Friday, November 25, 2011

How to Buttsex Someone Up But Good.

You want a buttsex post?  I'll give you a buttsex post!  I'll give it to you right up your... Internet connection!

How to Buttsex Someone Up But Good
1. Make sure your butt-buddy wants it.  Really wants it.  If you're doing this to widen their perspective on masculinity or femininity or sexuality, that's the wrong reason.  If you're doing this to prove something or score some sort of points, that's a really wrong reason.  Do it because they and their butt want it.  Ask them how they want it and prioritize that above anything I say here.

(Special note to cis men who have never "pitched" in anal sex: from what I hear, it's not transcendently pleasurable for a penis.  It's fun, sure, but it's not like a magical penis-amazing wonder above all wonders.  It feels like PIV intercourse only sort of different.  It will not bring you some ultra-mega-tight satisfaction that a vagina never could.  So control your expectations here, and if your partner isn't up for it, don't think you're missing out on the best thing ever.)

2. Make sure you're up for it.  Just because you're the penetrating partner doesn't mean it's no big deal for you and you have no basis to object.  It's fine to be uncomfortable with the idea of penetrating someone anally, or to have reservations or specific wishes about how to do it.  Just because you're not putting your ass on the line doesn't mean you don't get a say.

3. Be prepared for poop.  You cannot have buttsex if you don't have some level of comfort with poop.  It's usually not a lot, though; we're talking "smear" here, not "load."  Even so--put down a towel.  Put a glove on your hand and a condom on your dick or any toys.  Have some wipey things available.  There's no need for your partner to have an enema, but they probably shouldn't do this if they've got a poop on deck, if you know what I mean.

4. Be prepared for different reactions.  For some people, it'll be "OH GOD YES OH GOD," for some it'll be "mmm nice," for some it'll be "no, take it out."  People don't deal with anal stimulation in one way, especially if they're new to it.  And the same person on different days doesn't deal with it the same way.  Roll with however it goes.

5. Okay, let's do this thing!  Let's start with... how about some kissing and cuddling, actually? Just because you're using a different hole doesn't mean you gotta be all brusque about it.  Or some wrassling and spanking, if that's how you warm up.  But when your fore is played, let's start with a finger.  A finger with a glove on it, to spare you their butt-germs and to spare them your fingernail.  Lube it up real good.  You can't use too much lube.  Spread it all over your finger and use as much as will stay on it.  Put the pad of your finger on their anus, not pushing, just touching.  Have your partner relax and breathe and when you feel their anus relax a little, just slowly slide your finger on in there.

You'll feel two separate sphincter muscles.  The outer one is under voluntary control; the inner one isn't, at least not directly.  If the inner one won't let you in, don't try to push through, just let your partner work on relaxing and opening up.  (If it really won't let you in, your partner may just not be made for buttsex, at least not on that day.)  Gently massaging it can help.

6. This is the awesome part.  Or the start of the awesome part.  People's butts are hot and smoothly soft inside and you can feel the tiniest contractions of their muscles.  Despite all the warnings you hear about the rectum being fragile, it's also strong; it can grab your hand so hard you worry about yourself more than your partner. But the first thing you want to do after putting your finger in them, if they're new to this, is nothing.  Don't get all thrusty.  Give them a moment to adjust.  Give yourself a moment to just enjoy it.

7a. If your partner is the sort of person who has a prostate, look for the prostate.  (Well, don't look for it.)  It's going to be on the front--i.e., crotchward--side of their rectum, about two inches in.  (If they're Canadian or something it will be five centimeters in.)  A finger slid in all the way and bent should just reach it.  You feel it through the rectal wall, so it's sort of indirect, but you'll know it because:
A) It'll feel like a distinct bump about the size of a walnut, smooth and round.
B) Your partner is likely to go "OH MY GOD RIGHT THERE."

