Archive for October, 2011

Femme Conference Will Be in Baltimore, August 2012 and the Question: What is even DISCUSSED at a “femme conference”?

October 28, 2011  |  essays, miscellany  |  8 Comments

I caught sight that the 2012 Femme Conference dates and location have been announced—it’ll be in Baltimore, MD, August 17-19, 2012. I’m looking forward to attending and I think I can make it, at least for now I don’t have anything scheduled, so I’m adding it to the calendar. I haven’t been since 2008 so it’s time to go again.

The Femme Conference “provides a weekend by, for, and about queer femme-identified people and our allies. Every other year the Femme Collective co-creates a femme-centered space and brings you workshops, brilliant keynotes, glittering performances, resource sharing, community building and much more. Our 2012 event aims to explore how we grow, build, nurture, and align the many pieces of our communities and identities while building femme community and power,” according to femmeconference.com, which has (or will have) more details on the conference going forward.

I first saw this announced on the fuckyeahfemmes tumblr, which is brilliant in case you don’t follow it, and of course in true Tumblr style, some ignorant commentary got quickly added to the thread. Fuckyeahfemmes alerted me to that as well.

The original post:

“… really? is this an actual thing? what is even DISCUSSED at a “femme conference”…? how to continue reinforcing stereotypes and relegating people to specific, pre-determined categories based on SUPER out-dated notions on what it means to be a gay woman? laaaame.” —juliaperchance

And Fuckyeahfemmes wrote back:

Probably anyone who would attend a femme conference wouldn’t feel that they were “relegated” to that category, they would self-identify as femme (asserting their own sense of agency around their sexuality and gender identity) and they would probably want to discuss issues such as stereotypes about queerness and femininity, thus proving that “femme” is something that is constantly being redefined and redetermined, not something that is simply forced upon them. Not everyone who identifies as femme is gay or a woman either. The fact that people have such negative associations with femme identification, (even and especially within the queer community) is the reason that this annual event happens- providing a space to think through such issues in a non-threatening environment.

And of course lots of other folks on tumblr jumped in as well, including myself. I wrote back:

What is discussed? Femme invisibilitycreating femme identity in radical & responsible ways, community, queer markers …and tons of other stuff.

And by the way, femme identity is not “outdated.” There are thousands of people creating and re-creating femininity in queer contexts which are liberating and celebratory, not full of restriction or judgement, and which are created for the person to feel good in their body and with their gender expression. To lump femme identity in with some notion of the binary gender roles reproduced on “gay women” is to seriously miss the gender revolution that is happening right now.

Ohbettinadear responded:

yikes. it’s so seriously sad to me that some queer women don’t undertand that no one is asking them to identify as femme. but me? i AM femme. i know it in my bones. so please don’t be so myopic to assume that this is an outdated notion, because femme, to me, feels right. i’m so glad this conference exists, so that we CAN play with and celebrate that identity, so that we CAN recognize each other in the absence of a heteronormative lens.

and stefi-leekx.tumblr wrote:

I’m so sick of anti-femme bullshit. Shaming women for stuff like this is fucking counterproductive. Also “lame”? Nice ableism there.

I am really sick of anti-femme bullshit too, though my response is more “ugh, sigh,” than “omg !#$(@!&*.” It’s clear that most people really just do not understand how femme identity can be radical. It’s also clear that a lot of feminine-of-center queer women (and people who don’t identify as women, but very commonly women, I think) end up with a lot of flack, baggage, and bullshit around their femininity and the ways that this culture commodifies, consumes, degrades, and devalues women, queer women, femininity, and femme. And it’s even more potent when they are all in combination.

The ableist bullshit came to my mind, too. “Lame” is a loaded word, let’s remove that from our vocabulary as much as we can, like “retarded” and “gay” (as a derogatory slur, I mean).

Clearly, there are a lot of people out there who understand, embrace, and celebrate the need for a femme conference. It still surprises me to come upon folks who don’t get it, who reduce it to “makeup and dresses,” who devalue femininity. (Sidenote: read Whipping Girl, folks who don’t understand why this is femme-phobic. And anyone who cares about femmes. And everyone else.)

But let’s also not let comments like juliaperchance’s keep us away from answering equally important questions, like this one from cybercarnet:

I’ve been wanting to go to the femme conference for a long time, but I’m worried I will just feel inadequate the whole time, not “femme” enough. Have any of you gone? Is there a lot of femme policing? Like, for example, I think makeup looks great and all, but unless I’m dressing up for a costume party, I never wear makeup. I hate wearing makeup. I rarely have the spoons to get all dolled up anymore. How is the disability and fat-positive representation here?

