[(Not a) Toy Review] Here’s What Happened When We Tried a Terrible Cock Ring

From whence it came I do not recall. It must have found its way into my freebie bag at one sexy event or another. But somehow, this monstrosity came into my possession:

The Skins Vibe Ring, a clear jelly rubber cock ring with a small bullet vibe, sitting on its box. For a review.Because Mr CK is a very indulgent partner, and supportive of my penchant for putting strange things on my genitals and then oversharing about it on the internet, we decide we’d test it. Just for fun.

Well, it was… something. I’m not sure fun is quite the word.

This ‘Vibe Ring’ vibrating cock ring by Skins (better known for making mediocre condoms) looks and feels like something you’d buy for £3 from a machine in a seedy nightclub. It’s made of some kind of jelly rubber (the packaging is mysteriously quiet about its actual material) and just from handling it for a couple of minutes I can see its porous as fuck. Sweat and oils from my hands have leached into the rubber, turning its clear appearance opaque, and the squishy texture and dodgy chemical smell coming off it are dead giveaways for phthalates.

As a cock ring, it’s worse than useless. A cock ring is designed to restrict blood flow away from the penis, creating a stronger and longer-lasting erection. A lot of penis-owners report that this can be very pleasurable and give them stronger orgasms. This thing, though?

“I literally can’t feel it!” Mr CK declared when it was around his cock. It’s too stretchy and flimsy to do anything. Still, we were determined to give it a fair hearing, so we turned the little vibrating bullet on and I  hopped on board and started fucking him. In the me-on-top position, I could at least feel the vibrations – if you can call them that – against my clit. But, unsurprisingly, they were too weak and too buzzy to give me anything that I could define as pleasure. Mr CK reported that he could just barely feel the vibrations through his shaft but they were nowhere near to being pleasurable for him either. (And this is a man who definitely enjoys vibrations!)

We changed positions, him standing and me on my back, legs spread, on the end of the bed. This was worse. With every thrust, the damn thing buzzed against me in its completely useless and mildly distracting way. It was low-level annoying in the way that a mobile phone vibrating in your pocket can be. Only, you know, less likely to give me an orgasm.

“Ooh, it made you come!” Mr commented as he felt my cunt muscles clenching around his cock.

“Nope. That was all your dick, babe.”

“Shall we take this thing off?”

“Yes, lets do that.”

We tossed it aside and finished our fuck, which was much more satisfying once the stupid ring was safely on the other side of our very large bed. Afterwards, we snuggled in the afterglow and laughed about how utterly terrible this ridiculous excuse for a sex toy was.

“It feels like it would fit around my head,” he said, stretching it experimentally.

“Try it!” I dared.

And that, my friends, is how a sex session finished with my partner and I taking turns to wear a cock ring like a head lamp. I hope you enjoyed that mental image. You’re welcome.

TL/DR: Do not buy this toy or any other cheap, rubbery “single use” cock ring. For a simple, high quality cockring, try the Beginner or the Super-Soft C-Rings from Tantus. If you’re after one that vibrates, try the Desire Rechargeable from Lovehoney (and don’t forget to use discount code COFFKINK10 at checkout!)

The image featured in this post was taken by me. Don’t steal my photos, please! Links above are affiliate links. Doing your sexy shopping with my affiliates helps support me to keep the blog going.

When You’re Exploring, Not Everything Will Work – and That’s Okay!

This one’s late! Sorry sorry sorry! I had a really bad mental health day yesterday. Trigger warning: this post talks about consensual non-consent including rape fantasy.

I’d like to thank Sarah Brynn Holliday for becoming my latest sexy patron. You should check out her blog, she does brilliant work. If YOU’D like to support my work here, please visit my Patreon and pledge at any level. Even $1 a month means so much and you’ll get access to occasional exclusive content and get your very own shout-out here (with a link to your blog or Twitter if you have them.)

A close up on a map, magnifying glass and compass. For a post on exploring kinks and when they don't work.