7b. There's two directions you can take this now.  (There's infinity directions. I'll talk about two.)  One is to continue on to the fuckin'.  The other is to just focus on the prostate, because you can get a lot of people the hell off that way.  Just keep rubbing it while you or your partner plays with their genitals, and it's likely to give them an incredibly powerful, I mean blasting orgasm.  I mean, I once made a guy accidentally hit himself in the face this way and he didn't even notice for a little bit.  Then he noticed and it was pretty amusing.

8. If you turned to page 238 to "continue on to the fuckin'," add another finger.  Slowly, gently, and lubily.  Pay attention to how they adjust to this--both in their anus and in their face.  You can gently slide your fingers in and out all sensual-like, but unless your partner asks you to, don't start thrusting like you're trying to churn butter in there.  Anuses aren't vaginas and it won't feel the same way that thrusting into a vagina does.

9. PENIS TIME!  Or dildo time.  Or, I'm not judging here, eggbeater time?  Take your fingers out of your butt-buddy's butt.  Put a condom and heaps and loads of lube on your implement of choice and do like you did with the fingers--just place it against their butt, and wait to feel them relax before pushing.  And again, give them a moment to just adjust to you inside them before you start doing anything.

You will probably not hit the prostate directly with an average-size penis or equivalent toy.  Maybe it'll get some driveby stimulation in some positions, but buttfucking isn't really prostate work.  Not the way Step 7 is.

10. I think you know what to do now.  But do it a bit less vigorously than you normally would.  A lot of in-and-out isn't really how butts work.  Unless your partner is encouraging you to do more, you want to err more toward the "sliding" than the "pounding" end of the scale here.  Check in with them; they may not want you to thrust at all but just be happy with you in their ass.  They may or may not want you to play with their genitals (or let them play with their own junk) while you're in there.  They may be able to go the distance, or they may need you to stop after a bit; again, the only way to know is to check in with them and give them permission to tell you to stop.

11. Clean up (probably don't do this on white sheets) and give your partner a hug and tell them they're awesome.

-If you're doing this with a bio-dick, use a condom even if you don't for vaginal sex.  Butt-germs can get in your urethra.

-Blood and pain are not normal, even the first time.  This isn't like losing your hymen; there's no reason the first time should hurt.  (People seem to vary on whether it's okay for it to hurt a little bit.  Personally I think it isn't, but at any rate any pain more than "a little bit" is too much.  If you're gritting your teeth to get through it, you're getting hurt.)

-Lube lube lube lube lube.  And then add more after you've been going for a bit.  Butts not only don't make their own lube, they suck moisture out of the lube you put in them.  Keep things messy wet.

-There are bacteria in the ass that can make you sick if they get in any non-ass body openings.  Don't put anything that's been up someone's butt in anyone's mouth or vagina.

-Your butt-buddy is putting their ass in your hands.  (And vice versa.)  That's one hell of a gift.  Treat it good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cosmocking! December '11! Part Two!

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving.  (Or a nice completely regular day if you're not from the US, I suppose.)  I got to spend it with some people I love and it was wonderful.  I'm thankful for pervy sex and all the wonderful things it's brought to my life, of which "pervy sex itself" is really the least of it.

Anyway.  Back to this Cosmo shitshow so I can finally get around to writing about buttsex.
Wrap a belt around each of his thighs. This will push more blood into his penis, making his erection feel even harder.
Oh dear God.  I cannot make this shit up.

(Since constriction squeezes veins shut but not arteries, belts tight enough to affect circulation would actually trap blood in his legs. Let it go long enough and they'll turn purple and swell up and possibly sustain permanent damage. Pretty sexy, huh?)
Heat up a water bottle, and roll it back and forth over his nerve-packed pubic mound.
Rowdy: "It's cool that they're suggesting doing more than just, y'know, poundy-poundy, but... really?"
[how to film yourself having sex] Use candlelight, put the camera as far away as possible, and shoot through a piece of cheesecloth.
Maybe you have a high-end, very sensitive video camera and you know how to use candlelight to create dramatic a yet effective lighting setup that nonetheless allows you and your partner room to move.  Or maybe your video will come out looking like Sasquatch fucking the Chupacabra, and for some reason there's a cheesecloth in front of them.

