Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The end of normal.

Us polyamorous folk can get a little bit... evangelical, sometimes.  We're so enlightened, you know.  So evolved.  We deal with our jealousy like rational beings, we don't attempt to impose control on our partners, we base everything in open communication and trust--we're so goddamn more advanced than the average human, we ought to glow blue or something.  Right?

Well, kinda.  But what this poly boosterism is missing (other than its manners) is that you don't actually have to date other people to do any of this.  For that matter, dating other people doesn't guarantee that you'll do this--oh boy does it not.  Dating other people is just somewhat more likely to bring these issues into the open.

Likewise, you don't have to actually hit each other to use BDSM methods of negotiation and consent-centrism.  "What kind of play do you want today?" is an important question to ask of someone who doesn't have any Officially Designated Fetishes, but still has desires and limits--which would be, yeah, everyone.

And you don't have to be non-heterosexual to question what gender means to your relationship.  If "which one of y'all does the dishes?" is a stupid question to ask a gay couple, it ought to be an equally stupid assumption to make about a straight one.  The fact that assigned gender roles are available for a straight couple doesn't mean they ought to take them on without question.

What kind of relationship you have is your choice, and one choice isn't better than another.  What's important is that you make a choice.  That even if you're you're monogamous, vanilla, and heterosexual--you're doing it because it's what you want and because you and your partner have agreed to it, not because that's what people do.  What's important isn't what path you take, but that you know there are paths.

Paths?  Fuck, there's an entire open world out there once you get past "man buys dinner, woman agrees to missionary PIV until he ejaculates.  (Or rather, a world including "man buys dinner, woman agrees to missionary PIV until he ejaculates," because, hey, if that's your thing.)  There's a million goddamn ways to love, a billion things  "partner" or "lover" or "fuckbuddy" or "spouse" can mean to you, and you get to decide.

How fucking cool is that?

When there is no "normal," there's no reason to take pride in being "abnormal."  You just are.  People who have heterosexual PIV sex for 3.5 minutes once a week just are.  Poly/kinky/queer enlightenment wouldn't mean anything at all if everyone were responsible for choice and communication in their relationships.

Who cares how many people you fuck or how you do it?  The only thing worth being evangelical about is consciousamory.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ten shades of "false rape accusations."

[TRIGGER WARNING for rape and post-rape legal/social mess]

There's a lot of talk out there about "false rape accusations," which tends to come up in every discussion of a rape that did not involve a virgin in a prairie dress screaming "NOOOO" while being beaten on videotape in front of thirty-eight witnesses who were all members of the clergy and decorated war heroes.  The statistics on how many rape accusations are false range from above 40% to under 2%, and (as is usually the case) which number someone chooses to use in their argument tells you more than the number itself.

In the middle of this mess, of hearing that Julian Assange and Dominique Strauss-Kahn and whoever the fuck it is this week are victims of our Giant National Epidemic Of False Rape Accusations, I want to offer a point of clarification.  When someone says "false rape accusation," it can mean any of the following scenarios.

1. Alice goes to the police and falsely accuses Bob of raping her. Bob is arrested, tried, and convicted.
This one's the boogeyman.  And for good cause; it is horrible.  I'm sure it has happened.  Unfortunately, by its nature we can almost never know when it's happened--which should make you very suspicious of someone who claims it happens constantly.  A handful of people have been cleared by new evidence, but only a handful--nowhere near a significant proportion of the people in prison for rape.  Obviously there are people who are innocent and we don't know it, but you can't get statistics on a thing nobody knows.

Therefore, when people talk about the prevalence of "false rape accusations," it never ends there.  Here's some other things that phrase can mean:

2. Alice goes to the police and falsely accuses Bob of raping her. Bob is arrested but the charges are dropped.
3. Alice goes to the police and falsely accuses Bob of raping her. Bob is arrested, tried, and acquitted.
In these cases, the justice system is working exactly as it should. An innocent person is found to be innocent, and the horrifying possibility of a man thrown away for a crime he didn't commit is averted.  If there's an epidemic of these, then there's also an epidemic of them being appropriately dealt with.

