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Four Times Three

I love threesomes. (I also love foursomes, moresomes and any combination of group sex you can think of – in fact, I’ve just pitched an article about why foursomes are the superior configuration in my experience.) The threesome, though… it’s often viewed as the pinnacle of sexual experience, and I’ve probably had hundreds of them. (#Explanabrag?) This post is just a few stand-out stories from a near-decade of menage et trois exploration.

The First

I wrap my arms around her warm body and snuggle into her shoulder. She’s littler than me, only 5’1″, but I feel so protected with her. She’s older, more experienced… and my first. I’m only eighteen and I’ve just made love to a woman for the first time.

‘Do you want to go and ask [my Boyfriend] to join us?’ she asks.

‘Are you sure?’ The question takes me aback, and not just because I’m still catching my breath.

‘Yeah, go on.’

So I throw on some clothing, still bashful, and skip downstairs with my sex hair to ask my boyfriend, happily waiting for us to finish and prepared to sleep on the couch if necessary, to come to bed with me and my new girlfriend.

He slides his fingers into her cunt, still wet from my earlier ministrations, and watches in awe as she comes once, twice, three times… we lose count. Then they both go to town on me, holding, fingering, kissing, caressing. I’m struggling to come, so she pulls out a vibrator and offers it to me. I use it on myself while they run their hands over my body, these two people I adore. I still don’t come – I’m too nervous – but it’s a good experience.

The Worst

I don’t know quite how it comes about that I’m going home with New Crush and his fiancee after the party. My boyfriend has pulled and is thoroughly occupied, so waves me off with a ‘have a good time.’ On the way back, they warn me that their flat is tiny. I correctly interpret this as, ‘we don’t have a guest bed, you’re sleeping with us.’

I fancy New Crush for sure. I don’t fancy his fiancee, but I like her just fine, so co-sleeping isn’t a problem for me. We’re all in bed together, at least partially clothed, and he’s kissing me and I’m into it. Then she’s kissing me and I’m not into it. He guides her hands to my wrists and instructs her to pin me down while he fingers me. I feel really uncomfortable and unsure how to gracefully extricate myself. I’m suddenly ‘very tired’ and I pretend to drift off to sleep while they fuck next to me. In the morning, I slip out quietly.

The Best

Mr CK has been seeing this girl, who we’ll call The Doctor, for a while. It’s taken me some time to get comfortable with the whole situation but I can’t deny I’m warming to her and my feelings have slipped beyond metamour friendship and into the realm of attraction.

She comes over to our place. We make food, we chat, we cuddle. It’s so easy. So chilled and genuinely affectionate. Mr CK suggests we move the cuddle to the bedroom – no pressure – and we both agree. They’re kissing. He’s kissing me. My eyes meet hers, and I dare to ask for permission to kiss her. She happily consents and her soft, soft lips meet mine. We all three tangle together, three bodies, kissing and nibbling and touching and stroking and stripping.

We introduce her to the Doxy wand. She’s scared. We offer to let her try it on a low setting, which she does – through her jeans. She comes in less than a minute, breathlessly declares ‘I’M BUYING ONE,’ and we all collapse into laughter.

The night is by turns passionate and giggly, intense and casual, sizzling hot and just plain fun. The Doctor leaves sometime after two in the morning. For the next three days, I can’t think of anything but her and him and me and this.

It happens two more times before it all ends too suddenly and it still immediately stands out whenever I think of the hottest sexual experiences of my life.

The Most Recent

This might *technically* be a cheat. There were other people in the room having sex beyond the three of us, so I’m not sure it can be classed as a threesome – but damnit, this particular part only involved us three, so I’m counting it.

I met him yesterday in a game of naked Twister (organised by – who else? – my girlfriend TwisterGirl.) The spark of attraction I felt was immediate and I tried not to glance at his sizeable cock while we were all naked and entangled on the game mat.

Tonight, this hot almost-stranger is next to us on the bed, watching as I suck Mr CK’s cock. I reach a hand out and play with his, asking first with my eyes and then out loud if it’s okay. The moan I receive tells me all I need to know.

Mr CK positions me on my knees. Tells me to suck our new friend’s cock. Slides his into me from behind and fucks me hard and deep. New Friend tells me to look at him, and our eyes lock while I come hard from the blissful sensation of being filled in two of my holes at once.

Afterwards, he kisses me. I want to do this again.

Sex Educator Interview #5: Cooper S Beckett

You may have heard of this little project started by Jenny Guerin and myself, the Sexy Summer Book Club. It’s an online read-along where we share questions, invite discussion and encourage people to use the books as jumping off points for their own writings.

August’s book is Approaching The Swingularity by Cooper S Beckett, which I actually reviewed a while back. Very fittingly, therefore, today’s interview is with Cooper himself. Without further ado, let’s hear what the sexy-voiced podcaster, author and progressive swinger extraordinaire had to tell us.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I write sexy books, and books about sex, which are sometimes the same thing, sometimes not. I’m also a coach and educator about sex positivity, safer sex, and focus on non-monogamy. I’ve been host of Life on the Swingset, The Swinging & Polyamory Podcast for the last 7 years, and we’re about to record our 300th episode! My goal is always to get people to think about their conceptions of their sexuality and how that relates to their partner(s) and the world, and take the opportunity to color outside the lines a bit, and learn about themselves.

What first made you want to write and podcast about sex and non-monogamy?

 
Hubris. I’d been swinging for a grand total of like 10 months and I thought, “You know what, I understand this pretty well, I should teach other people about it!” I corralled Dylan Thomas into co-hosting and the podcast was born. The writing has a little more sense behind it, but still not much. Before opening up I was a writer and indie filmmaker, so once I opened up and found the time to get back into it, writing about this all was a natural progression.
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a podcaster, sex educator and published author? How does one ‘make it’ in this field? 
 
If anyone tells you they’re “making it” in podcasting they’re the incredibly rare and lucky breed. Honestly, podcasters don’t really make it. It’s all about reach, isn’t it? So podcasting is a vehicle for reach. The more I podcast, the larger my audience, the more opportunity to share my speaking gigs and educating and books with the world. But podcasting itself…it’s nice if it pays for itself. I guess that’s when you know you’ve made it, when the podcast isn’t as valuable as a drain in your bank account.

What does “a day in the life of You” look like? 
 
I sleep way later than I should before I go to my (still unfortunately necessary) day job. In my free time I try to focus on projects and writing, while balancing with time with my lovely partner & binary star Ophilia Tesla, and still finding time to keep up on current media like Doctor Who and Legend of Zelda. 

What’s the best thing about being a sex educator, in your opinion? The worst?
 
The best thing about being a sex educator is the same as the best thing about being any type of educator, that moment when you see the person you’re talking to “gets it” and something changes in them. Since sex is such a major part of people’s lives, and the things I teach have the possibility of changing them fundamentally, it can be a really amazing moment. The downside is that sex is really really looked down upon as something worth educating yourself about. So there’s tremendous stigma surrounding it.

Which of your 3 books is your favourite, and why? Also what’s your favourite episode of the podcast, and why?

 
Approaching the Swingularity is my favorite, maybe because it’s the newest, but I also think it’s my best work. It allowed me to go deepest into my passions and take characters to new and unexpected places. Also to be really mean to them, cuz that’s kinda my thing. My favorite episode of the podcast was our 200th episode where we were lucky enough to get Dan Savage on as our guest. That was a real feeling of having “made it” – so I guess that also answers a bit of the question above!
 
Will there be a third book in the “Swingularity” series? 
 
There will, and at the moment it’s a shorter book like A Life Less Monogamous and will follow Jenn and Ryan’s early issues with true polyamory. The working title is Polywogs. But, for the moment, I’ve become distracted with a supernatural series featuring a pansexual poly woman named Osgood as the lead.

Which of your characters do you most identify with and why?
 
Depends on the day. All my characters are ultimately me, even if their personality isn’t. I split up my traits among them and give them my hangups. Ryan is probably the most ME, but in Swingularity, I’d have to say between Crista and Raymond for the most intense identification.

Who inspires you, professionally and personally? 

Tristan Taoramino and Dan Savage are my two big favorite sex educators. I love his acerbic wit, and I aspire to the variety and depth of the work Tristan produces. For fiction my big inspiration is Stephen King, because nobody does character as well as him. I also adore the work of Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury. 

If you were stuck on a desert island (sorry, sorry, I HAD to do a ‘desert island’ question) and could take three toys and one sexy book, what would you pick and why? 

 
Hmmm. If I’m by myself, a Tenga Egg, the nJoy Pure Wand, and can I bring a bottle of lube instead of a third toy? I feel like the heat would make lube essential. If I’m with someone else, definitely the nJoy Eleven. A sexy book….so many options.

What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but don’t believe any more, and what changed your mind? 

That sex equals PIV/PIA (Penis in Vagina/Penis in Anus) penetration. And if I didn’t have that I wasn’t having sex. It’s tremendously pressuring, especially in group sex situations. Making everything sexual, including heavy making out, sex means that I no longer feel pressure to take things to an obvious conclusion, and can simply enjoy the smorgasbord of sexy in front of me.

 
What’s the best sex advice you ever got? 
 
It’s okay for sex to be silly. It always looks so dramatic and intense in movies. My best sex involves conversations, mistakes, and laughter.

What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?
 
That there’s a right way to do it. That gives us all complexes that we’re not doing it right, and we stress out and make foolish decisions because of it.

What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you? 

 
“You REALLY use condoms for blowjobs?” Yes I do. I’m happy to keep talking about it, though, until oral barriers are a thing.

And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink”: Do you like coffee and, if so, how do you take it?

 
Oh god. My Starbucks coffee order is insane and will make people throw up from sweetness. I do a Venti double shot with 5 total shots of espresso and vanilla and caramel syrup. Otherwise, I don’t much go in for coffee.
Thanks Cooper for your time and always-fabulous insights, as well as the sexy books. Next up in a day or two is one of the cohosts of Life on the Swingset, Dr Liz… stay tuned for that!

Sex Educator Interview #4 – Kayla Lords

The latest in the Sex Educator Interviews series comes from the gorgeous and VERY talented Kayla Lords. I discovered Kayla’s Loving BDSM podcast about a year ago, which she co-hosts with her fiance and Daddy Dom John Brownstone, and I was hooked. I met Kayla in person at Eroticon this March and was delighted to find that she’s as funny, insightful, friendly and talkative in person as she is on the show. I feel privileged to feature her on here and even more privileged to call her a friend.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I’m a sex blogger, podcaster, freelance writer, erotic author, and baby girl submissive in a D/s relationship. I enjoy creating content – audio or text – that involves sex, but specifically BDSM and D/s relationships. I enjoy the sexy side of things and write both erotic fiction and non-fiction, but when it comes to helping other people, I prefer to talk about the realities of D/s relationships and how to navigate a busy life (as a parent, partner, and basically normal human being) and still get the “kinky fuckery” you want. My goal isn’t to tell someone the right way (because there is no right way beyond communication and consent) to live a D/s and kinky life, but to help them figure out what “right” is for them in a healthy, realistic way.

