For a little more than three years, I’ve been using they/them/theirs/themself pronouns. Notice that I’m avoiding saying that I “prefer” they/them pronouns, because, as many gender activists have been discussing lately, it’s not exactly a “preference.” I prefer green grapes to red grapes, I prefer almond milk to soy milk. But the accurate pronoun for my gender identity is they/them/theirs/themself.
Using a pronoun outside of the standard gender binary is a lot of work on a daily basis. Sure, I do spend most of my time inside of genderqueer and trans communities, and many of those folks are super smart about gender and either ask about pronouns or already know mine, and like to call people what they like to be called. I’m surprised how good it makes me feel when people get my pronouns right, actually. And because often I don’t hear people talking about me—which is the only time they really refer to me in the third person—I don’t hear it very often. The recent Sweet & Rough blog tour is a thrilling example: it pretty much brought tears to my eyes every time the folks on the tour referred to me using they and them. My inner kid—you know, the one who thinks I’ll never be understood or seen or valued—gets all hopeful and touched, and feels vulnerable and seen. I think things like, “Really? You see me like that?” and “You get it! Omg you get it!” and “Are you just humoring me? Or do you really get it?” and “Ergh, I hope it isn’t too much trouble for you to understand that!” and … I feel such relief. My shoulders relax and my body lets go of just a little bit of the tension I always carry.
Every day I encounter a world that doesn’t see the in-between, and that either addresses me as “sir” or groups me in as part of the table full of “ladies,” aka queers of sometimes five different gender identities. I suppose worse still is “miss,” but that just gets me on a feminist rant about women having multiple honorifics dependent on their marital status and all men are addressed as “mister.” And then I remember that the second wave popularized “Ms”—oh right, we already fought this fight, except that clearly it hasn’t permeated society enough because this guy in front of me is still calling me “miss.”
Am I mad at the system? Fuck yes. Am I working on changing it? Absolutely. Are these moments microagressions? Fuck yes. Do the little needles that are microagressions add up, becoming a seeping wound by the end of any given day? Yeah. Could I just take my toys and go home and become a hermit to avoid dealing with this? Yeah. And sometimes I do, and sometimes I really want to.
But after three years of really claiming the identity of genderqueer … honestly? Being misgendered doesn’t bother me as much anymore.
I rarely correct the pronouns people use for me. I tell them if they ask, absolutely. I have lots of conversations about why they/them is the best choice for me, why I use it rather than ze/hir or other gender neutral pronouns, or why it’s grammatically correct despite the rules saying it is plural.
(Short version: I believe language is fluid, and our uses of it change over the years. I find it to be the least awkward in speech and written flow because we’re already used to it as a pronoun in other contexts. If people want to prioritize holding tight to grammar rules instead of smashing the gender binary and evolving our language to reflect the changes and include thousands of folks who are in-betweeners, well then, I guess I have to reevaluate just how close I want to be with that person. As much as I get a boner for really strict grammarians, to see the rules as so rigid that they cannot be malleable to include folks who are marginalized out of our language is not the kind of poet activist I want to be.)
When all those folks out there in the world out there misgender me, calling me sir or ma’am or ladies or she or bro or miss or whatever they might be using, I let it go. It might prick me for a moment, so I store that away as fuel for my activism, and then I try to remember: I don’t need their validation.
I have so much validation from my genderqueer and trans communities, from my family of origin, from friends far and wide, and from folks I never would’ve expected to step up and be an ally. I feel so seen and honored, so often. I recognize that my position is possibly a unique one, where I really haven’t had any fallout from coming out genderqueer to my family or at my job (which, ahem, is what I’m doing right now). I know many folks don’t have that kind of acceptance from their families of origin, or their closest friends, or coworkers, or the communities in the cities where they live, or even sometimes their partners. But many of us do get lots of support, too.
Because I have so much validation from my close, inner circle communities, and even validation from broader queer worlds, and hell, from more and more people even outside of my inner circle, I don’t need the validation of the bus driver or the guy at the deli counter or the barista at the coffee shop. I just don’t. They don’t see me as genderqueer? Okay, whatever. Or hey, maybe they DO see me as genderqueer, but they don’t really have language and words for it, and even though they’re feeling that hey-you’re-not-quite-the-usual-kind-of-person-with-breasts thing, it doesn’t occur to them that that means not to use the term “lady” to address me. I am interested in doing more activism to educate folks in service professions to use words that aren’t so starkly gendered to address people who are in-between. (I even have a super secret project in the works about this.)
But I don’t need them to understand my gender in order for my gender to be real, seen, valid, and honored in the world.
It’s the difference I suppose between “gender identity” and “gender perception.” It’s only in the last 100 years that the concept of one’s “sex” has been divided into “sex and gender.” As gender theory has evolved, there are many words within the concept of “gender” and what it is. Gender identity is generally (I mistyped it as “genderally”) the identity that I see myself as. For example, I see myself as genderqueer, trans, and butch. Gender expression is usually how you’re expressing your gender verbally and with energy, and gender presentation is usually how you have decorated your body and the visual presentation of it. For me, that’s usually butch and masculine.
Gender perception is how others see your gender.
I do understand that gender perception is a serious source of distress for many folks, feeling that if the world doesn’t see and reflect that I am a certain gender, then I am not that gender. It can be devastating to not be recognized, I do understand that. But for whatever reason, it’s not that important to me.
Or wait—let me rephrase that. It’s very, very important to me to be seen and recognized and understood by my communities and my lovers and my family, and sometimes it takes a lot of work to educate and inform and correct and encourage folks to do so. But it’s not that important to me that the world at large understand and get my gender identity and pronouns right this minute. I just understand that the majority of people haven’t deconstructed the gender binary in a way where they can even see beyond it.
Remember that part in the HBO series Six Feet Under, where Claire, in art school, is trying to “break her eye open,” to see new perspectives and outside of her habits? Most people haven’t broken their eyes open to see more genders, yet.