Does Bob's good name get besmirched anyway?  Sometimes it does, and that sucks.  But it's no excuse for not taking rape accusations seriously--you don't know they're false until after they're investigated.

4. Alice does not go to the police, but falsely tells all her friends that Bob raped her.
This is the only one that's happened to anyone I know.  Again, it sucks and it really can fuck up Bob's life.  But since it doesn't involve the legal system in the first place, changes to rape law would do nothing to prevent this.  This is slander, but it's not exactly an "accusation."

5. Alice falsely tells the police that someone raped her, but does not name names.
6. Alice falsely tells all her friends that someone raped her, but does not name names.
It's fucked up, but it's a victimless fucked up.  Believing Alice wastes police time and friend sympathy, but no one is seriously harmed.  A lot of cases touted in the media as "false rape reports" are actually Type 5, and while that's a wrong thing to do, it's definitely not "innocent man thrown in prison as a rapist" wrong.

7. Chuck rapes Alice. Alice tells the police that Bob raped her.
This is usually an innocent mistake, and often one that has more to do with bad police work than with Alice being dishonest.  And Alice really was raped, so any solution to this problem that comes down to "just ignore her" is inappropriate.

Note that this is the case in almost every situation where someone was cleared by DNA evidence.  If there was DNA to test, then it's very likely that someone raped Alice, and calling her a "false rape accuser" is wrong.

8. Alice and Bob have sex that Bob thinks is consensual. Alice does not. Alice accuses Bob of rape.
I think a surprising proportion of rapists are in such severe denial about what it means to have sex with a deeply drugged person, or a person who said "no" until they were cornered and held by their wrists and then they said "yes," that they honestly believe they're victims of false accusal.  All they did was have sex with someone who didn't want it, and here they are, being falsely accused of rape!  The injustice!

9. Bob rapes Alice. Alice goes to the police and Bob is arrested, but the charges are dropped or he is acquitted.
When you see the wildly huge statistics claiming 40% or more of rape accusations are false, this is almost always what they mean--40% or more of rape accusations are not proven true. However, if you think that means they were proven untrue... um, I don't have a witty simile here but you're wrong.  Guilty people are released all the time and sometimes for terrible reasons.

10. Bob rapes Alice. Alice goes to the police and Bob is arrested, proven guilty, and convicted. But some people still think Bob is innocent.
And this is where all this talk of false rape accusations ends up.  It ends in a place where rape can never be discussed, under any circumstances, even in the most clear-cut cases, without people crying "false rape accusations are everywhere!"  It ends with "innocent until proven guilty"reinterpreted as "the accuser is guilty until proven innocent."  It ends with "a court of law should not convict on this evidence" being confused with "we should not show the victim any sympathy on this evidence."

Ultimately, all too often, it ends with a huge number of rapes going unreported, because sometimes it's easier for a survivor to live with the knowledge that their rapist is free than it is for them to go through years of being under constant suspicion of being an evil false accuser.  It ends with misogyny justifying and reinforcing itself, as the concept "women lie about rape" becomes both proof of and proven by "women are untrustworthy, manipulative, and malicious."  It ends with rapists who tell their victims "no one will ever believe you" being right, with society standing behind them.

Every time we reinforce the common wisdom that "women lie about rape all the time," rape gets a little easier to commit.

Do I have an awesome, pat solution for this whole mess, an idea that would totally fix our judicial system and society to ensure justice for all?  Fuck no!  I'm not Professor Fucking X. Nothing short of psychic powers will ensure that the guilty are always punished and the innocent never are.

But I do have this to say: if someone tells you they've been raped, and you are not acting in official capacity as a judge or juror, just go ahead and believe them.  The odds they're lying are a pretty small minority, and the odds they're lying in a way that hurts someone are even smaller.  Just go ahead and take that risk.

I'd rather live in a world where a hundred false accusers are told* "I believe you, I care about you, and I'll stand up for you," than where one rape survivor is told "gosh, this story has two sides and I really need to consider him innocent until proven guilty."