What first made you want to write about sex?

I blogged in the vanilla world (anything not sex/kink related is “vanilla” to me, I don’t use it as a pejorative term) under my real name for about a year as I went through a divorce. It was nice to write and connect to people, but when I realized that I had sexual thoughts and fantasies I wanted to share, I realized I *didn’t* want my mother to read them. I’d already learned that blogging can be healing and cathartic, and I had a lot of sexual repression to deal with – I didn’t have an orgasm until I was 32. Writing was a way to finally get some of the sexual fantasies and questions out of my head and maybe connect to other people who’d understand where I was coming from. It helped that while I was blogging in the vanilla world, I discovered sex blogs and became a lurker. Starting my own sex blog allowed me to join the conversation under a pseudonym without worrying about outing myself as kinky.

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a professional sex writer? How does one ‘make it’ in this field?

My journey in the professional sex writing world began first with my blog which I started in 2012. It’s what taught me that people really are interested in reading what I (and many others) have to say about sex and relationships. In 2014, I quit my long-time desk job to become a freelance writer in the vanilla world but for every business-related article I wrote, I wished I was writing something about BDSM, kink, or D/s. In 2015, I decided that I would branch out and find places to write for under the “Kayla Lords” name. I sent out a completely not-professional email to Kinkly.com asking about writing opportunities – I didn’t pitch ideas. I didn’t offer any writing samples. I think I just asked, “Do you need writers?” But they were kind and willing to pull the necessary information out of me. From there, I caught the bug. If one place liked my ideas and writing style and would pay me, surely there would be other sites. And there were. As of 2017, fully half my income is from writing about sex – some as a contributor for websites, some comes from my websites, and I also pick up adult business clients who need a blogger or ghostwriter. One “makes” it as a writer by writing – often, consistently, and even when you’re not sure it’s good enough. You make it as a paid writer by seeking out sites that say they’re looking for writers and starting the conversation. Not everyone will pick up your ideas or offer compensation, but some will.

What does “a day in the life of You” look like?

I crave routine and the life of a freelance, self-employed person is anything but routine, especially since I have so many projects going at once. In a perfect world, I’m at my laptop after coffee, breakfast, and getting the kids started for their day. I’ve learned to work on my own blog and personal projects first so they actually get done. Then I spend the rest of the day working on client or contributor work – vanilla or sexual. I keep a running to-do list of whatever I need to get done in a given week. If the week is especially busy, I’ll map out my to-do list by the day so I know exactly what has to be written and submitted by the end of that work day. Doing this allows me to meet my deadlines without worrying I’ll disappoint an editor or a client. In between, I may need to record a podcast (for Loving BDSM) or take a call (I do a weekly session on iRadio in Ireland as their “sexpert” – a word I don’t love) or run errands. I’ve learned to be a little bit more flexible with my routine so I take breaks for coffee, the gym, or appointments – as long as I get that day’s work done before I go to bed, I’m happy. And yes, this means sometimes I’m writing at midnight when I need to wake up at 6 the next morning.

What’s the best thing about being a sex writer, in your opinion? The worst?

The best thing about being a sex writer is that I’m writing about sex! I never think I know it all so I don’t write in black and white terms of this or that options. When I’m given the freedom – because of a pitch that was accepted or because it’s my own personal writing – to write what I believe is relevant and important to my readers, it’s an amazing feeling. There’s no real “worst” in sex writing because the things that can be awful – unsolicited hate, random dick pics because since I write about sex clearly I want to have All The Sex with All The People, and people who think my topic is trash, sinful, or whatever – that all rolls off my back. The hate some people receive is rare for me (thank goodness, and I know exactly how lucky I am). But I also believe so firmly in what I write and share that someone getting upset because they don’t agree is their problem, not mine. Now, to be clear, there are annoyances and anxieties that are a part of my sex writing life but none of them rise to the level of being hated. I’m so happy that I get to write about what I love and get paid for it that the rest doesn’t touch me the same way it does in my vanilla writing. Because in the vanilla writing world, I can list all the things I hate – which is probably why I’m looking forward to the day when the vanilla writing is no longer a necessary part of my income – which is my 2018 goal.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve ever written, fiction and non-fiction?

That’s a harder question than I thought it might be. I tend to write a thing, mean it desperately, and then let it go out into the world without a backward glance. It’ll touch readers or it won’t, I just need it to be genuine, earnest, and well-written. But the writing that comes from a place deep inside me – meaning it’s something I’ve felt, and I’m letting other people know it’s okay to feel and how it affected me – those tend to stick with me. I have two that were meant for the readers but were also reminders to myself.

You Can Be a Good Submissive Even With Low Self Esteem: http://kaylalords.com/2015/04/you-can-be-a-good-submissive-even-with-low-self-esteem/

To My Single Submissive Friends, Be Brave: http://kaylalords.com/2014/11/single-submissive-friends/

Both came as a result of my own feelings and things that other submissive were sharing with me, so they were deeply personal pieces.

Who inspires you, professionally and personally?

I tend to be inspired both professional and personally at the same time because my professional life IS personal to me. In the sex blogging world, Molly Moore and Girl on the Net are my spirit animals and I fangirl all over them (in my head, where they can’t see) on a regular basis. When I see them doing something amazing, I don’t want to copy them but I do want to emulate them so I can create my own version of what I admire about them. Of course, they’ve also (inadvertently, without knowing it) taught me to be proud of my own accomplishments and not to be afraid to go my own way if it feels right and it works for me. In my regular life, my mom inspires me. She went from nothing to extremely successful by working for someone else and is now looking to start over with her own business. She taught me that it’s possible to reach the “impossible” goals, to make a good life for yourself and your family no matter how hard life seems, and to never give up. She also taught me that hard work and an honest effort gets you further in life than anything else.

If you were stuck on a desert island (sorry, sorry, I HAD to do a ‘desert island’ question) and could take one sex toy, one kinky item, and one sexy book, what would you pick and why?

Assuming I had electricity, I’m bringing my Hitachi (aka Original Magic Wand) – no questions asked. My kinky item would be a flogger. And no sexy book, but I’ll bring my laptop so I can write. And this all assumes John Brownstone is with me, and if not, HE’S my kinky item. 😉

What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but don’t believe any more, and what changed your mind?

I used to believe that sex wasn’t that important and that any relationship can be fixed. I stayed in a 12 year relationship (married for nine of them) because I thought those two things were true. I now understand that sex isn’t the MOST important part of a relationship, but for me, it’s a necessary part, and that some relationships are better off over than forcing yourself to stay. That the right person for you will fight just as hard to make a relationship work as you will – and sometimes harder. That they’ve got your back in good times and in bad, not just when it suits their needs. And if I can’t have what I believe is important in a relationship and the other person isn’t willing to work side by side with me to make it a good thing for both of us, I don’t want or need them.

What’s the best sex advice you ever got?

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten actual sex advice – not until I started following other sex bloggers and writers and paying attention to their views. Even then, what might be considered “advice” was something I already agreed with. The best advice, if it can be called that, was actually a complaint from an ex-lover right after my divorce. He and I hooked up, and while the sex was UH-MAZ-ING, I never orgasmed. This was before my first one at age 32 that I mentioned before. He wasn’t interested in helping me figure out why or what I needed to do to come. When he broke it off with me he said, “You never come, and it’s kind of a turn off.” I think, thanks to my overly competitive nature and my overwhelming desire to be considered a “good girl” and not always in a kinky way, I thought of that as a challenge. He and I never got back together, although I thought I wanted us to. But I did take on the task of figuring out how to come and why I couldn’t – and without that, I probably wouldn’t be writing about sex and kink today. So he was an ass but he also gave me a push I didn’t know I needed.

What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?

That there’s only right way to do any of it. M/F, gay or lesbian, D/s, poly you name a way to have sex or relationship, and each type will have “rules” about what makes it right. Some are societal across the board and some are specific to that type of interaction (like D/s). So we all think there’s one right way to fuck or be with someone and when that One True Way is no good for us, we think WE’RE the problem instead of the arbitrary rule. My world shifted the moment I realized that everything about sex and relationships exists on a spectrum so there is no one right way to do any of it.

What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you?

“Are you really submissive?” It makes me laugh, and I can always tell they haven’t followed me for very long OR don’t know anything about BDSM and D/s. They hear/read my opinionated views and see me take charge in some way (like over my career) and it doesn’t fit their stereotype of what submission means so they question whether I really am or not. I don’t get offended by the question and I don’t let it bother me – I try to laugh it off more than anything – but I’d love if people stopped wondering, lol.

And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink”: how do you take your coffee? (Since I know that, like me, it is your love language!)

As much as I gush over coffee, I’m the type who likes a little coffee with her cream, and I have to use alternative milks or non-dairy creamers to keep my tummy happy. My favorite (my “American” is going to show here) is iced coffee with caramel flavor and extra cream or almond milk. But hot coffee with extra vanilla creamer and a dash of cinnamon is a good way to wake up, too. My go-to Starbucks order is a Venti Caramel Iced Coffee with Extra Almond Milk and my go-to Dunkin Donuts (do y’all have that?) order is a Medium Iced Dark Roast with Mocha Swirl and Almond Milk.

Sex Educator Interview #3: Dawn Serra

The latest interview in this series comes from Dawn Serra, sex educator extraordinaire and host of the amazing Sex Gets Real podcast. I’ve reached out to Dawn for advice before, as have many other people, and I’ve always found her to be one of the most open-minded, affirming and compassionate educators around. I’m absolutely thrilled she agreed to take part and give us a little peek into her world.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

Officially, I’m a sex educator, sex podcaster, and a sex & relationship coach. But what those titles actually mean is I’ve dedicated myself to shame reduction, resilience building, emotional & sexual intelligence development, and helping people find words for things that feel scary or awkward. I’ve learned that what people really need is permission – permission to ask questions, permission to explore, permission to let go of stories that hurt them, and I try to do that every day by connecting the dots between the cultural stories and systems of oppression that keep us all trapped in pain and disconnection, and then giving people new tools and skills for moving in the direction they’d like to move.