I have so many questions! If I’m going to fly across the country and spent beaucoup bucks, I need to know I’m not going to feel like shit the whole time, you know?

First: YOU ARE FEMME ENOUGH. If you feel aligned with this identity in any way, even if it is a complicated issue for you, you belong there. You don’t have to be a sing-it-from-the-rooftops femme to attend. You can go and be reluctant, and curious about what this building community might have to offer for your own understanding of your place in this world and your own gender identity.

I didn’t go in 2010, but my answer is: GO. There is space for disability and fat-positive representation. Even if it isn’t executed the best possible way it should (and what is), it is there, and people are trying. I have known some of the folks who have been on the Femme Conference board in the past and they are great. I support not wearing makeup if that’s what you like (and/or do because it is better for you). There is not a lot of femme policing, in my experience (and from what I’ve heard from femmes, too). Other folks want to weigh in on this? Have you been to a Femme Conference? Would you recommend it to this person?

Last but not least, as long as I’m on a femme+tumblr kick, let me present you with this little piece I found from delisubthefemmecub, a trans femme boy, who has this to say about femme, and I think perfectly illustrates why we need this conference, why we need to do this work, and why I love femmes:

For me, femme is about healing

it is about the rituals of adornment that I use to calm my anxiety, and quell my tears after days where transphobia slips under my skin like stubborn splinters

it is about reaching across time, bridging the distance between the man I am and the girl I was.

it is about finding that girl in the recesses of my heart, holding him in my arms, and saying “it will be okay, we made it out alive.”

it is about finding a way to be a boy that doesn’t hurt.

it is about nurturing all the femme parts of myself that I suffocated, just so the boy part of myself might be visible to other people.

For me, femme is about resistance

it is about refusing to believe that there is a right way to be a man

it is about glitter armor and gestural fierceness coating my spirit so that I might just be strong enough to survive

it is about reclaiming and flaunting all of the parts of my femininity that have been used to say that the sexual assaults were my fault

For me, femme is about healing, resistance, survival.

Somedays, femme is all I have.

Thank you delisubthefemmecub. Finding ways to be us, in whatever gender we are, whatever part of the gender galaxy, without being hurt by it, is one of the biggest missions and purposes behind this work that I do. I think it’s possible, and I want us each to do our own exploration and our own discovery, and be uniquely ourselves in whatever ways help us heal, resist, and survive.

Recent Sexual Assaults in My Neighborhood

October 26, 2011  |  essays  |  14 Comments

Unless you’re up on the sexual assault news from random neighborhoods in the New York City area, you probably don’t know about this, but there have been more than a dozen sexual assaults and attempted assaults in my neighborhood and nearby in the past few months. Safe Slope.org has some info about what’s going on—I don’t know a ton of the details without looking them up again, though they have been covered on many of the big blogs, like Brokelyn and Gothamist.

I first heard about it not through the media or through word of mouth, but by seeing signs up at stores around my apartment, with things like, “WARNING! Sexual Assaults Are Happening In This Neighborhood. Protect Yourself.” And then messy things started happening, like the police told women who were walking in those neighborhoods in short skirts that they shouldn’t wear things like that.

I know. I know. I don’t even know what to say about that. And I probably don’t have to, because you probably know just what is wrong about it. I do too, it’s just that my anger and frustration bubbles up and makes me go “ARGH!” instead of having articulate things to say.

Slut Walk NYC happened shortly after that, and there were some speak outs in my neighborhood, but none of which I ended up attending, mostly because of timing and not because of my lack of interest. (I can’t do it all.) I hope this was spoken of frequently at those events.

Lately, more “Protect Yourself From Sexual Assault” posters have been showing up in this neighborhood as businesses, self-defense classes, and community organizers start creating protection and help around these assaults.

While I understand that these “Protect Yourself!” tactics are because we, the majority of us, feel helpless when faced with stories of assault, and what we can do is attempt to defend ourselves, since we have no control over what the perpetrators do—I still think things like that perpetuate rape culture. They teach us that we, the potential victims, need to be the ones who are on guard. We don’t do that with other types of crime, and sexual assault is about more than sex, it’s about power, and there is so much sexism, slut-shaming, and control of women’s bodies wrapped up in this one thing. It’s hard to even begin to untangle it all.

I walked past one outside of my gym a few days ago and had the urge to create a counter-poster, one that says something like this:

Ten rape prevention tips:

1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.

2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.

