[Guest Blog] The Thirst of “Femmes d’un Certain Age” by Evelyn Archer

When I started out on this quest to publish a select few guest bloggers on my site (and pay them for it, of course!) part of my mission was to share the stories I cannot tell. The experiences I have not had. That’s one of the reasons I was so excited by this piece by Evelyn Archer. Here, we’re talking Sex After 40! I’m in my late 20s. The myths about sex stopping is one of the things I’m very afraid of about growing older. But here, Evelyn tells us that not only can sex after 40 be amazing – it might just be the best ever. She’s also sharing some wisdom she’s learned along the way. Over to her…

Amy x

A 40th birthday cake, for a guest post on sex after 40 by Evelyn ArcherThe Thirst of “Femmes d’un Certain Age” by Evelyn Archer

Some doctors call it “The Surge”. I call it “The Going Out of Business Sale”.

Here’s the truth: in my late 30s through mid-40s, I’d done without sex for a long time. In a long, otherwise happy marriage – between medication side effects, interpersonal issues and plain old fear – we’d been Not Having Sex for longer than I like to admit. I told myself that everyone gets to define these things for themselves (still true), but there was also another message that I was getting and internalizing without really realizing it. A woman over 40 with a sex drive is a joke. A grotesque joke. Either played for laughs or an object of scorn and pity – we’re Stifler’s Mom from American Pie, Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company (Google it, my sweet babies).

I had no model for what my sex life after 40 was “supposed” to look like. It was “supposed” to Go Away. In fact, cursory Googling revealed a stark, depressing story of “sexless marriages”, of couples living with resentment and disappointment, or at best as friendly roommates, co-owners in the Business of Our Life. A sexual life was something I used to have, someone I used to be, and it looked like I would have to find a way to live without it.

But through hard work in therapy and a bunch of other stuff we came together again.

And now we can’t stop boning each other. But as an essentially cishet (I mean, het-ish, but that’s another post) monogamous couple, in order to truly get back on track, we had to take our cues from outside the cishet community (which is unsurprisingly UNHELPFUL in terms of sex positive information). Instead we turned to queer folks and trans folks and polyamorous folks.

If my partner and I were struggling, for whatever reason, with penetrative P-in-V sex, why was this the “end of sex” for us? Would we say that what our queer friends, our trans pals did in bed wasn’t “really sex”? Of course not! That doesn’t even make sense! So why did it have to be that way for us? Once we stopped putting P-in-V sex at the center of our sex lives, once we stopped seeing “everything else” (oral and manual and toys and everything) as a “lead up to the main event” our entire sex lives transformed. All of a sudden, “fucking” was whatever we decided it was.

So we started fucking all the time.

We can’t seem to stop. He comes home early from work just for banging. We send dirty gifs to each other. We keep a Sex Toy Wish List on Lovehoney. And we haven’t seen our friends on a Saturday night in months because we’re so tired from banging all afternoon, all we can do is eat spaghetti and watch cartoons.
And it was from polyamorous folks writing about relationships and intimacy that we learned that we have to TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME. We have to find ways to talk about stuff we don’t want to talk about. How to sit in uncomfortable feelings like disappointment and jealousy, and still hold space for each other.

It never occurred to us to actually have a conversation about what we WANTED to do
specifically, only what we DIDN’T want to do. From the BDSM community that we learned that we can just talk out whatever is “on the table” for fucky stuff and instead of all that talking “ruining the moment” (or whatever) it leads to a more fun and satisfying play-time.

The power of just listening

But let me be clear: all these terrific queer, trans, poly sex positive folks (bloggers, Twitterers, Instagram folks) are not giving this information to US. Their work is not necessarily FOR us, it’s for themselves and for each other. But by shutting up, and by watching and listening closely, I learned a new way to look at and talk about sex. As these folks process and manage their own sex positive liberation, it shows me a different way of inhabiting my own sexuality, shows me ways to question and ways to talk. It’s not one person in particular, but this chorus of voices, and quietly immersing myself in what they have to say has utterly changed my marriage, my relationship to sex, and the way I see myself.

But still, my high levels of desire seemed to be out of sync with public opinion and popular culture. There’s still the Google-able stuff about The End of Sex, but dig a little deeper and there’s something called “The Surge”. The way I understand it (and I am a writer not a doctor, so do your own research!) is that here at the End of my Childbearing Years my body knows that each egg it releases could be its last. So it releases a surge of hormones telling me “YOU BETTER BANG EVERYTHING BECAUSE THIS COULD BE YOUR LAST CHANCE”. But there’s SO little information on this (and most of it anecdotal) it reminds me of how monstrous our culture sees Femmes d’un Certain Age whose sex drives are still strong. We’re still a joke, still grotesque. Still Mrs. Roper, still Stifler’s mom.