What first made you want to be a sex educator and run a sex podcast?

I’ve always been the person my friends came to with sex questions and confessions, even in middle school and high school. Then, in my early 20’s, I started selling sex toys with one of those in-home party companies. While the company & products were problematic, it gave me a chance to talk with hundreds of women, one-on-one, about their deepest fears and shame.

It cracked me open in ways that surprised me, and I knew it was work I wanted to keep doing. It was fascinating to watch groups of women socially interacting with each other around sex. Many of them were loud and laughing, telling these wild stories about their sex life, very Sex and the City, but then behind closed doors with me would admit they’d never had an orgasm or didn’t know they were allowed to use a sex toy with a partner. Others would be quiet and shy during the group portion of the party, and then break down crying in private with me over their deep sense of shame, of being a disappointment to their partners. I started realizing just how many of us are performing what we think sex is supposed to be and look like without actually experiencing it in a way that made sense for us.
That was the beginning.
My podcast, Sex Gets Real, got started was because my friend, Dylan, and I heard some terrible advice about strap-on sex from a shock-jock Playboy type of podcast. We just could not let it go. We were angry at how wrong it was, and that people were actually listening. So, on a whim, we decided our voices were needed. A few days later, we recorded our first episode and now I’m nearing 200 episodes and 3 million downloads. Whoa.

How did you break into the industry and how does one ‘make it’ as a sex educator?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I still don’t have it all figured out.

But for me, it’s always been about relationship building in the industry and finding ways to promote and lift up other voices. I knew that if I helped everyone around me, they’d in turn want to help me win and celebrate. I started attending conferences like Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, promoting all the speakers, and stepping outside my comfort zone a bit by introducing myself to folks I’d long been a fan of.
The podcast also was a huge help. Even in the very very beginning of the show, I found that if I asked nicely, told someone why I thought they were super awesome, that they’d almost always say yes to an interview. Having them share the show helped me grow organically, which built some buzz, too.
Now I coach sex educators and therapists around building an online presence, creating online summits and courses, and my number one piece of advice for getting noticed is always be yourself. It’s SO tempting to want to emulate, copy, parrot, and follow in the footsteps of other educators. But then people don’t really know who you are. Be bold around stating your vision for a new world, your beliefs of what’s holding us back, your story and why it matters. Learn about social justice and oppression and then find ways to be unapologetic around your values and ethics in those spheres. Apologize when you’re wrong or hurt someone (because you will), and always always always take feedback graciously.
That more than anything has helped me to show up and be known for the sex educator I am today. The money stuff I’m still trying to figure out because the bottom line is people don’t want to pay for sex education unless it’s built on shiny promises and magic bullet solutions. To offer something more real and honest means a lot of swimming against the current. It’s possible, but it takes some grit and determination. And never, ever feel bad if sex education is your side hustle while you have a day job that pays the bills. Some of the biggest names in the industry do the same thing.

What does “a day in the life of a sex educator” look like for you?

For me, a typical day is a whole lot of admin work around the podcast, projects I’m working on, managing client updates and emails. One a good day, I’ll have a chance to do one or two podcast interviews with ridiculously amazing people. I may have a client session or two for personal or business coaching. Loads of social media writing and planning. Nurturing my Explore More group on Facebook. And then making big plans for future workshops, summits, webinars, etc.

 
What’s the best thing about being a sex educator, in your opinion? The worst?
The best thing is seeing people have massive shifts – seeing their relief, seeing their eyes light up at the possibilities they never knew could be theirs, hearing their vulnerable stories and knowing they trust me enough to hold them so gently and tenderly. That feeds my heart and soul.
The worst is how sex education is treated in the world. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – they all ban ads and promoted posts from sex educators because they consider sex education the same as pornography. Google Ads won’t allow you to buy ad space for the same reason. Getting the word out can be so tough because so many people are so filled with shame and embarrassment they aren’t willing to share your posts, even if they love them, for fear of people seeing them consume the content and thinking something is wrong. Also, people don’t realize just how badly they need support around sex, love, relationships, and their bodies, so they aren’t willing to pay for webinars and workshops unless they’ve reached a total place of crisis. I wish more people understood that the sooner we all start practicing and learning together, the less we ever have to be in crisis or deep shame. But the world isn’t quite ready for that shift. Until then, we hustle and we persist, even in the shadows.

What’s your favourite episode of the podcast and why?

You have no idea how much I agonized over this question. I decided to go with one of my more recent episodes, simply because I’m incredibly proud of it.

For episode 162, I interviewed law professor and author Carol Sanger. It was the first time I dedicated an entire episode (or more than a few moments) to the topic of abortion. Carol’s book is truly spectacular, and to honor the seven years she spent writing it, I asked listeners to send in their abortion stories. I received about a dozen submissions. Each and every one was raw, real, and deeply personal. I felt like I was holding some of the most precious stories on earth – stories many of these people had never told another living soul. I read some of them on that episode, and Carol and I held them together. It wasn’t a super popular episode because I think too many people are scared of or biased around abortion discussions, but I am so so proud of that work.

Tell us about a book that changed your life/perspective completely?

Bessel van der Kolk’s “The Body Keeps the Score.” As a trauma survivor with PTSD, it was the first time my body, my reactions to situations, my trauma actually made sense. I started understanding what was happening inside of my body, inside of my brain, and it felt like pure relief.

Until I read that book, I considered myself broken in a lot of ways, incapable of healing or moving beyond certain things. I carried tremendous shame around my triggers, especially as a sex educator since my PTSD tends to come up in sexualized situations with strangers.
The research, the techniques to move towards integrating and recovery gave me hope. That book also gave me new language that allowed me to not only create permission and space in my own trauma, but around the trauma of the people I work with.
It led me to Peter Levine’s work and Somatic Experiencing. It took me down a path of learning more about being trauma-informed. It made sense of so many of the things that seem to not make sense in the world.
I am forever grateful for that book and the shift it caused in me.

Who inspires you, professionally and personally?

Professionally, Meg John Barker. Their work is powerful. They turn a lot of cultural stories and myths upside down, and in a way that doesn’t feel super threatening. I’ve found that so much of what I thought to be true is actually not true at all thanks to them, so I keep a close eye on their work. It’s always radical and permission-granting. Kate McCombs, Karen BK Chan, and Megan Devine in their work on empathy and emotional intelligence. That has done wonders for my professional work, how I work with clients, and my personal relationships, as well.

Personally, I’m inspired by folks who are brave and fighting endlessly for justice. The more I learn about my own racism, transphobia, fatphobia, ableism, classism, the more I grow and can lift others up. People like Ijeomo Oluo, Kelly Diels, Monica Raye Simpson, Jes Baker, Feminista Jones, Audre Lorde, Conner Habib… I feel rich with the people who offer me tough questions and who challenge me. It’s my favorite place to be, even when it feels terrible.
Also, as sappy as it sounds, my husband. He is so ridiculously smart. He reads endlessly, he listens to brain-growing podcasts all the time, and he knows more about all the things than anyone I know.

If you were stuck on a desert island (sorry, sorry, I HAD to do a ‘desert island’ question) and could take one sexy book, one sex toy and one kink item, which would you pick and why?

For my sex toy, I’d bring a rechargeable Magic wand. We’ll just pretend the island has a source of power for charging it. It’s deliciously diverse: I use on myself, I use it on my husband, and we use it together for sex in all sorts of configurations and positions.

For my kink item, it would have to be rope. I was tempted to say a flogger, but we could fashion a flogger from rope because it’s versatile like that. Then I’d have rope for both the kinky stuff (I’m imagining being tied to a palm tree and fanned with palm leaves) and practical island living stuff. Ha!
One sexy book… I have to go with Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy (it’s a box set, so I’m counting it as one). The first time I read those books I was probably 19 or 20 years old, had never heard of kink or BDSM, and they terrified me. Absolutely terrified me. I couldn’t understand why I kept feeling aroused by these very very unusual (to me) activities. In fact, I couldn’t finish the 3rd book because it was too much. A decade later, I picked them up and had to laugh. By then, I’d dabbled in all sorts of kink, had a chance to exploring shifting identities, and met people into all the things in the book. Now, they’re a fun escape that’s sexy and hot and full of delicious ideas.

What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but don’t believe any more, and what changed your mind?

I used to believe men wanted sex more than women. I used to believe there were only two genders. I used to believe monogamy was the only way to do relationship. I used to believe fat bodies were rarely, if ever, desirable. I used to believe that love was enough. I used to be in soul mates and true love and fairy tales. I used to believe if you loved someone enough that sex would be automatic and natural, with no need for words or explaining myself or awkward moments. I used to believe you couldn’t come back from betrayal.

I’m sure there are hundreds of other things I used to believe, having grown up on Cosmo magazine and Sex and the City. What really changed my mind was listening to peoples stories and realizing that it’s not that every single person is broken or inadequate in some way – it’s that the system, the stories, the culture are fundamentally flawed.
Reading powerful books on racial justice, reproductive justice, and sexual autonomy helped give me words and new questions which led me on a journey to overturn and question nearly everything we’re taught. I have a talk called Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong. It’s not because any individual is wrong, it’s that everything we’ve all been taught is wrong.

What’s the one thing that you wish everyone in the world could understand about sex/relationships?

I wish more people realized that we’d all be a lot better off if we normalized a lifetime of learning and professional support BEFORE crisis struck in both sex and love.

I wish people knew just how much pain, shame, uncertainty, hesitation, anger, resentment, confusion, and regret they could shed if they worked with folks like sex educators, sex coaches, sex therapists, relationship coaches, relationship therapists, trauma counselors, sex workers, body workers, etc.

So many people spend months, years, or decades silently suffering, worrying, not sure what’s changing or why things are so tough, and if they only knew how much permission and relief they could find with the help of folks trained to do this. No one should have to wait until they’re in deep pain or betrayal to begin to do the work that could genuinely move things forward for them.

There are a lot of amazing people (and even more pretty terrible ones, so be particular, folks) doing incredible, affirming work in all of these rich areas. Even professionals need a safe space to process, to learn and grow, to grieve and mourn the things they’ve fucked up or gotten wrong, to gain a little perspective. So if professionals needs it (goodness knows I do), then everyone does.

If we could all celebrate asking for help and having places to turn to constantly ask new questions together, I suspect we’d have a world with a lot less shame and fear and so much more connection and pleasure.

What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?

In my humble opinion, all myths that we have are built upon one myth that feeds them all. It’s the myth that tells us the answers we need are outside of ourselves.

