Gendered Sources of Physical Power: Beauty vs Strength

I don’t know exactly where I first heard it, but somewhere I read once: men want to feel powerful, and women want to feel beautiful.

Now: calm your “oh my god social construction of genderrrrr!” self and let’s start with some further clarification. Women feeling beautiful, in this expression, is also actually a source of power; and men feeling powerful, here, actually means “feeling physically strong.” At least mostly. Agreed?

So really, it’s saying that men want to feel strong, and women want to feel beautiful. These are two – of many – major sources of power based in the physical body.

I know this is a cliche. I probably read it in the context of gender deconstruction and the socialization process of gender. I know this goes along with conventional, normative, often damaging gender role assumptions that value men for their physical strength and women for their physical beauty.

And as much as I am aware that those concepts are socially constructed, I also have seen the ways that they are played out and real for many, many people. So maybe we’ve internalized the values of the culture. This is one of the problems with social constructionism in general – if something is created socially, then in theory it can be uncreated socially, right? But just because something is done socially – rather than biologically, say – doesn’t make it any less real or “authentic” or deeply ingrained in many of us.

And this gendered source of physical power is amplified, I think, in butch/femme culture, where we go inside these roles with purpose to explode them, exploring the socialization and de-essentializing traits said to be inherent in biology. Is it as easy as explaining that we are continuing to internalize the compulsory mutually exclusive gender paradigm? I don’t know, maybe. Certainly that probably accounts for (to pick a completely arbitrary number) 45% of it. But there is something else in there, something deep-seated underneath in me that swoons and grows and stretches its wings and feels so greatly alive when she whispers, “you are so strong, so strong” like she did last night.

And I remembered all the times I gazed in awe at her beauty (every time I see her) and remember the ways she swoons to be seen, femme and whole and holy, and I wondered if I should be saying more about strength and less about her physical attractiveness. Am I just buying into what the culture tells us we should be or say or value?

[ Yet – oh I do tell her I value her other qualities (don’t I? Yes). The depth of her calm understanding and respect feels like such a gift each time I encounter it. I fear it could so easily go the other way, yet she has the connection to the world at her core which means she values others’ experiences. And she’s strong enough in herself to know that my feelings are not about her, and to accept that with grace and clarity. And then there’s her wonderful good moods, her energy, her interest in keeping the spark lit behind her eyes. Her deep ability to feel, to observe, to respond. Her analytic skills, and how she can dissect things into pieces (while still respecting the whole!) and look at how it all fits together. There is much more to her than her beauty, heaven knows I know this. ]

And yet: in the deeply intimate moments, this is what comes out of my mouth: pretty girl, pretty girl. you are so gorgeous. I love the curves of you – here, and here. your skin glows so beautiful in the morning light.

And in that moment last night, when she commented on my strength, my heart swelled and burst like a wave cresting, and the inner cavern of my chest was smooth as a sandy beach, just for a minute, perfectly even, soft, made up of a thousand tiny grains, the breakdown of everywhere I’ve ever been.

I don’t know why it matters so much that I am seen as strong. But it does, it does.

Call for Contributions: Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom & Autonomy

The Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy, edition #14 is up at Silent Porn Star, and Sugarbutch is hosting the next Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy, edition #15, here.

That means, I am on the lookout for links about sexual freedom and autonomy. Email them to me to submit your site to the upcoming Carnival, which will be posted – here! – on Monday, January 26th.

That gives you almost TWO WEEKS! to write something. Get crackin’.

UPDATE: Deadline for submissions for the January 26th Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy #15 is this Friday, January 23rd. This’ll give me the weekend to read and compile the posts. Thanks!!

So, I am thinking about sexual freedom and autonomy. What does that really mean? How does that apply to feminist butches and femmes, to queers in this particular time (and place), to this community that I’m involved in of lesbian feminists exploring gender within the sexblog community?

I’m into words, so I have to start with what these terms mean.

Sexual Autonomy

Google helps me out with the definition of “autonomy”: personal independence; the capacity to make an informed, un-coerced decision; a person’s ability to make independent choices.

I’ve thought a lot about autonomy and choice, especially in terms of gender roles, of butch/femme, and the ways that exploring these gender dynamics often appear to be reproducing a compulsory gender hierarchy. One particular thing about choice that I want to reiterate is that I believe that all options have to be empowered and equally valued in order for it to be a real choice. The consequences to both choices have to be comparable.

If someone says, “Either you can eat this pile of dog poo, or you can eat this pile of carrots,” uh, that’s not really a choice.

So, sexual autonomy has to do with the ability to make choices based on all options being empowered, instead of having sexuality dictated upon you by cultural or gender stereotypes. Sexism is rampant, and androgyny is somewhat required in queer communities, so butch/femme roles are misunderstood, mistrusted, belittled, seen as archaic, and dismissed.

But autonomy in choosing to explore gender can come through 1) deconstructing the cultural expectations, identity alignment assumptions, and compulsory roles, especially regarding the ways that those things are destructive, hierarchical, and marginalizing; and 2) reconstructing selective parts in ways that have inner resonance, that “just make sense,” and are empowering.

I’m talking about gender autonomy here, I guess, not so much sexual autonomy – sexual autonomy would more be along the lines of … what? Choosing your sexual partners? Coming out? Claiming a kinky sexuality? The concept of autonomy automatically calls to my mind questions and issues about gender development and identity, perhaps because I feel that is more fragile than sexual autonomy – I think there is more discourse on sexual autonomy, claiming your own sexuality, learning yourself and your own sexual needs, etc.

Sexual Freedom

What does this really mean? What does it mean to be “sexually free”? The stereotype that would perhaps come to mind is someone promiscuous, sexually “liberated,” who has a lot of sex. And hey, that person might be sexually free, sure, but that’s not necessarily true, and definitely not the only way to look at it. What other ways are we able to exercise our “sexual freedom?”

So, considering these two concepts – sexual autonomy and sexual freedom – I have some questions for you:

What does “sexual autonomy” mean to you? What does “sexual freedom” mean to you?

Are there any particular stories you want to tell about gaining (or losing) your own sexual freedom or autonomy?

How does your knowledge of feminism play into the concepts of sexual freedom and autonomy?

How does your sexual autonomy or freedom conflict, interact, or engage with your feminist beliefs?

Any other questions or ideas you might have about these concepts?

I’m open to all sorts of posts – your submission to the Feminist Carnival does not have to specifically answer these questions. In my ideal dream world, here’s a list of folks who I would hand-pick to contribute to this conversation. Please consider writing something on these questions – or, at least, submitting something that you’ve worked on during the month of January.

Leo McCool
Freedomgirl
Butchtastic
Green Eyed Girl
Natt Nightly
Packing Vocals
Femme is my Gender
Queer Fat Femme
Fatgirl Femme
Just Like Jesse James
Ladies in Waiting
Miss Avarice
Femmeinist Fucktoy
Lesbian Dad
Jess I Am
Tina-cious
Don’t Let’s Talk
Essin’ Em
When or If
The Femme Show

(These are some of my favorite blogs, if you didn’t get that, so if you aren’t reading them already I highly recommend them. These folks keep me thinking, engaged, and conversing about sex and gender in ways that make my head twist in knots and light up and feel alive. Send my love to ’em all.)

Let’s queer (and butch/femme) up this Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy.

Rocking Chair Blow Job

To our right, on the futon extended down into a bed, there was a spanking scene with a small black paddle. To our left, on another extended futon, a threesome.

Kristen sits in my lap in a low chair that rocks.

“I could do it right here,” she suggested, lowering her eyes a little.

When asked earlier what she wanted to do tonight, she bent one knee a little, her tiny plaid skirt tilting, over-the-knee socks hugging her thighs. “Suck some cock,” she answered.

“Yeah?” I search her face a second but feel my butch cock jump to alert. Her mouth on it. Sucking. Her eyes. Yes. When I took this seat, the same thought had occurred to me.

“Do it.”

I use my hands to push her off of me, not that she needs the encouragement. She kneels between my legs and I unbuckle my belt, unzip my slacks, pull out the cock I’d brought.

“Go on, suck it.”

She does. Swallows the head and presses her lips down the length of the shaft. I shift it, keep my hand wrapped around the base so it is in place over my clit, my little dick.

I can feel it when she sucks.

“Harder,” I say, fisting the hair at the back of her head, pulling but not forcing, adding resistance. She gulps a little and her cheeks go taut as she pulls me into her mouth harder, and I feel it, groan, “Oh yeah, oh fuck yeah.”

She’s good at this. Head bobbing up and down on my lap, I lean back and take in the view, concentrate on the feel of this girl’s lips wrapped around my dick. I can see the whole room, her back is to them; people shifting to watch us and shifting away to watch other scenes. She wanted to be watched. She looks so pretty with my cock in her mouth.

Her knees are splayed a little and I am hard, getting harder. I pull her head off all the way by her hair and shove my fingers into her mouth, two of them, in and out, pressing against her tongue gently, so she can feel it, so I can remember what it’s like to have a dick against a wet tongue.

“Again,” I say, and withdraw my fingers, shove her mouth back down to my cock.

Those little noises, gulping, panting, breathing through her throat, mouth watering and swallowing.

“That’s right baby, suck it.”

I lean back again and my dick swells, puckers when she sucks hard and fast. She keeps it deep in her mouth and pulses and I cry out. Fuck.

I pull her up again and lean forward to kiss her, mouth swollen and red, opening for me as I keep my hand on the back of her head, on her cheek, on her jaw, holding her just where I want her, tongue in her mouth and she sucks that too. I reach my other hand down between her legs and push the thin fabric of her panties aside, enter her easily with two fingers and swirl them over her clit. She gasps.

“I like the way you suck me off,” I say, low, into her ear. “Your mouth feels so good. Oh god you’re so wet,” I trace my fingers along her lips and flick her clit, swollen, thick and sensitive. She moans.

“I want you to stand up, bend over, pull off your panties and hand them to me. Understand?” I pull back and remove my hand and she nods. “Do it then.”

She does. Stands and this chair is so low that her thighs are right in front of my face, that little strip of skin between her socks and her short, short skirt. She pushes black lace undies down over her legs and I help her keep her balance as she steps out of them. I hold out my hand. She gives them to me and I put them in my back pocket.

“Down.” I say, and grab her hips with both hands, moving her back to her knees.

(“Are your knees okay?” “Yes, for another minute.”)

Her thighs splay on the floor between my legs and I’m at a perfect angle to cup her pussy and slide my fingers in, now unhindered, open, exposed. “Damn, you feel so good,” I murmur, hand in her hair again, across the backs of her shoulders, around her waist holding her close and in contrasting leverage to the pressure of my hand between her legs. She moans, gasps, mouth open, blue eyes shining.

I want to fuck her. Want my cock in her, want to feel her come and pulse while I’m inside. I look around. I want her bent over something, want to leave her socks on and push her skirt up over her hips, grab her hair. There’s no free space except a piece of wall. Fine.

