How I Became A Daddy

I came to be a Daddy in a dominance/submissive context somewhat reluctantly. For years, I’d heard about this kind of play in kinky relationships — particularly among my gay male friends. I felt a certain charge about it whenever it came up in conversation, but my charge mostly felt very negative: Why would people play with that? How was it sexy? Wasn’t it glorifying incest? How was it not about child abuse, on some level?

I remember very clearly the first direct conversations about it, which was about fifteen years ago now: my friend Greg was giving me a ride home, and somehow it came up in conversation. He was (probably still is) notoriously slutty, and always chatty about his sexcapades and adventures. In my memory, he’s the one who brought it up, but it could’ve been me — I’ve often been the one to eagerly stick my foot in my mouth around kink, asking all kinds of personal questions no matter how appropriate. But I like hanging out with other folks who like to talk about kink, and generally, they answer my questions.

“What is up with all this daddy stuff!?” I asked him. “I mean, how is it not about incest?”

Greg, level-headed and at least fifteen years older than me, answers slowly: “Well … it kind of is about incest. But it’s also about having an older male figure, in the gay boy communities. About having a positive male role model, and how so many of us lacked that as young boys, and how we still crave it.”

I sat with that answer for a good eight years, devouring all the lesbian erotica I could find, my favorites of which had daddy/girl overtones. Why do I like this so much? I’d ask myself. This isn’t something I want, it’s just something I like to read about, for whatever reason. My dirty little secret, the erotica I would never tell other people that I like. It’s wrong, I can’t justify it. But still … I must like it, I keep coming back to it.

For a while, a close friend of mine was a femme girl looking for a butch daddy. I remember those conversations with her clearly, too — and I was still pushing, asking poking questions. It seems obvious now that I was deeply drawn to the dynamic and couldn’t look away, but that I was also trying to work it out for myself.

“But what is it about the daddy/girl dynamic that makes it, you know, not incest?” I’d ask her incessantly.

“It’s just different,” she’d answer, somewhat vaguely. “It’s not about that, for me. It’s about power, and strength, and feeling taken care of, and submissive.”

That language, at least, I could grok. She’s the one who insisted I read Carol Queen’s book The Leather Daddy and the Femme, and that helped me get it even more.

Then, a conversation with a femme who identified as a babygirl I had a few brief dates with helped cement it for me. “Think of it as two different definitions,” she told me. “Like the word baby. We don’t mean literally ‘you’re a baby’ when we call our lovers ‘baby.’ But we invoke the sweet tenderness that word implies. Same with daddy. We don’t mean definition one: the man whose sperm helped conceive you, we mean definition 2: a masculine person who nurtures and cares for you, usually in the leather communities, where sex may or may not be part of the exchange.”

As a word person, it helped to parse the two definitions apart. It helped to start conceiving of this whole separate definition of what a “daddy” is, and how that relationship dynamic worked.

That babygirl femme and I didn’t date long, but our conversations around those concepts were a big turning point for me. I knew I wanted to explore them more. I finally thought, oh, I think I like that, that’s why I’ve been so drawn to slash repulsed by it all this time. Amazing how repulsion and desire can sometimes be two sides of the same coin.

So when Sarah and I got together, shared a lot of our fantasies with each other, and started to explore the realms of kink that we’d always wanted to or hadn’t yet, being a daddy came up for me early on.

“I know it’s something that I want,” I told her. I was dating other people when we got together, and I told her I was interested in exploring polyamory. “I’m not saying that it’s something we have to do together. But I am saying that it’s something I want to figure out if I like, and how I like it. I know it’s something I want in my erotic toolbox, so to speak. If that’s not something you feel willing to play with me, that’s totally okay, but I might want to do it on my own elsewhere.”

It wasn’t an ultimatum, but I did think that it might end up being a dealbreaker.

“I just don’t get it. I mean why would I want to invoke my dad during sex?!” she said.

“It’s not about that. It’s only about you and me. And, in my opinion, we already have the kind of sex and play that I’m talking about. I nurture you, I call you baby and girl and sometimes little girl. You like all that stuff.”

“Yeah. I really do,” her eyelashes fluttered. “Really a lot.”

I grinned. “Honestly I think the only difference between what we do now and what I’m asking for is that one word: daddy.”

She looked pensive. “I’ll think about it,” she said.

The next time it came up, in a different discussion about kinks and explorations, and I mentioned again that I was interested in exploring it, she said, “I’ve been thinking about that. And I think I might just … say it, during sex, sometime.”

I had thought it was never going to happen with her. She’d been pretty clear about her disinterest.

She looked at me sideways, slyly. “We’ll see.”

It was a tease, but it totally worked.

A few weeks later, she did it: just casually let it slip from her mouth into my ear while she had her arms and legs wrapped around me, fucking her slow. It tipped me over the edge and I shuddered inside her, grabbing at her hair, toes curling, coming hard.

After catching my breath, she giggled. “I guess we know what you like!”

It was almost embarrassing, so vulnerable to be known and seen like that. To be splayed wide open, even in front of someone I trusted most in the world. But her eyes were warm and I could see that she liked it, too, and that we were in this together.

Introducing View From The Top: My BDSM Journey

I’m so excited to have started writing a column over on Autostraddle called “View From The Top,” detailing my BDSM journey from being a bottom (before coming out) to being a master (and monogamish and partnered with a boy/boi and happier than I’ve ever been).

Over on the first column, which just came out and is called “I Started as a Bottom,” I kind of came out as a master. I mean, I know I’ve written about it here sometimes, but mostly kind of buried in posts and I haven’t written about it too too directly (yet). It’s scary! It’s a big word, a very loaded word to use and claim, and I hesitate to use it without a whooooole lot of back story to explain where I’m coming from, that I’m part of a community that uses those terms, etc.

So of course, in the comments of the article, there were questions about the use of the terms master and slave, particularly by someone white. I want to highlight my comment and rife’s, too, because I think this is a really interesting issue of semantics, language, and social justice, and I don’t feel 100% good about it, though it’s the best I have right now.

I wrote:

As the author of the post, to be honest, I’m completely uncomfortable with it. It’s something that I struggle with, precisely for the reasons you stated—primarily because I’m a white person and we have a particular, very very recent history of slavery in the US, where I live, the effects of which still benefit white people and me, specifically, and contribute to systemic racism.

There are quite a few folks who use pairings like Owner/property or Dom/sub instead of Master/slave, precisely because of their discomfort with those particular terms.

I’m about 5 years in to this exploration of what it means to be master and slave, and what it means to be part of that community, and it has been incredibly valuable to learn these skills and actually take part in that community. (Maybe I’ll go into this in a future column? Short version: This set of skills is something I’ve done in relationships unconsciously for a while, which was bad; and now that I’m doing it consciously, things are way better.) I resisted the particular words for a while, but after being part of the M/s world for longer and longer, I’ve grown more comfortable with it because of the difference in definition and usage.

I don’t see a lot of consciousness about this issue in the M/s world, which is predominantly white, though. Which I don’t like and am very uncomfortable with, and try to bring up and point out racist language and microagressions when I can (as I do in pretty much all communities I’m in, but I push myself to speak up a little more in this one).

For now, because it’s the most accurate words I have, I’m choosing to use them … but I’m not entirely unconflicted about that.

As a word lover, I think words can grow and change and morph definitions over time. While I do absolutely recognize the particular history that directly affects me, I also know that the words and concepts of master and slave are not a new invention in human history. The enslavement of African folks is just one of myriad examples throughout history. So I think that is one of the main arguments I hear about it—that the experience of ‘slavery’ is not so unique to that one part of history.

I use these words is because these are the most accurate words we have right now. I’m still new to this community and seeking to recognize others and find more friends who know about this stuff, so I’m using the words that are recognized by others so that we can find each other.

Identity words are complicated—some of them just *fit* better or differently than others. And these particular words fit what my boy and I are doing, particularly within the parts of the kink communities that practice them.

Also, if you ever have the chance to hear sex/BDSM educator Mollena do her workshop on taboos, which includes some of her philosophies about M/s languaging, I highly recommend it.

I think pursuing M/s is very complicated … There are many folks who don’t have an objection to those words based on race, but rather on the fact that enslavement is wrong. It’s complex to start unravelling fetishes that are on one hand, ‘morally wrong,’ but on the other hand, totally get you off and satisfy your life in a way that other things never have and in a bone-deep way you feel you need. I think in the RACK——”risk aware consensual kink”—camps, I understand that when things are done with full enthusiastic consent and taking responsibility for what happens, then it’s okay to fantasize and play. Personally, I want it to be done with a lot of consciousness and in a way that aligns with my values, but I also have to balance that with what sustains me, too.

rife wrote:

As a (white, American) who is identified as a slave, I initially struggled with the word, a lot.

What finally brought me around to it (I mean, other than my obvious erotic orientation to that kind of structured ownership fetish) was the realization that slavery has a long, long history. It has been around almost as long as humans. In some iterations, it was even consensual/contractual, like with certain Roman dynamics.

What I do has nothing to do with race play (although there isn’t anything *inherently* wrong with that). And honestly, if a black person told me they found my use of the word disrespectful, I would probably switch back to the more generic “property” descriptor. But here’s the thing: They haven’t, and I’ve had many soul-searching discussions with black friends, many of whom identify this way as well.

Let’s be clear: unconsensual slavery is abhorrent. Consensual slavery is fine. The two are very, very different. Just like rape is awful and consensual sex (even playing with faux-assault) is fine.

Here’s the other thing: it’s the best word for the job, despite its loaded cultural connotations. What else do you call a human who is owned? If we had another word for that, which wasn’t loaded with the unconsensual cultural history, maybe I would use that. But, we don’t. So I’ve made my peace with it.

I hear that it’s not a relationship structure you’d like to be in, fair enough! But be careful not to judge a relationship’s morals by how much you don’t want to be in it. :)

Though I’ve been stewing on this series for a while, and have already written 4 of the columns, I’m surprised and pleased at the impact it’s had so far and I think it’s bigger and more revealing than I expected. I kind of feel like I’m taking on the task of encapsulating my BDSM journey over the last, oh, 15-20 years, and trying to put it into ten or twelve columns to make a story. Feels a bit daunting, and very exciting. The folks at Autostraddle have been super supportive and the editing has been excellent, I so love working with good editors.

I really appreciate all the comments over there, and I’ve been replying to quite a few. (I miss that kind of comment conversation, where folks check back and actually reply—it’s been quite a few years since that’s happened on Sugarbutch, but I have some guesses as to why.)

If you have any particular questions or ideas of what you’d love to see me write about as I keep writing through this journey, I’d love to know. Questions or comments or ideas welcome.

You’ll Never Find the Perfect Dominant

You’re right: You won’t ever find a dominant who is your most perfect match.

If you listen way down deep, there’s a voice telling you that. You have very particular needs, desires, cravings, and your submission is demanding, sometimes feeling endless. You want and want and want, and who can fill that up with anything that leaves a mark? You won’t ever find someone as good as your ex. You won’t ever find someone as good as the person who introduced you to submission, who whispered those most perfect dirty things in your ear and told you to get on your knees. You will come on too strong to the next sexiest person you’ve ever seen and they will whisper to their friends about how much you “aren’t a real submissive” or are “topping from the bottom.” You are too much. Too big. Too thick. Too mouthy. Too bratty. You will never get your needs met. You will never find someone who matches your particular specialties in submission, your unique perspectives on service and masochism and giving over your body and will and all the dirt under your fingernails. Your dirty hands are too dirty. Your dirty mind is too dirty. Your next dominant just wants to sit on the couch and have you pour more wine, and where does that leave you? You have to wait, to beg, to crave touch, to sit still with skin hunger that may feel like it will devour you, to be disappointed.

You won’t find the perfect dominant for you.

Unless you Do The Work.

Look at the parts of yourself that are yours and only yours. Excavate some of those unknown places until you can see around them and know why they’re there. Acknowledge what it is that you want and what it is you just won’t settle for, and you will have a much better chance to find (and be) the right partner. Until you know what you want, you may not find it. Until you look deep at your part in your patterns, you will probably keep repeating them. Until you fill your own holes, you may continue to have a bottomless pit of desire and need that you think can only be filled by another person. Define your own cosmology of icons and worship and desire. Define your own dictionary of touch and connection and intimacy. Write the perfect love letter to the universe detailing all of the amazing things you secretly wish hope dream for in a lover and mail it off on the wind to fall and float down a waterfall. You can do it. You have wells of untapped strength.

Submissives are the strongest people I know.

Your demands are reasonable. Your desires are reasonable. Your wants are reasonable. Your unique particular weirdo gender is reasonable, and beautiful. Your too-much-ness is exactly the reason why you will be wanted, why you will be craved when you are not around, why someone who doesn’t even know you is craving you right now.

There is nothing wrong with you, or with the kind of submission that you most secretly, way down in your bones, seek.

I do actually believe that. But you have to believe it, too.

And then you have to go after it, with such vigilance that you won’t accept no for an answer, and your own no is an eager blade to get anything not serving your journey out of the way. Take up arms. Take up protest. Take up your favorite friends as armor, as council, as confidants. Take up your rightful space in the room. Take more dessert than you were served. Take the most amazing gift of yourself to the person who really could use it, right now, today.

Take the next step.

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

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

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

Watch it now!

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

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

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

(PS: There will probably be flirting.)

Turn Your Rough Fantasies into Responsible Reality

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

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

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

Here’s some things to keep in mind.

1. Everybody Fantasizes!

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

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

2. Fantasizing about rough, dangerous things is normal!

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

3. Comfort Your Inner Feminist With Consent & Agency

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

4. Get Brazen & Bold

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

5. Get Further Involved with the Kink Communities

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

6. Sharpen Your Kick-Ass BDSM Skills

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

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

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

7. Don’t Forget Aftercare!

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

Rinse, Lather, and Repeat!

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

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

Photo from Unsplash


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

Follow your own Kinky Desire Map

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

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

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

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

1. Interest! Spark!

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

2. Experiments!

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

3. Pursue your interests!

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

4. Become yourself!

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

5. Prioritize your preferences!

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

6. Pursue it!

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

7. Practice, practice, practice!

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

So … Where are you on the map?

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

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

10 Tips for Tops

There are many styles of dominance, mastery, and topping, from the paternal to the viciously mean, but regardless of where you are, I believe you can be better. I believe this exploration of power dynamics can be a spiritually fulfilling path, and that it can lead us to many lessons and areas of growth.

Those of us who are on this side of the D/s slash, we who are the People In Charge, have a lot of challenges to building a healthy version of this identity, particularly when we are doing it in a context of social activism, intersectional oppression, and general awareness of institutionalized power imbalances. Here’s some of the best tips I have for folks who want to up their topping or dominance game, and be stronger, more resilient, and more compassionate while they are pursuing this work.

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Image by rife of Rowdy Ferret Design & Illustration

1. Create a Palette of Permission

If it’s hard for you to figure out what to do in a scene, or if your perfect submissive looks up at you and says, “I’ll do anything you want!” and your mind goes blank, this is a good thing for you to focus on. Create a list, on your own or brainstorming together with your submissive, of things that you know you have permission to do, in general, in periods where you are both your fit and healthy selves. (They may not apply when one or either of you are having an off day, are sick or physically unwell, or in different states of consciousness—like asleep or playing with some substances. They probably also only apply in certain places, like when you two are alone or in kink-friendly events. Check in.) Make a Top Ten list of things that generally your sub really loves and could do over and over and over. Trust that you can return to each of these things hundreds of times before either of you will get bored. There are infinite variations. Bonus tip: Make a wishlist of things you want to include in your Palette, but don’t currently know how to do, and start learning!

2. An On Switch For Your Dominance

Use your favorite words or positions that make you both feel empowered, deliberate, and sexy.
Many tops and dominants who play with power exchange during scenes, but whose reach and sphere of control don’t extend into other areas of their submissive’s life, need a way to have an “on switch” for their dominance (and an “on switch” for their submissive’s submissiveness, too). Consider building a D/s ritual that will, eventually, when repeated enough times, serve like a kind of Pavlovian symbol for you two stepping into those roles, something you both have a visceral response to. This ritual can be things like: You stand and your sub kneels at your feet; Your sub picks three toys and lays them out on the bed, then gets into a “present” slave position, and you enter the room; You recite a back-and-forth agreed upon (simple) phrases or promises to each other. Use your favorite words or positions that make you both feel empowered, deliberate, and sexy.

3. Receiving as a Dominant

Sometimes it seems incongruous to receive sexual touch or services from the top or dominant position. I assure you: this is common and makes a lot of sense. It’s difficult to feel “in control” and also at the same time to relax and receive. (Sidenote: This is at times very related to one’s gender, and one’s amount of stoneness. Most cis male doms—as a stereotype—don’t seem to have a problem receiving blow jobs, for example, do they?) One of the best ways you can work on this is by being very vocal with what you want to receive, and continuing to give orders and corrections and suggestions throughout the process. You also might want to work with physical levels, where you are physically above your submissive, to remind yourself that you are still in charge, even if their fist is in your hole. And read the essay How to Top Your Master by Raven Kaldera. Though it’s directed more at submissives, there are many useful things in there for dominants.

4. Got Guilt? More Aftercare

If you feel guilty after your scenes as a dominant, check in about it. Ask yourself: Did I really want to be doing that? Was I having a good time? Was my partner having a good time? Did we all come away from the scene generally glad the scene had happened? Scenes aren’t always perfect, of course (and aren’t always full of happy smiles and sunshine and rainbows). But generally, did it go well? Did you want to be there? Because honestly, if you feel that much guilt, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you’d be better suited to less psychologically intense play. But if that’s not the case, and you really do want to be there (and your partners eagerly consent, of course), then you gotta deal with that nagging guilt from an internalized prescription of egalitarianism. It’s okay to create the relationship you want to be in. Normalize it for yourself by seeking more D/s community and sharing your experiences with others. And make sure you get enough aftercare yourself. You might need down time after, or quiet private time, or reflective time where your sub tells you all about what they liked and how all those dirty things you did made them feel. Or maybe cuddles. Experiment, and find your best aftercare methods.

5. Build Trust Slowly

Build the trust you need from your submissive to know that they are honest and they can follow through on what they agree to.
D/s and power dynamics are completely built on trust. Thats part of what I love about it: It requires so much deep knowing and intimacy. It takes work to keep it safe, protected, and intact. When the relationship is going well, the work can feel effortless. But this trust doesn’t just show up when a submissive kneels and offers themself to you. You gotta build this trust between you slowly. Most of us do this intuitively, but it’s helpful to do it consciously too. Not only are they building the trust they need from you, since they are putting their body and psyche into your hands, but also you are building the trust you need from them, which includes the ability to trust that they are honest with you if they get overwhelmed or need to stop, trusting they mean what they say, and trusting for them to reach out for support. Trust builds slowly and is earned over time. Don’t rush it.

6. Two-footing a Scene

This is a concept I learned from Xan West, which is the idea that generally, in a scene, the top is completely “in” the scene and present while still holding the boundaries of the negotiated agreement and some awareness of the surrounding space (though whether you’re at a busy dungeon or home alone would make that slightly more or less challenging)—that’s two-footing, being both in the scene and in the reality. Most of the time, it’s just a given that the top is the one who is doing this two-footing. But some activities really cause us tops to lose our footing. (Has that ever happened to you?) Make a list of activities that you think could cause you to tumble so deep into the scene that you have trouble keeping a hold on reality. Lean on your submissive for support, perhaps ask them to hold the boundaries and negotiations of the scene so you can lose yourself. Bonus: Make a list of realities that keep you so engaged that its hard to dive into the scene at all, like for example a crowded dungeon.