We are a culture that teaches children to turn to others to tell them who they are. We are trained from the youngest of ages to accept labels from people who do not know us, from people who are not us, and we are a culture that thrives on conformity (while claiming to admire independence).
Because of that, we get trapped in stories that tell us to compare ourselves to others, to let outside forces dictate our identities and our worth, to tell us what a normal life or romance or happiness look like. It is a myth that says you are not the one with the answers. We don’t know how to trust our bodies, how to speak up for ourselves, how to advocate for our pleasure because we, our bodies, our lives, are foreign to us.
And yet…we are the only ones who live in our bodies, who think our thoughts, who feel these sensations, who experience these feelings. If we can begin learning how to listen to our bodies, how to trust those sensations and the wisdom we have about what’s best for us, how to sit in our feelings and ask ourselves questions about what we really want and feel, we’d find that we have tremendous power and sovereignty over our own lives.
Sex wouldn’t be about performing what we think sex should look like. It would be about intimately knowing our bodies and what brings us the most pleasure on our own terms without worrying if it looked like everyone else.
Love wouldn’t be about achieving a relationship status or adhering to external, superficial factors, but instead about connection and curiosity and knowing based on a deep trust of ourselves.
Entire industries would collapse, but wow what a world that would be.

What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you?

I love that you asked this, and at the same time, it’s difficult to answer because my goal is always to create space to reduce shame so folks can ask the hard questions. By answering, do I, in turn, create an atmosphere where it’s no longer safe to ask this question? Possibly, yes.

To answer the question, though, I wish people would stop asking how to “make” their partner orgasm because they’ve decided, on their partner’s behalf, that their partner having an orgasm is somehow vital or a huge puzzle piece is missing from their partner’s pleasure experience.
Our cultural focus on orgasm is bananas, and it’s created tremendous pressure on everyone to be orgasming all the time in all the ways, and to feel terrible if they aren’t.
I love people getting curious about their own pleasure and their own bodies, finding new words and tools to advocate for their explorations, and demanding recognition of their pleasure especially if they’re in a marginalized body, so what I think causes a lot more harm than good is people who make their partner’s experiences a personal mission.
Too many people feel like their sexual success, or being good in bed, is tied up in “giving” their partners an orgasm. It’s not really about the partner (though many say that it is). It’s actually about their own stories and needing to feel successful in some way because their partner’s orgasm is tied to their own identity.
That’s not to vilify folks who ask this question, but to point out that the sexual stories we’re given tell us this is normal. That orgasm is the end-all-be-all, and so of course we should want to do whatever it takes to make someone we care about get there. But at what expense? Making them feel more broken or abnormal?
The bottom line is expectations suck when it comes to sex – whether the expectation is a hard penis or certain feelings or an orgasm. It’s the fastest way to turn off pleasure and create distance, because even if an expectation goes unspoken, it still gets communicated – loudly and clearly – to the person who isn’t orgasming that something about them isn’t good enough. And they are good enough.
Instead of worrying about orgasm as a goal, I always invite people to simply focus on maximizing pleasure and being present for each other. Curiosity, space, time, and fun are much more likely to give everyone the peak pleasure experience they’re hoping for, anyways. And yet… no matter how many times I offer this answer, people still ask this question. So I’ll continue repeating myself until we have a cultural shift that takes this pressure off us all.

And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink”: do you like coffee and how do you take it?

I love coffee. The floofy, fancy kind. A latte with caramel or an iced coffee with cream and lavender syrup. It’s a decadence that I treat myself to from time to time rather than a daily kick start.

Thanks again to Dawn for her time and amazing insights – and for being the amazing, fabulous educator she is. Coming up soon, we have educators including Cooper S Beckett, Dedeker Winston and Dirty Lola. Watch this space…

Sex Educator Interview #2: Girl on the Net

Today I have another lovely interview for you, from the fascinating and frankly wonderful Girl on the Net. I met her at Eroticon this year and she’s not only super generous with sharing her knowledge and insights, she was also the first person to pay me to write about sex, when she accepted my pitch for a guest blog on her site earlier this year. I hope you enjoy this little insight into the woman behind one of the longest-standing and most awesome sex blogs.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

Mostly I write porn – I love the written word, and I find well-turned phrases intensely arousing. Since 2011 I’ve been sex blogging – mostly true stories about things I’ve done with hot people in the past, or fantasies I have about what to do in the future. But within that I always try to mix a bit of politics – whether that’s urging people to avoid using big tube sites, tackling the UK government’s ridiculous ideas around age-verification and porn, or challenging sexism in various forms.

What first made you want to write about sex?

I had a lot of stories and I just really wanted to tell them. For a lot of my life I felt a bit like I was wrong or weird for enjoying sex as much as I do. I was always told that *men* like sex, whereas women simply use sex as a way to negotiate relationships with men. But that’s total bullshit. I think initially I started the blog because I wanted a way to communicate that desperate, urgent lust that has driven so many of my decisions (good and bad). Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve discovered one of the nicest feelings: that ‘me too!’ moment when commenters say ‘OMG I thought I was the only one!’ Talking about sex – however we do it – helps us all feel less alone.

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey into sex writing and how it went from being a hobby to being (I believe) your full-time job?

So back in 2013 I think it was, I was having a horrible time at work and I was also struggling a lot with anxiety. I have anxiety at a low-level all the time, but it comes in waves, and around that time I had a huge wave – partly due to work, and partly due to the stress of trying to keep my work life and my blog life separate. At the same time I’d done a couple of GOTN-related pieces of work, and I wondered if I could start doing this stuff full time.

I went to Eroticon in 2014, and met so many incredible sex bloggers and writers, and got some truly invaluable advice from the people I met there. I even got commissioned to start working with Pandora Blake, copywriting for her site Dreams of Spanking. At the time I’d quit my job, and expected to be able to live off savings/bits and pieces for perhaps six months before i had to find a new day job. But that conference gave me the confidence and knowledge to start finding freelance work and live full-time off what I’m doing as GOTN. I’m earning way less than I used to in the corporate world, but I don’t have to take rush-hour tubes any more, and I can spend more time focusing on the blog and doing the things I really love.

Did you always know you’d write a book (or several) one day, or did that spring from the blogging organically?

I ‘wrote’ my first ‘book’ when I was about 13 – and those scare-quotes are very important because it was an absolutely shit book. A kind of Point Horror rip-off in which this girl’s entire family gets killed one by one. It was so bad I can’t even remember who the killer was now. I only tell you that story because I knew I always wanted to write. I just didn’t know what I wanted to write about until I realised that you have to write what you love: and I love sex!

What does “a day in the life of You” look like?

Blimey, OK I’m going to give you today because it’s reasonably typical.

Wake up, check phone, see a tonne of emails and have a mini-panic that I will never get through them (narrator’s voice: she would never get through them). Then shower, coffee-and-check-twitter, then sit at my desk and bash out whatever copy I need to write to meet my deadlines today – it might be an article for a magazine or online, or a blog post for one of the sex toy companies I contract for, or if I’ve just had a book out it might be a couple of articles I’m writing to publicise the book.

Then lunch and Bargain Hunt. That is sacred. Every day I make lunch at 12:30 then sit down to eat it at 12:45, so I can see how much money people have lost in Bargain Hunt. It calms me down and reminds me that whatever I might have fucked up in the morning, at least I didn’t spend £150 on some hideous piece of silver that turns out to only be worth 20 quid.

After lunch I try to do more GOTN-related stuff: blog posts, recording audio porn for the new audio porn hub (http://www.girlonthenet.com/audioporn) which I really want to grow. I also have a couple of projects I’m working on for GOTN that I’m not allowed to tell people about yet, so this is usually the time I’ll do them. Towards the end of the day I try to answer emails or catch up on admin – invoicing people, paying guest bloggers, that kind of thing.

I’ll also usually go and check the Eroticon accounts – see if we’ve had any new contact from sponsors or pitch to a few new sponsors, or write blog posts/emails for Eroticon, chat to Molly and Michael to plan things or contact new potential speakers.

All this interspersed with cigarette breaks, panics because I’m worried I’ve done/said the wrong thing, a lot of pissing about on Twitter, and occasional interruptions from my other half if he’s working from home offering to make me coffee and/or let me suck him off.

What’s the best thing about being a sex writer, in your opinion? The worst?

The best thing is that when I am in the flow, and writing about something that fascinates/excites/enrages me (basically anything that stirs emotions) it is like an actual high. If I write something I am proud of, I will glow for the rest of the day.

The worst thing, I think, is that I absolutely suck at the business side of sex blogging. Although this is my full time job, the majority of the stuff I do is either free or underpaid, because I do a lot of it out of love. I get incredibly good web traffic, but I suck at selling ad space, so as a result my blog makes way less money than it should (and, incidentally, I am a total BARGAIN if any companies are reading this). And there are lots of things I won’t do because I just don’t enjoy them: sponsored posts, for instance. I’m aware I could do way better at all this stuff, but I just don’t enjoy doing the sales and admin stuff.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve ever written?

This is the HARDEST question and not just because I don’t want to be arrogant – it’s also because once I’ve written something I am very much done with it, and I don’t tend to think about it any more unless it pops up in my archive auto-tweet.

I guess my first book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Net-Not-So-Shameful-Sex-Secrets-ebook/dp/B00CU86FDG Because I was so determined to write a book before I was thirty, and to be able to have done it made me incredibly happy at the time. My second book, too, of course, because I got the thrill of actually seeing it in book shops!

In terms of blog posts, because it’s easier to link to a blog post than a book, I really enjoy writing about sex robots and this post is one I’m particularly proud of because it’s whimsical and philosophical and is crammed with robots: https://www.girlonthenet.com/2016/02/21/could-you-ever-love-a-sex-robot/ I was also really pleased with a sex positions article I wrote for The Debrief a while ago – there are no gendered pronouns and all the positions can be done no matter what your genital configuration: at the time it was my ambition to get a sex tips article that was entirely gender-neutral onto a mainstream site, so I was delighted that they didn’t edit a word: http://www.thedebrief.co.uk/sex/sex-stories/low-fi-sex-moves-for-when-you-ve-eaten-so-much-food-and-you-re-so-hungover-you-can-barely-move-20150128395

You share a LOT of personal stuff, which is awesome. Can you talk about how you decide what to share in your work and what to leave out?

Ha! Well there are two things primarily that affect what I write about: first one is, of course, consideration for my partners. while there are some ex-partners that don’t know they’re being written about (ones from long long ago or one-night stands), most of the people I talk about on my blog know that they’re there – the ‘significant’ guys (my ex and my current partner, mostly) know that I write about them and both have had input into whether there are particular things they don’t want me to talk about. It can be tricky avoiding those things sometimes but I think I’ve managed it!