I get her up and lead her over there, press against her at the wall. She is so sensitive already and I work my fingers in her easily, hard, fast. “I want you to come for me, here, in front of everyone,” I start whispering into her ear, holding her arms above her head with one hand, pressing her legs apart with my thighs, hand working against her cunt. “Come on, do it for me.”

She does. She comes gasping, shuddering, knees going weak. When her eyes meet mine her face is open, shining. I wrap my arms around her and kiss her, deep and sweet.

A Quick Fuck in a Shadowed Corner

The club is dark enough that no one can tell Kristen is on her knees in front of me. She found a particularly shadowed corner. Her back is to the wall, my hands up against it, trying not to leave my head dipped down to watch her lips close around the shaft of my cock.

Her skirt short pushed up on her thighs. I run my hands through her short hair on the back of her head and straighten out my neck to see a friend approaching me.

“Sinclair! I haven’t seen you in … ” she stops a few feet away and I twist my head, but not my body, keeping my hand on the back of Kristen’s head. She hears my friend and starts hesitating, but I keep my grip firm and catch her eye, just for a second: don’t you stop.

She doesn’t. Swallows me even deeper and brings her hand up to my thigh for leverage. I keep my hand on her jaw so I can feel her open and full. I try not to groan.

“Uh, hi,” I manage to say, looking back to my friend. “Can I find you later?”

Wide-eyed, she chuckles a little, “Sure, man,” and backs off, glancing over her shoulder as she disappears back into the crowd.

“Good girl,” I say, caressing her hair and cheeks with my fingers. She’s taking me deep, looking up every so often, her lips closing around me and sucking. She takes me almost to the base, deep, then slides it out of her mouth and lets her tongue lap all the way down the length of it. My hips are moving, grinding against her gently, I want more, want to pull out and fuck her up against the wall, bend her over the pool table on the other side of the room, I can see other butches with sticks hitting balls across felt in precise angles by the lamp swaying. Everyone going along with their Saturday night, not noticing this dark corner we’ve found.

“I want to fuck you,” I say quietly, fisting her hair for grip. “You get me good and hard, and I will.” She buckles a little, a jolt goes through her body and she ripples, I can feel it. She wants it now, but she’ll have to wait.

She flicks her tongue around the crown, then wide on the underside of the shaft as she takes the head in her mouth again, keeping her mouth open, and I rub it against her tongue with a little shift in my hips. She lets me slide it all the way in, pressing her shoulder against the wall with my shin and holding the back of her head again, filling her mouth up.

Kristen knows how. She’s damn good at this. Sometimes she goes too deep and it gets hard to breathe, she pulls out and gasps, then goes in to swallow me again, deeper, tighter. I feel her throat close around my cock, tongue pulsing, and I thicken in her mouth, hips start tensing and that’s it, I have to have her, here, now.

I pull out fast. Pull her up with my hand still on her jaw, kiss her hard against the wall as I push her skirt up, shove the fabric aside and find her slit. I keep her pinned between my body and the wall.

“Oh please, I want it so bad,” she whispers next to my ear. I keep a tight grip on her shoulders, my forearm against her clavicle, gripping her thighs, my knee bent and under hers, holding her legs apart. “I want your cock in me,” she gasps.

“Damn right you’ll get my cock. After you made me all hard like you did? With that sweet little mouth of yours? You’re going to get it.”

Tiny moans from her mouth. She’s waiting, hands clawing at my shoulders, hips writhing. I find her slit with my fingers and tease her lips. She’s so wet, so wet, I can feel it just on the outside, stickysweet and I can’t stand the wait, it’s making my eyes blur and head spin. I grip my cock in my fist and circle her lips and opening with the head.

She moans, louder.

“Shh,” I say. “Someone could come over here any second. We’re barely concealed.” I should be faster, this should be just three thrusts and it’s over, we’re in public for goodness’ sake, in a room full of people, barely concealed by shadow.

But I’m waiting, again, now. I want to hear her beg. I want her tongue working again with language like it was just working against my cock.

“Oh, baby, I want it so bad,” she breathes in my ear, pressing with everything she’s got against me. “I need you to fuck me, come on, you fuck me so good.”

I keep circling, teasing the open hole of her cunt with my cock, and bring my thumb up to her mouth to circle and tease her mouth the same way. She gasps, gulps, tries to take it into her mouth but I won’t let her.

“You know I’ll do it. I’ll fuck you right, right here, against this wall, with all these people watching,” I growl low against her neck as I bite, a little too hard, and she gasps, gives in. “You don’t even care that they can see, do you. You need it so bad.”

“Please,” she says, and looks me right in the eyes, that look bordering on desperation, eyes wide and open, lips parted, a hint of a smile and so much wanting. “Please,” she says again, drawing out the vowels, and I give in.

I murmur, “Yes, yes,” soothing, and slide inside her slow, so slow, but strong, and all the way, tip to balls.

The first stroke takes the longest and she’s moaning already, a long low sound that corresponds, and she breathes in when I get to the base, both of us tight, clenched, pulsing. She wants it hard, she wants it fast, and I know just how she likes it, but I’m taking my time, taking every delicious inch, thick, just how I like it.

I can feel her everywhere.

I pull almost all the way out, a little faster, and she gasps. I cover her mouth with mine in more of a controlling move than a kiss, to quiet her a little, but I don’t really care if people hear, or see, anymore. My hands are on her hips and I control how fast she moves against me, she’s writhing, trying to ride me faster, but she can’t, I keep her inches away from me, keep her shoved against the wall, hard, and control the depth and speed.

“Fuck, oh fuck,” I mutter. She squeezes me tight in resistance and desperation, and it gets me so hot, so hard, I start building up faster, harder.

I place my hand over her mouth as she gets louder. I’m groaning too, fucking harder, and I just can’t keep her quiet when we get to this point, I can’t, she starts moaning and gasping and a few heads turn, but we’re oblivious to where we are. People steal glances over to our dark corner, squint, try to make out our figures, shifting their angle a little to get a better view, tapping their friend and nodding over toward us. I’m hoping my pants won’t fall down past my ass any further, hoping her skirt is concealing us a little, her leg up and wrapped around my hip. I can only see the room from my periphery vision, but Kristen has a good view and she wraps her arms around my shoulders and looks out at the room as if for the first time, makes eye contact with someone, just for a second.

She shivers. Runs her fingers through the hair on the back of my head, grips my shoulders.

I can’t stop, I’m working in her harder, again, and again, getting all worked up, and we lose ourselves in it. We forget where we are.

Suddenly she’s close. So close. I can feel it, her legs shake and open in a different way. I wrap my arms around her strong, shove inside her hard, fast, and she’s coming, suddenly, it washes over her without anticipation, just suddenly unleashed, muscles quivering and she’s gasping, trying not to yell, in my ear, clawing at my shoulders. Her cunt grips so hard when she comes I have to work to stay inside, grunting a little, I can feel sweat on my neck and lower back from the physical exertion, and I press hard into her, I don’t let up, and she keeps coming, gasping one more time, surrendering, then releases against me with a long sigh.

We stay wrapped in the bliss of it all for a minute longer when we notice a waiter approaching, doing rounds. Kristen straightens up a bit, smooths her hair, her skirt, I step back and zip.

“You two okay here?” he asks, as he does his drive-by.

Kristen picks up her gin gimlet, catches my eye as she sips on it.

“We’re great,” I say, and swig the rest of the melted ice in my glass of Jameson.

Queer Eye Candy is back!

It’s official – the Eye Candy has moved off of Sugarbutch Chronicles and is now on QueerEyeCandy.com, being maintained by myself and Amber and Denise.

BIG thank you to both of them for helping me out! Round of applause, please!

The focus remains on butch/femme portraits and photos and images. Please continue to submit pictures of you, your sister, your girlfriend, your wife, your gang, your crew, your best friends, your ex, your teachers, your mentors, your lovers.

Portrature – especially self-portrature – was actually a big piece of my own personal identity development, and I think it’s really important to see ourselves reflected, to be able to study photos of myself and say, is that what I look like? really? as I was discovering and uncovering and creating and re-creating my own aesthetic.

I was just looking at some old photos this weekend and found some after I’d cut my hair all off (in 2000) but before I was claiming butch, when I was dying my hair red and still wearing lipstick. I found a photo of me with a daisy chain crown, and no I am not kidding. It was a trip to look through the photos, watch my hair change as my haircuts started getting more and more butch, after I stopped dying it red and stopped wearing low-cut shirts, when I started figuring out what I really wanted my gender to be, what my soft animal body really loved and how I felt most comfortable, most like myself.

As butches and femmes, we don’t see ourselves in popular media, except usually as a stereotype or a (usually unflattering) archetype. I mean we don’t even see lesbians reflected in popular media all that often, let alone queers or genderqueers or butches and femmes – which is partially why we consume and watch and love just about any film that has lesbian characters, just about any book with lesbian characters, just about any crappy TV show with lesbian characters (*cough*L Word*cough*), because we are so starved to see images of ourselves reflected back to us, some semblance of recognition or some flash of similarities between our lives and the lives of the stories we watch and consume.

Aside from the validation of seeing queer eye candy, there’s also the personal revelations of just figuring out what your body looks like, how others might see us externally – shifting the gaze from seeing out through our eyes to seeing what our eyes look like from outside. It’s powerful, and brings, I think, a greater self-awareness and, hopefully, self-confidence.

Speaking of self-confidence: what I said before about requiring comments on Queer Eye Candy still holds true. I don’t write for comments, I don’t expect people to comment on my own things (though I of course appreciate it), but the photos that are sent in are often from people who are not used to having a web presence, are not used to revealing themselves for a queer audience to consume and judge.

Putting images of yourself out there like this is vulnerable. Scary: What if I’m not butch enough? What if I’m not femme enough? What if I’m not really hot? Come on, all of us think that when we see images of ourselves posted.

This is not a “hot or not” project – this is more of a project a la Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink – what does your brain do when you first glance at the queer eye candy photo? Do you think “hubba hubba, omg hot!!”? WRITE THAT. Do you think “holy crap I have that same shirt! I wonder if it looks that good on me?” WRITE THAT. Do you think “Oh good lord, I would marry her on looks alone”? (That’s Bevin’s line I shamelessly stole.) GO FOR IT.

This is about building self-confidence through appearance. About celebrating the myriad of ways that butch and femme get represented through visual styles and identity.

So: Submit photos. Comment on photos. And you will make this top very, very happy.

From the Queer Eye Candy mission statement:

You might be afraid of us, but you don’t know who we are.

We’re hot, we’re fierce, we’re vulnerable, we’re beautiful, we’re in love, we’re horribly ugly, we’re scared, we’re tender-hearted, we’re dog mommies and daddies, we’re parents, we’re children, we’re neices and nephews, we’re married, we’re bachelors, we’re rednecks, we’re blue-collar, we’re construction workers, we’re political pundits, we’re musicians, we’re drag performers, we’re community organizers, we’re angry, we’re activists, we’re just us.

Let’s show off who we are. Let’s show those who don’t know what we look like, let’s show off who we love and who we spend our time with, let’s show off our joyous communities and our heartaches and our hardships and our work and our play and our joy.

