Archive for September, 2009
Back in April, for Sugarbutch’s third anniversary, I offered up an “ask me anything” thread where readers could ask any burning questions that they’d like for me to answer.
is it a transgender characteristic to wear a cock (with anatomically accurate balls) and feel more complete or like yourself when you are a biological female? you self ID with a lot of labels, but trans isn’t one of them. have you explored this idea? – reader
There’s two parts of this question I’d like to explore: first, my personal identity, and my relationship to “trans”; second, gender’s relationship to cocks, and my personal thoughts on that, too.
I do identify with the term “trans,” to some degree. That’s complicated, because I am not transitioning, and I do not identify as male. I feel strongly that it’s important for me to be female, a woman, lesbian-identified, and to behave and look the way I do (i.e., masculine). But insofar as people with my biological sex most often have a feminine gender presentation (setting aside the societal compulsory prescription of the feminine gender presentation), and I do not, I feel as though I am transgressing gender boundaries by my claim to masculinity and by presenting in a way that is seemingly in conflict with the (societally prescribed) sex/gender assumption. I – me personally, my identity, my work, my discussions – defy rigid, polarizing gender norms, and queer gender. I believe in taking this and that from any sorts of presentations around us and re-creating onesself in ways that make us feel good, empowered, strong, sexy, expressive, and authentic. I think we can all transcend our prescribed roles – no matter what they are, gender or familial or societal – and become ourselves in larger ways.
I don’t usually include “trans” in my list of identity descriptors. When I refer to myself as trans, it’s usually very couched in other things, like “my particular kind of genderqueer masculine-identified trans-ness.” I guess I feel like my use of trans and my inclusion in the trans communities is a bit controversial, as there are plenty of people who will jump (and have jumped) in to correct my use of this term, saying that my use of it invalidates the experiences of “real” trans people who are FTM or MTF and who are transsexual, transitioning fully from one gender to another.
So I tend to claim butch, whole-heartedly and fairly simply, really, and leave it at that. Because that’s what I am (right now, anyway, not that I anticipate that changing, but who knows, it could), and though I do think that the identity of butch includes a sort of trans-ness or a genderqueer-ness of occupying more than one gendered space at once, ‘butch’ accurately describes me much better than the term trans.
Now: about cocks.
Specifically, about cocks with anatomically accurate balls, about realistic cocks, about flesh-colored cocks and really feeling it and claiming it as MY cock, about having a cock as someone whose body doesn’t quite have one, not in the same way that other bodies have one.
I want to disrupt this idea that cocks specifically and penetration in general is a male, masculine, or man’s trait. I mean I get it: when considering human genitalia, the man is the one with the penis, the woman is the one with the vulva. But men have holes that feel good when penetrated, too, and women have fingers and tongues and sometimes clits big enough to penetrate, and a long history of dildoes, and then of course there’s the strap on cock, for when we really want to feel what it’s like to swing from the hips.
I was at a sex blogger tea party here in New York City maybe two years ago, discussing cock-centricty, when I believe Chris of Carnal Nation said (something like): “I know I’m a guy and all, but I’m not as cock-centric as you are. When I fuck, it’s with my hands, or my mouth. I don’t identify with it the same way you do, and it’s not my central sex act.”
This seems like a rather rare perspective for cis men, especially given that our entire (American, white, dominant) sexual culture is pretty much built around penises and penetration and the male erection, etc, but I think it’s more common than we’d expect.
Likewise, I have known some femmes who have been some of the most cock-centric people I’ve ever met. They drive a mean strap-on, as they say. And I’ve known some butches and trans men who are not cock-centric at all, despite that it would seemingly align with their masculine gender to be so.
Maybe this perspective of mine is also partly as a result of coming out as queer into a lesbian community which questioned cocks constantly. I have absolutely heard girls say, “If I wanted to get fucked with a cock, I’d date a man!” (Who I, duh, didn’t sleep with. More than once.) So coming to my own desire for using a cock and my own cock-centricty, while at the same time coming to a butch identity though not transitioning to male, I claimed cocks as a certain sex act that I separated from any particular identity.
Because anything two lesbians do in bed is lesbian by nature of the definition, no matter what act it is.