4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.

5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.

6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.

7. Remember, people go to the laundry room to do their laundry. Do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

8. Use the Buddy System! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from raping women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you at all times.

9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to rape someone, blow the whistle until someone comes to stop you.

10. Don’t forget: Honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don’t pretend that you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be raping her later. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her.

That’s reprinted from the blog Can You Relate … I’m not sure this is the original source of these, since this post is from May of this year and I’m pretty sure I saw a list just like this make the rounds a few years back, but it seems to be frequently referenced.

I know it’s not the answer. But I’m not sure what else I can create time to contribute to this current issue that is happening in my neighborhood, that scares me and my girlfriend when we walk home after dark (and it is getting darker earlier and earlier). Kristen and I keep talking about it, and often our conclusion is, we just have to put this out of our minds, because if we thought about it, we’d go nuts with worry. And that is a lousy way to live.

There are various groups doing good things, organizing bike escorts, safe walks home, dog patrols. Thank you, all of you who are doing that. I’m not doing much, but at least I can throw a post up here, tell you that I’ve been thinking about it, and ponder my own place in the healing of this huge cultural and societal wound.

The Hanky Flower: Femme Flagging

October 26, 2011  |  reviews  |  6 Comments

Photographer Shilo McCabe, who took some photos of me while I was visiting the Bay Area in August, also makes hanky flowers—and they are available on Etsy:

“An answer to the question that plagues the flagging femme: How does one creatively flag without back pockets on your outfit (or without an outfit on at all)? How about a hanky flower in your hair, belt, boot, or anywhere else you can think of? Wear it on the right or left to show your colors!”

So of course, I ordered one for Kristen.

I decided hunter green wouldn’t quite look right as a flower, so I went for light pink. (Don’t know the color codes? Look ‘em up. I’m sure you can find a few that would suit your interests.)

I probably don’t have to tell you this, but they look great. Kristen gets a lot of compliments on hers when she wears it. Shilo also just mentioned to me that she will be putting up a smaller size, so keep an eye for those in her Etsy store soon.

Giveaway: The RodeoH Harness Winner Is …

October 25, 2011  |  journal entries  |  1 Comment

#11, sterhymeswithtree:

If you’ve got some time, read through the comment thread on the RodeoH harness giveaway. Everybody left really fun and amazing stories about first time strap on experiences, packing experiences, harnesses that are awesome, all that. It strikes me that these stories are incredibly fun to tell, but that it’s pretty infrequent that we sit around telling our friends about the first time we strapped on, or when our harness malfunctioned, or how we’ve never tried it but want to. (Or, I don’t know, probably some of you do. I do, but only sometimes.) It’s fun to have a place to express that small story, and have others read it.

Thanks so much, RodeoH, for doing a harness giveaway for us. I am excited to see the larger sizes, the boxer-brief style, and whatever they might come up with in the future. If you didn’t win, sorry. You can still go right now to the RodeoH online store and enter code “SexSmith” to get $10 off your purchase—usually $45, they’d be $35 for Sugarbutch readers. I’d be curious, if you get one, how you like it—if you want to let me know, I’d love to read your own review or reactions.

Lesbian Sex Mafia Presents Spanking with Tina Horn

October 21, 2011  |  miscellany  |  5 Comments

I’m really thrilled that Tina Horn is now in New York City. We ran into each other at the Take Me There erotica release party last week and I was thrilled to finally meet her in person. Friday, October 21st, Tina will be teaching her infamous Spanking workshop at the Lesbian Sex Mafia‘s monthly meeting.

Did you know the Lesbian Sex Mafia is the oldest continually running BDSM education and support group in the country? Founded by Dorothy Allison thirty years ago? It’s true. I’m thrilled to be working with them to get some excellent speakers from all over the country to come present for us. (If you’re a presenter and you want to do a workshop with them when you visit New York City, go ahead & contact me.)

I’m sure you’re already following Tina Horn’s ass on Twitter. Because, duh.

So, will I see you there, or what?

Spanking with Tina Horn

Spanking fantasies are as varied as the people who enjoy them, but often stigmas keep us from safely exploring this fun, cost-free erotic activity. Some of us daydream of strict discipline, while others just enjoy any way we can get our hands on a nice ass. Join professional dominant/submissive and kinky porn star Tina Horn as she leads an upbeat seminar that will empower you to live out and take pride in your fantasies. Tops will empower themselves with the skills necessary to administer the most delicious spanks, and bottoms will learn how they can help facilitate the treatment they’ve always deserved. This class will also touch on other types of impact play such as flogging and caning, as well as basic role play and Dominant/Submissive techniques. Novices, old hands, tops, bottoms, all are welcome and encouraged to attend. The class will include a hot live demo!

