Thursday, August 2, 2012

Returning to Sexyland.

So this blog has been dark for a few weeks.  That's partly just because I'm a pathological procrastinator and I had a lot of schoolwork.  But it's also because my conflicted feelings about the sex and kink communities were coming to a critical point.



Over the last year (as some people may have noticed), I've been gradually withdrawing from public/communal sexiness.  Haven't been playing with new people, haven't been going to parties, haven't wanted to even write about my personal sex life as much.  I still have sex and play with Rowdy--my sexuality itself didn't go anywhere--but I've been less and less involved with Sexyland.

This is not something I planned or wanted.  I miss being able to have that kind of fun.  I miss the thrills and the camaraderie.  I miss the "I'm telling this one to the grandchildren" stories and the "I'm so turned on it feels like flying" highs.  I miss the M&Ms.

There's a few reasons I've been MIA.  The first is that there's been a lot of revelations of abusers and generally bad people in Sexyland, including people I've played with.  Knowing that I've played with people who've beaten their partners, who were using me to cheat, who've committed rape--it grosses me out and makes me question my ability to read people.  (It's also caused a lot of angst in the local scene that makes social events less fun.)

Coming out as genderqueer has been a factor too.  I was used to being in the role of "straight girl" in Sexyland, and I don't think I fully appreciated how much I would have to adapt to a new one.  Presenting masculine at events and having people not react the same way as when I looked femme shouldn't be a surprise, but it somehow was. (Maybe because, shit, I didn't feel any different.) For a long time, I didn't take that change in attitudes as a response to a change in my presentation, but as an "...is it my breath?" awkwardness.

But the biggest one has been the uncomfortable realization that I have done things for the wrong reasons.  I've let my boundaries be pushed so I could be "cool" and I've pushed my own boundaries so I could be "sexy."  Or I've done things that were entirely within my boundaries, but I've done them for validation instead of for pleasure.  Don't get me wrong--this is not my declaration that I was only kinky and poly for the attention and my true self was "normal" all along.  A lot of the validation I sought wasn't just "coolness," but validation of my kinks; I felt like I had to jump into the Sexyland deep end without a life vest to prove to myself that I really was a pervert.

At first this felt awesome--oh my god, I really am a pervert! I really can go to a party and get beaten and fucked by three guys! This is real life and it is amazing!  But then the ooky feelings started creeping up on me.  The regrets for times when I didn't say "no" and the resentment (mostly undeserved) at the people who kept going when I wish I'd said "no."  That's when I started fading out of the scene.



I've been feeling that regret and resentment for a while, but last night was the first time I worked it out in words.  (WORDS: THEY ARE FUCKING AMAZING.)  It was also the first time I started thinking about a solution.

I need to recognize that I am, in many ways, a newcomer to Sexyland.  I need to go to parties with the intent to dip my toe in the shallow end.  I need to tell partners "go slow with me, I'm still figuring out what I like."  I need to start learning what I want and what I need.  Because although I have been Officially Kinky since I was eighteen, although I have a goddamn kink blog, although I have read umpteen kink books and been to a gazillion and a half classes... in some ways, I'm kinda new here.

As a genderqueer person, as a cautious and risk-aware person, as a person still seeking her own desires and finding her own limits... I'm new here.

I'd like to start exploring.

71 comments:

  1. "I've let my boundaries be pushed so I could be "cool" and I've pushed my own boundaries so I could be "sexy." "

    Aw, this was an incredibly honest and personal post. Good for you, Cliff. Enjoy your exploration.

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  2. All of us are always new here - it;s the safest way.

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  3. Cliff, as always I appreciate your posts on your changing relationship with feminism, gender identity, kink, all of it, so much. As someone who is on a parallel path in a lot of ways it has been really hope-inspiring and validating to see you struggle with the same things I've been struggling with. Your honesty is heroic, you have no idea how useful and how much less alone your discussion of these issues have made me feel.

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  4. I like that you point out that it's possible to be genuinely into something but still do it for the wrong reasons. I think that's a concept that few people address or acknowledge.

    Like...I had a slutty phase when I was in my early 20s and had just moved to a big city, and later on I realized this was largely motivated by wanting to prove to myself that I was desirable. And so for a long time I felt pretty stupid and misguided and wished I hadn't had that phase at all.