7. Recovering from Fuck-ups

Some of us have really strong reactions to fucking something up. We beat ourselves up about it, our confidence crumbles, and we shirk away from whatever it was we fucked up for a long time after. If you want to up your dominant game, you gotta get good at fucking up, because here’s the thing: You will fuck something up. I don’t mean something huge and irreparable (hopefully not), but more so small things that will stop or delay a scene for a while until you can get things back on the rails. The measure of someone (a dominant or partner or sub or just about everybody, I think) isn’t whether or not they fuck up, it’s what they do and how they respond to that fuck-up. So ask yourself: Do you take responsibility? Sincerely apologize? Understand what went wrong? Integrate that into your being so you will remember not to do that same thing again? And then, when the other folks involved are ready to move forward, can you let it go? Work on your ability to recover from fuck-ups and your scenes will be smoother.

8. Dive Deep into Theory

Read all the books and blogs you can get your hands on. Find your local resources and study those, too.
The power exchange subject isn’t an abundant one, but there are books out there, and really good theorists who from whom you should absolutely learn. Raven Kaldera runs Alfred Press, and they have dozens of books about cooperative power dynamics, limitations, and real scenarios for living D/s and M/s. Andrea Zanin’s writing is largely compiled at sexgeek.wordpress.com and every piece is worth reading. (She also has a fantastic list of kink resources, including many specific power dynamic books.) I highly recommend these: 1) Dear Raven and Joshua: Questions and Answers about Master/Slave Relationships by Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny, 2) Slavecraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude – Principles, Skills and Tools by a grateful slave with Guy Baldwin 3) The Marketplace Series (The Marketplace, The Slave, The Trainer, The Academy, The Reunion and The Inheretor) by Laura Antoniou.

9. You Are Not An Asshole

If you—like me and like many thoughtful, feminist, and sensitive dominants—have fear that what you are doing is “bad” and “wrong” and difficult to reconcile with your moral code, here are some ideas. First, make sure you really understand the concept of agency. You fully trust someone’s no, right? You can trust their yes, too. You can trust that they, not you, know what they want. Second, remember that everyone fucks up, and work on your ability to recover; don’t expect to be perfect and never make mistakes. Third, take a good, strong look at what you think being an asshole in this context would be, and actively work toward not being that. Remember: Most people who actually are assholes do not spend much time worrying about whether or not they are assholes. That you are concerned and aware tells me that it’s 95% likely that you are not an asshole. (That other 5% is for folks who are not so self-aware. So hey, build that muscle, and follow Socrates: Know thyself.)

10. Masturbate More

Are you getting stuck building scenes, finding creative new ways to use the toys you have, or creating dirty experiments for your sexytimes with your submissives or playmates? There’s an easy place to start for that one: Masturbate more. Spend more time with porn and erotica to fuel the fires of your erotic self, but also make sure you spend some significant time letting your mind wander into erotic territory and exploring whatever may show up there. Take notes and highlight things you’d actually like to try!

The Four Stages of Topping

When I started topping, I was self-conscious, nervous, easily crushed, and full of bravado and swagger. (I’d like to think that all of that was somewhat subtle, and that I was being at least a little transparent and honest about all of it, though when I look back at my old writing I think there’s more nervousness than I’d like to think.)

Sometimes, some beautiful girl would come along and our chemistry would be so amazing and the whole evening would just … flow. Then, I felt like there was no game, it was all just authentic interaction, following my energy and hers. Those were the nights I grabbed on to and scrutinized (and often wrote up, play by play, as a way to study them), trying to learn what it was that went well and how I could harness that.

As I gained more confidence, the way that I topped shifted a bit. I started wanting to control more, to push more, to play with more edges. I started wondering why I was so drained after I’d had a scene, and realized I wasn’t getting fed energetically in a way that felt replenishing.

That was mostly my fault, for the record; I wasn’t open to receiving, I was too focused on (fueling my ego by) giving.

I’ve really opened up since then. My style is really different, and I’m a lot less delicate. I have more confidence and certainty in what I’m doing. This is at least in part because I started identifying the kind of topping I was doing, and playing with other styles of topping.

In trying to articulate my own journey from a nervous I-wanna-be-a-top to an actual top (and beyond), I’ve noticed some patterns, and come up with a list of some of the different kinds of topping that we can play with. If you want to become a better top, I’ve found that it’s really useful to identify the area you’re primarily playing in right now, and the areas you’re interested in exploring. That way, you can start to feel your way along the path from where you are to where you’d like to be, and start identifying the barriers to being where you want, the places you need to focus and explore, and the next steps to get you there.

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Please note!

I’m using the word “stages,” but they’re more like “flavors,” different kinds. The stages aren’t necessarily linear. My goal is to make the unconscious more known, so we can start actually deciding if we do want to do the topping (or dominating or daddying or mommying or parenting or mastering or whatever verb you want to use for the person-in-charge) more intentionally. This is not comprehensive.

The Stages of Topping

1. Service Topping from the Bottom’s Palette of Pleasure

In service topping, the bottom lays out the things they like (what I’m calling a “palette of pleasure”), and the top then does those things. The top is the person who is doing the action, and the bottom is receiving, but the bottom is the one basically in charge of the actions that are happening.

Sometimes the negotiations are very specific, like: “So now that you told me what you like, I’m thinking that in this scene, I’m going to spank you over my lap with my hand, then get out the cane, then start fingering you, and keep using my hand on you until you come. How’s that sound?”

Sometimes the palette is picked up through conversation, like: “I really like my hair pulled.” “I can’t wait to suck your cock.” “Please make sure to bruise me up before you get me off.”

Either way, all actions have a specific green light from the bottom for the top.

It’s not that the bottom dictates each move play-by-play: “Okay, now put your hand there. Now hit me this hard. Now flip me over and fuck me hard!” Some folks would call that “topping from the bottom,” which is often meant to be an insult. (More about that another day.)

Sometimes the palette is picked up through conversation, like: “I really like my hair pulled.” “I can’t wait to suck your cock.” “Please make sure to bruise me up before you get me off.”

It can be such a huge relief for a top to have a palette to work from. Topping can be nerve wracking as you’re getting the hang of it: we have to make split second decisions about what to do, when to change something, when to stop or when to keep going, and what else to add. Figuring out what actual things to do on top of all that other stuff can sometimes make us freeze up. Having a palette can help this!

When service topping, the top is not necessarily (and sometimes neglectfully) attending to what they are feeling or what pleasures their body would like. The bottom’s needs are being attended to and they are being played with, but sometimes, service tops crave … more. (I certainly did.)

When I work with new tops who are trying to up their game, this is most often the stage they’re stuck within.

2. Topping from the Top’s Palette of Pleasure

Shifting the focus from the bottom’s palette of pleasure to what the top specifically wants to do right in the moment can be a big mind-fuck for the top. It seems simple, but having to make decisions or be in touch with what we want while also Being In Charge can cause our minds to lock up. If you’re the kind of top who goes along just fine and then when your bottom says, “I’ll do whatever you want; what do you want?” and you draw a total blank, this one might be for you to play in.

Step one here is to start brainstorming about what’s on your “palette of pleasure.” What acts do you totally love and would be thrilled to bust out to do at any given moment—assuming, of course, that you have the permission to do so? You need more than “blow job” on the list, buddy. See if you can come up with 10 things, then see if you can come up with 10 more. These might be things you love having done to your body, or things you love doing to the bottom’s body.

The more comfortable you are with a broad list of options, the more likely you are to come up with the exact right thing to do in the moment, based on consent and what tools you might have with you and the energy between you both.

Even when pulling from all those beautiful favorite things that the top loves, you still has to practice making decisions about what to do in the moment, which can be incredibly hard when there’s a lot of pressure on us, and especially hard when all of the blood is flowing in places other than our brains.

What’s on your “palette of pleasure”? What acts do you totally love and would be thrilled to bust out to do at any given moment—assuming, of course, that you have the permission to do so?
This is still a negotiated, consensual palette of sex acts and kinky explorations, and the bottom is explicitly involved in determining what’s on the palette. But the difference is that the top generates the ideas, and the bottom gives consent (or crosses them off the list).

Of course, a top’s and the bottom’s palettes of pleasure might completely overlap. On the one hand, that’s amazing and you’re very compatible. On the other hand, it makes exploring more complicated power dynamics a little harder. Some power dynamics and authority-based play revolves around being “forced” to do something one doesn’t want to do, but will do because it’s what the top wants.

So let’s talk about playing with edges.

3. Topping the Bottom’s Edges

Once you’ve built some trust, you’ve had lots of sexytimes, you are consenting to each other, you’re both dirty kinky folks who just want to do all sorts of things together, and you’ve done all the things on the top’s palette and the bottom’s palette—twice—but you still have some domination hunger … where do you go from there?

Here’s where edges come in. Find some edges to work. Identify some places where you’re curious. Have your bottom make a list of the 10 most favorite times he ever had sex, and talk about it, see if you can make any connections. Then have the bottom you’ve been playing with make a list of 10 things he’s never tried, but is curious to try. Talk about those, too. Delve into them with your smarty brains and see what is nervous but exciting about them. Read up on those kinks. Learn how to wield a flogger or a cane or a knife or whatever object they’re curious about. Learn how to punch with a roll of quarters in your fist for a deeper hit. Find a topping mentor to show you how. Have some threesomes. Go to a play party. Go to a kink retreat conference.

Whatever those edges might be, take it upon yourself to gently push them, making it a safe experience—emotionally and physically.

This takes a lot of trust, and a lot of ability to tell each other what’s going on between you, verbally and non-verbally. Always be more aware and cautious when playing in new arenas of play that are more unfamiliar. Cultivate impeccable aftercare skills.

When I’m playing with someone else’s edges, by which I mean when they are edges that the bottom has handed to me and asked me to play with, I think about it like this: I have consent to go this far, so I slowly approach that edge, and then back off. Then I do it again. And again. Each time I approach the edge, there is an opportunity for something new to open up, for that place to become a little less edgy and for it instead to be more fun and interesting and playful. Or maybe it doesn’t ever get easier, it stays hard, but it becomes a little less scary just by actually being there with it.

Cultivate impeccable aftercare skills.
I think of that process as somewhat like making an orgasm more intense. If I get out my vibrator and start going at it, I’ll slowly raise energy and pleasure in my body until eventually, most likely, I will come. It’ll be fine, but probably won’t last very long or be particularly memorable. But if I get close to coming, but pause just before I actually do, and then get myself close to coming again—if I edge a few times before I actually let myself get off—my orgasm will be longer lasting and more intense. I’ve inflated my capacity to hold energy and pleasure just a little more, so I end up with a bigger experience.

I think of it that way around kink and top/bottom edginess, too. If I work an edge by approaching it and then letting it dissipate, I can build it up again and again, and get to a greater capacity.

pleasureovertime

Illustration by rife

4. Topping the Top’s Edges

It might be easier to work your own edges than to work your bottom’s, or it might be easier to work your bottom’s—just depends on who you are and what your style is like. For me, it was much easier to work someone else’s edges (hello, control issues plus stone identity).

Regardless of the order you’re playing with, another palette to play with when you’re enhancing your own topping skills is with your own edges. Make the same lists: make a list of the 10 most favorite times you ever had sex, and see if you can make any connections. Make a list of 10 things you’ve never tried, but would like to. Make a list of areas of topping and sex and kink that are challenging for you, but that you’d like to be better at.

This is a place where your bottom gets to hold and witness some of your vulnerability with you. It takes more trust and transparency than some of the other stages. But to quote Sini Anderson: “Ask yourself how well you really know them. If someone you know really well asks you to trust them, try to trust them.” The best way to work your own edges is to have other folks there who are willing to support you while you’re taking small or big leaps toward what you want to be doing.

Say, for example, that you want to get better at humiliative dirty talk. Your partner has been asking for it for a while, and loves it whenever you can squeak out something diminutive, but it’s so hard for you to channel that kind of talk because you’re a nice person and you don’t necessarily like to say those kinds of mean things. But, since your partner is super into it, you’ve noticed that it makes you really, really hot to play with it. And it makes your partner hot. So you want to get better at it. But … it’s so scary and hard and edgy.

Make a list of the 10 most favorite times you ever had sex, and see if you can make any connections. Make a list of 10 things you’ve never tried, but would like to.
So maybe you co-create a scene with the bottom you’re playing with and they give you a list of ten different things you could say that are dirty and humiliating. You might even keep the list by your bed or on a post-it so you can reference it if you get stuck. They know that you are trying to get better at this one skill, so they are going to give you lots of positive feedback whenever it shows up in the play. And they are going to wear just the right outfit and say just the right things to encourage you to play your part.

Then after, they cuddle you and assure you that they loved it when you said those things, and that they know you are actually really nice and didn’t mean them and are very good and loving.

Really, we should all cultivate impeccable aftercare skills, tops and bottoms alike.

That’s just one example, but bringing in the bottom’s support and aftercare and ideas is a really good way for a top’s edge to be worked.

Working with your own edges can often be a place to seek if you want more satisfaction in your topping.

There are dozens of styles of topping

Of course, and there’s no one right or wrong way. I don’t mean to say that any of these are better or worse than the others, just that they’re different, and for the most part, we call all of them “topping.” Where are you at in your topping journey? Where would you like to be? Which are really easy for you, which are really challenging? Hopefully by identifying and talking about it, we can identify some of the places where we might be stuck or unsatisfied, and get to a stronger, more conscious, and more fun place to play and explore.

Dear Tops: Say Thank You

coachred

Dear tops,

When someone corrects your technique while fucking, set your ego aside and say thank you.

Thanks for telling me.
Thanks for making that clearer.
I like knowing your body better, thanks.

You are lucky that she* spoke up—it is a good thing. It means she is capable of communicating about what feels good for her body during sex! I assume—I hope—we can agree that that is an important foundation of good sexytimes.

It also means that she knows what feels good on her body. Believe it or not, this is not a given. Many folks have not had the trust in a relationship (or their own body, or their gender) that it takes to really be able to show up fully feeling their bodies and just play, just explore. It’s rare.

But it doesn’t always feel like a good thing at the time, does it?

It feels like you were doing something wrong. Or it feels like you were being careless or unobservant. Maybe it was your best move, and now it feels like your mad skillz don’t work on this person, so what if the rest of your mad skillz don’t work either?

Or, if you’re doing some sort of power play thing, perhaps it can feel like she is “topping from the bottom,” trying to instruct you on what to do?

Being corrected or given even a little instruction can cause us tops to spin out in our heads with fear and anxiety so easily.

But it doesn’t have to.

It used to happen to me, more often than I care to admit. And even now, when I’m touching someone and they express some request for something to change or for me to stop, sometimes I feel hurt. But I guess I kind of set that aside (and perhaps, if I need it, request some (top) aftercare later), because in the moment, I remember my rule about it: To say thank you.

Even if I don’t say it aloud, I say it in my head. Thank you for telling me. I can relax in the script of what I’m supposed to say and how I’m supposed to react—based on my own morals, not on some imposed social code. That one little “thank you” can sometimes be a stand in for things like: of course, you know your body the very best and only you are feeling what it’s like to feel that, so I would be honored to know more about what works best for you.

I want it to be okay in sex play situations for everyone to speak up and request some sort of change if they need it. Faster, slower, harder, deeper, shallower, not so much on the nipples, you’re pulling my hair too hard, ow your knee is digging into my thigh, ease off the slapping please—whatever it is, I want to know, and I do not want to be so blinded by my sore ego that I make it seem like they shouldn’t say those things.

So I say an enthusiastic thank you, and I mean it.

Any questions? …

But what if you have some sort of power play in place?

So, in a dom/sub situation where the sub is just supposed to “take it” and you, the dom, are doing whatever you want to them, perhaps it’s a little different. But her discomfort isn’t any less important, and it isn’t running the scene any less: The entire point is that she is going to be uncomfortable.

(Some people are into that, myself included. It’s a game of trust and body literacy and self-knowledge and communication, and I find it exhilarating and fun and sexy as fuck. Not everybody’s into this, of course. And if you’re playing with power like this, play safe—negotiate, use safewords, play with folks you trust, check in after, and make sure everyone goes away from the experience feeling good.)

Why would a sub want to just “take it”? Maybe because they want to really play the part of being a good sub, or a good boy, or slave, or pet, or girl, or fucktoy, or kitty, right? Maybe she loves to feel overwhelmed with sensation and needs that kind of push to get her there. Or maybe because she’s trying to earn jerk off rights for the week, or maybe she wants to encourage you in your own edgy dominant territory.

I’m sure there are some other reasons, too. Feel free to leave them in the comments. What’s hot and sexy about “taking it” from your perspective?

From a dominant’s point of view, especially doms who are still getting their sea legs under them, causing someone else deliberate discomfort, for one’s own pleasure, with the disregard for that other person’s feelings or, gasp, physical pain … that can be so incredibly edgy. And some submissives love to play in edgy dominant territory. Still, it is a hurdle that is so hard to reconcile for many dominants and tops. (I’m not going to go too much into reconciliation here, but it’s related.)

So your job as the top in a “take it” discomfort scene (or at least one possible job—there are dozens of ways to do this, I’m sure!), is to find that edge of discomfort and ride it. And what better way to do that than by listening? Start by finding the places where there is so much pleasure, do all those things that you know her body just adores, and then do them just a little too much, or just a little too hard. Ride that edge and play with it, go from the pleasure into the discomfort and back, see how far you can push the discomfort while still bringing them back into the pleasure.

If you enter into the discomfort slowly, each time you cross back into it, you can explore farther, and then you can both get off on how much she is “taking it” just for you.

So when she expresses some sort of discomfort or makes a request—assuming she’s not saying, “Okay stop this, I want out of this scenario now,” or red or yellow or other some such safeword, of course, because you’re not a jerk—you aren’t obligated to do the change she is requesting, but it is always good to have the information about her body and how she expresses. This is a sensitive place for a very careful, calculated move, however, and it takes a lot of confidence and trust in each other to play with this edge. If I’m in a D/s scene and they make a specific request or correction, I usually ask myself, is there still pleasure going on with what I’m doing? If I lose track of the pleasure, most of the time I have basically kinda sorta I have lost the scene. It’s not ruined, but it needs some mending.

So I’ll follow the pleasure, and possibly go back to what I know is very pleasurable for us both. Or, I might keep doing what I’m doing for a couple more blows or heartbeats, just to prove that I can, and throw some dirty talk in to make remind her that she’s mine and I get to do what I want, at least for right now. Y’know, if that’s the dynamic. But I can’t not hear what she said, still. And I do care what it was. So I often still say “thank you,” if only in my mind.

Because see, you don’t just want her to “take it” from you, you also want her to trust you. Building trust is probably the most important thing in a D/s relationship. All that power we’re playing with is based on trust.

But regardless of whether it’s D/s or a one night stand, when she is expressing discomfort or has a request to do something different … set aside your ego, and say thank you.

The Ten Sugarbutch Cock Commandments

I’ve been teaching strap-on workshops for about six years now, and I’ve been strapping on for about fifteen. I also coach people to have more cock confidence (and to find the perfect cocks & harness for what they need). With all of this experience, I have some pretty strong opinions and philosophies about strap-on cocks and strap-on sex, and I have a lot of knowledge about what works for people and what doesn’t work.

But hey, remember that these are just my best ideas for strap-on play and philosophy at the moment. I reserve the right to change my mind and evolve my opinions about them later. Your best ideas may be different, and you might disagree with some of these—that’s a-okay by me. Just take what applies to you, and let go of the rest. If by chance I missed your personal favorite Cock Commandments, I invite you to leave them in the comments!

So here they are …

The Ten Cock Commandments

1. All bodies have holes

Male, female, men, women, queers, trans grrrls, trans fags, genderqueer folks, butches, femmes, fairy boys, bears, leather daddies, lesbians, bend over boyfriends, pro doms—whoever we are, all of our bodies have holes. All of our bodies have things that can fit into those pretty little holes, too: like tongues, fingers, toes, or even factory-installed dicks (if by chance you have one of those). And, because technology is awesome, we have dozens and dozens of options of sexytimes tools that we can add to our adult play time that might possibly feel good in those holes. Playing with penetration doesn’t make you straight, it doesn’t make you gay, it doesn’t make you masculine, it doesn’t make you anything that you aren’t—it only means you like to play with penetration.