(Also, I put the camera as far away as possible, and it should be crossing the orbit of Jupiter in early 2014.)
Seduction Secrets French Women Know
This isn't the first time Cosmo's used "France" to mean "magical land full of romance and unicorns."  I'm guessing Cosmo's never been on the Paris metro.
French women incorporate those things [sexaaay things] into their daily lives--they spend an estimated 20 percent of their income on lingerie.
The median household income in France is about 3100 Euro a month, or about $4125 USD.  20 percent of that is $825.  Oh come on seriously.

...If these French unicorns spend 20% of their money on underwear, can you imagine what their budget for shirts is?  Add in shoes and you'll be living on whatever the French equivalent of ramen is. (La soupe de nouilles ramen.)
"I love how pregnant women focus on their babies instead of silly stuff like work drama or what's going on with their friends."
"I love how pregnant women, or what I imagine a pregnant woman to be like, focus on their babies instead of silly stuff like their own lives."

There's an article on "raunch culture" and how it's totally awesome.  The distinction between raunch culture and sex-positivity is too complicated to get into here and the Cosmo article is far too superficial, but I want to pull one quote:
If you know what you want--a hot coworker, your own cupcake shop, a good reason to wear a slutty tube top--don't ever apologize for going after it with balls-to-the-wall determination.
I agree with that, as far as it goes.  Where I part ways is in remembering that some women want their coworkers to leave them alone, their own auto repair shop, or a good reason to wear a long consersvative dress.  You can be balls-to-the-wall without being a sexied-up Manic Pixie Dreamgirl.
[from a romance novel excerpt] Sawyer wiggled out of his own jeans, revealing what was undoubtedly her favorite body part of his--the one bouncing happily at the sight of her.

"Awww!  He likes you!"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cosmocking: December '11! Part One!

Pink cover!  Adele!  Oh my God there's a woman over 120 pounds on the cover of Cosmo oh my God!  I'm vaguely insulted they put her in leopard print because maybe I'm reading too much into this but I feel like leopard print is kinda code for "She may be fat, but she's fabulous" in a condescending sort of way!  "When He Shouldn't See You Naked!"  Hopefully this will include when you are in public or meeting his parents!  Unless his parents are nudists, then it's only polite!  "Shit My Guy Says: Where's a Muzzle When You Need One?" Oh no Cosmo no Cosmo no!
The Naughtiest Thing I've Ever Done: "I hooked up with my professor!"
[Ending line:] Peter and I ended our fling soon after I graduated. I knew it wasn't right, but hey: My school prides itself on cultivating close student-professor relationships.  Let's just say it succeeded. Oh, and I got an A in the class.
The whole article is written in that sort of smirking ain't-I-a-stinker tone.  Which nicely avoids the real issues involved, which go way beyond "it's so naughty."  Like: what would happen if you wanted to stop seeing him while you were still in the class?  Is this why you didn't break it off until graduation?  Would you consider adding a line or two about how this generally isn't a good idea when you publish it in a magazine widely read by high-school and college girls?
[How to tell if a guy is lying about his "number"]
-He grabs an object, like his pillow.
-He repeats the question.
-He bites his lip.
...So, basically, if your boyfriend is lying to you, he'll start speaking like Kristen Stewart.  (Actually, the pillow-clutch is just silly and the question-repeating is "cartoon bad liar," but lip-biting can also mean "I'm nervous about how you're going to react to the truth, but here I go.")
[A completely random listing of penis nicknames, including "dick" and "cock" and whatnot, but also:]
Winston Churchill
Squirt gun
Pogo stick
What?  Why? What?  ...Hog?  ...Winston Churchill???
Push an exercise ball up against the wall, have him sit on it, and bounce on him.
Another word for those balls is "balance balls."  Because most of the exercise you get from them is due to the added effort of trying not to fall off.  Do I have to spell out the problem here?  Okay, here's another one--most of those balls are rated to 250 pounds.  If he's 180 and you're 120, and you're bouncing, that poor thing doesn't stand a chance.
A study determined that guys lose their desire if they're not mentally turned on.
That must be from the same issue of the The Midwestern Journal of Tautology Studies where they found that people who weigh more pounds tend to be heavier.
Bind his wrists before you perform oral on him. A study discovered that women find fellatio empowering, and restricting him heightens that ballsy feeling.
Clearly the work of the MJTS's intellectual rival, The New England Journal Of Anally Derived Knowledge.  I don't know about you, but I feel empowered when I'm able to make important decisions and see the things I decided carried out.  I do not feel so empowered when I have a dick in my mouth.  It's not necessarily disempowering or whatever, it's just... I'm having sex.  I'm anywhere on the range of power dynamics that sex can have, which is to say seriously anywhere.

