Queer Masculinity in Porn: Heavenly Spire, Stepfather’s Secret, & More

January 30, 2015  |  essays  |  No Comments

Weekly, rife and I have a private little ritual on Saturday mornings where we make pancakes and watch porn. I’m not sure exactly how it started, we probably did that one Saturday and decided we should do it again. (I have discovered that I don’t really like watching porn while I’m eating, it makes my mouth feel all weird. So the porn and pancakes are separate. Just in case you were wondering.)

I don’t have much of a history of boy-on-boy action, but being involved with this boy has made me more curious about gay porn. I’ve watched a lot of queer porn over the years, with lots of trans folks and genderqueer hotties and butches and femmes, but not a lot of cis guys. (Also, have you noticed that porn with trans women is kind of booming? Maybe it’s just because I started following Chelsea Poe, but I am really inspired by the activism and visibility that’s been happening. And the fucking hotness.)

So the boy and I have been exploring all sorts of fag porn, looking into the things we think we’d like, from leather BDSM porn to daddy/boy explorations.

So far, Stepfather’s Secret on men.com has been my favorite, though “Sexual Education” with James Darling and Allen Silver on Pinklabel also stands out.

I’m surprised how much tenderness is depicted. I suppose partly it’s because of the genres I’ve been primarily watching—leather and daddy/boy—I think those tend to be more tender than average. But I’ve been really touched by the variety of depictions of masculinity.

I’ve also noticed the wide range of types of bodies. Perhaps it’s that the big-ness of men and masculine bodies is what’s fetishized, while with women (and feminine bodies) usually the slightness, thinness, and smallness is fetishized, but I’ve been enjoying seeing the sizes depicted as desirable and sexy.

(I still struggle with this, personally, around my own body. Sometimes I can fetishize the size—that I’m kind of big, thick, heavy, whatever word you want to use—but most of the time I feel bulky and awkward. I know rife and other lovers I’ve had have specifically commented on my size or shape as desirable, so it’s not that I don’t exactly see it reflected, but I don’t feel it. I remember the relief of starting to shop in the men’s department: I went from an XL in women’s to a M or S in men’s, and that just felt like such a more accurate size for me. Plus, the clothes fit my body better, or fit my energetics better, or something, and wow it was such a relief. It’s been more than 15 years now since I officially made that transition to butch.)

Maybe the tenderness in gay porn shouldn’t be surprising, particularly as most of my critique of masculinity comes from the male gender role that tends to be heteronormative, but as a queer feminist butch dyke, I’ve often been critical of the gay depictions of masculinity too, and made assumptions that it was more like the normative male gender role than it was radical and transgressive. But hey, I like to be wrong about things like that! (And certainly there’s plenty of gay porn that reinforces normative gender roles—I just happened not to pick it up during porn and pancakes, apparently. I’ll try harder.)

Really my first introduction to depictions of masculinity in porn was through Heavenly Spire, launched in August 2010 by filmmaker Shine Louise Houston, the director and producer behind the revolutionary queer porn Crash Pad Series. Heavenly Spire is short films, released on Sundays (get it? Spire? Heavenly?) devoted to all kinds of men and their sexuality.

At the time, it was new, raw, and beautiful—and it still is. I don’t know about you, but watching it over the past few years has changed the way I think about male sexuality and erotics.

I interviewed Shine for Carnal Nation when it was first released, but Carnal Nation has since folded and the interview is now only found in the wayback machine. So here it is, reprinted, because the first volume of Heavenly Spire has been compiled and is available from PinkLabel.tv—and it is stunning.


Heavenly Spire: Interview with Shine Louise Houston

Reprinted from Carnal Nation, August 2010

Filmmaker Shine Louise Houston, who brought you the queer porn Crash Pad Series web episodes and the feature-length films Champion, The Wild Search, and Superfreak, has started a new online web project depicting masculine sexualities in a visual medium. Heavenly Spire began in late July. I gladly sat down for a long-distance chat with her about the new site, masculinity, the personal things that had to happen in order for her to embark on this project, and what’s next for her and her growing companies.

Sinclair: I’m excited about Heavenly Spire, the new project! I haven’t seen behind the scenes yet, but the stuff that’s up is lovely.
Shine: The format is different from Crash Pad Series; there are no interviews, no behind the scenes. I’m not too sure if I’m going to do that, I’m going to see how the site goes. We shoot lean on this project, there’s not a whole lot of extras.

What do you mean by lean? You don’t spend a lot of time sitting around, hanging out with them, asking them what they think about sex?
Yeah. The interviews I do for Heavenly Spire are more really about delving into what their sexualities are, what their turn-ons are, has it changed over the years, what do they do now, physically what do they like about themselves, or physically what do they like about each other. I’m approaching it from a totally different angle than I approached Crash Pad Series.

Is that angle also about a focus on masculinity?
Yeah, I really wanted to start thinking about masculinity, and asking whether masculine sexuality is different. Heavenly Spire is a personal project for me. Accepting my own masculinity has really allowed me to feel okay with desire for masculine people. Exploring it on the site really looks at male bodies the way I want to. Maybe not everybody feels the way I do, but this is good for me. For a long time, I just didn’t get guys. But as I got more comfortable, I realized they’re not that different, and they’re not all that scary, and actually they’re pretty cool. And actually, penises are pretty cool. But it’s been a long process, and eventually bringing that to the screen is just where the process is supposed to go.

It makes sense that you would take your own creative medium to explore that sort of thing. What about your own personal masculinity process? What has that looked like for you? Has it been a long time coming, have you always been a tomboy?
It’s been a long process, definitely influenced by time and location. I grew up as a tomboy, but I also remember having favorite dresses. In my twenties, I definitely knew that I liked girls, and I was into the dyke/lesbian identity, but at the time – this was the early 90s in southern California – it was very much anti-butch/femme, pro-androgyny, and that had an influence on me. It was a very cool scene, and things were very open about sexuality. But right after that, mid-90s, I moved to San Francisco, and at that time, it was this huge butch/femme revival.

I knew I was definitely not femme, but I felt a lot of pressure to be one or the other. So the kind of masculinity I kept bumping into within that community was this really intense macho masculinity. I realized trying to put on that performance, that I’m not very macho. I’m really a fag. I went through my fag period, where I dated other fag dykes, but then I think the next big jump for me was realizing that I was into femmes! I remember looking at this girl, and her earrings, and they were kind of … bouncing. And it clicked. So that started me exploring a more masculine, pansexual identity. I’m definitely on the more masculine side, I’m kind of swishy, and I definitely like femmes. In the last six or seven years, I’ve really become comfortable with where I am: my masculinity, my sexuality. I needed to have a strong root in masculinity in order to take on a project and not be freaked out.

Freaked out by worrying about what you were going to be depicting, or not being solid enough in it?
And just not being intimidated by guys! At this point I’m so comfortable with myself, I’m not intimidated to ask guys to take their clothes off.

Do you think the recent work on masculinity has set the stage for this kind of project to be launched? It seems time-specific to me, that maybe we didn’t have enough radical depictions of masculinity, especially not of male sexuality, even four or five years ago.
Yeah, the queer movement, the trans movement – all of the work is completely reshaping what we think about sexuality and how we manage that in our lives. There’s a lot more acceptance for genderqueer and performative genders. The project is a lot about timing—a lot of people have done tremendous work at softening up the ground for it to come along.

Going back to my personal experience, I’m affected by all the waves of thought that have been coming through the Bay Area. There are a lot of people in the porn community who are really changing how they depict sexuality, whether it’s gay, straight, lesbian, bi. This is a drop in the bucket of a larger movement that is sweeping across the porn industry. When I went to Berlin for the porn film festival, I really felt that. I’m not alone, this is going to explode across the industry. And when I got back to the United States, it seemed like maybe it wasn’t here yet, but it’s coming.