*not in court, but by their friends, families, and people who figure they have a right to comment because they read about it on the Internet and everything

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Everything gets better.

As I may or may not have bothered to mention, I've started classes in nursing school.  Classroom prerequisites this year, two years of nursing classes and clinicals, and if all goes well, I'll be 28 when I become an Actual Real Nurse For Real.

The weirdest, and best, part of going back to school as an adult is how terrifying the professors aren't.  I always used to think of professors as bosses who wanted me to work and could fire me, or (much worse) parents who wanted me to be good and could punish me.  They're not.  They're working for me. I don't mean that in the sense of "you're working for me, so give me an A," but in the sense of "you're working for me, so give me the knowledge and skills I'm buying from you."  My Microbiology professor isn't an authority over me; he's someone who knows more about microbiology than me so I'm paying him to tell me about it.

I still need a good grade, of course; and I still have some anxiety about that.  But it's nothing like the anxiety I felt as a teenager.  It's a matter of "I'll learn the stuff and I'll tell them what I learned," not of facing judgement.  I wouldn't say that school is easier now--but it doesn't scare me.


Sex with Rowdy last night was amazing.  Amazing like a drug, amazing like the physicality of it didn't even matter any more--I was flying.  I slipped into a state where everything felt good.  He fucked me and it felt good; he kissed me and it felt good; he bit me and it felt good; he touched me and it felt good. I was moaning and squirming every time he did anything to me, and he did oh so many things.

We didn't have sex this good a year ago.  We had good sex, but it wasn't like this.  We didn't know each other's bodies and minds well enough.  It's the difference between driving a good car--and driving your good car, the one where you know exactly how tightly it takes every curve, exactly how it responds to every gram of force on the pedals.

Our sex just keeps getting better.

I was still flying when I fell asleep, his whole body wrapped around mine.


Yesterday, I went and got a cup of coffee between classes.  I asked the coffee lady for a medium drip coffee, she told me "that'll be a dollar thirty," I gave her a dollar thirty, and I took my coffee and went to class.

I know this sounds like a really, really pointless story.  But what struck me is how easy it all was. Specifically, how much easier it was.  Even such a minor transaction used to be fraught with weird anxiety for me--anxiety I would never admit to, because how can you admit something like "I have great difficulty with the social nuances of buying a cup of coffee"?

I didn't know what kind of coffee I was supposed to order, or how I was supposed to phrase the order. Should I call it "java" or "joe" to show I was a cool, experienced coffee drinker, or should I use precisely the name on the menu?  Were there certain drinks that only dorks ordered?  Would it be rude to act chummy with the coffee lady, or rude to not act chummy with her?  If I fumbled my change and she got impatient with me, did that mean she hated me?  Could I ever show my face again at the coffee stand if I made the coffee lady hate me?

These goofy-ass things tormented me when I was about eighteen.  It feels almost magical that they don't any more.  Not by figuring out all the secret social codes, but by figuring out that there aren't any secret codes, I became one of the cool, experienced coffee drinkers.

I can order coffee in total comfort now.  It's a wonderful feeling of power.  Eighteen-year-old me would never have believed it.


I'm taking Human Growth and Development right now.  The professor's in his late fifties or early sixties, and told us that in his experience, each stage of life is better than the last one.

So far, it's true.

I don't get bullied any more--I take for granted that I won't get bullied any more--but that's the least of it. As I've gotten older, gotten more established in my relationship, gotten more perspective on the world, gotten more comfortable in my body and my life, everything has gotten better.

The biggest secret we keep from young people is that being an adult is actually pretty freaking awesome.

Also, I can have pizza whenever I want.  I don't even like pizza that much though. We have secret adult foods that are better than pizza.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cosmocking! October '11! Part Two!

I had a very nice weekend. There were robots (pictured above), dinosaurs, ice cream, and sex.  The only thing it was missing on the list of "things that make Holly go eeeeee" was spaceships.  The real world is such a strange contrast from Cosmo.  There's so much more in it.