Let’s celebrate ourselves, just as we are.

The Girl in the Red Dress

The Girl in the Red Dress

At first I’m trying to ignore her. I have my latest review book, Best Lesbian Bondage Erotica; I have my iPod on to some soothing lofi mix Muse made for me; I have lube in my pocket for a quick jerk-off session before we arrive in New York. I need all the sanctuary and release I can get before returning to that hyper-stimulating city.

But she’s making a big show of her many bags, heavy, designer luggage, and she – being tiny petite thing – seems unable to slip them all into the overhead luggage rack.

The only other person in this car is a man in the back who has been snoring since I got on. I think about telling her to just leave her suitcases on the seat next to her, but her jaw is set, her sensuous mouth twisted in a sneer, and as she begins to climb onto the train seat to reach the rack better, I sigh and, reluctantly, get up to help her.

“Please. Let me,” I say, sliding behind her and putting my hand on her waist to guide her out of the way, then taking the heavy suitcase out of her struggling grip and nudge it onto the metal rack easily. She’s got a great ass in those tight jeans. Her eyes are wide, then she drags her gaze along my arm to my face. I watch her watch me. She looks like Penelope Cruz, all dark hair and big pools of dark liquid eyes.

“Um,” she says. “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it,” I answer, a bit dismissively, now offering my hand so she can get down. The train doors buzz and are about to close, we’ll be in motion shortly. I pick up her other bags and one by one put them up into the rack above her seat. She takes off her thin white sweater and sets it with her handbag next to her, and watches me.

I groan a little with the weight of the last one. She notices. “Thanks again,” she says, and I detect a slight accent, French maybe, though she looks Spanish. Her words are a little airy, already pulling Vogue Milan out of her purse and turning her attention to it, a tiny sideways glance at me to see if I’m still standing next to her, waiting for my good-dog biscuit.

I retreat back to my aisle seat. We are facing each other, opposite sides of the train. She is absorbed in her magazine. I put my feet up and crack open my book, start reading through the bondage stories. She takes out a compact and lipstick and fusses with her mouth, repainting, touching her fingertips to the edges of her lips, then wipes microscopic flecks with a tissue. I don’t watch her, but she periodically sweeps her eyes over to me. I rest my hand on my neat little package as I read through the story by Toni Amato, “A Girl Like That:”

She’s the kind of girl who brings out the worst in me. Coming on all hip and cool and all into sex, rubbing some part of herself all up against me every chance she gets. I’m not saying all the things my people taught me about women are so great, but I’ll tell you what, where I come from, that kind of girl is called a cock teaser.

It’s like there’s this small thing, like those stars they talk about, those White Dwarves, sitting deep and low in my belly, and this girl comes along, doing her number, and that son of a bitch just goes nova.

She makes the worst part of me want to do the best it knows how to teach her a thing or two about fucking.

I’m stroking my cock unconsciously through my jeans when I notice someone looming next to me, and it’s her, she’s returning from the bathroom with a clutch in her hand, I didn’t even notice her get up. The girl smiles, almost, and pushes past as though I am taking up the entire aisle, or maybe to show off her gorgeous ass in those tight, tight jeans.

The train lurches and opens its sleepy doors, the man in the back of our train car is moving at half-speed and makes his way off the train.

We’re alone.

She notices too. She’s looking out the window but keeps stealing glances at me. The conductor comes through and says nothing to either of us, just takes the small pieces of paper on our seats, the remnants of our tickets.

I go back to my book. I finger the bottle of lube in my pocket and think this would be a good time to go rub one out, then get absorbed in a story about a dyke cop who is passing as male in a straight club, picks up a girl and takes her, handcuffed, out to her truck. I nearly reach my hand into my pants.

“Um, excuse me?”

She’s standing, still in her seat but leaning forward over the seat in front of her, facing me, ass tipped to the side, front of her button down revealing creamy skin, long dark hair swinging. She smiles when I look up, flashes me an intentional smirky pose that she has practiced in the mirror – her seduction look. “Would you help, I have to … I need … something from that bag.” She glances up at it.

I put my book down and tug at my jeans to cover my hard-on. Clear my throat. “Sure.”

I get up and move toward her. She kneels and reaches for it, her back to the aisle as I come up behind her and reach up.

“This one?” My mouth is close to her ear.

“No, not – yes, that one,” she says as I touch the smaller suitcase. She reaches up to help me, bending slightly forward, as we both ease the weight of her bag down onto the seat. And I swear she rubs right against me, pushing back, just a little. Maybe I’m imagining it. Yeah, sure Sinclair; you just happen to have a boner and this girl offers up her ass on a silver platter.

I back off. Return to my seat. Again.

“Um, thanks!” she calls.

I toss a half-smile over my shoulder. “Don’t mention it.” She pulls a bundle of fabric out of her bag and I don’t watch. I don’t pay attention. I can’t see it. I shouldn’t be watching, but I am. It is slinky and red. She finds a few other bits and tucks her hair behind her ear, gathers an armful of clothing, makes her way toward me, down the aisle, to the bathroom at the back of the car.

She’s in there a while. I try to concentrate on my book, to not wonder what she is doing, what she’s slipping into, who she’s meeting when she gets off the train, not to imagine being that somebody so filled with lust and permission that I’d fuck her right on the platform, couldn’t even control myself long enough to wait until we went to dinner, drinks, a show, whatever it is she’s dressing up for. My breath is quickening and my hands are starting to do that aching thing where they are pulsing with grip, wanting to hold push grab press punch slap.

She makes her way back to her seat like the aisle is a runway, like she’s coming in for a landing. Each step deliberately placed. Legs precisely angled and separated and her gait is sharp, strong. Her red dress swings from her hips, past her thighs, to her knees. A few bracelets jangle from one arm, simple and slim. She’s pulled her hair up high on her head, into some sort of ponytail, then twisted around itself in a beautiful knot.

I watch her as she closes the distance to her own seat. I don’t drool. I am not drooling. I try not to drool at the sight of her ankles, her calves, the hints of the backs of her knees as her dress swings. I wipe my mouth. Her ankles cross just slightly, which makes her hips curl and switch like a figure eight. Like a come-hither finger.

I swallow. Breathe in. And quickly open my book, flustered, and turn it to the page I was reading as she slides onto the train seat and I snap out of my spell.

Of course – of course – I am too zealous and the book slides out of my hand, skittering out into the aisle. I take a sharp breath in and some spit goes down the wrong way, I start to choke, cough, loudly, as I jump up to retrieve the book.

Oh good lord. I get ahold of myself. Straighten up, book in hand. Clear my throat. I don’t look at her. I can’t see her. I am sure I am five shades of crimson and I steal a glance her direction, she’s covering her mouth, that perfect smirky smile, eyes dancing, looking away from me. Obviously she saw everything.

Fuck.

I resettle. Book in lap, adequate breath in lungs. I sneer to myself. Re-open the erotica. Do you have to be so obvious? I yell at myself in my head. You dumbass. Real smooth, Sexsmith.

She’s going through her open case next to her, I can see her arms moving but can’t see what she’s doing. Then suddenly she’s up, out of the seat and back in the aisle, pads down toward me as if she forgot something.

I catch a whiff of her perfume as she walks by. Dizzying, intoxicating. The swish of her skirt. I watch her little toe-heel trot down the aisle. My body acts without my mind and I reach for her. My hand on her hip. Lightly at first, but then she doesn’t pull away and I grab her harder. Both hands and I stand, pull her toward me, her back to me, and she is still. I can’t see her face but I can feel her breath through my hands, she’s holding it. Surprised. Waiting.

I lift her skirt in the back to reveal her perfect ass. A work of art. A combination of genetics and squats and hundreds of hours at the gym. She knows it. She’s bare under her red dress, no panties, no stockings. Perhaps that’s what she forgot. I can’t resist, I palm the apple of her ass, caress the flesh, spreading her cheeks and opening her slit.

She lets out her breath, finally, and it comes with a breathy moan, just a little.

And I’m gone. The slightest noise from her lips and all I can feel is what it’ll be like to be inside her, to feel her body curl around my arm and buck and thrash and grasp as she comes. I’ve got to feel it. Got to make her.

I press against her back. Her neck is bare, hair up, and my mouth is just at the corner of her jaw, below her ear. I reach around her and pin her arms to her sides, pressing her back to lean against me, and she arches, thrusts her hips up, feels the cock behind my fly. She lets her head lean back against me, lets me take her weight.

“Bend over.” Right next to her ear. Barely audible.

I release her from her hold. She turns her head just a bit and her face is quizzical, open, lustful, a tad resistant. I run my hand up under her dress firmly, continue to drag it up her back, then press, hard, on her shoulder blades, bending her over the train seat in front of her.

“I said bend over.”

Faster now. Unbuckle and unzip. The dress pushed up to her waist, one hand on her lower back to keep her hips tipped up to me. Her asshole is dark pink, a burst between her cheeks, perfectly smooth, and her ass is perfectly round, my thighs are already quivering and hips pulsing, so ready to fuck.

I grab one of the condoms I always keep tucked into the inner pocket of my bag. Roll it on. Spit into my palm, and again, lube up my cock. Spit again at my two fingers and shove them at her hole.

I hear her gasp – “ah” – just once – and she glances back over her shoulder, eyes heavy-lidded and dark. I push on her upper back again.

“Head down.”

Her body shudders at my voice and gives in. A ripple of submission through her backbone and I feel to my toes the way it makes every hair on my body stand up, clench, awaken.

Cockhead at her asshole, I enter her easily, so smooth. So tight. The resistance of her ass is just more friction and tension between us and I want to tear into her. Split her apart. Harder now. Faster and she’s taking it so well, “so good baby,” I whisper to myself, fuck it’s so good. She keeps her legs strong and pushes back against me. It’s not enough lube and I remember the bottle in my pocket and laugh to myself. What kind of pervert am I to carry lube on the train?

I pull out and squirt it right on my dick, smear it, and ease back into her.

Oh yeah, give me that ass. Give it to me.

The girl in the red dress has her arms braced against the seats, bracelets jangling. We hit a rhythmic sliding stride and she brings her forearm down in front of her, leans forward, brings her other hand between her legs. Immediately I feel her knees weaken and press together, back arch and spine curl and oh it’s beautiful. I bring my hand up her spine to her shoulder blades, then her neck, take a handful of hair and keep her steady. She pulls against me, not to get away, but to heighten sensation. Struggling has such varying degrees. She doesn’t want out, she wants more.

I take grips on her hip and hair. Slam against her hard, pull out slow. Slick where my cock is fat inside her, swelling and eager. Resistance and tension. She tips even further forward onto the seat until she’s held up by it, lifted at the waist, hand furious between her legs, thighs pressed so hard together, on her tiptoes straining up and tipping forward more, further, until she lets one foot come up off the floor and bend at the knee, toes curling.