It definitely seems like we still need work on the depiction of masculinity in porn.
Definitely. There’s also a new project I’m going to start working on in August that’s definitely going to challenge male homophobia while at the same time satisfying homosexual desire in men who might not otherwise get to experience it. There’s going to be some interesting stuff happening in the next year.

Do you expect some backlash for this? Have you had backlash for including cis men, like Micky Mod, in Crash Pad?
We have a very polite question in the forums in Crash Pad Series, and before I even had the chance to respond, other members of the site said pretty much everything I would have said. And the person who asked the question responded, “Oh, okay.”

And that was it?
Yeah, that was it! I was at the last Feminist Porn Awards, in Toronto, and they screened that scene, Mickey and Shawn. And I answered some questions about them, everybody seemed to like it. But then it won the Viewer’s Choice Award! So I thought, okay, the audience is listening! They loved it.

I also wonder if this is more part of queer women’s culture, not necessarily gay culture. A lot of butch women are watching fag porn. When I started out watching porn, my favorite pornos were fags. This community has been able to really transcend their fantasies, so they can apply to any type of body. They aren’t restricted to just one. In gay culture, which I’m learning more about, they don’t watch dyke porn. We watch fag porn, but they don’t watch dyke porn. So there’s a realm that they haven’t gone into yet, they haven’t applied their fantasies to different bodies yet. Heavenly Spire looks at masculine people, but not every male has a dick. So this is about pushing their boundaries, pushing the male viewer boundaries. I bet they’ll think it’s hot. We’ll see—the site’s been up less than a month.

I’ve only seen the clips so far, and the clips are teasers, but it seems a little less focused on cock-centricity than I would have imagined.
Well—it’s definitely about cock. But what I really want to capture is a person having a good time, really having genuine pleasure, and to translate that into a visual medium. And it’s about building a narrative about the person’s relationship to their own body or to the other person that they’re having sex with. And I’m just having fun with visual language. It’s true, the trailers are very much teasers, and they don’t give you much.

But they’re beautiful.
The clips are, according to porn standards, a little short, but I’ve been struggling with length. So with this, I decided I’m going to cut it the way I think it should be cut, and I’m editing it so the viewer doesn’t get bored. Really picking out the best parts, and splicing the best parts together into a narrative. Sometimes I feel like, yeah, this thing is half an hour long, but is it pretty, and is it working? So this is a bit of a self-indulgent project, because I’m really letting myself go with my ideas, asking myself, how long should it be? What makes it good?

Do you anticipate it having lots of episodes, like Crash Pad does? Or is it a different structure?
No, we update every Sunday. It’s different from Crash Pad, because each week is something new, there’s no behind the scenes, just something new once a week.

If a new performer is coming in, how do you tell if they’re going to be a good porn star? Did you have a sense that Mickey Mod was going to stick around and be amazing?
Not really. Mostly, we have model applications and if we can make a date, we go for it. Some people who work with us find it fun and want to do it again. Dylan Ryan, Jiz Lee, Shawn [Sid Blakovich] all did Crash Pad, and are now doing awesome stuff. We’re the launching pad! Shoot with us, we’re good people, we’re a good place to start.

Is it easy to pair people together? Or do they do that themselves?
For Crash Pad, I work with a booking company who does all of that now. I used to do that, but it’s work. But Heavenly Spire is a different approach. With men, and a gay site, I’m really interested in getting couples who already know each other and already have that connection. People apply, so if you apply by yourself you’re going to be solo. If you want to perform as a couple you have to apply as a couple. I want to make sure the couples like each other. Especially since so much of the gay male porn is all about fucking, I want this to be about connection. I want to see two big dudes who are totally tender with each other.

Are you finding that guys are interested?
As viewers or as participants? We’ve had a decent amount of model applications. We paused the project for a while, but we started to get this influx of models, both trans men and cis men alike, both solo or couples. I have some speculation about viewers, but I’m not 100% sure who is going to be our audience for this new site. I kind of wonder if it’s not going to be straight guys. I think they’ll like it. But gay men, I’m not sure if they’ll like the format. Possibly straight women as well. I’m not sure how it’s going to shape up.

What else do you still want to film?
I have three features I’d like to do, but right now the company is growing, expanding, changing. We’re kind of in the teenage phase, not super big, but not tiny either. So in the future that’ll help us get more what we want with big features. Right now, we’ve got the web projects going on, short videos, and that’s setting the foundation to create these larger features. We’ve really pushed the limits of what porn is. It’ll be self-evident, when I actually announce those projects.

Do you have an over-arching mission for your work, or goals you set out to accomplish? Or was it born out of a love for filming people fucking?
When I first started filming I didn’t realize this was how the mission statement was going to be, but the mission statement came later: We’re dedicated to making really well produced, beautiful images that represent queer sexuality. That was the driving force, but I continue to push myself as a filmmaker, and pornographer (though I identify less with that word). I want to make good stuff, and I want to make good stuff about sex. Everything I do is moving in that direction.

Do you see it as political and social activism?
It is … and here’s the weird thing. I feel that if I approach it as social activism head on, I’m going to do it wrong. I’ll stick my foot in my mouth! So I internalize my own politics, and turn them to the creative mill, and then spit them out and use them in a project. And that way I fulfill certain goals. But if I say, first, that I’m going to do political activism, then I miss the mark of what I really wanted to accomplish. So I take the personal and churn it through my internal politics, and that moves me in the right direction.

Have you had trouble with BDSM being misconstrued as abuse in your work?
Not from people on the site, but at the film festivals. I was at the Hamburg festival, and people walked out. It seems like that’s prevalent in places where they’re not doing the same things we’re doing here. I get really weird stuff about race, and violence. But I feel like ten years from now, it won’t be a problem.

Do you struggle with taking the criticism personally?
I try not to … I think maybe every six months I Google myself. I can’t do it on a regular basis, I have a fragile ego and I’m harder on myself than anyone. There can be fifty great reviews for what I do, but if there’s one bad one, that’s the one I remember. I try to focus on what’s working. If we keep showing at festivals, and people keep downloading it, somebody must like it.

And if you’re satisfied with the work you’re putting out there, how your art is growing, and if you’re continuing to get opportunities, that might be a better scale. But it’s hard! Especially when the work is so personal, when the work we put out into the world is about our own bodies, and our own desires, and our own deepest, splayed open selves, it can be really easy to take in the criticism.
Yeah.

I ask about the problem with BDSM and abuse because I have actually seen queer porn that triggered me—I’m not easily triggered, it really surprised me. But I don’t see that in your work at all.
It might just be because I have such intense aversions to bleed over. Things stay very clear in my own life. I definitely pay attention. If I ever see something that makes me wince, I know it’s not quite right.

I think that exhausts my questions. Is there anything else I should know?
Check out the site! Check out Crash Pad Series, and the new Heavenly Spire.

I’m looking forward to seeing more on Heavenly Spire. It’s a pleasure to talk to you, thanks so much.


Check out Heavenly Spire: Volume 1 over on PinkWhite.tv.

Mastering Dominance ecourse is happening twice, Saturday February 22 and Sunday February 23. Space is limited to 10 people each day.

“[My favorite part of the course was] having a chance to talk through what was on my mind in an environment where I could be pretty unguarded. Honestly, just having other people bear witness would probably have been enough, because often talking through something with another person is enough to get your brain solving things, but as it turned out, there were a bunch of high-quality suggestions that came out of it that were hugely valuable.” —Josh

Sinclair is on tour!

I’ll be traveling around to colleges again this spring, aiming to be in Seattle, Boston, New York City, and New Orleans. Want to bring me to your school? Check out my workshops in 2015.