Dawn Sera and Tristan Taoromino have talked about it on their podcasts a couple of times, but there’s little in popular culture for me to look to. Even looking for women over forty in romance novels came up thin, even thinner if you want something a little hotter than “sweet” and “tender”.

So…where ARE we?

WHY is no one talking about this? Why is the only talk of women and
middle age and desire about our thinning hair, our drying and atrophying vaginas, our hormone therapy, our inevitable march to a dry and sexless grave?

Well, I’m not having it. I’ve decided to embrace my monstrousness (if indeed that’s what it is). And I’m leaving you with some resources that really helped me. (These may Old News to you Sex Positive Veterans, but they were news to me).

Resources

  • Tristan Taoromino’s podcast “Sex Out Loud” (available wherever fine podcasts are uploaded). She has more talk of kink and gender and queer politics so this was right up my alley.
  • Dawn Serra’s “Sex Gets Real” (available wherever fine podcasts are uploaded). She has a softer, more relationshippy slant. There’s also lots of good stuff about the intersection of fat positivity and sex positivity. (Be prepared to hear the word “yummy” a lot.
  • Oh Joy, Sex Toy is a web comic by husband and wife team Erika Moen and Matt Nolan. I went there just for sex toy reviews and what I got was SO much more. The illustrations are really sweet, with lots and lots of body diversity (which I don’t see everywhere).
  • Come As You Are: the Surprising New Science that will Transform your Sex Life, by Emily Nagoski. The research here on how desire can work for some folks was a revelation to me. (Also Erika Moen does the illustrations!) Not so science-y that it’s dry, yet doesn’t read like a self-help manual. She is a scientist and a sex educator and this book is great.

Author photo of Evelyn ArcherEvelyn Archer is an author living in New England. You can find her books here and you can sign up for her super fun newsletter, “The Strange Files” here. She also writes erotic shorts as “Madeline Moon”. You can find them here, or here.

 

Affiliate links are contained within this post. All views are the author’s own.

[Guest Blog] Erotica, Sex Writers & Consent by Violet Grey

Today’s guest blog comes from Violet Grey. When Violet pitched me this idea, I went “YES” out loud – because this issue is so close to my heart. I think anyone who has ever publicly created content about sex will understand. Thanks to Violet for sharing this piece with me – it is an honour to publish it.

Amy x

A man in a suit in the background with four social media symbols. For a post by Violet Grey on sex bloggers and consent

It is a truth universally acknowledged that sooner or later, a writer will come across a fan or individual that takes things too far.

While thankfully, I’ve yet to come across a Kathy Bates in Misery type (and hopefully never do!) receiving inappropriate propositions, harassment and even threats are disturbingly commonplace for erotica and sex writers. This is a widespread problem and more often than not, isn’t taken anywhere near as seriously as if it was happening to, say, a history writer or a food blogger.

The perception seems to be, to some, a “well, what did you expect?” mentality.

If we write about sex, we’re going to draw in the weirdos, right?

If we write steamy stories online, we only have ourselves to blame.

It’s our own fault for making the harasser sending us unsolicited nude pictures after reading our erotic stories, despite us having never wanted nor asked for them!

If we write about sex, we must want to have sex with everyone!

This is where the problem lies.

The violation of a writer’s boundaries is subjected to persistent victim-blaming. While we live in a society that is becoming slowly more sexually open, sex is often still viciously demonised; especially so if a woman writes openly about sex, fictional or otherwise.

The general consensus is sex/erotica writers are somehow “worth less” or have less “value”, as writers and as people. Therefore, certain individuals think they can get away with this abhorrent behaviour. The truth is that we are people just like everyone else. We are equally worthy of respect, safety and for our consent not to be violated.

Speaking for myself, I blog about sex and kink and I write erotica. In the online world, people usually have a lot to say about that. It can range from a facetious comment to someone “testing the waters,” so to speak – saying something particularly perverse to see how far they can go.

When blogging about these subjects, you develop a thick skin quite quickly. Before long, you can easily discern harmless banter with fellow friends in the blogging community and someone trying to push things too far.

For example, a few months ago, I received an email from a gentleman who wrote a piece of erotica. Now, I don’t mind people sending me writings, asking for my opinion before they publish it on their blogs etc. or to ask if I am interested in collaborating to write a piece.

However, what this gentleman did was send me a piece of erotica where he was one character and I the other, engaging in sexual relations, as a “response” to a free verse I had written on my blog. Granted, it was well written, but that didn’t make it okay! I was never asked about being a character in his sexually charged story. I made it clear to him I was not comfortable and would not accept being sent any more stories from him. After an apology, he told me that because I wrote erotica, he took that at as, “implied consent” for him to write and send this to me. (I viscerally cringed here and went “oh HELL no!” – Amy)

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was both angered and horrified. This person was one of many who think this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Along with individuals asking if they could see pictures of my chest, or commenting they’d be masturbating whilst thinking about me, that story and his justification behind it only further solidified to me a problem that needs to be taken more seriously.