She is starting to let go, really let go, become undone at the seams, and she can’t keep the tension in her muscles so she stops resisting my hand in her hair, my palm against the flesh of her ass, holding her cheeks apart, fingers gripping her hipbone. But I don’t let go, I just hold her stronger, tighter, take her a little deeper as she opens, opens deeper, opens hard, and every hinge in her body loosens, I feel it from inside pulse and ripple and again, and again, until she is gasping, chest heaving, crying out, gasping for air. And I ease up, slide in slow, press hard and sweet against her as orgasm fades, shudders, and her body rebuilds itself anew.

I pull out and let her rest. We are quiet a moment. I release my hand from her mess of hair and caress her neck gently, let my hand drape across her hips and thighs, even find her hand, wet and warm from her own liquid, touch her fingertips gently.

Her breathing calms. She sighs, once. Reaches up to brush her hair from her face and I stand, tuck my cock, zip up, run my fingers through my perfectly messy hair to assess the damage.

She stays where she is, leaning for support over the bench seat. I pull the skirt of her dress down over her hips with a shit-eating grin on my face and smack her ass once, a little harder than I meant to, but playful, and she gasps and tenses, then stands. Her makeup is smeared. Her face is still open and sweet from the release but it changes as she watches me. I gather my book and pocket bottle of lube and put them back in my bag, pick up my jacket and slide my arms into the sleeves.

She’s still watching. Eyes wide. Breathing.

“We’re here,” I say. The train is slowing and I can just make out the tunnels of Penn Station as we arrive in New York City. She blinks. Opens her mouth to say something.

I grin. Lord she’s cute. I kiss her cheek as I slip by her and remove her heavy suitcases from the overhead racks. I notice strappy black high heel shoes at her seat and my mouth waters.

Heaving the last of the bags down, I turn to her again. She’s still by my seat, now empty, one finger in her mouth, looking a little shy. I smile and nod, once, a goodbye-take-care-have-a-nice-night gesture, and turn to the door as the train comes to a full stop.

“Um!” she calls after me. I look back. “Thank you?”

I give her a long glance from her ankles up to her legs to her hips and belly and breasts, the disheveled red dress, hair tumbling from its neat design on her head. She’s stunning, really. Delicious.

“Don’t mention it,” I say, and step off the train.

8against8: Clare and Jack

Clare & Jack, September 2008.

Says Clare: “I am wearing a vintage dress and hat from the 30’s (note the vintage strappy heels as well ;), my daughter is wearing a vintage dress from the 50’s and Jack in wearing a super-fly new suit (yum!) . We have some domestic partner benefits here, and we creep closer and closer to legalization every year In Washington state, but we are not legal yet. Hopefully it will move up the coast from California.”

8against8: Holden and Femme

Femme is my Gender and Holden from Packing Vocals

Says Femme: “It was August 21st 2004, and getting married? It was (and is) fucking fabulous! The best day EVER. We had a churchful of family and friends cheering us on which was incredibly special. The public statement was infinitely more important than either of us had realised it would be. We would (and will) do it again in a heartbeat. Of course, it would be wonderful to be able to do it legally.”

brief celebreality moment

I can’t resist. I don’t go much for celebreality but I remember watching Ellen’s old sitcom, I remember what a big deal it was when she came out, I love that she’s got her own daytime show now. We need images, ya know? We need representations of ourselves.

(Also, I’m still a bit obsessed with Josh Radin. I even dragged the Muse to see him perform last month. I can’t believe they flew him in to perform that song, it was so lovely.)

Okay, you are now returned to your regularly scheduled Sugarbutch Chronicles.

with what and where? ‘spanked’ winner

The winner of the delicious new anthology by Rachel Kramer Bussel is saintchick, with this submission about a great time she was spanked:

My ex had to work late one evening at school, so I thought I would surprise her by showing up. Her fave black dress, no undergarments except for the black and red garter, and black patten leather stilettos. Knocked on her classroom door and walked in, she was expecting me and from the look on her face I was in for some trouble. We made some small talk, and by small talk I mean she grabbed my hair and brought me close to her. Her lips barely touching my ear, telling me the exact things she had in store for me. I had only one rule to follow since I had already been a good girl. It was not to look back.

With that said I pretty much flung myself onto her desk, knocking off books, term papers, paper clip holders. She lifted my dress just so my cheeks were visble. Then I heard it, the sound of her opening her desk drawer. My legs started to quiver. I knew better to look back, but I so wanted to see the look on her face. She then placed her hand on the middle of my back to hold me down, and I felt the ruler graze my cheek. She then began alternating between the wooden ruler and her hand. She has this way about her. She would bring me just to the edge when I thought I could not take anymore and then would bring me down gently just to work me up all over again.

Once she admired her work and let her fingertips move over the fresh red marks, she let me up. With one long deep kiss, and one perfectly placed hand I came. On her and her desk. It was one of the best times ever.

Once I straightened out her desk, wiped her desk off (Thank God for Clorox wipes). I kissed her goodbye and just walked out of the classroom. As my stilettos clicked down the hall, a smile on my face, the security guard just looked up at me and managed to say nnnnight ma’am.

Good lord that’s hot. Makes me want to fuck in a classroom, or buy a fabulous ruler, or perfect

(Thanks to the anonymous semi-famous guest judge, you know who you are.)

Sorry I was so behind last week! My ‘real’ work is getting hugely in the way of my posts here. (Want to help me make Sugarbutch my full-time job?) Many posts on their way, including, of course, some butch eye candy, the call for femme eye candy, writings about the architecture of femme identity or what I learned at the Femme Conference, a post about strap-ons, follow up to the Spanked review about the ick factor, more poems, and oh gosh just a whole bunch of stuff. If only the day had more hours.

The Suspension of Heterosexual Belief (1 of 3)

Part one of three of my review of Spanked

I’m reading erotica and watching porn differently these days. For years – since before I came out – I’ve been an, uh, active reader of erotica and smut collections, with almost exclusively lesbian content.

Lately I’ve had the opportunity to review various things through this site, things I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up, like Crossdressing and Chemistry 3. Books and films which include various orientations; straight, bi, gay men, lesbians, threesomes.

In the past, I would probably not have even considered reading these collections or watching these films. My brain would think, ewwww, flesh-and-blood penises. That’s the “ick factor” right there (more on that in part two). But since I was doing it for research, and for review, I figured I’d give it a go … and it turns out that some of it really turned me on. Sometimes completely unexpectedly.

That was a bit uncomfortable for me, really.

It wasn’t until I read Kate Bornstein’s excellent article on the film WALL-E that I placed it: especially with erotica, I am able to suspend my reading of biological sex and only read gender. Male pronouns and male body parts don’t bother me, even though my orientation is pretty strictly lesbian, because I can get so deeply into the play of gender, I can “suspend heterosexual belief.”

Back to that in a moment. First, more about the film WALL-E and Kate’s (did I say brilliant? brilliant!) analysis of gender presentation, WALL-E: A Butch/Femme Love Story … or, Silly Rabbit! Robots Have No Gender.

… [A] pair of lesbian robots who fall madly in love with each other. WALL•E is nothing short of hot, dyke Sci Fi action romance, some seven hundred years in the future! Woo-hoo! Isn’t that what you saw? No? What movie were you watching? Did you see a heterosexual boy robot fall in love with a heterosexual girl robot? I did… at first. […] [W]hen I first saw the film, I saw a boy robot and girl robot. My question is this: how and why did most of us jump to that conclusion?

Kate goes on to examine the different ways that we determine both “biological” sex and the robot’s heterosexuality:

Is it because of their names? … both names are acronyms for each robot’s prime directive and function. Nothing to do with boy or girl there. … Is it simply by looking at the robots, we can tell? … We’ve got no way to spot those robots as male or female by using secondary sex characteristics. … neither robot has a DNA strand, so there is no way to type them by XX or XY. … Barring hormones – which I didn’t get a whiff of during the entire film – that just about exhausts the physiological basis for determining gender.

Examining some of the ways that we determine sex and orientation – hormones, chromosomes, secondary sex characteristics. And there’s the whole obsession with Hello, Dolly as the only model WALL-E has for romance; it is a campy presentation of sweet courtship, and a classic musical.

So, Kate keeps asking, what is it that is tipping us off? How can they be portraying these very human, very gendered, characteristics, yet still be robots?

Pixar and Disney … knew we’d see WALL•E as boy and EVE as girl. Both of ‘em are gosh-darned CUTE, right? Oh, come on. You know they’re SO adorable, right? How can they be that in nearly everyone’s eyes… gay or straight? I think the answer is that we shift our mind’s criteria for gender when we watch a film or listen to a love song or read a novel. We all blithely switch genders in our minds, the better to identify with the vocalist or character. [Emphasis added]

This is the genius part, in case you missed it. This is the part in the article where I exclaimed aloud, “Dammit, why didn’t I write this!”

There are, sometimes, and especially in art – love songs, films, novels – things that trump gender. When art begins speaking the language of emotion, that can transcend orientation or gender presentation and instead we just get the character’s attraction to each other, their courtship, their surges of emotion and desire for connection. I think this may be especially true for queers, who often do not see ourselves represented in popular media, so we learn to “suspend heterosexual belief” and instead see only the presentation and language of gender.

Kate gives some examples of other media – a Tegan & Sara song, Marlene Dietrich, Justin Bond. But wait, Kate’s not done:

Gender ambiguity — when it’s safely positioned onstage or up on a movie screen — is and always has been sexy to damn near all of us, no matter what our gender might be. … What is it that’s signaling sexual attraction to an audience with such a wide range of gender identities and sexual desires? I think the answer is that WALL•E is butch, and EVE is femme, two genders defined by the expression of strong, respectful, sexual desire.

I just love butch/femme as “the expression of strong, respectful, sexual desire.” That’s beautiful.

Butch and Femme are sexy dance steps with unlimited variations. Butch is gallant, femme is gracious. Butch is hail and hardy, femme has wicked cool wiles. Butch is handsome. Femme is pretty. Butch/Femme is all about relating to each other like ladies and gentlemen—no matter our genitals. … Butches can be dominant or submissive, strong or weak, honorable, or complete rats. So can Femmes. Butch and Femme have nothing to do with who makes more money. … There’s no perfection in the dance, there’s only the totality of self-expression and how that self-expression dovetails with someone else’s self-expression.

Yes, EVE is pertly streamlined. EVE’s eyes literally sparkle and dance. EVE giggles, for heaven’s sake. EVE is kick-ass strong and powerful. EVE is performing Femme. WALL•E is rugged and protective and shy and loyal. WALL•E is a sensitive little thing, held together by sheer will and rubber bands. WALL•E is performing Butch.

… And this is the part that gets me teary. I love that butch is a “sensitive little thing, held together by sheer will and rubber bands.” and that femme is kick-ass strong with sparkly eyes. Oh if someone had given me that possible explanation years ago!

Once we begin to look at the characters as Butch and Femme — not male and female — we can assign to them any gender we like. Sure, the film can be about a boy robot and a girl robot. But how about EVE as a sweet femme boy robot, like performer/chanteuse extraordinaire, Justin Bond. And WALL•E is a sweet butch girl robot, with a heart of solid gold, like performer/chanteuse extraordinaire Lea Delaria?

