it’s sick just because there are three people in it (and that’s before I even get to the part about hitting each other with sticks). And as long as those people control the narrative, there will be others who would be so happy in a relationship like mine, but will be afraid to seek one out … if they even know they have that choice.

I will resist the urge to exhort everyone who has something to come out about to do so. I recognize the incredible privilege of knowing that I will still have a roof over my head, food to eat, as much of an income as I have anyway, and the continued respect of people that matter to me if the whole world knows that I’m poly, queer, genderqueer, and kinky. Not everyone has that privilege (so when I write more about my girlfriend and boyfriend, I’ll be using pseudonyms). But if you share that privilege with me, consider posting your own story in whatever corner of the internet you inhabit. Let’s be loudly and happily deviant–for all the ones who can’t.