Unless, you know, it’s not – I certainly don’t want to devalue the experience of being in lesbian relationships and doing a whole lot of cock-centric activities, and for one of them to later come to a male identity. Perhaps for folks who go through that, the act was not exclusively lesbian, but was also male in a way. My point is, I want to squelch the fear that lesbians can’t use cocks in their sex play because it’s “not lesbian.”
That is not to say that strapping on or identifying with a cock is genderless. It interrelates to gender identity, presentation, and celebration – but which ways it interrelates depends on the individual. For me, it absolutely plays on my gender fetish and the way I see myself as embodying a masculine gender, and I LOVE to play with that during sex (as, uh, the entire Internet knows). And femmes who strap on cocks and play with them have told me that they see cocks as part of their gender, too – that part of the turn-on awesomeness of the whole experience is that it supposedly misaligns with their gender, that their sparkly pink harness and dick is all the more sexy to them because it’s femme.
I suppose there are a few kinds of cock-centricty, right – because I’d say Kristin is fairly cock-centric, but she isn’t into wearing one and fucking with one the way I am. For the most part I’m referring to folks who want to be the wearers here, who identify with it as a part of them.
If you’re cock-centric, you’re cock-centric; I don’t think that necessarily should dictate your gender identity. Cock-centricity is not necessarily a masculine or male trait. Gender identity may be totally related, somewhat related, or not related at all – I think that just depends. For me, the interplay of gender and my cock is important, and I love the way it feels to use it, the way I feel when I’m packing, the way it feels to get off while fucking with a cock, the turn-on of dirty talking about my hard dick, the ways it drives me wild to get a blow job. It is part of my masculine sexuality, but I have many other parts of masculinity that are not necessarily sexual, and I’ve explored the line between butch and trans enough that, for now, I know I’m pretty firm where I’m at. I still struggle with some descriptors like “girl,” “woman,” and “daughter,” but the other options of “son,” “man,” and “boy,” don’t fit either. So, for now, I’m sticking with butch.
I’d love to hear what some cock-centric (or non-cock-centric) gay boys have to say about this, I’m not sure how it translates (though I have some guesses). I will have to ask around.
All the episodes of the 1994 short-lived one-season series My So-Called Life are on Hulu.com, and I spent the last few weeks watching through them in my down time. I’m the same age as Angela Chase (and nine days older than Claire Danes) and now that I’ve watched it again I remember the show vividly. I wasn’t sure I’d remember it, but it turns out there are some episodes I can practically recite by heart. Like Pressure and all those scenes in the boiler room? “The whole world is separated into kissing … and not kissing … kissing … and not kissing.” “My lips feel used, but, like, in a good way.”
I miss these characters now that I watched through the 19 episodes. I have lots to say about the parental relationship, Graham’s masculinity, the character arcs and some of the slightly more experimental attempts at episodes, the infamous lean by Jordan Catalano (“you’re so beautiful, it hurts to look at you”), Jordan’s masculinity … oh there’s so much.
But what I want to write on here, real quick, is Ricky, and his finale.
If you haven’t seen it, revealing that Ricky is gay is not giving anything away. You’ll know from the first episode. The other characters know, too, but they never say it directly. Sometimes they say Ricky likes boys, sometimes Ricky confesses a crush, but he never comes right out and says it. There’s some talk of Ricky being put up at Pride House after he is kicked out of his house (presumably because of his sexuality) by his aunt and uncle, who raised him. But he never comes out and says it.
Until the very last episode, in this exchange with Delia, a straight girl. Earlier in the episode, it goes through the grapevine that Delia has a crush on Ricky, eventually getting back to him. He says (I’m paraphrasing), what if this is my chance? What if this is my chance to be normal? What if this is my chance to have a normal life? And he decides to ask her out.
The embedded video is below. I couldn’t get a clip of just the one part, sorry. I do urge you to watch the series from the beginning – if you watch this whole clip it’ll give some things away! This is the last episode, after all.
This clip starts at 34:58.
Ricky: Delia? Um, maybe we should um, go somewhere sometime.
Ricky: You know like, to a movie, or something.
Delia: I’d like that.
Ricky: Because um, I really think we’d be … good together.