When it comes to my communities and inner circles, seeing me and reflecting that they see me is important to me. And that’s partly because of validation, yeah, but it’s also because of intimacy. The more they really see me, the more I feel like we are close and that they really get who I am and how I work in the world. That makes me feel vulnerable, touched, and honored. So really, my genderqueer identity and in-between marginalized place and pronoun use mostly matter for intimate relationships and moments.
I want to encourage that process of breaking your eye open to see more genders for everyone, not just within my communities of radical sex and gender minorities. But the frustration I feel when the larger society doesn’t get my gender stems from my unrealistic expectation. In a way, it’s just arguing with reality.
I’d love to figure out a way to address those misgenderings more easily in the moment, but usually it takes more than just, “hey, don’t call me lady,” for someone’s eyes to break open.
Right now, I can’t change this thing—this problem that the larger culture hasn’t broken their eyes open to more genders yet. I’m doing what I can, and being part of movements that are trying to get that culture broken open, and it is happening right now, the effects are huge and frequent. I can’t change this thing, but I can change my relationship to this thing. I can choose to funnel the pinpricks of not-belonging into more activism and work. I can keep encouraging people to break their eyes open to myriad genders, and I can look to my communities as a source of my validation and intimacy around my gender identity.
Illustration of “Gender Perception” by The Gender Book, reprinted with permission
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I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with my personal rough sex fantasies, nor is there anything wrong with your dirtiest fantasies. I believe that because I trust that you and I are adults who understand that fantasy is different from reality, and while we may think one thing to get ourselves off, we probably conduct our sex lives slightly differently.
Erotic stories are fantasies, yes, but they can be more than just that—they can show us a piece of the path, and encourage our erotic selves to blossom. So what’s my responsibility as an erotica writer to make the stories that I write down ethical and responsible?
I am both a sex educator and a smut writer, and sometimes those worlds seem to conflict. For example, in the BDSM and sex education worlds, educators and advanced practitioners stress consent in play scenes. And not just consent—we stress enthusiastic consent, not just an absence of “no” but a ready joyous abundance of informed and eager “yes.” We also stress safer sex practices, barriers, knowing your status, and sexual health and wellness. We stress responsible scenes, and warn about playing while intoxicated.
In some of my erotic fiction stories, these practices that are deeply held values in my personal life aren’t readily apparent. That’s because my stories are fantasies—you know, the things you close your eyes and think about when you’re getting off all by yourself, not necessarily (though perhaps sometimes!) the things you do with lovers. The characters in my stories sometimes don’t negotiate or have a conversation about safer sex, not because things like safer sex or negotiation are unimportant, but because the main purpose of the story is to turn you, the reader, on.
Frequently, in the sexuality education communities and conversations, we talk about how porn and erotica are different from sex education. I discourage people from learning how to give or receive a blow job from porn videos, for example, where deep throating and playing with ejaculate are overly common. (See Cindy Gallop’s online project Make Love, Not Porn for a variety of other examples of the difference.) Similarly, I discourage people from learning about power dynamics from Laura Antoniou’s book The Marketplace (though I happen to love the whole series), and would never suggest recreating a scene from 50 Shades of Grey (don’t even get me started). Both of these books are worlds away from the people who pursue and practice power dynamics, ownership, dominance, and submission in their personal relationships.
But the fantasies? We, as readers, love devouring them. We love the fantasies even more than we love the reality. The reality is messy, with STI scares and condoms breaking. The fantasies are escapist, sensual, and by definition not real.
I think when we start coming into our own sexually, when we start realizing that there’s more to sex than what our completely antiquated and puritanical sex education system taught us as kids, we start familiarizing ourselves with some of the most basic topics in sex positive communities. We learn about consent, agency, negotiations, communication, and safer sex. When we don’t see that reflected in the erotica or porn that we are consuming, sometimes it can seem like the erotica or porn fantasy is discouraging that kind of sex positive responsibility.
I am explaining all of this to you because I don’t want my erotic fantasies to discourage you from being responsible in reality.
I know that the educational workshops I teach encourage sex positive responsibility. But in my erotica? That issue becomes a little more nuanced and complicated, because of the aspects of art and fantasy. For example, I am aware that there are some points in the Sweet & Rough collection of stories where characters protest or resist or drink a lot of whiskey. I think there is nothing wrong with playing with resistance and force, consensually and carefully, but I also think that requires a lot of negotiation, a lot of trust, and safewords, in order to be done responsibly in the real world. That part of the story often isn’t revealed. Like the porn scene that cuts out the part where the fluffer comes on stage and someone else adds more lube, the erotic story often excludes the getting-to-know-you, the subtle body language communication, the character’s histories with each other, and what they have negotiated “off screen.”
I deeply believe that the personal is political and that being transparent about one’s life is a spiritual path. Since writing Sweet & Rough, I have shifted some of my erotica writing to be much more consciously inclusive of things like negotiations and safer sex. Most definitely because that stuff is hot, but also because I want to show more of the reality and less of the fantasy.
However, those things are frequently excluded from Sweet & Rough. And here’s why: These stories are collaborations. Most of the stories in this collection were written and published on Sugarbutch between 2007-2009. Many of them came out of the “Sugarbutch Star Contest” where readers sent in some basics about a scene (who, where, what the characters did) and I wrote up the story.
It was a huge period of growth for my writing, and I pushed myself hard to write the fantasies that were outlined for me. Sometimes, they were much more forceful than I’d usually write, although they more closely resembled my own private fantasies. I am aware of my access to privilege and unconscious entitlement as a masculine person and as a dominant, and it is important for me to stay conscious in my sex play, especially when it comes to gender or power dynamics.
Often, my early drafts of these stories included a lot of internal processing and negotiations, but the fantasies of my collaborators challenged me. I remember when writing “The Houseboy’s Rebellion” (which is a b-side story included on the USB version of Sweet & Rough), when the collaborator read the draft of it, she said, “No way. Make my character more mean. Take out all this negotiation. Just take me.”
