Monthly Archives: May 2014

Early morning images

I leave my apartment in a rush and forget everything I need the most, including my keys. It doesn’t occur to me to wonder why there is a kink convention right downstairs. It doesn’t matter. I have friends here and surely one of them will be able to help when I’m ready for them to.

It occurs to me this might be a dream, but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s too real. And then I wake up.

Back at the con. I sit on some sort of box while a friend towers over she me relaying what she wanted to do to a friend of a friend. It involved holding a pea between her lips and passing it on to the other person so they couldn’t speak. I am still thinking about what an effective gag such a small thing could be when she unexpectedly demonstrates on me. Somehow this leads to other fun scene ideas, like an interrogation that involves trivia from one’s favorite book. I wonder how much I could remember, even of Gatsby, under such scrutiny and she tells me what book could be used on her. But why would she bottom like that?

Next we’re standing next to a wall. I’m wearing a leather jacket and she…she might be topless. I can feel so much of that intoxicating skin beneath mine as she pleads with me to kiss her again. I do and the leather presses into her as I try to match her nakedness. But there are too many new people at the event. One of them tries to jump in and join us but they’ve tried hitting her, and in a bad spot on her back. She shoos them away, returning to me.

More interruptions. The wall we are up against is suddenly the door to a closet and another mutual friend begins looking for her belongings so she can go home. Wasn’t she wearing something else when she arrived? “No, you came in that,” a faceless voice I don’t recognize says from behind me. It doesn’t matter. Another man, a favored friend, comes up and wants to hug me. I let him because at this point, how would he know he was interrupting?

My friend ends up sitting on the floor, in the closet, patiently waiting. I am eager to kneel in front of her, continue whatever it is that’s going to happen here. If only all these people would leave us alone.

But I’ve forgotten my keys again.

And it’s time to wake up.

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Curiouser and Curiouser

Not surprisingly growing up, the answer to most questions regarding what we believed and why was met with some version of, “Because the Bible.” And that worked when I was a child and even a teenager. For years, I was convinced that there were some aspects of life that were simply unknowable. Or at least were unnecessary to know.

It wasn’t until college – where critical thinking was actually encouraged and I was exposed to points of view outside of the church – that the questions became more difficult. Questions like – why do so many major religions have similar stories to ours? Similar origin stories and similar myths regarding their central figures? What if gay people really are born that way? Because I think I was born with desires that I can’t get rid of no matter how much I deny them, and if I can’t stop wanting to be tied up and I’ve wanted that since I can remember, what’s the difference?

Naturally, not all of these got asked out loud. But the older I got, the harder they were to ignore or push aside. I could no longer accept that we were the one true way. There were other truths out there, other paths, no matter how adamantly the Baptists stuck to their story. As time went on, the questions simply overwhelmed me.

But even now I find myself too often accepting “because” as an answer for why things are done. Earlier this week, I overheard a debate between coworkers where one was questioning certain policies. The answer was, “because that’s how we’re doing it.” It wasn’t enough for my coworker and it wasn’t enough for me. And not just because I agreed with my coworker.

It wasn’t enough because…because isn’t an answer. And I think I just needed the reminder. That sometimes change is good. That sometimes you have to try something different and experience newness.

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A Quick Apology

Yesterday’s post was made too much in haste, after too little research, and was not thought out nearly well enough. I wasn’t clear enough and rather than try again, which is likely to only make things more muddied, I urge everyone to read the plentiful other bloggers who are saying what I tried to say only much, much better. I can’t go find them now because I’m at work but they’ve been posted all over Facebook the past couple of days.

Google harassment at sci-fi cons (among other places). Read the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter. And fight against the game. Just because it’s commonplace doesn’t make it alright.

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Assigning Blame

I tuned out a lot this past weekend. I spent long, lazy days with my girlfriend, watched Netflix and movies from my own collection, and generally ignored the fact that there was an outside world. I occasionally saw references to yet another shooting in California but couldn’t bring myself to think much about it. By the end of the three-day weekend, I had gathered some of the reasoning behind the shooting, but I still hadn’t looked too closely at what had actually happened.