There's a lot of power that women can exert in their lives, in their relationships, and in their sexuality.  "The power to move my head up and down and do that thing with my tongue" is not one of the major ones.

Augh! I'm gonna be late for school!  More later.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Pervocracy Guide To Not Doing Stupid Things Because You're Angry.

A number of people on the de-escalation post asked for a post on de-escalating yourself.  I'll say up front: I'm on shakier ground here.  I have professional training and personal experience in de-escalating others, and I can't say the same for self-de-escalation.  I'm a naturally meek person (offline); I'm more likely to apologize and back off than to press a confrontation, and the last time I struck someone in anger, a camp counselor put me in time-out.  But I'll try and bring my Armchair Psychology A-Game here.

Let your body relax.
A fun fact I learned from mental health workers: your hands know that you're losing control before you do.  They'll make fists before you realize that you're about to explode.  Catch them and undo it.  Close your eyes, take a big deep breath, and as you slowly let it out, unclench your hands and let them hang.  You can only get so angry if you have relaxed hands.

Do all the cliche touchy-feely yoga things.  They're cliche because they actually work.  Deep breaths.  Relaxed muscles.  Count numbers in your head.  Imagine peaceful things.  It'll slow down your bodily response--the pounding heart and pumping adrenaline--and it's a lot easier to think clearly when your body isn't screaming "RUN IT'S A BEAR!" at your brain.

Figure out what you want.
If you're upset, it's because something in the world is different than you want it to be.  Ask yourself what that thing is, and how you realistically want the other person to change it.  This isn't Occupy Wall Street; there's no point in having an argument if you don't have a demand.  It may not be tangible--it may be "I want you to promise to be more considerate" or "I want you to express appreciation for my work"--but it has to be something.  If all you can express is "I have angry feelings," there's nothing they can do about that unless you can lay out a plan that would make you less angry.

If there's nothing they can do, if they've firmly established there's nothing they will do, or if they've given you what you asked for and you're still angry: stop arguing with them.  There's literally nothing you can accomplish.  Remove yourself and calm yourself, because there's nothing left to argue about.

Don't attack.
It's okay to have a heated discussion to convince someone to behave differently.  It's not okay to have a heated discussion to convince them that they're bad.  That's not a decent thing to do to a person and it cannot possibly produce a useful result.  If you find yourself arguing the thesis "you are bad and you should feel bad," stop.  There is absolutely nowhere good that can go.  If you want them to apologize, change their ways, or make amends to you, say so directly.  A litany of why they're so bad--even if every bit of it is true--will only make both of you feel terrible.

Don't poke your own sore spots.
In my case, this means "Don't read YouTube comments."  Here's the Chrome plugin that lets you hide them, and it's saved me gallons of wasted adrenaline.  (The tipping point was looking at videos of astronauts, and seeing pages upon pages of "hilarious" comments that the female astronauts should get back in the space kitchen. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE.)  I also shouldn't read MRA websites, news articles about "the latest disturbing teen trend," or letters from my mother that start with "I'm very concerned."