Because of how strong the service top in me is, and because I liked it, I followed her desire. And I believe that story—and others, when I received similar feedback—are stronger for it.
The stories in Sweet & Rough are fantasies. I know fantasy erotic writing still greatly influences our real sexualities, and I don’t dismiss that connection. But these fictions are not necessarily models of sexual responsibility. Some of it is “problematic,” and I wouldn’t claim otherwise—but they still have so much value, and can jump-start our erotic engines or show us how much more can be incorporated into our erotic lives.
I encourage you to continue practicing being a responsible, ethical, sex-positive kinkster who operates from integrity. And I encourage you to read erotica stories that are edgy, full of force and lust, from authors whose ethics you trust, and to believe that the responsibilities are filled in behind the scenes, just off the page, stripped out so you can enjoy even more of the sweet sex and rough play that gets you going and gets you off.
You have just read the introduction to my new book of erotica short stories, Sweet & Rough: Sixteen Stories of Queer Smut. It is all ready to go and will be released on Monday, September 15th! Preorder your copy on Smashwords, or if you are attending the Catalyst Conference in LA this weekend, I’ll have special pre-release copies on a USB drive (which will have a special, USB-only b-side story included!)
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A few weeks ago, photographer Shilo McCabe came over to take some shots of rife and me in our “natural habitat,” and this is what she got. I’ve never done a shoot like this before (so it’s possible I’ll put it under a password after a few days), but I really love how intimate it is, how much it shows of us together, and how fucking hot my boy is, so it was an easy decision to share with you.
Rather than stick them in a gallery you can thumb through, I captioned each one (mouse over to see the caption), and let it tell a bit of a story of the scene.
Thank you Shilo for the incredible photographs!
Behind the cut to attempt to keep the blog work/picture-friendly.Read More Post a comment (9) Tags: bare leatherworks, chaps from an estate sale, finger sucking, floggers by bare leatherworks, flogging, I kind of can't believe I'm posting this much, intimate, leather, leather harness by the stockroom, leather jock strap by the stockroom, my boy rife, oakland, photos by shilo mccabe, playing, shilo mccabe, sucking, this is basically as close to porn as I will get, yes that really is our bedroom
I have always had very heavy periods. Lots of blood, serious cramps that vary from keeping me flat on my back watching movies until I can stand up again to drugging myself heavily to throwing up from the pain. They’ve always been very regular (which is one of the things that rules out PCOS), and because any conventional doctor I have had wants to put me on supplemental hormones (like the pill form of birth control, usually containing heavy doses of estrogen), and I immediately say no, I’ve never been treated for this well. (I must not be adequately expressing how much pain I’m in when I’m actually talking to the doctor. They dismiss it so easily.)
I’ve tried all the things—from hot baths to raspberry leaf tea, from supplements to hot water bottles to yoga to orgasms. (The orgasms kind of help.) None of it really hurts, but all of them only take the edge off, they don’t actually help the pain. Menstrual pain is kind of like curing the hiccups: everybody has an opinion on how best to do that, but your body may or may not take to any of them. I have routines, my best ideas of what work (most of which involves taking lots of Aleve and watching favorite childhood movies and not talking to anybody), but I’m coming to realize that it’s not enough.
Things have changed a lot for me lately. In the past year and a half, since moving to the San Francisco Bay Area from New York City, my system feels very different. My grieving process has mostly passed, at least the most intense of it has, I’m pretty sure; and I’m no longer in a very high-stress and high-conflict relationship. I’m also no longer living in one of the most high-stress cities on the planet, trying to make it on a shoestring artist budget. Now that my day to day life is significantly less anxiety- and depression-producing, I’m noticing this other thing happening: I am significantly affected by hormonal mood swings. Depression, anxiety, and wacky all-over-the-place emotions in the few days up to when I start bleeding. (Usually, when the bleeding actually starts, things settle a bit.)
I’ve tracked my monthly cycle on and off for the whole twenty years that I’ve had it, and it’s almost always very regular and consistent. It’s also almost always been like this: heavy, with big repercussions on my mood, outlook, energy, and body. The feminist communities I ran around with when I was in my teens and early 20s were very encouraging of things like charting one’s cycle against the moon phases, which I still do and find very fascinating and comforting. It helps me see the Quiet Days coming, the days before I start bleeding when sometimes I am entirely too sensitive to be interacting with people in any significant way.
So lately, the past year that I’ve lived in this sweet little house with my boy and my cat and the boy’s dog and a little garden and a really good kitchen and a bedroom slash temple, I’ve been tracking. I started being treated by an herbalist in May of this year and that has helped, that has changed things. But even after three solid months taking herbs, my cycle hasn’t really changed, and my periods are still harsh, interruptive, heavy, and affect me deeply.
A few weeks ago, the last time I was bleeding, when I was in tears on the way to an event (and eventually ended up staying in the car crying instead of going to participate because it hurt less to lay flat), I said to rife, “I don’t think I can do this anymore.” I’ve been exploring some other options, and I keep worrying about the side effects, but really? The side effects might be worth putting up with if it helps me with the heavy bleeding and the pain and the moods. I’ve been doing a bunch of reading on the menstrual cycle since I’ve been looking into this lately, and it’s funny: I can’t quite tell what is off-balance in my cycle. Too much progesterone, too little? Too much estrogen, too little? Something other than hormonal releases? I just don’t know, and most of the primary care type of OBGYN doctors I’ve seen aren’t hormone experts enough to be able to tell me.
And then there’s the trans/genderqueer thing, too. I went to get an annual pap exam a few weeks ago (thank you, Obamacare) and as I was waiting in the Women’s Clinic, I thought: What if I didn’t have to go to the “women’s clinic” anymore. Why am I still going to the “women’s clinic”? Am I still not trans enough? What is worth it to me that I don’t go out of my way to go to the places that have good trans care? I almost always went to Callen Lorde, the gay community health center, in New York City, and honestly I got (and witnessed) some pretty shitty care there around my (and others’) gender identity, so it’s not like it’s exactly a given, but it’s a step at least. (I found out after my appointment that the San Francisco clinic, Lyon Martin, takes my insurance and has openings next week. So, yeah, I’ll be there from now on kthanksbye.)