But I didn't finish last time, and so, because of my sick little self-imposed challenge, I have to dive back into Cosmoland, into the bare white box of a world where there are only two kinds of person, only one kind of love, and you're usually doing it wrong.

Our new obsession: It's like Craigslist for sports--you search your zip code, and it pulls up a map with all the pickup games (like basketball, football, and even tennis) going on nearby. Translation: it pinpoints exactly where you can find sweaty, shirtless eye candy at, oh, 2:30 in the afternoon this Sunday.
In other news, this fall's hottest fashion accessory is a knee-length stained trenchcoat!

I guess it's not considered creepy if you're a woman?  If you were less feminist than me, you might say that the guys probably like it as long as it's a hot chick leering at them; if you were more feminist than me, you might say that their male privilege means they aren't as sexually vulnerable to her as women would be to a man.  But I'm just feminist enough to say no, that shit is fucking creepy.

"My girlfriend told me that I had 60 minutes to use whenever I wanted and for (almost) whatever I wanted. I definitely used all my 'rollover' minutes on her that weekend!" she doling out sex by the minute?

If it's "all about him" sex, that makes some sense, sort of.  (Although I think your relationship's in trouble if that looks very different from your everyday ordinary sex.)  If it's sex, period, that he's accumulating rollover minutes on, then... well, if it was me I'd be shooting myself in the foot by giving him a limited timeframe, wouldn't I?

At a club, you notice a hottie across the room has been eyeing you shyly all night. To help him along, you:
a) Walk over and say that you saw him looking and now the ball is back in his court.
b) Get your friends to relocate to the opposite side of the room, close to where he is.
c) Write down your name and number and ask a bartender to pass them on.
If you chose "a," you were too "bold."  The correct answer was "c."

And even "a," the option described as "so forward, it's intimidating," only barely involves talking to him.  Apparently saying "I saw you looking, and I figured I'd say hi--what's your name?" would be just unthinkably man-devouringly slutty.

The new dude you've been seeing waits until the day of to ask what your Saturday-night plans are. You answer:
I'm not going to bother typing out the answers.  I'm just going to point out that none of them are "by telling him what your plans are."  Regardless if you're Cosmo-bold or Cosmo-shy, artifice and manipulation are the only options.

After happily dating your man for two months, you're itching to be exclusive. You nudge him to kick it up by:
a) Making a flirty comment on a guy friend's wall--jealousy will spur him to talk LTR.
b) Changing your relationship status on Facebook--when he sees it, he'll just go with it.
c) Swapping your profile picture to a cute shot of you two together--it'll plant the seed.
The "correct" answer is "c."  (Am I the only one who's annoyed when people do that? I mean, even if they're married.  Your profile pic should either be just you, or something devastatingly clever. Otherwise it's less "I am in a relationship" and more "Personality Merger In Progress.")

What is it with the not-talking?  How can you have an entire relationship that way?  What does a relationship even mean in this universe--the person you silently stand next to most often?  Why does it matter if you do that exclusively?  If you can't even ask your boyfriend if he is your boyfriend, what chance in hell do you have of asking actually difficult things?

Here's two from the sex advice columns that I didn't go over in detail because I've done it a million times:
I want to handcuff my husband in bed, but I feel weird initiating it. What's the best way?
When my guy wants oral, he does this thing where he pushes my head down--not a turn-on! What can I say to explain how unsexy it is without ruining the moment?
The answer, in both cases, is anything besides "freaking tell him."

If you start a relationship by not talking to the guy, make it official by not talking to him, and have sex without talking to him--well, no fucking wonder so much of the relationship advice is about coping with the fact that you have absolutely nothing in common.

You want to conduct your entire relationship on Facebook? Great. Try a private message--"so am i like ur gf now? lol."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cosmocking: October '11! Part One!