How freakin great is that! I love this way of analyzing popular media. Kate writes, “You’re the audience. You get to decide.” and goes on to mention a few other Disney films – Mu-lan, Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid. I took a “Feminist Interpretations of Disney” class as a gender studies undergrad, I have watched these films and examined the gender in them in depth.

But I’ve never thought about it like this. And I love it. (Writing through this has made me really want to see WALL-E, and some of those others, again.)

As someone who has a background in academic gender studies and feminist theory, I do take a certain amount of pleasure in the reading of texts like Disney films as reproducing the heteronormative, gendernormative binary, so in some ways revisioning media this way makes me skeptical. I don’t think the critical analysis should be discounted entirely, especially when it has such an affect on girls (this calls to mind the Princess Collection and discussions with feminist/progressive parents of little girls who are close to disgusted in their daughter’s obsession with princesses). But I do think it’s another fascinating way to look at popular media through the lens of gender presentation and expression.

So: that’s how a little love story about two robots can be read as butch/femme. And that’s how we can – and already do – suspend heterosexual belief when consuming popular media.

But when we’re talking about representations within the sex industry … written erotica, visual porn, or any smut, there tends to be the aspect of sexual anatomy. And for queers especially, it seems, the reality of a wet vagina for gay boys or hard penis – or, worse, a coming penis – for the lesbians actually grosses us out. It’s much harder to suspend heterosexual belief when the physicality of the different biological sexes is so prevalent – and, indeed, part of the point.

What is this ick factor? How does it work, and how does it affect us? Also, how do we get over it?

That’s part two, coming tomorrow.

The Difference Between Romance and Chivalry

What’s the difference between romance and chivalry?

Colleen and I had an interesting discussion a while back. The two can look nearly identical, we thought – bringing flowers, pulling out a chair, taking a jacket – but something separates them.

I do think some things are not so chivalrous and are exclusively romantic – candlelight dinner, gazing into each other’s eyes, promises of love + affection – but pretty much all the chivalrous actions seem to fall under a romantic umbrella. Like a sub-set of romance.

But see, sometimes chivalry is purely kind and thoughtful, with no romance whatsoever. When I hold the door open for a stranger, or for my mom or sister or a straight girl friend, I do it with no romantic intent.

Ah – so perhaps that’s what differentiates the two: intention. That’s what Colleen and I concluded.

Chivalrous actions are done purely for the sake of doing the action – kindness, thoughtfulness, observation of something that would assist someone else.

Romantic actions, however, are done with a particular purpose: of wooing the other person. Romance does want something in return, and when the relationship changes to “just friends” or ends, the romantic gestures cease.

So the gestures of romance and chivalry can appear the same, but are given with different intentions.

So (here’s the part where I get personal), I’ve always been a romantic. Big time. Love poems, handmade gifts, mix cds, sweet nothings. (I know, you’re shocked.) Lately I have been extremely suspicious of romance and the webs of seduction it spins, but I haven’t let go of chivalry. In fact, my chivalrous impulses have gotten stronger.

Trouble here is, I think my chivalry is often misinterpreted as romance. Paying for dinner, holding her door. I’m told these aren’t things that many transmasculine folks do, so they can be interpreted as grand gestures, even though honestly that’s just how I am.

As with everything else in my dating life, it seems, I need to make my intentions clearer in matters like this. I’m learning, I guess – to have better boundaries, to trust they are in place, to be clear, to listen to others and hear when they are not accepting of the boundaries I have.

Sometimes I feel like the boundaries I have in place are too strong, too much, too thick. Huge cement walls with barbed wire instead of lines in the sand. But the strange thing is, it isn’t until my huge cement walls are accepted – really accepted and acknowledged – that I can start putting up a chain link fence instead, then a picket fence, then a hopscotch chalk line.

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. – Carl Rogers

Update: I also wrote about chivalry on the post for March’s masthead, bringing butch back – specifically the ways that I approach chivalry as deeply feminist.

review: Lipstick on her Collar

The most recent Pretty Things Press anthology called Lipstick on Her Collar and Other Tales of Lesbian Lust landed on my desk recently, and I took my time reading through it.

I love lesbian erotica books … I think for many queer women, it’s one of the first places where we begin to access the languages of lesbian desire and sexuality, and as such they can be very powerful, transformative books, not just jerk-off material but also an introduction to entirely new concepts and ideas. I’ll never forget some of the early books that did that for me, like Breathless: Erotica by Kitty Tsui and Best Lesbian Erotica 1998, which became roadmaps and secret-tellers.

I’m a bit picky about my erotica these days, though. There’s more and more of it out there, and what turns me on is butchtop/femmebottom aligned writings, fairly exclusively. I can read through other anthologies and appreciate the writing, the characterization, the plot lines (no, seriously!), but I don’t tend to find myself putting the book down to go jack off.

This book, though, has an impressive number of butch/femme scenes. This is partially because, I imagine, the anthology includes “lipstick” in its very title, thereby encouraging more of the gendered play than many lesbian erotica anthologies usually include.

Three, in particular, stand out: Kingdom Cum by Scarlett French, about a femme seducing a drag king after a drag show; Femme Princess by Ellen Tevault, about a femme in a bed death relationship who answers a butch’s personal ad and reawakens her sexual desire, seeming to uncover her own gender fetish at the same time; and Now and Then by Barrett Bonden, about a butch’s return to her long-term femme lover, which ranges from quite smutty and dirty (especially in the dialogue – “Get up on the bed, slut. Hands and knees, ass in the air.”) to very sweet and long-term lesbionic.

Don’t get me wrong, the whole book is not butch/femme oriented stories. But there are a few great ones, as well as some femme-femme scenes, a decent story dealing with body ability where one of the characters is in a wheelchair (its inclusion made me realize how very little body-ability diversity there is in these types of anthologies, in general), some strangers, some long-term lovers, and a couple of my favorite lesbian authors, including Skian McGuire and Rachel Kramer Bussel.

It seems Alison Tyler is doing some great books with Pretty Things Press, and I’m glad to see a lesbian anthology with more gender included in their catalog.

weekend, part two: dancing

Weekend, part one: flogging

I slid my cock inside her swiftly and she took it easily. Let out a little cry, lifted her ankles around my hips. I was hungry. I could feel her opening, could feel how she could be filled.

“Get up,” I said after a while. I lifted myself off the bed and began switching to my other cock, the bigger one. “Turn over.”

She started to, up on her hands and knees, and I reached my arm around her hips and pulled her off the side of the bed, her pussy at my cock’s height perfectly. I took a palmful of lube and fucked her, hard, deep.

Moans and cries from both of us as I pounded into her. Fucks like that I swear I can feel my cock thickening, getting harder, being restricted and pulled into her cunt by her tight rings of muscles. She’s discovered that she can lift her legs off the floor and wrap them around my waist when I fuck her bent over the edge of the bed if she has the right grip on her hands (because it’s just the right height), which gets my cock ever deeper.

I moved my right hand around to her clit and she shuddered, I took a small grip on my cock to test the lube and moved back to her clit, swollen like a berry on a vine, thick, slick, sweet. I moved my other hand to her hair, pulling and holding her body so I could fuck harder. Shifting my pace, slowing excruciatingly and she was shuddering and gasping, nearly thrashing on the bed.

Faster again, slightly tilting my pelvis to aim for her gspot, fingers working her clit and lips stretched taut as she thrust back against me. I felt her thighs shudder, once, twice, as she squeezed and gasped, then came, nearly yelling into the bed.

We disentangled, breathing hard, little sighs of pleasure. She pulled herself up lengthwise on the bed and I went to her, legs scissored around hers, hand in her hair, one by her hip, head to her breast. She rested her hand on the back of my head and kept it there, weaving through the short hairs on my neck. Her fingers began to unravel me, to pull me apart, so tender, and I let go.

“You’re so sweet to me tonight,” I said, pulling myself up so our faces were next to each other on the pillow.

“You never let me be.”

[ Is that true? Maybe. Maybe I’m doing something that she interprets as keeping her at a distance, as pushing her away. I don’t think that’s how I intend it (is it?), and sometimes I even wish she’d touch me more. I don’t wish it enough that I have asked for it (at least, not often, just once, the only time we showered together). ]

We pillow-talked for a while. “Did you like flogging me?”

“Yes. Very much.”

Let me elaborate: flogging is tangible power. Energy sparkling and crackling up and down my arms, my shoulders, all through my back. Rhythmic breathing, rhythmic swinging, and everything becomes hyper-sensual, hyper-senstive. I can detect a change in the air current, can hear a door open across the apartment building’s hallway. I feel her breathing, feel her breath, can see it visibly moving through her body. I sense the depth of the blows: that one too light, still too light, ah yes just right. Keep it there. Keep it just there. Then suddenly – too hard, and she gasps. I want to pull back but I so love the way she whimpers and squirms, just a little pain, just a little uncomfortable, then her muscles release, her voice releases when I let up, and that’s it, that’s the moment I crave, the supple giving in, the letting go, the release of what you don’t even know you’re holding on to.

Let go, let go. You don’t need it. All you need is this beautiful body, this beautiful breath.

In pillow talk, the subject shifted to dominance, to submission, to force. She knows I like it when she struggles. She’d like to play with that more, she said. I’d like her to say no, I said.

Then, I’m not sure how it started, but it did. Kissing, probably; isn’t that always how things start?

It’s a blur. Me looming over her, using the weight of my body (I must have more than 50 pounds on her) to hold her down. Force her legs apart. And she let out a string of words: “No no no no no,” whimpering, softly, turning her head side to side into the pillow as she tried to get her wrists out of my grip, “no no no no.”

“Yes,” I whispered, firmly. “Oh yes.”

She arched her back, tried to kick me and I got my calf against her knee and my hips between her thighs. Both wrists in one hand and position my cock.

“You’re going to take it. I’m going to fuck you.”

“Nooo …” Was she crying now? Gasping and her face felt wet when I took a grip on her hair and force her mouth to mine. It scared me a little, maybe I was hurting her (is she in physical pain? Are her knees okay, her shoulders?), and it scared me that I liked how much she was resisting me. How much I liked it when she won’t let me in.

I raised myself arms-length from her momentarily and paused. “You’ve got a safeword now, little girl. You remember what it is?”

She nodded a little, meeting my eyes briefly, and they were almost calm. Dancing. I felt releif.

“I’m not going to stop unless you use it. You’re gonna be mine tonight. My girl.”

And I pushed my thighs up to open hers, my knees sliding under her to force her pelvis up, her legs apart. My weight was shifted forward on my forearm, holding her arms down. She resisted my attempts to kiss her and whimpered more, moaning a little, cries inciting some sort of pulsing urge in my core, my pelvis, my hands in fists, down to my toes where I pushed against the bed firmly.

I slid inside slow and she shuddered, gasped, chest heaved and sank into the pillows and she let out a moan despite herself.