So, onto today’s topic which, credit where it’s due, was suggested by my sweetie The Artist when I messaged them going “heeeeeelp I’m not inspired”! Today’s prompt from 30 Days of D/s (it’s nearly over, y’all!) is all about exploring your kinks together with a partner, in particular things you haven’t tried but would like to.

I’ve tried a lot of kinky shit over the years. Like, a lot. I’m not gonna say “name a kinky thing and I’ve probably done it,” because some of you have truly devious imaginations. But I’ve been doing this stuff for well over a decade. I have a lot of experience. At the start of our relationship, The Artist asked me what I hadn’t done and might like to try. I was just like “oh shit what have I not done!?”

Inevitably, perhaps, I’ve done some things that I do not care to do again. When you’re exploring an area as broad as kink and sex, you won’t like everything you try. That’s okay! Trying something and not liking it isn’t a failure. It’s a valuable learning experience.

I’m pretty big into consensual non-consent, or CNC – also known as “rape fantasy”. This is a really, really common kink especially among (people socialised as) women. I am nowhere near qualified to start delving into the reasons for that. Anyhow, I’m into it, and I practice it carefully with safe partners and safewords. Up until last year, my biggest fantasy was a group CNC scene, where several partners would ambush and ravish me. Um, to be honest, this is still one of my biggest fantasies.

But you know what happened when we tried to make it a reality? It didn’t work. Some combination of the time of night, my tiredness level, the people involved and my sense of disorientation combined to make it too much. I safeworded out and then spent the next two hours crying and apologising. What was wrong with me? This was my fantasy, why hadn’t it worked for me?

The truth is there was nothing wrong with me. There was nothing wrong with my partners, either – everything they did was 100% consensual! It was what we thought we all wanted! None of us did anything wrong. The scene just didn’t work out. Sometimes scenes don’t work, and that’s okay. Sometimes you can be absolutely sure you’ll like something… and then in reality, you won’t. That is also ten million percent normal and fine!

There’s an anecdote in, I think, one of Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton’s books. I’ve just spent an hour searching for it and can’t find it, which is really annoying me! Anyway, it tells of a woman who has always fantasised about receiving caning… until she finds she reality too painful. This is because fantasy isn’t accurate, realistic information. Fantasy is there first for fun and titillation. Yes, it gives you an insight into things you might like to try, but liking it in fantasy doesn’t mean you’ll like it in reality. You might, you might not. You might like a modified version. Either way, that’s completely okay!

I still have group CNC fantasies, and I may or may not try to act them out again at some point. If I ever do, I’ll use the information I learned from what went wrong last time to modify the scene. If I don’t, it’s still okay for me to enjoy the fantasy! Not wanting to do something for real doesn’t mean you can’t fantasise about it! Even trying something and having it go wrong doesn’t have to be a barrier to continuing to enjoy your fantasies.

The key to exploring, I think, is to try not to attach too much to one particular outcome. This sounds ridiculously “zen,” and I appreciate it’s really difficult. But if you approach trying something new with the mindset of, “it might work, it might not, but we’ll learn something either way,” the pressure to have it be the best scene of your life lets up almost immediately.

Approach with an attitude of open exploration, communication and the goal of mutual pleasure and discovery. You might find your new favourite thing. You might also find out that some things are happier staying in your inner fantasy world – and that’s valuable too.

Kinky item of the day: Spreader bars! For me, there is very little sexier than being spread open and vulnerable in front of a Dominant lover. Especially if they’re also slapping my cunt and/or ripping an orgasm from me with the Doxy. Try this lovely adjustable bar from Sportsheets.

The image featured in this post was reproduced here under Creative Commons Licensing.

3 Things I Learned About Myself In My 18 Months as a 24/7 Submissive

Today in 30 Days of D/s, Kayla and John ask about 24/7 relationships. In a nutshell, this is a relationship where the power exchange is a permanent and pervasive part of the relationship. Essentially, the people in the relationship are “in role,” to a greater or lesser extent, all the time.

