[(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.

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.

Building Your House Together: Using Rules for Good

Hey, I’m pro-rules in relationships. (Related, I’m also pro-hierarchy in polyamory – yes, even when I’m not the one on top of the heap. Read this to find out why.)

A close up of a section of red brick wall, for a post about rules

Did you see that I’m celebrating #KinkMonth by writing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s project?

Join the discussion on Twitter or sign up for the project yourself – it’s FREE and can be used any way you like. Today’s prompt is all about rules. Kayla and John simply ask:

Do you know what kind of rules you may want or need?

A note about this post: it doesn’t contain much in the way of practical tips. I will do one soon with some more concrete advice on setting positive and useful relationship rules. This one is more a primer on my personal philosophy on the concept of rules/agreements in romantic relationships.

What’s wrong with rules?

A lot of non-monogamous people are against rules in relationships. The thinking goes: if you need rules to keep your partner from hurting you, the relationship is already doomed. I kind of agree with that sentiment, in so far as it goes. But I think it presents an unhelpfully pessimistic view on the role of rules in adult relationships.

Mr CK and I have rules in our relationship. They include things like always using condoms with lovers outside of our dyad, STI testing every 3 months, not having sex with someone new until the other has met the person, and not engaging in ongoing (i.e. longer than a scene) D/s dynamics with other people.

The rules don’t exist to keep either of us in line or prevent us from running amok over each other’s feelings. If we were going to do that, no rules would stop us, in the same way that the “rules” of traditional monogamy won’t stop somebody who is determined to cheat.

We have them because they keep us, and our relationship, happy and healthy.

A better framework

Used properly, rules aren’t a tool to bash your partner over the head with or keep them in line against your will. Used properly, they’re are the walls you build – collaboratively – to contain the house of your relationship.

You can use the word “agreements,” if you prefer, but in this framework they amount to the same thing. They’re limits, boundaries or modes of behaviour that you both (/all) agree to operate within, for the good of the relationship and everyone involved. Good rules should bring a sense of safety and security, like the solid, stable walls of your home. They’re not a prison.

If the agreements of your relationship are feeling like a cage, a conversation with your partner is in order. If your partner is arbitrarily imposing new ones without due discussion and buy-in from you, that’s a major red flag. (Incidentally, you obviously shouldn’t do this to your partner either!) To go back to the shared house metaphor, you wouldn’t just decide to build an extension or divide your living room in half without consulting your partner, would you? (If you would, umm, your relationship operates very differently from mine so please explain to me how this works for you!)

Build your house – together

I was once invited to move in by a partner and metamour. The further into “how will this work?” discussions we got, the more I came to realise a troubling fact. Namely, that their concept was that I would have little to no say in the running of the house. From the colour we’d paint the bathroom to the guests who were and weren’t allowed in the house, I would have very minimal input – while paying half the mortgage, naturally. I realise now, looking back, how fitting a metaphor this was for our relationship. They made the rules and I got no say, both in our trio and in my dyadic relationship with him. We weren’t building the metaphoric (or literal) house together – I was a permanent guest in theirs. I was caged.

I share this anecdote just to illustrate how a framework of rules can be really badly misappropriated. Contrast this with Mr CK and me, who thoroughly negotiate every agreement we make as equals. We leave them all open to discussion of renegotiation at any time, and always consider them with the best possible outcome for everyone involved in mind. Saying all rules (/agreements/boundaries) are inherently bad is like saying walls or doors or windows or grey tiling are inherently bad. They’re not. They’re elements you can pick and choose for your house – your relationship – to make sure it’s designed exactly the way you want it.

Keeping the house clean

You don’t build a house, move in, and expect to never do any work on it again. That’d be ridiculous. You have to sweep, do the dishes, repaint the odd wall and occasionally rip a piece out completely and spend loads of time fixing it. Maintaining the ‘house’ of your relationship is exactly the same. You don’t set the rules once and then you’re done. No. You have to tinker, negotiate

Build your perfect relationship the way you’d build your perfect house, with walls – agreements – to keep you cozy inside. That way, you can prevent the leaking roof of drama, and always have a safe home to retreat to and invite your loved ones into.

Kinky item of the day: Nipple clamps, for squeezy, pinchy fun! I looove clamps so much, both on my nipples and labia. (Pro tip: leave them on for more than 5-10 minutes, and they hurt like hell when they come off!)

This post contains an affiliate link. If you buy through it, I may make a small commission. Opinions are, and will always be, my own.