“You’re my girl tonight. Mine.” I said into her neck as I closed my teeth against her tender skin to keep her there, an animal instinct and she can’t move without ripping herself.

“You’re my girl.” I said again. “Say it.”

I felt her breath on my ear, her fingers clawing at my shoulderblades as she pulled me to her as I pumped my hips against her, thrusting, pressing, circling, and she pulsed under me.

Just a whisper: “I’m your girl.”

“That’s right. That’s right, baby. Say it again.”

“I’m yours, I’m your girl.”

I brought my mouth to hers, and we slid into the fuck, rocked together. Rocked deep.

Lesbian stereotypes, reclaiming language, and activism

Yet another case in point: Butch, skinhead, wife-beating, pint drinkers? “Butch, femme, dyke – what kind of lesbian are you? Jeni Quirke explores the negativity surrounding lesbian stereotypes.”

Hey, sounds like a pretty good idea, exploring negative lesbian stereotypes, yeah? Right away, I’m skeptical of her inclusion of “butch” in that title, but I’m curious. Let’s read.

[L]esbians and bisexual women are also guilty of holding stereotypical generalisations and assumptions about each other based on appearance and personality. The words ‘dyke’, ‘baby-dyke’, ‘lipstick lesbian’, ‘pretend lesbian’ and ‘political lezza’ are too often thrown about the lesbian community, at work, in the pub or even from a friend to a friend in a jokey and cheeky way.

So why is this still happening, in a supposedly very tolerant and gay friendly society? It’s quite straightforward for all involved – stereotypes[.] … [W]hy do lesbian and bisexual women also carelessly use the terms ‘butch’, ‘femme’, ‘dyke’[?] … Is it internalised homophobia? … most women don’t even realise they have it or are displaying it.

So, when words to describe lesbian identity categories – such as dyke, baby dyke, and lipstick lesbian – are used by heterosexual or gay men who are excluded from and based in ignorant assumptions about the group, it is because of stereotyping, but if lesbians actually use these terms, it is from a place of internalized homophobia.

The use of words such as ‘dyke’, ‘butch’ and ‘femme’ from a lesbian individual or group are almost always meant in a negative way. Often, the only positive times you will hear the words spoken will be from a lesbian who is referring to herself, such as ‘Yeah I’m a butch dyke, but so what? It’s who I am.’ For the individual and for onlookers this proud and defensive statement will seem a very noble and bold thing to say. This it is, but it could also encourage the use of such stereotypes by heterosexual and non-heterosexual people.

So here she’s saying, when I define myself and call myself what I want to be called, when I reclaim the words for myself, it appears to be “very noble and bold,” but really it’s encouraging stereotypes. Who cares if it’s empowering to me in a development of my own gender identity, in putting myself in a historical and cultural context where I recognize the gendered struggles of my foremothers and forefathers and and forebabas and forepapis, really it’s just an invitation to oppress me. Not buying it.

If we are using offensive terms to one another in our own community, then what chance is there that straight people and gay men will stop using them? Are we re-enforcing the terms? And if so why are we doing this to each other and to ourselves? … Possibly the thought that ‘stereotypical’ lesbians such as ‘butch dykes’ are re-enforcing people’s generalisations and giving lesbians a bad name. … Could it be that society on the whole has become addicted and accustomed to using labels or labelling[?]

So now this author claims that butch dykes are giving lesbians a bad name and reinforcing stereotypical lesbianism. Oh, I recognize this tune.

And also, a word about labels: where we are in our cultural identity history, right now, in the West in the early 21st century, we reject labels. Pretty much entirely. Constantly, people are saying “don’t box me in,” “don’t restrict me,” “I’m bigger than that box,” “I’m more than a label,” et cetera. We are not addicted and accustomed to labels. I absolutely think it’s true that labels can be restrictive and limiting when applied without any leniency, and I think it’s true that culturally, we used to have more of a sense of defining people by their gender, age, race, economic status, ethnicity, family history, class, social status, religious beliefs, et cetera – by all of the factors of social hierarchy. But this is precisely what the various activist movements of the 20th century have been working to change, and in many ways, it absolutely has changed. Labels are generally now seen as bad and restrictive.

The well-known and common female stereotypes such as femme , butch and dyke are only there so other people and sometimes even ourselves use to categorise all the ‘types’ or ‘breeds’ of lesbians neatly away into a fileable drawer. [Emphasis added.]

Oh, now I’m just sad. The only reason butch exists is so others – or “sometimes even ourselves,” (implying, of course, how sad that is, that our internalized homophobia is so bad that we limit ourselves so awfully) – can categorize us?

Goddammit, this is just so inaccurate. There is a long history of butch, femme, and genderqueer WARRIORS who are changing laws, making strives, marching in protests, fighting for rights, being visible, working hard, raising kids, making families, contributing to thriving communities, loving, living, and being ourselves.

And now, this perspective of the author of this article becomes even more transparent: the things she is saying here are flat-out gender-phobic. Probably out of ignorance, rather than intentionally malicious, but still. This author clearly cannot imagine that any femme, butch, or dyke would ever be authentically empowered by these labels (as opposed to falsely empowered through internalized homophobia) or claiming them out of some sort of intentional, conscious, educated, contextualized narrative of queer culture, life, identity, and empowerment.

I haven’t even started about the power of reclaiming words, here, which this author completely discounts as even remotely possible. Yes, the word “dyke,” for example, has been used by outsiders to marginalize and oppress people within that group. But part of the process of legitimizing that identity is to take the words that have been used to oppress us and revision them to be valuable, which, by proxy, revisions the identity as valuable as well. This also deflates the potential of the insult: if the word no longer has any negative connotations, and someone shouts “dyke!” from across the street, we can recognize that he’s a) being blatantly and ridiculously homophobic, b) attempting to insult us, and c) stupid and ignorant if he thinks homophobia is acceptable. It’s much easier for this type of encounter not to sting, and not to be taken seriously, when we are used to throwing around the words that are attempted to be used as insults.

Aside from that, there’s the linguistics of it all: “lesbian” sounds like the technical term, like dentifrice instead of toothpaste. It sounds like something you could contract or pick up, it’s long – three syllables – and fairly awkward in the mouth. “Dyke,” however, is short, powerful, with strong, shit-kicking consonants that pops on the tongue. Stronger, tougher, thicker, more powerful.

The author of this article closes with this:

We should all join and work together to end other people’s preconceptions, generalisations and stereotypes by not doing it in and to our own community.

Yes, I agree in part – we should end preconceptions, generalizations, and stereotypes. But what this author is describing is not “doing it in and to our own community” necessarily. People – everyone, women and lesbians and yes, even dykes – have our own agency, our own ability to define for ourselves who we are and what we are doing with it. To speak from outside of a community who uses this language intentionally about the choice of using this language is belittling and offensive, implying that I couldn’t possibly know what I’m doing by using this language.

And I know some of you are thinking, “well, Sinclair, you’re a bit different than the average butch, after all,” but ya know what? I haven’t found that to be true. I have found that most butches I know are incredibly intentional about their identities, and have beautiful things to say about what it’s like to navigate the world as a butch-looking woman, often even if they don’t identify with the label, culture, or politics. Same with the femmes. Butch and femme are no longer default identities to which one gets shoved into the minute one comes out as a lesbian. Queer, dyke, butch, femme – those words are marginalized, othered, looked down upon in many ways. It takes work to come to them, work to claim them, and work to keep them functioning.

This author, like the majority of folks out there – lesbian communities notwithstanding, unfortunately – are missing some key elements and understandings of the history of gender radicalism, what it means to reclaim language, and what it means to adopt these identities. Articles like this really get my boxers in a twist because they appear to be a conscious, intentional analysis of what’s difficult or challenging within the lesbian communities, but in fact, they are reinforcing gender misunderstandings and further marginalizing those of us who do play with gender intentionally, celebrationally, and beautifully.

In Praise of Femmes: Trust

I’m going to attempt a new series of writings in praise of femmes. This is the first officially, but it follows in line with in praise of stretchmarks.

This past weekend and some amazing time with Penny (more on that later) has me thinking about trust and femmes. I wrote recently in a dramatical moment, “I just don’t trust femmes anymore” – with immediate caveats and retractions – and I want to expound.

It is femmes that I perhaps trust the deepest. The way I am received – not just cock-and-cunt, not just my fist inside the muscular bowl between your legs, but all of me: when my strong hands weaken and flutter, when I cry, when I laugh too loud, when I give up give in let go, when I feel my power slipping and you put it right back into place with a gentle flick of your wrist.

It is within your embrace that I make the most sense. Callie was the first femme I ever dated, the first relationship where my affections were returned tenfold (before that, I’d loved a femme, my best friend, for years, but that was tragedy. After that, The Ex, who I thought was more femme than she was and that caused constant tension between us).

I know who I am around you. My carefully manufactured, deliberately manifested masculinity suddenly has a purpose, a function, a use, and it excites you, makes you cry out and give in and let go, turns you on. My gestures are held by you, witnessed, caught gently and cradled, and oh my god thank you for that.

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

This dynamic runs deep in me. Who knows why – nature, nurture, socializing, fetish. I need it, ache for it, me a teenaged pretty-boy (you say), you a powerful goddess. And you must know I never use words like goddess to describe women (too cliché, too overused) but yes that really is what I mean here: magical, strong, miraculous, seductive, creational.

I was made against you. I can think of a couple of you specifically against whom I break and become myself: Callie. DateDyke. Muse. Strong enough to catch me, strong enough to let me sharpen myself against you.

And it is this power that scares me, that now brings these feelings of mistrust. Because I love this dynamic so much, fetishize it even, it touches deep primal nerves in me. I become carried by it and have trusted it – the dynamic – more than I trusted the person. I let her use her femme-ness to get what she wanted, I let her use beauty, seduction, soft skin and flirty submissive eyes. I watched it, I even knew what was going on, and I let it happen anyway.

I know better now, I guess, I hope. I should pay attention to the red flags of constant “conflict,” I shouldn’t have gone to Mexico, I should’ve been more honest, I shouldn’t have fucked her if I didn’t have the aftercare in me.

I’ve said it before – it is one of my greatest flaws: I trust what people tell me. I am convincible.

There really are charms that only femininity, only femmes, only queer femmes who know how to treat sugarbutches like me, possess. Charms that unravel me deeply, that pull me apart. When it’s good, it clears out the cobwebs, shines light into every dark corner, exposes all the cracks and flaws and structures that hold me up, and then, even, fixes them, or attempts to. I am made more whole, more complete. When it’s bad, I have been destroyed foundationally, or attempted to be. Piece by piece picked off and explained in a new way that suited her. My dick in a mason jar under a sink, punished. My every action her fist closed tight around.

It is good I am strong. I come from a strong family who gets along, a queer lineage of kisses, teachers who respected and taught me, who sheltered me and pushed me hard, who said I was worth something, who said we all are, who said stories of marginalized groups and communities must be told, who said I could and should change the world, who said I could do anything, who encouraged me to come alive, who said they liked what I had to say. And I have this place – this personal writing project I refuse to call a “blog” because it is so much more than that, it is revolution, it is community, it is self-awareness and witness and a very lighthouse.

