Archive for October, 2010
November’s Dangerous Mammals Tour
at Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
with S. Bear Bergman, Ivan E. Coyote, Jessica Halem, and Tania Katan
Find out more about the readers!
Tuesday, November 9th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
East Village, New York City
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook!
I haven’t been reviewing many products lately, on purpose. I’m getting a little bored reviewing products. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have the chance to play with these toys, and I still have some things to tell you about, but I’m being pretty picky about what I consume and what I say I will write up here and what I won’t.
This one, though, is worth a mention.
This is the new VIP Super Soft from Tantus. It’s not quite available yet, but they are taking preorders. Tantus sent one to me (and one to Diana Cage) to make it’s debut at the Butch Voices NYC Regional Conference. They sent two other cocks to be given away during my Cock Confidence workshop, which was really fun to do, and I kept this one for myself.
Especially when I was single and dating, having a packing cock was extra important to me (remember my motto: It’s better to have a cock and not need it than to need a cock and not have it), and I did quite a bit of research about what could pack and play, and what was just for packing or just for playing. It turns out, there is very little out there that can pack and play comfortably.
In my opinion, I found the Silky to be the only cock that you can comfortably pack and play with.
Until now! The VIP Super Soft is exactly made for that. So I put it to the test. Does it work?
From the former comparison on pack and play cocks, I’ll talk about this one with four components: materials, packing, playing, and realisticness.
Tantus cocks are all made from medical grade silicone, and this one is no exception. It is also Tantus’s “super soft” material, which is somewhat like Vixen’s Vixskin, but a little bit softer, and feels less porous. It doesn’t have the hard inner core that Vixskin does, however, which is what makes it easier to pack.
Yeah, it packs. It’s easy to pack. Metis Black, president of Tantus, wrote on Twitter yesterday: “Just read a review of someone who thought the Super Soft VIP was “too large to be worn discreetly” as a packer.” But in my experience, that’s not true. Packing is half in the cock and half in the pants, though—if your pants are too tight, any packer is going to be really obvious. And if that’s not what you’re going for, I’m sorry, but you’ll probably have to get some baggier pants if you want it to be a bit more discreet. I tend to go a little baggy (a style I have adopted in recent years in part because of the packing, I’ll admit), so I had no trouble with discretion whatsoever.
Because it’s soft enough to pack with, it’s kind of hard to fuck with. It is hard enough, sure, but only for some light play, nothing too heavy bang-bang-banging, because it’s going to be a bit too floppy and probably won’t stay in place. But for lighter stuff? Sure! And for blow jobs? Yeah, it’s really quite nice for that. Good length, good size (6.5″ long by 1.7″ in diameter), not so hard.
It is semi-realistic … the shaft is smooth, not veined or textured really, but it does have a head and balls, and it comes in three skin-tone colors of vanilla, caramel, chocolate (or whatever flavors Tantus calls them). I’m still waiting for a company to come out with more subtle shades of skin tones, but meanwhile we’ve just got these three basics.
It’s got a great curve to it so it stays a bit more erect than some other cocks which are just straight, and it hits some good spots while playing.
Any other suggestions?
It needs a slightly smaller O-ring than I usually keep on my harnesses, so it has popped out more than once at the top while I was wearing it. Pretty easy to fix, either by just shoving it back in there or by changing up the O-ring to something smaller.
This is the video by Tantus for the regular silicone VIP, that is not the super soft material. You can see the size a little better, and the curve, so it’ll give you a better feel for how it looks.
I’m glad to add this one to my collection, and I’ll definitely keep packing with it. I don’t think it’ll break quite as easily as the Silky, which will be a good change.
It is always different to fuck somebody new. New skin, new lips, new way she kisses, new way she writhes, new way she comes. I don’t keep a lot of assumptions the first time. I don’t expect us to get off, I don’t expect to be able to tell when she comes, if she does. I don’t expect dirty talk, I don’t expect a lot of communication about what’s what. Of course I do my best at all of those things—but with someone new, you just never know. Maybe it’s the chivalrous service top in me, but I watch for cues and tend to take them from her, as best as I can.