Though we all have holes, not all of us like the sensation of things in our holes, for whatever reasons. Some people like lots of big huge things shoved in all their holes at once; some people like only teeny tiny things in this hole, but big things in that hole; some people like only this one hole touched on the outside. The trick is to find what sizes and sensations are just right, for you and for your lovers, and then respect the shit outta that.

2. Use sexy words to talk about it

Just like our factory-installed genitals, we all have different words that resonate for us and that really, really turn us off. Figure out which words work for YOU, share that with your partner, and then call it what you (and they) like to call it.

Here’s some tips: I would suggest against using words like “fake,” “pretend,” “faux,” “plastic,” and “dildo.” While they might be technically the correct terms for the item, once it becomes an extension of your (or your beloved’s) body, let me assure you: it can feel very real, and using words that support that connection rather than separating it can be empowering and validating. Some people like to give it a name—I just heard a poem where a femme kept referring to her cock as “Miss Big Red,” and then later, just “Red,” which was really hot. Some keep the name that the cock came with (Vixen Creations has some awesome names, like “Outlaw” and “Buck” and “Maverick”). Talk about it with your lovers and use the words that you—and they—find sexy and exciting.

3. It is an extension of your body

This tool is more than a toy: It can become an extension of your body. My advice? When you put it on, take a few deep breaths and feel into it. Put your finger on the very tip and see if you can feel your energy all the way into the shaft and weight and length and girth of it. Wear it around the house when you are doing chores or doing homework to get used to it. Put it on and jerk off with it, play with it, include it in your solo explorations. The more you get used to having it on your body, the more easily it’ll feel like an extension of you.

4. Fake it till you make it

But what if you just don’t feel it, don’t feel connected to it? Well, for now, I suggest you just fake it. Don’t lie about it—but make up in your head what it would feel like if you could feel it, and go from there. Experiment. Channel your favorite porn star and the way they drive their beautiful tool with such grace and ease and respect. (Don’t have a favorite porn star who straps on and plays? Maybe you should do some research, and find one!) Really feel into it and see what kind of sensations you can feel, and focus on those. A lot of strapping on and playing and “feeling” a strapped-on cock is mental, so be curious and open to expanding what you thought was possible.

5. A cock can be a top OR a bottom

Just because you’re the one wearing the cock doesn’t mean that you have to be the one in charge of the fuck, or the top or the dominant. Bottoms wear cocks, too! Being tied down to the bed and watching your lover lower themself down onto your shaft, riding and thrusting away on your cock, which is all exposed and hard and ready for the taking? That can be a very submissive place to play with. And if your dominant wants you to strap on and fuck them, aggressively, hard, with fervor? Well, do your service really well and perform just how they ask. Just because you’re the one doing the penetrating doesn’t mean you’re in charge.

6. Wrap your tool

Safer sex protocol applies to playing with strap-ons, too. Know your status, get tested, and increase your awareness of STIs and how to talk to lovers and play partners about them. If you’re monogamous with your partner, you may not need to wear a condom every time, but it’s still a good idea to do a deep clean every once in a while, and make sure you do a quick soap and water wash before you use it, and preferably after, too, to keep your materials in good shape. If you’re a (self-proclaimed) slutty slut and like pick-up play, or if you play with multiple partners, wear condoms on your dick and clean them between partners. Make sure you get good silicone cocks that can be easily boiled. You might want to get harnesses that clean more easily, like rubber, or machine washable materials like spandex and cotton and nylon.

7. Get your own cock

Couples sometimes shop for sex toys together. It can be a fun, sexy outing to go visit the nearest (hopefully queer-friendly, feminist, independent—if you’re lucky enough to have one of those in your area) sex toy store and look at all the goodies. But that often means that the sex toys expire when the relationship does.

Cocks and harnesses can be a little bit different than that. Often it’s not just a cock, it’s your cock. Perhaps you want it to match your particular style, in color or decor or shape. Or you might want to get one that compliments your body frame, your weight, your size, or your skin tone. Keep in mind that making it match your body frame might actually mean that you get a much, much smaller cock than you might ideally want (which is one of the most exciting things about being able to strap on and store your dicks in a drawer—you can have more than one!). Same with harnesses: It is often best to get one that fits for your body, and what is best for your body might not be best for your partner’s body.

I know finance is sometimes a limitation to getting the exact right product for you when you’re in a partnership; of course it’s totally fine to share toys. These products are expensive! But when you do invest as a couple, be willing to have a conversation about what will happen to the dick and harness if and when your relationship ends. Whose will it be? Will you have a little ritual and recycle it through a sex toy recycling program? Will you split up the harness and the cock? Be clear about it. And if you have the means, invest in your own cock.

8. You have a dick, but don’t BE a dick*

Much of the sexual assault and violence perpetrated in this culture is about violating people’s holes. I don’t say that to be a downer and to ruin the sexytimes mood of all this strap-on fun stuff, but rather to encourage you to be mindful and sensitive about strapping on and playing.

It is a rare and intimate thing, to cross the barrier of someone’s skin and actually go inside of them. There are so few places where we do that, generally our skin is a very effective boundary. Doctors, dentists, health care, and sex play are really the only places that happens.

Keep in mind that you never, never have the right to enter another person’s body. When you are lucky enough to have the permission to do so, you better come from a place of deep respect and reverence. I don’t care if you have a 24 carat gold-plated dick, they are giving you a beautiful, intimate, vulnerable gift by letting you come inside their body, and you better respect that. Be kind, be aware, and be responsible.

* For the record, I think we should abolish using the words for genitals to insult people, because I think it tends to reinforce cultural norms that our genitals are dirty and bad. But please forgive me this one time, since I couldn’t resist the word play of that particular title!

9. Your orgasm is your responsibility

Your dick is not a magical instrument that will give people orgasms just by touching them, or just by putting it in and out of their hole. Most of us don’t have bodies who can come from penetration alone, regardless of the hole that is penetrated. Fuck yes, it can feel good, and can lead to a whopping big explosive orgasm, but most of us need some sort of other stimulation at the same time. Maybe it’s a vibrator on our clit, or a mouth on our factory-installed dick, or some dirty words whispered in our ear, or some physical restraint to struggle against. That’s the fun part: What do your lovers need in order to get them tipped over the edge? Ask them, discuss it with them, and experiment!

If you are the one strapped on, you probably won’t come just from having the base of a strap-on pounding against your pubic mound. Experiment with sensation and see if you can reproduce your favorite ways to get off. Do you need something inside you? Something in your ass? Some vibration? More direct stimulation on your clit? There are ways to make that happen and strap on at the same time. You just gotta be creative, and try some things out.

Either way, you’re the one who best knows how you get off and what feels good for your body. Ask your lover to help get you tipped over the edge, but know that your orgasm is your responsibility, and you are way more likely to get what you want if you’re able to articulate what would feel pleasurable for your body.

10. Use the right tool for the right job

Or, at least, make sure you have the right expectations. The different holes on our bodies have different capacities, and what one hole can take might not translate to what another hole can take. Same for multiple partners—some people can take a lot, some people can not take as much. Can you afford ten different cocks so you can pick and choose a long, slender one when you want to do some ass play with this person, and a different thinner, shorter one when you want to receive blow jobs, and a big giant thick one for that one lover who is a size queen? Then lucky you! But most of us can’t afford that. So get a really good, solid, average-size cock (I usually suggest something in the range of 1.25”x6.5”), and adjust your expectations: You might only get to use the tip of it in one hole, or the first half of it in another, and you might want to supplement with some fingers for the hungry holes (or start with your dick and upgrade to your fist, if they really need more).

There are dozens and dozens of cocks, harnesses, and accessories for strapping on and playing. I’ve got a huge archive of reviews here on Sugarbutch, so browse through those to get a feel of what might be the right tool for YOUR specific jobs.

Do rough sex fantasies compromise your sex-positive ethics?

This new essay is also the introduction to my new book, Sweet & Rough: Sixteen Stories of Queer Smut, available September 15th. Preorder it on Smashwords now!

I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with my personal rough sex fantasies, nor is there anything wrong with your dirtiest fantasies. I believe that because I trust that you and I are adults who understand that fantasy is different from reality, and while we may think one thing to get ourselves off, we probably conduct our sex lives slightly differently.

Erotic stories are fantasies, yes, but they can be more than just that—they can show us a piece of the path, and encourage our erotic selves to blossom. So what’s my responsibility as an erotica writer to make the stories that I write down ethical and responsible?

I am both a sex educator and a smut writer, and sometimes those worlds seem to conflict. For example, in the BDSM and sex education worlds, educators and advanced practitioners stress consent in play scenes. And not just consent—we stress enthusiastic consent, not just an absence of “no” but a ready joyous abundance of informed and eager “yes.” We also stress safer sex practices, barriers, knowing your status, and sexual health and wellness. We stress responsible scenes, and warn about playing while intoxicated.

In some of my erotic fiction stories, these practices that are deeply held values in my personal life aren’t readily apparent. That’s because my stories are fantasies—you know, the things you close your eyes and think about when you’re getting off all by yourself, not necessarily (though perhaps sometimes!) the things you do with lovers. The characters in my stories sometimes don’t negotiate or have a conversation about safer sex, not because things like safer sex or negotiation are unimportant, but because the main purpose of the story is to turn you, the reader, on.

Frequently, in the sexuality education communities and conversations, we talk about how porn and erotica are different from sex education. I discourage people from learning how to give or receive a blow job from porn videos, for example, where deep throating and playing with ejaculate are overly common. (See Cindy Gallop’s online project Make Love, Not Porn for a variety of other examples of the difference.) Similarly, I discourage people from learning about power dynamics from Laura Antoniou’s book The Marketplace (though I happen to love the whole series), and would never suggest recreating a scene from 50 Shades of Grey (don’t even get me started). Both of these books are worlds away from the people who pursue and practice power dynamics, ownership, dominance, and submission in their personal relationships.

But the fantasies? We, as readers, love devouring them. We love the fantasies even more than we love the reality. The reality is messy, with STI scares and condoms breaking. The fantasies are escapist, sensual, and by definition not real.

I think when we start coming into our own sexually, when we start realizing that there’s more to sex than what our completely antiquated and puritanical sex education system taught us as kids, we start familiarizing ourselves with some of the most basic topics in sex positive communities. We learn about consent, agency, negotiations, communication, and safer sex. When we don’t see that reflected in the erotica or porn that we are consuming, sometimes it can seem like the erotica or porn fantasy is discouraging that kind of sex positive responsibility.

I am explaining all of this to you because I don’t want my erotic fantasies to discourage you from being responsible in reality.

I know that the educational workshops I teach encourage sex positive responsibility. But in my erotica? That issue becomes a little more nuanced and complicated, because of the aspects of art and fantasy. For example, I am aware that there are some points in the Sweet & Rough collection of stories where characters protest or resist or drink a lot of whiskey. I think there is nothing wrong with playing with resistance and force, consensually and carefully, but I also think that requires a lot of negotiation, a lot of trust, and safewords, in order to be done responsibly in the real world. That part of the story often isn’t revealed. Like the porn scene that cuts out the part where the fluffer comes on stage and someone else adds more lube, the erotic story often excludes the getting-to-know-you, the subtle body language communication, the character’s histories with each other, and what they have negotiated “off screen.”

I deeply believe that the personal is political and that being transparent about one’s life is a spiritual path. Since writing Sweet & Rough, I have shifted some of my erotica writing to be much more consciously inclusive of things like negotiations and safer sex. Most definitely because that stuff is hot, but also because I want to show more of the reality and less of the fantasy.

However, those things are frequently excluded from Sweet & Rough. And here’s why: These stories are collaborations. Most of the stories in this collection were written and published on Sugarbutch between 2007-2009. Many of them came out of the “Sugarbutch Star Contest” where readers sent in some basics about a scene (who, where, what the characters did) and I wrote up the story.

It was a huge period of growth for my writing, and I pushed myself hard to write the fantasies that were outlined for me. Sometimes, they were much more forceful than I’d usually write, although they more closely resembled my own private fantasies. I am aware of my access to privilege and unconscious entitlement as a masculine person and as a dominant, and it is important for me to stay conscious in my sex play, especially when it comes to gender or power dynamics.

Often, my early drafts of these stories included a lot of internal processing and negotiations, but the fantasies of my collaborators challenged me. I remember when writing “The Houseboy’s Rebellion” (which is a b-side story included on the USB version of Sweet & Rough), when the collaborator read the draft of it, she said, “No way. Make my character more mean. Take out all this negotiation. Just take me.”

Because of how strong the service top in me is, and because I liked it, I followed her desire. And I believe that story—and others, when I received similar feedback—are stronger for it.

The stories in Sweet & Rough are fantasies. I know fantasy erotic writing still greatly influences our real sexualities, and I don’t dismiss that connection. But these fictions are not necessarily models of sexual responsibility. Some of it is “problematic,” and I wouldn’t claim otherwise—but they still have so much value, and can jump-start our erotic engines or show us how much more can be incorporated into our erotic lives.

I encourage you to continue practicing being a responsible, ethical, sex-positive kinkster who operates from integrity. And I encourage you to read erotica stories that are edgy, full of force and lust, from authors whose ethics you trust, and to believe that the responsibilities are filled in behind the scenes, just off the page, stripped out so you can enjoy even more of the sweet sex and rough play that gets you going and gets you off.

Sweet & RoughYou have just read the introduction to my new book of erotica short stories, Sweet & Rough: Sixteen Stories of Queer Smut. It is all ready to go and will be released on Monday, September 15th! Preorder your copy on Smashwords, or if you are attending the Catalyst Conference in LA this weekend, I’ll have special pre-release copies on a USB drive (which will have a special, USB-only b-side story included!)

Is psychological kink play “healthy”?

Recently, I’ve noticed quite a few questions—both in the Submissive Playground course and in the Ask Me Anything box—concerning kink, trauma, and wellness, particularly about psychological kink play like D/s and Daddy/girl dynamics and whether or not they are “good” for you.

After my own recent experience of a D/s Daddy/girl relationship dynamic “going sour,” as I’ve been phrasing it, I have many of my own questions about the ways that these dynamics can contribute to emotional or psychological damage, can play into our past hurts or traumas, and/or can cause further harm.

I do deeply believe that D/s and other psychological kink play can be healthy, but like any relationship, can also be profoundly unhealthy. It’s not the dynamic that determines that health or damage so much as it’s the relationship—and a thousand other factors.

(Even categorizing relationships as “healthy” or “unhealthy” is oversimplified, since I think no relationship is entirely “healthy” or “unhealthy” all the time.)

I realized I needed some other expert opinions on kink and wellness, so I have been reaching out to some of the mental health practitioners that I know who are kink-friendly and knowledgeable.

This is my first interview so far, with Dr. Matt Goldenberg in Seattle. He and I have been friends for more than 10 years, and I am really grateful to know him and have access to his smart brain!

A couple of the resources we mention in the interview:

As I’ve been pondering, and through this interview, this is what I’ve been thinking:

  • I don’t believe any particular act is inherently healthy or unhealthy (except perhaps illegal ones, or ones deemed “morally wrong” by the community at large, which are generally things like non-consent)
  • The same act can be “healthy” and feel great for some people and be “unhealthy” and feel bad for other people, and the same act for the same people at different times could feel healthy or unhealthy depending on the circumstances.
  • The biggest indicators of “unhealthy” scenes or moments in kink are feelings. If things aren’t feeling right, they probably aren’t.

But I still have a lot of questions, like:

  • It is my belief that no fantasy is inherently wrong, and that playing with deep psychological triggers can sometimes be incredibly healing. What to you is the relationship between mental wellness and the practice of kink?
  • How do you know if the kind of kink you’re practicing is contributing to your compulsions or damage, rather than healing it?
  • What are the signs that one should watch for that may indicate someone is in a “danger zone”, playing with things they perhaps shouldn’t be?

As I delve deeper into psychological kink play, the nuances of it are increasingly interesting for me … This may be the beginning of a larger project.

I have a few more psychologists and therapists to conduct interviews with already. Do you have any suggestions for mental health practitioners who are knowledgeable about kink (they don’t have to be kinky themselves, but some knowledge is important), and who may want to talk to me? Have them get in touch, or send an email introducing us: mrsexsmith@gmail.com.

Do you have other psychological kink and wellness questions? Ask me here in the comments, and who knows, I may ask your question in the next interview.

Bored Kinkster Blues

You’ve been an out and proud kinkster—a submissive, let’s say—for years and years. You’ve done all the things. You’ve tried everything. You’ve done all the events. You’ve been done at all the events. You’re bored. Or jaded.

Or both.

But … you still love kink. You still love playing. You wish you could get that thrilling high from scenes like you used to. But you have so many things to do, a job, a life, hobbies, kids maybe, a demanding cockatoo. How can you prioritize your submission now, with all of that? Especially when you’re basically done going to the play spaces and you teach workshops dammit (or used to) so you don’t really want to attend them and “the scene” sucks anyway and is full of people young enough to be your children or jailbait or you just run into all your exes that you have no bad blood with but you’d just rather not.

What do you do? How do you get back to it?

Well, if you want my opinion—and you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this—that’s it, exactly. You get back to it. You re-prioritize your kink identity. You go back to basics. You schedule time (if that is the only way!) to fuck or play, and you make it happen.

You cultivate what the buddhists call a “beginner’s mind,” a place of newness and neutrality where your pride in your well-developed kink identity can be set aside for you to discover what’s real and new and true right here, right now.

At one point, this kink identity was a seriously important part of you. You grew it from a tiny seed in a culture that does not support alternative sexuality identities. You built a little cage around it for it to grow safely and not get smushed. You tended to it. You fed it with nutrients and leather contests and safety classes and play partners and safer sex supplies and yummy-smelling gear. You plucked the fruits and ate them hot from the vine. You paved the way for others. You made an impact.

Maybe you found a Big Love, maybe it didn’t last. Maybe it did. Maybe you’re broken hearted and single and miss your submission like a friend. Maybe you miss it and you’re still with a Big Love lover, but the world has you both pulled in all kinds of directions and when did you decide a mortgage was more important than new floggers? But yeah that happened.

Here’s my advice: Keep going. Start where you are, which is not some new baby-green sprout but a sturdy tree, something with glory and wood and shade. Something with shelter and structure. But each spring you still have to figure out how to leaf again, how to flower, how to dance with the bees and spin seed down down until it finds a divet of soil in which to nestle.

Start where you are, start over. Start again. Go back to basics. What’s it like to kiss for hours? How much can you feel your body when you are touched, when you touch? What nerves have fried from overuse, what nerves need a jolt to be awakened? What’s it like to be deprived of senses and have every hair follicle on every patch of your skin lovingly caressed, tickled, suckled?

What do you need to awaken that submissive desire that used to course through you like spring runoff as the winter thawed? What needs to heat up? What needs to aliven, envigorate?

Sit down and ask yourself. Take the time to interview that part of yourself that is sleepy-tired and now small: how would you like to grow? Use a guide (this is what people like me are for, this is why I take appointments with people, I have ideas, I can support you). Use a buddy. Give it a go with your Big Love and rediscover those parts of you that are different now, are no longer fresh and unknowing, but are wise and kind. Be kind. Especially to yourself. Ease your toes in the water, ease your ankles in the water, ease your whole self down into the water and rest. Submerge for a rebirth.

What really matters now? This is where you are. You are anew, you are invigorated with the knowing of life and of self, you are eagerly ready for your playful submission to come up and out in new ways. Now is not before. You are not who you were. You are better, more full. You are years and hundreds of sleeps and hands worn down and skin gone long unbruised. You are ready for something new. You have all the answers already, I don’t need to tell you what to do, I don’t need to give you advice.

You just need to act.

