Monthly Archives: July 2017

That’s Just How They Are

How many times have you heard someone excuse someone else’s actions by saying, “that’s just their personality”? Or “that’s just how they are. They don’t mean anything by it.”

How many times have you done it?

How many times have I?

And when it comes to personal preferences – whether to wash dishes immediately or wait until morning, which way to hang the toilet paper, etc – I have no problem with it. But when we start using these phrases on people who are hurting or assaulting other people, it has to stop.

An example of the former – my grandmother had met my best friend a couple of times. My best friend is a light skinned black woman. For years afterward, grandma would occasionally ask after that “nice colored girl.” I would sigh, tell her my friend was fine, and call my friend on the way home so we could laugh about it.

My grandmother was born in 1915. In her day, “colored” was the nice word for people of color. She hurt no one by saying this – not me, not my friend, nobody – and absolutely thought she was being considerate. And at her age, nobody was going to change her. I didn’t even try.

A couple of weekends ago, I was out of state for a wedding and heard my girlfriend’s sister relay stories of a man who used to live in their neighborhood who would walk up and down their streets verbally and physically assaulting women. When the police were called, their response was, “That’s just how he is.”

They did nothing.

And because he knew nobody was going to do anything about it, he continued. He felt safe to act with immunity. And why wouldn’t he?

I’ve seen the same thing repeatedly. Mostly in kink communities, but it’s no less prevalent among geeks or pagan communities.

Unfortunately, there really are people who are just awkward, don’t know any better, and simply need to be talked to. Taking the steps to educate them, keeping an eye on them to make sure they understand proper etiquette, is not the same as ignoring the problem.

But there are others. Others who have been talked to, know exactly what they’re doing, and simply don’t care. They’re the kinksters who have been around for years, but interrupt scenes or make lewd jokes to people they don’t know and have no relationship with. They’re the ones at geek cons leering and hitting on those wearing skimpy cosplay, or hitting on the vendors because the vendor has no way to easily escape.

It’s everywhere, and we excuse it. Every day.

Stop it. These people need confronted. If you’re not willing to help rid your community of them, at least warn others. Rob them of the pool they swim in.

Because we can’t plead ignorance. And we need to stop making excuses for the wrong people.


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Give Kink A Chance

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about how kink is not a competition. You don’t have to live up to what other people consider extreme, and it’s okay to pass on play partners whose interests aren’t compatible with yours.

In other words, play to your edge, not someone else’s.

Unfortunately, the example I used was of a man I saw play once. He was playing in a way that didn’t interest me, and I walked away.

Since that writing, I’ve had more than one person caution against such an approach. People can have more than one play style, I was informed, be skilled in many types of play. If you get to know them, you might find you’re compatible after all.

It’s an equally important point and one that I learned over time. From the beginning, my m.o. was to get to know people, watch them play a few times, and then decide whether I wanted to play with them. Which is why I made the snap judgment on someone I only saw once. Maybe if we had gotten to know each other, we could have found common ground.

Maybe not. I’m not really interested in arguing hypotheticals.

Further, interests evolve over time. What’s a limit today may not be a limit a year from now. Which is not to say that you should be pressured to do something you don’t want to do. Some limits don’t change, and that’s okay too. I for one will never want to play with electricity. Other people love it and that’s great for them. But it’s not something I’m ever going to consent to.

Having said that, there are types of play I never could have imaging wanting to participate in when I first started. Hell, all I was sure of was that I wanted to be tied up. Had I stopped there, and decided that was all I wanted to do, I would have missed out on the joys of fire, knives, and impact play.

Few people are static in their approach to kink. I dare say that’s the way it should be. There are so many possibilities, I would encourage everyone to explore as many as you can. With as many people as you like.

You never know what you might learn.

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Dirty Little Secret

Or, how I came to understand LGBT people through my kink.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be tied up. Before it was sexual, before I even knew it was weird, I knew the restriction felt good and that I wanted more of it. I watched television and movies and figured out early why some ties were problematic. I mean, it’s no fun if you can just squirm out of it, right? And that gag in Indiana Jones? Pfft. Way too easy to talk or scream through.


When I was caught tying myself up outside – god only knows what my mother thought of me that day – I retreated to my bedroom and did it in secret. Mom might not have said much about my activities, but it was clear that what I was doing was a Bad Thing.