Where: LGBT Center, 208 West 13th St. (7th/8th Ave), New York City
When: Friday, October 21, 2011; 8:00-10:00PM
Cost: $5/LSM members, $10/Non members

ABOUT TINA HORN

Tina Horn is the Smartest Ass in Show Business Today! For the past five years she has worked in the Bay Area as a professional BDSM switch. She is a performer, producer, director, and writer of queer and kinky porn. In 2010 she co-created, with Courtney Trouble, QueerPorn.Tv, which explores queer community voices and sexual expression through hardcore porn, free educational segments, and intimate identity discussions; within its first six months it won the Feminist Porn Award for Best Website. Tina has spoken and led workshops in impact play and sexual communication at Good Vibrations as well as various universities, community centers, and art galleries. Her writing has been published in numerous magazines and books, including AORTA magazine, Whore! magazine, and several Cleis Press anthologies. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Writing in NYC and cannot even begin to tell you how badly she could use a spanking right now.

Giveaway: RodeoH Harness!

October 20, 2011  |  reviews  |  70 Comments

Hot on the heels of my RodeoH harness review, I was chatting with one of the two girls from the good ol’ Mission District of San Francisco behind RodeoH, and talked ‘em in to making a RodeoH harness available to Sugarbutch readers via a giveaway.

Your choice of size and color: Black/red, black/dark gray, or black/gray, in waist sizes 23-24″, 25-26″, 27-29″, 30-32″, 33-35″, 36-38″, 39-41″.

Want it?

Leave a comment in this thread with something about your first strap-on harness, the most exciting place you ever had strap-on sex, if you’ve ever packed out in public, the name of your favorite harness, or why you want to win this … or something else entirely. You must enter a valid email address to win (otherwise, how can I tell you that you won?).

One commenter will be chosen at random on Monday, 24 October.

If you can’t wait, you can go right now to the RodeoH online store and enter code “SexSmith” to get $10 off your purchase. They’re only $45, so that’s a pretty good deal.

Thanks, RodeoH!

Sex, Gender, & Relationship Workshops at Your College

October 19, 2011  |  miscellany  |  7 Comments

Hey! Students at colleges, universities, and beyond! I’m still working on booking workshops, readings, and gigs this fall and spring.

I’m available for the Trans Day of Remembrance in November, for example. Want to book me?

HERE’S WHERE I’LL BE

I am already planning some visits to certain places! If you can help me book something there while I’m visiting, I would be very grateful. Are you in any of these cities? Do you know who I should talk to? Would you help me get people out to an event? Thanks!

These are the dates I *am available* to book something in these cities:

November 7-8, 2011: Seattle, WA
November 9-10, 2011: San Francisco, CA
November 28-30, 2011: Atlanta, GA
February 16 or 21, 2012: Seattle, WA
February 23-27, 2012: San Francisco, CA
April 14-19, 2012: San Francisco, CA
April 10-15, 2012: Durham, NC
April 10-15, 2012: Boston, MA
April 15-30 or May 15-30, 2012: Chicago and/or Milwaukee
May 2-3 or 7-8, 2012: Portland, OR
May 3 or 7, 2012: Seattle, WA
July 9-10 or 16-17, 2012: Seattle, WA
July 17 or 23, 2012: Albuquerque, NM
Fall 2012 (TBD): Toronto, ON
September 20 or 24, 2012: Seattle, WA

The rest of the time, I’m based in New York City and I can travel all over the Northeast seaboard, from Boston, Providence, and Burlington, down to Philadelphia, DC, and Durham. And if you want to bring me somewhere that isn’t on this list, I’m game for that too! I’m just hoping this will help me get in touch with you folks who are already in these cities.

HERE’S WHAT I DO

My workshop list is online at mrsexsmith.com/workshops, and I’ve got an online press kit at mrsexsmith.com/about/press-kit with photos, one-pagers, etc. My booking company usually charges a certain amount for a workshop plus travel + lodging, but I can be flexible about that and work with the budget you’ve got. I do have a minimum that I need to cover, but I am willing to negotiate.

Right now my most popular workshops are Radical & Responsible Gender, which is more academic and made for folks who are used to breaking down gender to start think about how to build it up in ways that are empowering and liberating, and Cock Confidence, which is a strap-on 101 type of workshop that focuses more on the psychology of strapping on and insecurity than on the how-to, though there is also a part for strap-on technology, meaning the toys that are available and what to buy. That one I rarely do at colleges, though I bet it’d be a blast.