Submissive Playground’s summer session is almost sold out, and today is the last day to register! There are limited spots left—sign up now and reserve your spot: submissiveplayground.com

PS: The image is from rife’s “Prioritize Your Preference” kinkster roadmap. Download the full image in the Submissive Starter Kit.

Free download: Submissive Starter Kit

Since I know some of you aren’t the type to make the first move, I’m going to be bold.

Here’s a taste, a little tease, just for you.

What’s in the Submissive Starter Kit?

Okay, so maybe you’ve completed these first five steps and you’re still pretty damn sure that you’re submissive or want to play that way sometimes, and you are still looking for more.

But now, you’re asking yourself:

  • How do I get more kinky play?
  • What kind of skills do I need to have or bring as a bottom?
  • How do I flirt with tops?
  • What are my next steps as a submissive?
  • … and more.

So I’ve put together a video (from the Submissive Playground Bondage unit) and submissive journal prompts to support it.

Hey wait! What’s a submissive journal?

It’s the place where you keep all your reflections on being submissive, on service, on scenes, on aftercare, on what things worked and didn’t work, on what to try next time. If you’re in service to a specific person or people, you could keep lists of their preferences in it. I suggest you also bring it to classes or conferences and take notes in it, to keep them all in one place.

You might also keep a list of resources in the back, like books or websites to check out, or people to contact on Fetlife. You can easily tuck some of your cards (if you have them) into it to carry around at events, or tear out a little corner of a piece of paper to write your name and Fetlife profile or contact info on if you meet someone interesting.

Or, in this day & age, you might just designate a page in it to be your “digital business card” with your contact info and name, and invite people to take a photo of it with their phone (assuming they have one that takes photos).

Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, your current or future dominant may give you writing assignments or art tasks, and your journal will come in handy for those things, too.

Oh yeah—I highly, highly recommend dominant/top/D-types have journals, too, where they record pretty much the same things. This isn’t something unique to submissives. I just happen to be focused on submissives at the moment and in this kit.

Start here: Watch the video

Time to get out submissive journal and take some notes of the things in rife’s talk that speak to you.

Here’s your Submissive Journal Prompts for this video:

This is box title

PROMPT #1:
Rife detailed these four tips for getting more kinky play. Write your notes on each- Have you tried this already? How can you use this in the future more? Which is your favorite and least favorite?

  1. Go to classes and workshops
  2. Buy your own toys
  3. Approach tops you’re interested in
  4. Consider switching

PROMPT #2:
Write your own 4 best flirting tips in your submissive journal, and share your favorites in the comments.

This is only one example piece of the homework for the Bondage unit. In the course, there are a variety of questions about the erotica assigned, the other guest videos for the module, and the experiment that players are conducting.

Here’s a little ZIP package of two PDFs & an image:

  • The transcript of rife’s video
  • Select submissive journal prompts for the Bondage unit, including some of your history with bondage and rife’s video above (three pages of prompts!)
  • The full image of rife’s illustrated “Prioritize Your Kink” identity development roadmap
DOWNLOAD NOW

You’re welcome! Hope you enjoy.

There are FOUR days left to register for Submissive Playground’s summer session, and there are limited spaces left! Sign up today and reserve your spot: submissiveplayground.com

“I know I’m submissive. But where do I start?” aka “I just read Fifty Shades of Grey and I want THAT.”

1. Read a fucking book

Read fiction, sure—Carrie’s Story, The Marketplace series, Mr. Benson, The Leather Daddy and the Femme (these are some of my personal favorites)—hell, even Fifty Shades of Grey—read the fiction, but know that it is designed for one thing: Arousal. The reality of it is both much, much sexier, erotic, and mind-blowing and also sometimes very different, full of realistic mundane problems that aren’t sexy at all.

Read non-fiction. There are many good ones: ask a bookseller at your favorite local bookstore for recommendations on where to start if you’re exploring kink (I know, it’s old fashioned, but do it anyway.) Go in to your local feminist queer sex-positive sex toy shop (is there not a good directory for those online yet!?) and ask them for their book recommendations. Go to your favorite queer sex blogger’s list of recommended BDSM books on Amazon and browse around. Go intellectual-butt-sniffing (aka, look over their bookshelves) at your bibliophile friend’s place.

All of those recommendations are worth reading, but these are essential. Consider them assigned to you as homework.

You can do this step while you also do the other steps, but do not skip it.

2. Find a buddy

It doesn’t really matter where you find your buddy, but you gotta have that person you can talk to about this thing that is growing and that you are beginning to voice and give weight and value to. It’s great if that person has lots more information about kink than you do, if they can guide you on the path, if they can be your mentor, but that’s not the most important thing.

They must:

  • Feel safe to talk to
  • Listen to what you’re curious about
  • Be supportive and not judgmental, not shaming of your interests
  • Ask interesting questions

And, most importantly:

When you leave the conversations with this friend, you feel invigorated, empowered, stronger, braver. <— Pay attention to this, to how you feel after visiting with your friends and relations in general. You don’t need anyone else stomping on this new baby-green identity that is just starting to sprout and grow. It needs some scaffolding, a tomato cage of strength and nurturance around it, one that won’t disrupt it’s growth but is there if it needs something to hold on to, some guidance of how to get to the sun, some support if the fruits get too heavy.

Find those tomato-cage friends and lovers and confidants and beloveds. Identify them. They are out there. You probably already know a few of them.

3. Brave up and go to a Thing

BDSM, kink, and fetish events abound. You may not find “your people” or “your community” or your next mind-blowing fuck at the first, second, third, fifth, or even twentieth event you attend—but then again, you might.

Depending on where you live, this might be harder than it sounds. Your Thing might have to be on another coast, in another city, while visiting that one friend from college who is always posts “interesting” things on Facebook.

Look up whatever might be happening in your local kink community on Fetlife. (I wish I knew of another good source for you, but that’s the best I’ve got. And hey, I’ll be your friend!) Yes, you might have to wade through unsolicited solicitations. Yes, you might not have the exact right orientation or gender or fetish event that you’d really most want, in your heart-of-hearts, to attend. But that’s okay. You don’t have to go to the only very most perfect events. Go to the events that kind of weird you out, that you don’t get, that you are totally “meh” about.

Regardless of the Thing, you’ll learn. Pay attention. Put your phone away and really listen. Think about it as if you’re a scientist studying what these kinksters do. Why do they like it? What’s amazing about it? What makes them squirm, in good ways or bad ways? Even if it isn’t for you, you can still observe and learn.

The more brave you are, the more you’ll feel strong and capable and badass, and the more you’ll be able to do.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be in person, though I do encourage you to make sure to attend at least one kinky event every two months. But if socializing is too too hard, if your schedule just doesn’t work, it could be online. Lots of kinksters host online events. I’m just about to launch Submissive Playground for the second time, which is a more in-depth study for anybody who knows they’re submissive (of some kind) and wants to explore more submissive headspace. It’s great for folks who are beginners, for folks who have done so much kinky bottoming that they are practically bored and stagnant, for people without much kink community around them geographically, and for people wanting to dip their toes back in after something hard happened (be it a breakup or a bad scene).

Regardless, the point is to prioritize your kink. Prioritize your submission. It’s important, and nothing to be ashamed of.

4. Brave up and ask a top to play

Step 0: Go to a kink/bdsm/fetish Thing.

Step 1: Identify the hottest person in the room. If you’re trying to develop your submissive self, then filter for whether or not that person is a top. (Hint: You might not know until you talk to them!)

Step 2: Dare yourself to find a reason to talk to them, and say hi. Maybe it’s to give a compliment (people like compliments!) or ask a question (it’s flattering for someone to be curious!).

Step 3: Find common ground, and elevate the discussion. (This is something my mom taught me and I think about it all the time.)

Step 4: If you’ve talked for 2-5 minutes at the event and are still curious and have more compliments to give, offer your phone number. Ask if they’re on Fetlife and give them your user name. Say that you’d love to be in touch and talk more.

Step 5: If you’re really bold, ask them on a date. If you are less bold, ask them on a date via whatever contact information they give you or when they find you on social media or email you later.

One more note about asking tops to play:

They are not better than you are, they are not (inherently) sexier than you are, they are not more entitled to play than you are, just because they are a top and you are/might be a bottom. Tops sometimes act like they own the scene, but they don’t. They need you just as much as you need them, and they are just as nervous/excited/lonely/wishing for the right person to come along as you are.

Sometimes s-types are nervous about asking for dates or being forward, because that is seen as a trait that dominants or tops have. I say, fuck that. There are absolutely ways to hit on someone from a submissive or bottomy or masochistic perspective. The more you hit on people and the more trial and error you do, the more play you’ll get and the more you’ll be able to read the signs better and better.

Rife has some great tips for how to get more kinky play from a submissive’s perspective—Watch for his video on that later this week!

5. One last tip to help you open up your submissive world:

Recognize that no matter what you consume about submission, there’s no one right way to do it, and your way is just as good as anyone elses. You don’t have to love service, or being hit, or playing in public, or being naked, or having your orgasms controlled, or body fluids, or blood, or ANY thing at all really. Your kinks are okay and your icks are just fine too.

Whatever you learn through any sources you take in, people or meetings or mentors or books or events or lovers—you get to remix everything into your own identity, and who you are, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, is exactly right.

PS: AMAZING illustration by rife, who drew an infographic for the stages of kink and power dynamic identity development and formation. (I helped with some words and theories.) Watch for the full thing to be posted in a few days!

What you should know about privacy, secret identities, and kink communities

Welcome to the kink worlds of BDSM and reclaimed sluttiness and sex toys!

I see you there in the wings, lurking a little bit, shy and nervous, and possibly fearful of revealing too much and putting yourself or your life in some sort of “danger.” Danger is of course what you are coming here looking for, in a safe and risk-aware context: more edge, more bite in your sex life, more intensity of feeling, more cracking yourself open and seeing what’s inside.

But taking the first steps into the kink communities are a challenge, and you’re almost immediately faced with the question of anonymity. Should you stay anonymous, or be transparent? Create an alter ego, or use your legal name? And what about … pictures?

There are a lot of fears about being “out” as kinky in a world that sees all kinky things as deviant, dangerous, and out of control. Kink is in the mainstream more than ever these days, from Fifty Shades of Grey back to “The Secretary,” but there still can be real consequences to working in sexually explicit fields, or being out as kinky.

Here’s a few examples from my own version of struggling with being out—Just last week, I put up a sale for enrollment into the Submissive Playground ecourse, and after about five hours of it being live, I got an email saying that it had been pulled and I wasn’t allowed to use Gumroad for this project because it violates their terms of service, which excludes any adult content. Fuck. Cue sad trombone.

I was also turned down for a Twitter business ad recently because my business is sex related, and denied entry into the Audible.com affiliate program because my work is too explicit (got some leads on resolving that one, but no guarantees).

Sometimes, this is Just The Way It Is and I can kinda let it go, but other times, it feels like I’m being shamed for being explicit about sex and I get all righteous and pissed about it. I get mad, and then I write furiously, and then I try to formulate these writing furies into actual useful pieces of writing that you get to read, too!

Of course I’m the only one this happens to professionally—there have been a bunch of headlines recently about Chase bank closing porn actors’ bank accounts. It’s not just Chase: Paypal has been making headlines lately too as freezing funds and strong-arming businesses into flagging any “adult” content. My friend Andre Shakti recently crowdfundraised over $500 to travel to the Feminist Porn Awards, but the bank processor Wepay wouldn’t let her collect what she’d raised.

You might be see these headlines around, on your usual Internet wanderings, or on the Facebook feed of that one friend who always shares kinky shit. (Hey, maybe you’ll see this from them, too!) And it makes you wonder … so what about me?

Is it risky to be out as kinky?

Maybe. It’s generally agreed upon that you’re going to have a much, much harder time being any sort of elected official if you’re an out kinkster, so most folks who want to go into politics are really careful about any sort of identity in the kink communities. Some people who have kids are very strict about their kink identities, particularly if they are adopting or going through legal battles—but I’ve also heard that it’s becoming more common for kink to be disregarded in court as related to the safety of children or the capabilities of the kinkster as a parent. But I am not a lawyer! Nor do I work in law—I’m just a kinkster who likes to stay informed. This is just what I’ve heard.

There’s no easy answer here for what to do and how to deal with your new budding kink identity, but there are many, many kinksters who have come before you, grasshopper, who have deliciously happy lives and who do dirty things in consensual privacy. Kink producers—folks who actively work to produce spaces for kinksters to learn and gather and play—work with you to keep you safe and disclose the level of identity that you want to disclose.

Here’s some strategies for you to think about.

Most commonly, people do one of three things to keep themselves as safe as possible and not in a position to be threatened or “outed” as being kinky. They either 1. retain anonymity, using no identifying information about themselves in places that could be used against them, or2. create an alter ego, using a different name and separating their kinky communities from the rest of their life, or 3. go for complete transparency.

Let’s look at each of ’em and see what might fit you best:

1. Stay Anonymous

If you are extra nervous about consequences from being out as kinky, you might want to consider remaining completely anonymous in the kink communities. This usually means taking some sort of non-identifiable name when you are involved in kink events or on Fetlife, but not necessarily building a whole persona behind it—just using it as a screen in front of the “real you.”

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Pros:

  • Most protective of your legal identity and any identifiable characteristics
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Cons:

  • The more you hide, the more you have to hide
  • Some folks end up craving the validation and community that comes with sharing more, and this anonymity isn’t enough to build those deeper connections that are possible
  • Many people won’t recognize your Fetlife avatar, photos, or name if you introduce yourself at an event as one thing and then use a different name as your smokescreen
  • Often there is a big risk of being outed as kinky, which can cause anxiety and stress
  • Sometimes you might really want to a) take photos of you doing kinky amazing things and b) share them, but this option shuts that down
[/columns]

2. The Alter Ego

This is super common in the kinky worlds—for people to basically have two names, one that they use outside of kink spaces and one that they use for kink. They often use this name as their Fetlife profile, on their badge at kink events, or introduce themselves as that at the local munch or BDSM workshop.

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Pros:

  • Nobody who googles your name will find your connections to kink
  • Generally very safe to show up at events, wear a “no photos” marker, and go by your other name—no one will ever know you were there
  • Easy to erase all trace of your alter ego, just by deleting your alter ego’s accounts
  • Relative ease to keeping your other self separate from your kink self
  • Can still put up a variety of identifying things (photos of your face, photos of your tattoos) and be relatively sure that your name is not attached to them. If someone you know is at a kink event or on Fetlife and sees you, well, then in order to out you, they’d have to out themselves, so you are relatively safe.
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Cons:

  • It can be lots of work to maintain two selves. You have to be very diligent about what you post where, who sees it, and where (if ever) you cross post.
  • The lines start to get blurry. Sometimes your alter ego becomes more you than the rest of your life (see: Sinclair Sexsmith, myself, for example), or sometimes you become your alter ego.
  • It might sometimes feel like fragmenting your Self, if people know you as many names, and can lead to a lack of integrity or a lack of intimacy for friends because they only know parts of you
  • Being “exposed” as this alter ego is a real risk that can sometimes be incredibly scary
[/columns]

Full Transparency

This is where you end up either merging your legal identity and your alter ego, if you started there, or you just always used your own name (or a variation thereof) and used your personal accounts to connect with the kinky communities. Very few people start from here in the kink scene, but it can be liberating and empowering to

I heard a story just recently from a man who used to work at a high-up government office, and as he came into the kink community, he realized that was a potential spot for blackmail. Rather than cease his kink engagement, he called a meeting with his boss and his boss’s boss, and came out as kinky. “I want you to know that I’m a gay man, and I participate in BDSM activities—” he started. They cut him off. “We don’t need to know that!” “But you do,” he persisted. “Because if you know, then there’s nothing for anyone else to blackmail me with.” “Fair enough. Great. Thanks for telling us. Now go back to work.”

(I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.)

I’ve been pretty shocked at how few issues being almost completely out as kinky has been in my own life. I began publishing erotica under my legal first and middle names when I was 27, in 2006, and because my legal name is very specific, it’s easily findable via Google.

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Pros:

  • Integrity! Being who you are!
  • Making your own unique way in the world without apology
  • Significantly reduced shame (Potential for, not guaranteed)
  • Reduced potential for someone to attempt to use something against you as a threat
[/columns] [columns width=”1/2″ last=”true”]

Cons:

  • It’s really, really hard and scary and challenging, and you may sacrifice some relationships, professional contacts, your job, your standing in the community, your career ladder, or other things. It’s more and more rare, but it is still possible.
  • It’s not for everybody! It isn’t always possible (because of perceived/feared consequences or known consequences) to be out as kinky
[/columns]

Most of the folks I know in the community do some sort of combination of these things. I’d say I have an alter ego (“Sinclair Sexsmith” isn’t the name my parents named me at birth, if you didn’t already figure that out), but that I am completely out in my life in general. Pretty much everyone who knows me via my birth name knows that I am Sinclair, and it isn’t hard to find out my legal name if you know my work through Sugarbutch (there’s even a post in the archives for “coming out day” from a few years ago where I come out as my legal name).

When my boy rife and I were talking about this article, he said, “My alter ego is pretty transparent.” Which I think is a very accurate way to describe what both he and I do with our kink worlds.

As a producer of kinky events and a facilitator of kink education in general, I am always interested in and concerned with people’s privacy. I don’t take photos of my classes (unless I get permission from the audience, which I sometimes do). I don’t use anyone’s names or identify anybody who was in attendance (unless I either get permission or know their level of out-ness and transparency). Note—just because I have my own policies that I follow around this doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes fuck up. I have posted photos on Sugarbutch of people I didn’t have permission to post before (and subsequently apologized and taken them down). I have messed up. It happens. I do my best to apologize, reflect, and fix it, if possible.

Take the Submissive Playground course, as an example—many people have had challenges attending because they are not particularly out as kinky. Some folks don’t want to use any sort of credit card or payment linked to their name in order to pay. Some folks have been very concerned with their name and email, worried that their identity would be revealed to the group.

But let me reassure you: We can work around that.

Payment challenges? No problem. You can send me a check—or, even more anonyously, a money order! You can use an anonymous email address. You don’t have to give me your address.

Any information you give me will be protected and for my use to make the course better, and will never be released.

In this particular course, you can be whatever level of anonymous that you feel comfortable being. You can use a pseudonym and an alternative picture for your avatar, no problem. You don’t have to ever go on record and say where you live or what you do. You do have the option to share photos, to go on video to chat with me with the group, or to speak up on our live calls, but you don’t have to.

You might not know about the variety of options that are available to you to keep your identities from being outed as kinky if you are new to the BDSM and fetish and sex toy and slutty delicious worlds, but there are quite a few. Producers of kink events work hard to make the spaces as safe as possible, and for many people to attend, regardless of their anonymity, alter egos, or transparency.

None of these options are better or worse than the others, they are all weighing risks and mitigating the circumstances as best as possible, and everyone has different risks. You are the best gauge of what is right for you—nobody else can make the decision for you.

Think about which of these options feels best for you, and remember—at any time, you can change it. Problem is, it’s much harder to change to more anonymity than it is to change to more openness about your identities. And certain things (like publishing erotica in a Best Lesbian Erotica 2006 anthology under your legal name when you’re 27) don’t really go away, though they do have the potential to lead you to an integrated, kink-forward and well-lived life.

Ask Mr. Sexsmith: I’m a sub, but my partner is not a dom. What do I do?

This question comes from Marie:

“My partner and I have come to a difficult place in our relationship. I have long since had the desire and urge to be dominated, to be somebody’s submissive, and to explore the world in its entirety. My partner, however, has no wishes. I’ve sat down with her and tried to explain what it meant, what it meant to me, and what it would mean to our relationship, but she says she can’t bear to hurt me (even if I enjoy it). I’ve been the dominate one, so to say, in our relationship, and I know for a fact that she would never consider me seeking a dom or have an open relationship. I love her, but I’m unhappy. How did you first address all of this? And is there anything else I can explain to her before I have to make a decision? I really want to explore this, and I want to with her, but she really has no budge room, and I don’t want to make her uncomfortable.  All in all, I’m really confused and at ends.”