    But recently I realized: no, underneath the wanting-to-be-cool there was also some genuine arousal and curiosity. I was - and am - really libido-driven and love variety, and I grew up in a small town where I never explored my sexual side much because I didn't want to get a "reputation". So all that random sex wasn't a bad or wrong; I would probably have had a slutty phase at that age even if I'd been emotionally healthy with great self-esteem. I just might have chosen different partners and for different reasons.

    So yeah. Things aren't always cut-and-dried; sometimes a choice can be right and wrong at the same time. Thank you, Cliff, for articulating this.

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  5. For reasons I can't quite articulate, this post made me feel really good.

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  6. And just think, being new again... there's so, so much to find about still!

    I've been going through similar things recently, in an online context (which, I know, is *really* not the same thing). But figuring out that many, many people who I'd bantered with, discussed kink with, PMed with on reddit, whatever, were actually shitlords - it was really disheartening.

    My solution to that is two fold (sort of). Start my own safe-space online kink place, and get out into my local community.

    Reading this post was great, because it means I'm going to do the latter with caution, to be sure. Excited toe-dipping, but start with the toes, dammit.

    Thanks for all you write. Happy Sexyland Spelunking!

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  7. Good luck in your ongoing journey.

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  8. I love you so much. Can we be siblings yet?

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  9. This is amazing synchronicity, because I'm going through the same sort of stage myself and I've been trying to come up with a way to put it into words. Thank you! Right now I'm at a point in my life where I've realized that I've been kind of a shitty person sometimes and I'm trying to approach ALL of my relationships differently, including sexual/kinky relationships. Sometimes it really feels good to let go of what you've learned and have a beginner's mind again, because as I've just found out, I learned wrong.

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  10. You are very wise and inspirational, Cliff.

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  11. As you probably already know, one of the career skills for predators is "preventing people from reading me to tell I'm a predator". Alertness yes, being critical of yourself for not sensing their innate rapiness, no.

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    1. I know that's true, intellectually. But emotionally I still feel a lot of guilt when I realize I've been with a bad person, and I can't explain myself out of that emotional reaction.

      Delete
    2. Sure. That was, however clumsily, meant to be supportive. It isn't just 'my judgment was bad' or 'oh no I enabled a creep', but that you were trying to behave correctly in the face of someone actively trying to override your creep-detectors. I think it's entirely healthy to be upset that someone turned out to be a creep! Just, hey, not your fault.

      In gaming terms, you're making an opposed check, which is a lot harder than a straight-up skill check.

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    3. I am a new reader to the blog. The fact that feminism, sexual freedom AND tabletop gaming have all appeared in one place makes me feel I am home. I have found my place to bookmark and frequent. Erm, hi!

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    4. "In gaming terms, you're making an opposed check, which is a lot harder than a straight-up skill check."

      Like a grapple roll!

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    5. I've been backing away from sexytime with strangers lately, and a recent experience has crystallized the reasons for me.

      My boyfriend's former roommate is fairly well known in the local kink scene, known for being a really good/supportive scene partner who tends to make people feel very good about their sexuality, in fact. While he was living with my boyfriend he expressed interest in hooking up with one or both of us. Neither of us was particularly feeling it - not because we got a creepy vibe, we just weren't interested, so we politely declined. End of story.

      Well, turns out when my boyfriend moved out to be with me, the roommate screwed him over on several hundred dollars worth of utility bills. (Boyfriend is unemployed right now, so this is a significant financial blow and Roommate knows it.) One of my first thoughts upon learning this was "I am *so glad* I never touched that guy!"

      Now, he's not a sexual predator at all, just a garden-variety horrible person. Even if I had some magical sex-predator radar, there would have been nothing for me to pick up on. But nonetheless, I learned after the fact that he is someone I can never like or respect. And ultimately, I don't want to have sex with someone I don't like or respect - which is why, for me at least, sex with strangers/acquaintances is inherently problematic.

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  12. "the uncomfortable realization that I have done things for the wrong reasons."

    Yesthis.

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  13. In some ways this sounds like the "people are complicated" XKCD (https://xkcd.com/592/) -- but we are complicated too, even without large internal shifts. Good luck on your journey.

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  14. I've been feeling really, really grateful to my submissive-type guy kind of for these reasons -- he's a safe place for me to learn about myself (and vice versa). I've been discovering I'm kinda really a sadist, like a lot, without all the :/ that I've struggled with being a dommy woman.

    I like going slow. I have the time. At the same time, though, I feel some jealousy watching new women have ALL OF THE PLAYING and ALL OF THE MODELLING and ALL OF THE THINGS! It's weird how it can inspire feelings of competition and need to be "cool".