I have also been working on doing a two-event set, being an afternoon workshop on exploring sex, gender, and relationships through writing as a way to develop self-reflection, introspection, and identity, and then having a showcase in the evening with the folks from the writing workshop reading and me doing a :30-:45 spoken word set.

If you’ve got any ideas, requests, or contacts, I’d love to chat with you. Please do get in touch with me via email, mrsexsmith (at) gmail dot com, and see what we can do.

SINCLAIR SEXSMITH: NOW BOOKING 2011-2012

For booking contact: [email protected]
Phone: (917) 475-6316
or:
PhinLi Bookings, LLC at [email protected]
Phone: (347) 829-7446

Press kit and materials available upon request

Please forward to colleges, universities, students, and organizations.

Represented by PhinLi Bookings, LLC, in New York City, SINCLAIR SEXSMITH is a writer, performer, student, and teacher of sex, gender, and relationships. Visit Sinclair online at sugarbutch.net, mrsexsmith.com, or on Twitter @mrsexsmith.

“Sinclair Sexsmith writes with such rare clarity and passion that she is one of the best reminders we have that sex and gender are not abstractions of theory, but essential to our everyday humanity.”
—Chris Hall, editor of CarnalNation.com

Protected: Coming Out

October 18, 2011  |  poetry  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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Review: RodeoH Harness

October 17, 2011  |  reviews  |  5 Comments

It seems like such a good idea, right? A cute pair of briefs with a hole in the middle to double as a harness? So of course I had to try out the new RodeoH.

I suspected they would not be tight enough to fuck with, that I wouldn’t have enough control—but I’m glad to report that’s not true, I didn’t have any trouble. Perhaps after a bunch of times in the washing machine the fabric will stretch a bit (probably worth it to avoid the dryer, to keep the elastic tight, note to self), but for now, it’s great. I am annoyed, however, that they aren’t really brief-cut, they are more like girl-cut undies that look like boy briefs, which, considering I haven’t worn women’s underwear in nearly ten years, feels really weird on my ass. I think I ended up with size L, so possibly if I had an XL pair they would cover a bit more, but that would probably sacrifice the tension and the tightness. Babeland recommends going down a size if you’re between sizes, since having them extra tight is part of what makes ‘em work well.

Babeland’s write-up also says “just imagine how close you’ll feel to your partner with only a thin layer of fabric between you,” and I gotta say, I didn’t love that feeling—I much prefer a harness. It felt like I was still wearing underwear, which just doesn’t quite feel like sex. But maybe that’ll just take some getting used to.

Unlike leather or rubber or vinyl, the briefs really absorb liquid! They are easier to wash than other harnesses, so that’s not a big deal, but I really noticed how much lube and spit and come was absorbed.

They seemed to work just fine for the giving part and, according to Kristen, for receiving, but I missed the stimulation on my clit that my one-strap harness provides. It’s hard (if not impossible) for me to get off without some stimulation on my clit, and this harness provides absolutely none—though I suppose it provides easier access to my clit from underneath it than some other harnesses, if that’s what you want. Me, I would prefer the harness do the stimulating so I can actually fuck and get off simultaneously.

It might be a great harness to use something like the we-vibe underneath. I haven’t tried that yet, but I have a shiny new we-vibe (thanks, Babeland) waiting for me to try it out, so that might be a great combination. More on that later, when I have a full report.

Because of it’s design, there’s no way to change the placement of the cock, either, so I can’t bring it lower in order for the base to hit my clit, which I also like, and which helps with stimulation. The O-ring on the harness is not very stretchy, and is built in, so it won’t work with cocks that are particularly big, like my favorite, the Maverick. It’ll still work with others, like my favorite packing cock Silky, but I often want something bigger than that, so it won’t replace my other harnesses anytime soon.

Not sure it’s a harness I’d go to on a regular basis (we’ll see), but I can see wearing it out so I would be ready to slip a cock into it without disrobing once I got home. And I’m glad there’s some new ideas and technology happening in the strap-on world. Worth trying, for sure.

RodeoH has a current contest to win a pair of these new briefs, as well as other prizes. Check it out.



The RodeoH was sent to me from Babeland for review. Pick up other sex toys from Babeland, still my favorite feminist, queer, friendly, educational neighborhood sex shop.

Protected: Getting My Feet Under Me

October 17, 2011  |  journal entries  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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