A padlock with a red heart on it and a red ribbon tied to it, fastened to a wire fence. For a post on 24/7 D/s

In my last relationship, I was a 24/7 submissive for a year and a half (collared for a year.) Even though that relationship was really unhealthy for me and I’m not in the 24/7 lifestyle any more, I still think I learned valuable lessons. Today I want to share some of those lessons with you.

Symbolism is really important to me

I’d been submitting to my partner more or less exclusively for months by the time we made the 24/7 thing “official”. Even so, writing and signing the contract and later having a collaring ceremony were really significant steps for me. They solidified what we were doing and they gave me a peg to hang my understanding of the relationship on. I couldn’t wear my collar 24/7 (professional job, y’all!) so having a day-collar (in our case it was a silver bracelet with a little lock-and-key charm) was very important.

Symbolism and ritual matters to me. It matters a lot. The act of creating intention together and naming it, whether simply to each other or in the presence of other loved ones, gives me a feeling of love, security and safety. Having a physical reminder of my connection to someone helps with the feeling of “home” that I value in a hopefully-lifetime relationship. This is why Mr CK and I intend to have a handfasting ceremony in the next couple of years.

I’m DEFINITELY a Switch

I love submitting and I’m still much more towards that end of the spectrum. However, I also definitely have a Dominant side and she gets grouchy if she doesn’t get to come out to play every once in a while. Not getting to Switch at all for about 2 years made me miss the hell out of it.

I’m not cut out for the 24/7 lifestyle

Yep… the biggest thing I learned in the course of that adventure into 24/7 power exchange is that I’m not cut out to live in a power exchange 24/7. Some of you are probably thinking this makes me less submissive, and the only thing I can say to that is that I think you’re wrong. When I choose to submit, I do so deeply and with my whole heart. It’s a beloved place I go back to time and time again and feel bereft if I’m away for too long. I just don’t live there.

You know the problem with wishing for what you want is that you might actually get what you want? Yep. I longed for 24/7 D/s and for quite a while I was on cloud nine of joy. When the reality set in, though, I chafed under the rules. I wanted to be able to step out of that role sometimes. Sometimes, I didn’t want to say yes Master, no Master, three bags full Master… I wanted to say you’re being an idiot, knock it off, and by the way I’m having a wank tonight whether you like it or not.

But I wanted it so much that I had to experience it to realise that maybe I don’t want it after all.

Tweet me your thoughts on 24/7 D/s. Have you done it? Would you do it again? Why or why not?

Kinky item of the day: ballet boots! (Not an affiliate link.) I love the hell out of these. They are, of course, utterly impractical on every level. But I think the inability to move far in them is part of the appeal, don’t you?

If you enjoyed this post, you can support the blog on Patreon or by buying me a coffee!

The image featured in this post is reproduced here under Creative Commons Licensing.

“Bring the Collar”: The True Story of a D/s Break-Up

I don’t want to write this post. I really don’t. I’ve been mulling it over all day and a huge part of me just wants to go, “oh fuck it” and write a generic “how to get over a break-up” listicle.

But I feel like that’d be a cop-out. Today’s 30 Days of D/s prompts is all about break-ups, and to be honest I’ve been inspired by Kayla’s amazing raw honesty in telling the story of her own D/s break-up a few years ago. So… here goes nothing, I guess.

A vase of dead roses. For a post about my D/s break-up

Realistically, I knew we were breaking up. Our relationship had disintegrated beyond repair now I’d finally, a good five years too late, begun to stand up for myself.

We were to meet in the park. Neutral ground. The stated aim: to have the make-or-break conversation. My true intention, though: to escape as quickly as possible with my head held high and my dignity intact.

All of this to say, dear readers: I knew it was over. It was overer than over. That relationship, like Marley, was dead as a doornail.

Still, it was three words on a text that broke me into pieces and tested my get the fuck out resolve to its limit.

“Bring the collar.”

Of course, I’d known he would want it back. That was in the contract. The Contract, to love and protect on his part. To love and obey on mine. Worth less, in the scheme of keeping us together, than the notepaper it was written on. But even so, this was the moment it sunk in. But Master is releasing me. He doesn’t want me any more.