The other thing is less exciting: it’s about anonymity. So a lot of my stories will have details changed, or timelines fudged a bit, to try and avoid anyone finding out who I actually am. And then I guess on top of that there’s the matter of whether I’m ready to write about something yet: I have a series of cool sex things that happened over the last year, involving some friends of mine and lots of hot sex together. I’m not ready to write about those yet though because I don’t think I can do them justice. They’ll go up as a series, probably, when I’ve taken a lot of time to write and consult with the people who feature.

If you were stuck on a desert island (sorry, sorry, I HAD to do a ‘desert island’ question) and could take three sex toys, which would you pick and why?

Assuming I have a generator I can use to charge them, I would pick the Doxy, because it is the greatest sex toy of all time and the one thing that can get me off even when I’m anxious/in a slump. I would also take a decent dildo – my favourite at the moment is the Godemiche Ambit – because that would give me a bit of variety/G-spot love. And for my third, could I take another Doxy? If I’m going to be stuck on that island for a while, being very bored and doing a lot of wanking, I want to make sure I’ve got a spare for when I inevitably fuck the first one into an early grave.

What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but don’t believe any more, and what changed your mind?

I used to think that break-ups amounted to failure. That my goal should be to find someone I really like and then cling to them until the day I die, because successful relationships last forever. That’s bollocks, though: you can have remarkably successful, fulfilling relationships that only last a short while, and you can have successful, worthwhile long-term relationships that inevitably end. I wish I’d known this sooner and been able to embrace it. I think knowing that relationships don’t have to fit this template has made me more comfortable thinking about what I actually want rather than what I think I ‘should’ be doing.

What’s the best sex advice you ever got?

I’ve had TONNES of great sex advice, but honestly I think the most useful is less individual advice and more a general philosophy. Meg-John Barker + Justin Hancock’s book Enjoy Sex: How, When And If You Want To really inspired me. It’s not about positions or tips or assumptions about what will and won’t guarantee you pleasure – it basically encourages you to ask questions of yourself – what do I like? What am I like? Why do I enjoy this or that thing? So I guess the best sex advice I got was a whole book’s worth of it, and the knowledge that it is far more valuable to explore your own desires and communicate with partners about them than it is to try and tick boxes based on what Cosmo says is the position of the month. Like, I knew this already, but the book really helped me work through the detail of it. It’s a brilliant book, everyone who’s interested in sex should have a copy!

What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?

That everyone should have one, and if you aren’t in one then you have somehow ‘failed.’ I have single friends who are incredibly happy, and single friends who are miserable: all of them repeatedly bashing their head against other people’s pity and assumption that their lives would be better if they’d only ‘settle down.’

To expand on this, I think the idea that romantic/sexual relationships should always follow a natural path of progression (first base, second base, third. Mortgage, marriage, babies, etc) is really toxic. It pushes people to autopilot onto what they think the next ‘step’ should be, rather than focusing on what they actually want. And it makes those who choose different paths feel like they are weird or wrong, when actually they may well have it more sorted than those who have just autopiloted into marriage. That’s not to say that choosing this traditional path is wrong, of course: it may be the right decision for many people. It’s just that it is absolutely, definitely, 100% NOT the right idea for everyone, and we should encourage people to make conscious choices about what they want, rather than pressure them into doing what others expect.

What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you?

“Is that your real name?” The answer is always ‘no’ swiftly followed by me being uncomfortable and leaving the conversation. People get really hung up on names, and can’t quite cope with the idea that the person they’re speaking to is using a pseudonym. But I’m comfortable with my pseudonyms (I have a few, and I give people different ones depending on how much I trust them – thus if I am outed as ‘Kate Bloggs’ [not one I actually use] I will probably know who outed me, because I’ll only have given that name to one or two people)

And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink”: do you like coffee and how do you take it?

Milk, two sugars and as cheap as it comes. I’ll drink a latte if I really fucking *have* to, but I prefer instant because I am a devastatingly cheap date.

Thank you so much to Girl on the Net for her time and insights! Don’t forget to check out her work if you’re one of the last three people on the Internet who reads sex blogs and hasn’t come across her yet. Upcoming interviews include Kayla Lords, Cooper S Beckett, Dedeker Winston, Graydancer & more, so watch this space… 

Sex Educator Interviews #1: Kate Sloan

Over the next few weeks, I’m hoping to share a series of interviews with some of the sex educators and writers I admire who have been kind enough to agree to let me interview them.

First up is the lovely and extremely talented Kate Sloan, blogger, journalist and one half of the hi-fucking-larious The Dildorks podcast.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

Sure! My name’s Kate Sloan and I’m a sex blogger, sex journalist, and sex podcaster. (A whole lotta sex things!) I blog 2-3 times a week over at Girly Juice about sex, kink, relationships, style, and mental health. I write for various other outlets about those topics too (most recently: Glamour, Teen Vogue, and Kinkly). I’m also a producer and co-host of a show called The Dildorks; it’s a weekly podcast for sex nerds that I do with my best friend Bex.

What first made you want to write about sex?

I’ve honestly been fascinated by sex for as long as I can remember – to the point that I’ve had therapists think it’s weird and ask me “Why?!” I can remember writing erotica from about age 9, and researching sex and masturbation from my earliest days on the internet. I’ve just always found it an intriguing topic, socioculturally and psychologically. Sex is so much of what drives us and makes us tick as humans!

When I started Girly Juice, a lot of people asked me why I had chosen to focus my blog on sex – and my honest answer is that I couldn’t think of anything else I’d truly be able to write about forever. Now I’m more than five years into writing the blog and I’m nowhere near running out of ideas. Sex is endlessly interesting to me!

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a professional sex writer? How does one ‘make it’ in this field?

I went to journalism school, but that’s definitely not a necessary step for writers. I was fortunate in that my school, Ryerson University, was super supportive of my sex-journalism ambitions. My entrance essay, for example, was about a Grant Stoddard piece on massage-parlor handjobs and my final project was about kink and mental health. Yay for permissive institutions!

I started my blog 6 months before beginning that program, and then my 4 years at Ryerson honed my writing skills and also taught me how to do things like pitch stories, research properly, and do interviews. Throughout my time there, I pitched a lot and wrote about sex for various publications, mostly Canadian ones like Herizons magazine and the Plaid Zebra. Around the time I graduated last year, my career really started to take off, with my blog getting more attention and my pitches getting accepted at bigger outlets.

The reason I say J-school isn’t a vital step is that success in writing is really more about your skill, your portfolio, and your connections, in my experience. If you build up a great body of work, learn how to write good pitches, and can submit well-written copy on time, that’ll take you a long way, even if you have no academic credentials in the field.

What does “a day in the life of a sex journalist” look like for you?

Right now I have a part-time “dayjob” doing social media for a marketing company in the adult industry, and I do that work first thing in the morning because it’s time-sensitive. I get up at 8AM and spend about 2-3 hours in bed writing tweets about porn, phone sex, and cam shows. It’s pretty rad.

At that point, I get dressed and put makeup on. (I like to feel cute when I write; it improves the end result, I think.) I head out to a local café with my laptop, grab coffee and a muffin, and settle into a window seat. Writing at coffee shops helps focus me, because I’ve gone there with the specific intention of getting work done (plus I live with a rock band, so sometimes it’s too loud to write at my house!). I’ll work on whatever creative stuff needs to get done that day: writing or outlining a blog post, editing a podcast episode, putting together a pitch.

After a couple hours at the café, I come home and have lunch, usually while listening to a goofy McElroy brothers podcast. After lunch, I get a bit more dayjob work done, and/or work on administrative tasks (I find my capacity for creativity fades in the afternoon) like answering emails, scheduling tweets, and planning my editorial calendar. If I’m working on a journalistic piece, sometimes I do phone interviews with sources in the afternoon.

In the evening, I typically read articles online, catch up on my fave TV shows (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, and The Bold Type!), smoke weed and/or jerk off, ‘cause I’m classy like that. Sometimes I go see my boyfriend or a friend, or go to an improv show.

What’s the best thing about being a sex writer, in your opinion? The worst?

The best thing is that I get to write about what authentically fascinates me. I get to chase that exciting feeling of “WHAT?!” and “OMG!” and “HOW THE FUCK?!” all the damn time. I pitch stories on whatever sexual phenomena are capturing my attention at any given moment, and I blog about whatever the hell I want, even sometimes stuff that isn’t strictly related to sex. My work honestly thrills me every day, even when I secretly wish I could be sleeping instead of writing. Few people get to be as excited by their work as I am!

The worst thing is that people don’t always take you seriously. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to explain to people that my blog is actually a serious endeavor and a major source of income for me, rather than just an embarrassing dalliance I’m doing while I look for better work. However, for every person I meet who’s judgmental of what I do, I meet at least five people who think it’s awesome, so whatever. Fuck the h8erz.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve ever written?

Yikes, hard question! I’m proud of a lot of my print work and fancy research-heavy journalism, but I think the piece of mine I honestly love most is a blog post called “You’re Vanilla. I’m Not. But I Love You.” It was sort of the culmination of an enormously difficult unrequited love I endured, and how that got tangled up with kink and depression and self-worth. Writing is often cathartic for me, but I think that piece, especially, helped me get over that intense love by processing all these moments and details I hadn’t talked much about or known what to do with. I think sometimes organizing your thoughts into a cohesive narrative can help you understand them better, and thereby understand yourself better.

Who inspires you, professionally and personally?

Some of my favorite writers, sex-focused and otherwise: Alana Massey, Rachel Rabbit White, Caitlin Moran, Allison Moon, Tina Horn, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Jillian Keenan, Katie Forsythe, Brandon Taylor, Rachel Syme, Helena Fitzgerald, Alexandra Franzen, Gala Darling, Epiphora, Esmé Wang, Sean Michaels, Clementine Morrigan, and C. Brian Smith. Woof, that’s a lot!

Other people who inspire me: my mom. My best friend, Bex. My other blogger friends (the incredibly brave Lilly, of Dangerous Lilly, and Sarah, of Formidable Femme, come to mind immediately). Revolutionary kink educators like Mollena Williams and Princess Kali. The ladies of The Blogcademy. Musical theatre composers Stephen Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown. My friend Brent “Brentalfloss” Black, a fellow creative weirdo. Artists whose music has changed my life, like Regina Spektor, Nellie McKay, Nathan Stocker and (gulp) Nick Jonas. All the ex-partners who have made me into the specific sexual eccentric I am today.