Yellow cover! I'm not sure why I still describe the cover now that you can see it! Force of habit I guess!  Minka Kelly! She looks like she's got B-cups under the tank top and DDs worth of cleavage! I know they do amazing things with push-up bras these days but I'm pretty sure that's just Photoshop!  "Shrink Your Inner Thighs!" Just the inner ones?! "Times He Wants You to Be Jealous!" Apparently this is a headgame where you assume the other person is playing a headgame and that can't possibly end badly!

Sexy vs. Skanky
Sexy: Girl power
Skanky: Slut shaming

A dude's set of wheels is always a hot place to do it. Of course, we're talking about his other mode of transportation... from when he was a teen: his skateboard.
I have to confess, I actually like this about Cosmo.  In with all the ludicrous "a relationship is two people in madly passionate love who don't trust each other and don't talk to each other" ideas, sometimes they're just wacky.  I enjoy the wacky.

I don't enjoy it so much that I'm going to actually have sex on a skateboard--way too much potential for slapstick comedy and severe spinal trauma--but I appreciate the innocent goofiness of the idea.

50 Things You Should Never Stop Doing in a Relationship
As opposed to this article, which is far, far less charming.

6. Never letting the cracks show in public. Even if he starts doing that thing where he contradicts every damn thing you say, wait until you get home to call him out on it.
If he's contradicting every damn thing I say, the cracks are already showing.  While I agree we shouldn't be hashing all our shit out in public, if he's taking deliberate digs at me, it's not my job to keep up the appearance that this is peachy.  A "crack" that size needs at least a "honey, can I talk to you for a minute?", not a sweet tolerant smile.

And the funny thing is, if he's a decent person, he may actually appreciate that you didn't just let him make an ass of himself in public.

7. Maintaining your feminine mystique by never putting on deodorant, cleaning your ears, or clipping your toenails in front of him.
Apparently the "feminine mystique" consists of carefully maintaining the distinction between "woman" and "person."  (I'm not the first person to pick up on this.)

8. Swiping on some lip gloss even if you two are just running Sunday errands. We're not clutching our pearls and insisting that you do up your whole face, but a little touch-up isn't exactly going to set back the whole feminist movement or anything.
No, but telling me I have to do this, and that it's a big favor to me that you aren't demanding more, is doing just that.

After the Gender Wars Of A Few Weeks Ago, I kind of came to a conclusion with a friend; femininity and masculinity are things to be practiced as consensual kinks.  If being feminine is your desire, your kink is okay!  But if being feminine is something you go along with grudgingly, then it's no longer truly consensual.  And if it's something you do only because you've been told that your natural lips are unacceptably unshiny--well, that's nowhere near what enthusiastic consent should be.

11. Screening his call and waiting 10 minutes before returning it. Then be all mysterious about where you were when asks why you didn't pick up.
There's a fine line between "feminine mystique" and "concealing a dark secret," huh?

"I thought she was just a very mysterious woman who played hard to get and only let me see her at her best, but it turned out she was hiding her zombie mother, a nurse, and a priest in the basement and surreptitiously feeding them animal tranquilizers."

42. Quickly running to the bathroom to brush your teeth before morning sex.
I've skipped over a whole bunch of "never let him see you're a real person" stuff, because I think we all get the picture by now, but this one stood out by actually obstructing sex in favor of sexiness.  The awesome part about morning sex is that you're still all warm and cozy together in the bed and half-awake.  And being disheveled, even stinky, is also part of the charm.  Morning sex is about being comfortable with each other, and it's hard to do that when you have to jump up and demonstrate that you're painfully uncomfortable with yourself.

I know that there's no "masculine mystique" because they're just people, but it seems like this could make a guy awfully self-conscious if he didn't brush his teeth,

[picture of what's-his-face with Snooki, holding a pink purse] Snooki's ex was careful with her Hello Kitty tote--it's where his balls were hiding, after all.
Oh, my bad, there is a masculine mystique.  But it's about not being a woman (made pretty explicit with the "balls" comment), not about not being a human, so I still say it's an easier standard.

4 Words That Seduce Any Man... Anytime
[...]"I want you now."
That's not seduction.  That's just an invitation.  That's like saying you "entranced" your friends because you asked them "hey, wanna come over?"