My subby heart broke then. I’d thought I was as good as over it – mentally checked out of the relationship I was technically still in. I’d mourned the man I’d loved, come to accept he’d never been real and this monster who now stood in his place had been him all along. The guy who told me I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever known, one perfect night in a student dorm room when I was nineteen, and the man who looked me in the eyes five years later and told me I was poison, were one and the same person.

But as his sub – his slave, he’d called me, though I was never entirely comfortable with the connotations of that word – I’d tried so hard to please. To obey, do everything he said, shut my mouth and look pretty and never take up more space than my little allotted corner. A toy isn’t supposed to complain when it’s tossed aside once playtime is over.

What I felt then, when I kissed the little silver lock of the collar one more time and handed it over to him while I tried not to cry, was that I’d failed. He’d thrown it at me plenty of times over the preceding weeks, while whatever was left of our love dripped down the drain. Bad sub. Not really submissive. Disobedient. If you’d just shut up and do as you were told, we’d be fine.

For years, I’d twisted myself until the core of my identity was being his. I wrote him a poem in the early days. In it, I said, “You are life. You are oxygen. You are everything.” My blood and breath. My heart and soul. More myself than I am.

What I know now, and wish I’d known then, is that I wasn’t the one who failed. I was just a young girl who got thrown into a lion’s den too complicated and fucked up to comprehend, and then spent years trying to tame the most vicious, dominant lion while he snapped and snarled at her heels.

He was the one who failed me. He promised too much, delivered too little, broke me down too hard. I gave love, and what I got in return was emotional devastation, over and over and fucking over.

In that moment, I saw him as he was. All my idealistic, teenage bullshit fell away and I saw a man who could never love me. In that moment, I took myself back. I gave him back his collar and I took back my agency, my power, my life.

You’re not my blood and breath. I am.

I belong to nobody. I am free. And I am happy.

 

No kinky item today. This is too raw to add anything to it. Today’s image, as ever, was provided for use under Creative Commons Licensing. I’ve used an image of dead roses because we exchanged roses as part of our collaring/vows ceremony. 

Kink from a Distance: How We Did It Before We Lived Together

Mr CK and I were lucky: we were only in a long-distance relationship for just under a year. We were also close enough to make seeing each other at weekends possible. As long-distance love goes, we definitely had it on the easier end of the spectrum. That said, there were times when it was really difficult, and the constant traveling was exhausting and expensive. Moving in together was a challenge in its own right, but neither of us missed the sight of Megabuses or train station terminals or the M1.

The inside of a train station with a domed ceiling and two trains at opposite platforms. For a post about long distance kink.

One of the challenges of living apart, especially in the early days, was maintaining a sexual connection when we couldn’t just fuck each other’s brains out whenenver we wanted. We’re not a 24/7 D/s couple, but in reality he’s usually the Dominant and I’m usually the submissive.

This post is part of my #KinkMonth series, inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s, where today’s prompt is all about maintaining D/s when you’re apart. Today I want to share with you a few of the tricks we used to keep our sexual connection sizzling and have kinky fun when we weren’t in the same place.

Sexting

I love sexting. I love the anticipation when the other person is typing. Tap-tap-tapping out my fantasies, planting filth into their mind with my words. The delicious collaboration of building a sexy story together. The vulnerability, tempered with the distance created by this medium of communication. I especially love the way I can save the words, read them back as many times as I want and, let’s be real, wank to them furiously later.

We sexted at least once a week, and sometimes a lot more, in our first few months together.

Skype/phone sex

Skype and phone sex is a bit like sexting, only more immediate, more visceral. You can hear the other person’s words, hear their voice catch when you say something that really gets them, hear them gasp as they touch themselves.

We fell in love through late-night calls and Skype calls and illicit phone sex. Later, when we were officially together, we used it to maintain our connection across the miles. Hearing his voice in my ear wasn’t as good as being able to reach out and touch him, of course. But it was a damn good substitute.

