what happened with Penny

We split up; we ended things a little more than two weeks ago.

It’s more complicated than that, but I’m not going to go into it here, for a few reasons. She could be reading, she knows I run this place, so I won’t be writing things here that I wouldn’t say – or haven’t already said – to her directly.

I respect Penny; I think she’s wonderful and there were many great things about dating her. This is probably the most sane breakup I’ve had in years, and I’m grateful to her for that – likewise, it was probably the most sane relationship (and, duh, as you know, some of the best sex, too).

I’m working through unraveling my understanding of what’s happened, my responsibility, my part in things. This ending – this whole relationship interaction – has shed some new light on my own ongoing story, pulled on old wounds, brought up some new ideas, and I am spending time exploring them, writing about them privately. I do miss having this place as a space in which to do that, because a lot of you readers have been following my relationship adventures for the last two years, and a lot of you know a whole lot about where I’ve come from, how things have been for me, what I struggle with, and my conversations with readers via comments are often very illuminating.

My understanding (so far) is that we wanted different things from each other and out of a relationship. It does feel like a loss, I’m sad about losing the things that were beautiful. But sometimes it’s just not a match, I guess.

Telling Her What to Wear

I have in the past thought it kind of funny that girls would ask me to tell them what to wear. My feminist/analytical brain would pipe in with interpretations of beauty, insecurity, self-worth – but I really don’t see it that way anymore.

I see it as part of the larger conversation of gender as a fetish, as a performance, as a subversive display of sexualized gender presentation. And I see it as a very specific toppy/bottomy play, more specifically butchtop/femmebottom play.

It has also at times made me uncomfortable when girls wear things – or buy things – specifically for my tastes. I do have a couple particular enjoyments when it comes to femme clothes & shoes, and it is quite a gift when girls work to dress up for me.

I’m not sure why it’s hard to accept. Possibly because it’s hard for me to accept gifts in general, that giving is easier for me than receiving (I am resisting the connection here to my top identity, though I’m sure you already went there). Possibly also it is hard for my desires, and for me, to really be seen, heard, witnessed, acknowledged, because if I never let you know what I really want, you can never withhold it from me.

But my heart is more open than that old wound and lesson, generally. I like to practice revealing myself. I like to practice being vulnerable, I do find great strength and connection there.

And lately, I’ve had much better language, palette, for my particular desires. This website has helped that tremendously, as has playing with multiple girls over the past two years. I’ve been actually trying to notice and articulate when I find myself aroused into a state of desire; to be mindful of when my internal butch cock stirs and to ask why, to take note of the answer.

So when a girl asks me what kind of femininity display I like, I try to tell her. I explain – without pressure or expectation – what really does it for me, what gets me going, turns my crank. Underlying this conversation is also both of our acknowledgment that femininity – and indeed masculinity – is performed for the purpose of attracting and turning on your partner/lover/date.

And taking it a step farther by telling her what to wear is a step saying, this is how to turn me on. This is how to drive me wild all night. This is how our clothes are tools for flirting, this is how gender is subtle cues and clues and a language for sexuality.

It is a top/bottom game, if looked at this way, and I see it as very empowering to a bottom (you know, assuming being told what to wear is a game she likes playing, and doesn’t feel like it is controlling or patronizing or condescending behavior).

So, where is a bottom’s power? At least in these two places: 1) in enticing desire, and 2) to (actively) giving her power over to her top. In enticing desire, she turns on her top to the point of excruciation, to the point of bottomless desire and power. And when she gives over of her power, she places her power on a silver platter and presents it to her lover on her knees.

(This is why power play is deliberate: the bottom gives her power to the top, the top does not take it without permission. Unless, you know, that’s part of the scene, in which case there is still some sort of underlying permission, some level of giving freely.)

So: I (as a butch top) tell you (as a femme bottom) what to wear on our date (a short skirt, bare legs, strappy sandals, something white). You give power to me by giving up your own choice in what you wear, by obeying a request of mine (something that always turns me on), and by wearing something enticing that follows an aesthetic I particularly enjoy.

This is perhaps where power and surrender for the top and/or bottom gets blurred. Who has the power here? She does – the bottom – because all night I am uncomfortable and turned on because I got what I wanted, writhing at the sight of her in those lovely clothes, turned on by our gender and power foreplay. And then comes a turning point in the night where I stop feeling so reactive and (have to) surrender to the power she’s giving me, to the power and sexual energy I feel building. I give over to it, let it flow through me, let this be a way to tap into my particular well of it.

I love these kinds of power exchanges. I love the push-pull, giving in, giving back, empowering each other to feel sexy, desired, wanted, powerful, beautiful.

[ What I’m really trying to say here is: I have a blind date with a girl who sent me a wonderful photo of her in strappy sandals, and this was my complicated reaction. ]

why not buy a new cock?

So we all know I <3 Babeland, right? They are a feminist, sex-positive, not scary sex toy store that includes all sorts of gender-forward products and information, their employees are educated and informed (and often dykes or queers), and their selection of toys is really wonderful for building a sex toy box – they’ve got all the basics.

For another week, Babeland’s got a sale of a few of their Vixen Creations silicone toys. Vixen makes some of the best cocks on the market, in my opinion, and if you’re looking for a new one to play with, now’s a good time.

(Plus, when you click through from my site and purchase things, I get a weee little bit of commission, which helps support my work – specifically, in July, any commissions and donations are going toward sending me to the Femme Conference in Chicago in August. And you want to hear hot stories about femmes in Chicago at the conference, right? Sure you do.)

On Butch Style: Briefs

I still remember the day I had an awakening about my underwear, much like my butch breasts / bras moment a few weeks back, where I found some girly undies in my drawer and wondered why I even owned any like this anymore.

This was years ago, now, and any time I bought new undies, they were always briefs – not “boy briefs” from the girl’s section, but men’s briefs. And pretty soon I had a whole drawer full of ’em, save a few that were my favorites. But then I discovered those few favorite pairs, back in the back, lacy or silky or whatever they were, and I realized I hadn’t worn them in years, and that I couldn’t forsee myself wearing them in the future.

So I got rid of them. I haven’t missed them once.

These days, I’m a briefs kind of guy. Yes, sometimes it’s awkward to be the only girl (“girl”) shopping in the men’s section, and I do get looks or stares or scoffs from both other male shoppers and the sales people. That used to bother me, but I’ve come to the realization that I have just as much right as they do to be there, to be shopping there, to buy clothes that I like on my body, and as I’ve developed more and more comfort in this gender-bending space, I see their responses as their issue, not mine.

I do like boxers, but generally I wear them as pajamas or kick around the house kind of wear, not so much underneath slacks or jeans, I find them too bulky. And perhaps because I’m not particularly thin, the hybrid boxer-briefs aren’t really comfortable either, they tend to ride up and I notice them, I tug at them, they itch, they annoy me. And I don’t know about you, but really, my main goal for most of my clothing is that, once I put it on, I don’t really notice it again. I’m not so into fashion, though, that I want people to notice my clothing – I would rather someone look at me and think, “Hey, Sinclair, you look great today,” rather than, “oh wow, Sinclair I love your shirt.” KnowutImean?

So, these are some of my favorite briefs that I’ve found in recent years. Comfortable, cute styles, affordable – briefs I wouldn’t mind wearing on a date. I’ve had a few questions about where I shop for my underthings lately, so here’s the rundown.

Gap basic briefs
$16 for a 3-pack
White, grey, or black

I don’t remember them being this cheap, but that’s what the website says – the ones I have are slightly different, grey and white, and I remember them being more in the $12 each range. I like these three-packs, I may have to go pick some up.

Their fabric is very, very soft, that’s the best thing about the Gap over other brands.

(Real men wear pink.)
American Apparel Baby Rib Men’s Brief
$12 each, 30 colors, XS-XL

Forgive the (cis) boy shot, you know I don’t generally do that. But the awesome colors and white lines of the American Apparel briefs make them still some of my very favorites.

Plus, you can get matching tee shirts for pretty much any of the colors that the briefs come in. Once upon a time, I read an article that claimed that these matching briefs-and-tee-shirt combos from AA are pretty much the lingerie of boy wear, meaning that girls kinda go nuts for it.

And I have to say, in my experience? This has pretty much been true.

H&M’s men’s briefs
Various colors & styles
(photo from andreasmarx on flickr)

H&M is the third store that has my favorite briefs. Unfortunately, they don’t have an online store, and they are pretty limited in their stores around the country (I don’t think they’re on the West Coast at all).

They’ve got some really excellent patterns, great solids, really cute stuff. The fabric is a bit thinner and feels more synthetic than the other two, but they are still smooth and fit well. They carry a lot of boxer-briefs too, actually many more boxer-briefs than regular briefs, so those of you who dig that style might be particularly fond of this place.

Men’s underwear guy has a review of H&M briefs with some decent photos.

So that concludes my brief post (hah) on butch style.