(I could so easily slip into a rant about health care and trans-ness and my experiences and what I’m struggling with, but I’m trying to keep this on topic to bleeding while butch.)
I’m considering an IUD—an “intrauterine device” that would be inserted into the uterus and affects the menstrual cycle. It’s primarily used as birth control, as it’s very effective at getting the egg not to implant, but it’s also good for a variety of other things: like significantly reducing the blood flow during a menstrual cycle (because the uterine walls don’t get a chance to build up blood) and reducing cramps. I’ve been doing research about forms of birth control that don’t interfere with hormones like estrogen and testosterone that the body produces, and long term birth control options that are safe for trans men (or genderqueer folks like me) to use. (I’m not taking testosterone, but I don’t necessarily want to change the hormones in my system. I like my goatee and my sex drive, thanks.)
I’ve come across one in particular that seems to come highly recommended these days: Mirena. It’s progesterone-only, which doesn’t interfere with the estrogen or testosterone in the system, and it’s based in the uterus (as opposed to the implant in the arm or pills, which affect the whole body) so it’s localized. I’m seriously considering it, especially now that I have health insurance (thank you, again, Obamacare).
Aside from that, I have also found a couple of really good tools that I want to recommend if this by chance resonates for you.
Recently I bought a new menstrual cup. This is the third I’ve had in about fifteen years, having started using them when I was about twenty, when the only option was the Keeper, made from rubber. It lasted me about six years, until it started having a smell that I could not boil or tea tree out of it, which seemed to be a common problem. I upgraded to the Diva cup, the only other option on the market (that I knew of, anyway) around 2006. It was better—silicone, and absorbed less scent, but after about eight years it too got a little too stained. It is almost clear silicone, so it started getting stained, which visually started being … just not good enough to continue using. I tolerated the stain for a while, but when it started building a scent, I was done.
So I went online to possibly reorder the Diva cup, and while I was researching it, I realized that the landscape of menstrual cups had changed significantly since 2006 when I last bought a cup. I found a few other options like the Lunette and the Fleur, but the one that got me this time was the Sckoon. I LOVE it. I like that it’s marketed in significantly less feminine ways, and I like the design: They really took into account some of the other design flaws in the Diva and Keeper and Fleur, and they made bigger air holes (so it creates less suction) and fewer ridges (which are hard to clean). I like that it comes in colors, too (mine is red).
The thing about a cup, however, is that I don’t have to buy menstrual products every month. That might seem like kind of a small thing, but the process of buying them really was sometimes dysphoric for me. It’s not that I don’t acknowledge and celebrate that my body and sex is female—I do—but having to engage in realms that are marketed for the socialized feminine gender role just makes me so frustrated and angry and sad sometimes. On my best months, I roll my eyes and just do it, like paying a parking ticket or overpriced gas bill. Argh, but okay. It’s just part of it. But on the bad months … it can send me into a tailspin. Especially with all the hormone-induced mood sensitivities (see above)!
Menstrual cups generally come in two sizes: before childbirth, and after childbirth. The “after” is slightly larger, as you can imagine. But until I saw the Sckoon literature about the difference being how much liquid the cup holds (23 vs 30 ml), it didn’t occur to me that getting the larger size cup would, perhaps, enable me to sleep through the night without having to get up to empty the cup (sometimes more than once). Of course! Heavy flow = more blood! And if I have a slightly larger cup, I don’t have to change it as often!
Even the small size cups you don’t have to change as often as tampons. But this new larger size of cup has been making a big difference. I didn’t really think about it as one of the things that supports genderqueer and trans folks who have a menstrual cycle and don’t want to deal with all that “feminine hygiene products” crap, but it has been a really excellent tool for me to use.
Yes, I have to use my fingers and touch my cunt (and the blood). Yes, I have to deal with emptying it in public restrooms, so I have to either be willing to bring the cup to the (communal) sink and empty it and rinse it, or to make do in a stall with a toilet paper wipe. Yes, it is not the most comfortable thing in the world, but whatever—my public bathroom experiences are already full enough of weird looks that I’ve just said fuck it, and gone for it. People are kind of trained to keep to themselves in bathrooms, so I’ve never had a problem, and very rarely has anybody even really looked at what I was doing. Yes, they are kind of expensive—but a $30-40 investment has lasted me 6-8 years in the past, so it’s definitely worth it.
So now you’ve got a couple of my secrets to how I have this monthly blood ritual of bleeding while butch:
- A moon chart
- A menstrual cup
- Quiet Days
… And maybe Mirena, the IUD, in the near future, though I’m still weighing my options. I had some bloodwork done and will hopefully be able to talk to some folks who have more expertise about hormones and the cycle and trans stuff than I do. That stuff is fascinating to me, but come on, my main knowledge is my own body and that one Psychobiology of Women class I took in college—there must be experts I can talk to.
What about you? What are your secret tools for bleeding (while butch, or otherwise)?
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PS: I’m booking workshops at colleges this fall now, and because I’m a workaholic, I’m also about to publish a book of my erotica short stories called Sweet & Rough! Digital copies will be available September 10th, and I’ll be debuting the book at the Catalyst Conference in LA September 12-14.bleeding, bleeding while butch, estrogen, feminism, genderqueer, hormones, menstrual cup, menstruation, moon chart, period, pms, psychobiology, quiet days, sckoon, testosterone, thank you obamacare, the diva cup, the health care system is so fucked up, the keeper, trans healthcare, transmasculine
Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few questions—both in the Submissive Playground course and in the Ask Me Anything box—concerning kink, trauma, and wellness, particularly about psychological kink play like D/s and Daddy/girl dynamics and whether or not they are “good” for you.