Which is how I ended up stroking my cock, still wearing my tee shirt, my back up against the wall in my room, watching Kristen get fisted. By someone else.
After watching her get seduced.
Kristen and I had both noticed Gabrielle when we met her at a queer event a month or so before, so when she was in town this time, we made sure to make plans to meet up for a drink. Who knows what will happen, I told myself. Kristen told me she thought Gabrielle was pretty, and slutty and smutty and loud-mouthed enough to be that big river of energy that Kristen often seeks in those close to her. Gabrielle was running late. No ETA exactly. When we went off to meet her, I was a little bit skeptical about whether she’d even show. “I half expect to get stood up,” I sort of joked.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see Gabrielle. When I thought about it later, I realized it was because I had no part in setting up this date. Kristen and Gabrielle arranged it, and though Kristen texted me to ask where we should meet up (the dyke bar in Brooklyn, of course), I had almost no part in the asking, the saying yes, the gauging of how interested or not Gabrielle might be.
All night, I had trouble reading Gabrielle. I was interested, and curious about her—she’s a smart, hot femme who it seems can make anybody laugh. Her style is cute and chic. She’s short, a little shorter than Kristen even, who is 5’2″, and not thin but not so heavy, just enough that I want to grip the flesh on her thighs. She talks a lot, and says interesting things about all sorts of things—being poly, education, being an artist. I liked her immediately when we met.
But I couldn’t tell what was going to happen. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on the conversation; I sometimes felt like the third wheel. I’d bring the conversation around to sex, but it didn’t take long for Kristen and Gabrielle to start talking about other things, like the socio-economic makeup of the cities in which they lived, or the queer community friend politics.
I didn’t try too hard. The conversation was interesting, I jumped in occasionally. Mostly, it was fun to watch them banter back and forth.
Kristen had just made a pie, so we had a good excuse to take Gabrielle back to our place for a slice of it. They talked more. It was getting late. Finally, they started kissing, making out, on the couch. Gabrielle pushed Kristen down and worked her hand between Kristen’s legs, Kristen grasped at her back and shoulders and came once, twice.
“Can I take this off of you?” Kristen asked her, pulling at Gabrielle’s dress.
“Somewhere darker,” she answered. And we went into the bedroom. Read More
For years, I have been collecting rocks.
My mother and my sister who do astrological charts say it’s because I am severely lacking in earth elements. I used to always keep rocks in my pockets, to touch them, polish them with the oils from my fingers.
The beaches are covered in pebbles where I grew up, glacial pebbles, scraped clean and traveled through a river of ice to come down to be lapped and soothed by the tides. I used to stack them, or gather a bunch of white ones and make a spiral, or fill my pockets full when I went home for a visit.
Then, I started collecting them from places I visited. Central Park the first time I visited New York. the south coast of England where my dad’s girlfriend lives. Paris, Edinborough, Chicago, Ocean Shores in Oregon, New Orleans, the Jersey Shore, Japan, Arches National Monument in Utah.
And when friends went places, they started bringing me rocks back, too. Greece, El Salvador, India. if someone asked me what I wanted from somewhere, I would say, pebbles. beach rocks. Interesting rocks that show the land of a place.
Can you see where this is going?
I have a massive rock collection.
And now, I’m finding that my collections are shifting. Where I used to collect pins, matchbooks, key chains, I am now collecting sex toys, cufflinks, ties. I’ve always collected books; that continues. But my tastes are evolving. My grounding is evolving. I want and need different things surrounding me than I used to. I finally know what Things are useful in my life, because I’ve finally found a path, and I no longer wonder if perhaps one day I’ll get back to being a great jewelry maker, or greeting card crafter, or guitar player.
And after moving the rock collection across the country, and never really doing anything with it, just leaving it in a box after all these (five and a half) years, I’m thinking it’s time for them to leave my care and possession.
The problem is, I’m not sure what to do with them.