Alright, butches (and other masculine gals) out there: How about you? Boxers or briefs? Where do you buy your undies? Favorite brands or styles?

Femmes (and other folks who date masculine gals), what are your favorite undies to see your boi in? What do you love, what do you hate? What do you always buy your butch for holidays that she never wears? What do you wish she wore? What do you love that she wears?

review: Lipstick on her Collar

The most recent Pretty Things Press anthology called Lipstick on Her Collar and Other Tales of Lesbian Lust landed on my desk recently, and I took my time reading through it.

I love lesbian erotica books … I think for many queer women, it’s one of the first places where we begin to access the languages of lesbian desire and sexuality, and as such they can be very powerful, transformative books, not just jerk-off material but also an introduction to entirely new concepts and ideas. I’ll never forget some of the early books that did that for me, like Breathless: Erotica by Kitty Tsui and Best Lesbian Erotica 1998, which became roadmaps and secret-tellers.

I’m a bit picky about my erotica these days, though. There’s more and more of it out there, and what turns me on is butchtop/femmebottom aligned writings, fairly exclusively. I can read through other anthologies and appreciate the writing, the characterization, the plot lines (no, seriously!), but I don’t tend to find myself putting the book down to go jack off.

This book, though, has an impressive number of butch/femme scenes. This is partially because, I imagine, the anthology includes “lipstick” in its very title, thereby encouraging more of the gendered play than many lesbian erotica anthologies usually include.

Three, in particular, stand out: Kingdom Cum by Scarlett French, about a femme seducing a drag king after a drag show; Femme Princess by Ellen Tevault, about a femme in a bed death relationship who answers a butch’s personal ad and reawakens her sexual desire, seeming to uncover her own gender fetish at the same time; and Now and Then by Barrett Bonden, about a butch’s return to her long-term femme lover, which ranges from quite smutty and dirty (especially in the dialogue – “Get up on the bed, slut. Hands and knees, ass in the air.”) to very sweet and long-term lesbionic.

Don’t get me wrong, the whole book is not butch/femme oriented stories. But there are a few great ones, as well as some femme-femme scenes, a decent story dealing with body ability where one of the characters is in a wheelchair (its inclusion made me realize how very little body-ability diversity there is in these types of anthologies, in general), some strangers, some long-term lovers, and a couple of my favorite lesbian authors, including Skian McGuire and Rachel Kramer Bussel.

It seems Alison Tyler is doing some great books with Pretty Things Press, and I’m glad to see a lesbian anthology with more gender included in their catalog.

Creating Conscious Gender

Seems like I kinda stepped in it with this entire intentional gender thing! Lots of comments and emails about that one.

(Almost as bad as I stepped in it when I suggested something like “I noticed your gender from across the room” as a pickup line. Yes, it sounds ridiculous. But there’s just no other way to say that without a) objectifying, and potentially offending or b) assuming a person’s gender and potentially offending. Though perhaps that’s speaking more to my underlying Issue of not wanting to offend people than it is speaking to getting someone’s attention by using gender as a flirtation device. Maybe the more appropriate line for most folks is just, “hey, I think you’re hot.”)

I think the mention of “unconscious” vs “conscious” gender are more accurate descriptors than “intentional” vs “natural” gender. I’ve already mentioned this, but: modern gender theory does not believe gender is “natural” at all, it says gender is socially constructed. It can be constructed consciously, or it can be constructed unconsciously.

But there are ways that I can be more conscious about the ways I carry myself. There are ways that I can study and understand how gender works in this highly, highly gendered society, and figure out and choose the ways I operate within it.

So, here’s a bit of a story about what that process looked like for me:

I was raised in a very feminist household. The rejection of traditional gender roles was instilled in me from very young, by my mother especially, who didn’t take my father’s name, never shaves, never wears makeup or dresses or skirts or heels, was primarily the one to mow the lawn and help me with my math homework, etc.

Though this was deep within my family values, I was particularly susceptible to cultural standards as a teenager (I think we all are, and I have some ideas about why I was in particular, but I won’t go into that here), and I ended up fairly gender-conformist, nearly married – to a cisgendered guy – for five years. I think I had to prove that for me, the model of grown-up relationships really wouldn’t work, that all that society says is actually untrue. Of course, for some people it works just fine to be female-bodied, feminine, and attracted to men – clearly, not so much for me. I think it was precisely because I suspected that this wasn’t true that I had to really prove it for myself.

I’m also firmly based in second wave feminism insofar as I believe every person’s unique life experience is valid and important. I believe each of us is already an expert on our own gender, our own lives. I believe we all have valuable, thoughtful things to add to the conversation of gender (or sexuality, or relationships) regardless of our supposed credentials or expertise or level of study.

That’s the thing about gender – we all have it, we all live in a particularly gendered society, we all have been raised with its influence.

Consciousness-raising groups (in my understanding) started for because there was no formal study of women or the female experience. (I can’t really even imagine a culture that assumed that women’s experiences were included in the male norm, a culture that had no feminist cannon, such a lack of sources to study and know and experience. Thanks, foremothers, for women studies, for feminist studies, for all the work you did!)

So C-R groups created their own sources, using the experiences of the women in the group themselves, treating each like a text, a source, from which they could learn, from which understanding could arise and blossom and grow.

This is how I see this writing project, this community, and all of you who participate and who engage with me – as part of a large consciousness-raising group, where we are all sharing ideas, resources, and experiences to gain greater understanding of our selves, our communities, and the world as a whole.

This too is where my love for narrative fiction overlaps, where reading someone else’s story enhances my understanding of the world, where I feel less separate and more connected and, ultimately, where every story has value, especially the voices to marginalized communities, experiences, bodies, and lives.

So: growing up in a feminist household with rejection of gender roles, then going out into the world and living in a hetero relationship where we were playing out very stereotypical gender roles, then coming out as queer – all this lead me to start studying feminist, queer, and gender theory, seeking out language, concepts, and similar stories to help me explain my own experiences. And within gender theory and studies, I finally found places to get some of my questions – gender roles, gender compulsivity, gender norms, gender within relationships, the intersection of sex & gender – articulated, and then answered.

Such as:

What is gender?
How does it work?
Why are we confined to a binary? Why don’t we have three or eight or fifteen genders?
How does the sex/gender binary function?
What purpose does it serve?
Who benefits? Why, how?
How does it get enforced?
How has it changed over the years?
How is it connected with race, class, sexuality, nationality, religion, etc etc?

And once I started getting ideas about how to answer these questions, I started asking more personal questions of myself, and where I fit in to this huge, permeating, practically invisible system of hierarchy, power, and value.

Such as:

How do I feel comfortable?
What makes me feel powerful?
How do I want my hair?
What looks good on my particular body?
What fits with the way I carry myself, how I treat others, how I see myself?
What type of gender am I attracted to?
How does this relate to my sexuality?

I was simultaneously starting to come into my own as butch, partly because of the lesbian initiation process of rejecting femininity and cutting off your hair (which worked for me, though certainly doesn’t work for all lesbians who go through this), and partly because I started immediately liking femmes who dated butches and who recognized a sort of masculine ‘energy’ in me.

Actually claiming the label and identity category of butch was a more difficult quest for me, one I’ve written about a few times, specifically in terms of masculine posturing and rejecting – as a feminist and lesbian – the things that I see are so problematic with compulsory masculinity in both cisgendered men and in masculine-identified women. (More on that another time.)

Regardless of my questions and hesitations about butch/femme roles and labels, the process was definitely underway. And as it has unfolded deeper and deeper, in more and more aspects of my life, I have found such a home in it, in ways that have been seriously transformative to the ways that I operate in the world.

The basic feminist principles of inherent equality, the wide range of human experience, and celebrating the self as it is are applicable to many, many aspects of gender exploration. But I’ve found that these principles aren’t quite so active in most of the lesbian communities. Yes, there are people doing this work, but we are not the majority – compulsory gender in lesbian communities is usually a sort of gender rejection, an androgyny.

And that works for many people – which is excellent! I will always say you should go with what feels good to you, what makes you feel sexy, powerful, beautiful. For many of us, it is not androgyny that makes us feel good about ourselves, it’s another type of gender expression. There’s a huge gender galaxy out there, a huge range of expression and celebration, and so much to play with.

I don’t pretend that I have all the answers to questions or issues on gender. I have concepts, ideas, and resources, and I have reached some understandings, about both the world and system at large (macro) and my own personal place within it (micro).

I also don’t think my answers will necessarily be your answers.

I encourage you to find your own answers. To ask these questions, to decide consciously where you want to be within this pervasive system.

There have been many of you who have emailed me or commented about my recent writings about conscious vs unconscious gender, and here’s the part where I start to actually take an opinion on this: I think it’s very important to discover, stumble upon, find, or create a conscious gender. Doesn’t matter how you come to it, really, but it does matter to me that we do.