Don't get me wrong; I'm all in favor of invitations.  They're a hell of a lot easier to use and more effective than subtle innuendos, and they don't leave nearly as many dangerous ambiguities on the table.  "I want you now" is a fine way to tell a young gentleman your intentions for the evening, but there's nothing mystiquey about it.

There's a quote in this article from Warren Farrell.  The quote itself is innocuous (or, you know, not particularly bad), but Warren Farrell is a big-time anti-feminist in the "men's rights" movement. I'm skeeved that he's talking to Cosmo.

...Or, possibly, unsurprised.

He consistently won't tell you who he's texting.
You are: Kinda Jealous
You should be: Freaking The Hell Out
A certain level of privacy in a relationship is necessary, but you'd have to be crazy to put up with this secretive behavior[...] [ask him to show you the screen] If he has nothing to hide, he'll fork it over. If not, there's a good chance he's involved with another woman... or the Mob.
So now Cosmo is the TSA.  "You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide" is the refrain of everyone--government agency, parent, school official, or romantic partner--who can't think of any other reasons someone might not want you reading their diary and digging through their underwear drawer.

Maybe he's trying to get a friend's advice on a relationship problem.  (Like that his girlfriend has no boundaries, for instance.)  Maybe he's dealing with a family issue that's somewhat private.  Maybe he and a friend are trading crude jokes that might offend you.  Maybe it's just nothing to do with you at all.

A relationship is not a personality merger.  I'm glad for the things Rowdy chooses to share with me (and I'd leave him if he never shared anything), but I know it's always his choice.  The access I have to his life is a privilege, not a right.  I trust that he isn't hiding anything from me that would seriously affect me, but all I can do is trust--I cannot enforce. That's not a relationship any more.  It's a Panopticon.

There's still more ripe bits left, there's bad kink and slut-shame and bizarre gender roles, but this post is already unconscionably long.  More to come... unfortunately.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I've started squirting during sex.  The last two times Rowdy and I have gone at it, I've soaked the bed.  I don't know what changed, since we weren't doing any activities we hadn't done before; maybe my body just decided it was squirtin' time. Maybe it's like riding a squirty bike, and now that I've done it once I'll always be able to.

The disappointing news is: it's not a mega ultra orgasm.  I wish I could describe for you about how it's an intensely spiritual and powerfully erotic whatever whatever, but at least for me, it's really not.  It's like a regular orgasm and then there's a puddle.  The sex afterwards can be extra fun because it's super wet and slippery and messy, but the squirting itself doesn't feel like anything different.

The one thing that bothers me is that I find myself having tremendous anxiety over whether it's pee.  It can't be pee, I keep saying. There have been studies and stuff, right?  No way did I just uncontrollably pee on his dick during sex.

The problem is... even if it's not all pee, I can't really convince myself that it's 100% pee-free.  It's coming out of my urethra, presumably out of my bladder, and, let's face it, that's a pretty pee-intensive area.  What I can believe is: so what if it's pee?

Bodies are messy things.  We're sixty percent water, and zero percent of that is water in its nice cool clear form; it's blood and lymph, chyme and mucus.  People are made of goo, and to express love of the physical human body is to glory in goo.  We don't just tolerate but take joy in the ooze and gush of saliva, of sweat, of semen, of vaginal fluids.  What's one more flavor of goo?  Why is it acceptable to me that I produce this gooey human fluid and not that one?

It'd be interesting, in a sort of "huh, did you know opossums had forked penises" way, to know whether my squirts are pee or not.  But I'm not pinning my ego on the answer.  I can take pride in "I came so hard that I peed!" as well.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How I met Holly

[Guest post by Rowdy]
(a not-rape-culture narrative, and why we need more of them)

I’d seen her before, she’s in my group of friends - a bouncy-happy girl with a cherubic face and bright red hair. We were out for coffee with a group of friends, and we started talking. The conversation was easy and engaging, meandering through various topics in feminism, kink, and affirmative consent. It was getting late, and it was time for the coffee shop to close. We stood out in the brisk nighttime air as our friends said goodbye for the night while others made plans to meet at Denny’s.

