Posts Tagged ‘bdsm’

Ask Mr. Sexsmith: I struggle with my feminist beliefs and my bedroom preferences  ... help!

Ask Mr. Sexsmith: I struggle with my feminist beliefs and my bedroom preferences … help!

April 18, 2014  |  advice  |  2 Comments

Dear Mr. Sexsmith,

I am a strong, opinionated, sometimes bossy, lesbian. I have a huge passion for the empowerment, education and advocacy of women. I volunteer as a sexual assault advocate and have been involved as a Planned Parenthood educator. I am very vocal about breaking the cycle of female oppression in our culture.

I feel a personal conflict, as I also identify as femme and am very much a bottom in the bedroom. I like to be dominated and controlled in sexual play and I very much get off on fantasies that boarder on roughness and non-consent. I guess my struggle lies in the dichotomy between my feminist beliefs and my bedroom preferences. I do not consider myself to be a weak or oppressed female, but in the bedroom I love to be controlled, punished and made to serve. Is there a way for the two to be harmonious? I fight for women to have power and to stand up for themselves. Can you help me sort this out?

Tara

I hear you.

I too have come up within the lesbian feminist movements (and in their wakes) with a strong passion for smashing the patriarchy and a vehement dedication to working on less pain for the various gender minorities in the world. And I too like to do dirty, “perverted,” un-politically correct things in my erotic life. I struggle with reconciling my own feminist beliefs with my desire for sadism and wanting to physically cause “pain,” and with my masculinity and dominance and the ways that both masculinity and dominance are seen as corrupted ways of having power in some feminist’s views. I was asked just this morning about my consumption of porn, and my candid talk about how porn is fun and can be useful and good and valuable, and how I reconcile that with feminism. And, oh yeah, I forget that’s a part of that feminist reconciliation process too.

And all of these took a long time, and were long processes.

I have had lots of judgment about sadism, masculinity, dominance, and porn in the past. Some of it was a reaction formation, at least in a minor way, I think. I had reactions and judgment both about other people’s visible execution of these things, and the tendencies in myself—my own desires. I struggled to reconcile those tendencies and how they went with my feminist commitments to gender liberation and my sensitivities to surviving abuse and being in a rape culture.

I think it absolutely is possible to reconcile, to sort this out.

Here’s some of the ideas that I kicked around—for years and years, with trusted friends, at kink conferences, with lovers. It was not an immediate process. It required adopting a new kind of feminism, I think—a BDSM- and kink-friendly feminism that is rooted in agency and consent, and that understands the difference between play and abuse.

Consider these things:

1. Bottoming, service, and surrendering control, comes from a place of great strength and power.

[Bottoming] is absolutely making yourself vulnerable. But vulnerability is not about weakness—it comes from a place of great strength.

People have the idea in their heads that bottoming is weak, but I think that is not true at all. Bottoming is incredibly powerful. Being able to know where your own boundaries are, hold yourself safe, be able to speak up for your own needs, ask for what you want, and negotiate trust with a person who is going to assist your body and self on a journey takes a lot of skill and sovereignty. People who do it well have an extensive amount of intelligence, self-worth, and self-knowledge.

It absolutely is making yourself vulnerable. But vulnerability is not about weakness—again, it comes from a place of great strength.

The notion that bottoming, receiving sensation, and submitting to someone else’s desires is weak comes from a twisted version of what those things really are, versions that show only the completely non-consensual and abusive sides of these experiences. But when done consensually, the gift that is bottoming to another is precious and strong. It’s amazing to serve someone else; we serve community, family, friends, and other valuable relationships all the time. We give our power or authority, or cede our control, away intentionally in order to empower others in a variety of contexts, and we can get great pleasure from doing so. And when we find someone worthy of our trust such that we will put our body into their hands for intense sensation, cathartic release, and the deep pleasure of being in the present moment with whatever is happening … how does that not come from a place of power?

The difference, in my opinion, between it coming from power and strength or from oppression comes down to some simple traditional feminist concepts.

2. Consent makes all the difference. All of it.

When done within a framework of consent, I believe it is possible for just about anything to be empowering.

I would guess that you do not have a fetish for a scenario where you are forced to serve against your will, when you were thrown around aggressively and had your body played with when you didn’t want it. Fuck no! But what you do want is within a safe, negotiated relationship, to be “forced” to serve, to play with giving over your will entirely.

Consent changes experiences completely. In the activist cultures around female oppression, we often talk about consent in a “no means no” way, and stress the value of enthusiastic consent and the “just because they didn’t say no doesn’t mean there was consent!”

But I think an incredibly important piece of examining the feminist concept of consent is also that YES MEANS YES, and that the consent itself is what makes the act possible or okay.

Let me give you an example: I like playing with Daddy/girl and Daddy/boy role play in my sex life. I know that is something kind of extreme to some people, and many people misinterpret it as incest fantasies, which it is and it isn’t (more on that another time). Sometimes I hear people say things like, “But what if you/I/someone crosses the line with an actual young person!”

But for me, that would not happen.

I do not have a fetish for sleeping with and playing roughly with people under eighteen. I have a fetish for sleeping with and playing roughly with adults who adopt a younger persona (usually temporarily) with enthusiastic consent. It’s not about actual incest or actual under-18 youths. No no no no no. It’s about adults tapping in to other parts of ourselves, to open up new experiences.

The consent is actually an essential part of that fetish.

And likewise, I would guess that for you, Tara, you do not have a fetish for a scenario where you are forced to serve against your will, when you were thrown around aggressively and had your body played with when you didn’t want it. Fuck no! But what you do want is within a safe, negotiated relationship, to be “forced” to serve, to play with giving over your will entirely, to be punished for doing something “wrong,” to be used for someone else’s pleasure.