Yesterday, I finally did. I found some news stories, and tried watching his YouTube videos, including the last one. I even started reading his manifesto. What can I say? It was a slow work day and it was easy to skim while doing other things. I made it about 40 pages in though I’m not sure I’ll go farther.

The word narcissist came to mind. He seemed pretty sure that the whole world was plotting against him. He took no personal responsibility, even as an adult, for things that happened when he was a child. A friend last night suggested that he might have fallen somewhere on the autistic/Asperger’s spectrum. I can see that too.

Of course, a lot has been made of misogynistic principles such as are espoused by MRA/PUA groups which seem to think that men are entitled to whichever women they desire. Naturally, I am absolutely repulsed by these groups though I love that they’re getting their 15 minutes of exposure and light, and am hopeful that perhaps that light may force some changes. But I am not convinced that they are any more to blame here than the video games that occupied so many years of the shooter’s life.

There always seems to be this tendency to look for outside triggers, something physical that we can point at, blame, and then ban. But why? Why can’t we simply blame the person doing the shooting?

When do we start talking about mental illness? Really talking about it? Really doing something to remove the stigma, to get people the help they need?

Because I am all for gun control. I abhor guns and support efforts to restrict how easy it is to get them. No, I’m not trying to take anyone’s guns away but I do think it should be more difficult to obtain one that it is to get a driver’s license. However, more laws and regulations have done nothing to stem the amount of shootings in this country.

What we need to figure out is what makes these people feel that the only way out is to open fire on a group of schoolchildren? On a group of women? On their coworkers? On anyone? What makes them so desperate, so angry, that the only possible solution must be to start shooting randomly?

I believe there are visible signs in each of these shooters’ lives before they open fire. People around them must see that something is amiss. There must be clues. And yet no one wants to believe it will happen to them, or the person they know. It’s always somewhere else, happening to other people.

So when do we start paying attention to those clues? When do we start reporting actual threats and taking them seriously?

Unfortunately, the threats aren’t always out there on YouTube and the line between odd coworker and person liable to take out the office with an uzi can be fine. And no one wants to be the whistle blower in case they’re wrong. But I can’t help thinking that if more people spoke up, if mental health was de-stigmatized, if we actually paid attention to one another, that we could stop more of these shootings. Maybe not all, but there might be fewer of them.

Because it is far too easy to dismiss these news stories now as “just another shooting.” We aren’t shocked anymore and we should be.

This should not be normal.

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Looking Back

I look back, at where I’m from, look at the woman I’ve become. And the strangest things seem suddenly routine.” Wig in a Box – Hedwig and the Angry Inch

For some reason, I decided to go back and read some of my entries on LiveJournal from when I first entered the kink community. It’s been very enlightening. So much I’d forgotten, so many feelings I can’t believe I ever had.

Anyway, I’m also part of the group on Fetlife aimed at newbies. I don’t answer often, but much of the advice is interesting and sometimes I feel like I can help. Most of the time I look at the questions and wonder how anyone could be so naïve. Surely I wasn’t *that* bad was I?

Yes, yes I was. It’s truly amazing. I see myself trying way too hard to turn a fun play relationship into something more. Looking back, I don’t think I was ready for a relationship with this person. I didn’t yet realize that such a thing could be more laid back. I’m grateful we’ve remained friends though.

I see people I barely even remember. Indeed I only vaguely remember the incidents described. During one weekend event, I had a scene the first night that I had to safeword out of. It’s still the only time I’ve had to do that. When I think about that weekend, I don’t remember having any other scenes. But apparently I got tied up the following night. I have no idea who did that. Clearly it simply wasn’t that important to me.

I see a turbulent relationship with my mother. I know the trouble started not long after college but to see it there in black and white, over and over, is more evidence that I can’t keep going back there. Someone advised me this past weekend to give her one more shot, call her one more time. And while I greatly respect this person and understand why she would say such a thing, I can’t do it. Not now. I’ve done it. Repeatedly. With mixed reactions that have only gotten worse.

I see another early relationship. One that turned ugly once it was over. I see issues that only seemed like a big deal once it was too late. Things that weren’t warning signs on their own but added up to too many miscommunications. It was an important relationship in many ways, one I learned a great deal from, but ultimately I’m glad I didn’t try to force it longer than I did.