I didn’t speak of it again for years.

In the meantime, I would often see gay people on television defending themselves by saying things like, “I was born like this – I didn’t choose to be gay.” It was the era of the emerging AIDS crisis so there were plenty of people attempting to dispel the myth that being gay was a sin.

That didn’t go over so well in our Regular Baptist household.

But in the deepest recesses of my mind, I knew I understood. I couldn’t tell anyone. Admitting to such thoughts would be tantamount to coming out about my own desires and I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t even put proper words to the connection. “It’s like those things that I want,” I told myself.

Those things. Those very vague things.

At least being gay was something you got to talk about on television, I reasoned. No one got on the news to defend being kinky. The things I wanted were more likely to be associated with heinous crimes like murder, kidnapping, and sexual violation.

Nope. Best to keep such very vague things to myself.

And yet, I grew up understanding what it was like to have a desire you had no control over. I understood not having a choice in what I wanted or what turned me on. I understood not being able to change it no matter how hard I tried.

Disclaimer – I know now that not every gay person goes through this period of self loathing. The lucky ones are able to embrace it early and I think that’s wonderful. Same with kinky people – I greatly admire people who come into the community in their 20s who have fully come to terms with themselves. I wish I had.

But that wasn’t my experience. So when I met really real gay people in really real life, especially those who had taken some time to discover their real selves, I found myself empathizing more easily than I might have otherwise. I heard my own feelings echoed in their words.

I’m not sure what the point is here. Maybe it’s that you can’t run from who you are. Maybe it’s that who you are is okay. Maybe it’s that you aren’t alone, no matter how much you may feel like you are. Maybe it’s about the importance of speaking our truths because you never know whose life you will touch.

Maybe it’s all of these things.

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I’m Still Listening

My first reaction when hearing any anecdotal evidence of inequality and prejudice, whether it’s based on race, gender, or anything else, is to be incredulous. Not, “But I would never do such a thing,” or “Not all white people.” Pure and simple shock.

If it’s particularly egregious, I completely lose the ability to form words. What were they thinking? How on earth could they think that was okay? What do you mean you adopted children of color and refer to them as brownies? How does that even occur to you?

Yes, that happened.

Other times, I am simply stunned that such acts still occur. Maybe I wonder if the person telling the story misinterpreted what happened because surely, no one actually still holds those attitudes. Right?

And this is how I learned to listen. Because every person of color I know has these stories. They can’t all be making them up.

Two people in particular have been key for me in this process. One is a woman I have met maybe twice. She is something of a Big Name is certain circles and we are friends on social media more because of her status than anything else.

She posts a lot about her experience and does not mince words. In the past, I have thought of her as militant. I’m no longer sure that’s fair – I think she’s a human seeking to be treated as such.

For a long time, many of her anecdotes sounded like overreactions to me. I had the same reaction many do – are you sure that was really about race? Maybe that other person didn’t mean it the way you took it.

But I couldn’t say anything. I’m not going to start that fight with someone I barely know, on their page, or invalidate their experiences that way. Fine, I decided. If she wants to rant, let her. I don’t have to agree with all of it.

As if it were up to me to interpret her experiences. Me. A white woman who has no clue what it’s like to be black and poor. Because that makes perfect sense.
So I listened instead. And I noted the patterns. I came to see things from her perspective and trust that what she said was real. This should not have been as long a process as it was. And yet.

I met the second person who has been instrumental to me through my best friend. Ze is a queer, gender nonconforming person of color who I happen to be in awe of. Ze has related plenty of similar experiences to the person above, only from a place of academia.
Without fail, and whatever the topic, ze shows me another perspective every time we’re together. It is endlessly illuminating and thought provoking.

And now ze is moving across the country. We were able to get together this past weekend for some laughs and hanging out time, and, as usual, I came away seeing things in a different way than I did before.

Sure, there’s social media. I will continue to follow them on the sites we share and even have a renewed purpose for being on them more often.
But ze won’t be two hours away anymore.

And I hate goodbyes. I suck at them.

One person suggested that it is not goodbye so much as a see you later. But it feels like goodbye. Watching the people who gathered over the weekend, I know it felt like goodbye to them too.

But I will continue to listen. To seek out those voices that do not sound like mine. And to try to pass on what I have learned. It’s the least I can do.

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