Delia: Okay … but, you’re gay, right?
Ricky: Well, you know, I …
Delia: Oh I’m sorry!
Ricky: No, it’s okay.
Delia: That came out so rude.
Ricky: I try not to um … I don’t like uh … yeah, I’m gay. I just don’t usually say it like that.
Delia: How do you usually say it?
Ricky: I don’t usually say it. I’ve actually never said it, out loud.
Delia: Wow. I feel kind of honored.
I’m pretty sure I actually teared up and said awwwwww! to my computer screen, because, come on, that is such an awesome way to have dealt with this moment. Ricky struggles so much with fitting in, with feeling like he belongs, with finding somewhere that he’s accepted, and his struggles just kept breaking my heart over and over. And I just love how this was done. So much acceptance, so much care.
Ivan E. Coyote, Top Hot Butches Number Six and amazing storyteller, writer, and performer, has a new book out this year from Arsenal Pulp Press called The Slow Fix. I just picked it up when Kristen and I were in Philadelphia about a month ago at Giovanni’s Room, which, by the way, was one of the most amazing queer bookstores I’ve ever been in. Such a wonderful collection of books there, I could’ve bought twenty – I settled on three.
And, I just heard from Arsenal Pulp Press that they’ve got a promotion going on through September 30th – “FREE Ivan E. Coyote Book, Loose End, and with this download, you are also entitled to a SPECIAL 25% DISCOUNT off the purchase of any or all of Ivan’s books, SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR.”
I think I have all of them, but I might be missing one. I’ll have to double check. Hmm, maybe this is a good holiday gift – who’s on my list that would like Ivan’s books? I’m sure I can come up with a few.
Way back in April, for Sugarbutch’s third anniversary, I offered up an “ask me anything” thread where readers could ask any burning questions that they’d like for me to answer. Given that I’m writing so much these days my pencils are worn down to nubs, and that this summer has been a challenge, I’m behind on answering many of those questions.
Here’s one that I’ve thought about since I read it.
What are your working definitions of “butch” and “femme”?
I know that’s a tricky and possibly annoying question; I ask because I’m currently moving into the recovery phase of a recent gender panic/gender identity crisis. I’m in the process of moving to a more masculine gender presentation and (hopefully?) social role (thank God), and my girlfriend is femme (and I pretty much only like femmes), but then I don’t feel like my gender issues and vibes are very similar to those of the butches I know, and… I’m just really confused.
I do have somewhat of a working definition of these terms: usually I say, in the broadest sense, butch and femme are intentional reclamations and recreations of gender. There’s more to it than that, of course, and these identities are policed by all sorts of social and gender forces. But that’s a start.
But that’s just my brief two cents. I want to know: what are your interpretations of these butch and femme? What are your working definitions?
Say you run into someone who has no knowledge of what being part of butch/femme culture and what identifying as butch or femme means (which, I don’t know about you but, is very frequent for me). Or someone who has only come across these terms as pejorative? What do you tell them?
Or, think about it this way: living in New York City has taught me the strong value of the elevator pitch. Everybody’s busy, everybody’s got somewhere else to be, someone else to talk to, which is more interesting than you. So you’ve got to hook them in with something strong and solid.
So what’s your butch/femme elevator pitch? How do you explain the basics in one sentence?
I’ll have to keep thinking about mine. I’ll chime in in the comments.
I am the biggest fan of Vixskin dildos out there. I should be president of the Vixskin Fan Club. I mean seriously, they are my favorite – well, to be fair, they are kind of everybody’s favorite right now, they are THE MOST realistic feeling cocks on the market. They’re made of this material that is soft and a little bit pliable to the touch, with a firm core, so it is definitely hard enough, but it is silicone, so it is completely sterilizable.
Right there, I’m sold. Any Vixskin cock Babeland offers up, I want to try. (And I have been.)
However, the Lonestar is the first one that I’ve been disappointed in. It’s 6″ long by 1-7/8″ in diameter, a generous girth and just fine length to be sure, but it doesn’t feel like 6″xalmost-2″ when fucking with it.
So here’s what happened. Kristen and I are having a lovely time, making out, my hand between her legs, kissing, feeling each other, having a general romp, when she says, “I want you to tie me up.”