I used 180 of them for the keynote ritual in the Butch Voices NYC regional conference. I wondered, when I volunteered to use my collection, if I would have enough. 180 is a lot, right? But it barely made a dent in my collection. I had no idea how many rocks there were in that box, where I’ve finally consolidated all of them.
I could take them to a beach, or a forest, and leave them there, but that seems … unfitting. Plus, most of the beaches and forests around here are not so full of beach rocks or pebbles, and it’d end up being an odd pile of rocks that clearly don’t belong. I could scatter them, I suppose.
I could donate them to a yoga studio or meditation studio or preschool.
They might be useful in a garden, especially the nice ones. But I don’t have a garden. I do know of some gardens around here, but I don’t know who runs them or how to get in touch with them. But I keep thinking they should go back to the earth, somehow.
What do you think? What can I do with this rock collection? Something creative, not too difficult, useful?
Syd London, the official photographer of Butch Voices NYC, has posted the first of the Butch Voices photos!
Here’s the Speed Friending event from Anti-Diva at Dixon Place on Friday, September 24th, 2010. I love how these shots turned out.
You might recognize me & Kristen in those shots. Or you might find a shot of Kristen flirting with the bartender. Maybe.
Thanks, Syd, for all your hard work! Can’t wait to see more of ‘em.
Maybe you remember that Ellis is Top Hot Butch #53 from the 2009 list. Maybe you’ve been a fan of her folk-rock guitar for a long time, maybe you even already have “Right On Time.”
But me, I had lost track of her work in recent years, I think the last album of hers I have is “Everything That’s Real” from 2001. And I’m thrilled to rediscover her work and to support this new album. And WOW is it amazing. I’m still playing the title track and track #7, “Without A Compass,” over and over. Do consider purchasing & downloading Right On Time—if you like this kind of music, you’ll like this new album.
I’m taking part in the Scarleteen 2011 Fund Raiser and Blog Carnival! Thanks to Scarleteen and best price cialis ukblog.com/2010/10/12/the-scarleteen-2011-fund-raiser-and-blog-carnival/”>AAG for organizing this, it’s a great idea.
My day is November 15th, the last day of the carnival. They are expecting multiple authors every day, so you can still sign up and be part of the carnival. Tess kicked off the carnival today with a piece about talking to her daughter about sex.
I have long followed Heather Corinna’s work, and Scarleteen has been an invaluable resource to me for more than ten years now. I love that site and I want to support it in many ways. Wish I could toss ‘em hundreds of dollars, but that’s just not possible for me right now. Don’t know Scarleteen yet? Time to get to know ‘em.
Scarleteen has been the premier online sexuality resource for young people worldwide since 1998, and has the longest tenure of any sex education resource for young people online. We have consistently provided free, inclusive, comprehensive and positive sex education, information and one-on-one support to millions, and have never shied away from discussing sexuality as more than merely posing potential risks, but as posing potential benefits, something rarely seen in young adult sex education. We built the online model for teen and young adult sex education and have never stopped working hard to sustain, refine and expand it.
Hope you’ll participate in some way, be it writing about Scarleteen, sex education, or sending some money over their way. Watch for my post about it coming in November.
Two brunch events coming up! Perhaps I’ll see you there?
Cafe Orlin, 41 St Mark’s Place in the East Village of New York, NY
Saturday, October 16 · 11:00am – 12:30pm
Please make sure to RSVP on Facebook (or email me) so I know how many to tell the Cafe to expect
Join us for an informal hang-out and socializing following the Butch Voices NYC Regional Conference.
Who can come? Anybody! It’s intended to be a space for butch-identified folks of various identities: butches, studs, ags, anyone masculine-of-center. If folks who are not butch identified would like to attend, that’s fine too, but do realize that we’ll be talking personally about our own identities as we get to know each other. It is not necessary to be butch-identified to attend this brunch, but it is encouraged.