After my own recent experience of a D/s Daddy/girl relationship dynamic “going sour,” as I’ve been phrasing it, I have many of my own questions about the ways that these dynamics can contribute to emotional or psychological damage, can play into our past hurts or traumas, and/or can cause further harm.
I do deeply believe that D/s and other psychological kink play can be healthy, but like any relationship, can also be profoundly unhealthy. It’s not the dynamic that determines that health or damage so much as it’s the relationship—and a thousand other factors.
(Even categorizing relationships as “healthy” or “unhealthy” is oversimplified, since I think no relationship is entirely “healthy” or “unhealthy” all the time.)
I realized I needed some other expert opinions on kink and wellness, so I have been reaching out to some of the mental health practitioners that I know who are kink-friendly and knowledgeable.
This is my first interview so far, with Dr. Matt Goldenberg in Seattle. He and I have been friends for more than 10 years, and I am really grateful to know him and have access to his smart brain!
A couple of the resources we mention in the interview:
- Kink Aware Professionals directory includes many professionals, not exclusively psychologists and therapists
- “Justine’s List” – FetLifer Referrals to BDSM aware & Kink-friendly helping professionals – Therapist, psychotherapist, psychologist, psychoanalyst, doctor, body-worker, lawyer, legal office, medical practitioner, health, insurance, family & probate, marital – on Fetlife.com
- Essay on finding a suitable therapist, in the Justine’s List group on Fetlife
As I’ve been pondering, and through this interview, this is what I’ve been thinking:
- I don’t believe any particular act is inherently healthy or unhealthy (except perhaps illegal ones, or ones deemed “morally wrong” by the community at large, which are generally things like non-consent)
- The same act can be “healthy” and feel great for some people and be “unhealthy” and feel bad for other people, and the same act for the same people at different times could feel healthy or unhealthy depending on the circumstances.
- The biggest indicators of “unhealthy” scenes or moments in kink are feelings. If things aren’t feeling right, they probably aren’t.
But I still have a lot of questions, like:
- It is my belief that no fantasy is inherently wrong, and that playing with deep psychological triggers can sometimes be incredibly healing. What to you is the relationship between mental wellness and the practice of kink?
- How do you know if the kind of kink you’re practicing is contributing to your compulsions or damage, rather than healing it?
- What are the signs that one should watch for that may indicate someone is in a “danger zone”, playing with things they perhaps shouldn’t be?
As I delve deeper into psychological kink play, the nuances of it are increasingly interesting for me … This may be the beginning of a larger project.
I have a few more psychologists and therapists to conduct interviews with already. Do you have any suggestions for mental health practitioners who are knowledgeable about kink (they don’t have to be kinky themselves, but some knowledge is important), and who may want to talk to me? Have them get in touch, or send an email introducing us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have other psychological kink and wellness questions? Ask me here in the comments, and who knows, I may ask your question in the next interview.
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Content warning: This story contains bondage and Daddy/boy language, with some language around force and ownership. Read it at your own risk/pleasure.
“Be good, and I might let you come.”
My mouth is right next to their ear as my hands work to snap the hooks in place. Their wrists are bound above their head to the eyebolt they installed in our bedroom. They are stripped bare, except for their strap-on—the one that is precisely the smaller version of mine, which makes me feel like we are related, connected through our cocks. They are already shivering a little in the air, but they’ll forget that soon. I have to bend a little to reach their neck, but it makes their holes perfectly hip height when they bend.
“Please, Daddy …” they are already whimpering. My boy, my little faggot cocksucker, my dirty slut, my boy, my boy. I could say it all the ways all the time. Mine. I love owning them, love the thrill of saying the words every time, love their willingness and eagerness to turn over all of themself to me.
“Please what, boy.”
“Please, you’re going to … make me …”
I grin, sucking on the tender flesh at his neck, above his chain collar, beneath his ear. “You just relax. You’ll be fine. Daddy will take care of you.” I move my mouth down their body. They like it, and they shiver, and their skin has goosebumps from the exposure and the rush of sensation. Their nipples are hard.
Their cock is hard too. I tease it gently with my fingertips while I use my mouth and tongue on their skin. Every inch, neck and collarbone, biting at their shoulder; they are so “shouldery,” so muscular in the upper body. Their skin tastes salty, a little metallic where their collar has been rubbing. I like to leave the big red bruises, bites so hard my dental records are impressed into their skin. After months of this, they kind of know better, and squirm out of my grasp now when I start to go for it. But it’s harder to squirm away when they only have a few feet of movement, and I have them trapped between my body and the wall.
I start the bite slow, sinking my teeth in, sucking, trying to distract from the sharpness with my tongue and mouth, with my hand on their dick. My mouth right in the upper arm where the bicep starts thickening. They squirm, whimper. Whisper, “Daddy, Daddy …” But I know they like it. They ask me all the time for marks, bruises, lasting trophies of which to be proud. I can feel their pelvis tipping back, cock tickling my palm.
If I had my mouth on their cunt right now, they would be gushing. The thought of it makes my knees weak, makes something harden inside me, makes me grip harder on their body and press my teeth deeper. They cry out. Take it, take it, I urge silently. They struggle for another couple breaths, gasping a little, toes curling, pressing against me, pulling their arm away as they lean into my body, until they let go, just for a moment, and their muscles relax. Oh so much easier to get a good, deep bite in when they aren’t resisting. I pull back to reposition; they squirm and gasp in air at the blood rushing back in to the muscle.
“Just a little more, boy,” I soothe as I find the bite, the right contour that fits just where I want it to fit in my mouth, and sink in again. Harder this time. No time to wait. Getting more urgent. They cry out, head back, throat open, and I suck them down into my throat, swallowing once. They are sweating a little more, I can smell it from their armpits exposed, a sweet-salty clean smell of boys and work. It’s urgent now, this build in me, this craving for more, for control, for taking all that is mine from their sweet boy body. I know this is a service, I know they need to give it over just as much as I need to take it. We have carefully negotiated this, built this over the last three years. I trust. They trust me. It is not arbitrary or new. This is the long game, and hard won.