….. I have one more thing to add that I didn’t say when I recorded the video yesterday, that is whispering to me now that I’m re-reading your question.

Marie, you wrote: “I really want to explore this, and I want to with her, but she really has no budge room, and I don’t want to make her uncomfortable.”

And here’s the thing. You want to explore this with her, but she doesn’t want to explore it. You want to push her a little, because you are very attached to doing this with her specifically and not opening your relationship to some sort of non-monogamy (which is totally understandable!), but you don’t want to make her “uncomfortable.”

But: let me remind you, sweet pea, for a moment, of your own discomfort. You are uncomfortable by not having the kind of D/s relationship dynamic that your secret heart-of-hearts craves. And there is no reason for her discomfort to be more important than yours. Yes, of course, her discomfort is important and consent is important—I’m not trying to say that she should do it anyway and you “win.” But what I’m trying to say is that you have a clashing of needs here, and you two are going to have to figure that out.

You want something. She doesn’t want it.

There’s so many ways to sugar-coat that, but that’s the simplest core of truth.

It’s totally okay to have different wants or needs in a partnership—that happens all the time. What is important is that you two come up with a way to talk about these different needs, be they around sex, or D/s, or monogamy, or what you make for dinner that night, or whether your parents come stay for a weekend, or where you go on vacation.

It’s extra scary to talk about, because it’s sex and extra dirty kinky stuff that you may still have some internal shame or guilt about. Do you have that? Ask yourself, for a brief quiet soft gentle moment: Do you think you should be able to have this deep want? Or are there things in place between you and that want that make it even harder to ask for, to advocate for yourself around?

I mean, if it was … a new car that you wanted, or a puppy, what would you do then? Would you think of those as “legitimate” wants, whereas this is a scary, shadow, selfish want? (I’m just guessing—maybe that’s not how it feels for you.)

I guess what I’m really trying to say is, YOU DESERVE TO HAVE THIS. And it sucks that she doesn’t want to do it with you. That really sucks. I’m sorry. There’s nothing wrong with you for wanting this, but you two might have come to an irreconcilable difference, if she a) won’t allow you to explore it with anyone else and b) won’t explore it with you.

So now comes a very difficult decision on your part, which is precisely why you’re asking me this question: Is your desire for this greater than your desire to be in this intimate, monogamous partnership with her?

Ask yourself that gently, with kindness, as if you are your best friend asking yourself this. It’s okay if the answer is no. It’s okay if the answer is yes. It’s okay if the answer is “I don’t know.”

I know for me, no partnership felt right until I had that D/s dynamic. It just didn’t. As much as I loved them, as much as I wanted it to work, it didn’t, until I had a power dynamic in place. I don’t really know why. For whatever reason, that’s my fetish, that’s how I’m wired. That’s what really makes me pleased and happy and satiated. Sometimes, for me, the love itself—though it was good love and beautiful love and important love and growing love—was not enough.

It sucks that sometimes love wasn’t enough. But it’s true. I needed more. Maybe you do, too.

Got a (different) question?

I’ve got a full inbox, but I love hearing your gender and identity and sexuality puzzles. What’s on your mind? Ask it here! And I’ll do my best to email you when I answer it.

Remember, Sinclair does one-on-one coaching!

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

Comment Zen …

Readers, do you relate to Marie’s question?

If you do, would you share your own story about being in a relationship and not getting the kind of power dynamic that you wanted? What kind of resources helped you on your journey? Books? Anything to recommend for others who are going through this?

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

And there’s more …

If you want to explore your submissive identity even more, sign up for the Submissive Playground summer school! Registration closes June 30th.

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

Dear Mr. Sexsmith,

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

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

Tara

I hear you.

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

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

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

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

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

Consider these things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But for me, that would not happen.

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

The consent is actually an essential part of that fetish.

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

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

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

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

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

This is box title
The Difference Between BDSM and Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Souce: lesbiansexmafia.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment Zen …

Readers, do you relate to Tara’s question?

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

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

Ask Mr. Sexsmith: How Do I Use My Girlfriend for My Pleasure?

Dear Mr. Sexsmith,

My butch girlfriend wants me to boss her around in bed. She wants me to think of it as just using her for my own pleasure and nothing more (just this once anyway!). I’m a bit shy about it though, and not sure how to go about it. Do you have any tips or advice for me?

Aiming to Please

I love this kind of play, personally, so I got a little grrr growl and chill-thrill when I read your question. It took me a lot of time, experimenting, sharing fantasies, and permission for me to come to loving this play, however. I have been a top hung up on whether or not to make a move in many, many scenarios.

So, my tips and advice kind of depend on where your stuck point is. Do you have trouble figuring out what you’re going to do to her, for your own pleasure? Are you worried that you’ll go “too far,” and will do something she won’t like? Or do you freeze up when you actually get to the point of actually doing the things you want to do (and know she’ll like) in bed?

I’ll give a few ideas for each of those.

And, before we go any further: A Note About Gender and Power

Just for the record, that she’s butch probably doesn’t factor into this. I love having these little details in the question, so thanks for including it, but for the most part throwing around your butch girlfriend isn’t different from throwing around your genderqueer girlfriend or your femme girlfriend or your trans girlfriend or your unicorn girlfriend. Ask yourself if, by any possible stretch anywhere in you, you believe that a necessary component of masculinity is topping or dominance, and wait to see what answer comes to your mind. Wait. Longer than the first “No of course not!” knee-jerk reaction. Maybe, somewhere buried in some crevice?

It’s okay if there is—I just want you to be able to have a conversation with that little piece, and assure yourself that this other piece of you knows that, through and through, her masculinity and gender identity are not contingent upon a certain position of power, in bed or socially.

Topping a butch (and using her for your pleasure, mmm) is only different because individuals are different.

If you’re having trouble figuring out what to do …

Do you want it to be all about your orgasm? Do you want to push her body through lots of sensation and stimulation? Would it give you a thrill to control her orgasms, not allow her to come? Do you want to toss her around physically so you can more easily get to the parts of her body you want to torture, play with, pleasure?

You probably already know these answers, if you’ve been fucking for a while, so ask yourself: Are there places she likes or doesn’t like to be touched? Which, if any, holes on her body does she like penetrated? Does she come over and over again, ping ping ping in a row? Or does she have a looong slow buildup to orgasm? Or does she not usually come, but likes being stimulated and finds sexytime play satisfying (outside of the goal-oriented limiting practice of orgasm)? Does she love receiving pain? Does she take stimulation better after she’s come a few times? Or does she crash after coming?

Once you have a good sense of the kinds of things she likes, and the things her body easily takes and enjoys, then you can go after the good stuff: what YOU like. Because yeah, it’s play, and you’re both pretending that you are using her for your pleasure, because of course it is for the pleasure both of you. But it would be even more awesome if the thing you were pretending was for your pleasure had some authentic pleasure in it for you.

So what of those things would be oh so delicious for you?

What do you want the scene to accomplish? Do you want it to be all about your orgasm? Do you want to push her body through lots of sensation and stimulation? Would it give you a thrill to control her orgasms, not allow her to come, or bark commands for her to come right now? Do you want to toss her around physically, moving her body with your body (or with your voice) into positions or placements (either comfortable or uncomfortable) so you can more easily get to the parts of her body you want to exploit, stimulate, pinch, torture, play with, pleasure?

So if you are starting to get an idea (or two or four or a dozen) of what you’d like to do (or maybe you already had a whole bunch of ideas and that wasn’t the hard part), here’s how you start to implement them.

If you worry that you might do “something wrong” …

“I love the idea of bossing you around in bed, I have been thinking about it since we talked about it. I think I want to make it all about me getting off, so you wouldn’t be allowed to. I come best when I’m strapped on and fucking you, so I’d want to strip you down, bend you over the bed, and just go at your hole until I come. So um can we have a date to do that soon?”

If you have any worry that you’d be going too far or doing too much or not doing something that she’d like, tell her about your plan. Say, “Hey, so that bossing you around in bed thing? I’ve been thinking about it. And I think I’d like to tie you to the bed, get you all worked up with my mouth and that toy you really like inside of you, then get up and go sit on your face and ride your mouth until you make me come. Would you be into that?”

Or, “I love the idea of bossing you around in bed, I have been thinking about it since we talked about it. I think I want to make it all about me getting off, so you wouldn’t be allowed to. I come best when I’m strapped on and fucking you, so I’d want to strip you down, bend you over the bed, and just go at your hole until I come. So um can we have a date to do that soon?”

(You can do this via text or gchat or email or snapchat or whatever newfangled technology you kids are using these days. It doesn’t have to be in person, if you are too nervous to say those words out loud.)

Getting her “Oh my god fuck yes please!” face in response will help you feel more bold and less shy, and figure out how exactly to go about it.

(Shoving your hand down her pants right then, just to check, you know, if she liked that idea, is not a bad idea either—assuming you have that kind of relationship where she’d be turned on by that and not triggered. Use your best judgment and smarts about what would be sexyhotfun for you and your beloved.)

You could also share some fantasies back and forth, asking her to tell you what she was envisioning, then telling her some of what you were visioning. Just to, you know, do some research. Brainstorming. Consider your options. (Getting all turned on by the ideas and having some wild sexting or actual sex right then is a bonus.)

Or, if you get stuck when it’s actually business time …

She really wants a better grade on that test, professor, and will do anything you ask to get it.

If it’s the actual bedroom time that is holding you back from going about it, consider putting it into a fantasy context. Doing some pretty simple role play scenarios (with lots and lots of dirty talk, and very minimal props and costumes) (for me growing up a theater kid, role play often seemed like way too much work because I thought it had to be theater, but I’ve found that a choice phrase here or there is more than enough to set the scene) has been an excellent way to alleviate some of my own internal nervousness about throwing someone around and topping for my pleasure. Because then, see, it’s not me doing those dirty dirty things, it’s my job as this particular character to do them, and then when it stops, I come back and get us ice cream and aftercare. Plus, a role play scenario usually should be agreed upon by both people in order to work best, so that means you and she would come up with a scenario that you would then both consent to, and all you’d have to do would be show up for your role.

For example: You’re paying her to use her for what you want, so you get to do anything. She really wants a better grade on that test, professor, and will do anything you ask to get it. You just found her getting off and are now going to punish her for it, and since you know she’s a slut already you know she’ll do whatever you want (though you might have to make her, a little bit).

You could push role play into consensual non-consent realms, too, or coercion, but that might be too much, especially for starting out.

If role play isn’t for you, you could also take a look at The Three Minute Game and consider doing it as a warm up—just three minutes of action for your pleasure. It’s excellent practice for longer scenes.

If I had to boil it down to just two things, I’d say:

  1. Communicate – tell her what you want to do, ask her what she wants to do, work out a vague rough plan on what you want to do together, and then
  2. Experiment – Do the plan, reflect with each other what went well and what didn’t go so well, brainstorm and make some suggestions for what you could do to improve it or if you want to toss it out and never do that again, and experiment some more.

I hope that gives you lots of places to start. If you’re still stuck, remember, I do one-on-one coaching sessions, and I would be very happy to help you through whatever might be in the way of getting to this particular fantasy, or fleshing out the scene in your mind, or actually drafting the email, or just talking it through. Contact me for more information and pricing.

To All the Tops Who Are Afraid to Make a Move

One of my biggest challenges as a top—and as a feminist dominant, and as someone who is well versed in and vehemently requires agency and consent in my sexytime play—is making assertions of what I want. This is especially hard if I’m meeting or playing with somebody new. I want to be bold, domineering (in good ways), bossy (also in good ways), sexy—toppy. I want to demand and take and get just a little more rough than expected.

But: I won’t do that, until I have consent. Until I have a very, very clear green light that my advances—my dominance, my toppy-ness—is wanted and desired.

Nothing wrong with that, right? I want to do dirty things with the people I date and play with, and I want them to want me to do those things, otherwise I don’t want those things. In fact, one could argue (and I do) that my wanting to do those things is contingent upon them wanting me to do them. I won’t get it up for somebody who doesn’t want me.

But see, sometimes because I am not making big bold moves, or acting with brassy ballsy swagger, people think I am not flirting with them, or don’t like them, or aren’t interested, or am “not that dominant.”

(Well, in terms of that last one, they can suck it—I believe in consensual dominance, and I don’t believe doms (or anybody) has a right to go around spewing their swagger on anybody they come across. I take up my space, you take up yours. Unless we’re in a explicit power dynamic, I don’t assume that I get to be dominant with you. I guess that’s called boundaries.)

But those other things … that depends. Sometimes I really, really, really, like somebody, and I want to do things with them to them for them, but I am not getting a clear green light, so I do nothing.

And this can be crippling! This can mean that a perfectly good top wrings their hands and wonders, wonders, wonders, whether or not they should make a move, but that the other person is simultaneously thinking, I thought they were a top? Aren’t they going to do something?

That sucks, right? Here’s a few ideas.

1. Make it clear you are (kinda sorta completely) inclined to topping

Talk about it. Bring it up. “I tend to like to be in charge in bed.” Talk about topping and bottoming. Talk about the kind of things you like to do. Do you like rough sex? Extensive amounts of bondage? Strap-on sex nine times out of ten? Always being the one who orders at a restaurant? Opening doors? Holding someone down while they struggle?

And … ask them what they like. Talk about it. Get their Fetlife fetish list from their own expressive mouth. Ask again. Ask about specific things. Be fascinated by their answers. Listen closely.

This might be elementary for you, but I find that just about everybody doesn’t talk or communicate about their own desires enough. ‘Cause here’s the thing: They change constantly. Most of us don’t want the same thing all day every day. So it is a constant practice to be in the moment, figure out what we want, and communicate it clearly.

2. Make it clear you are waiting for a green light

Or, explicitly ask for a green light. Many people who are inclined to bottoming or submission, or, often, those who would be into going out with a top, are frequently waiting for the top to make the move. Perhaps they think that the way they’re batting their eyelashes, or the way they shined their leathers, or the way they are rubbing their thighs together, is so fucking obvious that of course you know they want you. But still, you are waiting for that green light.

So tell them that.

“I would so love to kiss you, but I’m waiting for the right sign / you to ask me / the perfect moment.” “I know I said I’m a top, but the only way I get all … toppy with somebody is if I am clear they want me to. Are you into that?” “I have this thing about consent—it’s super important to me. So I tend to wait until I get a really really clear green light to make any sorts of moves. But after I get the green light … ”

(Then do that sexy-ass sly top grin you practice in the mirror. Come on, I know you do.)

And then, pay attention to their reaction.

So if you growl, “I really want to throw you down, right now,” and their eyes get all huge and they start thinking about all the grass stains they’ll get, and they say, “Uhhh…” you will know that is not consent. But when they take a step closer to you and say, “I have a really good mattress at my house,” you’ll know they are at least interested.

I hesitate to talk about how consent can be expressed non-verbally, through physical communication, though I do believe that it can be. It’s just harder to pinpoint and talk about, and much easier to misconstrue, miscommunicate, or mistake. For the sake of nervousness or fear or making big bold topping moves, it is always, always safer to get enthusiastic verbal consent specifically.

Regardless of how much explicit consent they give you, always be paying attention for hesitation in their body language or speech. That probably means it’s time to back up, and slow down, and check in.

This can be used when escalating all sorts of play, by the way, not just the first kiss. It could be useful for that moment when you want to get your strap-on out, or when you want to put them in spread eagle bondage, or when you want to hold them down and rough them up, or when you want to ask them—tell them, demand them—to go into the bathroom and take their panties off and give them to you. Sometimes you just don’t know if it’s the right time to do something new, or to escalate, and you don’t know if you have their consent for it. So ask. Make it clear what you’re looking for, so they can give it to you (or not). They just might not know that’s what you’re waiting for.

Sometimes, when I start getting the feeling that it’s time to move in for a kiss or to escalate physical touch with somebody, I make a move kinda like I’m about to do the thing I want to do, but then I catch myself, and say, “Oh, sorry—I really want to kiss you / put my hands on your stockings / grab your belt / take you down right now. That okay?” (Sometimes I say this in a sexy growly voice near their neck or ear while I decidedly do not touch or kiss them because I don’t know if that’s okay—yet.)

And I wait. For their reaction, response, and enthusiastic consent made clear.

3. Still afraid you’re being an asshole?

Here’s the thing: Asking somebody for something, or asserting a decision or a preference, is not being an asshole. You’re not being an asshole when you say, “I’d love to take you out. How about we meet at this great cafe I love on Sunday for brunch?” You’re not being an asshole when you’re on a wandering-around-the-park date and you say, “I’d love a coffee. Want to duck into this coffee shop for a bit?” You’re not being an asshole when you point at a shady spot under a tree and say, “Let’s go sit there.” You’re not being an asshole when you get back to your place and they are on your couch all sexy and biting their lips and you say, “I can’t wait to play with you.”

You absolutely are being an asshole when you don’t honor their response to your suggestion or offer or preference.

If you say, “Let’s go to this great steakhouse!” And they say, “I’m a vegetarian …” When you say, “Great! Meet you there at 7,” you are being an asshole.

Wah waaaaah. Sad trombone. Don’t do that.

But making the offer? Not an asshole. Suggesting a change in place? Great! Shows your flexibility and thoughtfulness. Requesting a date at a particular place? Not too much (until, you know, they tell you otherwise).

Sometimes, being assertive and suggesting things is a relief to the other person. We often defer to each other (especially people we like), saying, “Whatever is fine!” And we mean it! But when someone drives the social decisions, it can be very useful. What’s not useful (have I made this clear yet?), and is firmly in asshole territory, is overriding what someone else expresses they want or don’t want.

So make suggestions. Request—and get—the green light, so you can be confident that your glorious toppy-ness is fully desired and wanted.

PS: I hope this is clear, but just in case it isn’t: This has absolutely nothing to do with getting someone to do what they don’t want to do. Fuck that. This has to do with communicating enthusiastic consent. Okay, clear? Cool.

So what ARE the different kinds of s-types? And more about the s-type quiz

So, the quiz! “What kind of s-type are you?” quiz, that rife + I co-created, was launched November 30th as a fun game, and an interesting tool, and the beginnings of a conversation about how many different ways that submissive folks explore their own submission.

And what the heck do we mean by “submission,” anyway? Do I mean “the person receiving the sensation or sexual touch in a BDSM scene”? Or do I mean “the person who takes the orders in a relationship”? Well … both, or either. And that is precisely the point: To begin asking what it is we mean when we say these things, to think deeper about them, and, ultimately, to make better informed choices about the parts in these power games that we want to play.

Here’s the quiz, in case you missed it:

THANK YOU for all of your thoughts and feedback. It’s been so fun to read and engage with you about this. There are more than 50 comments on the thread where I posted the quiz the first time, and each one I read and thought about … I replied to some, but I get overwhelmed by that level of correspondence sometimes, so I didn’t reply to everyone. I did have quite a few people who identified as kitties or puppies tell me that they weren’t represented, and it’s true that I didn’t include very many “vanilla” or non-s-type options. There was a bit of an agenda with the quiz, which was to determine which of the six s-types we separated out best matched the answers you’d give when you took the quiz. We added the “Not an s-type” option, just to make it a bit more inclusive.

And of course, it’s impossible to actually determine how it is that YOU identify just based on ten questions with seven options each! There is much more nuance to each person than that.

But, overwhelmingly, the response has been that the quiz is fairly accurate! And I love that! I hope it begins some conversations about what the different types of s-types are, and where you fit and what that means to you.

If I did a quiz again, I’d look for a different quiz host that gave the answers in percents, rather than just showed you ONE answer. (70% submissive, 30% servicey, for example.) But for this time, we didn’t do that.

The quiz has been taken more than 2,000 times (wow!). Here’s the statistics about what results were given:

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 1.59.28 PM

I find it pretty fascinating. I never would have guessed that Slave would be so common of a result, or that Bottom and Service were the most uncommon.