Frankly, I see a lot of immaturity. I see a lot of ignorance, both about myself and the world around me. I see a person eager to do everything RIGHT NOW and I’m probably lucky that I fell in with such awesome people. It could have been awful. I could have been harmed. Instead I grew.

Difficult as it may be to believe, I am far more laid back now. Or maybe I’m just high strung about different things. Either way, the changes are startling.

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Got Milk?

When the film Milk came out in 2008, I barely knew who he was. I think I went to see it because a friend invited me and it seemed like something I should see. Sad but true.

I vaguely remember hearing some reference to the “twinkie defense” around sixth or seventh grade though I have no idea why it was brought up at all. And very probably the Baptists who ran the school I went to were on Anita Bryant’s side so they weren’t exactly mourning Harvey, even 10 or so years later.

So I went to the movie in order to know more. The woman I went with was a non-traditional law student. At 40, she was older than most but no less suited to the job. She was tough, often taking a position different than whoever she was talking to, in order to get the other person to think. It worked. She could come off as contrary but I learned a great deal from her. We tried to get together occasionally for movies and such but I didn’t always have the patience to be around her. It was work to talk to her and, more than once, I blew her off just because I wasn’t in the mood.

But on this day, we met up and sat in the dark to watch the story of the first openly gay man elected to office. I was moved often but when Milk takes the call from a suicidal young man in Minnesota and tells him, “You are not sick. You are not wrong. And God does not hate you,” I nearly lost it completely. I wished someone had told me that so many years ago.

Glancing over at my companion, I saw she was fighting tears too. And she wasn’t one for a lot of emotion or sentimentality. Maybe she should have heard that sooner too. Maybe we both just needed the reminder.

When she died unexpectedly a couple of years later, I called in sick to work so I could rewatch Milk. I cried and wished I had been a better friend. I wished I had been there for her more. I wished we had spent more time together. I wished for it all to not be true.

So last night, as I once again rewatched the film in honor of Harvey Milk Day, I thought again of the woman I knew as Tara. Others knew her by other names. I still miss her. I still wish the legal world had had a chance to meet her. And I still wish that I had made more time.

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Writing Diversity

A recent post from a friend about diversity in one’s writing got me to thinking. Actually, it got me to thinking again. Because it’s not like this hasn’t occurred to me before. My book is set largely in New York City – Brooklyn to be exact – possibly one of the least homogenous areas in the country. And yet I rarely mention anyone’s race.

It’s the easy way out. I realize that. I had this talk with another friend months ago. I wrote her looking for advice and she said she is more likely to describe someone’s skin tone rather than a specific race. There’s certainly value in that and words like mocha or ebony are definitely descriptive.

But honestly, I’m never sure when to bring it up. I’d rather describe what someone is wearing. Enough of my settings are fetish clubs and events that that tends to be far more interesting to me anyway. Further, I feel that, too often, race is brought up for a reason. If a character is black, that’s going to be important in some way either because they will fight prejudice, have fought prejudice in some way, or worse. And I never want it to come off as if I’m including race just to have the token Black guy/Asian gal/Latin friend/etc. Race isn’t central to anything that happens so it ends up feeling awkward to bring up.

Of course, my official excuse is that I’m letting readers project their own idea of race onto each character. If I don’t say someone is white, how do you really know for sure? You can assume anything based on your own background and ideas.

That still feels like a cop-out though. So I’ll admit to this as a weakness in my writing. I’m a white woman of some privilege and the truth is that race rarely plays a big part in my daily life. Gender does. Sexuality does. And those all come out in their own ways in the book.  I suppose on some level, I’m hoping that diversity in some areas will make up for less diversity in others.

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Buffy and Life

There was a panel at the con I recently vended at called “I Hate You Joss Whedon.” I really wish I had gone to that one. Instead, I needed a nap and slept through it. Which was likely for the best. Because we all know the story – you no sooner get attached to a central character than Joss kills them off. He’s been doing it since Buffy.