I tease the crown of their cock with my hand as their hips keep shuddering. They’re probably close. I could keep them here for a long time, but I want that come. I want it sliding down my throat, I want what’s mine back in me.
As soon as I realize that, it’s immediate. I grip their hips as I dip to my knees to take from them what I want: this boy cock, this come, this orgasm. I cup my hand between their legs, my thumb on their wet, hot opening as my fingers push their split open and find their tight rosebud hole. They are so ready for me, open and puckered, pink and bright and eager to be shoved in.
I warm them up with my tongue. Suckling with my lips. Teasing at the underside of the head, that sensitive cleft.
“I’m trying, Sir … I’m trying … not to …” they can’t quite get the words out.
“Good boy,” I mumble into their cock, the vibrations of words causing a shiver. This isn’t for you, I think. This is what I need. This is mine. I follow my want with their cock, sweet and perfectly shaped, it fits so well against my tongue and the roof of my mouth. Sometimes I so relate so deeply to all of you cock-centric cocksuckers: the lock and key of cock and mouth, the stabilizing completion of this empty hole, the need for nourishment going deep into my belly.
Their head is bent back again, hips shaking, little thrusts of involuntary shudders, heels coming off the ground and shuddering, holding on to the bonds that hold their arms up. I move my hand from their slick split up to their cock, pressing it against their flesh underneath, alternating the pressure. Thumb still against their front hole. Tongue working against their shaft. I’m lost in it, sucking, swallowing. I’m filling myself on what I need, taking it from deep inside down into me. They shudder. Cry out. I hear their words but I’m not sure what they’re saying, something like, “Daddy, I have to Daddy, I have to let it out, Daddy you’re going to make me …” and I am hard and near to bursting myself as they come, releasing liquid into my palm as their hips shudder against my mouth. I catch their cock in my teeth and hold them there, milk it out of them as I hold between their legs. Dripping down my wrist and forearm onto my elbow.
My movement slows, theirs does too.
I bring my palms together at their cunt, as much in worship as in gratitude, bowing my head, feeling the fire quenched and burning in my belly, in the bowl of me down low. I breathe. Hold on to that for a moment, remembering what it’s like to have the privilege of this connection, this service boy, this worship, this care, this body—both theirs and mine, functioning, whole—and this love. This miracle. Every brush of skin and contact and understanding feels precious after years of relationships full of misunderstanding and expected attack. We are making new pathways, new trails to follow. We are making more things make more sense, more of ourselves make sense.
As they are catching their breath and moaning in afterglow, I trail my fingers along their sensitive skin and rise from my knees. I whip open my belt, unbuckle my jeans. Ready for more.
“Sir, was it okay? That I came?”
“Yes, boy, it was okay. Just what I wanted. And, now … I need you to take a little more for me, baby boy,” I say, pulling out my cock, the big one, the one that is just like theirs but bigger. Twisting their body around, my hand at their shoulders to push them against the wall, pulling their hips toward me, spreading their legs, readying their holes. “Daddy needs a little more.”
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What do I pack with?
Just about anything can be packed into your briefs and worn as a packer, but fear not! Plenty of queer genderfuckers have already done hours of research about what kind of DIY options work really well, and there are plenty great (and pretty affordable!) options out on the market, too.
If you’re looking for a packer, the first thing I recommend is to go check out your local feminist queer-friendly sex-positive sex toy store. There are dozens around the country, and more and more each year, so I hope you have a good one near you. The folks who work there are often sex educators themselves, with tons of knowledge on the particular materials of what they carry. They can recommend one based on your skin sensitivities or what other toys you want it to go with.
Generally, packers are made out of a composite elastomer plastic. These aren’t bad for you—most of the time, they don’t have the dreaded phthalates in them—but what it does mean is that you can’t boil the shit outta them to sanitize them. If you want to share a packer with a partner, if you have STIs, or if you have sensitive skin, I would recommend silicone.
Silicone is, when it comes to sex toys, pretty much always a better choice for ingredient: it’s hypoallergenic and good for those with sensitive skin, as often it’s medical grade silicone. But it’s more expensive and way less squishy, so it feels less like a soft penis and more like … a sculpture of a penis. What kind of material you choose just depends on your personal preference.
Squishsy and fun to touch
|Cons||Not as realistic|
|Can’t be disinfected|
Material will more easily tear
Won’t last as long
What size should I get?
One of the most common versions of packers found at feminist queer-friendly sex-positive sex toy stores is often called Mr. Softy (also known as the Classic Packy or Mr. Limpy). They tend to come in mini, small, medium, and large sizes.
The Mr. Softy soft pack is the one I recommend most. Because it’s usually a fairly personal toy, the silicone material isn’t that important to me, and I’d rather have the more pliable material. It won’t last as long as silicone, but if you take good care of it, it will stick around a while—I’ve had mine at least ten years now and it’s still in pretty good shape.
Having a large packer is not important when it comes to packing—in fact, it can make your packer a little bit harder to pack, as it can be unwieldy in your undies. If you want the most realistic packer—by which I mean, if you want a packer that looks the most like a cis guy’s flaccid cock—go for the mini size.
If you want to make an impression, by all means, go for the medium or large sizes! I have found personally that I really like the weight and feel of the small sized packers.
A note about color
Most of the packers come in colors like “vanilla, caramel, chocolate.” This vastly under represents the huge range of skin tone that exists. That sucks. I hope product manufacturers will continue to expand the colors they offer and stop centering whiteness as the norm.
Many of the packers that don’t come in multiple sizes are approximately the small size, 4-5” in length. This is plenty!
The other good thing about packers, however, is that because they are often elastomer, they are frequently $20-40, so even if you go for one particular size now, you can always save up or allot a bit more to try out the other size.
