2017 “Top 5” Roundup

Apart from my 1 Year Anniversary post on New Years’ Eve (which is written and ready to go,) this will probably be my last post of 2017. In that vein, I wanted to end the year with a roundup post of sorts, some Top 5s from the year.

I hope you are all having a wonderful festive season and I can’t wait to keep the conversation about all things sex and kink going with you in 2018.

A fluffy tabby cat playing with a gold bauble handing from a Christmas tree. For a post about Top 5s of 2017.

Top 5 New Sex Toys

#1Doxy Number 3, simply one of the most perfect things to ever have graced my bits.
#2We-Vibe Tango, the only bullet I will ever need.
#3Satisfyer Pro 2 Next Generation, the toy that made me like suction toys.
#4Come Hither Rabbit, the only rabbit vibrator I’ve ever enjoyed.
#5The Ruby Glow, a revelation in ride-on fun.

Top 5 Sex Blogging Inspirations

#1Kayla Lords
#2Girl on the Net
#3Molly Moore
#4Kate Sloan
#5Emmeline Peaches

Top 5 Awesome Events

#1Eroticon 2017, the one that started it all.
#2 – Autumn CM/nf, where I get to be naked and ogle pretty men in suits.
#3Lube & a Laptop, a fun summer social with other sexy writers and creators.
#4 – BiCon 2017, where I got to teach my workshop on “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex Toys” for the first time.
#5 – Sex Blogger Christmas, a super fun (and boozy) event hosted by the wonderful EA and Livvy.

Top 5 Books About Sex

#1Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
#2How a Bad Girl Fell in Love by Girl on the Net
#3Approaching the Swingularity by Cooper S Beckett
#4Enjoy Sex (How, When and IF You Want To) by Meg-John Barker & Justin Hancock
#5The Myth of Sex Addiction by Dr David Ley

Top 5 Podcasts

#1Loving BDSM, where Kayla and John bring their unique brand of humour, opinions and adorableness to speaking and educating on all aspects of the BDSM lifestyle. #CricketCrew4Lyf
#2The Dildorks, “dorky discourse on sex, dating and masturbating,” with the wonderful Kate Sloan and Bex Caputo.
#3The Guilty Feminist, which makes me cry with laughter and feel better about all the times my life choices don’t fully match my highest feminist ideals.
#4Polyamory Weekly, a very long-standing favourite about all aspects of unconventional love.
#5Life on the Swingset, the swinging and polyamory podcast.

Top 5 Blog Posts

#1The Tyranny of No Rules: In Defense of Polyamorous Heirarchy
#2I’m Looking for Baggage that Goes with Mine
#3“Pretty” is Not My Success – On Being a Swan
#4#SexNotStigma: Using My Sexuality to Manage my Mental Health
#5“Bring the Collar” – The True Story of a D/s Breakup

Top 5 Accomplishments

#1 – Winning the New Voices Award from Molly’s annual list of the best sex bloggers.
#2 – Placing as one of Kinkly’s Top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes.
#3 – Starting to earn Actual Money from writing about sex.
#4 – Organising Smutathon 2017 and raising £2,000 for Backlash and Rape Crisis.
#5 – Doing #KinkMonth/3o Days of Ds and writing a post every single day for the month of October.

Top 5 Goals for 2018

#1 – Start a PhD programme.
#2 – Cut down to 4 days a week on my day job and make up the additional income from writing.
#3 – Place in the Top 50 of the Kinkly Sex Blogging Superheroes list.
#4 – Have a piece of erotic fiction published, either in an anthology or as a stand-alone.
#5 – Finish my sexy novella set at a BDSM convention.

So there you have it, friends! What were your Top 5s of 2017?

Affiliate links are used within this post. All opinions my own. Image is courtesy of Pixabay.

When Consensual Sex is Punished More Harshly than Rape [or: Smutathon – the Reason Why]

[This post comes with a HUGE trigger warning for sexual violence from intimate partners. Please feel free to skip this one or step away to care for yourself if you need to. It also carries a hefty dose of vulnerability and exposure of my personal traumas. Victim-blaming or doubt-casting comments will be deleted and the commenter permanently blocked. This is a one-strike-and-you’re-out deal.]

The Rape Crisis England and Wales logo for a post about Smutathon and rapeThe Backlash UK logo for a post about Smutathon and rape

I was sexually assaulted for the first time by a classmate when I was twelve. It was “only” breast and crotch grabbing through clothing, but I was deeply troubled by and ashamed of it. It was three years before I could even begin to find words for what had happened, let alone how it had made me feel.

More than one of my early relationships were sexually violent. By the time I was fifteen, I’d been coerced into sex acts I absolutely did not consent to and was not ready for by a much older boyfriend.