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

On the Same Team? Some Thoughts on Conflict.

It’s #KinkMonth, so I’m celebrating by writing a post a day inspired by the prompts in Kayla Lords’ brilliant 30 Days of D/s, a completely free project that invites you to consider all different angles of kinky relationships. Today’s prompt is all about one of my least favourite things in the world (ranked below “cheating” but definitely above “instant coffee” on the Things Amy Hates scale): conflict.

How do you handle conflict now? How do you imagine handling it in D/s? What do you think you’ll need to do differently in a D/s relationship?

I’m a very conflict averse person. Very very. Having someone angry with me is often really frightening to me and falling out with a loved one can be devastating. Unfortunately, conflict is a necessary part of human relationships – whether romantic or platonic, vanilla or kinky, conflict will rear its ugly head sooner or later.

I’ve learned a lot of things about conflict management over the years, in particular the truism that the ideal goal isn’t to have no conflict, but to process conflict in a healthy and positive way to move towards a resolution.

Today, though, I want to tell you about the one thing that I believe is at the heart of whether conflict resolution ultimately succeeds or fails. Namely:

Are you ultimately on the same side?

I don’t mean “do you agree right now?” because clearly you don’t or the conflict wouldn’t exist. What I mean is, in the grand scheme of things, in the bigger picture, are you on the same team? Do you want the same thing? Are you both seeking, in good faith, a mutually beneficial outcome?

If not, you’re fucked. If yes, you might have a good chance at resolving things and moving forward positively.

Mr CK and I had some pretty major conflicts when we first began living together, as it was – unsurprisingly – a period of major upheaval for both of us and for our relationship. Similarly, we had some doozies as we worked through how we would go about opening our relationship. Apart from a fucking incredible therapist, there’s one thing more than anything else that I believe got us through those tough times:

The knowledge and repeated assertions that we wanted the same thing, were on the same team, were merely seeking the same result from different angles – not after diametrically opposed outcomes that could never be reconciled.

I’ve been in relationships where what we wanted was ultimately completely incompatible. The conflicts were endless and circular because we could never come to a place of resolution… because that resolution didn’t exist. There are some conflicts where the desired outcomes are so completely mutually exclusive that there is just no way for both parties to get what they want. It’s really sad when it happens. But it’s better to realise it than to spend the next however many years of your life locked in a never-ending battle to be right.

This isn’t about small annoyances. This isn’t about the fact that he’s perpetually late while you’re very punctual, or the fact that she always leaves the kitchen cupboards open and it drives you crazy. (Unless those things are legitimate dealbreakers for you, in which case, Godspeed.) What I’m talking about here is big picture incompatibilities, those things that you argue about over and over and over and you never come to a resolution because making both of you happy is impossible.

Take this question, which I’ve seen in various permutations in a million advice columns over the years:

“He’s desperate for us to have a baby now. I don’t know if I want children ever, and even if I do, I’m too focused on my career to want to think about it for at least ten years. How do we both get what we want?”

Answer: you can’t. You literally can’t. You can’t at once have a baby and not have one for ten years or possibly ever. The possibilities here are that one of you drastically changes your desires or perspective (possible but unlikely,) one of you is perpetually dissatisfied, unhappy and possibly resentful (possible but not desirable,) you have this circular argument several times a year into forever (likely, but also not desirable,) or you break up.

Replace this question with literally any massive incompatibility (“she wants to open our relationship but I’m staunchly monogamous,” “they insist I convert to their religion if we’re going to be together, but I’m a happy atheist,” “he’s a right-winger with neo-Nazi sympathies, and I’m a feminist,”) and the answer is the same. If there is a way for two people with such opposing core values or needs to be together happily… well, I don’t know what it is.

Contrast these with something like this: “we’re really frustrating each other because we’re having to adjust to each other’s way of living. But we both really want a happy, harmonious household where we both feel at home.” Or “we both definitely want an open relationship, but we keep getting smacked in the face with insecurities and fears we didn’t know we had.”

The specifics will be different in each case, of course. But what it boils down to, for me, is whether or not you’re ultimately, when push comes to shove, on the same side. Because your partner should be your teammate, not your enemy, even in situations of conflict.

Kinky item of the day: Under-bed restraints, which are currently 30% off at Lovehoney. Perfect for that classic “spread-eagle” position – and, since they fasten only with velcro, they’re quick release and great for beginners.

Note: this post was not sponsored. An affiliate link is included above and if you buy from it, I may make a small commission. Opinions are, and will always be, my own.