My writing on Sugarbutch is supported by patrons on Patreon, who support me with a couple dollars every post, and I get to keep my job and keep writing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Submissive Fantasy vs Submissive Reality, A Guest Post from rife

January 22, 2015  |  essays  |  9 Comments

Hi this is rife, Sinclair’s boy. Maybe you’ve read dirty things about me, but that’s not the whole story. So what am I up to when not bent over? Well … I love erotica and porn as much as anyone (honest!), but often when people describe it, we get so hot and heavy talking about the erotic fantasy version of BDSM and the really turned-up power play, and sometimes forget to mention the everyday lived realities and negotiations of it for “24/7″ or “live-in” slaves, like me. These real-life submissive moments can be mundane, but also deeply satisfying in ways we might never expect.

So what does that stuff look like? You know, all the boring, in-between times where we try to keep the dynamic hot and tight and present, despite jobs and obligations and sick days and the general upkeep involved with not living in a fantasy world? That’s what I’m here to share. (I’ll try to get your rocks off another time, promise.)

Disclaimer: The following is a true account of my personal experience with live-in submission versus my fantasy version of it. This is only my experience, and please don’t take me too seriously, or assume this is The Way It Is for all slaves or s-types. I’m just speaking for me, here. This is not the right way, just the right way for me.

Submissive Fantasy Morning

7:00 AM Slide out of my spot at the foot of the bed bed before dawn, silently padding out to not disturb the sleeping Dominant.
7:03 AM Shower and shave my cunt with the straight razor, then put on the jock strap that Master left out for me the night before. Wearing only that, I start prepping Master their favorite breakfast, and have it ready on the table when they awake, with ice water with lime, their pills, and morning tea prepared (but not too hot).
8:00 AM Spanking with the wooden spoon over Daddy’s knee because I’ve not cut the onions small enough. Everything else was delicious.
8:15 AM Set up the office for Master’s work day; the heat is up, the shades are drawn, music is on. Sit at Master’s feet and await further orders.
9:00 AM Time for my daily fitness routine. Make sure Master doesn’t need anything, and I go to the little gym equipment in the corner. Master looks up from their work from time to time to watch, singletail in hand in case I should slack off. I make soft, sexy grunting sounds while I pump iron.
10:00 AM Help Master with their website and work tasks, check in on the Submissive Playground forums and emails.

Submissive Reality Morning

7:04 AM First alarm goes off. Wake up warm and cozy in Daddy’s arms, curl around tighter and hit snooze.
7:48 AM Three snoozes later, we stir. We tell each other our dreams and dirty stories, and end up fooling around some.
8:15 AM I groggily ask permission to leave the bed.
8:16 AM Why is it always so cold in this house?! Throw on last night’s PJs from the floor and a big fluffy robe. I go pee, as directed, so I don’t get another UTI.
8:21 AM Daddy finds me staring at the coffee pot and takes over making breakfast. I’m delegated to chopping and fetching duty, out of the way.
8:27 AM I put away last night’s dishes and set the table for breakfast. “Can we eat outside, Daddy?” “No, boy. It’s still too cold out.” “Okay, Sir.” Breakfast is delicious. I thank them lots and apologize for being useless in the morning for about the billionth time. I make the bed like Daddy likes it.
9:00 AM The first round of dishes for today; why does Daddy need so many bowls to scramble eggs?
9:15 AM Planning the day, picking the Most Important Tasks from my boy chores list, and reminding myself, what was that new protocol this week…?
9:22 AM “Daddy, may I use the restroom please?”
9:24 AM Sweep the kitchen floor (didn’t I just do this yesterday? I’m pretty sure I did) and settle in to work.
9:45 AM Email and other admin tasks for my small business, on a cushion in the living room floor, not at their feet, but where Daddy can see me.

Submissive Fantasy Afternoon

1:15 PM Pleasure Master Orally.
2:15 PM Pleasure Master Orally.
3:15 PM Pleasure Master Orally.
4:15 PM Pleasure Master Orally.
5:15 PM Pleasure Master Orally … What do submissives do all day in their fantasies? I.. uh, take a nap maybe? Oh, do some personal grooming! Definitely. And… practice my guitar and other pleasing arts.
6:30 PM – Midnight SEXUAL RELATIONS BDSM FUNTIMES EVERY DAY. Whips and chains and shit in our own personal dungeon in the basement (which is totally not creepy and filled with old mattresses and feral cats, in this fantasy universe).

Submissive Reality Afternoon

1:00 PM Second set of dishes for the day, from lunch and the coffeepot, which is regrettably empty.
1:00 PM – 3:45 PM Work at my job, building websites and mobile apps and stuff. This month I have a variety of fun projects (and the normal cadre of boring ones, too).
3:45 PM “May I use the restroom, Sir?” “Yes, go ahead, boy. Give me a kiss first.” (I also refill their water while I’m up.)
3:48 PM Back to work. Probably time for a tea and fruit break. I offer Master some but they decline.
3:50 PM- 6:00 PM Work, work, work. Small breaks to pay bills and walk the dog.
6:01 PM Freedom!! “Daddy, can we go for a walk? Please, please?”
6:22 PM Night hike around our favorite little lake, followed by dinner at that Thai place I’m not crazy about by Master is really into. Daddy orders for both of us and I ask before sitting.
8:00 PM Catching up on some Downton Abbey. We are way behind. I’m invited onto the couch!
10:00 PM We play cribbage because we are basically old people. Daddy kicks my ass this time.
11:00 PM Where did the time go? I brush my teeth and pick out a bedtime story, strip down to sleep naked and ask permission to get in bed, as I should, grateful for my real-life Daddy and deep spiritual submission. Even when it means doing the dishes 3 times a day.

Okay, so there you have it. My day-in-the-life of your average, everyday sex slave (results not typical. Your mileage may vary). I notice some big differences between the fantasy realm and the real-life versions, namely: hurray! In the fantasy, I don’t have to work because Master supports us both. You know, because writing smut and giving it away for free on the internet is so lucrative (eyeroll).

It hasn’t always been this way, though. The first year and a half of our relationship, we could basically keep the fantasy up, fuck and play the vast majority of our time together. The secret? We only saw each other on weekends, at conventions or hotels (where someone else did the laundry and everything else could wait). I highly recommend long-distance D/s if you want to live your fantasies (and who doesn’t?), it is super fun.

But eventually, we wanted more. The thing about the boring in-between times, the sick days and hours of bad TV and cuddling and cleaning house, is that that’s most of what our lives are made of. And there came a point, at least in my life, where that reality of intimacy with another human became preferable to even my best fantasy. That, my friends, is called winning.

Now, I’m not saying we don’t still have marathon fuck sessions or break out the implements o’ destruction from time to time (because oh, we do). But when I imagine that kind of intensity every day, I kind of lose my boner for it. I remember before we moved in together I was genuinely scared: What if I could just never sit down again because of all the bruises on top of bruises?

We did it anyway, though it was scary as hell. Finally, that “monstrous want” of Master’s calmed down. Don’t worry, it’s still here, but channeled. We found ways to feed it, even on random Wednesdays when we both had to work, that didn’t involve making me purple all over or quitting my job and forsaking all other obligations. We found some kind of… balance.

I’m not going to blather on about my history and congratulate myself on getting here, to “living the dream” of live-in submission. Because honestly, I’m still new at this, and finding my way. But I will tell you this: It doesn’t happen by accident. You have to look for it, hard, for years sometimes (ten in my case!). You have to work your ass off to be worthy of it when it does show up. I wish the same for you, sincerely, that you can make the steps to actualize your fantasies and fantasize the reality, until it’s hard for you to untangle them, too.

Still, I’ll take the reality any day.

—rife

PS: Are you another submissive looking for community? I’ll be active in the forums and chat and video calls during the Submissive Playground. I love it there! No other place on the internet have I found such an active, supportive community of true peers. I’m honored to know all the players. I’d like to invite you to join me there, but you’d have to act super fast—registration closes tomorrow!


january-subplay

One more day to register for Submissive Playground! Registration closes tomorrow, January 23rd, Friday, at midnight PST. There are only three spots left for the Star Package. If you want to do it but the money is in the way, email dominant@submissiveplayground.com. Sliding scale and payment plans are possible, we’ll work it out.