I’ve been sick this week so instead of trying to concentrate on the new-to-me shows I’ve been working through – Heroes and Supernatural – I decided to revisit a few favorite episodes of Buffy. Mostly the ones with Spike and Buffy having sex because that is some awesome foreplay right there. One of these days, I’ll track down the kinky fan fiction I’m sure exists surrounding those two.

Anyway, I’ve also been reminded how incredibly well the series handled social issues without making it feel either forced or like just another “very special episode.” Buffy’s “coming out” at the end of season two feels natural. The first two seasons actually built up to it. As does the episode when Tara’s dad comes to get her. Not surprisingly, I can relate to one’s Family being more important than blood relatives. And then there’s Willow’s addiction. Because why wouldn’t that sort of power go to your head?

These aren’t subtle metaphors. And yet, I never felt hit over the head with any of them.

Sure there are parts of the show that look dated now. There’s that whole new thing called the Internet that only Willow seems to know how to navigate at the beginning. Whole sections of the first two seasons are so painful, I was convinced at first that it was cheesy on purpose.

But there is a lot that Whedon got right. Actually, there’s a lot he gets right in most of his projects. His love for strong women is well documented but there’s more subtle moments here and there that are really lovely as well. In an episode of Firefly where the crew goes to the aid of a whorehouse, the madam notes that Captain Mal doesn’t seem particularly interested in any of the girls.

“Are you sly?” she asks him. It’s not a word I’ve heard anywhere else for gay but the context makes it clear what she means as she offers up the young men she also has in her employ. Even better though is that she doesn’t ask it in a derogatory way and he isn’t offended at the “accusation.” He explains himself and they move on. No biggie.

When Willow and Tara got together, I was frustrated at first that it took them so long to be affectionate or even kiss. I had to be told they were the first lesbian couple on mainstream television (I didn’t watch the show when it was first on). I’m left a little amazed at how much has changed in such a short time. And how little of a deal was made of it then, even on the show. If anyone else made a big deal of it, I was too busy being married to pay attention apparently.

Okay, maybe I love Joss Whedon after all. But just once, I’d like to see all the main characters live through a project, one that isn’t based on a pre-existing story, of course (No, Much Ado About Nothing doesn’t count.)

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The Reality of Kink

Like a lot of people, I became fed up with “reality television” some time ago. I remember watching the Real World in college and thinking the first couple of seasons were fun but then, all of a sudden, these shows seemed to be everywhere. And now we have everything from pawn stores and people buying unclaimed storage units, to naked survivalists and more.

I do my best to avoid most of it. Some subjects simply don’t interest me. Others down right disgust me (children’s beauty pageants? No. Just stop.). Most are at least mildly nauseating on some level.

But there is one subject that I would like to see explored. Kink. I know there are shows like Weird Sex (I think that’s the name) and one that I believe is simply called Kink which I found on Netflix. But neither of them are what I have in mind.

I want to showcase the people I know. In their daily lives. I want people to see us as normal people with kids, pets, families, kids, jobs, and health scares/problems.

As I sit around with friends, either at munches, house parties, and even the dungeon, I am often struck by how mundane most of our conversations are. I have friends in college/grad school who worry about grades and projects. Others who are movie buffs like me who I can talk to at length about our favorites. Some are artists. Basically, we are part of every walk of life and I wish more people outside of my circle could see that.

Of course, the biggest obstacle would be getting consent from everyone involved. I don’t know many people who would be willing to put their entire lives on the line and expose so much of their personal lives for everyone to see. Maybe a few national presenters. But then you’d have to get permission from their friends and the people at the events at which they teach.

It would be a nightmare, and not at all feasible.

But I see so many people online who are afraid to go out in public, afraid of what or who they might encounter. Hell, I was one of them once. I walked into my first party scared to death because I simply didn’t know what to expect. What would people look like? What would they be doing? What would I do?

And then I got there and talked about movies, specifically Rocky Horror, with a law student while a woman got what, to me at the time, was a severe whipping not 10 feet away from us. There was one man walking around as an adult baby. Another dressed as a pony. And no one treated any of it as unusual. It was just another Saturday night. As a result, I was able to do the same thing. It wasn’t until later, at home, that I realized how overwhelming it had all been.