Orders and accountability

In the long-distance days, I’d often get orders from Mr as I was going about my day. He’d text me, next time you go to the bathroom, take a sexy picture or go and edge three times. I would report back, tell him I’d done my task, and hear what a good girl I was. Sometimes, I’d need to send him a picture as proof. Obeying his orders and having a sense of accountability, even from a distance, kept me both red-hot for him and feeling the submissive feels I craved.

Planning and negotiation

One of the things that was surprisingly effective in keeping our kinky connection going was using the time we were apart to plan and negotiate for future scenes. Talking limits, boundaries, ideas, possibilities and future plans for all the pervy sex we were going to have helped to build anticipation and excitement. So by the time we actually came to do the things, we were both amped up and raring to go. Efficient and sexy!

What do you do to keep the sexy, kinky fun going in your long-distance relationship?

Kinky item of the day: a long-range, app-controlled vibrator like the Je Joue Dua. Just hand the controls over to your lover via the app. Then they can have their way with you whether they’re right beside you or on the other side of the world.

It’s Okay to Play When You’re Depressed

It’s #KinkMonth! I’m celebrating by writing a post each day inspired by Kayla Lords’ fab 30 Days of D/s. A week in and I can say that it’s been a brilliant and enlightening experience – I’m already thinking about things I hadn’t considered, or hadn’t considered in a long time, and looking at approaching them from different angles.

Today’s prompt is all about negative emotions:

How do you handle negative emotions like anger, jealousy, and fear now? How do you expect that to be different in D/s?

A cute black dog looking up at the camera. For post titled It's Okay to Play When You're Depressed - the dog refers to the Black Dog metaphor for depression.

If you’ve been doing kink for any length of time, you’ve probably heard “don’t play when you’re depressed,” “don’t play when your mental illness is flaring up,” or some variation thereof. While the sentiment kind of makes sense, I don’t think this is useful or even realistic advice. Let me tell you why.

For some of us, managing our mental health is a daily reality.

Statistics state that 1 in 4 adults will suffer from a mental health condition during their life. For some of us, these conditions are permanent. I have depression and anxiety which, well-managed though they are, aren’t going away.

It’s actually really ableist to imply that someone who is suffering from a mental health condition can’t engage in kink, BDSM or sex. Why should only neurotypical people be able to enjoy kink? Why should mentally ill people only be able to partake in it on especially good days?

For some people at some times, playing can actually help.

Sometimes, when I’m bone-numblingly depressed, a good hard fucking or a nice cathartic spanking – the kind that makes me cry – can really help to lift my mood. It could be the rush of endorphins. It could be the feeling of being wanted. Maybe it’s the sheer release that comes from being pulled out of my head and into my body. I don’t know. Maybe it’s all of them in some combination. All I know is that sex and kink (including masturbation) can be really wonderful tools in managing my mental health.

Only you know your own limits.

Having said all this, there might be times where your mental health is in a place where playing really isn’t wise for you, but you’re the only person who can make that decision! You know your mind, your body and your condition, if you have one, the best. You know what types of scenes will work for you and what is likely to trigger you or be mentally unsafe, as well as if there’s a point where you can no longer meaningfully consent. No-one else knows these things as well as you do.

“Don’t play when you’re depressed” is vague and subjective to the point of meaninglessness. Different people’s definitions of “play” (as well as their definitions of what constitutes a good or bad mental health day) vary wildly.

Instead: cultivate self-knowledge and communication.

Learn your triggers, your tipping points and your safe limits. Look out for your partner’s best interests and expect them to look out for yours. Communicate, communicate and communicate some more!

Be excellent to yourself and to each other.

Kinky product of the day: A classic Wartenberg Pinwheel, which is great for sensation play and less scary than it looks! (It doesn’t break the skin. Promise.)

Note: this post was not sponsored. The above is an affiliate link and if you buy through it, I may make a small commission. All opinions are and will always be my own.