Butch Brunch is co-sponsored by Butch Voices NYC and Sugarbutch, so we are adapting Butch Voices opinions about what butch means. From ButchVoices.com: “We are woman-identified Butches. We are trans-masculine Studs. We are faggot-identified Aggressives. We are noun Butches, adjective Studs and pronoun-shunning Aggressives. We are she, he, hy, ze, zie and hir. We are you, and we are me. The point is, we don’t decide who is Butch, Stud or Aggressive. You get to decide for yourself.”
And secondly …
Saturday, October 23rd, 12:00pm noon
LGBT Center, 308 West 13th Street, West Village of New York, NY
Queer Comic Kelli Dunham (aka Sister Mercy) was not a very good nun. She had what the sisters called “insufficient docility” and “too much self esteem.” Because of this, Kelli was held back in pre-aspirancy for a year and a half. This is the convent equivalent of failing preschool 18 times. On Saturday, October 23rd, her 15th anniversary of leading the convent (down to the day, the Feast of the Assumption) Kelli will share the story of what a nice queer like her was doing in a convent like that.
With food by Kitchentop Catering.
Spinach and cheese quiche
Cranberry scones w orange and honey butter
Butternut squash and chickpea salad
Fall green salad
Pumpkin swirl brownies
(yup, all made from scratch)
Buy your tickets ahead of time! Tickets are 15 bucks in advance (includes brunch and the show and some very um, special surprises) and 18 bucks at the door IF they are available.
Today is the last day on The Great Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation Blog Tour, and I’m closing it out. Thanks, Kate and Bear. Thanks, Seal Press.
It’s a fantastic book. I laughed, I cried. Would you expect anything less?
There were a lot of pieces about trans experiences, not as in one singular trans experience, but people writing about their lives and what it’s been like to have the experience being gendered like they are in the world. A few other pieces were by cisgender femmes—but I have yet to read a piece in there talking about butch experiences. Now, it is a book focusing on trans identity, primarily, so maybe stories and essays about butch experiences don’t even belong here. That’s okay, I don’t have to see myself reflected in every single book about gender, sometimes it might not fit.
But it got me thinking: what’s my relationship to the term and identity “trans?” Is butch a trans identity? And what are the ways that I am a gender outlaw?
I do see butch as falling under the trans umbrella, as a sort of trans identity, because butch is a masculine identity on a woman (or, should I say, “woman”), and that is not what our culture defines as what a woman does. I am trans in that I transcend the binary, I transform the binary. I believe in more than the binary, and partly because of that I also believe that a masculine expression on a female body is a completely legitimate expression of “woman,” and that therefore it may not be a trans identity.
However … that’s not the dominant cultural acceptance of the way woman-ness can be expressed, that’s for sure. And I have learned more about gender—both mine and cultural systems of gender—from the trans movements than anywhere else. I find my gender has more in common with many trans folks than it does with anybody else, in part because of the intentionality and thoughtfulness behind it. So I still have an identification with trans. Though not without hesitation—which is why I say “a sort of trans identity” whenever I’m talking about it. I do understand how it could be, and I understand how it could not be. I guess I fall somewhere in the middle, sometimes feeling more trans than not, sometimes feeling not trans.
Regardless, though, a butch identity is outside the law, and is an outlaw. In this case, it’s not necessarily that I’m outside of the actual legal law, though we could talk about the ways that we still haven’t passed an ERA (wtf?) and that my sexuality in this country makes me a second-class citizen, but we’re not talking about sexuality here: we’re talking about gender.
And my gender, though perhaps not outside of the legal law, as it is no longer dictated that I wear at least five pieces of women’s clothing (can you imagine!? It was not so long ago), is outside of social law. Society has certain laws that I break all the time, by crossing back and forth between “male” space and “female” space, by presenting masculine in this world, by passing sometimes and not passing other times, by dating women, by being a feminist, by challenging misandry and misogyny and other ways that masculinity is constructed.