There is a huge, huge difference between the actual thing and some sort of play consensual version of the thing.

3. BDSM—and being punished, controlled, and made to serve—are completely different from abuse and oppression.

And consent is a key piece of that, yes, but there are a lot of other specific, clear, and measurable differences, too.

Read the “BDSM is Not Abuse” list released by the Lesbian Sex Mafia, one of the oldest women’s BDSM groups in the country, based in New York City. I think it articulates things very well:

The Difference Between BDSM and Abuse

SM: An SM scene is a controlled situation.
ABUSE: Abuse is an out-of-control situation.

SM: Negotiation occurs before an SM scene to determine what will and will not happen in that scene.
ABUSE: One person determines what will happen.

SM: Knowledgeable consent is given to the scene by all parties.
ABUSE: No consent is asked for or given.

SM: The “bottom” has a safeword that allows them to stop the scene at any time should they need to for physical or emotional reasons.
ABUSE: The person being abused cannot stop what is happening.

SM: Everyone involved in an SM scene is concerned about the needs, desires and limits of others.
ABUSE: No concern is given to the needs, desires and limits of the abused person.

SM: The people in an SM scene are careful to be sure that they are not impaired by alcohol or drug use during the scene.
ABUSE: Alcohol or drugs are often used before an episode of abuse.

SM: After an SM scene, the people involved feel good.
ABUSE: After an episode of abuse, the people involved feel bad.

Souce: lesbiansexmafia.org

Because they are so different, I sometimes think the hyper-articulation of different language is important. It’s one of the reasons that people sometimes use the phrase “consensual non-consent” instead of “rape play,” for example.

The difference between BDSM and abuse goes back to consent, yes; but it goes back to all sorts of other things, too. Like trust, and skill, and agency.

4. Trust in your own agency. Trust in your own experience.

If you negotiate with a lover to get what you want, have an experience, and then everybody feels good after … as long as the experience is “doing no harm” in the world, then I say FUCKING GO FOR IT.

Have some play. Have some ecstasy. Have some screaming release. Have a big bold messy weird experience that maybe other people would judge but it just felt so goddamn good for your body and your mind and your emotions and everything sings a little brighter the next day.

You get to say what happens to your body. You get to have your own experience, and then decide if that was pleasurable or not, enjoyable or not, and whether you’d want to do it again, with this person or with a different person or in a new way or not at all. You get to have your experience of a non-ordinary thing and then, if you feel like fuck yes that was amazing! More more more please! then you can trust that that is real and true. Agency is trusting the answer that you come up with, authentically, when you ask yourself: Does it feel good or bad? Am I left with icky residue or release and joy? Do I feel closer to my play partner, or farther away?

Of course, not every BDSM scene is that easy to evaluate—but some of them just are. Start there. Start with the ones that are easy to tell. Start with trusting your own consent, and agency, and your own deepest experience of what you like or don’t like.

If it matters to you that other people do sometimes see these things you want as contradictory, seek out feminist kink communities. They do exist! This was a topic that came up in the Submissive Playground ecourse quite frequently, actually, and we had a lot of lively discussions about the feminist reconciliation process.

I actually have a dozen more notes about things to say around this process of reconciliation, but this is already more than 2,000 words, so I’m going to call it good for now. Feel free to ask more about specific things in the comments and I’ll do my best to reply!

I hope that gives you lots of places to start. If you’re still stuck, remember, I do one-on-one coaching sessions, and I would be very happy to help you with resources, experiments, ideas, support, or just talking in depth through this reconciliation process. Contact me for more information and pricing.

Got a question for Mr. Sexsmith? Ask it here!

Comment Zen …

Readers, do you relate to Tara’s question?

If you do, would you share your own story about your relationship to feminism and kink? Did you reconcile the two? What was the process like? Slow, fast, hard, simple? What kind of resources helped you on your journey? Books? Anything to recommend for others who are going through this? Do you have any recommendations for feminist kink Fetlife groups?

Leave your story anonymously if you like; your email address will not be published, and if you don’t want your usual “gravitar” picture of you to show up, just type “+sugarbutch” in your email address (like [email protected]) and I’ll know you want to be anonymous.

Free eBook Download: BDSM murder mystery about dogs & neighbors

November 11, 2013  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

During the month of November, in celebration of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), author (and my good buddy) Amy Butcher is giving away ebook copies of her award-winning Nanowrimo novel Paws for Consideration.

Of course, if you get the ebook version, you will miss out on the awesome flip book—illustrated by Amy—in the upper corner of the book, which features Daisy the person zooming around in her wheelchair while Skittles the dog pees on the page numbers.

From Amybutcher.com:

Paws for Consideration won the Gay Category at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival. That now makes Paws for Considerationan “award-winning novel” . . . who knew?

It’s also National Novel Writing Month. Another cause for celebration not only for all the crazy writing happening but also because that’s where Paws for Consideration got it’s start.

So throughout November, you can download a free copy of Pawsthrough Smashwords. Enter your email in the form [on Amybutcher.com] and we’ll send you the download code. And if you enjoy, please give a shout out on Goodreads.”

Paws is an easy fun read, full of jaunts all over the Mission and Castro in San Francisco. I read it on a plane in basically one sitting last year when it came out, and I laughed out loud and cried when Skittles was found and was moved as the neighborhood characters found a way to come together and puzzle through someone’s death. I like how Daisy navigates through the heretofore unexplored world of BDSM in the Castro, the perspective is sweet and curious and accepting.