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

Origin Story

It’s #KinkMonth at Lovehoney this month, so to celebrate I am doing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s and also taking the opportunity to share a favourite kinky product or item each day.

Today, the prompt is all about submission. Kayla and John ask:

Does a submissive have certain behaviors? Do submissives do specific tasks? When you think of a submissive and submission, what thoughts come to mind?

The Bible open at the first page of Genesis. For a post on my kinky origin story

So, with this in mind, I thought I’d tell you all about my origin story, or the collection of moments that led to my realisation that I’m (primarily) sexually submissive.

[Fair warning: I’m going to talk about my early experiences a bit, some of which happened before I was 18 and some of which took place in abusive dynamics. I invite you to take care of yourself and only carry on if you feel you can cope with this today.]

I was sixteen[1 ]the first time a boyfriend held me down and spanked me. In our baby-kinkster, toe-in-the-water fashion, we were doing schoolgirl/teacher roleplay, and the spanking didn’t hurt. It was very gentle, but I didn’t want pain-pain. Not then. It was the idea of the spanking rather than the physical sensation that I wanted. But I got the hell off on the power dynamic, the feeling of being helpless, the feeling of being led along and not having to do anything except what I was told.

We played those power games more and more often in our sex life over the next few years. I tried to be the Dominant, the Mistress, the Teacher once or twice, but it usually ended up with us in fits of giggles and no orgasms.

By eighteen, we’d mostly moved away from explicit roles and further into simply hard, dominant fucking, laced with tinges of humiliation and a whole lot of filthy talk. We occasionally tried to have stare-into-each-other’s-eyes-and-make-sweet-love-by-candlelight sex. And you know what happened when we did that? I was bored. Didn’t come. Didn’t feel fulfilled. What I wanted was for him to just throw me down on the bed and fuck me until I knew I’d be sore the next day.

At nineteen, we went to an event, a glorious weekend where we were shocked and delighted to discover there were others like us. It was a THING. It had a NAME.

BDSM. The letters felt weird in my mouth. Kink. That was better. I could get behind the idea of calling myself kinky. It spoke to me in the same way the word “queer” had, even before I knew what it really meant. It spoke of something different, of something outside and other and exciting.

I learned glorious things that weekend. I learned about fetishes and perversions and fun that I didn’t know existed. Someone pulled out a knife in the toybag show-and-tell, and I at once winced and leaned forward in my seat, asking, “what do you do with that?” I learned what a pinwheel is. I saw a flogger for the first time. A little while later, I felt its sting across my back in the bedroom of the pretty, much older Dominant guy and his beautiful girlfriend [2]. In that little room, I learned how much pleasure can come from just the right amount of pain.

We went home. We bought a crop and a collar. A few months later, we went to our first Club, where I got my breasts out in semi-public for the first time. I wanted more and more and more. Not necessarily more extreme, but more exploration. More adventure. More of this.

Until he didn’t want it any more. It was too much effort. He just wanted me to shut up and let him fuck me until he was satisfied. It had all been a mistake. My kinks were too much, too complex, and too weird.

I told him I respected that, but I needed to fulfill my kinky needs in my other relationships. He told me I was broken. Wrong. Damaged goods, if I needed someone to spank me and call me filthy names to get true sexual satisfaction.

I nearly believed it, but I knew better by that time. I knew what I was. It had a name.

Kinky. Submissive. Yes. In submission, I found – find – peace. A home. A place of complete belonging and safety.

Kinky item of the day: LUBE! Essential for those long, glorious fucking sessions. If you visit Lovehoney and spend £30 or more in their bondage store, you’ll get a FREE Lubido lube (which is water based and contains no parabens) with your purchase!

[1] Age of consent in my country is 16.
[2] Hello, Fondlebeast and Twistergirl! <3

A couple of notes:
1. This post contains affiliate links. Buying through them supports my work.
2. Yes, the picture that comes up is a page from the Bible. It came up when I searched “Origin Story” on Pixabay and it made me giggle, so it stays. Please direct all complaints via Twitter. As ever, image provided under Creative Commons Licensing. 