If you were stuck on a desert island (sorry, sorry, I HAD to do a ‘desert island’ question) and could take one vibrating toy, one dildo, one anal toy, and one miscellaneous sexy item of your choice, what would your picks be?

Vibrator: the We-Vibe Tango. Can’t live without it. (Does this island have outlets?)

Dildo: the Fucking Sculptures Double Trouble, with which I would like to be buried someday.

Anal toy: the medium Njoy Pure Plug, simply the most perfect plug that has ever graced my butt.

Miscellaneous sexy item: my Lexan paddle from the now-defunct KinkMachineWorks. I love being spanked (and occasionally spanking people) and this is probably my favorite tool for the job.

What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but don’t believe any more, and what changed your mind?

(Content warning for fatphobia and toxic thoughts about weight, y’all.) I used to think a chubby, not-conventionally-attractive-lookin’ lady like me was unloveable, or undeserving of good sex, or incapable of attracting people.

That is bullshit. I cannot overstate how much that is utter bullshit. True story: in 2014, I worked hard and lost a fair amount of weight, because I fundamentally believed I would not be able to find love (or good sex) unless I did that. And I literally had NO SEX and went on NO DATES while I was at that weight, because frankly I wasn’t confident at all and wasn’t pursuing people. It wasn’t until I gained back all the weight, and then some, that people started being openly interested in me again. Since then, my sex life has been absolutely hoppin’, and that has nothing to do with weight and everything to do with confidence and self-love.

What’s the best sex advice you ever got?

My grandmother – a very wise woman – used to tell me all the time, “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” I don’t think she ever expressed this in a sexual context, but it’s fantastic sex advice nonetheless. As a meek, anxious submissive, I’ve wasted a lot of time silently hoping someone would do [x thing] to me, instead of just asking for [x thing]. It’s silly. If someone likes you and likes having sex with you, they’d probably also like making your fantasy come true, so you might as well ask!

What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?

Gosh, there’s so many! One that particularly bugs me is the idea that women are fundamentally different from men – an alien species, a foreign entity. There’s so much discourse out there along the lines of “What do women like?” and “How do you get a woman to ___?” and it’s all based on the dangerous myth that women are a monolith who all respond identically to stimulus, like a horde of robots. We’re just people, who each have unique desires and preferences and motivations, like people do!

What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you?

“So do you just, like, get paid to masturbate?”

I review sex toys on my blog, but toy-testing is honestly about 2% of the work I put into running my biz. I’m not gonna lie, my line of work is pretty sweet, but no, I do not “get paid to masturbate”! (Well, except when people pay me for cam shows, but even then, a lot of what I’m getting paid for is emotional labor, not my own pleasure.)

And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink”: do you like coffee? If so, how do you take it?

Love it! My fave is an Americano with soy milk, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Or a hazelnut soy latte. Or, in summer, an iced peppermint latte. Or just inject caffeine directly into my veins; that’s fine too.

 

Thank you so much to Kate for taking the time to speak to me! Don’t forget to check out her work. Upcoming interviews include Cooper S Beckett and Kayla Lords, so watch this space…

Five Things I, a Swinger, Hate About the Swinging Scene

I consider myself a swinger, in that I’m in a committed Primary, living-together-as-married relationship wherein we have sex with other people outside of our relationship together. (We’re also polyamorous and form independent romantic/sexual relationships with other people – yes it is possible to be both, but that’s a topic for another day.)

There are a lot of things I love about swinging – the opportunity to play with all different people with all different kinds of bodies, the voyeuristic fun of watching my partner playing with someone else, the exhibitionist joy of being watched, getting to indulge in different kinks and fetishes, the fact that swing clubs are more accessible to me in a variety of ways than ‘normal’ nightclubs ever were, the social aspect of meeting lots of new and interesting people, and much more.

But the longer I spend in the swinging scene, the more problems I see with it too – and that saddens me. Mr CK and me don’t intend to stop swinging any time soon, but we’ve certainly become choosier and choosier about the kinds of behaviour we’re willing to accept and the kind of venues and events we feel comfortable frequenting. So here are five things I see all too often in the swing scene which I do not love.

  1. The racism.
    I’m white. Mr CK is white. However, we’ve made a policy of blocking and not engaging in anyone who has any variation on “white people only!!” or “no blacks or Asians” on their swinger profile. (We are not looking for ally cookies here. This is basic fucking human decency, not some awesome selfless act of deigning to not fuck racists.) Our block list is ENORMOUS from this alone. Swinging has always been, and sadly still is, largely the realm of upper-Middle class white people. Unfortunately, huge swathes of this group seem to think it’s entirely reasonable to make a snap judgement on every single potential partner of certain races. It’s not “just a preference,” people. It’s racist.
  2. The body shaming.
    I keep my body hair fully natural and have done for a good couple of years at this point. My partners love it but, much more importantly, I love it. However, the number of people whose profile includes a line along the lines of “we’re clean shaven everywhere and expect the same” is astonishing. And it’s not just body hair – fat people, disabled people, men shorter than 6ft, men without big muscles, and non-gargantuan penises also get hate piled on them from people screaming “just a preference!!!!” all over their profiles. We block those people too. Are you surprised our pool is diminishing every time we log on?
  3. The heteronormativity.
    Holy shit, the heteronormativity! The assumption is that if you’re a swinger, you’re a cis person married to another cis person of the opposite binary gender. People who break this mold are few and far between, and often treated as some kind of exotic curiosity. Similarly, it’s often expected that women will play with other women, but only if their bisexuality is performed in a way that’s centred around men’s visual enjoyment. And as for the men? It’s still taboo at best to be a bisexual man in the mainstream swinging scene – some clubs even go as far as banning man-on-man action (we won’t go to those clubs.)
  4. The vanilla-normativity.
    At our first swing night, we asked about kink rules. The club owner, who knew us from fetish events we’d attended in the same venue, was hesitant. “Um, well, I guess light kink is probably okay. But don’t scare my regulars.” So, spanking? Floor-work bondage? Nope and nope. Turns out “light kink” translated to “sex that is maybe a tiny bit rougher than missionary-with-the-lights-out.” Okay then. When we did engage in a bit of rope play in a semi-private room at the same club, we gathered a crowd of sweet-but-clueless gawkers who thought they’d never seen anything quite so weird in their lives before. Obviously not everyone has to be kinky, and I understand vanilla swingers might not want blood being drawn in their nice clean clubs or bullwhips flying everywhere, but being treated like a sideshow because we like something a little different gets wearing really fast.
  5. The toxic masculinity.
    My above point about male bisexuality being taboo is relevant here – many of the men I meet through the swing scene are not just straight but aggressively straight – the idea of even being in proximity with another penis is terrifying and some couples even go as far as to say they won’t play with a man who has ever had sexual contact with another man. Bisexuality isn’t catching, y’all! But it’s more than just this. Comments about being/only wanting “a real man” abound. Aggressive hatred piled on men who cross-dress or otherwise don’t live up to masculine stereotypes. Excessive boasting about penis size and/or sexual prowess (honestly, I don’t care if you have a 12″ dick and love “eating pussy” (ew) if you can’t hold a conversation.) Borderline-rapey comments about “just knowing” what women want. It’s all there and it’s all gross.

Sometimes it makes us despair and makes us want to withdraw from the whole game for a while. But just occasionally, we do meet awesome, genuine people who are on the same wavelength as us, and then it feels more worth it. But the mainstream swinging scene still has a lot of growing up to do.

I want to keep slutting it around with lots of lovely sexy people and share these experiences with my partner, but we want something a bit… more body-positive. Queerer. Kinkier. Different. Even if it takes longer to meet our people and build our sexy little community.

Self Care for ‘Con-Goers

Mr CK and I are off to a kinky Convention for the weekend tomorrow, so it seemed like a good time to revisit this piece I wrote last year on taking care of yourself at a Con(vention/ference,) update it with some new things I’ve learned and share it with y’all.

‘Cons can be an intense time, as anyone who has been to one will know. All the fun things to see, do and learn, plus the late nights and the heady feeling of being among Your People can be quite a potent cocktail. (And that’s before you mix in a few actual cocktails, which many of us do partake of when at events.)

Things can also go from “Awesome” to “Burnout” really fast, and I’ve been doing this long enough now to learn a few tricks to come out the other side still physically and emotionally intact. Follow these seven easy steps for your best ‘Con ever.

1. Biology Comes First

Sleep. If you know you need six hours of sleep to not be a walking zombie, don’t try to get by on three. Take a freaking nap if you need to.

Eat. A lot of events provide food, so you really have no excuse – but even if food isn’t laid on there’s bound to be a lunch hour. Don’t forget to make time to have dinner between the day’s activities and the evening entertainments. Carry snack bars, nuts, fruit or chocolate in your bag for a quick pick-me-up. And for the love of all that is kinky, eat breakfast.

Hydrate. Beer doesn’t count. This is especially important in the hot weather we’ve been having lately!

Carry any medication you need or think you’re likely to need (more on this in point 5.) Find out who the First Aiders are and who to go to if you need urgent medical help. In an emergency, any passerby can run for help for you.

In short, take care of your body and your physical wellbeing first. The rest will follow.

2. You Don’t Have To Do Everything

You know how it’s better to leave a really awesome scene going, “wow, I would have loved to go further!” rather than, “holy shit, I went too far?”

‘Cons are the same.

You do not have to go to Every Single Session. You do not have to scene with every hot person you meet. You and your partner do not have to do every single scene idea you’ve ever come up with or try every single piece of kit the venue has to offer. You do not have to be the first to arrive and last to leave each day.

There’s always other events. There’s always next year.

By all means, immerse yourself and experience your event to the max… but know your limits and don’t try to push yourself beyond them in service of “Must Do Everything.”

3. Have Someone Looking Out For You… And Look Out For Them In Turn

If you’ve come with a partner, partners, friend or group of friends, you’re in luck here as you’ve got a ready made support person/network. Look out for each other. You don’t have to be glued to one another’s sides, but check in and say, ‘hey, how are you doing? How are you finding it all?’

If someone’s struggling, ask what they need. It may be a hug, a snack, a chat about what’s bothering them, a nap, or even just some quiet time. If you’re struggling, ask for what you need.

If you’re there alone, never fear! You’ll soon make friends and if you click with someone, don’t be afraid to ask if they’d like to agree to look out for each other and maybe check in later to see how you’re both doing.

If nothing else, make yourself known to an organiser or crew member as a nervous newbie and/or solo attendee. Any good event staff member will help you find your feet and look out for you as best they can.