    I think partly the community encourages the jump-right-in, insta-best-friends thing. I don't want to make friends or play partners instantly, that's not genuine for me.

    Sorry, this is apparently all over the place, your post seems to have brought up *things* for me.

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  15. Good morning Cliff (I had someone very special in my life called Cliff)- ANYWAY....

    I think this going to far, making mistakes, regretting things is a clear phenomena when anyone joins a new social group. Have you ever noticed how people go out of their way to make their place in a new group? There are always mistakes because they don't understand the new culture.

    Going slow is safer when the stakes are higher - so I would support your strategy, especially when there are unsafe people around.

    Apart from agreeing with your persepctive ... I am curious about Rowdy's reaction to you recgnising and living your masculine side. My sexual partners have always seemed very attracted to my femininity and frequently commented on it as being attractive etc. However, I notice there are a heap of less feminine ladies out there, so I suspect men have different preferences as they often seem to have partners.

    Thanks :-) C

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    1. Candice, I think Cliff is awesome.

      Exaggerated gender presentation does little for me, and I'm quite attracted to androgyny and gender-bending (though that's far from the only thing I'm attracted to).

      I try not to encourage any specific presentation for my partners - they get enough gender policing as it is. I just want them to know they're loved, supported, and safe to do whatever they want with their gender presentation when they're around me.

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  16. Thank you very much for being so wonderfully honest and vulnerable, Cliff :).

    Those of us on the fringes of culture (whether queer, trans, kinky, poly, or what have you) have so few models and guides--varying levels of secrecy are pretty much a way of life for us. But of course we're all just as human. The difference is that our marginalized status leaves less room for such human frailties as wanting to fit in with a group so much you misjudge people.

    It takes a really strong, wise, brave person to do what we do with integrity and safety. And I think you're one of the strongest, wisest, and bravest of all, if you don't mind me saying so. When I started my own journey, I looked desperately for role models. Considering my highly unusual circumstances, they are few. But you're one of them.

    So go exploring! You're new as a pervert, but so accomplished as a human being :).

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  17. Cliff, it means so much to me to read this coming from you. I'm very much a newcomer, even a pre-newcomer (new-pre-comer?) in Sexyland, and I'm constantly struggling with what to do to make sure I fit in, when really that's a load of crap, and I need to be myself and respect my boundaries. Having read your blog for so long, it helps to know that you make that mistake too, and to hear you confirm that it *is* a mistake.

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  18. Honestly, I'm thrilled you made this post. As someone who dipped a toe into Sexyland and got scared off (interacting with people who didn't get that bisexual =/= threesomes, switch =/= submissive, "not interested in playing, just looking for tips" =/= "make me your whore, 60 year old dude who contacted me on the Internet"), I'm glad to know that it's scary for experienced people. That it's not just me. That it's not something I need to "get over" in order to validate my kinkiness (because I sometimes feel like I'm not "really" kinky because I don't do scenes or go to parties or own any toys, I just test shit out with Vanilla Boyfriend and that's it). It's nice to know that I'm not alone.

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    1. In my limited experience (and this experience mostly comes from online discussions as I haven't been out in "sexyland" very much, so take it with a grain of salt) such behaviors do have explanations, though knowing them probably doesn't make things much less annoying.

      1. Bisexual =/= threesomes: Assuming you're a woman, it's because couples who are looking for a single bi woman for a (usually relationship-free) threesome greatly outnumber the single bi women who are interested. Thus some of them either try to pressure such women into at least considering it, or else come on strong and fast so they can "snatch up" anyone who is potentially interested before someone else does. If you're a man, I have no idea, as this doesn't seem to be nearly as much of a problem in reverse. (MFM threesomes appear to have different issues.)

      2. Switch =/= sub: There's this idea among some people that switches are someone who is dominant to some people and submissive to others. While this is often true, at least in part because switches who end up in relationships with doms or subs end up having to play one role by default within that relationship, it doesn't necessarily mean that's what they prefer. And people also often don't realize that the reverse, subs asking switches to be their dominant, rarely happens... thus adding to the appearance that dominants are disrespecting or trivializing "switchdom".

      3. Just looking =/= ravage me stranger: There's a lot of BDSM fantasy stories which basically go "timid newbie sub comes in to check things out but quickly get swept up into the deepest levels of depravity and enjoys it very much" and the like. A lot of inexperienced doms get stuck halfway in this sort fantasy world - even if they know on some level that this is probably wrong, they still end up considering the other person's feelings from the point of view of an unrealistic fantasy sub - without really realizing they're doing it. And if they *don't* know it's wrong, then they're often more focused on "proving" their dominance than considering the other persons feelings on top of that. And of course there are the occasional predators who do this because if someone falls for it, then they've found an excellent victim.