Here’s some other ways I’ve been thinking about that make me a Gender Outlaw:
10. I shop in the men’s department. I know this seems both like a given (duh) and like not a big deal, it actually can be. Getting a salesperson to help me is pretty difficult. Making a decision to either use the dressing room in the men’s department, or carry everything back to the women’s department, or not try on anything and make my shopping trip twice as long when I need to come back to return the things that don’t fit, can take up more space in my head than it needs to. Sometimes I get shoo’d out of the women’s dressing room, or at the very least I get disapproving and confused glances by other shoppers—both in the men’s department, women’s dressing rooms, and at the check-out. It’s more complicated than one would expect to keep shopping for men’s clothes, to crossdress, basically. And at this point, the only thing I don’t buy in the men’s department is binders (bras).
9. I visit a barber once a month. Inserting myself into traditionally men’s spaces is tricky, sometimes dangerous. Though I live in a very tolerant city, I still come across plenty of men in these spaces who are skeptical, giving me shifty sideways eyes, at best, and outright homophobic at worst. I continue to walk in there like I belong and request the same services (at the same price—which is also sometimes a problem) that any of the guys get. Aside from the barber, I get my shoes shined, I sometimes get my nails done or my eyebrows waxed—yes, I admit to a certain level of metrosexuality that goes with my masculinity. But it’s all for sex, people. I do it for the sex. And the pure joy that comes with a dapper presentation.
8. I disrupt the assumption that misogyny comes standard with masculinity. I treat women well, and I take that seriously. I do not believe femininity is any easier (or harder) than masculinity, and I do not believe it should be in a hierarchy of any time. I strive to not only believe that, but to live that belief.
7. I like what I like—I don’t let my gender dictate my interests, hobbies, or personality. I enjoy cooking, yoga, reading books, amateur astronomy, meditation, the psychotheraputic process, building community, and I don’t really like sports, or monster trucks, or remote control cars, or many of those “typical” masculine hobbies. I challenge the idea that any hobby belongs to any gender. These are human experiences, and human expressions, and human things to do, and I can choose from any one of them.
6. I research the butches and genderqueers and other masculine-of-center folks who came before me. I know I’m not alone in this lineage, this way that I walk the world, and even though sometimes it feels like I made it all, I only made myself in a long context of many others, and I pay homage as often as I can with respect and props.
5. I read everything I can about gender, keeping up with the latest books (like Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation!) I (try to) keep up with the myriad of butch and masculine-of-center blogs online, to keep hearing people’s stories, to watch as they unfold, to keep up with the conversations. I feel lucky that I have so many stories to read!
4. I see a gender identity as a beginning, not an end. As with any identity, the minute someone tells me they identify as a certain thing—femme, butch, genderqueer, gender-fluid, trans, male, female, whatever—I take that as a starting point, and I am curious to know more, not as the end point, where I fill in my own assumptions about what that means. I keep my assumptions in check. I keep my inner gender police in check, and instead of expressing anything like, “Whut? You don’t seem x to me,” I ask, “Oh? What does that mean to you?” It’s a starting place, a jumping off point, not something to close down the conversation.
3. I make friends with straight men—or at least, I’m friendly with them—to challenge their assumptions about masculinity (and butch dykes). I don’t see them as the enemy. I don’t assume they’re all the same. I challenge misandry in the queer circles. Marginalized communities, especially those who have come up from the lesbian and feminist histories, have a lot of man-hating built in to them. (I know, I’m not supposed to say that, but it can be true.) There is a difference between challenging a system of patriarchy vs challenging an individual man, who may or may not be as much of a subscriber to feminist beliefs as any of us are. Aside that, many queers are skeptical of masculinity—I have seen that as I get further into my identity as butch, and I’ve seen it happen to many of my trans guy friends. I do my best to challenge it when I see it, and ask what’s behind that comment, jab, or joke. Gently, and kindly, but still, to challenge.
2. I am a fierce feminist, and see the intersectionality of many different kinds of oppression and do my best to analyze and check my own privileges while standing up for those that are marginalized and oppressed. I think most homophobia and transphobia is still about a basic, fundamental sexism that believes men are better than women and therefore masculine-identified people are better than feminine-identified people, and I think the feminist theories can be a way to untangle those underlying cultural beliefs systematically.