Oh yeah, there are play parties and sex and masturbation and flogging scenes and leather dungeons in this book too. And also lots of dogs.

It starts like this:

For the briefest of moments, a question hung in the air between two damp noses. Daisy-the-person joysticked her electric wheelchair a little closer to Daisy-the-dog. Daisy-the-dog danced one cautious step backwards in response, slid a long tongue across the tip of her nose and tasted the dampened air, trying to decide if this hulking combination of vehicle and person was to be trusted. Daisy-the-person snorted too, and wiped a sleeve across her own muzzle. “Come on over here, you cutie, and give me some love!” she said, beckoning low with an outstretched hand.

The voice of Daisy-the-person carried way beyond the dog in front of her. She was the morning wake-up call for her neighbors, as regular as the bells ringing out from the steeple of Mission Dolores, only higher pitched. She patted her generous lap again, encouraging Daisy-the-dog to come closer.

To the canine, it wasn’t clear where chair began and person ended. The way this creature moved, the wheels and the whir, were disconcerting. But she smelled good—of oily chicken scents and warm lint—and she wasn’t moving now. Daisy-the-dog decided to take a chance.

Now, don’t you want to read the whole thing? Go download it now.


Clipped from http://amybutcher.com/writing/writing_Mystery.html

 

Queer Porn TV Free #PornParty January 31st

January 11, 2013  |  miscellany  |  2 Comments

QueerPorn.TV & I are throwing another FREE #pornparty on January 31st. Want to watch some smutty queers doin’ it with us?

What is a #pornparty, you ask? Well, it’s a worldwide gathering on Twitter of folks who like queer porn. Simply tune in, press play, and then follow the hashtag #pornparty while you watch for commentary and discussion. If you want to join in, make sure you have your own Twitter account, too (and make sure it’s unlocked for the evening if you want others to see your tweets!) and tag your posts with the hashtag so we’ll all see them.

We’ll be watching something through QueerPorn.TV, and viewing this film will be completely free. You don’t have to buy it or download it or purchase VOD minutes to watch it with us. You simply login using the access code (to be announced) and that will give you access to these scenes.

Here are the scenes we’ll be watching!

QPTVbanner

About Queer Porn TV: Our porn reflects the true sexual desires of our performers, the Queer Porn Stars of the world, when we ask them to choose who they want to work with, what they want to do, and how they want to do it. We believe we don’t need to order our performers around in order to make hot, marketable porn – we think the fantasies, and realities, of these incredible people are better than the stereotypes and formulas of your run-of-the-mill porn. We are QueerPorn.TV, and we think that anybody can be a Queer Porn Star!

Sara Vibes & Deana

In this highly anticipated QPTV NYC scene directed by Tina Horn, Sara Vibes brings Deanna Cannonball to the edge in an intense and beautiful play piercing scene. This video is edited into three vignettes: First, Sara puts her knife all over Deanna’s body and punches and flogs her to warm her up. Then, the middle of the scene focuses on the piercings, as Sara punctures Deanna’s skin up and down her entire arms to create a beautiful bind. Deanna experiences the edge of consent, and begs Sara to take them out and fuck her. The third portion of the scene has Sara fucking Deanna with her hands and a giant strap on – the orgasms Deanna shudders through seem to be laced with the pain and pleasure of being edged and bled by one of the absolute best in the BDSM community, Sara Vibes.

James Darling, Tina Horn, & Quinn

So a trans male fag, a cis male femme fag, and a lady fag walk into a living room … I can’t remember the punchline but I think it has something to do with stilettos, sucking, spanking and squirting.

Courtney Trouble & Mr Gray

Courtney Trouble tries her hand at retail, working for leather king Mr Gray at Aslan Leather. Mr. Gray is an unforgiving boss and soon Courtney finds herself in the middle of a new kind of training day.

Mr. Gray demonstrates the use of a leather arm binder, leather wrist cuffs, and rope bondage on his trainee, taking full advantage of her in these compromising positions. Courtney is forced to her knees to suck Mr Gray’s big cock, then gets hand fucked until she squirts all over the floor. Mr Gray also deals out plenty of tit torture, ass punching, and rough handling, getting off in his leather pants over and over.

This scene is heavy on BDSM, bondage, impact play, humiliation, and verbal domination. Stay tuned for Part Two, in which Courtney is fucked until she squirts all over the leather sling.

So how do you tune in and watch this video for free with us?

NOTE! If your Twitter account is private, we won’t be able to see your #pornparty tweets show up under the hashtag. If you want to join in on the conversation (hope you do!), you may have to unprotect your Twitter account.

So all you have to do is:
1. Log in with the QueerPorn.TV access code (TBA before the 31st)
2. Tune in Thursday night, January 31st at 6pm PST, 9pm EST
3. Enjoy the film with us!
4. Follow & contribute to the Twitter discussion with the hashtag #pornparty

You can also follow me (@mrsexsmith) as well as some of the porn stars in the film, like @courtneytrouble, @aslanleather, @tinahornsass, and of course our fabulous #pornparty host, @queerporntv on Twitter.

So, are you game? Who’s in?

Reconciling the Identities of Feminist & Butch Top

June 10, 2012  |  essays  |  4 Comments

Queer Memoir: Butch/Stud Through the Years was fucking EPIC on Friday night, and I’m so honored and thrilled to have been there and to be a part of it. There was the story of the kid’s game “hide and go get it” in Kentucky! There was the revelation of belonging somewhere and that “here take a sticker” moment—”because even though you’re in New York City, you might still be isolated.” There were discussions about feminist topping! There was deep appreciation for butch friends and community and support! There was a fucking marriage proposal!