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    2. Not Me

      Your experiences online do not translate to your experiences in the real world. Online communities are greatly different from real life communities and there are many different issues/obstacles.

      Also as Cliff is at work and unable to access the blog as requested that you "Stop mansplaining."

      Cliff Pervocracy ‏@pervocracy
      "I know nothing about BDSM, but let me explain to this woman my theories about her own experiences in the community!" #mansplaining #ew

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    3. Uh, Not Me, if you haven't been in Sexyland very much, maybe you shouldn't speculate about the motivations behind everyone's assumption that, say, bisexual = threesomes? I'm bisexual and generally female-presenting myself, and the reasons behind "bi girls love threesomes" are WAY more complicated than a simple numbers imbalance. (For one thing, that wouldn't explain the number of single straight guys, back when I was monogamous, who assumed that my bisexuality meant "I want to have lesbian sex in front of you.")

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    4. Clint says he thinks you're man-splaining and asks you to (I'm paraphrasing here) Please Fucking stop. (@Pervocracy on twitter)

      Personally, as a fellow Pervocracy fan, I will say that you haven't said anything any reader of this blog doesn't know. I am glad however that you do know things that a reader of this blog should know, thus proving that you too read this blog. and that's cool.

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    5. "Mansplaining"? So couples seeking bi women always consist of two men, and dominants are always male? Good to know.

      I did say "take it with a grain of salt". And the discussions were with people from all over. (Well, "all over" in the sense of mainly english-speaking countries) If one has a good reason for believing that it's wrong, or way more complicated than presented, then there's no need to get rude about it.

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    6. Not Me - "Mansplaining" is when a man condescendingly explains to a woman what her experiences really mean, despite the fact that she didn't ask for an explanation and he has no relevant personal knowledge.

      If you haven't been in the real-life scene, your hypotheses about what it's probably theoretically like are not a valuable addition to this conversation. I don't know if the fact that you're male and the person offering actual real-life experience is probably female is relevant here, but... there's a reason they call it "mansplaining."

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    7. It also doesn't matter that the online communities you've experienced consist of people from all over the world or not. Online is different than real life. People interact differently, experience different things and act in different ways. The internet provides a...subtle disconnect from the real world that enables behaviours that wouldn't be acceptable or safe in the real world. This isn't necessarily always a bad thing but it does happen. It also allows a way for people who are nervous about experiencing a real life community a safer entrance into a world, this can mean that people who would be shunned for various reasons in a real life community infest online ones and change the overall feel of a place.

      There are many reasons why online and RL differ but the gist of it is that they do indeed differ and you can't expect anything you experience online to mirror the real world. If it does then spectacular and you've found a very rare group of people, but chances are better than good that it won't.

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    8. I'd point out that Bored Blogger themself referred to a "dude who contacted me on the internet" making them feel unwelcome. So, you know, experiences in online communities are certainly relevant to at least part Bored Blogger's experiences.

      I get that you're eager and even justified in explaining that "people who would be shunned for various reasons in a real life community infest online ones and change the overall feel of a place." But it's hardly impossible that someone, especially someone with experience in online interaction in general that might be reflected in choosing to identify as a blogger, might dip their toe into the sexytimes community online first. And that in doing so, they might encounter phenomena like unicorn hunters and unsolicited messages from domly lord domdom. And that any conclusions they might draw from that, while not truly reflective of everyone in the sexytimes community, are not unjustified in that they reflect actual experiences they've had in places that are, for better or worse, an undeniable part of the sexytimes community. Almost everyone I know in the sexytimes community is on fetlife, so let's not pretend that places like fetlife aren't part of the community, and most of them are wonderful people and I'm happy to be part of the community with them and we use fetlife for positive purposes of communication and organization, but let's not pretend that shit doesn't happen on fetlife.

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    9. I'm not saying that online communities are bad and real life communities are good, I'm just saying that they're different and one can't expect them to be the same. One of the examples I used as to how they differ was the 'unwelcome types' but that was just one of the examples I used.

      Nor did I say that Not Me's post was invalid, just that the online experiences are not going to be the same as RL experiences. Online experience will be relevant to online encounters and RL experience will be relevant to RL experiences, it's an entirely different culture.