1. I love my body. I just heard Tobi Hill-Meyer read a piece at the spoken word performance at Butch Voices Portland about how much of woman-ness is tied to hating one’s own body, and it really resonated for me. Despite being raised a bit non-traditionally, despite growing up into a butch gender, most of us are taught by this culture to hate our bodies, and I continue to treat myself with care, respect, and love, in the face of a culture which would have me buff, pluck, shave, cut, dye, powder, or hide the skin, stretch marks, and “flaws” of my body.
What do you think, y’all? Did I forget something? What are the ways that YOU are a gender outlaw?
Don’t forget to pick up Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation at your local queer feminist bookstore.
You’ve probably read Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein, published in 1995. (If you haven’t, you should.)
Kate’s premise in the original Gender Outlaw is that ze is neither a man nor a woman, and discusses hir stories in forming a trans identity. It was one of those books that sunk into my stomach like a stone, that I gobbled up in a weekend, thinking, oh my god there are people like me out there. Not only that, but there are mentors on this path, there are people who have been deconstructing these identities—and building them back up in our own ways, let’s not forget that part—and changing the ways we perceive gender to work in this culture. That book was a revelation, for sure—it is widely used in college classes and read by all sorts of gender outlaws.
But now, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation picks up the premise of the original Gender Outlaw and runs with it, telling stories of the many, many ways that gender outlaws struggle, celebrate, and live.
I could write something about each individual piece, what it meant to me, what I thought about it, how meaningful it was, what I liked or (occasionally) didn’t like. I could mention Katie Diamond and Johnny Blazes’s graphic essay about the many meanings of “trans,” like transgress, transcend, transpire, transform, translate. I’d love to mention pieces by Sassafras Lowery and Tamiko Beyer (both of whom have read at Sideshow), and my friend Fran Varian’s piece about gender and class and respect. I could say something about every piece in this book—even the introduction, a smart and sassy IM exchange between Bear and Kate about the contents of the book, what it’s been like for them to edit it, and the state of gender outlaws in general.
Julia Serano’s piece has been sitting in my head for days as I chew over it. She’s such a genius, I am seriously crushed out on her brain. In her piece, she takes that entirely too commonly heard phrase, “all gender is performance,” and explodes it:
Instead of trying to fictionalize gender, let’s talk about the moments in life when gender feels all too real. Because gender doesn’t feel like drag when you’re a young trans child begging your parents not to cut your hair or not to force you to wear that dress. And gender doesn’t feel like a performance when, for the first time in your life, you feel safe and empowered enough to express yourself in ways that resonate with you, rather than remaining closeted for the benefit of others. And gender doesn’t feel like a construct when you finally find that special person whose body, personality, identity, and energy feels like a perfect fit with yours. Let’s stop trying to deconstruct gender into nonexistence, and instead start celebrating it as inexplicable, varied, profound, and intricate. —Julia Serano, from Performance Piece, published in Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation and reprinted in full by Jezebel
Just, chills. I love what she’s saying here. I feel like I have my own piece in conjunction or response to that one. In fact, I feel like I have twenty pieces about gender that I’m itching to write, after reading this book.
I’m so glad I had the chance to check out this book, it’s definitely going to be something I recommend all over the place and mail as gifts. It belongs on my essential reading list, for sure. I’m excited to contribute to the virtual blog tour, as well! It has been amazing—just check out Riot Nrrd Comics’ graphic review, as a great example, and read through the rest of them if you like.
Just in case you haven’t seen it, and if you can’t wait to pick up this book and you want more Kate right now, check out Kate’s contribution to the It Gets Better Project. And you can always follow @katebornstein & @sbearbergman on Twitter. If you’re in the New York City area, you can also come in to Bluestockings Bookstore tonight, Friday October 8th, for a reading from Gender Outlaws!
Pick up a copy of Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation direct from the publisher, Seal Press, from your local independent feminist queer bookstore (if you want them to stick around), or, if you must, from Amazon.