4. Think About Your Boundaries Before You Come

You know how you shouldn’t renegotiate established boundaries mid-scene? The same is true mid-‘Con.

If you’re coming with a partner, discuss beforehand the kinds of play you might like to do together and anything you definitely DON’T want. Is play with other people on the cards or not? Under what parameters? Are you going to do everything together, or go to separate workshops and compare notes later? You don’t need to structure your weekend super rigidly, but even a basic game plan can help you feel prepared.

If you’re coming alone, think about what you might want to do and not do. What workshops interest you and which are a “FUCK NO?” Which are a “maybe, if I’m in the right headspace?” Do you want to play? With specific people? Are you open to casual play? Casual sex? Nudity? Hugs, physical touch?

And, crucially, stick to these boundaries. Don’t suddenly change your mind in the heat of a moment that you could very easily regret. Again, you can always push yourself further next time.

Honour your own limits the way I hope you’d honour anyone else’s.

5. Carry The Things You Need (Or Might Need)

Bottled water or sports drink? Healthy or sugary snacks? Medication? Simple painkillers in case of a headache? Notebook and pen for journalling? Cuddly toy or other comfort item? Favourite blanket?

Whatever it is, if you know you will need it or feel safer or more comfortable having it on hand… have it on hand! Or at least know where it is and how to instruct someone on where to find it.

6. Have An Aftercare Plan

‘Con drop is real, y’all. When you get back from a fantastic, physically and emotionally intense time, you’re likely to feel tired, drained and possibly even a bit fragile.

Just like you’d make aftercare provisions for a big scene, do the same thing for the ‘Con.

I always take the Monday following a weekend event off work – I know there’s no way I can be fully functional again so quickly and my job requires me to be on top of my game. I typically sleep late, take it easy and possibly do some nice or fun things for myself and my partner.

If you can, don’t be alone straight after the event. Try to be with a friend or partner who understands and with whom you can decompress and talk about your experiences. If you must be alone, reach out on FetLife or Twitter as it’s very likely others will be experiencing the same things.

Eat nice food, cuddle your partner/friend/pet/stuffed toy, have fun things on hand that you enjoy doing. Relax.

7. And finally… HAVE FUN.

Try not to worry – everyone’s at a ‘Con to have a great time and the organisers and crew should be on hand to help with any problems you may have.

Breathe, pace yourself, and ENJOY.

Go forth and be kinky, y’all.

The Price of Admission

Anastasia: And what do I get out of this?
Christian: Me.
– Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

It is no secret that I am not a fan of those books. I might eventually write more fully about why, but other writers have already done this so beautifully I’m not sure I have anything to add to that particular conversation. However, I chose the above quote as the header for this post because it boils this topic down to its essence in two short lines.

When we’re children, we’re taught that no-one’s perfect. It’s a platitude, though a truism, taught to us perhaps to encourage us not to criticise others – or ourselves – too harshly. And because no-one is perfect, I firmly believe there is no such thing as a Perfect Relationship. There are amazing, incredible, wonderful relationships – and I count myself lucky to be in one of these. But perfect? With all our flaws, foibles, beautifully messy humanity and inevitable mistakes? No.

My relationship has imperfections. So does yours, I guarantee it.

We come, all of us, with our Price of Admission. These are the things about us that are imperfect, maybe even problematic, that someone must live with in order to be in a relationship with us. These are the things, be they big or small, that we don’t see eye-to-eye with our partner on. The things that, if you dwell on them, form the end of the sentence “the relationship would be PERFECT if only…

We all have to pay a price of admission to be in meaningful relationships with another human. Whether it’s as relatively benign as putting up with your husband’s snoring, or as troubling as knowing your friend has a serious drug/alcohol problem but being unable to intervene, every relationship has one – or more likely, several of varying degrees of significance. But here’s the thing about prices of admission. We get to choose whether to pay them or not.

One of the major problems in my relationship with my abusive ex was that he believed that no matter the price of admission, I would continue to pay it regardless. And for many years, I did. I was madly – and I mean that in the literal, not-quite-in-my-right-mind-when-he’s-around – in love with the man, and as such I felt I had to do absolutely anything to keep the relationship. When the price of admission was putting up with lies and half-truths, I turned a blind eye. When the price of admission was being screamed at for a tiny perceived infraction, I tried to harden myself to the yelling. When the price of admission was an uneven, enforced mono-poly dynamic, I pretended I didn’t want anyone else anyway.

And what did I get out of all of that?
Him.

Which was enough… except that it wasn’t. I convinced myself I was happy as long as I was with him, this person I idolised, but I did not get my needs met and I did not get my voice heard. If I complained the price for the relationship was getting too steep, he might as well have laughed in my face and said, “but you’ll pay it, because the other choice is walking away and we both know you don’t have the balls to do that.” It was years before I finally decided the price had become undeniably too high.

In our final make/break conversation, with all the characteristic arrogance that believed I would never be the one to walk away, he laid out his Terms for continuing the relationship. And for the first time, I refused the offer. The price was too high and I wasn’t buying. It was no longer worth it.

The point of all of this is to say: you get to decide when the price of admission into any given relationship is too high.

However much you love this person, however much you think you absolutely need them no matter what, you do not have to accept the terms they are offering. You do not have to pay a price of admission that includes abuse of any kind, that includes being cheated upon or lied to, that includes a relationship structure that is unworkable for you, that includes sex acts you can’t or won’t consent to, that includes losing yourself or your self esteem, that includes fundamental differences in beliefs or values, that includes anything that makes the relationship unhappy or unhealthy for you.

You don’t have to.

[Guest Post] From Clueless Virgin to Enthusiastic Wife (with Sex Therapy Along the Way) by Christine Woolgar

Today I’m so excited to be hosting my first guest post. It comes from my friend Christine Woolgar. I have known Christine for a few years, having first met her at a local munch in the city where I used to live. I’ve been an admirer of her writing for a long time and I am honoured that she has chosen to share this intense, vulnerable, wonderful story with me and all of you.

_________________

TW/CN: This post doesn’t describe abuse, but it is loaded with intra-personal dialogue that enables/allows abuse.

Night 1 minus 5 days: My period is late. Darn, I thought my body had fully adjusted to the pill already. I don’t want to have sex on my period but I don’t want an argument on Night 1. I don’t want disappointment on Night 1. So I tell him now that I won’t want sex on Night 1. He agrees. We both figure it’s for the best as we’ll be tired from the wedding anyway.

Night 1: I see him naked for the first time. Wow. And just a bit scary too. But it’s OK, because I’m not taking off my knickers. Not tonight. It’s not the night I had envisaged but it’s a good night.

Night 2: I consent to taking my knickers off. We caress each other and have fun together. He doesn’t come.

Day 3: I’m kinda aroused, but he doesn’t come. Odd. I thought it’d be easy for him.

Night 3: A bit more intensive tonight, but still taking things slowly and gently.

Day 4: I think my hymen has broken. I muse on the idea that I am no longer a virgin by some definitions. And yet neither of us has come. Not what I had expected. What is wrong with me? Why is this so hard?

Night 4: I’m naked and he’s not getting hard. What is wrong with me? Am I unattractive?

Day 5: He is finally hard enough and I’m relaxed enough, but he doesn’t come. What is wrong with me?

Night 5: This is getting silly now. I feel alone. I talk to him about it and it helps.

Night 6: We caress each other. Variable arousal. He doesn’t come.

Night 7: He still doesn’t come.

Night 8: Finally! I am genuinely happy for him.

As for me, I always knew I’d be the difficult one. Can’t expect to orgasm immediately. No woman can. I knew I was lazy with my Kegel exercises. It’s my fault really that I haven’t come yet.

Day 11: Honeymoon is over and we’re back at marriage prep. I learn there are couples out there who’ve taken a year to consummate their marriage. So why am I all upset about taking seven days? I don’t have issues. I must be being picky.

Week 3: By now it’s not too much of a problem for him any more. But it stings when I pee after sex.

Weeks 4-5: It keeps on stinging badly when I pee after sex. I search for causes on the internet. Not helpful.

I feel madly uncomfortable after sex. I don’t understand why.

I know sex is important. I know sex is important for him. But I also know it’s not entirely straightforward for him, so whenever he gets hard I just have to make myself available, otherwise it’ll never happen.

Months 2-6: It takes forever for me to get aroused. I count the days between sex. I feel really bad when it’s longer than seven days. I still feel uncomfortable.

He’s always the one who initiates. I say ‘I don’t mind’. But I don’t want it. Sometimes I say ‘I don’t know’ – that means I really don’t want it. I don’t tell him I don’t want to have sex with him. That would be selfish. It would make me a failure as a wife.

If the marriage fails, it’s my fault.

I try squeezing my pelvic floor muscles during sex. OW! PAIN! BAD! Ow! That hurts! Not good! Do not want! Note to self: do NOT do that again!

I’m picking up my pill and I tell the woman there that I’m in pain after sex. She doesn’t know what to do. She talks to a colleague and comes back saying it’ll go away with more sex. I’m in tears.

He says he doesn’t like seeing me in pain. He says he wants me to enjoy sex. I wonder if that will ever be possible.

I get better at judging my body’s state of arousal so it doesn’t hurt (most times) (much) afterwards. I’m using lube, but I hate the stuff.

He asks me what I want, but I don’t know what I want. I am indifferent to his touch.

Months 6-18: Friday evenings: Tired or meeting friends. Saturday mornings: Maybe there’s a chance, but it depends on how much we need to do that day. Saturday evening: Have supper before all desire drains away. Sunday morning: I need to be up to play hymns and all that jazz. Sunday evening: I’m stressing because we haven’t had sex all weekend. Forget arousal. During the week: Forget arousal.

We speak to a friend and he encourages us not to focus too much on coming, but on enjoying our time together. It helps. Marginally.

It’s not about what I want. It’s about what I can bear to give. Sometimes I get away with just offering cuddles. But it’s not the same as sex and we both know it. How long is this going to last?

I tell him what I mean by ‘I don’t mind’ and ‘I don’t know’. I tell him that I hardly ever want sex.

I realise that I’m actually afraid of his penis and have been since Night 1. Realising this helps. Marginally.

When he’s physically affectionate, I feel nothing in response. I just let him touch me and wait for him to stop.

Month 17: I’m talking to HR about stress and say that my sex life is through the floor. I’m in tears. HR asks how my husband’s handling this; I say he’s being a saint. But there is this aching sadness inside me.