If there's a particular situation or topic that sets you off every time--just stay away from it.  It can be very tempting to seek out these things because they grab your attention and set your mind going, but you always feel worse after exposing yourself to them.  Go look at puppies instead.  Unless puppies make you angry; then you have to know your limits and stop yourself before you start getting sucked down into the puppy-hatred-spiral.

Distract yourself.
I wasn't kidding about the puppies.  When you're cooling down from something enraging, go do something you enjoy, something totally unrelated.  Play your favorite videogame, go for a run, knit a few more rows on your project, something that keeps your mind and body busy.  Give yourself permission to have fun with it and totally lose yourself in it for a little while.  Even if the angry thing still bothers you afterwards, it won't have the same heat and bite it did before.

Hurting yourself, damaging your possessions, or "letting it out" by pounding pillows or screaming are not helpful distractions.  Do something nice for yourself.

When all else fails, physically remove yourself.
If you feel like you truly can't handle yourself--if you feel certain that the next thing out of your mouth is going to end your relationship or your job or reduce the other person to tears or make them afraid for their safety--just leave.  Walk away.  Put a closed door between yourself and the person you might attack.  Is it weird and rude to walk out of the room mid-argument?  Yes.  It's just not nearly as weird and rude as what you were about to say.  It'll be easier to apologize later for walking out than it would be to apologize for acting like a complete shithead.

And if you feel like you're at risk of physically lashing out at the other person in any way, you have a moral obligation to stop yourself by getting far enough away that you can't reach them.  You're not going to slap your lover or shake your kid if you're in a different room, not unless you have advanced tele-slapping technology installed in your house, and avoiding that is worth any amount of weirdness.

Get real help if you need it.
As with the other de-escalation article, these tips (and especially the last one) are Sometimes Foods.  If you find that you need them frequently, that you're always easing yourself down from an explosion, you need more help than a sex blog with pop-psych pretensions can give you.  A professional counselor can give you a whole lot more help than I can if you have a serious anger problem.  Here's a guide to finding low-cost mental health care in the US and Canada.

Phew.  I really want to write about sex again.  Next post is a Cosmocking.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Strong woman.

It's a school night.  Quick one.  (Several people asked for a post on "self-de-escalation," so I'll try to put one together in the next couple days.)

I want to address a misconception that I had when I first started getting into feminism, and a misconception that's gotten thrown in my face a few times.  Most recently, it came up in Katie Roiphe's terrible New York Times editorial about how sexual harassment is no big deal and chicks should just suck it up and learn to run with the big dogs etcetera.  The misconception is: "Feminism is the idea that women are strong."

No.  Feminism is the idea that women are as strong as men, but no stronger.  Some men can cut off their own arm to survive; some women can lift a car to save their child.  But lots of men are delicate little crybabies and lots of women are delicate little crybabies.  Women, being people, run about the same range of personal strength as people. And this ought to be okay.  Feminism is the idea that a woman shouldn't have to be exceptionally strong to get by.  Feminism makes no predictions on whether a particular woman can survive slings and arrows, bullying and belittling, mistrust and self-doubt.  Feminism asks "hey, who the fuck said women had to run this bullshit gauntlet, anyway?"

Am I a Strong Woman?  I think I'm kinda strongish, both in the "arm-wrestling" sense and the "doing emotionally difficult things for a greater good" sense.  But that's not feminism; that's good luck.  Feminism is thinking "gosh, maybe going to work while female shouldn't be an emotionally difficult thing."

"I thought feminism meant women were strong" is rarely the full argument.  The full argument is: "I thought feminism meant women were strong, so why are you complaining if you're so strong?"  The implication here isn't just that women should have to be strong to survive, but that strength consists of shutting up and taking it.  That the strongest thing to do is to keep your head down and grind away at whatever task is set before you, silently stronging your way though every obstacle, for your entire life.

Sometimes the strongest thing you can do is complain.