“Yeah, I never quite know how to bring up my interest in a person," I said. "I’m not the best at reading people, so I don’t know if they’re into me, and I usually end up not saying anything. Sometimes I’ll find out later that they were into me, but they thought I wasn’t into them. It’s a conundrum.”
“Well, which way do you live?” she asked.
“Just up the road by the parkway, not too far.”
“Want to head back and have sex?”

The conversation continued as we walked, turning to experiences of new partner sex and communicating interest. Then, standing in my room, the conversation continued a bit and then died down into an awkward moment, both of us caught in an instant of “um, what now?” We embraced and kissed, tentatively at first and then passionately.

She spoke up. “Ok, thing you should know. I really really don’t like direct clit stimulation; it’s so intense it’s unpleasant. Any things I should know about you?”
“Not that I can think of; if anything comes up I’ll let you know”, I said.
We wrassled each other’s clothes off, joking and laughing and touching and kissing the whole time. "So, how do you like to masturbate?” I asked.
“Usually indirect pressure, on the pubic mound.”
“Like this?” I asked as I pressed my hand just above her vulva and tried to imitate the motion she made.

Holly adjusted my hand a bit and it was clear to my neighbors I’d hit the spot. We fucked, cuddled, exchanged backrubs, and fucked some more into the wee hours of the morning. In Holly’s words:
It was by turns cuddly and athletic, and always... happy. I love happy sex. There was something so delightfully straightforward about it.
That’s how I met Holly a year ago last night. We had sex purely for fun; there was apprehension and passion, it had its awkward moments, but both of us wanted it, both of us communicated it, and look what disastrous things came of such casual and communicative sex! It’s been an amazing year filled with more love than I can put to words, and more good times than I can count. Dinosaurs and robots and hovercrafts and sex, lots of sex.

Stories like this are important: narratives are how we learn to interact and relate. When we don’t have the time or inclination to think critically about our actions, or when we’re looking for direction or affirmation, we look to the behavior of others to model our own actions after. If our sex-positive, affirmative consent, relationship self-deterministic culture is to gain traction in the mainstream, we need our narratives to get out there - for examples of how it’s done (even partially or imperfectly) to be readily at hand.

I’ll write more on narratives later. If you’ve got a narrative to share, I encourage you to do so: on your blog, in your feed, or in the comments.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Rowdy and I came up with another idea for Positive TV.

In the style of Intervention and Hoarders, Positive TV presents: Functional. Our camera crews will go inside the homes of functional families and observe how they treat each other with love and respect. Trained psychologists will interview family members and we will bring you shocking revelations on this little-seen way of life in our midst.

Experience it from the inside:
Emotional stability!
Unconditional love!

"On the surface, we probably looked like the perfect suburban family. ...That was about right, actually."

"Our family was close-knit and loving until our father, who had been the core of our lives, died suddenly. Then we really came together and learned to be there for each other."

"After some time, our mother remarried.  Her new husband was very different from our father. But he's always been very good to us and really became a part of the family."

"Another shock came when my brother came out as gay. We were shocked that he'd taken so long to tell us, when he should know that he's safe telling us anything that's important to him. Still, we understood it was his decision when to share it with us."

"Growing up, you know, you don't question these things. You think of your family as normal. I just assumed everyone's parents included the kids in major decisions."

"The moment when it really crystallized for me--when I became aware of how we'd been living--was when I looked around the dinner table and realized that I didn't just love my family, I actually liked them."

Don't miss tonight's riveting season premiere, in which the Ramirez family realizes that their teenage daughter's spending is out of control, so they talk to her about it and she agrees to create a budget and stick to it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I heard my new roommate (I have a new roommate, by the way) masturbating today. She had a vibrator going and was making surprisingly loud grunts and gasps by masturbation standards. I don't think she meant for me to hear; she just has a not-very-soundproof door and probably didn't even know I was home.