Month 20: I’m talking to someone about it. I try and explain that I have no good memory of sex. Every time I try and have sex it’s like I have to talk myself round that it won’t be a bad thing. I have nothing to look forward to in sex. I’ve learned not to be in pain, but it’s SO HARD to get aroused enough that I’m not in pain.

There are only two things that actively get me aroused: thinking about degrading myself and the thought of being tied up. Problem is, I don’t want to degrade myself and he doesn’t want to tie me up. He’s studied too much history to want to do that to me.

Month 22: I’m talking to my pastor / minister / vicar person about it. He says it’s important that the problem is sorted. He says there’s no shame in getting professional help.

Month 25: I’m picking up my pill again and I’m in tears. The woman there refers me to a sexual health clinic.

I get a letter in the post inviting me to make an assessment appointment. It says that they can’t help couples where there is complete loss of arousal as this comes from relationship issues. We don’t have relationship issues. Letter goes in the bin. They can’t help me. I must be being whiney.

Month 27: He buys me some fantastic clothes to help me feel good about myself. They help. Marginally.

Month 28: I tell him just how bad I feel about not wanting to have sex with him. I tell him how I feel unfaithful. He tells me that I don’t need to feel like I have to save the marriage – he made a vow too. That helps. A lot.

Well, it helps me feel better about myself. Doesn’t help me get aroused.

Month 30: It’s pill time again. Tears again. This woman I speak to actually books us an assessment.

Month 31: We have the assessment. She says the clinic can help. She says it’s a six-month waiting list. We can wait. We’ve waited this long.

She says it’s no bad thing to think of degrading oneself to get turned on.

But I don’t want to.

And I don’t see why degrading myself should be the ONLY way I can get turned on.

Am I asking too much when I want to be turned on by thinking about the one I love?

Seriously?

Month 33: He buys me more fantastic clothes to help me feel good about myself. Positive effect is short-lived. I begin to feel bad about the money spent.

Month 34: He says he’s been doing some research and there are these things called ‘rope dresses’. He says in Japan, tying a rope around something can symbolise ownership. He says there’s a whole art form called ‘shibari’. He says it doesn’t have to be degrading. He says he’s willing to give it a try if I am.

We start learning about rope.

I begin to not dread sex.

Month 36: I’m getting better at understanding my body so that I don’t consent until I’m ready for him. I realise one day I’ve made a mistake: I’m not ready and he’s inside, but if he carries on he’s going to hurt me. I ask him to stop. He stops and withdraws gently. No hard feelings. He wants me to tell him if he’s going to hurt me.

He always has.

I’m no longer afraid to be completely honest with him.

Month 38: I tell HR that we’ve reached the top of the waiting list and I’m going to need regular time off work to go to the sessions. They’re cool with this.

He tells his department head that we’ve reached the top of the waiting list and he’s going to need regular time off work to go to the sessions. Department head is cool with this. Line manager however is gutted she didn’t happen to be in when he asked. Not because he’s taking time off, but because she’ll never know the reason why he asked for it.

Month 39: Therapy begins. She’s like: “So you’re no longer experiencing pain during or after sex; you already know that you love each other, even when you don’t want sex; you’re getting enjoyment out of this ‘shibari’ stuff; kinda makes me wonder what the problem is.”

It’s official. There is no problem. We are wasting therapist’s time. We are bunking off work. We have massively unrealistic expectations and should just get over ourselves. After all, no therapist can PROMISE orgasms or satisfying sex.

I move department at work and need to tell my new line manager about the time off. There’s a moment when I just don’t know how to say it. But when he hears the words ‘psychosexual therapy’ he nods and I don’t need to say anything more. He doesn’t think I’m making a fuss.

Month 40: We’re not having sex and I don’t have to feel guilty about it because it’s required as part of therapy.

Relief.

Though I miss doing rope.

Following all the exercises our therapist gives us. Must show we’re serious and co-operative.

Buy helpful book ‘Becoming orgasmic’ recommended by therapist. Massively unhelpful shop assistant waves it around and reads out its title loudly. Not impressed.

Therapist suggests I masturbate. I tell her I never have and I don’t want to start now. Besides, what difference would it make? Touch doesn’t turn me on.

Month 41: I switch shower products at therapist’s suggestion. I can now come out of the shower and feel remotely comfortable about my body. Wasn’t the case before.

I get proper lessons about the human reproductive system. Majorly embarrassed at my previous level of knowledge (read: lack of knowledge).

Therapist is like: “So on Night 1 you were both virgins and neither of you had ever masturbated in your entire lives. I’d say having vaginal sex after seven days is pretty impressive.” Feel-good feeling quickly gets swamped by feeling that I am wasting therapist’s time.

I begin to enjoy our physical time together. Though I don’t have orgasms. At least, I don’t think so. I’m not sure.

He begins to lose the fear of hurting me unintentionally.

Month 42: Therapist says we’re making progress and can cut down sessions to once a fortnight. I confide my long-standing sexual fantasy with therapist.

I come out of therapy and think about my sexual fantasy. I ask myself if there is a way I can think of it (and myself within it) that isn’t degrading. I realise that there actually is a way. So I picture myself in my fantasy – or rather, within a particular story that resonates with my fantasy. And suddenly I’m wet. I picture myself in another story I love and OH MY GOODNESS I AM SO WET!

I talk and talk and talk with him about power and types of power and all these very sexual thoughts I’m having.

Now when he touches me, I welcome it.

I wake up the next day and I’m wet the whole time. Just as well I’m not playing hymns. I remember nothing of the sermon but cry buckets with a friend after the service. I don’t tell him why, just that it’s a good thing.

Next day, I commute to work and I’m wet. I try to work, but my goodness, EVERY FIVE SECONDS I get turned on. Are people going to notice me going to the toilet so often? My knickers are soaked all day long.

Next day: Wet all day. Can barely think all day. When is this going to end?

The whole week, even the slightest thing gets me turned on. I gradually cool down, which is actually a good thing.

Next session and therapist says we’re done. We book a follow up session in four months.

Now when he touches me I beg him not to stop.

Month 44: We’re a bit stressed but go back on the ropes and find it’s a disappointment. We decide to try again when less stressed.

Month 45: Follow up therapy session. We talk over previous month. We reckon last month was a blip but generally speaking we’re on the up. We book another follow up for three months’ time – we can always cancel if we don’t need it.

Month 46: Back on the ropes and enjoying it.

I’m reading about other people’s experiences of sex and realise I DEFINITELY have not had an orgasm yet. But hey, who cares? I’m having a great time even without them.

I’m relaxed enough now that I let him touch me where I’ve never let him touch me before: directly on my clitoris.

Month 47: He’s stimulating me and it gets proper intense. Oh my goodness, what is this? Don’t stop! I scream. Now THAT WAS an orgasm! Wow! OK, I need to recover now.

So does he. He wasn’t expecting me to scream and only kept going because I was giving continuous active consent.

Next day: second orgasm (a less dramatic experience for us both, but no less satisfying).

Next day: third orgasm.

Next day: don’t need to keep count.

Month 49: Last therapy session. I tell therapist that looking back, there was DEFINITELY something wrong, but there isn’t now.

I now KNOW I wasn’t a time waster. Relief.

Sex life gets better and easier. We can enjoy rope but we don’t need it to enjoy sex. I squeeze my pelvic floor muscles during sex – no pain.

Month 52: We’re talking about consent. We talk about the early days when I didn’t want sex and he got frustrated. We talk about the upset that put on me. We talk about the pressure he didn’t even realise was there for me to say yes. We realise there were times when I said yes, because I couldn’t allow myself to say no. He is deeply, deeply upset at the thought of violating my consent (his words), even if it was something he only did because I deliberately hid my true feelings from him. We both know better now. We share big hugs.

Month 56: I wake up in the early hours of the morning. I lie still so I won’t disturb my dearly beloved. I start to think about my dearly beloved caressing me. And then, almost before I know what’s happening, my body gives me a gorgeously gentle orgasm. It is the first orgasm I have ever had without being physically touched. Wow.

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For anyone curious to know a bit more about me, I would describe myself first and foremost as a Christian theological thinker. I live in the UK with my husband, and have a passion for shaping the church’s attitudes in areas around consent, sexuality and equality because… well, you can probably guess why from this post. I am unafraid to tackle awkward questions and I’m an unashamed critic of Fifty Shades.

You can find me and more of my writings on:

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Footnote for anyone concerned about the non-consent described in this story:

I used to think in terms of male privilege and I didn’t know it. Yes, that terrifies me. No, no one had taught either of us about enthusiastic consent. Yes, I am working on changing this. I have blogged in more depth about how I now frame consent in a long term relationship and you can read about that on a fabulous blog run by Ashley Easter. Yes, she’s a Christian blogger. No, this post doesn’t talk about religion. Or marriage. Despite the title.

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Longer footnote for anyone concerned that my husband and I are at risk of going to hell and/or besmirching the name of the church:

I thought long and hard about sharing this story in this much detail.

A lot of what is here is already in the public domain. Back in 2011 (around month 26) I made a short video in which I disclosed publicly that we didn’t have sex in the first seven days of our marriage; the narrative of that video that was also published in 2013 on a multi-author Christian blog. In February 2016 (that is, two years after month 56) I blogged for them again about being on the ‘receiving end’ of sex, and disclosed that my husband and I had sex therapy. Shortly after, I blogged on my own site about our learning experiences of going through sex therapy, writing an open letter to a Christian evangelical couple who I knew were considering it.

I know that these posts have really helped people.

Now, I grant you, none of them were as explicit as this writing is. And although anyone who follows my blog knows that I’m not afraid to write about BDSM, this is the first time I’ve disclosed that my husband and I actually practice anything that remotely resembles BDSM.

Yet this is my story and I believe that sharing it has the potential to really help people. For some people, it might open up conversations on Christianity that wouldn’t happen otherwise. Yes, I have asked myself whether it’s right to disclose this much detail. No, I’m not 100% certain that I’ve got it all right. But then, I don’t think I can be certain because whatever I do, I won’t please everyone.

I decided to disclose about the shibari because if that hadn’t been within our story, then I’d never have started to engage with people in the BDSM scene. You see, around month 43, my husband asked whether we should starting trying to make connections with people on social media and engage in discussions about BDSM, given that we had benefited from the idea of shibari. It was just a question, but as soon as he asked it the Holy Spirit was persistently on his case, saying “Yes, this!” And that’s what led to my blog. Gosh, that’s what led to me being even capable of writing the stuff that’s on my blog. And it is bearing good fruit. So if you’re worried about me, judge me by my fruit. My times are in His hands.