My writing on Sugarbutch is supported by patrons on Patreon, who support me with a couple dollars every post, and I get to keep my job and keep writing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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I Want You to Thrive: How to Use the Submissive Playground “Tracks”

January 16, 2015  |  essays  |  1 Comment

january-subplayAs a Dominant, my job is not to teach you how to submit—other submissives and your own inner wisdom holds techniques and tips for that. (That’s why the course has fourteen guest educators who are mostly switches and submissives.)

My job as a Dominant is:

  1. To create a space for your submission to walk into and feel held, safe, and able to deeply explore.
  2. To set you up with rules to follow, protocol to practice, and goals to meet that are reasonable, clear, and manageable. I want you to go away from encounters feeling awesome, strong, bad-ass, energized, well-used, respected, and maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll both feel a little bit transformed.
  3. To keep checking in to the Big Picture of our mutual goals, and keep tweaking our rules and protocol so that we are doing the best we can to move closer to them.

In Submissive Playground specifically, my goals for the submissive “players” who participate in the course are:

  1. To have fun! To identify and suspend some of the judgment we’ve accidentally absorbed about what “real” submission is and what it means to submit well, and to instead dive into myriad ways to do it, and figure out what works best for us right now.
  2. To do experiments with our bodies (and hearts and minds), to “collect the data” from the experiments, and to keep moving forward.
  3. To connect with community and witness the many ways a D/s path is possible, and to support each other in the different ways that we pursue these arts.
  4. To support you in identifying your “growth edges,” the places you’d like to transform and learn and grow, and to offer resources on your journey. (And to identify some of my own growth edges, too!)

These goals, and this premise, is what the whole Submissive Playground ecourse is built on.

The content in Submissive Playground keeps growing. This is the third time rife & I will be doing the course, and this time I’m adding Maisha Aza and Axe from the Masocast as guest speakers. The guest speakers who have said yes and provided videos so far are primarily white and cis women or genderqueer folks, so I have some particular perspectives I want to make sure to seek out and include. It’s great to have the full course and now be able to hand pick more contributors who have different identity backgrounds.

(I am still specifically looking for submissive-identified folks who are people of color, of any gender, though I do particularly need more perspectives from cis men and trans women. If you are this or know someone you recommend please let me know!)

So the material is vast. We have guest videos from FOURTEEN PEOPLE, we have porn to watch, erotica to read by Jeff Mann from the Daddies anthology and by BB Rydell from Say Please and Kathleen Delaney-Adams from Best Bondage Erotica, we have technique articles by slave david stein, we have an audio interview with Raven Kaldera.

But that’s just the beginning!

In the course, there are also many other ways to interact and get value.

1. The Materials

That would be the dirty stories, how-to articles, and porn that I’ve already mentioned. It’s all the things to read and watch and interact with, the graphics rife has made, a custom-made Lust Language quiz, plus some BONUS materials when rife and I had too many good materials not to include.

2. The Experiment

This is the “go do this activity” part. There’s one per module (and four modules total—Bondage, Discipline, Service, and Masochism) and it’s the thing that you go try out in your life—there are ways to do it with a partner or by yourself.

3. Submissive Journals Homework

The journals part of the homework is thoughtful written responses to #1, The Materials, and #2, The Experiment. It is kind of like discussion questions in a class, a series of questions to get you thinking about and interacting with the materials and your experiment in a deeper way. This has been a big hit for journallers, folks who are into self-reflection and self-examination, and who like writing.

Doing #3 kind of requires that you keep up with #1 and #2, at least in part.

4. All-Player Live Video Sessions

This is the “live” part of the course. All the participants, plus me and rife, meet up every other week throughout the course to talk about all the #1 Materials, #2 Experiment, and #3 Homework, and to share our stories of discovery with one another. This happens in Spreecast, so there’s a chat function and you can come on video (but only if you want to) and talk to me and everybody in the course. These have been so very fun! They have set dates & times:

  • BONDAGE: Saturday, January 31, 10-11:30am PST / 1-2:30pm EST / 5-6:30pm GMT
  • DISCIPLINE: Thursday, February 12, 6-7:30pm PST / 9-10:30pm EST / 1-2:30am GMT
  • SERVICE: Saturday, February 28, 10-11:30am PST / 1-2:30pm EST / 5-6:30pm GMT
  • MASOCHISM: Thursday, March 12, 6-7:30pm PST / 9-10:30pm EST / 1-2:30am GMT
  • WRAP-UP: Saturday, March 28, 10-11:30am PST / 1-2:30pm EST / 5-6:30pm GMT

And they are all recorded so you can go back to them and watch them later if you aren’t able to miss the live calls.

Oh wait! Let me tell you about The Star Chart!

Throughout the course, Star & Mentor Players have access to the Star Chart, which is a place to keep track of the different pieces of the course and what you’re consuming. It’s like having your own sticker chart on the wall where everybody can see how you are doing your chores.

5. Submissive Community

This is the part, more than any of the others, that participants have said was really life-changing. Making connections to folks on a similar submissive path from around the world has been amazing! Friendships have been born and connections have been made. I firmly believe that identity explorations are easier when there’s a community context, because you have not only support but also many representations of how this particular identity manifests. In the course, we have a chat during the live video sessions, there is a message board available for your perusal and in-depth conversations, and you’re hooked up with a “subby buddy” with whom you can dive in and converse more deeply about the course.

6. One on One Sessions

Last but not least, the individual sessions track of the Submissive Playground course is where you and I get to dive deeper into your particular journey with submission and offer some support around whatever your growth edge is. One session is included with the Star Package, and FOUR sessions are included with the Mentor Package (which is why it’s called the Mentor Package, cuz you get some significant mentorship for your D/s path over eight weeks). Anybody in the course can add on additional sessions for a reduced rate, though, so just contact me if you want one. (Note: I’m not really doing 1-1 work with clients this year, instead I’m focusing on teaching and ecourses. So this is a great way to have some 1-1 time with me!)

Oh yeah, and rife is also limitedly available for sessions. After watching his videos in the course and hearing him speak about submission, you might really want some support directly from him and his brilliant submissive theory.

And that’s pretty much the course!

So if you’re not sure you have time to devote to a course, my suggestion is to check out the various contents, decide which one or two or three you are going to prioritize, and leave the rest behind. Sure, you can dig in to them if you find yourself inspired, but you will know you are totally on top of your commitment to the course when you finish up the work for your Track, and you don’t have to feel guilty about not doing more.

Because hey, I don’t want to add to your endless to do list! You’re busy! And you should be out making money and getting laid and changing the world for the better, I don’t want to get in the way of that kind of important stuff.

Plus, many subs are the A+ student type.

You don’t need to put that kind of pressure on yourself on my behalf. You can still get TONS out of this course even if you don’t do half of it. And, you can always download the materials after the course if you want to keep them and do them later!

Maybe your work or home schedule is such that you just can’t make the All-Player Video Sessions, for example. That’s okay! You can watch them later, or you can skip them altogether and dive into the materials yourself. (Sometimes I give a context or some content in those video sessions that I am encouraging us to explore during that unit, but you can do it on your own.)

Does that all make sense? I want this experience to be exciting, fun, and energizing for you, not a drain or an extra obligation. And rather than dropping off mid-course because you aren’t caught up, what if you set lower expectations on yourself and then felt AWESOME when you completed them? This is recreational, for your growth and pleasure.

I want to set you up to succeed, and to thrive.


january-subplay

Registration for Submissive Playground has been EXTENDED to January 23rd, next Friday! There are only a few spots left, but I want to fill ‘em up.

Didn’t win the Submissive Playground giveaway? Aw man! Better luck next time. Meanwhile, I’ve got a discount code for ya: 10MOREWINS gets the DIY package for $100. Only 10 people! And, there are only 5 more Star Packages left! Want one? Sign up quick!