 

I Won’t Apologise For My Body Any More

Those of us who are socialised as women are taught to hate our bodies more or less from the day we’re born. If you think I’m wrong, consider that someone thought this onesie for a baby girl was a good idea. Consider that pretty much every Disney movie ever holds up “pretty” (for the value of “pretty” that equates to thin, white, young, able bodied and virginal) as the most important thing a girl can be. Consider that 40% of 10-and-11-year-old girls think they need to lose weight.

A black and white anonymous art nude. For a post entitled I Will Not Apologise for my Body Any More

Make no mistake: self-loathing and body hatred is heaped upon us from infancy. Is there any wonder that so many of us make it to adulthood with a totally fucked up relationship with food, exercise, our bodies and our looks?

This stuff is so completely internalised and normalised that for most of us, becoming aware of it and then beginning to undo it is probably going to be a lifelong journey. We cannot love ourselves and cast off all our worries overnight. What we can do, though? What we can do, though, is stop apologising.

I will not apologise for my weight.

Spoiler for those who haven’t met me: I don’t weigh 90lb. A year and a half ago, I weighed double that number. I’ve since lost ~30lb, but that’s not what matters. I was an awesome badass with many great qualities then, and I am an awesome badass with many great qualities now.

Humans come in many shapes and sizes, and the idea that skinnier is automatically better is a great pile of steaming bullshit.

“Sorry, I used to be thinner and I’m trying to get back there” will never again fall out of my mouth when I take my clothes off in front of a lover.

I will not apologise for my scars.

My scars are part of me. They tell a story, and the ending of that story is fuck you, I survived.

If you ask nicely, I might tell you the stories behind each one. If you ask really nicely, I might even let you touch them. But don’t tell me they’re ugly, don’t pity me, don’t tell me I’d be so much prettier if only my skin were unblemished. I’m scarred because I’ve lived. Deal with it.

I will not apologise for my body hair.

If I had a pound for every person who has told me body hair is disgusting… well, I could probably quit my job and just write about sex on the internet for the rest of my life. Real talk time: body hair is natural. The notion that one must remove it all in order to be beautiful is entirely socially constructed. The idea that women must be hairless originated with razor companies trying to branch out into new markets. It’s literally the epitome of “convince us there’s something wrong with us, then sell us the cure.”

Never again will I sheepishly ask a sexual partner if they’re willing to overlook my natural hair and fuck me anyway. Never again will I apologise when someone asks me to shave it off and I tell them no.

I’m fucking beautiful and if my natural body bothers you, well… that seems like a you problem.

I will not apologise for my physical limitations.

I’m not an exercise-bunny and I’m not particularly physically strong. I have come to accept these things about myself. My body does most of the things I want it to do, most of the time.

I’ll take walks with you, but if you want a chick to scale mountains with? I’m not your girl. I’ll jog for the bus if I have to, but if you want a partner in marathons? Not me.

Similarly, my body has certain needs now, including the ones it didn’t have when I was younger. I won’t apologise for needing to sleep and no longer being able to run on fumes. I won’t apologise for needing you to maybe not fuck me as deep as you possibly can. That shit hurts. I am entitled to not be in pain.

I will not apologise for the ways my body experiences pleasure.

I’ve probably apologised thousands of times to lovers for how hard it can be to get me off, or for the fact that my body doesn’t always perform pleasure in the most reliable and/or visually appealing and/or ego-stroking manner.

I’m not going to fake an orgasm when you ineptly go down on me for three minutes.  I’m not going to apologise when I still don’t come when you go down on me expertly for half an hour. I’ll tell you what I like and don’t like, and I’ll react in a way that feels authentic. But I’m not going to apologise if it doesn’t work in the way you think it should.

I’m done apologising for my body. My body carries me through the world and gives me – and the people who are lucky enough to share in it – astonishing pleasure. My body fucking rocks.

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, the above quote captures the essence of this topic perfectly. Hmm… maybe Ms James did have some insightful moments after all!