      As an agoraphobe most of my social contact is done via the internet and I've become involved in many, many wonderful communities and had great experiences in them. I've also found myself in some less savoury ones and had to extricate myself quickly to avoid the general ick factor. I've also met a large number of people RL after knowing them online (sometimes for years, sometimes mere days) and every single one of them expressed themselves differently in person than they did online. In fact I can't even stand some of my friends online persona's, they just bug the utter crap out of me and I have to avoid them. There's nothing wrong with this, it's natural, but it does mean that experiences over different mediums will be different. That's all I was trying to say.

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    10. The part that smacked of mansplaining to me was the line "such behaviors do have explanations." As if the explanations made them any less assholeish. The only way the explanations would be relevant to the OP's experience, would be if it was *her responsibility* to understand, and thus fix, all the people demonstrating these behaviors one by one; investing large amounts of time and energy in people who have started things off by acting badly.

      But it's not - emphatically NOT - her responsibility. It's the responsibility of the community to stand up and say "these behaviors are not acceptable, regardless of the reasons behind them." And it's the responsibility of those perpetuating those behaviors to LISTEN and realize that because of the dynamics you've outlined, much though they may want a threesome, they should limit their requests to those actively signally interest in such a thing.

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    11. I think the important distinction here isn't "online" vs. "real life" (although that does matter).

      The important distinction is "woman sharing her difficult personal experiences" vs. "man taking this as an opportunity to share his idle, uninformed speculation."

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    12. @Erica:
      Thank you, I missed that aspect.

      Yes, despite the disclaimer about "not less annoying", that is problematic. Some of those behaviors are more than "annoying" (the word threatening pops into my head), and proscribing the appropriate response to them is inappropriate.

      Not Me, you see why that is?

      @Pervocracy:
      Really? You're sure it's not a bunch of insiders jumping on an outsider, making sure to call their experience invalid because it's incomplete (necessarily so, as an outsider)?

      PurpleSaline:
      "Your experiences online do not translate to your experiences in the real world"
      Ozymandias:
      "if you haven't been in Sexyland very much, maybe you shouldn't speculate" with a follow up of this shit happens in vanilla-land, too.
      Pervocracy:
      "If you haven't been in the real-life scene, your hypotheses about what it's probably theoretically like are not a valuable addition to this conversation."

      As if minimizing or proscribing her(?) feelings, as Erica pointed out, would be better if he(?) had experience in the real-life scene in order to explain his observations about what it's absolutely really like. (to the extent that they were truly incorrect rather than incomplete in the first place)?

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    13. Fnord - There's a big difference between "I don't know a ton about BDSM, but these are my thoughts" and "I don't know a ton about BDSM, but these are my thoughts about your experiences."

      I would certainly hope we wouldn't jump on the former.

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    14. "Yeah, that shit is annoying, but I don't see why you feel threatened" is problematic whether the lead-in is "I don't know a ton about BDSM" or "I've been in the BDSM community for 20 years" (if anything, the latter is more of a problem, and something I've seen often enough).

      "Yeah, I've noticed the same things you have" is contrariwise a reasonable response either way. I suspect that Not Me's intent was more towards this, but since he(?) did also send the first message, he ought to apologize for that.

      Focusing on Not Me's experience or lack thereof in the BDSM community is irrelevant (even if it weren't being done in a dubious way).

      Delete
    15. Hi, popping in to reply/clarify stuff. I'm a cis girl, and most of my interactions with the community were on Fetlife (I deleted my account after too many creepy doms offered to meet up with me despite me saying very clearly in my profile that I was not interested), because I wanted to see how people were online before meeting anyone IRL (real life is "scarier" to me).

      As for Not Me's stuff: yeah, that was really condescending. I think I know better than you about why people ask bi women for threesomes, and it's not simply because they're trying to strain out the poly ones from the monogamous ones. It's a combination of a lot of stereotypes about bisexual people (all bi people are poly, all bi people are cheaters, all bi people are sex fiends) that end up going into this horrific, harassing slurry. As for the other stuff: if I say I'm a switch, treat me like a switch, not a sub who has delusions of dominance. If I say I am absolutely not interested in a relationship whatsoever, don't contact me and tell me that you're totally willing to be my trainer and make me your pet.

      I'm sure that kinky spaces are very cool for a lot of people, but for someone who's already at risk for being assaulted/taken advantage of/harassed because I'm female, college-aged, not physically intimidating, and not terribly good at physically keeping people off or telling people 'no', I avoid them right now because I don't want to be harassed.