This is the piece I read, slightly updated from the December 2009 version, about reconciling the identities of feminist and butch top, and what it means to be a masculine person who is also dominant. It is relevant as ever and I still struggle with the intersection of these identities. I have a lot more to say about it, and reading this piece again made me think about what I’d add and what more there is to say, so I’m working on it. Meanwhile, here’s the text of what I read.


A few years ago, a girl I dated wanted me to slap her. To hit her face. She asked for it specifically, I still remember the conversation on the subway and the precise way that she looked over at me and said, I want you to hit me. Something big swelled in me and I wanted to, I wanted to feel the sting of impact on my palm and see her recoil, to do it again before she was ready, to push something so sensational onto her experience that she was jolted to the edges of her skin and had to feel, to feel herself, to feel me, to be fully present.

This girl and I had already done some other light percussion play, using my hand, or even a paddle, me hitting her ass and thighs, the fleshy parts that I couldn’t possibly do damage to beyond some light bruising. She liked it, we both did. It made sense to escalate, at the time, to something new; we were deepening both our romantic relationship – our trust in each other – and our power dynamic, and it was time to push a little, to see where we could go.

I was terrified. After she asked, after we talked about it extensively, I even tried, a few times, when we were in bed and she said, hit me, now, please, and I couldn’t, I’d bring my hand up and chicken out.

I was terrified of what it would mean for me, as a masculine person, as a butch, to be more dominating in bed. To like it. To like to cause someone pain. To like to cause a woman pain. To hit someone in the face. To hit a woman in the face, to sexualize that act and that power dynamic specifically.

I was paralyzed by that terror – I wanted to do it, the idea, the very thought of it, the discussions with her, turned me on, the girl I was dating wanted me to do it, but I couldn’t.

Beyond wanting to do it, this was the kind of sex act that was in the sex life I was dreaming of having. This was what haunted my fantasies and what I looked for in porn that I watched and erotica that I read. And I was on a very serious quest to figure out how to have the sex that I wanted. I’d just gotten out of a bed-death relationship. I was committed to studying sex hard, to figuring out: what I wanted, how to get what I wanted, how to build a relationship with that as an element, how to maintain something sane and hot over a long period of time. That’s precisely why I started Sugarbutch.

I now know that I’m a sadist, and a top. That means I like to dominate. And already there are conclusions being drawn by some of you out there who think well of course you like to dominate, you’re masculine, and that’s prescribed for you or in other words you misogynistic asshole, I already knew you were one of “those” butches who needs to make up for your inadequacies by dominating women. Because that’s what we think, isn’t it? Maybe not consciously, but a little bit, somewhere in our brains, we associate these particular identity alignments – butch equals masculine equals top equals dominating equals men’s prescribed gender role. We’re relieved when they line up how we think they will, or maybe we are challenged and uncomfortable – though perhaps in a stimulated way – when they misalign.

There’s something supposedly anti-feminist about wanting to dominate. There’s something in the feminist rhetoric which says we are all equal especially in bed, so that means I-do-you-you-do-me, or that means we have sex neither above nor below each other, and with no reproduced heteronormative misogynistic patriarchal power dynamic.

But I didn’t want that. I’d had that, with other girlfriends, but it didn’t keep things hot enough to sustain a relationship. And secretly, I wanted to top and control and hit and demean and humiliate and restrain and force and take.

Power dynamic theory—stick with me for just a paragraph here—has many similarities to gender theory. Like the gender identities of butch and femme are not reproductions but pastiche copies at best of prescribed societal gender roles, putting on and taking off power roles in power sex play is a pastiche reproduction of power in our lives, of which there are thousands of examples of interaction on a daily basis. And when we can put on and take off these roles intentionally, the act of adopting becomes further proof that the power positioning in our lives is not inherent, or “real,” or immobile, or prescribed, or “normal,” but part of a hierarchical society of social power that can be deconstructed. In that, we can more easily have more power and control in the beneficial ways, and less power and control in destructive ways, as we play with it and engage with it.

As in my experience with coming to a butch gender identity, when I finally came to a power identity that really deeply aligned with something inside me that just clicked and make sense, I felt like I was coming home to myself in a way I hadn’t experienced previously. Through my personality and tendencies and psychology I have my own set of quirks and workings and functions, and for whatever reason, it makes a lot of sense to me to let out some of my power and control issues in the bedroom by being dominating. It is deeply satisfying the way a glorious meal or a delicious book is satisfying, one of my life’s greatest pleasures. I’m not sure I understand why I like what I like, but what I like does not harm others, and is consensual, and I know myself well enough to accept what I like as what I like – and to let that be a simple truth.

How did this change for me? What happened between the time when I was terrified to slap a girl in the face and today, now, where I am fairly comfortable in my identity as a top, and even as a sadist, as someone who enjoys causing extreme sensation (aka hurting) someone else?

Little by little, I had lovers who pushed me, lovers who were more experienced as bottoms than I was as a top, lovers who wanted more from me and who could take more than I was able to give who made enough space for me to walk into a bigger version of myself and occupy it, try it on.

I did come to a reconciliation with my feminist self and my top self. Phrases like men should not hurt women or rather masculine people should not hurt feminine people, or even more broadly that people should not hit each other and violence is bad bad bad … I had accepted those phrases as Ultimate Truths, and I started to understand deeper the ways that sensation was not violence, and hitting was a way to be sparked into the present moment, to release whatever our musculature was holding onto, and to deepen trust between people and in a relationship.