What that conscious gender might look like, of course, is highly varied – perhaps all it’ll take is a moment’s consideration, and a recognition that yeah, I’m where I want to be, that’s enough for me. Maybe it’ll take years of deep exploration and personal omphaloskepsis and meditation and therapy. Maybe it’ll take reading lots of books about the subject, or lots of blogs. Maybe not.

I don’t pretend to know what that process looks like for everybody, all I know is how it looks for me – and how important it has been for me to go through that process, which is, obviously, why I am encouraging it in others.

Look, I know not everybody has the interest in this that I do. And I don’t think everyone needs to start a blog (that becomes their part-time job) and dedicate a big portion of your free time to studying how gender works and what it means to you personally, but I really do think we would begin to move forward if we have some small moments of awareness about gender, about compulsive behavior and categories, about discriminating against butches or femmes or trans folks or androgyny.

When we understand (at least a little) how the system works so that we can begin to see how we fit inside it, and we can be empowered to make the choices that are in our own best interests, rather than in the best interests of those for whom this system is designed to benefit.

But it’s not just that. It’s also because when everybody does better, then everybody does better. It’s also because sometimes I’m lonely out here doing gendered work with a small handful of community. It’s also because, though some small circles of consciousness-raising activists are happening, most gender is still compulsory and not letting up anytime soon. It’s because this binary compulsory gendered system hurts us. It’s because trans and gay kids are getting beat up and murdered. It’s because boys who wear dresses are shamed. It’s because tomboys who want to run around shirtless are shamed. It’s because women are not safe walking alone on the streets of Manhattan at night. It’s because I am not safe walking alone on the streets of Manhattan at night. And we should be able to be safe, I want us to be safe, all of us.

And plus? Underneath some of the hard work here, it’s really fun. It’s dress-up, it’s activism, it’s subversion, it’s sexy. It’s a deep celebration of you, of me, of our interaction with the world, and with each other.

review: undercover harness

As of 2/8/16 This product is no longer available at Babeland

I was just speaking about packing cocks, so now I’ll throw you a little review of the Undercover Harness from Babeland.

I’m in the market for a new harness. The harness I’ve loved for a few years now is slipping from it’s #1 ranks because it’s not staying tight enough, so when I had the chance to check this one out, I jumped at it.

I need a new good one.

I’m skeptical of two-strap harnesses, because I like how thin one-straps (aka “g-string style”) hit my clit while I’m fucking. But I love where my cock sits in this harness:perfectly over my clit. It’s slung low, and feels great.

It’s comfortable going on & off, no buckles, pulls on like undies. There’s something appealing about that, I guess because it doesn’t take as long to mess with and pull taut and get it sitting just right.

Great for packing under clothes, since it’s smooth, no big buckles to poke into tender or fleshy places.

At first, I thought this harness was going to be too small, as the elastic was tight and even cut into my hips a bit. But when fucking with it, the elastic was even a bit too stretchy (or maybe I fuck a bit too hard) and I didn’t feel the precision that I like, the straining against leather and feeling it pulling and pressing against my hips. I like it to be this push-pull dance of pressure, not just me and my sex partner, but me and my cock, me and my harness. There is some of that with this harness, and it does have a nice push-pull part because of the elastic.

There are some great things about this harness and I’m glad to have it, but it’s not quite The Perfect Harness. I’ll keep looking.

Review: Packing Cocks 101

One of my particularly favorite sex toy stores sent me a slew of packing cocks to review – cocks that aren’t necessarily hard enough to fuck with, but which you can wear around and feel that weight between your legs, to tuck into jeans and rub up against your honey when you go out dancing, to get a little squeeze on the ride home, to fuck with gender, to feel more complete, to feel more powerful, just for fun.

Even before I begin this review, here are two cocks that Eden sells that I discussed with the fine sex educators at Eden which we decided that were not even worth reviewing because they’re awful toys.

  • The Soft Touch Penis: appears to bend like my favorite Silky, and is realistic, so I was curious. I’m told it is made of awful material which has pthalates (which can cause all sorts of bad things), smells funny, doesn’t really bend, and is not harness compatible.
  • The Blush: Though it has a slew of reviews at 5 stars (?!! Who are these people?), the material – Ultra Realistic – is awful. If it comes into contact with your skin, it can give you yeast infections. Just reading the descriptions of the material makes me nervous: “extremely porous, dirt can easily hide.” “Dusted in a powdery material” to keep it soft, but that means it needs constant maintenance. “Store each toy separately in a plastic zip bag or thin sock because the porous surface can absorb dyes from other materials. These materials are also very incompatible with many substances.”

The Futuristic Flexi-dong I did receive to review, but it’s made with this same substance. As soon as I took it out of its packaging I knew I could never insert it, and I didn’t even want to slip it into a harness and see how it packed because I didn’t want the material anywhere near my cunt. I didn’t even want to hold it in my hand! I stuck it back in its plastic bag, and I’ve barely even played with it. Sorry, Flexi-dong, but that’s a great big FAIL.

Moving on, though, to the fun stuff.

I am reviewing these packing cocks in four different categories: material (of which the above FAILED), packing, playing, and realisticness.

Mr. Limpy – I know, I know, stupid name, it’s as if they have to camp-up the fact that people without penises are making their own, you know, because that’s a step UP in the hierarchy of gender power. Mr. Limpy is pretty darn cool. This material is Superskin, which, though porous, is non-allergenic and doesn’t leak chemicals like the Ultra Realistic. So that’s the material.

Mr. Limpy packs excellently. Mwah – it’s practically perfect. It’s very limp, obviously, but that means it fits so comfortably in just about anything I wore, from tight tight briefs to loose boxers by themselves. I’ll speak to packing straps when I talk about Mr. Right, below, but I do want to note that the easiest way to use Mr. Limpy is to just tuck him into some tight briefs. You just have to be slightly cautious if you go to pull your briefs down, for whatever reason – it’s possible that Limpy will tumble out, and that wouldn’t really be good. Not only might it tumble onto some dirty floor (public restroom), but it also might be very embarrassing to have your penis roll around on the floor.

I love the way this one feels; it’s lightweight, but still has enough of a tug when it sits in my briefs that every once in a while, I remember it’s there, and I feel … comforted by my little secret tucked away.

This is the packing cock that I reach for most weekends, it’s become part of my undergarments, like a binder.

Playing … uh, no. Unless you get a particular enjoyment of receiving blow jobs on a totally flaccid cock, this is not a cock to play with.

Mr. Limpy is realistic, to a degree, but it only comes in this funny cotton-candy pink color. I don’t mind the pink terribly, but partially that’s because it’s fairly close to my beige/caucasian color, close enough that when the lights are low it doesn’t look completely detached from my body. Still, people of color would probably be disappointed with the lack of flesh-tone, and some folks who don’t like pink (I know you’re out there) would probably be put off by that.

Next up is Mr. Right & his packing strap. This is, in many ways, the packing cock that everybody’s been waiting for, and of course it was made by the amazing Vixen Creations, who make some of the very best cocks out there, and are very gender-forward.

The material is silicone. That’s right, silicone. Silicone is pretty much the gold mine of sex toys, because it can be completely sterilized, it doesn’t carry funny leaking chemicals, it can be used with multiple people (because you can sterilize it in between). Aside from Silky, which is not silicone (sadly), I haven’t spent money on a cock that wasn’t made out of silicone in many years. It’s a really great material, it’s got a little give to it, though not as much as the ultra-realistic or elastomer or “vixskin,” but enough that it’s a little bit floppy.

It is very easy to pack with Mr. Right because you can pick up this fantastic packing strap by Aslan leather that was specifically made for Mr. Right. It’s elastic around the waist, so it has some give, and the back of the little pouch is leather. The problem with the strap is that the leather backing is quite wide. I prefer my balls to hang fairly low, almost between my legs, and because the leather is wide, it doesn’t fit there, it has to be worn higher. That’s a bit annoying, I’ve found.

You don’t need the packing strap to pack with Mr. Right, though – you can tuck it into your (semi-tight, I’d recommend) briefs and be good to go.

Also, because Mr. Right is silicone, it doesn’t have the give that the Superskin of Mr. Limpy does. I also find that I hang right, by which I mean, my cock tends to get tucked on the right side of my body at the crease of my hip. Mr. Right is much more rigid and can only really comfortably pack the way it looks in the photo, because that’s the way it’s molded

All that said, though, if you’re new to packing, you can probably get used to how Mr. Right feels – it’s just because I’ve been packing with other products and prefer my cock to feel certain ways that I have a bit of a hesitation here. Despite my critique here, though, It’s still probably the best packing cock out there, and I wouldn’t give it up, I’m so glad to have one in my toybox.

It’s kinda hard to play with Mr. Right. Sure, he’s a bit harder than Limpy, but he’s still not hard. At best, you could probably give/receive a blow job, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to ask someone to suck such an unhard cock, even for a review. Sorry, just too awkward and a little ridiculous of a request.