For the sakes of THIS quiz, the “Slave” answer was determined by a lot of questions that were about ownership and possession, “Bottom” was determined by receiving sensation and play (kind of from a service top), and “Service” was … well, about service. I think many, many s-types incorporate service into other s-type identities, and the service part isn’t necessarily the strongest reaction for them—but that’s just a theory.

Here’s the descriptions of ALL of the s-types that we broke the quiz down into.

[toggle type=”2″ title=”

Hey wait, you’re not an s-type!

“] You’re not submissive, a slave, a bottom, service-oriented, a slut, or a naughty minx—you much prefer to be in charge or in an egalitarian relationship. Or perhaps you’re a mix of all kinds of things, a switch, or something else, but for whatever reason, right now you are testing as not an s-type at all. But hey, you took this quiz, so probably you have a little bit of curiosity around receiving, bottoming, submitting, and service. Why don’t you sign up for the Submissive Playground in January and let your inner submissive come out to play?
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Slut by day, slut by night.

“] You’re a slut. You like sex—and when I say you like sex, I mean you REALLY like sex. Giving, receiving, topping, bottoming, serving, whatever—you are happy as long as you’re getting your rocks off. Service, humiliation, pain—you may be into those things, but those aren’t the main course for you. The sexual play, attention, and pleasure is what matters most for you. If you want to develop more of your service skills, kink knowledge, and expand your palette of sexual adventures, come sign up for the Submissive Playground in January and take your sluttery to new places.
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Naughty, naughty, naughty

“] You love to entice. Teasing, testing limits, pushing boundaries, cajoling, begging, breaking rules—you love to see exactly how far you can go, and you love to be punished. But it’s not really punishment—“funishment” is the name of the game to get you to take a lot of physical sensation play. Sometimes, people call you a “brat,” but that’s because your naughty tendencies are misunderstood as disrespectful, when in fact they are part of how you like to keep things interesting. You love to push your top’s buttons, and they love you all the more for it. Naughty minxes like you are a challenge for Dominants and Tops sometimes—come sign up for the Submissive Playground course in January 2014, hone your naughty skills, and find the d-types that are the best match for you.
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Bottom’s Up

“] You are clearly a bottom. Though submissive s-types like psychological play, and slave s-types seek to be owned and controlled in addition to psychologically submit to another’s will, bottoms like you are driven by the love to receive sensation. You might love pain, you might love service, you might love sex—but primarily you like to receive. Bold, stingy, thuddy, feathery, light, soft, big, biting—you might have preferences, but it’s clear that you like it all more than most. Are you ready to expand deeper into the realms of psychological submission, and play deeper with giving up power? Sign up for the Submissive Playground in January 2014 and you’ll have lots of opportunities to expand your palette.
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Service

“] Alfred from Batman. Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey. Lurch from the Addam’s Family. Riff-Raff from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. These (and other) butlers are like to be your service icons. You are a service-oriented submissive, through and through. You like show your love and affection by keeping up with the chores, making sure your Dominant’s favorite hot morning beverages are always perfectly made, and anticipating their next desire—sometimes even before they do. You have likely been working on this skill of giving service with all kinds of people in your life for many years, not just in your intimate, romantic, or sexual relationships. The Submissive Playground course in January 2014 has an entire unit on practicing service, and while you’re clearly already a pro at it, the Playground will give you a place to hone your skills, and to branch out into other realms of submission, and make sure your extraordinary service skills are being placed in the right hands.
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Slave

“] It’s not just a BDSM cliche—some of us, like you, are actual consensual slaves. You want to give over access to your entire self: body, time, will, and more. Though you may love to receive sensation, give good service, and submit psychologically, you also get off the very most by being owned, controlled, and possessed. Your deepest pleasure derives from someone else taking their deepest pleasure from encounters with you, and everything else is just icing on the cake. You love to be asked to do things that are not for your pleasure, just so you can have a chance to exercise your own devotion to your path as a slave. Come join the Submissive Playground course in January 2014—you can play with many aspects of a slave’s path and fine-tune your submissive toolkit while you’re practicing all of your skills.
[/toggle] [toggle type=”2″ title=”

Classic Submissive

“] You clock in as a classic submissive. You like giving over to your Dominant’s will, not just submitting to a Top’s sensation. You have a few boundaries and limits to what you will or won’t do, but you are eager to do what it takes to please and pleasure the one to whom you submit. You may love pain, or love to give service, or adore sex, but your desire for giving over is what drives you the strongest. For a deeper dive into all of your submissive tendencies, join the Submissive Playground course in January 2014 for four weeks of creative, sexy explorations.
[/toggle]

Whatcha think? Do you still think the quiz results you got were the most accurate description of you? Do you agree with my write-ups of what each one means?

It’s been a fascinating experiment! Thanks for playing!

How to Chomp: Erotic Biting for Pleasure & Pain

“I’m surprised more people don’t talk about biting. It’s pretty practical – I think it should be a conscious part of a dom’s tool kit. When I first apply pressure, her whole body goes tight like a bowstring. It makes me feel like I control every inch of her in that moment, and she’s balanced, waiting for my next decision. All this without any equipment, with both hands free? Awesome.” —K

I love biting during rough sex. Love it.

It’s something I do so automatically that I’ve learned I need to make sure to explicitly ask anybody I mess around with in a BDSM/play context or a sexytimes context a) whether or not they like to be bit and b) if it’s okay for me to leave bite marks. And if it is okay to leave bite marks, to be clear precisely where those marks should or rather should not be left. This negotiation is also about the time that I request that if I do leave marks, that they send me pretty pictures of them the next day. (That’s my favorite part. Well, that, and the actual biting part.)

I basically learned all of that the hard way—messing around with girls and starting to bite, then having them stop me mid-bite with some anger or frustration or safeword. Don’t do it that way. Ask if you can bite. You don’t have to sit them down before you start kissing and say, “So, I really like to bite, preferably somewhere on the fleshy part of your chest or on the top of your shoulder, how do you feel about that?” You can do it while you work your mouth on their neck, shoulders, fingers, mouth. You can do it when you start to go get gloves or condoms or your cock or flip the lights off (or on).

You should ask about hickeys and leaving marks from sucking on someone’s skin, too. Don’t leave marks unless you know you can. Figure out how to suck to leave marks and how to suck to not leave marks. Practice on someone who will let you practice on them. And remember, each person’s skin is different, and marks differently. What marks on one person may not mark the next, and vice versa. So go slowly. Learn to recognize the way skin looks when it starts changing, and be smart about it. Stay within consent.

Okay, enough of that leaving marks / consent PSA. You get the point, right?

Oh! Another thing I love about biting is that I always have the tool with me, my mouth, and I can use it anytime anywhere. I don’t need to set it up or get it out or do anything special, it’s just right there, and conveniently placed. It’s a wonderful tool for a sadist, or for someone who wants to display some possession—either by leaving marks or by making them squeal and squirm and stay in a submissive space through some masochism. A good bite at the right time can tip somebody over the edge and make them come that much harder. But, there are some things to be cautious about.

So, let’s say you have a green light of consent, that this person you’re messing around with in whatever way loves being bit. How do you do that? What are the safety risks? How do you cause maximum pleasure (or pain)?

Where to Bite

Technically, you can bite anywhere on the body, but some places are more suited for deep bites than others, and some places are pretty dangerous if you bite hard. You can cause internal damage, and nobody wants that. Generally, if you know about impact play and where to hit somebody, you can translate that to biting: The places on the body with big muscles and lots of flesh are best to bite, the places with less flesh and more bone or less padding on the organs are not good to bite.

If you haven’t taken a beginner BDSM class that teaches the places on a body to impact, I highly recommend that. Most BDSM groups have a Safety Orientation type of meeting. Go to it! Meet some cool people, while you’re at it.

And because I couldn’t find a decent image of the Where To Impact Body Map online anywhere, rife made a beautiful drawing and color coded it to indicate where and where not to bite.

wheretohitabody

Click to make it bigger! and/or Click here to buy a print!

This is not necessarily meant to be a comprehensive chart, and please consult a BDSM educator AND YOUR PLAY PARTNER for the places their body likes and doesn’t like to have heavy impact. Each person is different. Use caution and your best judgment.

Personally, I find the places that my mouth kind of naturally lands to be the best places to bite, and for me that tends to be the upper chest, shoulders, and upper arms, and the inner thighs and butt. I have a tendency to bite when I’m coming while strapped on and fucking someone, so that often means their my mouth is in line with their shoulders, either their upper chest if we’re face to face or their upper back if I’m behind them. I know how to gauge my bite in this position, either biting a little recklessly and hard or just a slow close down of my mouth so I have something to do with my jaw while coming.

But, those are all examples of biting for my pleasure. Perhaps you’re doing it as part of a display of possession or more from a service topping perspective, which is also awesome. The first thing you want to do there (after the 0 step of CONSENT of course) is to find the bite.

“Finding the bite” is something kd diamond spoke of when we talked about biting tips when I was hanging out with her in New York City last weekend. The idea being that while you explore their body with your mouth, you start upping the impact of your teeth, starting with some nibbles, and if they seem responsive to that you keep going, and you find the spot on their body that yields well, and that they give you a very noticeable response (moaning, sounds of joy and pleasure, leaning in to your mouth). Once they do that, you know you’ve found a good spot, and rather than moving on, bite deeper right there.

How Hard to Bite

Deeper? How much deeper should you go? As with everything else, it depends on the person, so always listen to them and their body.

I attended Felice Shays’s Playing in Dangerous Neighborhoods: Advanced Rough Sex workshop through LSM in New York City when I visited last weekend, and she had some great things to say about biting. We talked about it a bit after, too, and I took notes.

First, she stresses the difference between speed and intensity. Most of us tops or sadists or dominants or D-types want to have maximum impact when we’re doing something thrilling like biting, and so often we do that by going really fast, but that actually taps out the receiver much quicker than if we do something slow and deep. Slow and deep can open up new channels and let the s-type bloom into the submissive space. Quick and hard can be shocking, cause flinching and even panic. Felice highly recommends intensity over speed.

Which is not to say that speedy hard bites are never okay to do—they can be, sure. Just know that it’ll be a different impact on the person you’re biting than if you go slow and deep. Depends on what the purpose of your bite is.

So once you’ve found the bite, and you want to go slow and deep, what do you do with your mouth?

Different Ways to Bite

Let’s distinguish between a couple different kinds of bites:

  • Slow bite: Close, then sink your teeth slowly. You can go deeper with this kind of bite, because you are slowly upping the intensity and letting the receiver of the bite get used to it. If they start having more of a pulling away reaction than a leaning into it reaction, that’s your cue to back off a little (or stay right where you are) and not up the intensity any more.
  • Dragging teeth: This was a good tip that Felice mentioned specifically about biting genitals. Genitals are amazing sensitive places and some people really like them being bitten, like a lot. A) Consent (duh), and B) every body is different, and C) if you’re going to be putting your teeth directly onto someone’s genitals, you should have some conversations about being fluid bonded. But after that: Go for it. This is probably not a very good place to chomp, and not a very good place for a deep slow close (though some places, like the inner thighs or the pubic mound, might be okay for that). But delicately clasping their bits in your teeth, and then dragging your teeth, could be immensely pleasurable.
  • Chomp: That’s the speedy hard bite I was just mentioning. With little or no warning, you just open your mouth wide and chomp down on someone’s body. This can be lovely and have a wonderful effect, particularly if the person you’re biting likes to be surprised, likes the big adrenaline spike of pain, and likes to feel the bruise throb after you remove your mouth. But generally, I wouldn’t suggest this with someone you haven’t played with much, and with someone that you don’t know likes this kind of bite. The people who like it really like it, but I think I’d argue it’s the least universally enjoyed type of biting.
  • Other kinds of bites? I imagine there are many more kinds (like “love nibbles”), but these are three of them. Got more ideas?

As the Receiver of Biting …

You can help the person biting you by being honest about your reactions, not enduring things you don’t like (unless enduring something is your fetish, but that’s a slightly different conversation), and giving lots of feedback, either verbally or with your body language.

If you can, use the numbers or colors systems to give feedback, by rating a bite 1-10, 1 being “I barely felt that” and 10 being “that is as much as I can take bordering on STOP RIGHT NOW.” Remember that what feels like a 6 today might feel like a 3 tomorrow and a 9 next Thursday, and depending on where you are in the scene, and how erotically stimulated and aroused you are, bites (or any kind of body impact) can feel different. Keep your feedback coming, however you can.

The colors system is using the words red-yellow-green to let your biter know how you’re doing, like a traffic light: Green means go, yellow means caution (and often means “pause / back off / please stop what you’re doing but don’t stop the scene”) and red means STOP everything now and check in. It’d be very useful to hear “yellow!” if a bite was getting waaay too deep and you needed it to stop, or if you were really enjoying a deep slow bite to hear “green green greengreengreen,” as an indicator that you are requesting the biter keep going.

When During Sex to Bite

Depends … people like different things, of course, so check in with the person you’re playing with. (I know, I know, that’s my constant disclaimer, but it remains true. For that matter, you probably shouldn’t ask me when during sex or where on their body they want to be bit—ask them. Ask them. No seriously, ask them. I know it’s hard to bring up, but talking about it is so important.)

I’d say there are two main times during the sexytimes act that I’d encourage biting: Toward the beginning, during the ramp-up to bigger, rougher, deeper play, and during orgasms.

In the beginning of the play, biting can be a great way to explore someone’s body. Often as we’re warming up and making out and getting into more and more foreplay, we do a lot of kissing of the neck and shoulders, sometimes the chest, so that can be a great time to try out some light biting and to slowly ramp it up.

And if you know you have someone who likes moments of sensation or release as a way of tipping them over the edge, you can strategically place a bite on one of those places you found before when they are getting closer and closer to orgasm, and it could sometimes be the thing that sends them over the edge. It probably takes some practice to do this, but the reaction and release (and beautiful bruise you may get to see later or the next day) is an amazing reward.

bruises
Bruises from biting on rife. Left: bite marks on his upper chest and upper arm (bruises on his chin are not from biting). Top: Bite marks on his upper back. Bottom: Bruises on his ass from punching and paddling, and one big dark bite mark.

Dangers of Biting & Safety Tips

There are some places on the body you don’t want to bite hard, both for safety (like the possibility of damaging an internal organ or tendon) and for pleasure (biting down on the tendons of the neck is not pleasurable for most recipients, for example). Take a Where To Impact On The Body kind of class, ask your local BDSM pervert educator, and know the person you’re playing with.

Do not bite arteries or tendons. That is unpleasant, and dangerous. Aim for the fleshy, meaty, bite-able parts of the body.

There is also the risk of breaking the skin if you are a hard biter. Breaking the skin is bad. The human mouth is generally a very dirty place, with all sorts of bacteria, and a human bite can be more easily infected than a dog bite.

Know your mouth. Notice if your teeth are generally completely flat on the bottoms, or if some of them have edges or chips or points. Those teeth are more likely to break skin. For example, I’ve never full-on broken skin with a deep bite, but I have one particular tooth that is very pointy (my “vampire tooth” canine) and it often leaves more of a red mark than the others and has drawn a teeny tiny bit of blood in a puncture on a rare occasion. Know which teeth are sharp. Do you have braces? That’ll change your impact as well.

If you do break the skin, clean it well and monitor it closely. If anything looks out of the ordinary, see a doctor. Get it checked out. It’s an easy treatment, but it can be bad if not treated.

What about bruises?

Bruises are not necessarily bad for you, not harmful to you or your muscles, and will heal well on most people without much specific care. But again, know your body. If you’re anemic, you may bruise a whole lot easier than someone who is not, for example.

Some people swear by things like Arnica, a homeopathic cream meant to help heal bruises and bumped tissue. After Miss Calico did a bruising and Arnica experiment a few years ago I’ve been more skeptical of Arnica’s value, but as the kid of some hippie parents, I still often take it orally if I’m trying to heal my body from bruising.

Keep an eye on the bruises as they heal. Usually, healthy bruises will go from a slightly red mark at the time of impact to dark purple or black as they bloom, and then fade to shades of lighter blue, sometimes green, yellow, and back to your regular skin color. It’s harder to see the fading process on people with darker skin, easier to see the fading process on people with lighter skin. Know your body. Get to know the process of how you bruise and how you heal. If anything looks out of the ordinary, get it checked out (preferably with a kink-friendly doctor so you can say things like “happily consensual!” with a big smile and they will get it). It is normal for a bruise to “travel” a little bit as the tissues and blood vessels slowly repair.

If the bruise gets lumpy or hard, get it checked out. If it stays dark and doesn’t seem to be fading, get it checked out. If anything seems out of the ordinary, get it checked out. And share the knowledge that you learn with the people/person you are playing with—it’s helpful for them to know your body, too!

In Conclusion ….

Biting is one of my favorites. For control, sadism, possession, sensation, and leaving marks, it’s a fantastic tool, and one I use often. Get consent. Know your body, and get to know your play partner’s body. Every body is different, but if you get to know each other you can figure out what will cause maximum pleasure (or pain) (or both) and impact and beautiful bruises. Know the risks that you’re taking and keep yourself and your partner as safe as you can.

That about covers my thoughts on bruising! What are your thoughts? Do you love it, hate it? Agree with my tips, or think I’m wrong? Did I leave something critical out? Any other types of bites or safety tips or things I’m missing? I’d love to know.

Ask Mr. Sexsmith: What happens to the stuff on the anal toys when you boil them?

Dear Mr. Sexsmith,

Ok, this is a really dumb question. When you clean silicone toys used during anal sex, do you boil them? I know that you can clean silicone toys by boiling, or by soap and water, or 10% bleach, or by the top rack of the dishwasher. But like, if you boil them, does the leftover lube/etc stay on the pot? Do you wash the pot afterwards? Do you have a separate sex-toy pot for sey-toy cleaning? Why bother dirtying something else, especially something else used in food preparation?

Thanks for any help.
Christy

Hi Christy!

I am not an expert on toy cleaning, really—I have my own way of doing it, but I’m not always sure that’s the right way. Since my activities as of late are very low-risk (currently, I have one person I share toys with), what I do feels adequately good enough.

And, I have less knowledge of the healthcare side of cleaning toys and STIs than some of the other sex educators out there. So, instead of stumbling through my own answer, I asked my buddy Sejay Chu what their thoughts were on this question. They worked for Planned Parenthood doing sex education, and are one of the best workshop presenters I’ve ever seen. Their depth (heh heh) of knowledge is astounding. (And plus, they’re super hot, so that’s always a bonus.)

Sejay wrote:

This is box title
(A) Not a dumb question.

(B) Before doing any cleaning intended to sanitize (bleach, boiling, soap, etc.), it’s best to always scrub the surface gunk off first. Kinda like you “clean the dishes before you clean the dishes” for the dishwasher — if you have a dish with globs of food & grease on it, just tossing it in the dishwasher probably won’t get rid of the globs of food & grease very well… get my drift?

Bleach, boiling, soap, etc. is intended to get the microscopic bits and do a good job of it, but it can’t do that very well if it’s blocked by a (relatively) gigantic mound of whateversonyourtoy. So do a preliminary scrubbing to get the gunk out of your sanitizer’s way.

(C) Some people use a sex-toy-only pot, and some just wash the pot afterwards. It’s a matter of preference, not necessarily cleanliness. Things you cook in pots tend to get boiled or super hot in the process of, y’know, cooking anyway, right? But if it “icks” you or the people you live with to eat out of something that boiled a buttplug yesterday, it might be worth the $10 pot. Plus then you can call it a “sexpot,” hehe.

(D) Just FYI, some dishwashers don’t actually get hot enough temperature-wise to disinfect the way you’d want to, so be weary of that.

Thank you Sejay! The number (B) point was basically going to be my point too, which is that I’d use a mild soap to scrub down all the toys before doing the sanitizing of boiling it.