I didn’t realize how little trust I had in others until I started playing deeper with BDSM. Because I would tell myself, it’s okay, she wants to do it, but then I would think, does she really? Maybe she wants to because I want to. Maybe she wants to because society tells her she should want to. Maybe she wants to for fucked-up reasons, like she thinks it’s okay for her to feel humiliated and less than me because of her own internalized misogyny … but that was me not trusting that what she said was true. That she wanted me to hit her face. And that was me, further controlling both myself, her, and our relationship, in unhealthy ways, because I didn’t trust her.

This was an issue of agency, in feminist terms – my not trusting my lover to communicate with me what she wanted, to explain to me how far I could go, and my not trusting that she would let me know if I was going too far or too hard, either with her physical communication or her words or both, was me not trusting in the agency of my lover. I have to trust that she will tell me, she will let me know, if I am going too far. And I have to listen, apologize, understand what I did, and trust that she will accept that it was an accident, a mistake, and that I’ll do whatever she needs to feel safe again.

When I started playing out my control issues in BDSM, in the bedroom, in sex play, the control issues I had in my relationships began to heal.

In learning my way into being a top, I had many, many conversations about consent and intention and communication, I talked to my lovers when things broke down or didn’t seem to work and I learned more about my own tendencies when things went well. I figured out that sometimes, it was really hard for me to be with someone who bottomed so well, and who I trusted so deeply, that I did harder, scarier, bigger things with them that took me even deeper into my topping and dominance and sadism and power, and sometimes that meant I needed to be comforted afterward, to be told I liked that, and that wasn’t too much, and you didn’t hurt me, and that was what I wanted and thank you. Hearing those things is always a relief.

(I give good aftercare too, of course. But top aftercare is less common in the BDSM world – we don’t frequently talk about the toll it takes for the dominant to dominate.)

I practiced, a lot, to be bold and trusting through my topping. I tried scary things and it turned out they weren’t so scary, they were in fact incredibly hot. I got to know myself, and I learned more about the things I wanted to play with, and I talked to smart people whose experiences were similar to what I was going through and who assured me it was possible to come out the other side of it a masculine, queer, butch, sadistic, feminist top.

On Bruises and Lasting Marks by Kristen

June 5, 2012  |  journal entries  |  7 Comments

Written by Kristen. Follow her on Twitter @kitchentop.

I love getting marked up. I love the little dark fingerprints that fade to yellow on my upper arms, the purple signs of a shoulder bite, the teeth marks on my inner thighs. I don’t crave pain the way some masochists do. I like rough sex and I like when Sinclair brings it all to me, when they hold down my chest with all their weight while their cock’s inside, when they pin my arm behind me without worrying about whether they’re yanking too hard. I like deep, hard punching, especially across my wings, my shoulder blades and upper back, and I like a spanking, and I like when the feeling of floating, when I know I can handle more.

But what I really like are the bruises, bigger and more colorful in the light of day. I like the memory of what we did last night blooming on my skin as I strip for the morning’s shower. I like a big bouquet of them, spread across my shoulders and neck and thighs, proof that someone wanted me so badly they had to grab and bite and sometimes break skin. I like to show them off; when we lived apart, I would text Sinclair pictures of my bruises and we’d both shiver a little at the memory, and sometimes they post them here for the rest of the world to see.

There’s a funny competitive thing among kinky people – “Look how badass I am! I can take more pain than you – just look at the bruises!” – that I sometimes fall prey to. But it does feel like a badge of honor, a symbol of how far I went, how difficult it can be to let your mind go so that pain and pleasure meld and you can’t tell the difference anymore.

And for me it’s something more: yes, I chose this. My feminist boyfriend gave me bruises because I explicitly consented to them, because they made us both feel good, and I am allowed to choose that if I want to. In fact, with informed, aware consent, I can choose whatever I want. It might not be something you would choose for yourself, but that’s real choice, isn’t it? If I can choose to satisfy my desires with freaky shit you’d never want to do, or get a full-sleeve tattoo or plugs in my earlobes, I’m actually thinking through what I want – and getting it – instead of going along with what the world says I should want.

Bruises take work, to give and get. That giant purple mass on my upper arm required consent, negotiation, and enough endorphins (probably generated by some orgasms) that my body was primed to receive pain, courage, and hard biting. That splay of dark angel wings on my back probably took an hour, strong arms, a carefully timed warmup, and significant exertion. They are not evidence of anger or victimhood; they are evidence of skill.

Say Please! April Blog Tour & Reviewers Needed

March 20, 2012  |  miscellany  |  1 Comment

A big ol’ box of Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica edited by ME and published by Cleis Press has arrived on my doorstep! I am so thrilled to hold this book in my hands and pet it and flip through it, after more than a year of working on it behind the scenes, on my computer, alone, jerking off in bed with the manuscript I mean uh, editing and copy editing and re-editing.

And now … comes the exciting part! The birthing it into the world part! The part where I figure out how to get it into your hands and on your nightstands and between your boxspring and mattress and on your kinky bookshelves. So I’ve got a few things up my sleeve, including six inches a virtual blog book tour and some extra copies for reviewers.

The official promo blurb:

Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica is a fiction anthology edited by Sinclair Sexsmith, to be published by Cleis Press in April 2012. It is available for pre-order at Amazon and will be available for the Kindle and Nook. Email lesbianbdsmerotica at gmail.com if you have any questions; to request a review copy, email Brenda Knight at bknight at cleispress.com. For more information about Say Pleaes series, visit saypleasebook.wordpress.com.