Out come the ropes. Oh it feels nice to have them in place on my footboard again, where they used to live. I was even a bit out of practice – the first thing I did was tie her spread-eagle but all the way taut, with no real room for her to bend her knees or lift her hips. I realized this pretty quickly, I suppose, because uh, if I actually want to get a cock in that girl while she’s tied up, I need a better angle, we both do.
So I loosened the ropes a bit, told her to bend her knees, gave her some extra room.
I couldn’t get a very good thrust going, ever, really. It still slipped out a few times when things got hot & heavy, and I lost the length pretty much every time I pulled out. It’s 6″, plenty long enough for fucking most of the time, I told myself – what’s the problem?
“Maybe it’s the balls,” Kristen said later. Hm, yeah, maybe. It does mean that the insertable length is a bit less. And they’re a bit awkward – they counter-weight the cock down, so it doesn’t have the same kind of upcurve that other cocks (like the Silky/Mr. Bendy!) that are 6″ have.
Then I noticed, when I was snagging the image for this review, that many of the reviews on Babeland mention how it basically points downward, that it doesn’t quite work for many of the reviewers. It’s close – and it seems like it’d be just perfect – but there’s something about the shape of it that doesn’t quite work. Sorry, Lonestar. Better luck next time.
(Don’t worry though – I changed cocks and Kristen and I had quite a good time with her in ropes, being used, being taken, just the way she likes it.)
Because that piece I published earlier this week broke through some things, I’m apparently posting like crazy. So here’s a lovely video by the folk duo Coyote Grace, featuring (self-identified) butch trans guy guitar player Joe Stevens (and #96, with his permission) and femme bass player Ingrid Elizabeth.
Voila, Guy Named Joe.
This arrived in my inbox recently:
I’m transgendered so when I strap although some of the cocks are tempting to buy, I’m not very comfortable with unnatural colors and shapes. I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of a good sized, nice material, and realistic looking cock and a nice and masculine harness. I’ve seen some on your blogs that sound good but i wanted a more personal opinion from someone that actually knows what they’re talking about.
And this isn’t the first time someone has asked me this kind of thing. I write about cocks & harnesses all the time here, but sometimes I think it’s probably a challenge to figure out what it is I’m really using, and what I use often.
So here’s what I wrote back:
I’m glad to throw some ideas your way. Sorry to say, you’re going to have to invest some money in a really nice cock. The ones that are realistic and high-quality are freakin’ expensive. But, the good news is, there are some really good ones available. I totally know what you mean about unnatural colors and shapes, they make me uncomfortable too.
The #1 absolute best realistic cocks out there are by Vixen Creations, their line called Vixskin. The material is some sort of silicone (so it is completely 100% sterilizable) that is made to feel like “cyberskin,” which is the most realistic material on the market. It’s a little bit squishy but still hard. Feels *great*, I highly recommend it. They have lots of different sizes (my #1 very favorite is the Maverick (Babeland calls it the Rodeo Rick) that is 7″x2″) and they all come in chocolate, caramel, or vanilla colors, depending on how light or dark you want the flesh tone to be.
The other great thing about Vixen is that they have a lifetime guarantee. That doesn’t cover “misuse” but if it does break down, they’ll replace it. They’re all in the $100 range, so you might have to save up a bit, but they’ll literally last you a lifetime and they are so worth it.
Most of the sex positive, feminist, queer sex toy shops carry Vixskin, like Good Vibes, Babeland, Blowfish, etc. You might want to actually go to one of those places and check out their sizes, hold them in your hands, all that, to feel what feels most like *yours*.
The Joque & the Jaguar are not *my* personal favorites, actually, mostly because I really prefer the one-strap harnesses, though it seems like most people don’t. I like the commando, and also the Jaguar G, which is the G-string version of the same Jaguar. the leather is SO beautiful and soft and buttery and I just love the design, super comfortable and incredibly hot. Same as with the cocks, it’ll be about a $100 investment, but Aslan Leather (and some of the other nice harness makers too) come with a lifetime guarantee, like Vixen does, so the investment is totally worth it.
Got a question for me about cocks, harnesses, strapping it on, or something else? Email me – aspiringstud [at] gmail.com – or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you as well as I can.