Sidenote:

Sanitize, by the way, is more accurate that “sterilize,” even though most sex educators tend to say “sterilize your toys by boiling for 8 minutes, 10% bleach solution, or washing in the top shelf of the dishwasher.” However, in order to actually sterilize something, you need an AutoClave or some other hospital-strength unit. But as soon as something is exposed to the air, it’s no longer sterile. Regardless, what we’re doing is sanitizing sex toys, which kills most (idk, 99.9%?) bacteria and any STI viruses. (I learned this at Catalyst East in March and I’ve been meaning to write a post about it ever since—that I’ve been saying “sanitize” all these years and all along I had never actually sanitized my toys! I don’t think it’s just me, I think it’s a common mistake of words that sex educators often use. (Or maybe it is just me, and everybody else knows this difference, and I was the one always equating the two.)

Also, if you are worried about the extra santorum* on your toys or on your cookware, I suggest using a condom with anal sex toys, because that will add a protective layer to your toys and make them even easier to clean.

I didn’t know that (D) about the dishwashers. Sejay, do you know what the required temperature is, and how to figure out if your dishwasher gets that hot or not?

And, I love the idea of having a (C) sexpot, but I tend to just use the biggest soup pot in the house. I clean my toys first, and clean the pot after. All good!

* Definition of santorum: that frothy mixture of come and lube and other rectal contents created during anal sex. See: Savage Love, 2003. (I think the word “frothy” is the key part of that definition, personally.)

Reconciling Feminism & Sadism

From the Ask Me Anything questions from Sugarbutch’s 4th anniversary:

How do you reconcile your feminism with your sadism and desire to (gulp) hurt women? (In a completely consensual manner, of course.)—Cold Comfort

The closest thing I’ve come so far to explaining this was in that essay from December 2009 called Reconciling the Identities of Feminist and Butch Top, but this question, about sadism, is slightly different, and I have the impression I haven’t quite answered it all the way.

“Butch top” is very much related to “sadist” for me, but that’s just because that’s my particular version of butch topping, into which my sadism is built. In fact, it’s only been recently that I’ve been unpacking sadism from topping, being with someone who is much more submissive than she is a masochist. Point being, much of that essay is exactly about reconciling those identities.

Yet still, I don’t feel like that is an adequate explanation on this topic. Besides, the culmination of that essay is basically, “How did I reconcile these identities? I don’t know, I just thought about it a lot and then it was better.” There must be something more articulate to say about that.

I hit on it a little more in the essay Yes, No, and Consent too, about agency, in feminist terms. It has to do with the very simple distinctions between BDSM and abuse, even if they are equated by many anti-porn feminists. And it has to do with the Platinum Rule—not the Golden Rule, the “do to others what you would like to be done to you,” but the “do to others as they would like to be treated,” and the acknowledgement that how you want to be treated and how another wants to be treated may not be the same thing, especially when you add in the complexities of relationship through sex, BDSM, sadism, and masochism.

But, if someone wants me to treat them a certain way and something about it feels funny to me, I trust that, and I take a break and pause and ask questions (hopefully without over-processing or projecting), until I feel like we have resolved whatever was coming up or until I decide there’s too much there to open up without adequate containment or backup.

To go back to the Platinum Rule: for a pop-culture simplistic example, consider the Love Languages! Which, cheesy as they are superficially, I think are a very useful system to think about the ways that myself and my partner may be seeking the same things (like love, comfort, security, passion) but may be in different ways (through words of aspiration, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts). I think we all have some relationship to all five of those ways (and possibly more), but many of us are more focused on some of those ways than others.

All of us are seeking similar things, like love and sex and companionship, but we may be seeking to play with those things in different ways. And figuring out what my own preferences are in playing with those things, and in being in a relationship, figuring out how I best communicate, who I’m attracted to and what qualities I most prefer in someone else, and how to reconcile differences or misunderstandings between us, has been a huge journey, and has been a huge piece of being able to articulate that I want to play with deeper, heavier BDSM, like pain or humiliation, and to trust someone enough to believe that when they say they want to play with that on the receiving end, they mean it, they know themselves well enough to know what they want, they are experienced enough to understand what they’re asking for, they are in touch with themselves enough to tell when they have reached a limit, and they are strong enough to be able to communicate with me around whatever is going wrong (or right).

I’ve worked a hell of a lot on my own issues, particularly on being able to say what I’m thinking, to stand up for myself, and to not get swept up in someone else’s psychology and psyche. I’ve been in therapy for about four years now, and that has helped me greatly with my communication. I’ve also done all sorts of “alternative” methods of healing, such as massage therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, tinctures, supplements, nutritional counseling, bodywork … I’ve done a lot of work on myself and my own issues, and I am continuing to work hard to improve the ways I communicate and relate.

So, this is how I would reconcile feminism & sadism:

  1. Acknowledge that people want different things. For example, your desire to hit someone is bad when the person you are hitting doesn’t want to be hit, but when the person you are with wants to be hit, in a playful, controlled, conscious way, that’s called consent and it’s (probably) great. Consider the distinctions between BDSM and abuse, and trust yourself when you know you are on one side or the other. Listen to your lovers when they give you feedback about how your behavior affects them.
  2. Play with people whose consent you trust, and don’t take responsibility for other people’s consent. And, if they consent, then later uncover that it was actually bad for them, they didn’t like it, or blame something on you, you can certainly apologize and take responsibility for whatever your part of it may have been, but it was not your fault that they consented to an act that you then did. Be willing to process a scene after playing, and listen carefully, but know that trying to retroactively revoke consent is a dangerous move.
  3. Seek out and understand the background and history and texts on BDSM. Find mentors (if you’re in a city big enough to have a BDSM scene) and take classes, or join online BDSM groups and learn. There is a rich history of writings and teachers who discuss what it’s like to go into these deep, dark realms of physical sensation and psychology, and many of them hold important explanations for how this play works. Studying these arts makes us more aware, which can make us more conscious, and more intentional, and better able to be present in our play.

I’ve always, for as long as I can remember, had a deep connection to feminism. And I believe in it the way I believe in psychology or democracy—that even though there are plenty of people out there fucking it up, there is a kernel, a spark, a rawness at its core that I believe is important, necessary, and is deeply aligned with me and my sense of purpose in this world. I don’t believe that because some people are taking these things and claiming them to mean some things that I disagree with that I need to then step out of the ring and let them take it over. I’m glad that there can be multiple perspectives coming from one singular idea, it strengthens the idea to have multiple angles, I think (even if sometimes I believe they are so very wrong).

I know there are plenty of people who say they are not a feminist, especially those who work in various aspects of sex, and that there are plenty of feminists who would probably say that I am “not a feminist” because of my BDSM play or my masculinity or whatever. But I have enough sovereignty around my feminist identity that I know that their version of feminism is simply different from mine, and that mine is no more wrong than theirs is.

So that’s my last prescription for reconciling feminism and sadism: Ask yourself what your definition of feminism is. If you start digging to discover that you think feminists never, ever hit someone, or humiliate someone, or call someone a bitch, or shove a cock down a girl’s throat, well then, you are going to have some trouble reconciling those two identities. This is where the #3 Research on BDSM will come in handy, because BDSM circles know the difference between play and real life. We know that rape is absolutely not the same thing as playing with consent, as someone yelling out “no no no” during a scene. We know that the things that we play with during scenes, like pain, like giving or receiving pain, are not fun to experience in real life. I would never want someone to spank me or beat me or slap me in the face for real! I would never want someone to do that to my girlfriend! But under the umbrella of play, it takes on other qualities. It might look the same, a slap across the face vs a slap across the face, but the motivation, intention, control, and outcome are completely different.

Growing involves seeing more than the black or white definitions that labels, identities, and systems of thought often prescribe. Lots of feminists have written about how oppressive the sexual culture surrounding the subordination of women is; and that’s important to learn. However, equating ALL acts of some kind of sex, happening between consenting adults, that you or “feminists” deem inappropriate with oppression or non-consent is denying a key part of sex play: agency. Hurting someone, especially sexually, is something (some) feminists shun, but when you add consent into that mix, you’ve entered into something that is not black or white. And perhaps not even gray, since consent puts any act in a whole new category.

Did that adequately answer your brief but loaded question? Are there other follow-up questions from what I’ve posted here?

Quick Anal Interview: YOU!

Okay folks, Anal Week is coming to a close, you’ve had a chance to read Quick Anal Interviews with Dylan Ryan, Bailey, Tawny, Madison Young, Sophia St James, and Erudite Hayseed. Perhaps you read through some of those thinking, jeez, they left out this really important thing!

Well, here’s your chance: I’d like to hear YOUR answers to the quick anal interview questions! Here are the questions, add your answers to the comments.

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?
2. What lube do you recommend?
3. What position do you find excellent?

Any bonus perspective, tip, story, or thing that you’d really like to share?

Anal Week has been a really fun project, I’ve learned a lot in collecting all this data, Kristen and I have had some great conversations, and I’ve had some great comments and emails from folks saying they have had similar reservations, but that these tips and perspectives are encouraging.

Please do chime in, if you’d like to add something.

Quick Anal Interview: Erudite Hayseed

This is the last of the Quick Anal Interviews! Anal Week is coming to a close … just one more thing to go, and it’ll be all done. Thanks so much for reading. This quick anal interview is with Erudite Hayseed, author of Confessions of a Southern-Fried Kinkster.

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?

Tongue work, all day tongue work. Look, the prospect actual anal penetration, be it finger or otherwise, is pretty intimidating. Of course you have to ease into it that’s basic info and all. But the tongue, the actual art of analingus, is like a soft slippery key to a whole new facet of lovemaking. I’ve yet to find a partner that doesnt like it. Sure, one’s who thought it was strange of me to do it ( at first anyway ), but everyone tends to like it. That can lead to more play later. When people say “go slow,” folks have a tendency to think that means the actual act of preparation leading up to the actual fuck. There needs to be more “go slow” in relation to easing your partner into the idea of play.

While I consider anal sex to be a “No surprises” zone for most things ( and any guy who says that he just popped his dick in and went to town is either fulla shit or nursing some bruises around the head and face ), the odd surprise tounge swipe is a great way to get into the swing of things. Heck, sometimes it feels even better than the actual penatrative act, if my Lady is to be believed. But it does relax things, and it definetly shatters some hangups your partner might have.

2. What lube do you recommend?

Boy Butter. It was developed by Eyal Feldman, this brilliant gay businessman who owns and operates his website and who personally worked to create what he figured would be the best anal lubricant on the market. It’s silicone and coconut oil based, washes off with water, and just seems to last so much longer than any other lube I’ve tried ( and I’ve tried extensively ). They even make a desensitizing blend ( good for those who are just starting out or those who are working with a larger size ), water based if you’ve got any sort of silicone allergy. The price is fair, especially for such a groundbreaking idea, and the packaging is just adorable. Seriously, give it a try.

[ Quick note from Sinclair: silicone based lube does NOT go with silicone toys, so DO NOT use it if you’re using butt plugs or strap-on cocks that are silicone. Also, many sex educators are really against desensitizing anal creams, they can be dangerous. ]

3. What position do you find excellent?

Depends on what I’m doing. For rimming, I likefor Lady to basically lay down with her knees under her stomach, kind of sitting on her feet–it gives the best access to everything, the entire themepark of waist-southernly delights. Thats good especially for kinkier fare, and the application of bondage tape and an eager tongue tends to add up to a very, very fun time.

For the actual act of lovemaking, I tend to use a position that is popularly referred to as the “Prone Bone” wherin your partner lays flat on his/her stomach with legs closed. I will warn that this position should only really be used if you know what exactly your partners limits are. My girlfriend likes it rougher than most, with almost no way to get out of her predicament, so that position is just the best. Doggystyle is okay, but I feel like I sacrifice a bit of my actual thrusting power with it, and if we’re doing it, daggone it we’re doing it.

Any bonus perspective, tip, story, or thing that you’d really like to share?

Toys can be an intimidating thing, but if you’re comfortable enough with rocking the whole vibe/dildo set, I have to suggest a butt plug. For one, they come in just about any size, and for two, they are the ultimate in preperation. A good, small buttplug for the first time user is excellent. For one, it’s something you can slide in and not worry about holding, which is a big hurdle for a lot of people, myself included: I dont mind taking the time and all, but just sitting there with a couple of fingers up your partner while she adjusts can get a tad boring. If your partner is especially tight, like mine, it turns into this whole waiting game atmosphere. I’m a decent hand at dirty talk, but I can only keep it up for so long.

Another great benefit is that the butt plug is a good bridge between vaginal and anal sex. Trust me, it makes everything on the pussy end of things much, much more fun. The space that is normally afforded to your invading fingers or cock is filled up, creating a tighter feel and angling whatever you’re doing upwards, which can really up the chances of ( or the intensity of ) a pure penetrative orgasm. If you’re already past the first couple of stages of involving anal play ( discussion and light teasing/fingering ), this is honestly the next step to go.

Thanks so much!

Best Anal Scenes in Queer Porn

According to me, anyway. Essin’ Em and JD Bauchery also gave their opinions for Anal Week (which has extended longer than a week, but is still tagged, so it works. You don’t mind, do you?), but at this point, I’ve done enough queer porn watching and research to have gone through the scenes I wanted to and picked a list.

Warning: these photos are NSFW. I don’t post a lot of explicitly nude photos here, I know, I try to keep it at least kind of safe for work, but I just can’t resist putting some really great screenshots in this post, so you know what you’re missing, if you haven’t seen ’em.

All screenshots were snagged by me through Hot Movies for Her, and reprinted only to promote the films.

1. Dylan, Jiz Lee, & Jo in The Crash Pad (Scene 1)
Directed by Shine Louise Houston for Pink & White

I have a special place in my queer-porn-lovin’ heart for the original Crash Pad. It’s the project that launched The Crash Pad Series online, and has raised the bar for queer porn production everywhere. Shine Louise Houston set up a wonderful premise—that there is this mysterious apartment called the Crash Pad, which you can acquire the key for, and go there to fuck—that has led to scenes that are real, not campy, not bogged down in falsified plot, but still capable of some twists and turns.

Like this one: Dylan & Jo are having a good time fucking in The Crash Pad until Jiz and Jiz’s date show up too. Jiz joins in, while her date watches, and the resulting threesome is hot. The Crash Pad also sets up the porn careers for Jiz, Syd, and Dylan, and thank goodness it did. Isn’t the world a better place because we get to watch these beautiful, skilled queers fucking? Absolutely.

2. Syd Blakovich & Jiz Lee in The Crash Pad (Scene 3)
Directed by Shine Louise Houston for Pink & White

Syd Blakovich (credited as Shawn) and Jiz Lee are popping off the screen with chemistry in this one. I’ve heard some of the backstory (some of it they explain in the bonus features of Superfreak), that they hadn’t had sex in a few weeks and weren’t sure if they were going to continue fucking, so this might be their last hurrah. Thankfully for us, it wasn’t, and they’ve gone on to making a ton of queer porn, with each other and on their own.

In this scene, they both look very boyish (boiish?), lean, and super-short hair, and the intensity is riveting. Syd’s rimming is pretty amazing to watch, as is Jiz’s squirting all over Syd, later.

3. Rozen Debowe, Syd Blakovich, Jiz Lee, & Donny in No Fauxxx Roulette (Scene 5)
Directed by Courtney Trouble for Reel Queer Productions

Yeah, it’s Syd & Jiz again—I want diversity in this list, but they are just in so much good porn! So: here we’ve got director Courtney Trouble (who runs No Fauxxx) in a great video collection of scenes. This one is my favorite by far (I don’t even remember the others in this film), I’ve watched it quite a few times. Rozen Debowe—who I think is so incredibly hot and who, I’ve heard, has retired from porn, and who I think should make more—approaches a bartender, spreads her beautiful long legs, and proceeds to get fucked by three butches. Or, three masculine-ish-queers, if they don’t identify as butch.

In this screenshot, Rozen is on top of the bartender, Donny, Syd has a Pure Wand in her ass, and Rozen sucks Jiz’s cock. And, it gets better. Plus, they’re on a pool table.

4. Lorelei Lee, Princess Donna & Dana DeArmond in Superfreak (Scene 5)
Directed by Shine Louise Houston for Pink & White

Lorelei Lee and Princess Donna have done quite a bit of hot queer porn also, appearing in The Crash Pad Series and on various other sites. In this one, they’re joined by Dana DeArmond, and Lorelei is topped with some really hot anal, mostly with fingers and rimming. They’re sexy and clearly very skilled (though I have to kind of ignore all the whimpering of Lorelei and humming that the two top girls do. Maybe you like that kind of thing, I find it distracting). In some of the interview scenes, Donna and Lorelei say, “I wish we could’ve gone all the way,” in discussion of anal fisting. It’s illegal to show fisting on video, did you know? Not on the web, though, so you can find some great stuff in The Crash Pad Series.

5. Dylan Ryan & Trucker Cash in Roulette Dirty South (Scene 2)
Directed by Courtney Trouble for Reel Queer Productions

I couldn’t leave out my favorite porn couple! Dylan Ryan and her real-life partner Trucker Cash are so damn hot in this scene. I love the bright colors, the clothes they’re both wearing, that slightly rickety table that they fuck on, the way Trucker warms up her ass before taking out his cock and fucking her until she comes hard, shaking and swearing.

When Trucker unzipped and I saw he was packing the Goodfella, I thought, wtf? That cock is so small! But then, turns out it is a very good size for anal. Note to self.

6. Nicole Chatte & Peter Danger in Heartland: A Woman’s POV (Scene 1)
Directed by Madison Young for Reel Queer Productions

This last one comes from director and porn star Madison Young. She introduces the scene and explains that she found this couple because they’d contacted her online, and they agreed to be filmed.

I had a crush on Nicole the second she came onscreen. It’s filmed by Peter, I think—or, if not by Peter himself, than from Peter’s point of view of seeing Nicole, so we don’t get too many shots of him (too bad, cause he seems really hot and skilled, I’d like to watch him more), but I did like watching Nicole. It starts off with a beautiful blow job by Nicole, and leads into her getting fucked hard while she’s backwards in this beautiful worn-in leather chair. It’s a bit more amateur-ish than the others, but I especially love the way Nicole guides her lover, saying, “will you start out with the small one, then use the bigger one?” and then, later, “faster, go faster,” which Peter happily obliges. The scene is really sexy and goes on for a while, with various different positions. Nicole even asks Peter to fist her, at some point, but since that can’t be shown on the video, we don’t really get to see it.

Whew! Okay, that covers it, my current favorite anal scenes in queer porn.

While porn isn’t the best place to learn how to do a certain act, it can certainly be inspiring to watch and recognize how much pleasure everyone is having from the things they’re doing. It’s definitely been inspiring to me to try more.

Did I leave out YOUR very favorite scene? Which one looks like the one you’re going to rush out and watch right this minute (or, as soon as you can)? Got any must-see recommendations for me from Essin’ Em or JD Bauchery‘s lists that I haven’t included?

Anal Scenes in Queer Porn with Essin’ Em

Who comes to mind when I say “queer porn expert”? For me, it’s Essin’ Em, aka Shanna Katz, queer femme and porn lover extraordinaire. Since I’ve known her, she’s worked at Hot Movies For Her, Eden Fantasys, and now Fascinations, and she’s traveled the country doing workshops—even recently one on feminist porn. She was glad to offer some suggestions for anal scenes in queer porn; here they are.

Photo of Essin' Em by Half Moon Studios

There is the Vai/Jiz Lee scene in CPS that I LOVE because it’s Vai’s first time giving anal play (especially strapping it on and fucking someone) to someone, and it’s just fabulously fun to watch her love it and experience it.

Then of course, there is that super hot queer gang bang in Roulette with Rozen DeBowe, who just takes it in all three holes (including using the Njoy Pure Wand) from three hot andro/butch/genderqueer studs, on a pool table, in the middle of the Mission. Hot hot hot (especially because I’ve now met half the cast AND been to there it was shot).