My writing on Sugarbutch is supported by patrons on Patreon, who support me with a couple dollars every post, and I get to keep my job and keep writing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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I just need to use you. (And! Submissive Playground giveaway)

January 8, 2015  |  dirty stories  |  28 Comments

morningContent warning: Power dynamics, ownership/property play. Scroll down to the bottom if you want to get right to the Submissive Playground giveaway.

Sometimes, I just need to use you.

I don’t know how to describe it: Those times when I wake up and your skin is just right there, you’re not allowed to sleep with clothes on anyway and this is exactly why, so that my hunger stirs the moment I wake and realize that your skin is already under my hands. This particular morning I woke with you behind me and immediately wanted your dick in my ass. I rubbed against you, and you got hard. “You’re hard, aren’t you,” I teased. You woke up and moaned. Ready. Always ready, for whatever it is I need, whatever it is I want to take. It’s what you most want, isn’t it? To be told what to do, to be taken, to be used in the ways that I need. As much as that can be hidden in sex, or desire, or kink play, the same need in you would be filled if I decided you would now only be my footstool and never speak, or be my pet curled up on your little pillow bed in the corner, or my sex slave chained to the bed. I own you, and you know it.

It helps me that it’s what you want, because it is so what I want, but I never thought I’d have it. I never thought this craving for devotion in me was going to be allowed, I never thought I could degrade and humiliate and own and worship and demand in the ways that I can with you. I was always too much for other partners—needed too much, demanded too much, expected too much. I’ve said it so many times, but I am still surprised by how much I feel met with you. You step up, you show up, you don’t shy away from what I need, you don’t let my insatiable hunger scare you.

Or maybe it does scare you, a little. Because you know I’m bigger than you, not exactly stronger but certainly when I throw my weight around I can make you do what I want, what I say, what I need. Not that you would need to be physically overpowered. You’d go willingly, shakingly opening all your holes and skin and mind and will to me, even if it makes you shiver and cry. You are so good. And you like it, I know you do. You can resist all you want, but it doesn’t make the outcome any different. And when you gush and come so hard you drip down my thighs, I know you like it.

That’s what you did this morning, isn’t it. You did just what I told you, and you liked it. You took it just how I told you. You gave all that come to me, because it’s all mine, everything you have is mine now. And I can use what’s mine, I like to use it for exactly what it’s for. And this is what you’re for, isn’t it: To be taken and used, filled and opened. You’re all mine, and this is what I need.


Don’t forget! The webinar with me & Sophia Chang is tonight. Sign up here to reserve a spot. Yes, it will be recorded, so even if you can’t make it tonight, we’ll send it out to the folks who signed up.

webinar

There is not going to be a sale on Submissive Playground this time, but there IS going to be a giveaway—and here it is! Want to join me + rife + thirty other submissives in the Playground this time around? Add a comment or tweet about the Playground and enter the contest—check it out below. The winner will be contacted on Monday, January 12, and will get a DIY spot.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My writing on Sugarbutch is supported by patrons on Patreon, who support me with a couple dollars every post, and I get to keep my job and keep writing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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“Healing comes through sex.” Sinclair Sexsmith interviews Sophia Chang

January 2, 2015  |  advice  |  1 Comment

How do I know if this kind of dirty kinky sex is *good* for me? What are the healing aspects of D/s play? What kind of biophysical basis for healing does kinky sex have? And how can the sacral chakra and cellular memory assist with healing, and give your sex life even more power and oomph?

These are the kinds of questions I asked Sophia, and we talk about all this and more in the second video in the Sugarbutch series on mental wellness and kink.

Watch it now!

Can’t get enough of Sophia Chang? Here’s more: http://facebook.com/thesophiachang | http://www.sexmoneyuniversity.com

And if THAT’S not enough, Sophia + I are doing a special Q&A version where we’ll talk about wellness, kink, mental health, liberation, feminism, queerness, straight sex, and even chakras (if you ask). Come join us!

Thursday January 8, 2015
6pm PST, 9pm EST
On Spreecast (link will be sent to you the day of the webinar)
Free! Just sign up below:

(PS: There will probably be flirting.)


Don’t forget! Submissive Playground registration is open for two more weeks—and it’s already getting full! The Mentor package has SOLD OUT. Come prioritize your submission in the new year. More information at submissiveplayground.com.

My writing on Sugarbutch is supported by patrons on Patreon, who support me with a couple dollars every post, and I get to keep my job and keep writing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Weight. Mouth. Rough Sex.

December 31, 2014  |  dirty stories  |  3 Comments

IMG_7932Content Warning: Force, coercion, descriptions of rough sex. Also dominance and submission, and depictions of ownership.

Sometimes I just think of the simplest of things.

Your mouth.

That look on your face, that look, when you’re giving over even more, just a little deeper, giving in to the sensation, giving in to wherever I’m moving your body, however I’m touching you.

Your skin.

The way your hands feel in mine. The way my fingers close around your wrist or throat or earlobe. The back of your head in my palm.

I think of these little flashes of your body, of us.

Other times, a more elaborate story.

What happens when I pick you up and drive you somewhere deserted and quiet, an empty kind of creepy parking lot where no one is around, no other cars, and lock the doors before I force your head into my lap. You struggle against me, but you know I will have my way, no matter what you do. You know it’s better to go easy, but not too easy, because then I’ll beat you for liking it.

I don’t really need an excuse to take you, or to hurt you, or to use you. It is so comforting, so deeply validating, to be able to have you in this way. To know that if you are in arm’s reach, I can use you for anything I may need, from fetching me a glass of water to your hands as an ashtray to your holes for my cock or fingers or tongue or whatever I might want to do with them.

Lately, I think a lot about rough sex. Pressure and strain and resistance and using my weight against gravity to hold you down. I think about going too far, pushing too hard, making you gag, spit, sputter, making you cry out and bleed, bruises under my fingers holding you so tight, making you beg and cry, making you take it anyway. There’s something about the release on that level that is different—deeper?—than most other releases for me … knowing I can just pour into someone else and they can hold it, they have to. I love how you do this for me.

You release me in so many other ways, too, though. Moments of energetic intensity come to mind, times we’ve been outside with your hand in me in some way, the earth underneath shooting up and connecting me with … everything. I miss being somewhere with places to fuck outside.

I think about what it’s like to force you, use you, disregard what you’re feeling in your body or your mind. Why is that such a fetish, such a kink of mine, when I am so obsessed with consent and permission and pleasure and connection? Maybe I’ve just answered my own question. And knowing that we are both guided by a deep craving here—me, the craving to play with taking and owning and destruction, and you, the craving of being used and coerced and owned—is what makes the play possible, of course. Without that deep craving underneath the play, it would be completely different, and unappealing.

Fuck, I am so grateful for how our wounds/gifts are attuned.

Lately, I think a lot about your sucking mouth. Maybe that is the equal and opposite of thinking about pounding into your open holes: instead, having this sweet suckling softness draw it all out of me. I think of you sucking your thumb or sucking my toes or nipples or cock, even the uncut packing cock, my current favorite. I get hard with just the thoughts. The way you can nestle in and cuddle up to my thighs, sigh, and relax.

Somehow, when I’m deep inside you, when you’re slowly drawing me hard and all of the things pent-up inside start drizzling out, that’s when I can best let go, feel the tightness in my shoulders unravel, and relax, too.


Submissive Playground registration is open until January 16! It is already filling up, limited spots available. More information at submissiveplayground.com.

My writing on Sugarbutch is supported by patrons on Patreon. They pledge to support me with a couple dollars every post, and I get to keep my job and keep writing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

PS … Yes, you really do need that packing cock from New York Toy Collective. Use the code SUGARBUTCH to get $5 off (free shipping!).

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Turn Your Rough Fantasies into Responsible Reality

December 29, 2014  |  essays  |  No Comments

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Everyone has them: Those rough fantasies that involve some sort of thing that you aren’t sure you would ever actually do, but that really, really does it for you. And maybe, just maybe, you would like to explore some of them.