What I felt, hearing this, was absolute neutrality. It was just "Oh hey, masturbation. Fancy that." I wasn't aroused, nor awkward, nor grossed out. It was like noticing that she was brushing her teeth. Look, it's a thing people do, and there's a person, doing it!

I only noticed my lack of reaction because that's a relatively new thing for me. It used to be that other people's sexuality always provoked something in me, whether it was jealousy or lust or head-under-the-pillow "oh god tell me when it's over" avoidance. The further back I go in my memory, the worse it was; when I was past puberty but not yet having sex, it was agonizing sometimes, even when it wasn't actual sex, even when it was just seeing someone wearing a little less clothes than normal. Sometimes that agony was horror and sometimes it was fascination, sometimes it was uncontrollable giggling; but it was always a reaction. It was always emotionally heightening and attention-monopolizing.

I've seen a lot of naked people since then.

And each time, it's dulled my response a little. Each time I'm in a room (or a bed) with people fucking, it's gotten a little less "OH MY GOD SEX" and a little more "oh. sex." Each time I've had a conversation with a buck naked attractive person, it's gotten a little easier to maintain eye contact. The fact that they're attractive registers with me, and it still makes me happy, but it's a level-headed and low-key happiness, the kind of happy you might get from a pleasant cup of tea. The enjoyment is still there, but the excitement is gone.

I think that's a good thing. And I think that it's a good thing even though I've lost something in the process--I've lost a lot of the frisson of sex, the pounding pulse of anticipation, the electric intensity of even the suggestion of sexuality. But what I've gained in exchange is much more important--I've gained the ability to think rationally about sex. Not losing my shit over the mere idea of fucking has made me much better at negotiating sex, at thinking lucidly about sex, at accepting other people's sex lives even when they're not my cup of tea, and... well, at not losing my shit.

I don't think our problem as a society is being oversexed or undersexed, exactly. I think our problem is valuing the frisson over the ability to keep ahold of our shit. We value passion over companionate love, and wonder why relationships always seem to go cold. We value spontaneity over clarity, and wonder why our sexual communication and safety suck. We value innuendo over education, and wonder why kids grow up with completely fucked-all-to-hell ideas of what their sex life as an adult is going to be like. We make sex into a Big Hairy Deal, into practically all the good and bad in the world, and then wonder why it causes Big Hairy Problems.

By a nudity taboo, by a language taboo, by slut shame, and by terrible education, we've created a world where sex keeps its dark, intense mystery--and good fucking luck coherently negotiating what kind of dark, intense mystery you want to experience.

The feeling of still being hyperaroused by sex is delicious (or was), and it's a genuine sacrifice you make when you start thinking and talking lucidly about sex. But I can tell you this: when you're used to seeing naked people and don't make a big deal about it... you get to see a lot more naked people.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Is this spot taken?"

Far too often, patients at the ER try to hit on me. (If you are picturing someone cute and polite who is in the ER for reasons that have nothing to do with being in a drunken bottle fight, then you are picturing the exact opposite of the sort of person who does this.) And most of the time, they do it in the format: "Gosh, ain't you a little sweet thing... do you have a boyfriend?"

I just say "yes." But that's a partial answer, because they asked the wrong question. They asked something like five different kinds of the wrong question.

The full answer is: "Yes, but he doesn't care who I sleep with, but I bloody well care who I sleep with!"

Perhaps I'm reading too much into the drunken advances of the sort of guy who tries to hit on the person who's picking glass out of his wounds, but it unnerves me that my boyfriend's right to my body is counted as more important than my own, even when he's not around. They're trying to establish whether I'm owned, not whether I'm interested.

Sometimes, for extra comedy/discouragement value, I'll say "yes, and he's really mean." This is a straight up lie, as Rowdy is barely mean enough to use sternly worded I-statements with a fly. (And the implications here are horrifying; am I suggesting that Rowdy would beat someone up for having consensual sex with me, or that only his "meanness" protects me from sexual assault?)

So the real answer is: "Yes, and he's not mean at all, but Roger The 250-Pound Security Guard sure is. If you try something, guess which one I'm going to call?"