What if it looks like I have an erection?
Or, oh hey, I want a big ol’ bulge!
If you’re trying to be read as a cis man, keep in mind that cis guy’s penises hang at different angles depending on what’s comfortable for the guy. If having it straight down isn’t comfortable for you, try it off to the side or slightly up.
If you want a big ol’ juicy package, and your packer just isn’t having the effect you are seeking, consider: a) tighter pants, b) stuffing your pants with extra bulge, or c) upgrading your packer to something bigger. You can always go for a hard pack, if you really want that very obvious bulge!
But if you’re more of a DIY kind of person, it’s pretty simple to make your own packer
Socks are sometimes so much hotter than anything else. Packing with socks and a having a black unbreakable comb in your pocket. For me, it’s the heightened artifice [of masculinity]. That teenage feeling. Having to roll up that pair of socks just so. Butch. And maybe it’s also an homage to the past. I’m old fashioned.” —@redswain
There are a variety of methods of making your own packers, particularly by filling condoms with hair gel, or through rolled-up socks. But just about anything can be made into a packer—I’ve heard of folks using beans for added weight, or building a custom shape with three ankle socks (for balls).
I made clay packer last year, wrapped it in a small sock and stitched it to a waist band I cut off a pair of boxers. Custom!” —@keyskiyl
Personally, I am not extra experienced at making my own (aside from the occasional rolled-up sock), so I’m not going to go into the DIY methods here. Be creative—I’m sure you’ve already got some extra something lying around that would be perfect to use to try it out.
What about Extra Special Packers?
There are a few packers on the market that do more than just sit in your pants—they could also be STP (stand to pee) devices, for example. Check out a few of the options for specialty packers.
I also really love that Number One has their own packing strap built just for the Model A or D.
Speaking of packing straps …
Keeping your packer in place
I would love if my partner did this outside the home, but she is always worried it might fall out.” —@Colette
One of the most common fears about packing and packing-gone-wrong stories that I hear is about packing falling out of one’s underwear. And yes: this can and does happen to the best of us. It just does! The more room we have in our underwear or jeans, and the more active we are, the most likely it is for the packer to snake its way out of the careful place in which you nestled it, and the more likely it is to fall down your pants or shorts or skirt.
But there is a super easy, pretty much failsafe fix for this: A packing strap or packing pouch.
You can very easily make your own with a sock or little pouch and a safety pin, or, if you want to step it up a bit, affix a piece of velcro. But if you’re not the DIY type, there are lots of products out there to keep your packer in place, too.
The straps are mostly elastic and cotton, so they can easily be machine washed or washed by hand.
A note about keeping your packer clean!
Silicone packers should be cared for like other silicone strap-on products: use soap and water to wash it down before and after use, and disinfect it on occasion (I usually do a big batch of cock soup and disinfect silicone toys I’ve used about once a month). You can immerse them in boiling water for 5 minutes, or you can put them on the top rack of the dishwasher (no soap!), or wash them in a 10% bleach/90% water solution—all of those will disinfect silicone.
You can’t disinfect elastomer, soft skin, and other composite plastic packers, however, so please don’t boil your packy … you’ll melt it. They need a simple washing of soap and water before and after use, and regular corn starch dustings. After they are dry completely, put them in a plastic bag or your storage bag with a tablespoon or so of corn starch and make sure the corn starch covers the whole thing. Corn starch will help it stay feeling velvety, and not be sticky to the touch.
From soft to hard packing
If you want to go out packing soft and then switch to something hard in order to get your play on, well, I salute you! Is there an easy way to do that, aside from taking off your pants, taking off your packer and strap, pulling on your harness and strap-on, and putting your pants back on?
Not exactly. While there are some really excellent pack and play strap-on cocks out there, none of them are universally loved, and none are as comfortable as soft packers like these.
Honestly, hard packing is a whooooole other subject, and one that I willingly and eagerly tackle. (You know. For science. For you.) Stay tuned for the next installation of Sugarbutch Guide to Cock Confidence all about hard packing.
P.S.– This post is brought to you by readers like you, and sponsored by tranzwear.com, who have generously offered to give away cocks to three lucky commenters. You get your pick of size and color for the Mr. Limpy, Masho, or PackIT soft packers.
Just comment with your favorite packing advice or product or story to enter. Winners will be drawn at random one week from today (Aug 14th).Good luck! The contest is over! Thanks to Tranzwear for providing the excellent packers.
P.P.S. – If service and/or gangbangs are your thing, make sure you don’t miss the #pornparty AUGUST 13th at 6pm PST. It’s a free way to enjoy some sexy, feminist porn with your favorite internet friends. Learn more here, and I’ll see you on Twitter!aslan leather, babeland, butch cock, cock confidence, cocks, confidence, disinfectable, early 2 bed, femme cock, femme packing, ftm, genderqueer, good vibes, how big should my dick be, how to pack, materials, new york toy collective, packing, sexy times, silicone, soft packing, spareparts, swagger, trans, trans men, what is packing, why would you want to pack
I don’t pack, but I love when my girlfriend wears her packer. It makes her stand a little taller and it really turns me on when there’s a little something extra to squeeze. Mmm.” —@Christina
“Packing” is short hand for stuffing something in one’s pants or underwear to make it feel or look as though the wearer has a factory-installed dick. As the trans movement and awareness has grown in recent years, there are significantly more commercially available products one can buy for that experience of packing, but there are plenty of easy and affordable ways to do it yourself.
But why do you want to do it?
There are plenty of different reasons to explore packing. It can be a turn-on! Or it can be something only you know about, that affirms your gender identity and expression. Or perhaps your dominant shoves your packer into your briefs before you’re going out and then you both know that your dick is right there. Or perhaps you can use it as a tool for passing as male, or for gender validation from others.