Item the first! Reviewers needed for Amazon

Apparently, book sales on Amazon set the standard for many other buyers these days, and reviews on Amazon (even clicking “like” on Amazon) make a big difference in possible sales. So I’ve got 20 copies of the book to give to folks who are willing to write a review on Amazon. To do this, you must: have an Amazon.com account you’ve made a purchase from, have a US mailing address, promise to review it by April 31st and actually follow through. Will send one to the first 20 people to request it. Email lesbianbdsmerotica at gmail.com with “Amazon” in the subject line, your mailing address. I’ve got more than enough Amazon volunteers! Thank you!

Item the Second! Blog Tour

In April, surrounding the book’s official April 10th release date, I’ll be conducting a virtual blog tour for the book! That means: If you are a blogger, and you’d like a copy of the book to review on your blog on a particular day of the tour, I’ll send you one in exchange for your participation. To participate, you agree to post on your corresponding day; posts can be your thoughts about the book, an excerpt, or an interview with me or another contributor. Email lesbianbdsmerotica at gmail.com with “Blog tour” in the subject line, and include a link to your blog and any pertinent information about the site you run. Deadline is March 31st, but I will fill it as I go, so please email me asap.

Item the Third! Preorder the Book!

If you do plan to buy it, as with all books, pre-ordering them has a dual impact on the book’s sales, meaning your sale counts not just for one book, but means that the bookseller your purchasing from will stock extra copies. All sales are great, but pre-orders are extra special, a heads up as a way to support your favorite authors.

Item the Fourth! In Person Tour in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, NYC, and More to Come (So To Speak)

I am trying to get all over the place to read from this book … I still hope to visit Durham, Chicago, and Portland, and possibly Philadelphia and DC. If you’re a coordinator or event producer in any of those places, or in a different place!, and you’d like to help me with a reading, I’d love that. Get in touch.

Here are the current planned dates:

April 1 5pm, San Francisco at GV (with Salacious)
April 13 7pm, NYC at Bluestockings
April 22, Boston at a bar (with The Femme Show)
May 2, Seattle at Babeland
November 29, Toronto TBA (Facebook invite to come)

Item the Last! Get the Word Out, Buy a Copy, Let me Know What You Think!

I am beside myself with curiosity about how this book will be received. What do you think of it? What is your favorite story? Which lines stand out? Which authors were particularly impressive, whether you’ve read them before or will seek them out to read again? What themes did you love (or hate)? What did you wish there was more of? I would love feedback about this. After all, it’s the first anthology that is wholly mine, cover to cover, and I would love to do more of these in the future (hope hope).

I hope you’ll find a way to get in touch and tell me your thoughts, I am so very curious.

Lesbian BDSM Erotica Anthology: Submissions Due January 1st

December 20, 2010  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

Reminder! I’m editing my very first anthology for Cleis Press of lesbian BDSM erotica to be published in fall 2011, and submissions are due January 1st.

I’m especially interested in some play stories, with impact toys, floggings, knife play, bondage, leather gear, whips and chains, play parties, saint andrew’s crosses, role play—things like that.

If you haven’t submitted yet, or written a story for this anthology yet, there’s still time and I’d love to read what your dirty minds can come up with.

Call for Submissions: Lesbian BDSM Erotica Anthology
[Title Forthcoming]
To be published by Cleis Press in fall 2011

Editor Sinclair Sexsmith is looking for hot, sexy, well-written stories about kinky sex between queer women, from bondage scenarios to power play to role play to sadism and masochism to sensation play for a new anthology of lesbian BDSM erotica. Looking for characters with a range of age, race, sexual experience, gender identity and gender expression: butch, femme, genderqueer, gender-non-conforming, dapper, and others will all be considered. Cis women, trans women, and genderqueer characters who identify with the lesbian community are welcome. Stories should have strong literary voice, characters, tension, and rising action. All characters must be over 18, prose only will be considered. For examples of what I am looking for, see Tristan Taormino’s collection Best Lesbian Bondage Erotica.

Payment: USD $50 and two copies of the book upon publication.
Deadline: January 1, 2011
Unpublished stories preferred.

How to submit: Send your story in a Times New Roman 12 point black font Word document (.doc) with pages numbered of 1,500 to 5,000 words to [email protected] Double space the document and indent the first line of each paragraph. US grammar required. If you are using a pseudonym, provide your real name and be clear under which you would like to be published. Include your mailing address and a 50 words or less bio in the third person. Publisher has final approval over the manuscript.

About the editor: Sinclair Sexsmith runs the award-winning personal online writing project Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Gender, and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top at www.sugarbutch.net. With work published in various anthologies, including the Best Lesbian Erotica series, Sometimes She Lets Me: Butch/Femme Erotica, and Visible: A Femmethology volume 2, Mr. Sexsmith also writes columns for online publications and facilitates workshops on sex, gender, and relationships. Find her full portfolio and schedule at www.mrsexsmith.com.

Call for Submissions: Lesbian BDSM Erotica Anthology

October 28, 2010  |  miscellany  |  10 Comments

As if the project (re)launch of Top Hot Butches wasn’t enough, I’ve got some other exciting news: I’m going to be editing an anthology for Cleis Press focusing on lesbian BDSM erotica!

I adore Cleis, I’ve been following their catalogues for years and I frequently jump at their new titles. They’ve published many of my short stories in other anthologies, and I am thrilled to be working with them as an editor. It’s a new venture for me! And I hope it goes well.

There is definitely a lack of the dirty stuff out there—so many of the erotica anthologies I pick up lately have lacked kink. And hoo boy I’ve been reading a lot of erotica lately. Did you know I am now the lesbian erotica editor for the Lambda Literary Foundation’s recently relaunched website? True story. I’m doing a quarterly roundup of the current lesbian erotica, so I’ve been getting all sorts of fun packages in the mail, but unfortunately most of them are just awful and I really hope the authors intended the book to be a joke. But if I can’t tell, then it wasn’t exactly a successful joke.