Living every day with being the "girl" of the office and having your ass grabbed and everyone laughing about how funny it is that your ass gets grabbed--no, that's not easy.  But speaking up about it is even harder.  It's taking initiative.  It's taking a risk.  It's facing pushback, retaliation, skepticism, red-tape brush-offs, ostracism, the shit you get for being female compounded with the shit you get for being a troublemaker.  Complaining about how you're treated as a woman is anything but the coward's way out.  There have been times I should have done it but wasn't strong enough.

(Oh, and you also have to face people saying "guess you're not such a strong woman after all, huh?"  Forgot to put that one on the list.)

Doing what people want you to do can be hard.  Doing what they don't want you to do, and standing up for yourself instead--that's strong.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


This week in Developmental Psychology class I presented a paper on dating violence in teenage relationships.  I'm not going to rehash the paper here, because it's boring and Google-vulnerable, but I wanted to share the most interesting conclusion I found.

How much conflict there is in a relationship, or the seriousness of the conflict issues, are not predictors of whether there will be violence.  The biggest predictor is the degree to which conflicts in the relationship escalate.

The studies I read looked at dating violence, which is not the same thing as dating abuse, although obviously there's lots of overlap.  Dating violence simply means that there's hitting/shoving/slapping; emotional abuse and controlling behavior aren't factored in.  Dating violence, unlike abuse, is most often bidirectional--roughly 70% of the time both partners had struck each other.  (I wish there was more distinction drawn between a relatively equal fight and "bidirectional" violence that's really self-defense, but that's a hard thing to determine in one case, let alone establish statistics on.)

The takehome is that we shouldn't be teaching teenagers (and grownups) to avoid conflict.  We should be teaching them "don't hit people," but that's hardly sufficient.  What we should really teach is de-escalation.

De-escalation means bringing someone down from an irrational, emotionally hyperaroused, screamy-hitty state, but it does not mean appeasement.  It can sometimes mean talking someone down by comforting and reassuring them, but that's far from the only method and it's only useful if they're just mildly agitated.  If they're screaming or threatening violence, saying "honey please honey it's okay" is usually not the best way to de-escalate them.  Setting firm limits is not just more empowering for the de-escalator; it's more effective.

A full method for de-escalation is really a whole class, but here's some pointers for dealing with someone who's upset to the point that they're losing control:

•De-escalate yourself first.  If you're on the verge of screaming at the upset person or slapping some sense into them, either take some deep breaths and get yourself back to a "level tone of voice, no swear words, muscles relaxed" level of arousal, or walk away.  You can't make someone stop fighting you if you're fighting them.

•Project calmness.  No anger, no fear.  Use a low, quiet, almost monotonous conversational tone.  Talk to them like you're explaining the tax code.  Have your hands in view and open.  Stay out of their personal space and don't stare them in the eyes.  (These last two--having your hands up and keeping a little distance--will also make it easier to protect yourself if they lash out physically.)

Respond to questions with answers ("where is my fucking wallet?") with matter-of-fact answers like they asked you a question about the tax code.  Don't respond to questions without answers ("why are you such a jerk?") at all.  If they're ranting, let them rant.  Imagine the words are just meaningless chunks of wordmeat and patiently wait for them to run out of wordmeat.

•Don't try to win the fight.  It doesn't matter if you were originally talking about "who gets the last cookie" or "were you cheating on me"; if the fight has gotten to the point of insults, ranting, or yelling, presenting evidence and arguments is not helpful.  Your only goal right now is to encourage them to calm down; or to physically leave the situation if they don't.

•Set limits in the form of "If you X, I will Y." Not "don't talk to me like that!" but "if you keep talking in that tone of voice, I will end this conversation."  Make it something you can and will do.  Don't use it as a threat or a punishment; just remind them where the lines of reasonable adult behavior are.  At the same time, offer them positive options: "If you have a seat and tell me what you need me to do, I will listen."

•If they start to calm down, they'll probably be exhausted and trying to save face; they probably won't be able to rationally discuss the issue right away.  Give them time and space.