Maybe you even feel a little guilty for liking it so much.

Maybe you really have to shove aside your inner feminist that tells you that the force play and the kind of rough, degrading sex that fill up your rough fantasies are bad and wrong. But there are ways to play with these rough desires that your mind keeps circling around to, and to play with them in responsible, ethical, contained, and safe ways.

Here’s some things to keep in mind.

1. Everybody Fantasizes!

It’s true. Men, women, genderqueer folks, trans and cis folks, lesbians, gay guys, dykes, queers of all flavors and stripes—pretty much all of us have some sort of inner erotic life where we fantasize. I’m of the opinion that anyone who tells you they don’t fantasize is either lying—or, of course, asexual. And it is really, really common to fantasize about things that we might not even want to do, or might not be possible to do.

Still not convinced? Here’s your homework: Read this book—My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday came out in 1973 and details hundreds of women’s fantasies. It’s totally eye-opening, and will help you see how common rough fantasies are.

2. Fantasizing about rough, dangerous things is normal!

Why do we love rough fantasies? Because power. Because the inner wild sexy animal beast isn’t necessarily tamed, and you don’t necessarily want it to be. Because playing deep in your physical body makes us feel really alive, which is really, really sexy.

3. Comfort Your Inner Feminist With Consent & Agency

Consider these concepts: Agency is the ability to have control over your own self, and to decide what happens for yourself. Consent is usually taught as the ability to say no, but it also includes the ability to authentically say yes. And if you buy into these two feminist concepts—which I most certainly do, and which I believe are the foundation of good rough fantasy enactment—you gotta believe that when someone is authentically saying yes to something, authentically and resoundingly consenting, and you trust their agency, then the things the two of you are doing together are not wrong or anti-feminist, but are in fact deeply within a feminist framework. (See what I did there?)

4. Get Brazen & Bold

If you want to turn more of your rough fantasies into reality, it’s really important to figure out how to communicate openly about sex and desire. You gotta be able to talk about what you fantasize about in order to make it happen. If you don’t do this at all right now, start slow—go to a kinky class at your local sex toy store, or read an erotica book aloud.

5. Get Further Involved with the Kink Communities

It helps to feel like this is a normal things to crave, desire, and pursue when the people around you have similar fantasies. And let me assure you: No matter how rough or dirty or perverted or “wrong” your fantasies might be, there is somebody out there with much more rough dirty perverted and wrong fantasies. It is much more likely that you are in the middle of the bell curve, and that your rough fantasies are quite a bit like everybody else’s.

6. Sharpen Your Kick-Ass BDSM Skills

Take it from Napoleon Dynamite: “Girls like guys who have great skills.” (Substitute “people” here and that’s more what I mean cuz I am a queermo like that.)

You can actually do some damage when you’re doing dangerous rough fantastic sexytimes play. Don’t use impact toys that you don’t know how to use, don’t do dangerous play that involves breath or cutting the skin without getting some training. People out there in the kink communities are very, very skilled and experienced, and they can teach you.

If you’re a bottom, and fantasize about wanting to receive some of those dirty dangerous things: Play with trustworthy tops. Build trust slowly before doing extremely risky scenes, or play in public.

7. Don’t Forget Aftercare!

Especially when you’re playing with rough, risky (emotionally or physically), or edgy fantasies, make sure everyone feels good afterward. Check in with each other, schedule some cuddle time or chatting time or casual fun time to connect and bring things up if anything needs talked about. Talk about ways to comfort each other and how best to

Rinse, Lather, and Repeat!

Keep experimenting with your own pleasure. Follow the heat. You may not know where it leads ultimately, but you can usually figure out just the one next step. Listen to your body and your mind and that special inner place in you that knows stuff.

If you learn how to do these rough fantastic things you fantasize about, and communicate openly with folks who will be willing play partners and collaborators in your fantasies, you’ll be responsible AND have some fun hot sexytimes. It really is possible!

Photo from Unsplash


Submissive Playground registration is open! That’s right: We’ll be back in the Sandbox starting in January. Registration is open now and closes January 16, 2015, and it is already filling up! Limited spots available. More information at submissiveplayground.com.

Check out our guests:

My writing on Sugarbutch is supported by patrons on Patreon. They pledge to support me with a couple dollars every post, and I get to keep my job and keep writing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Bonus PS … I am still jerking off to Lust Cinema, my December sponsor on Sugarbutch. Did you find any good ones over there yet?

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Follow your own Kinky Desire Map

December 18, 2014  |  advice  |  2 Comments

This past summer, while rife and I were running the Submissive Playground ecourse (which is open for registration for the January 2015 session, btw!), we kept talking about the path that folks take to discover and enhance their kink identities. For example, what sparks the pursuit of kink? How do we go from a dabbler to a connoisseur? How do we make it a priority in our lives in order to get and keep deeply satisfying erotic relationships? Why do so many people struggle to prioritize it? What is the process that happens?

Always the visual processor, rife drew and took notes and drew some more, until he came up with this: the Kinky Desire Map. It’s a map of the process—to the best of rife’s and my ability to express, anyway—of developing a kinky identity and coming into prioritizing kinky desire. This isn’t the process everyone takes, of course, and it’s not necessarily linear, or exhaustive—but I do see a lot of common progressions with all the folks I’ve talked to about identity and kink, so we’ve tried to capture that here.

So how does it work? Let’s break it down! Start at the lower left corner, and follow along.

Subplay kink_exploration
[Download the big version of rife’s image here]

1. Interest! Spark!

This is where it all begins. For so many people, their way into kink is witnessing some sort of kinky act in a book, or a film, and it gets our erotic wheels turning. Sometimes it’s a partner who sparks our interest in something, by making suggestions for ways to play. Or it could be our own mind that comes up with something dirty—who knows where it came from, but it’s just always been there. This is the part where we’re saying, “I’m curious about _____.” The interest could be a secret desire that has been held for a long time, or could have just happened this morning like whoa. The interest and curiosity leads to …

2. Experiments!

This is the time where you play play play, and follow your desire. Sometimes called a “slut phase,” the newness of everything is part of the appeal, and trying even more new things can be a thrill. Experimenting can make more sparks of interest happen, and then you get to experiment with the new spark. Once you’ve done a variety of experiments in a variety of situations with a variety of people, they can lead to actually making conclusions about our desires, what we like and don’t like, and how we’re wired. So this is the phase when we start making declarations: “I like _____.”

3. Pursue your interests!

Find the right tools for the right job.

This is where you know what you like, so you start building your skills and experience. Watch porn. Go to workshops. Take an ecourse. Read erotica. Practice. Find the right tools for the right job. Find a mentor. This is when we can start saying, “I’m pretty good at ____.”

4. Become yourself!

Sometime in here (though not necessarily in this order), some of us start realizing that this isn’t just a thing I do, it could possibly be a thing that I am, and start forming some identity around it. So this is when we start telling others about it in new ways, explaining that I’m not just a weirdo who likes rough sex, I’m a dominant (for example), and I am actually part of an entire rough sex community. Figuring out how you fit into the kinky communities that are out there is part of this. Then, we also start integrating this kinky aspect of ourselves into our identity as a whole. We start saying, “I am _____.”

5. Prioritize your preferences!

This is when we start saying, to ourselves and others, “I need my partners to be ___.”
This is hard, but completely necessary if you’re going to stop dating in the general population and start filtering specifically for your kinks. You’re not nearly as likely to find a submissive girl at the gay bar, for example, as you are if you go to a kinky D/s meetup for queers. If you are prioritizing your preferences strongly, you’ll have to start making some choices about who you want to be playing with and who you’re looking for in the long run. (Of course, some of us are in open relationships, so that “long run” thing applies a little differently.)

6. Pursue it!

Life happens. We don’t stay the same. While we might have one very well-formed kink identity for a while, it might shift. Your partner’s might shift.