I have built up these tools around me so I don’t fall prey to this problem of trusting femmes. It is because femmes are who I love, who I partner with, for whom I deeply ache that they are capable of such unraveling. If I partnered with butches it would be a problem trusting butches, if I partnered with straight boys or trans women or blondes or tennis players it would be a problem trusting them. And perhaps this is why women as a whole – and femininity – are seen as untrustworthy, sneaky, manipulative in our culture: because men – hetero men – are the ones who partner with this, and men are the ones who have held the pens to write our histories, to write their great love stories, which have involved many broken hearts and many malicious women, because love is scarce and precious and delicate.

Femmes are not untrustworthy. Femmes are who I trust the very most, with whom I make the very most sense, with whom I am more myself than anywhere else.

I am scared, and skeptical, about what it may mean for me to trust, to explore, especially around the specific ways that I can lose my head in this dynamic. It’s new to me, and it affects me deeper than any relationship ever has – I’ve never lost myself so completely in a lover before. So now comes the fusion: the combination of the intense, passionate sexual dynamic that comes with gender play, and the knowledge of relationship tools that I have been collecting and building upon since I began dating fifteen years ago (half my life, now. Amazing). I have the support, the community, the friends, the knowledge, the inner strength.

So.

Bring it on.

Lesbian bed death, Butch/femme dating, and More Femme Worship (Plus Q&A)

I’m in Salt Lake City for the long weekend, so hopefully I’ll have some time to catch up on writing and these questions. Thanks for asking them! Some of them are very complex and I want to give them good thought.

5. Mm asks: How does one (or more appropriately two) keep passion from waning in a long term monogamous relationship? It’s been done, but how?

Oh man – I won’t pretend to be the authority on this one. I have had two major long-term relationships, one for five years, one for four years, the latter of which was one of those LBD (lesbian bed death) situations. So I seem to be alright at sustaining some sort of time – though ultimately, all my relationships have ended, so I’m not sure I’ve got the secrets here.That said, I do think I have some ideas about what it is that I can and will do to sustain passion in a long-term relationship the next time I get the chance to practice.

  1. Talk about sex. Talk talk talk. It’s fun! It’s sexy, it’s intimate. Let go of inhibitions and let your partner into your dirty dirty mind. Make lists of things you’d like to do. Make lists of things you’ve never done and probably would never do. Fill out sex surveys – like the purity test, or a BDSM checklist – together. Fill out the fill-in-the-blank questions, you may be surprised at the answers. Make a list of things you’ve done and didn’t like but might be willing to try again. Maybe this is just my compulsive list-making, but it’s useful information, and it forms a common vocabulary for you two to both discuss your wants, desires, fetishes, interests. 
  2. Do sexy stuff together. Watch porn, or, if you don’t like porn (though I gotta say, dyke porn is getting better and better and better, you’re missing out if you haven’t tried out some of the recent stuff), read erotica aloud to each other. Go to sex toy shops together. Share your fantasies. Plan some elaborate fantasy scene. Explore!
  3. Figure out what turns you on, and don’t be afraid to own that. Look for someone with complimentary turn-ons, or discuss your newly discovered turn-ons with your partner. It amazes me how few people really know what deeply “does it” for them, or, even moreso, who are in relationships with people they can tell about this stuff. (Oh, you should see the email I get sometimes about this.)
  4. If things are working, we’ll both be growing, individually as well as together. In theory, our values will be so tightly aligned that the interests and pursuits that we meander through will keep each other interested, rather than putting distance or difficulties between us. But, that said, don’t assume the relationship will be between the same people in two, five, ten years. One of my favorite novels of all time, The Sparrow, has a quote in it that goes like this: “I’ve been married five times over the last fifty years to five different people, all of whom were named George.” We should grow and change. We just gotta give each other the freedom to grow, and recognize that that means, potentially, that we may grow apart. 
  5. Ultimately, I think, it’s all about sexual openness. The people I’ve seen who have been able to sustain things long-term have been deeply open. Experiment! Try something you’ve never done, then try it again – just because you tried it once and didn’t like it doesn’t mean you’ll never like it. See which edges you can push. Take a class, take a workshop. Open up, let go.

All this advice is sounding very cliché. I don’t like giving general advice as a rule … wish I had some more specific answers for you here. Other readers? Tips for sustaining a long-term passionate relationship? Hell, if you are IN a long-term, passionate relationship, how do you do it? What makes it work?

6. Dosia asks: What would you say is the best way for a girl to approach a hot butch in a bar/at a dyke march/behind the counter in a cafe/in class? How do we make those connections — not just for sex, but for friendship? Hell, it doesn’t have to be specific to butch/femme dynamics, how does it work, this meeting other queer women?

If there’s only one piece of advice to give about starting – and maintaining – conversations with strangers, dykes or butches or femmes or friends or potential hotties or whoever – it’s this: find common ground and elevate the discussion.

My mom told me that once upon a time about my (former) hostile work environment. And I tell ya, it fucken worked.

Find common ground: that is, when you hit upon a topic with which you are both familiar, attempt to deepen it. When you discover you both like art, go inside of that – elevate the discussion. Ask another question: “what kind of art do you like?” “Have you been to that exhibit at the Met?” “Do you paint?” “What kind of medium do you use?” “What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever done?” “What do you wish you could do?” “What made you get into that?” …see what I mean? Once you hit a common topic of interest, deepen the discussion by asking as many questions as you can about the different aspects of it. It’s hard when you don’t know anything about the topic – it’s hard for me to bullshit sports, for example – but when I actually know something about it, I can ask intelligent questions that, who knows, may even compliment my own understanding of the topic.

That said: there are a few good books I’d recommend here. The Art of Conversation and, cheesy as it may sound, The Game, a memoir about pickup artistry (with many grains of salt and a critical eye, of course).

Certainly there’s not just one way, and the trick is to find your own way, the way that works for you with your unique set of interests and talents. My way and your way are probably different. I know, that’s a lousy answer, but unfortunately it’s also true – what makes you interesting, what do you love to talk about? I am often talking to girls about their gender presentation at bars, and I quickly discover in that conversation which girls share a similar vocabulary for gender that I do (major turn-on), and which are performing some sort of femininity out of some sort of compulsory default (major turn-off).

Lesbians travel in packs, especially to bars, dyke marches, cafes, so it’s really difficult to actually a) gain one’s attention, b) keep one’s attention, and c) have an actual conversation of connection. That’s where the find common ground comes in, but I definitely understand that it’s hard to actually say something, hard to “break the ice,” to make contact.

I mean, I think this is hard for everybody, but particularly difficult because of the ways that lesbians stay huddled with their friends when out at social events, in public. Why do we do that? Maybe it’s a predator-pray kind of instinct, where it used to be so much more dangerous for us to be out on the town, and we remember that, as a community. There is safety in numbers, after all. From the specifically butch perspective, these are some things that would make me seriously take notice:

  • Ask me to light your cigarette (even better if you then say “I don’t actually smoke, I just wanted to talk to you,” because for one, I’m an ex-smoker, and for two, smoking, as romantic as it is (sigh), will severely damage your body and that is, ultimately, a turn-off. I should add that to the list.)
  • Compliment me on my gender (no, I’m serious!) – “hey, I noticed your gender from across the room.” “hey, you look like a old-school butch / faggy butch / dapper dandy / prettyboi – do you have a particular word for what it is you do?” “Your gender is quite noticeable.  You got a gender philosophy?” 
  • Offer to buy me a drink. It’s an easy excuse to get somebody talking. Say, “I wouldn’t want to presume to insult your possible dominant or chivalrous abilities, but can I buy you a drink?” Boy howdy, that’d definitely get my attention. (I’d say: “No. But you can allow me the pleasure of buying you one.” And then you’d giggle, and we’d talk and flirt until I eventually took you back to your place and fucked you in the foyer. Hey wait, how’d this become a sex story?)

These are things that would absolutely appeal to me, not sure how butches-as-a-whole would really respond. But that’s all I can speak to, really, is my own experience – other butches (and any folks who don’t identify as butch): what would get your attention? Don’t be afraid to be a little bold. Lesbians rarely are, but it’s my experience that we respond extremely well to boldness. Also, after you get to talking, it’s okay not to have a plan. And it’s also okay to let your nervousness come through as charming. “Uh, that was my one idea for a conversation. Now I’m drawing a blank ‘cause you’re kinda cute.  Got any topics for discussion?”

7. Cyn asks: … (see the first batch of answers)

8. Duck asks: Could you explain how the remaking of femininity has been “successful?”

Still working on this one ….

9. Miss Avarice asks: Have we yet figured out the subtle differences between straight girls and femmes at first glance? Does it really come down to a hunch in the end? Also, has writing SB changed you?

The only way I can say that I know the femmes from the straight girls is that, sometimes, I “just know.” And hell, I’m not even right all the time! I err on the side of caution, though, assuming someone is straight until proven otherwise – although “proven otherwise” is a broader and broader category, often as broad as “she’s talking to me, must mean she’s queer (in some form).” So yeah, it comes down to a hunch – it’s more than just a hunch though, it’s an energy. It’s gaydar, it’s a sixth sense that I can’t put my finger on. I wish I knew! I’m working on some writings on “gender energy,” we’ll see how those go.

Writing Sugarbutch has absolutely changed me. I was just looking back at where I was two years ago, and while I knew I was butch, I was so much less articulate and able to claim it in ways that I do now. Sugarbutch has been key and essential to my own personal development of gender identity. It’s plateauing a little bit, in the last year or so, but I still have some realms to explore (the “sex” part and the “relationship” part, namely). One big way Sugarbutch has measurably changed me, especially in terms of gender identity, is that I – as Sinclair – exclusively go by male pronouns. I write “Mr. Sinclair Sexsmith,” and in the few interviews I’ve had, I’ve asked to be called by the set of he/him/his. I don’t go by male pronouns in my non-pseudonymed life, though I really love being able to play with both.

It’s changed me in other ways, too, though; I’ve been able to let a persona wander free and explore lots more of that toppy/butch identity, and it’s definitely strengthened my own expression of it.

10. Zoe asks: How did you develop boundaries for your blog? How do you decide what to write about vs what to keep private? Who would you be most worried about finding it?

I established the boundaries early on, with the tagline “sex, gender, and relationship adventures” – that’s what I write about. Occasionally I get the impulse to post links, or media, or general bitchy writing, but I ask myself: is this about sex, gender, or relationships? Otherwise, no. Axed. (I suppose I should add “self-awareness” to that list, though really, usually it’s self-awareness about sex, gender, or relationships, so it applies.)

I don’t have hard rules about what to write vs what to keep private. Sometimes, a date or a situation or a new revelation just begs to be written about, and I do. It’s instinctual, I guess. Occasionally, I hesitate – usually in those situations I write it all out anyway, and then ask one of my trusty advisees to tell me whether or not it’s appropriate to post. Most often, they say no, for whatever reasons, and confirm my suspicions.