An admission ticket torn in half

When we’re children, we’re taught that no-one’s perfect. It’s a platitude, though a truism, 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. 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. The times that the price of admission was him screaming at me 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 he didn’t meet my needs and he didn’t hear my voice. 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.

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

“Pretty” is Not My Success: On Being a Swan

I grew up ugly. Well-meaning family would probably tell you otherwise, but by conventional Western 21st century societal standards of attractiveness, it is objectively true. I tried not to be, of course. In a rough English secondary school in the early 2000s, ‘ugly’ was just about the worst fate to which one could possibly succumb. But whatever I tried, it didn’t work. I would always be too fat, too frizzy haired, too hairy, too unfashionable, too this, not enough that, to be anything other than a perpetual joke.

A baby swan swimming along in some water. For a post about being an ugly duckling

The words people said to me for the first seventeen years of my life were so vicious and cruel that even now, I can barely bring myself to repeat them. I still feel the pain when I think back, like an old injury that still twinges from time to time.

Growing up, The Ugly Duckling was my favourite fairytale. I used to dream that one day, maybe I could wake up and be pretty. Then everyone would realise I’d been a swan all along! I very much painted this hypothetical scenario in my head as a kind of justice, perhaps even revenge. When I was pretty, they’d realise they were wrong about me. They’d see I had never deserved all the cruelty they threw at me.

I actually got my wish. Okay, it wasn’t quite so sudden, but sometime between seventeen and nineteen I got hot. It’s taboo for a woman to love herself at the best of times. Typing these physical attributes that I like about myself is surprisingly difficult, but here goes: I have a pretty face, hourglass figure and an ass to die for. I’m pretty fucking cute.

For a good couple of years after I finally escaped the constant bullying for being ugly, I would frequently comfort myself with the thought that I’d got the best possible revenge by becoming pretty.

Being pretty affords me certain privileges. Of that I am absolutely certain. It is well documented that people perceived to be “beautiful” are often treated better by society. It also comes with some downsides, which Emilie Autumn described better than I ever could.

But you know what? The Ugly Duckling is fundamentally a lie. Growing into my looks and becoming pretty wasn’t the thing that saved me. It sure as hell wasn’t what made me happy. And it ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN AS ALL EVERLOVING FUCK wasn’t what made me grow into the amazing, worthwhile human I am today.

We shouldn’t be reading a story to kids where the moral is “don’t be mean to someone who isn’t pretty because they might be pretty some day”. How about, “don’t be mean to someone who isn’t pretty because looks are 99.9% genetic and seriously how decorative they are is literally the least interesting and important of a million awesome things about them?

I’m a success despite the intense trauma I experienced as a child and young adult. I’m smart, I have a killer work-ethic, I put myself through two grueling degrees. I have a job I love that makes a real difference to people’s lives. I’m indulging my passions for writing and sex education and starting to build a name for myself in those worlds. I have amazing partners who love me. I generally strive to be kind and compassionate and make a positive difference in the world.

If I’d stayed ugly, I would still be absolutely everything else on this list.

My “fuck you” to the bullies wasn’t growing up to be hot. It was growing up to be a hundred awesome things that have absolutely no bearing on whether I’m hot or not, and that will make a positive imprint on the world long after my looks have faded.

Pretty is not my success. Beauty is not my justice. “Hot” is an accident of biology lining up at least somewhat with arbitrary societal standards. I didn’t not deserve the cruelty I received because I was a swan all along. I didn’t deserve it because I’m a goddamn person and people should not judge me on my decorative value.

So fuck that story for teaching me that I’d eventually become pretty and then it would all be okay.

Can we have a realistic version where the “Duckling” wakes up as a swan and then spends ten years in therapy to overcome the horrific lookist bullying he suffered in his formative years?

Or better yet, a version where the Duckling goes “oh fuck this shit, these people are petty bullies and pretty is only surface deep” and whether he becomes a swan or not is totally immaterial because he’s off curing cancer or flying to the moon or becoming a badass sex educator and saving the world with dildo reviews or some shit?