If you keep prioritizing your preferences, pursuing your interests, and building your skills, you will find people who can meet you. Don’t settle. You can If you’re going at this kink thing solo, ask yourself: What will I pursue? What will I say yes to? What will I turn down? If you’re in a relationship and trying to pursue more kink, ask: How do our kinks fit? How do I find the overlaps? What do I do about the places where we are incongruous? Talk to each other about what’s going on. Express and share fantasies and keep experimenting and stay open and watch for the changes. Because of course, life happens. We don’t stay the same. While we might have one very well-formed kink identity for a while, it might shift. Your partner’s might shift. Integrate change as best as you can and keep going.

7. Practice, practice, practice!

Life continues, and your Kinky Desire Map does, too. You might have a big breakup—go back to identity and prioritizing yourself and your preferences. You might spice it up with more experiments. You might reach some stagnation and have the identity, but not enough play. Add more experiments! Go back to pursuing interests and keep learning. You’ll find new sparks and start all over again, but this time with more resources, and more foundations. You might fall in love again. You might uncover a whole new slew of kinks you want to pursue. Keep practicing, and advancing your practice, and studying yourself and how you work. Only you are the expert on all of this in your own mind and body and energy, and if you continue to prioritize it and use it as a muscle and a skill, you’ll keep it healthy, and keep growing.

So … Where are you on the map?

Where do you want to be? Where have you been in the past? Maybe it’s time for you to make your own Kinky Desire Map. Figure out where you’ve been, and where you are, and that can help you get to where you want to go.


Ready to prioritize your submission in the new year?

Submissive Playground registration is open! Want to be a better submissive? Want to go from unsatisfied to insatiable? The Submissive Playground ecourse with me (and with lots of help from rife) has all sorts of homework and experiments to help you dive deep into your own version of submission, and get more of what you want. Registration is open through January 16, course runs January 31-March 28. submissiveplayground.com.

This post—and all writings on Sugarbutch—are because of the Patreons who support me. Weekly writings here will keep being free to all, but if you are financially able, please consider giving $2 per post per month. It’ll make a huge difference and enable me to keep this at the center of my work. Thank you!

Secret PS … Thanks to Lust Cinema, my December sponsor on Sugarbutch. If you’re into beautiful feminist women-centric erotic films (cough*porn*cough), go check ‘em out.

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Things I, as a white sex educator, do to foster inclusivity in this community

December 16, 2014  |  essays  |  8 Comments

On Facebook recently, Mollena asked: “White ‪#‎SexualityEducators‬: what are you doing to actively foster inclusivity? Diversify your audience? Support your Peers of Color?” [link.] I’ve been writing and writing and thinking about all of the things I’ve been reading and digesting around #blacklivesmatter and race and inclusion, and this question got me thinking hard, and answering with some clarity, and identifying some places I need to keep working.

1. Read, read, read.

And listen. And pay attention. And shut up. And witness. And try to learn, and unlearn.

2. Pay attention to whose voices I amplify.

I have a small reach, a small field of folks who read what I share, and I pay attention to what I put into that sphere and recommend. When I don’t pay attention, I tend to stay within my white privilege bubble and retweet, link to, and recommend other white folks. This is not because people of color are not saying things that are relevant to me (and to you all) or that they are not brilliant—because duh, they are. Rather, I think I do this because of my personal (and often invisible to me) bias of whiteness. It takes conscious work for me to not default to whiteness, but I want to change that. So I pay attention to who I share and follow and who I surround myself with.

3. Decline to participate in (unconsciously) all-white spaces and events and publications and projects.

To be fair, I’ve only declined a few times, and this is something I’m working on improving. I don’t always think to ask who else is in the book or on the panel before I say yes, especially if it’s something I know of and admire. But recently, a sex education book came out with twenty photos of the white faces of contributors on the back, and Aida Mandulay called it out and WOC Sexual Health Network followed up, it is incredible to me that nobody noticed that before publication, or that if they did, nobody worked to change it. However, I am sure I have been in anthologies that were all-white, but since most of my publications are erotica, photos of the authors are included very rarely. And the sexuality education field is incredibly dominated by white folks (because most fields are, because racism). Personally, I have noticed often recently that many of my small group collaborations are all-white, and I need to think about that more (and to keep noticing that most of my communities are white, and work on the underlying issues of why that is).

4. I pay attention to the language I use.

As a genderqueer non-binary person and a feminist queer, I know how much language matters. I pay deep attention when someone talks about racist language—mine or others—and I do my best to pay attention to the words I use, their origins, and their uses.

a) I love reclaimed language, but when there are words that have been used against a minoritized group, I recognize that I don’t have a claim to use them. I can reclaim words that have been used against me. As such, there are certain words I just don’t use, whose histories are too controversial, and whose communities I respect.

b) There are a lot of words that have snuck into our language which have oppressive and racially-based origins, and often I’ve just never thought about it or made the connection. Recently, with the protests in Oakland and Berkeley, my neighbors and I have watched a lot of the live feeds, and have seen the police show up with “paddy wagons,” and then we all had a brief chat about how that is a derogatory slur referring to Irish folks, and tried to figure out what else to call them instead. And when I hear folks use the word “gypped” to refer to being ripped off (which happens more often than I’d expect) I remind them that comes from the oppression of Roma people. Often, people reply with things like, “Oh yeah, right, I never really thought of that …”

c) Know the words I use and where they come from. The queer reading series I co-hosted and -produced with the late Cheryl B from 2010-2011 was called “Sideshow,” and once, a colleague pointed out that the “sideshow” has a pretty terrible history of showing off the “freaks,” and that they wouldn’t be participating. I liked the feel of it at the time, but I wouldn’t use that word again on a project. Especially because I recognize that as an able-bodied and generally mentally well person, it is not my word to reclaim (see 4A), it is my word to respect and stop using (see 4B). See also: Strange Fruit PR Firm [Changes Their Name] After Getting a History Lesson From Twitter.

d) Very deeply engrained in the english language is the dark/light dualistic binary and the use of the concepts of “shadow” and “dark” for bad, unknown, dangerous, and uncharted territory, and of “light” as all things good and holy. I would guess these concepts have more to do with the human psyche than race—however, when used in a racist culture, they reinforce racism subtly and intrinsically. I want to know more about this and do a bit more research on language and archetypes. Meanwhile, though, I am doing my best to avoid the dark/light dualism to stand in for bad/good, particularly when there are thousands of other more thoughtful and interesting metaphors to use.

Language is always changing, and I try to stay flexible in my relationships with words, even if I happen to love them (or have used or over-used them in the past, see 4D). Recently I’ve been discussing the usage of “minoritized” instead of “minority,” for example (still working on that distinction and curious about the reasonings). I’m curious how language changes and moves, how it both reflects and changes culture. This is some of my favorite language-nerdy stuff.

5. I call myself on my privileges.

When I talk about identities as concepts, and my own concepts, I don’t just give my marginalized positions (like queer, kinky, genderqueer, working class, survivor) but I also share the areas where I have privilege and am working to have more awareness (like white, able bodied, american, college educated).

6. When I’m up in front of a group or workshop, I listen when someone challenges my positions, and I call participants out.

I particularly listen when someone challenges me in areas where I am less expertise or have privilege and am less aware of how those oppressive dynamics work. I don’t always know I try to notice it when someone says something that expresses a bias or privilege, and to say something, to call them on it. That’s pretty hard for me and I’m not perfect at it, and I often freeze up or get caught in holding the space of the workshop, and I can’t think of what to say. So I’ve taken to at least saying exactly that: “I heard you just say ___ and I can’t really think of what to say, but I think you have some bias there.” Then I try to move on.