Mr. Right is the most realistic of all the cocks I reviewed. It comes in vanilla (pictured, with a nod to acknowledging the race-hierarchy), caramel, and chocolate colors, which are a pretty good range of human skin-tone. The flexibility isn’t perfect – it doesn’t have the hardness of Silky or the softness of Limpy – but it’s a great middle.

Last, but certainly not least: my buddy the Silky. Those of you who have been reading me a while know how much I love this cock, so it’s kind of biased of me to even attempt to review it here, but I’ll try to put it in terms of comparison against the other two.

The material is elastomer, which is pthalate-free (whew!) but still porous, and must be used with a condom every time, because it can’t be sterilized. Keep it clean, people!

It packs well. It doesn’t pack as comfortably as either of the other two cocks, meaning it is bulky in the trousers, and sometimes the base is kind of awkward. It’s semi-hard because it has an internal spine, but that’s also part of what makes it great. The elastomer material is actually quite squishy and gives a little at a squeeze of a hand or mouth, it’s just the spine which makes it a little more awkward to pack with, because it doesn’t mold against the body in the same way. The spine, though, means that it can bend in just about any direction that you like, so I can (and often do) hang right and tuck this under whatever harness strap I’m using to hold it on.

Oh, you do kind of have to use Silky in a harness. It wouldn’t really sit in your briefs comfortably, and it doesn’t fit in packing straps (usually packers are held in packing straps by their balls slipping into a little pouch). I recommend a really small harness like Bare as you Dare because it’s such small material under clothes. Many of the leather ones are hot and uncomfortable when wearing under slacks or jeans.

It plays – oh gosh, does Silky play. It can be bent slightly up to have a wonderful g-spot curve, which I like. It’s a fabulous size for a blow job cock, not too big, but still significant. I’ve found that it’s a very easy size for most girls to take, not too big, not too small (though for marathon sex days I tend to find that girls want something slightly bigger, eventually).

It’s the only cock in this review that you can actually strap on and fuck with. Thank you, oh internal spine of Silky!

Here’s the catch though – the elastomer material combined with the internal spine means that the spine breaks, or even, sometimes that it actually rips through the material. I have never had the spine rip through the material, and I’ve been packing with this cock for about 4 years. I have had the spine break – in fact, I’m currently on my fourth Silky – but I have never had it break during sex. It’s broken when I’ve been packing (probably bending it the same way over & over doesn’t help), and broken when I fell asleep wearing it. But don’t let this discourage you: at this point, I just accept that the cock will last about a year, and then I’ll probably have to replace it. Yes, it’s more expensive than a silicone cock which is pretty much a lifetime guarantee, but you can’t pack-n-play with a silicone cock like you can with Silky.

There’s just nothing else out there that is comparable.

Silky is only somewhat realistic – it is fairly realistically shaped, I like the ridges on the cock, the head. But it has no balls (boo), and it only comes in funky colors – Eden carries blue and purple only. It also has a teeny little smiley face on the underside of the head, which I forget is there and tend to completely ignore. I’ve seen that commonly in from toys made in Japan.

Alright folks, there you have it – six cocks, three useless, three on a very nice scale of pack-to-play, all having their own pluses and minuses. Any questions?

If you pack, what do you use? If you decide to buy one of these to test out, leave a comment or write it up on your blog and share how it goes. We could use more discussion of this type of stuff in the genderqueer sex-positive blogosphere.

in praise of femmes: fishnets

Some meditations on fishnets, and femmes:

Alison spoke of fishnets once upon a time, and well, speaking of fishnets … it got me thinking. I have a bit of a fetish.

I have a thing for legs anyway, which is why I try not to surf sites like Sock Dreams at work, because it really does get me hot & bothered in the way that porn does. Photos like this one of the raw-edged fishnet are so very erotic to my gender-fetish brain … I’m not sure exactly what it is about fishnets, but they are just so sexualized in this culture. They’re practically fetish gear, except that they can be worn by women to offices, to fancy parties, to the opera, as dress-up, and it’s also totally appropriate. Maybe that’s it – they can be good-girl stockings, can be fancy and seen as totally normal and even some sort of traditional femininity, but they can also be so dirty, in such a delicious way.

Then there’s that little criss-cross that the net actually does, and the way that garters – if you’re using them, and oh, that’s an entire other bit of lingerie to be in praise of – tug on the net and show just a little bit of strain in holding them up. The way that the stocking gets pulled, which is so very visible on nets where the little diamond shapes get pulled. I like the subtle force there. I like the subtle strain.

I think it might be also why I like corsetry and lacing and the criss-cross ribbons that are on some lingerie, too – it’s an implied little bit of bondage, this implied ribbon that I could use to restrain your wrists or ankles, that I could use to tie your knees up and back.

Plus there’s the idea that perhaps with just one little tug, the whole thing will unravel, and leave you bare.

It’s the hint of bareness that is so much more sexy than the bare revealing itself. There’s really something to that idea of leaving something to the imagination.

And then the skin. Because the thing about fishnets, which is not true of other stockings, is the bare skin that is exposed. I can feel these tiny spots of smooth under the pads of my fingertips, the direct contact is intoxicating. You’re not actually protected by these nets, not actually held in or hidden, your skin is revealed, fishnets aren’t about control-top or nude tinting or hiding, they’re about decoration, about texture.

And oh the implied force of it all. Because fishnets rip, they get holes, they just beg to be destroyed. The stockings are layer I can (possibly, maybe, if permitted, if our relationship allows it) rip through in order to expose your skin bare, use a sharp blade against your skin and pop through the tiny tied nets, use my teeth and pull until I hear the ripping.

swag

For all you RSS readers out there, you probably didn’t notice the new animated gif in the sidebar with the Sugarbutch Chronicles swag prominently displayed.

Get  femmes, I butches, and the Sugarbutch Chronicles logo on mugs, hats, tee-shirts, sweatshirts, undies … all sorts. There’s also a few shirts that have “sugar” on the front and “butch” on the back (I like those).

And, of course, there’s some Sugarbutch Star merch as well … including some little one-inch buttons with a star, those are perhaps my favorites. I ordered some for the Sugarbutch Star contest finalists, and I custom-made a shirt for the winner, too. I’m planning to do another contest starting in August.

I’ve got some plans for a few more slogans I want to put up, too, but haven’t finished the designs yet. If you have particular requests, let me know and I’ll consider it!

Couple more things:

I updated the Community page; if you run a blog about sex, gender, or relationships, or queer politics, or gender activism, or if you comment often here, and I am not listing you, please do let me know and I’ll add your link. I don’t keep up with that list very frequently, mostly I’m using the Google RSS reader to share new and interesting sites and articles from around the web (that’s over in the left-hand sidebar).

Someone left a comment recently looking for a tux for a girl in New York City. Cookie writes:

My lady and I are getting married at the end of next year and I’m having an awfully hard time finding a tux to wear. I’m a curvy girl that would like a tux cut for a woman that will fit those curves. Do you know of any queer-friendly places in NYC to buy/have one made?

Any suggestions?

weekend, part two: dancing

Weekend, part one: flogging

I slid my cock inside her swiftly and she took it easily. Let out a little cry, lifted her ankles around my hips. I was hungry. I could feel her opening, could feel how she could be filled.

“Get up,” I said after a while. I lifted myself off the bed and began switching to my other cock, the bigger one. “Turn over.”

She started to, up on her hands and knees, and I reached my arm around her hips and pulled her off the side of the bed, her pussy at my cock’s height perfectly. I took a palmful of lube and fucked her, hard, deep.

Moans and cries from both of us as I pounded into her. Fucks like that I swear I can feel my cock thickening, getting harder, being restricted and pulled into her cunt by her tight rings of muscles. She’s discovered that she can lift her legs off the floor and wrap them around my waist when I fuck her bent over the edge of the bed if she has the right grip on her hands (because it’s just the right height), which gets my cock ever deeper.

I moved my right hand around to her clit and she shuddered, I took a small grip on my cock to test the lube and moved back to her clit, swollen like a berry on a vine, thick, slick, sweet. I moved my other hand to her hair, pulling and holding her body so I could fuck harder. Shifting my pace, slowing excruciatingly and she was shuddering and gasping, nearly thrashing on the bed.

Faster again, slightly tilting my pelvis to aim for her gspot, fingers working her clit and lips stretched taut as she thrust back against me. I felt her thighs shudder, once, twice, as she squeezed and gasped, then came, nearly yelling into the bed.

We disentangled, breathing hard, little sighs of pleasure. She pulled herself up lengthwise on the bed and I went to her, legs scissored around hers, hand in her hair, one by her hip, head to her breast. She rested her hand on the back of my head and kept it there, weaving through the short hairs on my neck. Her fingers began to unravel me, to pull me apart, so tender, and I let go.

“You’re so sweet to me tonight,” I said, pulling myself up so our faces were next to each other on the pillow.

“You never let me be.”