 

Competitive Submission, or: A Journey Through Labels

For those just joining now, I’m celebrating #KinkMonth by writing posts inspired by Kayla Lords’ 30 Days of D/s project.

Day 3 is about labels. Today’s post is quite vulnerable and also heavily based on a stream of consciousness I splurged onto Fetlife last year. Kayla & John ask:

Beyond the basic title of Dominant or submissive, are there other titles you prefer or are interested in exploring? Are there any that turn you off or don’t seem like a good fit for you?

Some titles for Dominants may be Master, Sir, Daddy, Mistress, Lady, etc. Titles for submissives can be pet, babygirl, little one, boy, girl, etc.

A name badge style label with "submissive" crossed out and "Switch" next to it. For a post on competitive submission.

On Fetlife, you have to pick a “role” to list on your profile. There’s the usual Dominant, submissive, Master, Mistress, slave. Then there’s the slightly more specific babygirl/babyboy, Daddy, Mommy, pet, Primal. And then there’s the nondescript and vague Kinkster, Unsure, Evolving.

I’ve flip-flopped between labels over the years. For a very long time, I considered myself the most subby of the submissives. Topping was just not something I could ever see myself doing. So I listed my role as submissive.

Then, at twenty, I found myself pinning a willing submissive man to a bed and fucking him, telling him that he was Mine. And I liked it. Gradually, I explored my Dominant energy and realised I could get off on that rush of power, on reducing someone to a puddle of lust with just my hands and voice. I changed my label to Switch.

Then I realised that being young, hot and listed as a Switch brought out the worst of all kinds of men on Fetlife. The Doms were convinced their Domly dick was all I would ever need to shove myself firmly back into the box labelled “submissive”. The submissives wanted to crawl at my feet and serve me (for the value of “serve” which means “have me fulfill their every sexual fantasy”). I couldn’t be arsed with it. I switched to the vague Kinkster. Something about that nondescript label – possibly along with aging out of the coveted “18-24” age bracket – hugely diminished the number of unsolicited gunk in my inbox. But it didn’t feel like me.

In the midst of my relationship with my ex-Master, I switched (heh) back to submissive. I filled my profile with variations on, “I AM OWNED, LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE”. It worked, sort of, but it still only described a fraction of the rich and complex tapestry of the Amy.

Me and Mr CK switch with each other. This has been the case since the beginning, and will most continue to be the case for as long as our lives run in parallel. We both enjoy both sides of the slash (him more “D,” me more “). So I changed my role once again to Switch, and that was that.

And then… well. There’s no way to make myself look good here. I got competitive. Jealous. Scared.

My partner started dating someone, you see, who we’ll call The Doctor. She listed herself as 100% submissive. (Having been on the receiving end of her hand spanking my ass, I respectfully disagree with that label, but people have the right to self-identify.) It was this, more than the sex or the romance or anything else, that freaked me the fuck out. My headweasels took over and convinced me absolutely, in the space of a couple of weeks, that:

One: Identifying as a submissive, instead of a Switch, made this person inherently better at submitting than me purely on the basis that they never swapped roles.

Two: Therefore, my partner would prefer playing with her to playing with me.

Three: Therefore, my partner would use all his kinky/sexy/Dominant energy on her, leaving none left for me, start taking her to all our favourite kinky events instead of me, and collar her as his 24/7 submissive despite emphatically telling me he doesn’t want that dynamic with anybody.

Four: Therefore, my relationship would be over if I couldn’t show him beyond all doubt that I was at least as good a submissive, if not better, than this other person.

The thing is, this was all in my head. Neither of them did anything to indicate to me that there was any validity to these fears whatsoever. In desperation, not knowing what else to do to fight the battle against my own mind, I changed my status back to submissive. It took a very long and tearful conversation with my partner, in which all my fears fell out of my mouth and into his lap, for me to articulate what was really going on and say “I’m scared as fuck that you’ll leave me for someone else who’s more submissive than I am.”

That was when I learned that my Switchyness, and the Switching dynamic we share, is a feature, not a bug. It’s one of the things he loves about me. It was also when I began to internalise that:

One: Submission is not a contest.

Two: Being a Switch doesn’t make my submission, when I give it, less real or authentic or beautiful.

There’s a stigma against Switches in a lot of the kink world. Much like bisexuals, we’re told that we’re greedy, that we’re confused. That we need to get off the fence and make up our damn minds.