•If they threaten to physically harm you, take it seriously.  If they physically harm you just a little bit--just a little frustrated shove or a quick grab but then they let go--take it super seriously.  Get out.  Just leave.  This is not a matter for talking any more.  This is a matter for not-dying.  (Even if it's not nearly that severe, it's still extremely important to set the limit that "anything physical immediately revokes all your privileges to interact with me.")  Walk away.

If they're not calm when you come back, leave again and give them more time.  If they don't get calm, if they try to punish you for walking away instead of saying "I've cooled down now," leave for good and bring a goonish friend or the cops with you when you pick up your stuff.  I'm uncomfortably aware that doing this is not always possible, but if it's an option for you, take it.

•If you have to do this a lot, get out of the relationship if at all possible.  Things are not okay.  "De-escalator" is a role you can play in an extraordinary crisis, not over the course of a relationship.  Without using the "abuse" word or not, if you're frequently getting in fights of escalating severity, it's not okay, it's probably not going to get better on its own, and it's not safe.  Relationships should be better than that.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Why do you care what other people think?"

This came up in comments on an earlier post, but it's worth a post of its own: why do I care and fret so much about whether or not people accept my deviant sexuality/unfeminine gender/polyamorous relationship?  Isn't it just paranoia to be upset when people don't acknowledge the existence of people like me?  Isn't it just attention-seeking to demand that everyone approve of my lifestyle?  Can't I just do my thing and not worry about what other people think?

No.  I can't.

For starters, I'm not a wall of iron. I have human emotions.  Keeping important parts of my life secret makes me feel bad and being judged harshly makes me feel very bad.  This is not a personal weakness, this is not something for me to grow out of, this is not a challenge I must overcome.  Emotional support is a human need.

But getting frowned at is the tip of the iceberg.  I don't just need social cceptance for fuzzy-wuzzy reasons.  I need it for my livelihood and potentially my life.

For example, I could be fired or kicked out of school if the wrong person learns I'm a sexual deviant--it happens, and "perv" is not a protected class.  It doesn't even have to be about direct hatred from the administration; it can also be litigation-fear.  I mean, my program has a pediatrics rotation.  I don't want to think about the chances parents will be calm and rational if they find out a person with sexual deviancies involving consenting adults was touching their child.

When I was in high school, I got bullied for being unfeminine and dating a girl.  It wasn't just words.  I had obscenities Sharpied on my clothes, I had beer bottles hucked at my head, I had things stolen from me, I had someone spit in my lunch, and I just got straight-up hit a few times.  Once three kids threatened me with Bic lighters, which is a little hilarious in hindsight because with no fuel and tiny lighters I don't think they could have done anything worse than put little scorch marks on me. But I can't just "ignore the haters!" when the haters are threatening to set me on fire.

Here's a positive one.  Recently I went to get STI testing, and I went to Planned Parenthood and explained my relationship status--polyamorous and open--to them.  They didn't tsk-tsk, didn't lecture, just talked about condom use and swabbed my crotch.  Feeling safe there makes it much easier for me to get tested on a regular basis, which is pretty damn important for my health.  (Yes, I could overcome this by being a Wall Of Iron. But I shouldn't have to be.  Tender-delicate-flower poly people should have the same access to healthcare that tender-delicate-flower monogamous people do.)

These are examples from my relatively comfy middle-class-white-American life and my relatively mild deviancies.  Once you get outside that sphere (and sometimes inside it), people are literally killed for doing their own thing and not worrying about what other people think.

Caring what other people think isn't a weakness.  Being aware of what other people think, and seeking to change it for greater compassion and understanding, is a god damn survival skill.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Slavering Beast Theory.

Photo credit: Lindowyn Stock
(Trigger warning for rape and abuse.)

I've been seeing a common underlying idea lately in a lot of discussions about violence against women.  It's an idea that explains a lot of what appear to be blindingly sexist--or just baffling--ideas about why violence happens, what it looks like, and what steps society should take against it.  I'm going to call it the Slavering Beast Theory.