[ Is that true? Maybe. Maybe I’m doing something that she interprets as keeping her at a distance, as pushing her away. I don’t think that’s how I intend it (is it?), and sometimes I even wish she’d touch me more. I don’t wish it enough that I have asked for it (at least, not often, just once, the only time we showered together). ]

We pillow-talked for a while. “Did you like flogging me?”

“Yes. Very much.”

Let me elaborate: flogging is tangible power. Energy sparkling and crackling up and down my arms, my shoulders, all through my back. Rhythmic breathing, rhythmic swinging, and everything becomes hyper-sensual, hyper-senstive. I can detect a change in the air current, can hear a door open across the apartment building’s hallway. I feel her breathing, feel her breath, can see it visibly moving through her body. I sense the depth of the blows: that one too light, still too light, ah yes just right. Keep it there. Keep it just there. Then suddenly – too hard, and she gasps. I want to pull back but I so love the way she whimpers and squirms, just a little pain, just a little uncomfortable, then her muscles release, her voice releases when I let up, and that’s it, that’s the moment I crave, the supple giving in, the letting go, the release of what you don’t even know you’re holding on to.

Let go, let go. You don’t need it. All you need is this beautiful body, this beautiful breath.

In pillow talk, the subject shifted to dominance, to submission, to force. She knows I like it when she struggles. She’d like to play with that more, she said. I’d like her to say no, I said.

Then, I’m not sure how it started, but it did. Kissing, probably; isn’t that always how things start?

It’s a blur. Me looming over her, using the weight of my body (I must have more than 50 pounds on her) to hold her down. Force her legs apart. And she let out a string of words: “No no no no no,” whimpering, softly, turning her head side to side into the pillow as she tried to get her wrists out of my grip, “no no no no.”

“Yes,” I whispered, firmly. “Oh yes.”

She arched her back, tried to kick me and I got my calf against her knee and my hips between her thighs. Both wrists in one hand and position my cock.

“You’re going to take it. I’m going to fuck you.”

“Nooo …” Was she crying now? Gasping and her face felt wet when I took a grip on her hair and force her mouth to mine. It scared me a little, maybe I was hurting her (is she in physical pain? Are her knees okay, her shoulders?), and it scared me that I liked how much she was resisting me. How much I liked it when she won’t let me in.

I raised myself arms-length from her momentarily and paused. “You’ve got a safeword now, little girl. You remember what it is?”

She nodded a little, meeting my eyes briefly, and they were almost calm. Dancing. I felt releif.

“I’m not going to stop unless you use it. You’re gonna be mine tonight. My girl.”

And I pushed my thighs up to open hers, my knees sliding under her to force her pelvis up, her legs apart. My weight was shifted forward on my forearm, holding her arms down. She resisted my attempts to kiss her and whimpered more, moaning a little, cries inciting some sort of pulsing urge in my core, my pelvis, my hands in fists, down to my toes where I pushed against the bed firmly.

I slid inside slow and she shuddered, gasped, chest heaved and sank into the pillows and she let out a moan despite herself.

“You’re my girl tonight. Mine.” I said into her neck as I closed my teeth against her tender skin to keep her there, an animal instinct and she can’t move without ripping herself.

“You’re my girl.” I said again. “Say it.”

I felt her breath on my ear, her fingers clawing at my shoulderblades as she pulled me to her as I pumped my hips against her, thrusting, pressing, circling, and she pulsed under me.

Just a whisper: “I’m your girl.”

“That’s right. That’s right, baby. Say it again.”

“I’m yours, I’m your girl.”

I brought my mouth to hers, and we slid into the fuck, rocked together. Rocked deep.

the weekend, part one: flogging

I don’t usually post partial stories, but I am looking at an afternoon of meetings and work which means I won’t get to finish this story until tonight, and I wanted to post it today. Part two will come tomorrow.

Friday night. My roommate was gone over the holiday weekend.

Penny wanted to be flogged.

I stripped her bare and shoved her against the brick wall in my bedroom. She’s smaller than me such that I can place my thigh against the bend of her hips so she can lean against me as I hit her. Not necessarily hard or solid, but subtle, so she feels supported.

I hit her with my hand a while first, bringing the skin on her ass to a nice baby pink color. I kept the flogger draped over my shoulder and let the leather brush her skin a while before taking grip on it and beginning to swing.

She’s been letting me hit her harder lately. Less afraid and more breathing into it, ever since that night of the sex party where I shoved her up against the wall, pushed her dress up, and used my bare hand.

I choked the flogger and let it fall. Left, then right. Working up a comfortable rhythm of backhand, fronthand, like a ping-pong player against a wall and a fast ball. She squirmed. Whimpered a little. Her skin darkened red.

I particularly like flogging the back, but Penny is small, and her ass has more to take the blows.

I gave a few full swings, just a couple, letting go of the choke hold and allowing my arm to swing freely. We were alone in my apartment. She started getting louder with her moans and cries.

“Just a few more,” I’d say, whisper, into her neck when I paused to run my hands over the sensitive skin of her ass and thighs. “It hurts, doesn’t it. But you can take it, just a few more for me, baby.”

She did, she took it so well. I whispered a comforting “shhhhh” when she cried out. “You’re okay, it’s okay.” She started releasing, breathing deep, muscles loosening. A few more swings on her ass, her thighs. Harder and I started grunting with the effort.

She flattened herself against the wall after a couple particularly hard strokes.

“No no no,” I said, coming up behind her and pulling her hips squarely back. “You keep your ass out. Give it to me. Yeah, that’s it.”

She pressed her cunt against the seam of my jeans where she could feel my hard cock straining, and let her lower back curve in that gentle arc.

“Good girl.”

She kept her head turned toward my sliding closet doors which are covered in large mirrors. She told me later she was watching me hit her. I could see her ass and legs reflected as she pressed her arms above her head against the brick wall, and I caught glimpses of me too, still clothed in jeans and a black tee-shirt, arms pulsing as I brought the flogger up and down, gathering the tails then bringing it up and down again.

Her knees were getting weaker, eyes shining but half-lidded as I turned her body and she took her hands from the wall, laying them around my neck as I kissed her, they were heavy, leaden, and she could barely lift them with her muscle strength.

“Darling, you were so good.” I said softly between kisses. I reached around and slid my forearm behind her knees, lifting her in a cradled embrace and carrying her to the bed, laying her slowly on the soft throw blanket I keep on top.

She sighed and kissed me as I let my hands roam her skin, soft touches down her sides, her thighs, her breasts and nipples, my mouth on her neck, her clavicle, her shoulders. When my hand found the V where her legs met she was wet, open, and spread her thighs for me. My fingers slid in easily. My dick pulsed a little. I teased her lips a moment but could barely wait.

“Fuck me,” she whispered, arms reaching up around my neck, oh I love that. “Fuck me, fuck me, oh baby fuck me please.”

I tore at my belt, the button and fly of my jeans, pulled my cock out.

rufflebutt: call in fancy to work the next morning

RUFFLEBUTT: a night of femme performance at dixon place

One night only, featuring:

* the world’s hottest hula-hooping duet, Bitches with Barettes (Elizabeth Whitney and Lea Robinson);
* the Larry Flynt of avant-cabaret, Erin Markey
* the moral guidance of the Society for the Preservation of Promotion of Sapphic Social Mores (Rachel Kahn and Maggie Crowley);
* some anti-misogyny moustache advocacy from Ariel Federow.

Come one, come all: rufflebutts, fans of rufflebutts, the rufflebutt-curious, and everyone else who loves a good time.

at Dixon Place, the 10pm show on July 9th — call in fancy to work the next morning!

www.dixonplace.org * 258 bowery, 2nd floor * $15/12 students and seniors


 

review: Bonk by Mary Roach

You may remember Mary Roach from the book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, which made a big splash a few years back, especially relating to her ability to make scientific research incredibly readable and interesting to average folks. She also wrote Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. (Her titles, though clever, now after book 3 seem slightly formulaic.)

Now, in Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, she tackles sex. I was intrigued! And what I remember from Stiff is still true: her work is incredibly readable. She makes pig inseminations in Denmark, penis reconstructive surgery in Thailand, and sexual reflex studies in Cairo seem relevant and interesting. I read through chapters on testicles, erectile dysfunction, and penis implants, amused by her stories and laughing, following along with Roach’s investigation of human sexuality.

I kept wondering when gay people would start coming up. Especially when she starts discussing a guy whose genitals were “the size and shape of a navy bean,” (p159) I started wondering if that person was probably in fact intersexed, born with ambiguous genitalia. From what I can tell, this account was in the early 1900s, but I expected Roach to launch into some explanation of why someone might be born with small-to-minuscule genitalia and what and how they would be dealt with today (which would probably be with surgery, although that would depend on the awareness of your doctor). But no: no mention whatsoever of any sort of intersexuality or between-sexes options.