There’s something I want to clear up, especially for those folks who have only been reading Sugarbutch for the last eight or so months that Kristen and I have been dating and who have not read the archives.
Kristen gets off really easily. I mean like really easily. You already know this. She can come ten or twenty times in an evening, and then ten or twenty times the next morning. Sometimes I get tired out and she reaches her hands down between her legs, still keeps going, knows she’s got a few more in her. I’ve gotten her off in parks, in cabs, in public, with some words in her ear and my hand on the outside (or inside) of her clothes.
Uh, wait, I’m getting distracted.
Point is, this ability to come often and easily, in my experience, very rare. I know I am writing about it often, and that most of the smut stories I’ve written for the last eight months have involved Kristen, instead of the fictionalized stories I was focusing on more last year, but I am well aware that girls do not usually get off like this.
My ex of four years was pre-orgasmic, and did not come once while we were together. She had what she called “baby orgasms,” and though we had many hours of conversation about what she liked and what we could try, as far as either of us could tell she had never gotten off, ever.
Dating someone pre-orgasmic was completely bizarre to me when we were first puzzling it out. I remember going to my roommate and my best friend at the time, saying, “she has never gotten off! I mean like ever! Never!” and both my roommate AND my best friend responded with, “yeah, so? I, uh, never have either.”
Suddenly I felt like I was the weird one, for having masturbated (to orgasm) since I was maybe 12. So I did what I do, I went to the internet, and I read some books, and I asked the folks at Babeland for sex toy ideas, and I watched some Betty Dodson DVDs – I did my research. Turns out something like 4-5% of women are pre-orgasmic or non-orgasmic.
I’m sure not much more than that, if any, get off like Kristen does, so that still leaves another 80% of us somewhere in the middle of those two, getting off sometimes but not always, or getting off with our hands on our own but not with partners, or coming from clitoral stimulation but not from some sort of something inserted inside. Some folks need very specific stimulation in very specific ways. I’ve said in the past that the first time I have sex with someone, I don’t really expect either of us to get off, since we just don’t know each other’s bodies well enough for it yet. It often takes a lot of time, and work, to get the perfect factors in place.
I think I’m a bit more bold now about just flat out asking, “what gets you off?” or asking her to put her fingers on her clit, but I fully recognize that I basically have to re-learn how to get a girl off every time I sleep with someone new. There are some similarities, sure! – thank heavens – but what one person wants might be precisely what is very painful for another.
It is awesome – in the sense that it inspires fucking awe – that Kristen gets off the way she does. I love it. In some ways it’s practically the ideal, for a butch top who wants a femme bottom lover, someone I can just play with and fuck and fill up and get off until she’s begging me to stop, and then I get her off a few more times.
But just because it is an ideal doesn’t mean there aren’t other ideals, or that she’s just had it so easy because that’s the way her body is built – she used to feel incredibly guilty for her interest in sex, her ability to get off, her ability to ejaculate, her own desires. In her words, “I used to only come by myself, but then I learned how to trust people better, and dated non-assholes, and started having the kind of sex I wanted to have.”
Part of my point here is, nobody’s journey to sexual empowerment is easy. Just because Kristen’s or mine or anybody’s appears to be “ideal” doesn’t mean it hasn’t had its problems and complications. In fact, one of the reasons I started Sugarbutch to begin with was because I was not having the kind of sex I wanted, and craved, and I didn’t know how to get it. (Can I just have a moment, a smile, at no longer having that problem? Hell yeah.) But getting the kind of sex that you want means you have to figure out a) what it is you want in the first place, b) how to ask for it, c) how to turn down sex that isn’t it, and d) how to keep it alive and growing. Those are fucking hard challenges, way harder than they sound, and they sound pretty hard.
I’m not attempting to glorify what Kristen’s body is capable of so much as I just want to write and share my sex life, because I love writing about what I did last night and I love how Kristen loves being written about and I love dialoguing with people about making their sex lives better and I love storytelling. I definitely want to be with somebody who really likes sex, but ejaculating and multiple orgasms are not a prerequisite for that.