At nineteen, I pushed a man away seconds before he penetrated me – penetration that I had explicitly said, repeatedly, was not on the table that night. On the second date with the same guy (yes, there was a second date) he pushed me to drink and drink and drink, before telling me he wanted me so black-out pissed that I wouldn’t remember anything in the morning. Later, our previously sweet online chats took a turn for the dark as he described his violent, graphic fantasies of raping me (fantasies, he made very clear, that were not about CNC but about Actual Genuine Rape.

A year or two later, a boyfriend threw me out of the house for not acquiescing to sex. And on and on and on it goes. Sex became about obligation, pressure, coercion and survival. I became divorced from my own body, my own pleasure. They took me years to reclaim.

The point of all of this is to say that I didn’t understand until years later that sex under duress counts as rape or serious sexual assault, even if there was little or no physical force involved. I didn’t understand that as a minor, what happened to me at fifteen was statutory rape as well as sexual assault under coercion.

I didn’t seek any help until I finally got a counsellor, long after it was all over. I dimly understood that places like Rape Crisis existed, but I thought they were only for people who’d been raped at gunpoint or assaulted by strangers in dark alleys. “My boyfriend uses the threat of the roof over my head to make me have sex I don’t want, and my other boyfriend tried to rape me once and is weirdly obsessed with getting me drunk and telling me graphic fantasies of raping me” just didn’t seem serious enough, somehow, especially as I’d also had consensual sex with both of these men and others.

I wish I’d known then what I know now – that Rape Crisis would have listened with sympathy, love and support, given me resources to help me get out of those relationships, and told me that in no way in the world was it my fault.

That’s why #Smutathon2017 supports Rape Crisis.

In all but one case, I didn’t even report because I knew I’d be putting myself through hell for a less than 1% chance of justice. None of the men who assaulted or abused me have ever suffered consequences of any kind.

The same, alas, cannot be said for the not-insignificant number of people over the years who have been punished (legally, financially, employment-wise and more) for engaging in completely victimless fringe sexual practices with other consenting adults. From 1987’s Spanner Case (in which a group of gay men were prosecuted for participation in consensual sadomasochism) to the infamous ‘tiger porn’ debacle, to those who have been fired or had their kids taken away for participating in BDSM, sex work or pornography, sexual freedom is constantly under threat.

I cannot sit back and be okay with innocent, good people being prosecuted for consensual sex while only 0.6% of rapists ever see a day in jail.

And that is why #Smutathon2017 ALSO supports Backlash UK, an amazing organisation that defends freedom of sexual expression for consenting adults.

Please donate and support these two brilliant charities if you can. I hope none of you will ever need them – but if you do, they’ll be there for you.

Announcing: Sexy Summer Book Club

I met Jenny Guérin on the Sunday morning of Eroticon and we hit it off straight away. On Monday afternoon, she found me in the Starbucks at St Pancras, waiting for my train home. At the time, I was devouring Girl On The Net’s How a Bad Girl Fell in Love. A delightful conversation about all kinds of things followed, including our favourite sexy books and those we’re desperate to read. Out of this conversation we decided to create a “Sexy Summer Book Club” and we’re excited announce that the website has lauched today!

An open book on a sandy beach in the sun. For a post about Sexy Summer Book Club .

As Jenny says: The Sexy Summer Book Club is a celebration of new erotic writing. Each month of summer we’ll be discussing, and writing about, a recent publication from memoir, self help and erotica.”

How to join in:

All you need to get involved is an internet connection and the ability to get your hands on the 3 texts. You can take part from anywhere in the world. To get involved, email sexysummerbookclub@gmail.com and we’ll add you to the mailing list to receive prompts, links to others’ work, announcements of the forthcoming books, and other sexy literary bits and pieces. If you tell us your Twitter handle, we’ll add you to the discussion chat too.

We’re also pleased to announce that the book for June is the one that sparked this whole conversation: Girl on the Net’s How a Bad Girl Fell in Love. There are prompt questions and suggestions for response pieces on the website under the ‘June’ tab. Send us your responses and we’ll publish them online in June.

We will announce the books for July and August at a later date…

For now, sign up, tweet this out to you friends, and don’t forget to share your thoughts at #SexySummerBookClub.

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons licensing.

The Reality of Event Organising [or: You Will Do a Lot of Work, and a Lot of People Will Shout at You.]

Look, I love organising. I do it personally, I do it professionally, and I do it kinkily. I don’t know if it’s the service submissive in me (or, sometimes, the masochist…) but I love nothing more than standing back and watching people enjoying an event I’ve poured my heart and soul into creating. But I’m here to give you the reality check if you’re thinking of organising something for your kinky/alternative sexuality community.