      Are kinky spaces (IRL or online) safer when you're older or more experienced? Because that was the impression I got. Like, if you're using it only as a way to talk to people, are you going to do better than someone who goes there signaling "I have no idea what I'm doing", thus making it easier to take advantage of them?

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    16. In general any space, kinky or otherwise, IRL or online are safer when you express an aura of confidence and comfort. Most people new to a space don't put off those types of vibes and people who are sensitive to such things (and total dicks) may take advantage of that.

      So essentially yes, but only because when you are older or more experienced you tend to send out to the world that you're confident and can take care of yourself.

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    17. Yes and no.

      It gets better, probably (and, as others noted, in person spaces don't suffer the same problems as online spaces, though they have their own set of problems). There are certainly things you can learn to do to keep yourself safer, and to deal with assholes more easily. Perhaps most importantly, you can meet people who become actual friends, so you don't have to deal solely with strangers. In that sense, it's easier if you're experienced. But even people with years of experience have told me that they still have to deal with assholes and predators who ignore not only common decency but explicitly stated boundaries and self-identifications.

      I don't know specifically what you experienced, or when you left fetlife. There seem to be things happening now that might make it a better place for most people by making it harder for abusers to hide. I certainly hope that changes are made (or, alternatively, that a better replacement is found), and that certain toxic aspects of the community there are at least reduced in the future.

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    18. I am frankly disappointed at how (some of) the community of this blog is handling point of views that don't fit their world-view (Not Me's). Namely, you are resorting to respond to tone and namecalling (http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html). The person just said their opinion, which, frankly is not entirely off base. In fact, I do not think it is off base at all, I am thinking it could be true. I thought the bit about the 'shy, timid newcomers' was insightful, the first point also resonates with my experiences in other scenes. I may be wrong, but do I have to put a disclaimer about it? We are all adults here, some person saying their opinion (and clearly stating it is an opinion) should not be a problem.

      So, if you think what he? said is not representative, (and your experience gives you some authority to claim so) just say so, ie, attack their points, not their tone. They have the right to say whatever they want within reason and they've already made it clear that their authority on the subject is not that big.

      Seeing this treatment to a person who just said their opinion just makes me think that this blog, in the same way as many others (world-view irrelevant), is comprised of a lot of people who agree with each other and support each other, but end up handling opposition in a way that is unfair. I believe this ultimately sabotages conversation - I believe there are things to be learnt from people who disagree and their voices should be encouraged and dissected fairly. Seeing this treatment, people who disagree may just decide to not say anything.

      Kudos to Not Me for saying their opinion - I don't think he? needs to apologize for his? tone, just read the arguments on this thread that are directed to his points (which, judging from their second post, he? did).

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    19. Oh shit, sorry this blog isn't being run to your standards, boss. Maybe you should hire another writer.

      (That's my got-up-too-early way of saying I don't like your tone either, and not every condescending-ass "here's how it is, ladies. MAN FACTS." needs to be elevated to the status of a serious debate. When Bored Blogger shared her personal experiences she was not opening up the floor for debate.)

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    20. "here's how it is, ladies. MAN FACTS."
      I don't see that condescension in their post. Just because most of the people here agree that it is condescending does not make it a fact.

      I don't care what you think about my tone or Not Me's tone. Your argument is - if you don't like it don't read it, it's not like you're paying me - which, while valid, bars any sort of discussion, which again, is valid, it's your blog, you don't have to engage me or anyone in conversation.

      I do not want to be part of yet another circle-jerk (like reddit for example), so I will show myself out. The reason I posted the previous message and not just left right away is because I thought I may be mistaken regarding the attitude, but I don't think I am now, you basically wear it on your sleeve.

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    21. I'm only resorting to "if you don't like it don't read it" because you seem to be arguing that any asshole who wanders in here to bloviate deserves a thoroughly cited and politely written rebuttal in parlimentary debate format, or otherwise we shouldn't say anything.

      That is bullshit, and I do not owe you a citation to explain why.

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    22. Well, the huge appeal of your blog (for me at least) is how you debate about things in a way that is fair and succint in your main articles. You don't owe the same courtesy to trolls, but different point of view/professed ignorance is not the same thing as being an asshole - judging from their 2nd post, this was their honest opinion and they did listen carefully to the actual debate that followed their first post.