She discusses penile reconstruction and again, no mention of the science behind sex change surgeries like phalloplasties. Page 67 is the first place she even mentions homosexuality, and it’s only in passing, in describing Princess Marie whose husband, Prince George of Greece, was “a latant homosexual.” By page 188, her 2nd mention of homosexuality in parenthesis – “He had never had sex, never had a girlfriend (or boyfriend)” I was beginning to suspect that Roach doesn’t think of homosexuality as more than a tiny side-note.

Then, after reading through three chapters on male reproductive functions specifically (testicles, erectile dysfunction, and penis implants), we get to two chapters on women, “The Lady’s Boner: Is the Clitoris a Tiny Penis?” and “The Prescription-Strength Vibrator: Masturbating for Health.” She mentions a clit pumping device, and I found myself yet again thinking, wow, this subject leads directly into the field of trans men who opt against genital surgery but whom enhance their genitals – often their clit – with a small penis pump (or large clit pump) and encourage their clit to get larger, to become a tiny penis. That stuff is fascinating, and wouldn’t it be great if she lent her investigation, research, and accessible writing skills to that subject?

But again, no. No mention of anything remotely related. I know, these topics could absolutely be books unto themselves, but that she either a) ran into the material and deemed it completely unimportant, as to not even warrant a mention, or b) did not run into these studies or material at all, makes me think that she either wasn’t looking very hard or was deeply heterocentric in her research. If she did run across it, why not mention it? She didn’t have to go into the subjects in depth, especially because the topics of trans, gender, and homosexuality obviously intersect in well, pretty much every single place along the study of sexuality, but simply some acknowledgment of these things existing is, I think, necessary.

So, this is what I’m thinking about halfway through the book. I keep reading the chapters on the female genitals, and then the science of orgasm, and I come across female ejaculation in a footnote. I kid you not, the ONE AND ONLY time she mentions female ejaculation is in a footnote. A FOOTNOTE! A long footnote, comparatively, but still! Isn’t there more science to female ejaculation than simply one footnote? Maybe not – maybe that one footnote is seriously the only scientific study she could find on female ejaculation. But hey, isn’t that significant? Isn’t that an interesting cultural commentary on sexuality, where she’s spent almost an entire chapter on male ejaculation, sperm count, what it is made of, how far it shoots, how much comes out?

But Roach skips over all of this.

She does note, in a footnote again, on p197, that there are “351 ways to say penis … and only three for clitoris: bean, button, and the little man in the boat.” She goes on to make note that the “authors [of this study] felt this reflected society’s disregard of human pleasure, which is probably true, but I simply bemoan the lack of useful synonyms.” Well, the reason there aren’t ‘useful synonyms’ reflects the value in the culture, doesn’t it? It’s not as though we have any shortage of small, round objects in our lives – pennies, marbles, pearls, gemstones, pebbles come to mind. So what does it reveal about a culture that we don’t have a language to describe the primary source of female sexual pleasure?

That’s not what Roach is writing this book for, though, clearly. As I got into the last third of the book, though, I had to wonder: why is Roach writing this book? What’s her point? She doesn’t seem to do much except summarize scientific sex studies with a distinct lack of feminist, gender-positive, sex-positive (see chapter 10, “Masturbating for Health,” and her implied judgment when mentioning “Mr. Fred Jelly Dongs” and “Vibrating Port-A-Pussies” as examples of sex toys), and trans-inclusive perspectives. As I kept reading, I found myself wondering why it was I was trusting this person’s perspective, considering that clearly our values were in such different places.

By the end of the book, much as I had enjoyed her witty writing, I was convinced of it. She begins the last chapter describing a Masters and Johnson study called Homosexuality in Perspective in 1979, which actually addresses directly what lesbian and gay men do in sexual partnerships and how it compares to hetero couples. The penultimate paragraph, though, takes a turn for the worst when Roach writes:

Sadly, the main thing people recall about Homosexuality in Perspective … is that Masters and Johnson spent the second half of the book touting a therapy for helping homosexuals convert to heterosexuality. The team went out of their way to assure readers that they screened clients carefully, accepting only those who had turned to homosexuality after a traumatic experience with heterosexuality (rape or abuse, for instance).

… But let’s give Masters and Johnson their due. … The laboratory study of sex has never been an easy, safe, or well-paid undertaking.

Yes, they are due some credit in modern sexuality studies, certainly. But hey, why don’t we address this blatant homophobia? Is Roach assuming that we are so far beyond homophobia in our culture, and in her readership, that we don’t even need to address how damaging and dangerous perspectives like those are? Perhaps Masters and Johnson were under other pressures from homophobic fundors, perhaps there were political difficulties getting human subjects review board approvals for seemingly “encouraging” homosexuality – there could be various explanations for why they spent half of their book discussing the “cure” and how to “convert” homosexuals.

And then, to end the entire book with these paragraphs, given the blatant disregard of gay and lesbian sexuality, sex-positivity, or progressive gender understandings, leaves me with an awful sense of injustice.

Mary Roach, I love your writing. I really do. But there were many ways to validate and acknowledge perspectives that you do not understand without actually incorporating our experiences into your study of human sexuality. You were so very broad that you missed some huge, gaping holes. Hope your next study is more honed, thoughtful, and inclusive.

Intentional vs ‘Natural’ Gender

I did not ever mean to attempt that there is some hierarchy in having an “intentional gender” verses a “natural gender.” Actually, I’m kind of mad that anything I wrote even sparked those two differentiating terms, I really don’t like that distinction.

Contemporary gender theory says that there is no such a thing as “natural” gender, that all gender is a performance of some sort of impression of what gender is, of what physical cues for mating, attraction, sex, and physical communication between people.

Some people spend time studying gender, some do not. One of these things is not better than the other. I am not better because I study gender than someone who does not. It’s just something that I do, something others do not do.

I find it to be a fascinating, near endless, relevant, and insightful pursuit. But others may disagree with me – others, still, say that flyfishing, or American football, or taxidermy, are fascinating, near endless, relevant, and insightful pursuits; I don’t necessarily find that any of those things resonate with me, so I don’t study them.

But in choosing a romantic partner, a sex partner, a (dare I say it) girlfriend, I have some requirements. Yes, I know my standards are probably ridiculously high. But what can I say; I haven’t been single all that long (Callie & I broke up just over a year ago – it continues to feel like it’s been five years, three years, two years at least!), and I am not in any hurry to get heavily involved (read: monogamous) with someone. One of the requirements that I have – at this point – is that someone I date have things to add about all of this gender stuff that I kick around on a near-daily basis. I’d like those conversations to be collaborative, or at least complimentary. A slow building of an understanding of how this specific language of physical codes and symbols works.

I’m going to say it again, here, just in case it wasn’t clear enough: there’s nothing wrong with not being “intentional” with one’s gender.

I mentioned Penny’s lack of intentional gender not with judgment but thinking that this is something that I require in my relationships, and that perhaps it is not an interest she wishes to spend her time on and explore. We are both interested in sex, my interest and expertise is gender, and her interest and expertise is in relationships (she wants to go into couple’s counseling). Actually, I probably know about as much about relationships as she does about gender – I know quite a bit, in some ways, I’ve read many books, I’ve taken classes, I’m even familiar with much of the psychological theory, but it’s less my field of focus. Ditto to her and gender. She’s read the books, taken the classes. But it’s not necessarily a tool she uses to see the world on a daily basis.

As a small footnote, I had that difficult conversation with her on Friday, and we spent a lovely weekend together. We talked openly, things deepened, we got closer. I was half-expecting things to end, but instead, they got much better.

I’m working on writing up some sex stories from the weekend. I’m increasingly impressed with Penny’s kink, eager exploration, drive, and sexy fucken mouth … as a friend of mine said tonight, not only is she keeping up with me, she’s giving me a run for my money.

more on why this shit ain’t free

I’d like to clarify something about that last request for support: most of my income is not made in this freelance/fifty-dollars-an-hour variety. I think what I said was a bit misleading. (If I did make my money that way, I might call that my career and not keep up a part-time job that paid me nothing.)

What is going on is this: I have a 9-to-5 office job in midtown Manhattan (like thousands of others). I spend my days knee-deep in financial prospectuses, calculating portfolio performance data, creating pitchbooks – I’m a graphic and layout designer. (Actually, the only reason I’m qualified to do that is because I had websites and blogs online for the past twelve years, and I’ve taught myself everything I know.)

Lately, I’ve been becoming slowly aware, however, of my real talents and my real worth. Call it a quarterlife crisis, a Saturn Return by-product. It’s also self-awareness and self-knowledge, it’s asking for what I’m worth, and not accepting less-than. I’m lucky this way: I’ve had contacts, I’ve had support, I’ve had access to education (not that my degree in gender helped me get a job in finance, that was all purely computer/design skills, a hobby of mine through college).

Sugarbutch has done nothing but grow, and I have more ideas than I can keep track of. And while I made it sound like my hobbies – fucking girls, processing with my friends, watching porn – are what fuels this site, there’s a lot more to it than that. The July masthead I just posted took three hours and three dozen shots before I got one that was good enough. I research HTML and database coding issues, plugins for greater productivity, I network with other bloggers and sex bloggers, I strategize, I watch my statistics (but not overly-obsessively), I create advertisements, I write dozens of drafts, I write and rewrite and rewrite and edit and rewrite.