I can’t wait to turn up the dirty stuff and stick it all out there in a book with actual pages that you can wank off to—that’ll be a nice change from cuddling up to your laptop in bed, or wanking off at your desk, hmm?

A note about the word “lesbian” … it is pretty much necessary to use that word in the publishing world. So it was kind of not negotiable. I don’t feel great about it, and while I don’t not identify as a lesbian, it certainly wouldn’t be my first sexual identity label of choice (I tend to call myself queer).

Ultimately, though, it is an anthology focused on female characters, but any and all gender expressions are welcome (and encouraged!) to be represented in this anthology—cis women, trans women, and genderqueer characters who identify with the lesbian community. I will absolutely consider stories with trans men in them, assuming they identify with the lesbian communities, but know that the publisher has the final say over the manuscript and I’m not too certain how they would treat that.

If you’re a writer, please do submit a story. You don’t have to be a published writer, you don’t have to have any credentials, what matters is the quality of your story. You’ve got a few months to come up with an awesome scenario and send it in to me … really looking forward to reading all the submissions.

Please forward this call widely.

Call for Submissions: Lesbian BDSM Erotica Anthology [Title TBA]
To be published by Cleis Press in fall 2011

Editor Sinclair Sexsmith is looking for hot, sexy, well-written stories about kinky sex between queer women, from bondage scenarios to power play to role play to sadism and masochism to sensation play for a new anthology of lesbian BDSM erotica. Looking for characters with a range of age, race, sexual experience, gender identity and gender expression: butch, femme, genderqueer, gender-non-conforming, dapper, and others will all be considered. Cis women, trans women, and genderqueer characters who identify with the lesbian community are welcome. Stories should have strong literary voice, characters, tension, and rising action. All characters must be over 18. Prose only will be considered, no comics, graphic stories, or poetry. For examples of what I am looking for, see Tristan Taormino’s collection Best Lesbian Bondage Erotica.

Payment: USD $50 and two copies of the book upon publication.
Deadline: January 1, 2011
Unpublished stories preferred.

How to submit: Send your story in a Times New Roman 12 point black font Word document (.doc) with pages numbered of 1,500 to 5,000 words to [email protected] Double space the document and indent the first line of each paragraph. US grammar required. If you are using a pseudonym, provide your real name and be clear under which you would like to be published. Include your mailing address and a 50 words or less bio in the third person. Publisher has final approval over the manuscript.

About the editor: Sinclair Sexsmith runs the award-winning personal online writing project Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Gender, and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top at www.sugarbutch.net. With work published in various anthologies, including the Best Lesbian Erotica series, Sometimes She Lets Me: Butch/Femme Erotica, and Visible: A Femmethology volume 2, Mr. Sexsmith also writes columns for online publications and facilitates workshops on sex, gender, and relationships. Find her full portfolio and schedule at www.mrsexsmith.com.

Chains and Containment in “Black Snake Moan”

October 26, 2010  |  reviews  |  4 Comments

A few weeks ago, when one of my oldest and dearest and favorite-est friends, BB, was in town visiting, Kristen and BB and I had a night at home and sat down to watch a film. Having recently discovered the joys of both Paperback Swap and Swap A DVD, I have some DVDs that I haven’t seen in quite a long time, if ever.

Black Snake Moan was one of them, and we decided to put it on.

I saw it once before, as had Kristen, and I remembered liking it. But putting it on, I was nervous. What if it wasn’t feminist enough? What if they thought it was exploitive and weird? What if I thought it was exploitive and weird?

It sure doesn’t seem like a feminist, conscious film on the surface—it seems fucked up, about gender, race, and sexuality. Why would I want to see that? Why would I like that? But it’s more complex than it seems.

Here’s the basic premise: Rae (Christina Ricci) has an extreme sexual appetite. Rae’s boyfriend, Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) is off to the army and while they usually keep each other sane and balanced, she is losing her control and getting in dangerous situations, such as getting completely intoxicated, half-naked, and then beat up by a guy she occasionally sleeps with. Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson), whose wife just left him for his younger brother, finds Rae unconscious on the road near his house and brings her inside, attempting to nurse her back to health. She, though, has all sorts of night terrors, which cause her to run around and scream—while pretty much still unconscious—so he chains her to the radiator. But when she comes to, two days later, he doesn’t unchain her, but decides she’s not healed yet.

I know, I know: I want to start yelling, NON CONSENSUAL! You can’t do that! But the thing is … she’s out of her mind, a little bit. I know it sounds like shaming a woman because she likes sex, but frankly I don’t think that’s what’s behind this. It isn’t that she likes sex too much, it’s that she is destroying herself through her pursuit of sex, which is clearly depicted as compulsive, and absolutely not something she is choosing from an empowered place.

Ricci is bone-thin in a very unattractive way, she looks so strange sometimes, so unlike her for this role. I wanted her to come over so Kristen could feed her baked goods and get a little bit of that glow back. But she plays the role amazingly—I even read a critique that said it was the highlight of her acting career. And Jackson is genius! I love the scenes where he’s playing the guitar and singing, the blues just dripping off of him. Healing music, no doubt.