There are many, many different ways that girls get off, and the ways Kristen does is just one person, just one example. There is nothing wrong with the way her body works, no reason for her to feel ashamed of what it does, just like there’s no reason for you to feel ashamed of what yours does, either. The challenge is to really figure out what it does, what it likes, and be okay with that.
You know what sucks? Not getting off. And I really didn’t realize how often I did (ahem, just about daily) or how comforting it is for me as a nightcap or a pick-me-up until I spent the last six weeks crashing on my own couch or sleeping over at Kristen’s house. Not that Kristen wouldn’t have minded if I had jacked off before bed, I’m sure, but usually it didn’t even occur to me, not the same way that it had become just part of my nighttime routine when I was home alone.
About two weeks ago, Babeland offered up the Off With Your Head attachment for the Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator, one that I’ve been coveting for a while now. When I purchased my Hitachi in college, I was impressed with the vibration, but it really wasn’t specific enough or delicate enough (hah! If there is one thing the Hitachi is not, it is delicate) and I specifically remember a discussion with one of my colleagues at the writing center where I worked where she said, “get the attachment.” And I said, but I don’t really like insertables, I’m not looking for something to go inside … and she said “no, no, I get it, I know, get the attachment, use that on your clit, it’ll be better, I swear, trust me.”
And so I did, and she was right. An attachment like the Gee Whiz silicone attachment or the G-Spotter focuses the vibration and makes the otherwise overpowering vibration of the Hitachi more specific and concentrated, which is precisely what I needed.
So that was what, six years ago? And now that I’m used to the Hitachi, other vibrators seem awfully worthless. I do think there’s a little truth to the rumor that vibrators make you less sensitive – I know my sensitivity changes depending on what kind of sex acts I’ve been frequenting. But there are other factors too – like what time of the month it is, how I feel about my body, how connected I am to myself or to my lover. So the strength of the vibrator not the only contributing factor to my own sensitivity, but it does make a small difference, and the teeny vibrations of other vibes are just not enough. Although, to be fair, they weren’t enough for me even BEFORE I used a Hitachi, which is the major reason why I got a Hitachi to begin with. I’m just not as sensitive as some of you.
But honestly, I have yet to run across another vibrator that would be my go-to as often and as much and as effectively as the Hitachi. All the high-end vibes that are on the market now, well, some of them are very pretty, and seem very fancy and high-tech, but this is the Cadillac, the classic. I don’t need bells and whistles, just vibration.
It was only very recently that I discovered that the white head of the vibrator comes off, and can be replaced by this fabulous silicone one by Vixen. Makes so much sense – it’s sterilizable, so you can share it with someone and sterilize it, and plus it’s got these ridges and bumps and edges that focus the vibration in the same ways that the G-Spotter and Gee Whiz attachments do, but without the protruding part made to actually penetrate. Which stores better in the toolbox I keep next to my bed, with all the things I want easily accessible, and visually I like it better anyway.
So the Off With Your Head attachment arrived, just about the time that my bed was starting to be bedbug-free, and we spent an hour or so getting to know each other – the new Hitachi head, my bed, and me.
I even mentioned it on Twitter:
Getting off that day, I realized I didn’t really remember the last time I did that, which was unusual, and choked me up a little, actually. You know how sometimes you’re so inside of something that you can’t recognize even what a big deal it is? Today I ran across an old post from Havi saying, “Sometimes we can’t notice that we are in pain and sometimes we are so entangled in our own pain and distress that we aren’t able to pay attention to someone else’s pain and distress.” And while I’m sure that’s true, there’s also the aspect – for me – of being so wrapped up in the pain and distress and so focused on getting out of the pain and distress that I don’t even see the kind of pain and distress I am in. I should’ve noticed that things that I do to take care of myself – like yoga and meditation and masturbation – were slipping away from me, but I didn’t really. I gave them lip service, I thought I was keeping up, but I wasn’t, not really.
I hope this can go on my own personal record as something to note, that if I stop doing things like having a masturbation practice, there is probably something wrong.
Oh – I didn’t really mention the fantastic addition to my masturbation collection, but hopefully that’s obvious. The Off With Your Head attachment has become pretty much permanently affixed to my Hitachi.
And yes, I’m using it much more frequently now, and I feel so much fucking better, thank you for asking.