I’ve been keeping more track of just how much I put into Sugarbutch lately, as I’m attempting to get better control of my time. I really had no idea how much I was working on it. And as I’ve been realizing how much time I spend on it, and how I don’t get any monetary compensation from it, I find myself asking: what would I be doing with my time if I wasn’t writing Sugarbutch? I’m not saying that to freak you out, but honestly, I can’t afford to be spending all my free time writing this site. I’m stretched very thin, easily tipping over into too-stressed-to-function, and I need to find a balance.

I love this work. I do this work purely out of the love of it. I don’t do it because I expect to get paid or make a living this way, but people in my life lately have been encouraging me to see if it might be possible to do so. Maybe, if Sugarbutch starts actually paying me for the part-time schedule that I spend on it, I can downgrade my dayjob to being part-time. Maybe eventually I could work on Sugarbutch full-time! Maybe it would support me! That seems impossible – but hey, I am putting it out there to the universe.

Imagine how much more I could do here if I wasn’t spending eight hours a day on financial pie charts and stock holdings! I mean really, is that contributing to the world? Is that subversive and progressive and messing with compulsory heteronormative paradigms? (It is, insofar as that job allows me to work on my Real Work, which is this site. Maybe I should put an ad up for my company to say thanks, hah.)

It’s hard to ask for money. It’s hard to figure out what I’m worth. I may have made it sound like I make $50 an hour, but I don’t – what I’m saying is, the work I do on Sugarbutch, I give away, grateful that there is anyone there to receive it and add to the discussion at all. But I am beginning to sell this same work, writing articles, web and logo design, and blog setups and consultations, and I am beginning to understand what it’s worth, what people will pay for the expertise I bring here. I’m beginning to see the ways that I can make steps toward making this work – my Real Work, all along – my full-time job.

I know how blessed I am to be in this position, I really do. I’m so grateful for this site, this community, this audience, for everyone who visits and emails and comments and links to me and reads my ramblings, for everyone who’s told me that something I said connects with them. What more is there, really, than displaying my inner emotional, psychological, and sexual life, and to have someone say not only, wow, I get it, but wow, your understanding of that has altered my understanding, too.

So all this monetizing is an experiment – let’s see if I can actually make enough money to focus on this job, my Real Job, my real (dare I say it) purpose. It’s a custom-made dream job, just for me, after all.

this shit ain’t free, folks

Maintaining Sugarbutch Chronicles has become my part-time job. I spend 10-30 hours on it every week, at least, and I spend many more hours working on it in indirect ways – reading books about sex, watching porn, processing relationships with friends, discussing relationships, listening to podcasts, reading blogs, participating in sex & gender & queer cultural events, going on dates, and hey, even fucking.

All of those things contribute to the work that I do here.

And I feel incredibly blessed that what I do is well received. The daily traffic here continues to grow, and I’m trying to keep up with all the requests, ideas, product reviews, features, articles, and topics, but sometimes I just can’t – I have a dayjob, after all, and friends that I do like to see sometimes – it takes a lot of work to keep this site going.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve added some actual ads in my sidebar, some web-based merchant affiliates, and, now, a donation button if you feel like becoming a benefactor. I’m also adding some “Sugarbutch Swag” merchandise in the (near!) future.

Here’s some ways you can support this site:

1. Support my advertisers

I don’t get a lot of these coming through, but when I do (upper left sidebar), click through them and look around. Show your support of the folks who choose to advertise here, perhaps they’ll decide it was useful to them and they’ll advertise again.

2. Support my affiliates

If you shop at Eden Fantasys, Babeland, or JT’s Stockroom, consider using the links in my posts or sidebar to access the site. It won’t change anything in your transaction, but a small part of the sales will go to me, and that helps keep this site in business. If you belong to any web-based porn sites like the Crash Pad Series, Good Dyke Porn, or I Feel Myself, consider going through the links in my sidebar as well. I get a few (teeny tiny) kickbacks through renewals and sign-ups, and it supports what I do here.

3. Personal donations

Donors will be rewarded with Sugarbutch swag, custom smut, autographed photos of me (just kidding), a kiss, or lots of gratitude (to be determined at my discretion).

Here’s one way to think of it: I charge more than $50 an hour for my freelance work in writing, web design and web development. So, donating:

$2 pays for a new pen
$12 pays for a new notebook (I go through 1-2 a month)
$25 pays for me to respond to one comment and answer one email
$50 pays for a average-length post that is simply my personal opinion ramblings (one hour)
$100 pays for a full-length post with links and resources, which requires research (two hours)
$200 pays for the hosting costs of this domain for one year
$1000 pays for my time writing, editing, researching, designing, coding, and maintaining this website for one week

Or, if you’d like to think about it another way, you can support my romps through New York City with pretty girls, which inspires my smut writing, which, in turn, gets you off:

$2 buys a pretty girl a daisy
$12 buys a pretty girl some roses
$25 buys drinks for me & a date
$50 buys dinner for me & a date
$100 buys drinks, dinner … and brunch the morning after
$200 buys a night on the town and a trip to the sex store
$1000 buys a weekend getaway to a cabin in the woods where there’s no Internet, only a pretty girl to play with, which will renew my spirits and enable me to manage my full-time job (which pays the bills) in addition to this unpaid part-time job (which I love).

(I can see it now … dating with sponsors! I show up on the date and hand the girl a flower (“this flower was sponsored by”), go to drinks and dinner (“this glass of wine was sponsored by”), give her a good night kiss (“this kiss was paid for by”) … hah! I’m joking, of course. That’s not exactly the kind of sponsorship I’m looking for here.)

Just some ideas … of course I’ll gladly accept donations in any amount. Special benefactors will absolutely be rewarded above and beyond just their access to this site.

Use the donation button in the left sidebar.

4. Merchandise …

… to be announced, but rest assured, it is forthcoming. I’ve had some requests and I think you’ll like what I’m coming up with. I’m going to need some models for the Sugarbutch Swag eventually.

So, that’s it, for now.

I’m very open to suggestions. If you have particular things you want to see here, ideas, requests, input, feedback, I’ll always listen. I won’t promise I’ll take your advice, but hey, I’ll listen. Email me anytime at aspiringstud(at)gmail.com or leave a comment anywhere.

As always, you can subscribe to Sugarbutch in a RSS reader to follow along with my sex, gender, and relationship adventures in the future. That supports me, too.

sugasm #138: top three!

A few of you have asked about the Sugasm and why I post it … basically, in order to be part of the Sugasm, blog writers submit one of their entries from the past week and then everyone who submits votes for their top favorites. When the three are chosen, the weekly Sugasm roundup is released, and everyone who participates is required to repost the top links of the week as a thank you for their link being included in the Sugasm roundup. Basically, it’s a way for sexbloggers to show off what they’re writing, to feature the posts that we think are the best, and to direct readership to some of the best smut on the net.

It is a major source of visitors and readers from the sexblog sphere. Sugarbutch’s niche is kind of at the intersection of feminist blogs, lesbian blogs, gender blogs, and sex blogs, and as this blog continues to grow, I am continually attempting to encourage the overlap of all of those spheres.

This Week’s Picks

  • You’re going to come for me. “I imagined her, bound. Wrists behind her back, whimpering.” (Penny sure does know how to inspire me to write good smut, eh?)
  • Champagne Orgasms “I cry out, begging for him to stop, begging him not to”
  • Tie one on “He slipped his hands under my blouse and teased my nipples and breasts with his strong hands.”
  • Mr. Sugasm Himself: Sugar Bank
  • Editor’s Choice: The Look

More Sugasm | Join the Sugasm | See also: Fleshbot’s Sex Blog Roundup each Tuesday and Friday.

My Favorites:

  • You can be a PIG! Ah, Lolita! Love the new domain, you’re such a rockstar. Someday I hope to do half the travelling around to sex camps and workshops that she does.
  • Chivalry and Me Essin’ Em, being her usual articulate and progressive self about gender & relationships.
  • It’s not easy being Sexhobbyist Hah – no, it really isn’t easy. People think it’s all sex and orgasms, but it takes a lot of work, too.

what happened in June

June was supposed to be a relaxing month after the chaos of May, but it was quite busy, with Pride celebrations and the PSI workshop.

Sex:

Gender:

Relationships:
Still a few Penny stories …

Miscellany:

July’s masthead: list of five

July’s masthead came from a reader who mentioned in passing that I’m (temporarily, at least) on her list of celebrity five. Yes, that is my handwriting, and my fingers, and a carefully chosen pen from my slightly obsessive pen collection.

It’s actually pretty hard to come up with a list of butches … most of those who Penny, Muse, Lee, & I brainstormed were musicians rather than actresses, seems there’s more of us in the music scene.