I LOVED the sceen in Couch Surfers: Trans Men in Action where Dex Hardlove DOUBLE anal fists two of his greedy pigs…with lube boy coming it, bandana on the face and all to add lube as needed. It inspired me so much that I re-enacted it, with vaginal fisting with two bottoms and my lube girl (bananda and all) during a fisting class in Denver last year.

I love Dylan Ryan and Madison Young’s “Spa Day Gone Horribly Wrong” type of scene on Everything Butt. Is it technically a queer porn producer? No, but Madison and Dylan made it hot and sexy queer porn regardless, and really queerifyed kink that day.

Of course, how can we forget the hot anal in the original Bend Over Boyfriend with Carol Queen? This often gets left out of queer line-ups, but to me, it’s some of the first, hot queer porn, and in this case, specifically anal. Pegging your lover’s ass really fucks with so many expectations and binaries, and Carol was doing it years before people were even talking about it.

Thanks, Essin’ Em! Whew—I’m almost done compiling my own list, I will have that to share with you all soon. I’ve got a few more things to watch first.

Anal Scenes in Queer Porn with JD Bauchery

I’ve been compiling and asking around about the best anal scenes in queer porn, and I’ve got a bit to report.

If you’re one of those folks who thinks that lesbian porn is generally oriented toward men as viewers and producers, I encourage you to think again. Yes, there is plenty of bad lesbian porn, but the amount of queer and feminist porn that is getting made these days is a bit mind-boggling. Personally, I can’t keep up. I’ve got a long list of films to watch that I still haven’t seen, and directors like Courtney Trouble and Madison Young and producers like Good Releasing keep making films faster than I can keep up.

I asked JD Bauchery over at Hot Movies 4 Her for some of her personal recommendations for butt scenes in queer porn, since she is WAY more of a pro at queer porn than I am.

And here’s what she recommends:

Which of these have you seen? Any in particular that you recommend?

Quick Anal Interview with Lissa

1 – Tip – I’d say the most important component of anal sex is trust. Trust your partner, trust yourself. If it doesn’t feel right, for either partner, stop, pause, back off a little bit, try again. Change positions, move around. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Don’t be afraid to make a mess! Trust is key.

2 – Lube – I’m not sure I have a favorite. Whatever we happen to have on hand, really. I like Probe for an all purpose lube.

3 – Position – On my side, with one leg up. For me, anal sex is very intimate. Being on my stomach takes away some of that intimacy for me. I love being able to see my partner’s face, reach out to her, talk to her. For more power/control exchange situations, bent over any piece of furniture is glorious, especially if there is a vibrator nearby and my hands are behind my back. Two favorite positions for completely different reasons.

Thanks Lissa! Follow her on Twitter at @swtlissab.

Quick Anal Interview with Sophia St. James

Sophia St. James

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?

I think a person needs to be mentally ready for anal sex. Many go into it thinking it’s not gonna be the much different than vaginal sex and the feeling IS much different. And though anal sex can be quite enjoyable, the feeling can be uncomfortable for many. Personally, when I first started having anal sex it wasn’t my favorite. It was a little hard to get pleasure from it. But over time, I have become a huge fan of anal play/sex. Another thing that can help is anal play. Rubbing, touching, and licking can all be very erotic and stimulating. It can also help relax the muscles and allow for easier insertion.

2. What lube do you recommend?

I personally love Liquid Silk and Pink. They are the least irritating to my tissues and they last much longer than any lube I have used.

3. What position do you find excellent?

My favorite sexual position for anal sex is doggie style. I am more on the rough side of play, so I find that in the position, more BDSM/fetish play can take play that I enjoy. Plus it seems to open things up a little bit better.

Any bonus perspective, tip, story, or thing that you’d really like to share?

I like the ‘work-up’ approach. Start with playful touching and rubbing, then licking, then fingers, eventually working up to something larger. It’s sensual and erotic, not mention it helps me to get into it more and relax.

Hope that helps some!

Thanks Sophia! You may remember her from such films as Bordello, which is where I first saw her. Visit her site at sophiastjames.com.

Quick Anal Interview with Madison Young

This Quick Anal Interview comes from Madison Young, feminist, art gallery owner, and porn star. If you haven’t seen her come on camera, you are missing out, it is a glorious thing to watch.

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?

When doing anal play its important to remember Jane Fonda’s advice “Don’t forget to warm-up.” Stretching isn’t just for yoga or before a morning jog. If I’m planning on doing anal play with my partner or for work I like to warm up before hand. First I like to warm up with lube and a finger or two. Slowly insert into your anus and relax your sphincter muscles and let you anus suck in and relax around your fingers. Then start to slowly move your fingers further into your rectum. This also helps to lubricate the inside of your anus and rectum. I also really love butt plugs and feel like it is a great way to turn on your partner in public as a form of foreplay to wear a buttplug on your date. This also gives your anus plenty of time to warm up and get stretched and ready for different types of anal play when you get home. I highly recommend the silicone b-bomb from GoodVibes.com from Tantus.

2. What lube do you recommend?

I’m a big fan of lots of silicone lube. Swiss Navy is my preferred brand right now. It provides the the perfect slick lubrication for anal play that doesn’t dissipate too quickly. They also have a neat pump so you don’t have to fumble with the cap to the lube when you are in the moment.

3. What position do you find excellent?

It depends on what type of anal play you are engaging in. If I’m fisting my anus, which I love to do, I like to be standing and raise one leg onto a table or chair so it opens my bottom up more and makes it easier for me to reach around. I also like a standing doggy for anal sex with a partner or doggy style. Usually I like to back up onto the hand or cock to adjust myself and have my anus relax around the hand or cock before lots of fucking ensues. Anal play can be incredibly pleasurable and is much easier for me to orgasm this way than through vaginal penetration.

You can see Madison’s work on many sites, including NoFauxxx, Hot Movies 4 Her, and her own domain, madisonbound.com. Thanks Madison!

Quick Anal Interview with Tawny

Tawny calls herself an enthusiast, and says, “It’s my favorite form of intercourse.” Here’s her quick anal interview.

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?

-Masturbate a little, or have a vibe in place on your clit if you’re being penetrated and are nervous. You’ll relax easier, and be less focused on whether or not you’re freaking out (as the penetrated, obvs.)

-Breathe slowly and steadily. Anal can almost be meditative in the right mindset, and if you’re focused on your breathing and relaxing your rectal muscles, you probably will feel pleasure rather than pain. That’s been my experience, anyway.

2. What lube do you recommend?

Maximus is great.

3. What position do you find excellent?

The best position for me has always been doggy style. If whatever cock/toy I’m taking is rather large, I prefer to be bent over something so I can relax as much of my body as possible and have a hand free for the masturbation I mentioned above. (My ex-boyfriend preferred to lay on his back, but that never worked as well for me.)

Any bonus perspective, tip, story, or thing that you’d really like to share?

Honestly, one of the coolest and most zen-like experiences for me has been getting better at anal stretching. It’s erotic, trust-building, and requires great concentration. I’ve never been much of a meditator before, but I can tell you that I definitely prefer my blank slate states with something in my ass.

And story-wise: One of the most ridiculous sets of orgasms I’ve ever had (and I’m easy to get off, so we’re talking a LOT of orgasms) was being fucked in the ass with a Crybaby vibe in my vagina and my boyfriend (doing the fucking, obviously) holding the remote. We were yelled at by the neighbors, who were inside their house next door. So, I definitely recommend combining anal with vaginal penetration and a vibrator, if you’re comfortable with that.

Quick Anal Interview with Bailey

These tips are from Bailey (@bailey21975), who wrote to me after seeing my call for interviewing anal enthusiasts on Twitter. More quick anal interviews coming up!

1. What one tip would you suggest (aside from the obvious: lube, communicate, go slow)?

I’d suggest gloves (or condoms, if you are using a toy instead of fingers/hand), for several reasons. Safety, if you aren’t fluid-bonded with your partner. Gloves make certain that any scratchy nails are not going to cause even incidental damage. In my experience, wearing gloves makes the lube last a bit longer without being absorbed. Also, wearing gloves means that if you decide to go from anal sex to vaginal sex on a whim, you strip them off, toss them aside and have at it! No risk of putting bacteria where you certainly don’t want it, and you don’t have to head to the bathroom to scrub your hands, potentially killing the mood. I’m a big fan of gloves for anal play, myself.

2. What lube do you recommend?

If you’re planning on buying just one lube for all purposes, my recommendation is Liquid Silk, all the way. It doesn’t get tacky, it lasts a long time, doesn’t have an unpleasant smell, taste or texture — which is important to me, because I never know where I might want to put my mouth later. Liquid Silk is best if you’re looking for an all purpose lube, but if you’re going to have a separate lube for anal, Maxxximus is the way to go.

3. What position do you find excellent?

Whatever position is the most relaxing for the bottom, ideally. For me, whether top or bottom in this activity, my preference is on hands and knees, head down, ass up. It makes for great visual presentation, and you can see exactly what you’re doing.

Thanks Bailey—follow on Twitter @bailey21975.

Quick Anal Interview with Dylan Ryan

The second quick anal interview features porn star Dylan Ryan, one of my favorite people to watch fuck on camera, and anal enthusiast herself. When I started brainstorming queer porn scenes to feature here (upcoming!), two of hers came immediately to mind. Here’s what she had to say about anal sex.

Photo of Dylan by Aslan Leather, as featured on Dylan's website
Lube:

Maximus. Hands down the best one I’ve found. Stays cushy without getting gummy. I feel like most people don’t know it… which is funny because it’s sooo good.

Position:

This is hard to describe, but I’ll try. Technically it’s doggy, BUT my upper body and chest is completely on the bed. And then the boy is on top, but he actually puts his legs on TOP of my legs, and moves his cock up higher, in a more downward and less directly into the ass angle. His hands are on the bed on either said with most his lower body on top of me. We call it the SUPER DOG!

Basically, it puts more of his body weight on me. And the angle … it feels less OOMPHy. That’s the one thing about anal, I love it really hard, but the direct right-into-the-ass feels too much like poop, like “I’m filling you up with air.” But with more of an angle that feeling goes away, and there’s more sensation, less blowing up like a balloon.

In this position I feel very mounted, too, which I personally dig. It feels nasty and taboo.

Tips:

I like to do anal after I’ve already cum. So, stick to what you know, get off, and then give it a shot. Usually I’m raring at that point: the body is relaxed, the adrenaline and serotonin are flowing.

I’m really into rimming these days, and I don’t see that suggested very often. Rimming is an AWESOME way to start anal. It feels AMAZING and relaxes everything, and there can be some tongue penetration to get things started.

People tend to get really cerebral about anal, and I understand that, but internalizing all the stuff about it hurting sets people up. If anal was more a regular part of sex in people’s lives, it would be easier to do. Approaching with caution helps with injury, but the anus is pretty damn elastic. If it was something that was less associated with pain, I think people would practice and explore it more. Especially for women, the concepts around it are “oh no, thats going to hurt” as opposed to, “lets find out what I do and don’t like about it.” Just like vaginal or oral sex, everyone has different likes/needs, and exploring those can be icky and painful and weird and not hot, but it can also be amazing and sexy and hot and illuminating. Anal should be part of that package in a positive way!

Dylan Ryan is making the world a better place, one porn at a time. Follow her on Twitter @thedylanryan and check out her new website, dylanryanx.com.

Quick Anal Interview with Charlie Glickman

In the spirit of Anal Week, I’ll be doing some quick interviews with sexuality educators, porn stars, and anal lovers to get the conversation going. Here’s the first one, with sexuality educator Charlie Glickman.

A few tips:

1) try it out on yourself before doing it with a partner. If you’re going to be the giver, it’ll help you understand how sensitive and delicate the anus is. If you’re going to be the received, it’ll give valuable info about how you like to be touched.

2) do something else (simultaneously) that you enjoy. A vibe on the clit, a hand on the cock, whatever. Arousal makes anal play easier and it helps your body connect a familiar pleasure with new sensations.

3) pay attention to your mood. Anxiety and fear can cause the anus to contract, making anal play more difficult.

Lube: silicone, especially for external massage or getting started. Eros or Swiss Navy are nice. Thicker gels work better once you’re in the rectum because they give a bit more cushioning. Please Me Gel is a good one.

Position: hips above the head. Elbows and knees is good. Or on your back with a pillow or a Liberator Wedge under the hips. In that position, it can also be helpful to prop the knees up with pillows so the muscles can relax. Remember- anal penetration is about relaxing the anus, so the less work the other muscles are doing, the easier it’ll be.

You might find these useful: Anal Sex and An Introduction to Anal Play at Good Vibrations

Charlie Glickman has been a sexuality educator since 1989 and joined the staff of Good Vibrations in 1996. He holds a doctorate in Adult Sexuality Education and is certified as a Sexuality Educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. See more about Dr. Glickman or read his work at his blog, or on the Good Vibrations Magazine.

Reconciling the Identities of Feminist & Butch Top

I received quite a few questions about my recent post, Kristen’s Homework, especially around how the power imbalance asymmetric balance of power works when adding our gender dynamics into the mix. It’s really hard to explain, and sometimes hard for me to feel like what I’m doing is in question. I do want to keep writing about how my relationship with Kristen is evolving, and this is precisely one of the reasons I haven’t been writing about the sex we’ve been having as much as I used to – because we have entered into some domination and submission in lots of aspects of our relationship, and I’m just not sure how to express that well, yet.

But I would like to try. I’m working on an introduction to what we do, and our basic relationship assumptions, as we explore d/s more and more, so hopefully that will fill in some gaps.

Meanwhile, here’s some more back story to how I got to where I am.

I wrote this piece for Shira Tarrant‘s recent Feminist Sex reading for her book Men & Feminism (Seal Press, part of Seal Studies) at Bluestockings radical activist bookstore here in New York City. In brainstorming about the concept of “feminist sex,” most of what came up for me was the conflict around being a feminist and being someone kinky, specifically someone masculine, a top, and a sadist. This piece begins to try to explain how I’ve reconciled those identities. I do feel like I’ve made peace with their coexistence in me, but I am still struggling with how to articulate how that happened and what it means now.


Feminist Sex: Reconciling the Identities of Feminist & Butch Top

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I didn’t want that. I’d had that, in early girlfriends, but it didn’t keep things hot enough to sustain a relationship. And secretly, I want to dominate. In bed. I wanted to top and control and hit and demean and humiliate.

Power dynamic theory has many similarities to gender theory. Like the gender identities of butch and femme are not reproductions but pastiche copies at best of prescribed societal gender roles, putting on and taking off power roles in power sex play is a pastiche reproduction of power in our lives, of which there are thousands of examples of interaction on a daily basis. And when we can put on and take off these roles intentionally, the act of adopting becomes further proof that the power positioning in our lives is not inherent, or “real,” or immobile, or prescribed, or “normal,” but part of a hierarchical society of social power that can be deconstructed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And whatdayaknow, here I am.

Sexual Autonomy & Freedom

Written for the 15th Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom & Autonomy. Thoughts in response and reflection to my own call for contributions.

Let me say this: I don’t think, in this culture which vilifies sex and punishes especially female sexuality, that I will ever be “done” reaching my own space of sexual freedom and autonomy. It is probably an endless task, a lifetime battle.

Let me also say this: I have crawled up out of shame by my bloodied fingers and I am not going back. I stand on my own two legs, strong-cunted, and I am not going back. I drive the engine of my body hard, glide it through passageways I have previously thought unnavigatable, and I am not going back.

Maybe ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is freedom.

I would not have had the sexual awakening I’ve had if it wasn’t for feminism: the feminist health movement, the theories of consciousness raising, the lesbian sex wars of the 80s that produced porn and smut and BDSM with theories of liberation at their roots.

I am so grateful for all the things that have contributed to my gaining of sexual autonomy and freedom, to my sexual awakening. Nancy Friday’s book My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies. My high school boyfriend telling me kink was great and fun and he respected me, too. Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio and Cunt Coloring Book by Tea Corrine and Femalia and Nothing But The Girl; The Blatant Lesbian Image and the entire series of Best Lesbian Erotica (especially 1998). Kitty Tsui and that one scene in Breathless with a knife. S.I.R. Video and Hard Love / How to Fuck In High Heels and Sugar High Glitter City. Babeland, which taught me more than I thought there was to know. Body Electric, which woke me up to my own power, and still does. The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book. The Ethical Slut, which changed how I see relationships. Pink & White, which finally made porn I wanted to own and watch over and over again. My academic studies and my degree in women studies which taught me how social change works. Dan Savage and Savage Love.

The fucking INTERNET. From BBSs to chatrooms to the web to Wiki After Dark to Scarleteen to RAINN to the amazing sexblog communities. The connection to marginalized community despite distance and fear.

Let me say this: I don’t know how any woman grows up and develops her sexual autonomy and freedom, let alone a queer woman, let alone a genderqueer butch or femme. These are not things that are built into us, no matter how progressive our families, no matter how much our parents loved us. There are so many layers to the damage, and the length of the legacy is long and wide, the depth of those wounds are long and wide.

Let me also say this: for me, the first step had to be seeing those wounds, recognizing the damage. By beginning to feel what a “healthy sexuality” (uh, whatever that is) felt like in my body, I could more easily differentiate between the damage and the strength. And I learned to use erotic energy to heal those places in me still reeling, still healing.

Why do you think gender dynamics are so erotically charged for me? I was damaged as a girl. As a girl, I was damaged. And I don’t mean “I was abused when I was young” but rather, that this culture hurt my girlhood. That’s why I turned to feminism as soon as I began to understand the power of social conditioning and gender roles: to learn how to undo the damage.

And why do you think I love femmes something fierce? Our wounds run parallel. We are the same, but opposite; opposing, complimentary, full of traction and friction when we rub against each other. Lay your wounds here next to mine, they fill and warm and comfort each other.

Why is gender so erotically charged for me? Because it has been the site of so much discomfort, so much damage. Not just for me: for my friends and lovers, for my sisters, for my parents, for the one boy I ever slept with, for our collective unconscious. So when I take it and corral it and tame it, when I become the Gender Whisperer and see the thoughts in its head despite our different languages, when I learn its language and teach it mine, I become strong. I take the lead. I win.

I know, I’m supposed to be writing about sexual autonomy and freedom – so let me tell you this: I cannot untangle gender from sex from power. They are all the spiraling sugar-phosphate backbone in the DNA of my sexuality, and it wasn’t until I unlocked my gender that my sexual liberation truly lived in my body, that my sexuality was truly realized and in practice. It wasn’t until I had a cock – no: it wasn’t until I had a girl who knew what to do with my cock.

My gender is the language of my desire, my attraction. The ways I communicate physically.

Say gender is a drag, but also say this: I wasn’t me until I discovered my own gendered space. Butch – but not just butch, high butch – but not just high butch, capital-H High capital-B Butch. My body has never made as much sense as it does, now, in button-downs and ties, in sweater vests and cufflinks, hell, even tee shirts and jeans feel right now that I buy them in the department that cuts them to fit my body, square, even lines, corners, dark colors.

It’s not that I want society at large to treat me as male. It’s not that when I put on men’s clothes, I liked the way I was subsequently treated differently – though I was. But the difference was greater than that: I gained autonomy. I gained agency. I gained my own voice, my own stride, my own body, my own control. And I love the disconnect that most people see – female body, masculine presentation – I love witnessing the subtle struggle of random passers-by.

Just by living in the world, walking down the street, I set out a challenge. I work hard to make this masculinity, this presentation, an acceptable way for a woman to live.

Say gender is constructed, but also say this: something in me lines up and sees clearly when I get to express myself just the way I want to. I know how to deconstruct – I know how to break down and examine and look from various angles and research and consciousness-raise and bounce ideas around. And I’m learning how to construct, how to create, how to make myself anew from the inside, all the way out.