Trans and/or masculine-identified folks aren’t the only people who are experimenting with packing. You can be feminine or trans or butch or diesel femme or queer or sugar butch or defy labels or girly or all of the above or none of the above and still explore packing. I know plenty of femmes who pack, sometimes or all the time—one particular leather girl told me recently that she likes to use a Hello Kitty knee sock in a jock strap. Hot! I don’t know about you, but that gives me a very unique impression of her gender and sexual expression.
For folks who were assigned female at birth, we don’t have the experience of that weight pulling down between our legs unless we add something extra there. Particularly for trans and masculine-identified folks, having some sort of weight or bulge between our legs can be incredibly validating, both internally within ourselves and externally through how we are perceived. But it can be validating and useful for anyone of any gender, and can be a really interesting tool for self-awareness and expression for any body.
As someone who often fucks those who pack, it turns me on knowing what’s coming.. I love the swagger, the forcefulness it brings.” —@rexicon
I know for me, when I started playing around with packing around 2000, I found it kind of indescribably … Comfortable, and comforting. There was something about it that just fit, like a really cozy sweatshirt. The way it shifted when I did, the way my legs stayed a little more apart, how I led more with my hips than my shoulders … it just felt like me. I’m very internally motivated about most things related to my gender and sexuality, so feeling that internal click for me was more than enough to interest me into exploring it further.
While I am masculine and butch identified, I’m not male identified, so packing for me personally has nothing to do with passing as cis male. However, it’s a frequent reason that trans guys pack, and in circumstances where dicks are supposed to be or accidentally on display—like at a gay boy dance club, or at the beach or swimming pool—having one to actually display can be thrilling and validating. I’ve also heard trans guys say that it helps support them in walking, sitting, or holding themselves in more male ways, particularly since cis guys often walk and sit such that they don’t squash their penis.
Packing can assist with the feeling of dysphoria, of feeling disconnected from one’s body in part due to gender identity (or presentation or perception). But for other people, packing actually increases the feeling of dysphoria. Your milage may vary—and however it feels for you is just fine.
Let’s not forget: Even though it can be externally and internally validating and empowering, it can also often be very vulnerable to pack. It is a way to experience our genitals outside of our bodies … and those of us with most of our genitalia on the inside tend not to feel that very often. There’s a reason kneeing a guy in the groin is effective: those soft tissues are soft, and sweet, and vulnerable.
And if you’re like me, and you have a bit of a vulnerability fetish, you might love it even more because of that.
So wait: Is it about sex or gender?
For me hard packing is about sex but soft is about swagger, how I relate to myself.” —@nicgreiner
Both, of course. But which it stimulates in you totally depends on you and how you relate to it. I have heard people talk about how they see their packy as completely platonic, not sexualized really at all, but more of a cross between a masculinizing accessory and a prosthetic. And I know some folks for whom packing is inherently sexual, all the time, and they immediately get turned on by it.
It just depends on you, your circumstances, your body, your relationship to your sexual and gender expressions.
I loved my ex’s. When he wore it he obviously was more confident. It also gave me something even bigger to squeeze and tease.”
It’s kind of like wearing a tie. When I was transitioning to and exploring my own butch identity around 2000, I started wearing ties when I dressed up. At first it was awkward and uncomfortable, but as I got more used to them, I made little rules for myself about where was “appropriate” to wear a tie. I wore them when I went on dates, and I wore them when I was doing a performance (usually reading dirty smut or poems in a dyke bar, so that was a particular association). I got really used to ties (and, later, suits) being an incredibly hyper-sexualized, externally validated, amplified masculine experience.
So when I was working at a finance firm in midtown Manhattan and we had a black tie holiday party, it was a given that I would wear a suit. The first time I went, I felt super uncomfortable because I had only worn a suit and tie in the context of, well, SEX and queers and gender-radicalism. Wearing it in this totally heteronormative environment (with coworkers looking at me just a little more sideways) was not sexual, but my association with the suit and tie was absolutely.
It’s a personal confidence thing for me, I don’t feel comfortable without it.” —@furswag
When your only context for a thing is sex and erotics, then it begins to perpetuate itself, like Pavlov’s dog. If the pack is only for going on dates and then getting it on, your system will start to associate it with getting it on. If it’s worn day-to-day like a special watch or favorite pair of shoes, it will be a slightly precious object for love and care. If it’s an every single day practice, it’ll become weird to not have it, and it’ll fade into the background, like brushing your teeth or putting on socks. I betcha those things happen most days, but can you really remember the details of teeth brushing or sock-putting-on-ing? Probably not—because it’s automatic, an ingrained habit.
Packing could be about your own private gender expression, or about others seeing you as male, or it could be about turning yourself and your lover on.
Let’s not forget: It’s hot!
[When my partner packs,] it’s one of my favorite things. it turns me on all day thinking about it, knowing what it’s doing to them to watch my reaction.” — @rexicon
Maybe your lover knows that you have a soft packer in your pants (because you revealed it as you were getting dressed), so they get to fantasize and squeeze and touch it while you’re going about your day. Or maybe you press up against them hard and take their hand and press their palm to your bulge. Maybe they don’t ever know that you have had a packer on all day, or maybe they find out. Maybe they don’t even have to know—maybe you knowing is enough.
I often pack when I want a little extra swagger or confidence, particularly to social events, parties, kink events, queer community stuff, or anywhere that I want to have a little more oomph to me. I often request my boy to pack if I want to work him up for a little while, if I want to have him squirming by the time I get him home and stripped. I try to always remember throughout the time I’ve asked him to pack for me and to touch it, reference it, and tease him about it—mostly because he likes that, but also because if I make a request, I don’t want to forget that I’ve made it.
Soft packing is mostly, for me, about turning me on and building up for later.” — @rexicon
So now that you know all about why you might want to pack … What kinds of products are out there? Can you make your own? How do you keep it in place? What if you’re a femme and you want to pack?
Such good questions! I’ll explore those all in next week’s post, part 2 of the Sugarbutch Guide to Cock Confidence for soft packing.
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