Outside of that, however, even people who identify as being in 24/7 total power exchange relationships, don’t often look any different from other couples. Very often, they both have jobs, sometimes they have kids, maybe they have pets. They certainly have bills to pay, groceries to buy, houses to upkeep.

In short, no one is walking around in leather all the time and no one is kept chained in a basement. At least, no one I know. I won’t discount the possibility that there are people who live closer to these extremes but they aren’t the norm. Not from what I’ve seen. The people I know make an effort to blend in. Kink is not their entire lives. It may permeate many aspects, but it is still only a part. We are all people first.

We are not freaks. We are not out to convert anyone. And we are not out to hurt anyone who doesn’t want to be hurt. Are there exceptions? Of course. Like any walk of life, we have our predators, people who are dangerous and give the entire community a bad name. But in my experience, they are the minority. The rest of us are just trying to be happy amidst the boring details of everyday life.

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Why So Serious?

I commented here recently that I think there should be more laughing in more dungeons. I want to expand on that a little.

Isn’t it enough that we throw words around like dungeon, slavery, and torture? We wear mostly black, our toys are mostly black, our spaces are dimly lit. Even the music is dark with sounds of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails flowing everywhere. Everything about the kink community is done to convey that what we do is ominous, dangerous even. And you know, a lot of it is. There are reasons to be concerned for safety, both emotional and physical. Consent and negotiations are key. A lot of thought should go into both entering this community and participating in it.

So don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we should be yukking it up constantly like we’re doing a comedy routine. Unless that’s the point of your scene. If it is, enjoy the hell out of it and entertain the fuck out of the people watching.

I just think there is a difference between taking what we do seriously and taking ourselves seriously.

For example, I recently went out of town for a large, hotel event. The first class I attended was a bondage class and while the person leading it was both interesting and informative, I couldn’t get over the fact that his bottom never smiled. Okay, it was morning, they were from a different time zone. Can you blame her for being less than jolly? I decided to give her some slack.

And then I got home and looked at the pictures on her profile. There were a couple hundred in various bondage positions and she was smiling in exactly one of them. And this wasn’t the glazed, happy look of someone in an alternate headspace. She looked mostly emo, staring off in the distance like someone in a 90s goth band.

Until recently, I was part of a few different discussion groups online that called out wrecks in people profiles, private messages, or entire other discussion threads. After all, sometimes it’s funny to see what other people find perfectly acceptable. From the dudes who think extreme sexual advances are okay in a first message, to anyone who makes it clear exactly how desperate they are in their profile, to the threads that descend quickly into insults and mudslinging. It’s all fodder for someone to make fun of.

But one of the groups recently targeted someone I find incredibly funny. Granted, you have to have a slightly left of center sense of humor to get it, but even his most serious posts are couched in politically incorrect, dark humor.

I’d already started growing a bit bored of this group. Not all the wrecks posted seemed that bad to me. But this really made me think. Who are these people to police what goes on for an entire site? Sure some of the threads are entertaining but I suddenly find myself in a place where I don’t want to find humor in other people’s mistakes. I’ve now quit a couple of groups and this last one will probably be going soon. There are better ways to get laughs.

This past Saturday I had a scene with two wonderful tops and there was another going on next to me. I looked over and laughed often at some of the playful banter between top and bottom. Later, the other bottom and I found each other and agreed that we enjoyed playing near each other because we both make such fun noises.

And that’s what I want to see more of. That’s what I want to enjoy in others. That sense of joy. That even in the midst of heavy floggings, punching, needles, and more, we can still laugh. We can rest in the knowledge that safety precautions have been taken, and in the trust we have in our tops, and enjoy the moment as happy masochists.

Truly, I don’t want to say that anyone is “doing it wrong.” I’ve seen bottoms in long-term relationships lie there and barely move during scenes. Clearly they are getting something out of it and that’s great for them. It’s just not entertaining for me and when those scenes are going on, I’m likely going to be somewhere else. But again, entertaining me shouldn’t be the point of your scene.

As with so much we do, your mileage will vary and everyone’s experience will be different. Hell, there are almost too many caveats to make here. But I want to have fun. And I want it to be clear that I’m having fun.

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