The Expectation: how hard can it be!?
The Reality: Very Fucking Hard

There will be a million things to consider you hadn’t heard of, and the bigger the event the more things you’ll have to juggle. At absolute minimum, you need a suitable venue and effective publicity to get the word out. And that’s before you start thinking about what you’re going to feed your guests if it’s an event of more than a few hours, and where they’re going to sleep if it runs for more than one day, and how you’re going to transport the ten tonnes of gear you will inevitably need, and how you’re going to pay for the damn thing. Which brings me to…

The Expectation: I can make money, or at least break even.
The Reality: Maybe. If you’re lucky. And probably not for a few years.

I’m going to be absolutely frank: my current event project took 3 years before there was anything at all in the pot at the end. The first two years LOST money. Guess who picks up the tab for the difference? The organisers. Luckily it didn’t lose a lot of money, which is why we decided to keep going, but we had to make some changes to make it financially viable. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you need to really think through the financial side before you embark upon something like this. And don’t lay out any money you can’t get back until you’re absolutely sure.

Crowdfunding (we recommend IndieGoGo) is a great way to check out the viability of your event and get people to put their money where their mouth is and buy tickets, with the option to refund everyone in full and not go ahead if you don’t hit your goal.

And if you’re going into kink events hoping to make a living out of it, all I will say is don’t give up your day job just yet. For the vast majority of organisers it’s a labour of love and they make nothing.

The Expectation: I’ll get to go to cool events if I make them happen!
The Reality: Well, yes… but it’s not like being a guest at someone else’s thing.

You will be stressed. You will be exhausted. You will be ON all the time for four hours or a day or three days or however long your event runs.

I get to enjoy a good chunk of events I organise – I variously go to workshops, I sit in on discussions, I socialise with friends. But except those precious times at the play party when I’m actually scening, I will have a radio earpiece in or my ‘Staff’ badge on, and that gives anyone who needs something permission to come and approach me about it.

And that’s the way it should be. I helped put this thing together and I’m responsible for the smooth running of it as well as partially responsible for the safety and comfort of everyone there.

It’s brilliant. But it’s not like walking into someone else’s event, where you can switch your mind off and just relax into your kinky fun.

The Expectation: Everyone will love me for putting on this great thing!
The Reality: A lot of people will be very grateful for your work, and a lot of people will yell at you.

Look, some people will never be satisfied. There will always be complaints – the venue was too warm, the food wasn’t up to par, you didn’t run a workshop on my specific kink, you had too many workshops on this kink I’m not into, you won’t give a platform to this abusive/problematic person I really like…  and sometimes, those complaints will get really out of hand and people will stop communicating their feedback reasonably, and start calling you names, calling for boycotts, slamming you on FetLife and generally being dicks.

There’s a place in organising for constructive feedback and it’s vital in helping an event grow to the best it can be. But you have to remember the truism that you cannot please all of the people all of the time, and trying will drive you mad.

You have to grow a thick skin. You have to look at all feedback and decide which bits are useful, which bits you can reasonably implement, and discard the rest. And sometimes you have to just look at all the people who are tremendously grateful for the hard work you do in putting on a community event, and let their appreciation hold you up until the storm passes.

The Expectation: I’ll get loads of play partners if I’m an organiser!
The Reality: Eh. Don’t hold your breath.

I won’t lie: being known on the scene does open up your options as far as play partners go, because a lot of people will (entirely reasonably) only play with someone with recommendations and a solid reputation. And organising is one way to become known on the scene. But if you’re doing it solely or primarily for the pussy (I’m generalising, but this phenomenon is most common amongst straight men, it seems), then firstly, you’re doing this for all the wrong reasons and you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Secondly, it’ll be really really obvious.

People who lead with their ‘credentials’ as a selling point to potential partners generally come across as doing so because (at best) they don’t have anything else to offer, or (at worst) they’re trying to hide something. You still need to be polite, interesting, engaging to talk to, and a safe and respectful player. Organising doesn’t make you any of these things. I could probably name, off the top of my head, at least five known organisers who are also known consent violators. If I’m thinking of playing with you, the fact that you’ve run Club KinkTastic (not a real club) every Friday night for the last ten years tells me nothing about you. Seeing you play, interacting with you, and hearing what others in the community – especially former partners – say about you is what will give me the information I need.

Organise because you love your community and want to give back. Do it because the kind of event you want doesn’t exist, so you’re determined to create it. Do it because you love the process and seeing the final result gives you a buzz. But don’t, for the love of all that is kinky, organise because you think it’s a fast-track to having everyone gagging to play with you. It’s not.

…and even if it were, by the time you’ve waved the last guest off and cleaned up, you’ll be too bloody tired to play anyway.

In conclusion, I’m not trying to put anyone off organising. Goddess knows we need more people willing to do it! But I believe in informed consent in all things, and I want you to know that organising is wonderful, rewarding, huge fun, and the buzz from seeing your event coming off perfectly is like nothing else in the world… but it’s also exhausting, time-consuming, potentially expensive, and a lot of responsibility. And sometimes, people will yell at you.