Who would I be most worried about finding Sugarbutch … I suppose I wouldn’t want my boss at work finding this blog, especially considering how many hours I spend on it while I’m at work. And while there are many of these entries I’ve written that I would send to my mother, I wouldn’t particularly wish her to find it, either – though, my family being what it is (completely non-confrontational) I’d probably never know she’d run across it.

I would never want to get an email from Callie with her comments about what I’ve said about her on this blog (note to self: when are you going to get around to password protecting the old Callie entries?). I don’t actually know for sure whether or not Callie knows about this blog. My logical self says yes, of course she does, how could she not; but, on the other hand, I can’t imagine she wouldn’t have mentioned it. I guess we had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing going on.

I’m really open about this stuff – sex, gender, relationships – and most people in my life know that I write here. I used to keep it much more of a secret, but as it’s been developing from a personal journal blog to a more thorough non-ficiton-essay blog, I share it more and more. Plus, I spend so much time on it, I like to talk about it and bounce ideas around.

An Argument For Butch/Femme

Guest post from my best friend The Muse. We were discussing a post I found earlier today called “an argument against butch/femme,” which I may discuss more later, and she, brilliantly, sent me this.

That rhetoric is so frustrating. Why is it so hard for people to understand that for some, defining yourself can be liberating, not limiting. There’s so often a snobbery in queer women who feel they’ve transcended the societal expectations placed on them by rejecting femininity. Anyone who does it another way is clearly still oppressed, unenlightened.

I rejected my femininity too, for ten plus years, but that was mainly a rebellion against my hetero lifestyle. I was like, if men want me, they’re going to have to want me in spite of all this. I’m not doing them any favors, making it easy for them.

Realizing I was gay helped me back out of that contrary corner, but I still wasn’t sure where to go next. My first girlfriend was an andro dykey sort who really dug masculinity, and was a total bottom, so she often encouraged me to be more toppy, more masculine. “I like you so much better without makeup.” “Clearly you look femme, but your energy is very butch.” Haha.

After her, I knew I wanted a masculine girl. It turned me on. But I ended up with someone who rejected her masculinity, her butchness, and was deeply ambivalent about how she was perceived. One early morning she was going out for coffee, but first put on these dangly earrings. I remarked something like, “oh, aren’t you fancy, adding jewelry to your hoodie and jeans ensemble.” She looked at me, dead serious and a little sad, and said, “If I don’t wear them, sometimes people mistake me for a guy.”

So I was constantly conflicted about who I in was her context, since I was made to feel guilty for the very reasons I was interested in her. In turn, she gave me mixed messages about my femininity, sometimes rewarding it, sometimes rejecting it. Fairly often I was left hanging, frustrated and confused in the lingerie I’d bought for her amusement, feeling costumed and stupid.

After that one, I knew I wanted a self-identified butch, but I didn’t know how femme I was. Was I femme enough to get into the club? Would a real butch be satisfied with my level of overt femininity? I couldn’t really walk in heels and I defaulted to jeans 80% of the time, and I felt the need to apologize for that. I put up personal ads describing myself a “tomboy femme” or a “low-maintenance low femme,” which the butches I went out with tended to eschew. In spite of my ever-present jeans and my aversion to the huge collection of skirts in my closet, they thought I was femme. Definitely. “Just look at your perfect red toenails, and your cute little sandals,” one said. “That’s certainly not butch.”

But even dressing up for your reading at the Stain Bar that Sunday in September, I felt a little costumed. I had been in jeans at work and changed there, and walking down fifth avenue to the L train, I got lots of looks from people I passed. My gut reaction was to think, “oh, they think I look stupid, or like a slut, or maybe the tops of my stockings are showing…” It didn’t really occur to me that I might just look hot. It’s so much easier being under the radar in jeans, wow.

Two days later, though, I went on a date with a butch named Lee. For some reason, I decided to ditch the jeans and wear a skirt, tight busty sweater, fishnets, heels. I normally wouldn’t do that for a first date, preferring to set expectations low and give full disclosure that I’d usually be in jeans, that the dressing up was occasional. She even asked me, “so, do you normally dress like this?” and I responded, “no, I just wanted to look nice for you.”

Four hours later. After seeing the toppy look on her face that gets me instantly wet, makes me tilt my chin down and look at her wide and expectant through my eyelashes, my mouth dropping open a little, just before she leaned over and kissed me hard, interrupting whatever I was saying. After making out wildly in an overpillowed winebar, her hands running up my skirt and finding the baby pink band of my thigh-highs, looking at me surprised and saying, “oh, that’s nice.” After a shameless PDA marathon along 14th street, grinding up against brick walls and in the middle of the sidewalk and in dark corners and on subway platforms.

After all that, I was convinced of the utility of skirts. And heels, two and a half inches or more, that put her cock just below my clit when I’m up against a wall. Fuck yeah. A (high-minus? medium-plus?) femme was born.

So, it very much arose out of sex for me, this butch-femme thing. I finally had a context in which I made sense and felt hot, and I loved it. Still working out the details, but I feel more me than ever. And I got there without help from societal norms or heterosexual paradigms, which of course had been with me all along, and of no use whatsoever.

We definitely need to explain to these anti-butch-femme ranters that this is a subversion of the hetero masculine-feminine spectrum, not an emulation of it. The butch-femme identity is as queer as all get out, and other queers should respect that, and not hierarchize the “best ways” to be queer.

Nostalgia for the Butch/Femme Dynamic

Sometimes I hear people say they wish they lived in the 50s and 60s so they could experience the butch/femme dynamic, or they “miss” it even. Team Gina has that line in their song: “Sometimes I miss the butch/femme dynamic / ’cause only girls in carharts make me panic.” When I think about it, it’s kind of odd, coming from a couple of twenty-something girls. It’s an interesting sort of nostalgic feeling for a time that we didn’t actually witness.

Can you really miss something you didn’t actually live through? Seems like there’s a better word for it than “miss” or “nostalgia,” because it’s actually longing for another time. But it’s deeper than that – it’s a historical connection to that time, an inhereted lineage that I really do miss and sometimes long for.

Though the gender revolution/s that are currently happening – especially around butch/femme – are a resurrection of something of the past, maybe it’s actually more more accurate to call it something new – a similar idea resurfacing in a new way.

I certainly didn’t grow up with any sort of model of the butch/femme dynamic, not in my own family – where actually there was a strong rejection of gender roles, falling on the not-rare 70s feminist argument that gender inequality is based on gender difference and gender expression. And yet, I feel connected to the butch/femme dynamic, I feel like a part of it, both currently and along some sort of historical axis.

I’ve been reading Riki Wilchin’s book Queer Theory, Gender Theory lately, and one of her major arguments (so far) is that gender activism got pushed out of both the feminist and gay liberation movements of the mid-1900s because of the ways that the conservative right backlash was using gender deviation as personal attacks against the people in the movements. Now that both of those movements have come so far, and been so successful, we are finally able to unearth this genderphobia that has been prevalent all along and attempt some activism around that.

What’s interesting about that to me is the ways that genderqueerness had to go underground, hidden, shameful, through these liberation movements, and now we – quite often it’s the folks like me, twenty-something, queer, children of the revolution movements of the 60s and 70s – are picking up the torch in our own, new way. And hell, the gender revolution happening seems more radical now than that butch/femme nostalgic time for which some of us long – look at the trans movement, the trans rights, the genderqueer and intersexual activism and knowledge that is getting more and more mainstreamed.

Passing, Privilege, & Butch/Femme

In response to what Belle wrote about privilege, guilt, and butch/femme:

I can’t speak (write) for all butches, and I do get that some of us have awful things to say about femmes and passing and privilege. I don’t know what to tell you about all of that, except that I think that it’s bullshit. It comes from a misogynistic bullying place where the one who is bullied and oppressed turns around and bullies the femme who is littler than you.

This is male privilege. This is the heteronormative hierarchy.

I don’t feel “more oppressed” than any given femme, and I resent that game of who has more hardship than whom. Division and in-fighting are ways that our marginalized communities stay broken apart instead of banded together. C’mon, remember Lord of the Rings?

Yes, butches are more visible, and therefore, in some situations, easier targets. But femmes are targets, too, and discriminated against. Hell, there are so few of us who even fall into this butch/femme dynamic – why make enemies of each other?

This past week I appeared as a guest on the Diana Cage Show on Sirius OutQ radio, and she’d had a whole segment of conversation before my part (where I performed some poetry and chatted about breakups, smut, and femmes, what else) where she was talking about “butch training,” I shit you not.

“Who trained you?” she asked me.

“I don’t think I was ‘trained’ … do all butches get trained?” I was confused.

“Oh yeah,” she answered.

“What about femmes?”

“Oh, no, they don’t need to be trained.”

Oh man, did my mind boggle. I don’t think she’s right about that, but let’s say, for a minute, that she is. In what do we need training? Was I doing something wrong? Did I need to be trained? Had I already been, and didn’t know it? Who had trained me?

“I’m not sure I was trained …” I said skeptically.

“Yeah, true, you’re a chivalrous butch. An old-school butch,” she said, as if this meant maybe I didn’t need ‘training’ after all?

“Yeah, I am. And a feminist, hardcore.” But I kept thinking. “Maybe my first big love trained me,” I said. She was the first femme I knew and she whispered in my ear, I think you’re butch, and I came a little and threw up at the same time. I watched how she wished her girlfriends would treat her and tried to be that.

And when I thought about it more later, I think it was my mother, my parents, who probably most deserve credit for “training” me in the ways that I take care of myself and others. Isn’t that what we’re speaking of? How we love, how we care, how we expect the partnership dynamic to work? And, fundamentally, if I may interpolate here, I think the “training” refers to those butches who often have grown up tomboys, one-of-the-guys, with a socialized masculinity. Those butches that treat femmes – and women – and, hell, people – with disrespect and dishonor, and I think it has everything to do with the “tough guise” of masculinity.

My point is, this is often the same type of butch (as much as I shudder to sub-categorize) I’ve heard this “femme privilege” argument come from, too. And I resent it, deeply. It saddens and angers me. I don’t know how to encourage a more wholistic, human range of experience in that type of butch (again, I shudder), wish I did.


But. This is what I have to say to Belle, or to any femme who endours that forced guilt about femme privilege:

Yes, passing is sometimes a privilege, but not always. Just like my visibility is sometimes a privilege, but not always. Tell me about times it was a privilege for you, and times it wasn’t, and then ask me about my stories, too. Tell me what it’s like to walk in your shoes. Let me learn from your experience. It’s hard sometimes to be a queer in this heterodominant society, and it’s hard to be a butch or femme in a lesbian community rooted in androgyny and which associates gender oppression with gender expression.

Fuck, can’t we share this burdon? Can’t we pass this weight around, let it be a little lighter between us? I mean, I know I’m a hippie-feminist-do-gooder-pacifist and all, but I believe in the power of community, deeply.