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    23. The point is that I don't need to be told why I got harassed in a kinky space (a space that is always, always first on the "this is a great kinky space for everyone!" list). I don't care why I got harassed. It doesn't matter - I got harassed. I also don't need someone else's opinions about my life, because I should think my own opinion and point of view is the most important. Considering, you know, that it's my life.

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  19. This is different, very different, but I think it is related. I work out. Regularly. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes too much, and sometimes not enough. Sometimes I let it define me. Sometimes I treat it like a hobby. Frequently I push myself outside my boundaries, outside my limits, outside my "feel good and happy zone" to get a "good" workout, to see some numbered results, to brag to people I talk to about working out. I went to an introductory exercise class, recently. It was so good to do what I could, learn where I could, and not try to impress anyone (since I didn't know anyone). It was so good to let my hurt knee rest. It was so good to do a good job, but not push to the point of compromising my safety or my ability. It was good to do as well as I could, and accept myself as a beginner. This is different than what you're writing about, but I think it is relatable (that's not a word). Being gentle with yourself, acknowledging yourself as not necessarily knowing everything, not understanding everything is a good way to be kind to yourself. To get more pleasure out of the things that you are doing. To enjoy them for what they are and yourself for what/whom you are. And what you can do. There's a lot to be said for that.

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  20. I come up against myself all the time. I realize I have a behavior and I do my very best to fix it, and...realize I'm still doing it, a few years later, just in a new and different way. There is no end to learning, and sometimes learning sucks. I am so glad to read this - it really helps me kick myself in the ass again.

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    1. By that I don't mean "be hard on myself about still having learning to do" but "admitting that the same dynamics are going on and continuing to change."

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  21. It seems like a lot of people are chiming in about how this is very timely for them,and now I'm doing the same. You said:
    Or I've done things that were entirely within my boundaries, but I've done them for validation instead of for pleasure.
    This. In particular. I felt pretty sickened with myself when I really realized/admitted to myself that a lot of my sexuality in the past had been about validation. So now I'm trying out something where I'm really focusing on making my desire the most important factor in my sexuality. And it's new and it's awkward and I haven't had any inclination to share my sexuality with anyone beyond my husband (not previously the case). We have an open relationship, and it's funny because he's just coming to a place where he's started fooling around a little, and I'm all... hiding in my cave while I figure some stuff out. Which feels right for me, right now, but still definitely feels like hiding.
    Anyway, yeah. Thank you for sharing all of this. I hope you get back to a point of having those things you miss, and get to a place of feeling good about them.

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    1. I was in an open relationship for 7 years and while my partner played with others I never once did. Just because you are in an open relationship doesn't mean that you -have- to have sex and/or relationships with other people. If you aren't ready for it then you aren't ready for it and that's okay.

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    2. I definitely agree with that. We've been open for almost 4 years and he's considered going for it a time or two, before, but this is really the first time he's even done anything.
      If you don't mind a question:
      Had you decided that going for it wasn't right for you and acted accordingly, or was it more like you were open to the idea but the right circumstances never came up?
      Just curiosity and if you don't want to answer I completely understand!

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    3. I'm perfectly happy answering any questions you may have!

      I was (and am) open to it but it the circumstances never came up for me. Didn't encounter anyone that made me want to explore them on a more intimate level, physically and/or emotionally.

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    4. Ah, cool. Thanks!
      I have friends who've experimented a bit with opening things up, but no one who's made it a long term choice. It's nice to have the opportunity to ask!

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    5. You are more than welcome! If it helps at all I found that being honest with yourself and communicative with your partner makes a big difference. The general rule of thumb was that it was okay to change your mind about something. If I thought that I was okay with her sleeping with someone and said to go ahead and she did, and then I realized that in fact I totally did not want her sleeping with that person and it made me insanely jealous, I could tell her even if she'd already done it. "Gee I'm sorry baby, I thought I was okay with that but it turned out I really wasn't, can we maybe talk about you not sleeping with that person again?" And she wouldn't because our rule was the primary partner got veto power.

      She'd had bad experiences in the past with a partner giving permission then freaking out after the fact, accuse her of cheating and causing friends to shut her out completely so we decided that to avoid that but still give each other permission to change our minds about something that we needed to just talk about it.

      And I'm babbling at 3 in the morning so I apologize!

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  22. Great post. I've been feeling the same way to some extent.

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  23. You are so awesome. I have nothing intelligent to say beyond appreciation. Thank you for making me face myself in all sorts of new ways. I want to go hide and not do that, but then I check your blog and you're out there exploring what there is to explore and facing the world. It reminds me that there is nothing else to do in life but confront these *scary* things and its worth embracing. You're super cool.