In case you can’t quite see it clearly, the list above reads:

  1. k.d. lang
  2. Amy Ray
  3. Melissa Ferrick
  4. Corky in Bound
  5. Shane on the L-word
    Sinclair Sexsmith!

Hopefully it’s clear that I don’t know if these folks necessarily classify themselves as butch, but they are in the female masculinity section of the gender galaxy, so they made this list.

I’m told that this originated with perhaps a Seinfeld episode, but I can’t seem to find a link to that (youtube, anybody?). What I did find, in going through some old journals of mine, is a link to dooce’s post on this once upon a time, and my own (old!) List of Five.

I decided it needed updating. It included. Here’s what I came up with as of today:

1. Maggie Gyllenhaal
2. Alyssa Milano
3. Tina Fey
4. Audrey Tatou
5. Gillian Anderson

Who’s on your list? Butches, femmes, both, neither?

a couple small things

a) July’s masthead will be up soon, I haven’t perfected the photograph yet. If you have ideas for future masthead taglines, or photos that you’d like to see featured, now’s the time to tell me!

b) Call for photographs – butches, bust out your swimsuits. After that butch breasts/bras feature, I’ve been thinking about butch suits. It is summer now, after all, and I betcha most of us aren’t in bikinis (mmmm bikinis) or one-pieces. Let’s see how you do it up at the beach or at the pool. Email aspiringstud at gmail.com with your photographs, preferably high quality, at least 300x500px. Include your name, a little byline if you want, what you’re wearing and why.

c) For the record? Lesbianism is not a “lifestyle,” and to call it such is belittling. It’s a sexual orientation or sexual identity.

Lesbian stereotypes, reclaiming language, and activism

Yet another case in point: Butch, skinhead, wife-beating, pint drinkers? “Butch, femme, dyke – what kind of lesbian are you? Jeni Quirke explores the negativity surrounding lesbian stereotypes.”

Hey, sounds like a pretty good idea, exploring negative lesbian stereotypes, yeah? Right away, I’m skeptical of her inclusion of “butch” in that title, but I’m curious. Let’s read.

[L]esbians and bisexual women are also guilty of holding stereotypical generalisations and assumptions about each other based on appearance and personality. The words ‘dyke’, ‘baby-dyke’, ‘lipstick lesbian’, ‘pretend lesbian’ and ‘political lezza’ are too often thrown about the lesbian community, at work, in the pub or even from a friend to a friend in a jokey and cheeky way.

So why is this still happening, in a supposedly very tolerant and gay friendly society? It’s quite straightforward for all involved – stereotypes[.] … [W]hy do lesbian and bisexual women also carelessly use the terms ‘butch’, ‘femme’, ‘dyke’[?] … Is it internalised homophobia? … most women don’t even realise they have it or are displaying it.

So, when words to describe lesbian identity categories – such as dyke, baby dyke, and lipstick lesbian – are used by heterosexual or gay men who are excluded from and based in ignorant assumptions about the group, it is because of stereotyping, but if lesbians actually use these terms, it is from a place of internalized homophobia.

The use of words such as ‘dyke’, ‘butch’ and ‘femme’ from a lesbian individual or group are almost always meant in a negative way. Often, the only positive times you will hear the words spoken will be from a lesbian who is referring to herself, such as ‘Yeah I’m a butch dyke, but so what? It’s who I am.’ For the individual and for onlookers this proud and defensive statement will seem a very noble and bold thing to say. This it is, but it could also encourage the use of such stereotypes by heterosexual and non-heterosexual people.

So here she’s saying, when I define myself and call myself what I want to be called, when I reclaim the words for myself, it appears to be “very noble and bold,” but really it’s encouraging stereotypes. Who cares if it’s empowering to me in a development of my own gender identity, in putting myself in a historical and cultural context where I recognize the gendered struggles of my foremothers and forefathers and and forebabas and forepapis, really it’s just an invitation to oppress me. Not buying it.

If we are using offensive terms to one another in our own community, then what chance is there that straight people and gay men will stop using them? Are we re-enforcing the terms? And if so why are we doing this to each other and to ourselves? … Possibly the thought that ‘stereotypical’ lesbians such as ‘butch dykes’ are re-enforcing people’s generalisations and giving lesbians a bad name. … Could it be that society on the whole has become addicted and accustomed to using labels or labelling[?]

So now this author claims that butch dykes are giving lesbians a bad name and reinforcing stereotypical lesbianism. Oh, I recognize this tune.

And also, a word about labels: where we are in our cultural identity history, right now, in the West in the early 21st century, we reject labels. Pretty much entirely. Constantly, people are saying “don’t box me in,” “don’t restrict me,” “I’m bigger than that box,” “I’m more than a label,” et cetera. We are not addicted and accustomed to labels. I absolutely think it’s true that labels can be restrictive and limiting when applied without any leniency, and I think it’s true that culturally, we used to have more of a sense of defining people by their gender, age, race, economic status, ethnicity, family history, class, social status, religious beliefs, et cetera – by all of the factors of social hierarchy. But this is precisely what the various activist movements of the 20th century have been working to change, and in many ways, it absolutely has changed. Labels are generally now seen as bad and restrictive.

The well-known and common female stereotypes such as femme , butch and dyke are only there so other people and sometimes even ourselves use to categorise all the ‘types’ or ‘breeds’ of lesbians neatly away into a fileable drawer. [Emphasis added.]

Oh, now I’m just sad. The only reason butch exists is so others – or “sometimes even ourselves,” (implying, of course, how sad that is, that our internalized homophobia is so bad that we limit ourselves so awfully) – can categorize us?

Goddammit, this is just so inaccurate. There is a long history of butch, femme, and genderqueer WARRIORS who are changing laws, making strives, marching in protests, fighting for rights, being visible, working hard, raising kids, making families, contributing to thriving communities, loving, living, and being ourselves.

And now, this perspective of the author of this article becomes even more transparent: the things she is saying here are flat-out gender-phobic. Probably out of ignorance, rather than intentionally malicious, but still. This author clearly cannot imagine that any femme, butch, or dyke would ever be authentically empowered by these labels (as opposed to falsely empowered through internalized homophobia) or claiming them out of some sort of intentional, conscious, educated, contextualized narrative of queer culture, life, identity, and empowerment.

I haven’t even started about the power of reclaiming words, here, which this author completely discounts as even remotely possible. Yes, the word “dyke,” for example, has been used by outsiders to marginalize and oppress people within that group. But part of the process of legitimizing that identity is to take the words that have been used to oppress us and revision them to be valuable, which, by proxy, revisions the identity as valuable as well. This also deflates the potential of the insult: if the word no longer has any negative connotations, and someone shouts “dyke!” from across the street, we can recognize that he’s a) being blatantly and ridiculously homophobic, b) attempting to insult us, and c) stupid and ignorant if he thinks homophobia is acceptable. It’s much easier for this type of encounter not to sting, and not to be taken seriously, when we are used to throwing around the words that are attempted to be used as insults.

Aside from that, there’s the linguistics of it all: “lesbian” sounds like the technical term, like dentifrice instead of toothpaste. It sounds like something you could contract or pick up, it’s long – three syllables – and fairly awkward in the mouth. “Dyke,” however, is short, powerful, with strong, shit-kicking consonants that pops on the tongue. Stronger, tougher, thicker, more powerful.

The author of this article closes with this:

We should all join and work together to end other people’s preconceptions, generalisations and stereotypes by not doing it in and to our own community.

Yes, I agree in part – we should end preconceptions, generalizations, and stereotypes. But what this author is describing is not “doing it in and to our own community” necessarily. People – everyone, women and lesbians and yes, even dykes – have our own agency, our own ability to define for ourselves who we are and what we are doing with it. To speak from outside of a community who uses this language intentionally about the choice of using this language is belittling and offensive, implying that I couldn’t possibly know what I’m doing by using this language.

And I know some of you are thinking, “well, Sinclair, you’re a bit different than the average butch, after all,” but ya know what? I haven’t found that to be true. I have found that most butches I know are incredibly intentional about their identities, and have beautiful things to say about what it’s like to navigate the world as a butch-looking woman, often even if they don’t identify with the label, culture, or politics. Same with the femmes. Butch and femme are no longer default identities to which one gets shoved into the minute one comes out as a lesbian. Queer, dyke, butch, femme – those words are marginalized, othered, looked down upon in many ways. It takes work to come to them, work to claim them, and work to keep them functioning.

This author, like the majority of folks out there – lesbian communities notwithstanding, unfortunately – are missing some key elements and understandings of the history of gender radicalism, what it means to reclaim language, and what it means to adopt these identities. Articles like this really get my boxers in a twist because they appear to be a conscious, intentional analysis of what’s difficult or challenging within the lesbian communities, but in fact, they are reinforcing gender misunderstandings and further marginalizing those of us who do play with gender intentionally, celebrationally, and beautifully.