In the Slavering Beast Theory, there are two kinds of men.  Two species, nearly.  (I've seen people go so far as to claim that Slavering Beasts are the result of evolution, which might make them literally a subspecies.)  There are ordinary guys and there are Slavering Beasts.  And they are very, very easy to tell apart.  They act different, even look different, to the point where any adult should be able to distinguish them in any casual social setting.

You don't have to have a PhD in Racismology to sniff out one idea often lurking beneath the surface here, but "frat boys" and "dudebros" are often suspected of being Slavering Beasts too, along with a lot of mentally ill people, counterculture members of any stripe, and sometimes even geeks.  But I don't want to make too much of this, because Slavering Beast diagnostics are almost always ex post facto--he committed violence?  Well, no wonder, he's a Slavering Beast! You should have seen it coming!

Slavering Beasts have a couple other characteristics, besides being dangerous and easy to spot:
They are brutal. If they want to hurt you, they will physically beat you and leave marks.
They are isolated.  Nobody's son, father, best friend, favorite teacher, or golf buddy is a Slavering Beast.
They are consistent. They are cruel to everyone, and have no history of positive relationships.
They are inarticulate and bad liars. They never have a convincing alibi or a genuinely sympathetic personal story.
They are useless. They never have any impressive life accomplishments or any exceptionally good qualities.
I am not one. I'm here talking to you, right? So obviously I'm not a Slavering Beast.

If a person does not meet these criteria, they are not a Slavering Beast.  Which means that they would never commit violence. Maybe if they were pushed to their absolute limit for a very good reason, but they would never be predatory.  That's a Beast thing.

This dichotomy is how someone can simultaneously believe that women shouldn't go out after dark because rape is such a big problem and believe that tons of rape accusations are false.  It makes perfect sense if you believe there are Slavering Beasts out in the dark, but if an ordinary guy is accused of rape, there must be more to the story.  It explains why people are angered by rape prevention tips aimed at men--those are insulting to ordinary guys, and Slavering Beasts won't listen.  And it justifies the belief that abuse victims had it coming: either they were abused by a Slavering Beast and should have known better, or they were abused by an ordinary guy and must have done something terrible to provoke him.

More than anything, it gives people a way to say "I'm not a Slavering Beast, so none of this applies to me."  Learning about gaining consent or recognizing abuse is pointless--Slavering Beasts will always be violent for no reason and ordinary guys never will.

Fighting this attitude without looking paranoid or accusatory ("any guy could be a rapist" seems to hit some ears as "every guy is a rapist") is tricky.  But it's necessary.  It's necessary to prevent rape--to teach people that they do have to worry about whether they, personally, are getting consent, even though they are nice people.  And it's necessary to punish rapists--to break down that mental barrier protecting Julian Assange and Roman Polanski and umpty-zillion sports players, the one that says "a likeable person who's done good things can't possibly commit rape."  Finally, it's necessary to stop blaming survivors for not having the psychic powers to know they were going to be assaulted.

This is personal to me, because I just found out that someone I knew well--someone I would never have suspected of it, a guy who was the absolute opposite of what you think a "ticking time bomb" looks like--had the cops called on him for beating his girlfriend.  But I'm resisting the knee-jerk response of insisting there must be some mistake, some extenuating circumstance, some "other side of the story."  The story is he was a jokey friendly guy and he beat up his girlfriend. Rape and abuse are acts, not people, and it's impossible to know a person so well that you know exactly which acts they can engage in. (ETA: There were outside witnesses and she was injured; this was not a he-said-she-said case.)

This is why I don't like the statement "she didn't get raped because of something she did; she got raped because she was in the presence of a rapist."  I think we need to say "she didn't get raped because of something she did; she got raped because her attacker decided to rape her.

Edit: I deliberately didn't include female or queer perpetrators of violence here because I think they don't get fit into the same stereotypes, and a friend pointed out on Twitter that this is another harm of the whole "bad men do bad things" myth--it casts straight men as the only possible Slavering Beasts.