All through the re-watch I kept thinking, why is this okay? Why is this not totally fucked up? Because it seems like it should be, on the surface—but it’s not, and I love this film. Maybe it’s because it’s so well written? Or well acted? Or well crafted, in general? I could go on and on about the layers of this film and the dozens of ways you could interpret the character’s actions (the Christian angle; the sex is bad angle; the men as savior angle), but really what I want to do is encourage you to see it for yourself, if you like to think critically about consent, feminism, character, and kink.

And oh yes, it is kinky. All the stuff with the chains, well …

I love the way she becomes attached to that chain. There is a part, after she regains consciousness but before she’s healed, where she consents to stay. Where she kind of doesn’t want him to take the chains off. And another part (in that photo, above) where she comforts herself with the weight and restriction of the chains, in part to get through her own triggers, and to break the automatic reactions in which she’s been stuck.

I would argue that hits on exactly what she needs: containment. Not in a repression kind of way, no, but in the tantric sense, that she is all energy and river and no riverbank. (Interesting, though, how she is able to be that container for Ronnie, as stated from the very beginning of the film when he says she saved him, onto the last scene.)

Plenty more happens in the plot after that: Lazarus teaches her things about life and living, she confronts some demons (including her mother), we get some abstract insight into the things that have been haunting her, and she seems to come to a stronger, more capable place. Personal growth, healing from trauma, and breaking through her own samskara: makings of a good film, if you ask me.

And, the chains …

Well, Kristen liked the chains. She has a thing for metal, more than I do I think (I’m more of a leather guy myself—not that I’m opposed to chains). I had, I remembered, received Metal Wrist and Ankle Cuffs from Sextoy.com that I’d never reviewed, nor had we, in fact, ever even used them.

I thought it might be time to break those out.

Yeah, so that was a good idea.

That image is from Griffin Leather & Metal, not the actual cuffs that came in my set. Mine are not nearly as gorgeous as these, but that’s basically how they’re set up. And the photo on the box that mine came in is pretty awful, it is something that would have steered me clear of buying it.

But in fact, it’s very much worth having around.

They’re relatively cheap, but they’re sturdy, and they don’t feel like they’re going to break (unlike some of the other bondage toys I’ve occasionally reviewed). The chains could be a little shorter, especially the chain connecting the wrist cuffs to the ankle cuffs, but that also might be because Kristen is kind of short, so perhaps with someone a bit taller they would be the perfect size.

The product description reports:

Nickel plated heavy duty locking wrist and ankle cuffs. Includes 4 keys. Wrist size up to 7 inches and ankle size up to 10 inches. The chain connecting wrists is 3.5 inches and the chain connecting ankles is 17 inches. The chain connecting ankles and wrists is 16 inches.

Those dimensions don’t seem quite right (longer connection between the feet than from the feet to the hands?), but that’s what the website claims.

And I’d like to tell you all about what we did when we played with them, but the truth is, I can’t remember the details. I don’t know how it started exactly, I don’t know how it ended. I don’t remember how I put them on her, but I do remember holding on to the chain, choking up on it so she couldn’t move. I remember telling her to get up and walk to the other side of the bed so she could look in the mirror. I remember watching her touch herself for a while, while I watched. And I may have snapped a few photos.

You know, maybe.

The Metal Wrist and Ankle Cuffs were sent to me for review from Sextoy.com. Pick up the Metal Wrist and Ankle Cuffs or other bondage toys from sextoy.com, or your local queer feminist sex-positive independent shop.

I’m still thinking about this film sometimes, even now, two or three weeks later, and looking forward to watching it again.

I’m not going to write a blow-by-blow account of the film and all the complex, phenomenal moments (like, “You’ll have to ask the chef.” “Paprika.” And everything about the characters of Miss Angie and Ronnie both), or an elaborate argument on why it might border on offending my feminist sensibilities, but doesn’t actually. I’ve enjoyed the extensive conversations I’ve been having with Kristen about the film since we saw it, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

If you haven’t, perhaps you’d like to watch the trailer for the film, and see if it’s something you’d try out. I was skeptical, but it is much more than what it seems. Read More

BDSM is Not Abuse

June 12, 2010  |  essays  |  5 Comments

I recently went through the Orientation process for the Lesbian Sex Mafia, and we went over this list of The Difference Between SM and Abuse, which is also available on the Lesbian Sex Mafia’s website.

I am still surprised how often BDSM gets equated with abuse, and this list makes the distinctions so very clear, I like it. I have the feeling I’ll be referencing this quite a bit in various things. Hope the LSM doesn’t mind that I am reprinting it here!

The Difference Between SM and Abuse
A Statement from the Lesbian Sex Mafia

SM: An SM scene is a controlled situation.
ABUSE: Abuse is an out-of-control situation.

SM: Negotiation occurs before an SM scene to determine what will and will not happen in that scene.
ABUSE: One person determines what will happen.

SM: Knowledgeable consent is given to the scene by all parties.
ABUSE: No consent is asked for or given.

SM: The “bottom” has a safeword that allows them to stop the scene at any time should they need to for physical or emotional reasons.
ABUSE: The person being abused cannot stop what is happening.

SM: Everyone involved in an SM scene is concerned about the needs, desires and limits of others.
ABUSE: No concern is given to the needs, desires and limits of the abused person.

SM: The people in an SM scene are careful to be sure that they are not impaired by alcohol or drug use during the scene.
ABUSE: Alcohol or drugs are often used before an episode of abuse.

SM: After an SM scene, the people involved feel good.
ABUSE: After an episode of abuse, the people involved feel bad.

If you have further questions regarding domestic abuse, please call the New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP). They are educated in the differences between BDSM and abuse.
AVP, the Anti-Violence Project
24 hour hotline: 212-714-1141
240 West 35th Street, Suite 200 New York, NY 10001