I tend to date either Top-leaning Switches, or exclusive Tops/Doms. It’s getting much better (thanks, in part, to fabulous partners who embrace ALL of me as I am!) but on some levels I still struggle with the insecurity whispering that, as a Switch, I’m a poor second choice and a Top/Dom would always choose a 100% submissive over me and like a 100% submissive more than me. I also worry, because Mr and I hang out at a lot of fem-sub/M-Dom events, that I’ll be judged poorly or thought less of due to being a Switch.

On the flip side, sometimes I feel like a fraud for identifying as Switch because my interests are so unbalanced. It’s really hard to put a number on it and it fluctuates. At the moment my desires are probably 90% sub/bottom and 10% Dom/Top. On the occasions when I do Top, I worry that my submissive partner is just going to say, “you’re shit at this, I’m gonna go do it with a real Dom.”

So where the fuck does that leave me?

Sadly, there isn’t a role option on Fetlife for “Basically submissive at heart but still gets a huge rush from Topping once in a while because I like the feeling of power and the reactions and the knowledge that I’m giving so much pleasure.”

So… yeah.

Switch.

Remember: a label is the beginning of a conversation, not the end.

Kinky item of the day: Collars by Kabunza. I’m not affiliated with this company in any way, but I could talk them up forever because 1) Aemilia Hawk is the most wonderful human being and I adore her. 2) their stuff is so beautiful it makes my heart sing. 3) their customer service is brilliant. 4) we should all support our friendly neighbourhood kinky businesses.

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you’d like to support me, please consider becoming a sexy Patron, buying me a virtual coffee, or shopping with my affiliates in the right hand sidebar.

The image featured in this post was sourced from Pixabay and edited by me. Please don’t steal my edit without express permission.

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. 

 

“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?

Kink of the Week: Fingering, the Most Underrated of Sex Acts

Fingering is one of the first sexual activities a lot of us do. It made up a huge portion of my first year of sexual exploration with another person (amidst occasional oral) when I wasn’t ready (or legally old enough) to have PIV sex. In my humble opinion, it’s also one of the most underrated sex acts.

A black and white shot of a male hand under running water. For a post about fingering

I’ve been having sex of various kinds with other people for just about 12 years (bloody hell.) It all started on a hot summer evening on the single bed in his teenage bedroom. I still remember the skirt I was wearing – green silk. I can still call to mind his voice, the murmured ‘may I…?’ as his hand was already half way up my thigh. I remember freezing, managing to nod – definitely consent without seeming keen, which is very important when you’re a teenager- and the way my cunt just gushed when he ran his fingers over it, first over and then, tentatively, under my panties.

I didn’t come that first time. It was weeks later when he made me come. He asked me if it was my first ever orgasm. Of course it wasn’t. I’d been getting myself off every night for months by that point. But I lied and told him it was anyway. Giving me my first was very important to him. But it was my first orgasm with another person, and for a long time fingering was the most reliable way to get me off.

I’ve done all the kinky shit you can imagine since then (well, probably not all of it… some of you have truly filthy imaginations… but lots of it.) And yet. There’s still nothing like a lover’s fingers pushing into my cunt or someone playing with my clit just right.

My body has changed a lot since those early days. My clit is a lot more sensitive than it used to be. This means it’s easier to overstimulate it to the point of pain and harder to get me off through clitoral stimulation – though these are still my hardest and best orgasms when I do get them. I’ve also learned to have orgasms – hard, fast and repeatedly – through g-spot stimulation.

I love being finger-fucked hard, until I come again and again and again until it hurts… or until I would come again and again, but I’ve been ordered not to so instead I just hover on the agonising edge. I love someone rubbing my clit, whether it’s the persistent circular motion that gets me off or the gentle teasing that gets me dripping wet and begging to have my holes filled. Fingering is fucking great.

Too often, we think of it as the realm of horny teenagers who aren’t quite having “full” (ugh) sex yet, or as something we do for five minutes before a P enters a V. But fingering doesn’t have to be foreplay[1]. It doesn’t have to be the starter before PIV. Fingering can be the main course, delicious and satisfying and a complete experience all on its own.

And while we’re on the subject, I fucking love fingering a woman. I love feeling her cunt yield to my fingers, feeling her clit stiffen and swell under my hand, feeling fer vaginal walls clench hard around me when she comes.

[1] I actually want to burn the entire concept of foreplay to the ground. This might be my next post.

This post inspired by Molly Moore’s Kink of the Week and is part of #Smutathon2017.

The image featured in this post was offered for use under Creative Commons Licensing. Kink of the Week and the above logo are owned by Molly Moore.

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.