    -Bea

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  24. Today I saw this and instantly thought of Pervocracy. And it's even relevant to this very post.

    http://www.pleated-jeans.com/2012/07/16/funny-pic-dump-7-16-12/tumblr_m7926ygpf11qhlsrfo1_500-1/

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  25. Good to see you back :) My Google reader hasn't been the same in your absence.

    (Also, sympathies regarding the rapists/cheaters/other assholes. Here's hoping something gets done about them, whatever that ends up being. *Hugs if they're welcome*)

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  26. I had a lot of similarly bad experiences in the BDSM community. If there were a lot more people like you in the scene and a lot fewer people like my abusive ex-boyfriend, I'd be happy to go back, too.

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  27. Thank you for this post, I really appreciate it.

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  29. Hahha - great pic!
    And it's great to be able to be a pervert when you want to be, and also be a "newcomer" when it's appropriate. People shouldn't be pigeon-holed!

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  30. Sometimes I think that if my initial IRL encounters with kinksters had been with anyone other than the horrible, disgusting creeps that make me nauseous to think about (they decided I must be submissive because I was shy and a woman at the same time - over my objections, decided that meant they could joke about tying me up and breaking me, called me a prude to my face because I didn't want to see one of them deep-throat a dildo at a non-kink-oriented event... etc etc) I might have considered thinking about my sexuality in terms other than "NOPE."

    I'm glad to see someone actually in the scene acknowledging how fucked up it is.

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  31. I am a 20-year-old female interested, but not active, in kink and various related fields, most aspects of sexuality included. I keep up with this blog because I think Cliff reveals a lot of vulnerability in her posts, to which I can relate. I always enjoy reading the comments, and although I have never commented before, I have never felt as if I couldn't.

    But the responses to Not Me's original post really scare me off. Not Me did not come across as intentionally condescending or rude, so I don't understand why the post was immediately dismissed as "mansplaining." We don't even know if Not Me is male... Surely a well-meaning post, even if you find something off about it, could be refuted and dissected in a more respectful way? At this point, I am not even sure what I'm allowed to say in this comment without being jumped. I'm not trying to troll; I'm just concerned that potential commenters like myself may feel the same trepidation that I do about speaking up.

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    1. Bella, I promise the ice really isn't that thin here. I don't get that angry that much. But this one just ticked me off because a woman had revealed something vulnerable and he tried to co-opt that. It felt to me like he wasn't treating her as a real person, like he was treating her experiences as a topic of theoretical discussion, and that is both a really male-privileged and really plain rude thing do to.

      When someone says "I've been harassed" to you in person, would you respond with "I've developed some theories about harassment and I'd like to expound upon them now, perhaps they will be of interest," or would you show some human sympathy?

      This really isn't any harder to figure out than talking in person.

      (Not Me's also made obnoxious comments in the past, so I have a bit of a history with him.)

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  32. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

    I'm in the middle of withdrawing from multiple commitments to my local and regional community (it takes a while, my calendar was full when I realized I was drowning), and have withdrawn from multiple kinky relationships in the last few months (mostly the "just kink" or "heavy kink" ones) and I've been questioning everything. A lot of what you posted here is aligned with some of the conclusions I've been coming to very recently about what went wrong for me that led to this need to flee because "omg can't breathe what am i doing!?!?"

    I'm so relieved to read this! Not to hear "I took a break too, you'll be back" from a friend or acquaintance in the scene, but to read from a complete stranger (as far as I know) that yes, you felt this way, you dove in too deep too fast for maybe the "wrong" reasons and you need to back off, take a break, reevaluate, start again, but slower this time.

    So much relief I may not be coherent, but I had to comment anyway to say THANK YOU THANK YOU.

    I just found your blog tonight via a link on a post by CaptainAwkward. I am so very glad I followed that link and then went perusing through some of your other posts. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have found this, and I wouldn't have just felt five pounds lift off my shoulders.

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  33. I've followed your blog for a little over a year now, and basically have loved every word you've written. And I wanted to thank you. Because I've been trying to figure out my own sexuality as of late, sort through things I like and don't like. It was actually you mentioning about some shady people in the local kink scene that kept me from exploring further, because I realized that I really had very little clue what I was getting into, and that, I needed to deal with my ptsd before entering that world. And I know how you're super into consent, and how you think it's sexy, so I thought I'd share this, (though I wouldn't be surprised if you've seen it already).



    Ask Me, Maybe?

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