7. I call out (or call in) when I see something.

I do call out when someone I know and feel some closeness with has done something I think has some overlooked bias in it, but I mostly do that privately and offline. I don’t spend much time calling out in the general conversations online, or chiming in when someone else has been called out. I sometimes fear that I should and have some guilt that I should participate in that more, but I also know how I am deeply introverted and more witness is better than more conversations for my energetic ability. I witness other’s calling out constantly and I read read read and listen and try to learn what went wrong, what was going on, and to apply that to my own work. With some folks I’m close to, we have spent a lot of time digesting and thinking about the project and how to do better in the future. See also: Calling In: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each Other Accountable.

8. When I fuck up, I apologize, listen, fix it (if I can), and do better next time.

There’s a fine balance: I am trying to recognize that we’re all human (including me) and I fuck up sometimes, but not to dwell in the fucking up so much that it makes me paralyzed to keep trying, and to still do the best I can to make up for, apologize for, and understand for my mistakes. I am a creator and I want to make art and writing that reflects culture and my inner world, and a huge piece of that is my desire to make it better through social activism. And because I am making things, not just witnessing and critiquing, I have messed up before and I will mess up again. I am doing my best to be okay with that inevitability, and to know that messing up is a necessary part of the process of trying and improving. I have strategies to both protect myself (and my highly sensitive person / high reactive / intuitive empathetic poet self) but also to listen, learn, back up, integrate changes, apologize, and move forward.

I’m sure there’s more I could do.

I am always pondering the ‘more’ of activism and the new, previously unknown parts of my own privilege to which I am still blind. But for now, this is what I’m doing, and I see a lot of room for growth in just what I’ve laid out here and what I’m already doing.

It’s been very interesting to reflect on what I am doing, actually. Reading the original thread on Mollena’s Facebook page gave me lots of ideas and more insight into how I engage the way I do, and what is good for my particular personality and skills. I’d love to hear what you all are doing, too, if you feel like sharing.


Submissive Playground reopens for registration this week!

That’s right: We’ll be back in the Sandbox starting in January. Registration opens December 18 and closes January 16, 2015. More information at submissiveplayground.com.

Registration is filling up for Dedicated to Your Body for Queers.

DTYB is a 3-day workshop in Seattle, January 23-25, 2015, put on by Body Trust. Queer-identified folks only, trans and genderqueer inclusive. Sliding scale available. Registration closes January 1.

This post—and all writings on Sugarbutch—are because of the Patreons who support me. Weekly writings here will keep being free to all, but if you are financially able, please consider giving $2 per post per month. It’ll make a huge difference and enable me to keep this at the center of my work. Thank you!

Secret PS … Thanks to Lust Cinema, my December sponsor on Sugarbutch. If you’re into beautiful feminist women-centric erotic films (cough*porn*cough), go check ‘em out.

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Vortex Poem, Or: What I learned these last 15 years of studying embodiment

December 8, 2014  |  poetry  |  No Comments

Most of the time, my body has the answer. My own body, this vessel, this corporeal flesh with pulses and nerves and bone, these muscles that move me around and enable me to jump and reach and grasp and squat and pump. This unexplainable, inimitable machine that lets me experience the world through my senses, that gives my brain input about taste and smell and texture.

I’ve learned that there are many more senses than the five we tend to focus on: taste touch smell sight sound. There’s also thermoception, the ability to tell temperature. And magnetoception to sense the magnetic fields around us. And nociception—how our bodies sense pain.

If I can just find silence deep enough so that I can listen to what the synapses and blood cells are saying, I have found that my body has the answer. Sit still, she sometimes whispers to me. Or, Get up and move and move and move. Don’t stop. Keep going. Or, Goddamn, you need more root vegetables in your mouth. Make it happen.

The process of transformation is so minute, and so slow. I want it on a time-lapse like an bud opening into a huge white lily and then wilting to drip pollen all over the table. Maybe then we’d actually see how the light inside starts to seep through all the cracks, we’d see the ways that lightening strikes the same place over and over. Maybe it would make me laugh and laugh. Maybe I would feel that itch in my bones like when I am too tired to sleep but my body is overspun and needs dreams to recharge.

So I don’t really know how to explain to you what happened when I went into my first 3-day long weekend workshop when I was twenty, and how that paved a way to the path I’m on right now. I don’t know how to explain how hard it was to save $300 from my $60-week personal assistant job that usually covered my groceries but barely, and that I saved it anyway, and saved up every year after that, to make sure that I got to go back to that space. That space where there were women of all ages (these were all-women’s workshops, before there were queer options offered) took their clothes off and talked about their relationships to their bodies, the trauma and pleasure and amazing things that they have done, like birth and nurse babies, or how they create transcendent orgasmic experiences. I found a circle of women, and while I dabbled in studying wicca and feminism, and I knew hypothetically intellectually the power of women’s circles, I hadn’t actually experienced them until then.

And now I still go back. I crave the clarity that comes in circle, that feeling like I am sitting on top of a volcano and it is filling me from the bottom up, spilling out of the crown of my head and I am part of all that is. I crave the power that is generated by a group—so different and impossible to recreate when alone. We have so much energy in our bodies, so much power and potential that only needs the right outlet to plug into so it can be released, so it can be used to light up an entire city block.

I don’t just go back, though—now I spend a significant amount of my time studying how these circles work and how to lead and how to create the circumstance where the container of the circle is strong. I don’t just show up as a facilitator or an assistant, I create it for days before and close it for days after, spending time in meditation and in masturbation gathering and cultivating my own energy to try to form some temple out of thin air.

Maybe it’s hard to believe, from this point of view, but I have not always been able to ask for what I want. I have not always been able to take and allow and accept and give and receive in the beautiful ways that felt soul-nourishing like diving into the perfect clear mountain lake with shiny colorful soft pebbles at the bottom. At first it was just murky cloudy water, grey like the color of a sky when it can’t decide whether or not to rain. But everything got clearer as my connection to my body got stronger. I can feel more, I can tell what I want, I can tell when I’m hungry or when I’m thirsty, I can tell when I need touch and what kind of touch would be the most satisfying, I can tell when my arms get thick and my shoulders get tight that I just want to bust out my flogger and wail on someone for as long as they’ll let me. I can tell when I crave piercing skin or sliding in slow or being filled as thick and swollen as I can take.

The transformation, that’s the part that’s hard to put my finger on. I can tell you about the before and after, though. I can tell you how scary it used to be to tell a lover that I wanted something else, more, different, in bed. I remember listening to women in workshops talk about what they wanted and who they were and their growing edges, and I wanted what they had, I wanted to be that, to know what they knew. I didn’t know how to become someone who knew what I wanted, but I saw the next stone, the next step in the path, the next light down the way, and I followed and listened and followed, and when a sign post came up that said, Pssst, something useful is down that way, I took it seriously. I invested time and money and energy. I carved out the space, because I needed it, I needed a new way to be me in the world, a way that was less apologetic and desperate, that was more whole and holy and aligned and attuned.

Maybe that’s what I wanted most of all: the state of being so attuned to someone else that I’d feel psychic, or transparent, like all my thoughts were swirling around me in some sort of deconstructed vortex poem. That kind of physical attunement when our cells know each other, where our pulses swell and release at the same rhythm, where our blood pressure matches because we spent so much time with our hearts pumping next to each other. And I wanted that skill, that ability to dive so deep into someone else’s body.

I wanted to learn trust my body to tell me secrets like a conch shell. It’s not like that’s ever done, check, figured it out, it’s more like a work in progress, a pathway I strengthen every day. But at least now, I know what it is, what it possibly could be.


Do y’all know that I’m 1/4 of the new collaborative organization Body Trust? True! We just launched our new website, www.bodytrustcircle.com.

Registration is open now for Dedicated to Your Body for Queers, which is a 3-day workshop in Seattle, January 23-25, 2015. Queer-identified folks only, trans and genderqueer inclusive. Sliding scale available. Register now, there are only 15 spaces available.

This post—and all writings on Sugarbutch—are because of the Patreons who support me. Weekly writings here will keep being free to all, but if you are financially able, please consider giving $2 per post per month. It’ll make a huge difference and enable me to keep this at the center of my work. Thank you!

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