If we applied this logic to other writers, you can see how ridiculous it is. For example, because someone writes a crime novel, doesn’t mean they “imply consent” for someone to break in to their house. If someone writes a horror novel, they don’t “imply consent” for you to follow them around dressed as the story’s villain.

There is no “implied consent”. Sex writing is not an invitation to send us questionable stories, requests, unsolicited nude pictures and death/rape threats – and that’s just to name but a few!

Treat us as you would want to be treated yourself. If you have questions on collaborations, guest posts, someone to be a beta-reader, or just have a question or want some advice, always ask.

It’s never okay to do something without someone’s consent. Sex and erotica writers are no different.

Violet GreyViolet Grey is an erotic author and blogger. An avid reader of erotic romances, you’ll be hard pressed to tear her away from her Kindle! Her blog, Life of Violet, details her thoughts on society, sex and her own sexual explorations in to kink and BDSM… along with some steamy poems and short stories to get you hot under the collar!

 

[Guest Post] “Body Knows Best” by AJ Power

When I put a call out for guest blogs, some stunning pieces came my way and there were a couple that made me cry. This essay by AJ Power is one of them. AJ tells her journey to becoming the woman she is with such strength and vulnerability that I am just absolutely blown away.

I had two contradictory reactions to this piece. The first was that I wanted to publish it because I couldn’t completely relate – as a cis woman who has benefited by entire life from cis privilege, I will never completely what a trans woman goes through. However, on a different level, I felt I did understand it. As a trauma survivor, my body has always known what I need, what I can handle and what I cannot, and if a situation is right or wrong. It was learning to listen to it that was the tricky bit. In that regard, at least, I related to AJ’s essay very deeply. I am absolutely thrilled to be able to share this beautiful piece with you all.

Amy x

A painting of a young woman looking at her face in the mirror. For a post by Alicia Power.It started with losing my virginity. You could argue for something earlier: myriad stomach issues through my childhood, anxiety attacks I couldn’t recognize as such (much less explain to my parents), or any number of little things I’d only later realize pointed to my being trans. But it’s one thing to dissect signs and symptoms with the benefit of hindsight, and another to get a blaring wake-up call on a chilly October night when you’re as excited as you’ve ever been.

Aubrey was a better person to ‘lose it’ with than I could have dreamed. Vastly too cool for me, sure, but I was not looking that particular gift horse in the mouth. My roommate was out partying, we were both happy, healthy, and sober, and I was about to fall head over heels. Everything was perfect. Except, well, for one horrifying cliché….

I couldn’t get it up.

No matter what I tried (and oh did I try) it was just not happening. I didn’t understand. Yes, I was nervous, and yes, on some level I believed that it happened to a lot of guys maybe even all guys at some point or other—but at that moment there was nothing but shame and betrayal. Aubrey actually handled everything great, but that didn’t stop me from sobbing in the shower the next morning, or from going to student health to try and dig up some reason, any physical reason that this was happening to me.

When my wife and I have sex now, I do think back to those days sometimes. Days when I thought I was a guy. When I thought that only penetrative sex was “real” sex. When I somehow drew a line between Real Dysphoria(TM) and how much I hated seeing myself in  the mirror. It feels like another life, like that was a different person, an unexpected and unwanted detour when somebody else was borrowing my body. But now that I have the steering wheel again, I’m not totally sure how to drive stick (pun intended). So much about me has changed, both physically and deeper than that. I have the same parts, but not the same.

Not really.

And I don’t quite know what this body wants.

When Aubrey and I finally did end up having intercourse I was elated. It took nearly a year, and I was at least a littl bit bothered by that, but we’d fallen in love in that time. We’d grown into each other, trusting, caring, knowing. She was the only person I’d ever told about my depression. About my high school prom, where I mostly thought about killing myself and felt better than I had in months. About how desperately lonely I could get.

I still had trouble performing sometimes. I figured it was an anxious sort of feedback loop—worrying about worrying and ending up just as nervous as I’d been the first time the issue had cropped up. But I’d made my peace with it, I thought. We were happy. Problem solved.

Lest I make this into a pity party, I love sex. Touching and being touched, desiring and being desired—it’s amazing and beautiful. The journey is fantastic. The destination, on the other hand….

It’s not that I can’t orgasm. Give me five minutes with my vibrator and, well. But no matter how well things seem to be going with another person, it remains out of reach. Sometimes I think it’s just that it’s so much easier to forget what body parts I actually have when it’s just me. When I can have the barrier of pajamas, panties, or pornography to keep that knowledge shunted off to the side of my conscious mind. As opposed to the unmistakable fact of skin or lips wrapping around me. The fact that there’s something to wrap around at all. Other times I wonder if, despite the intervening years, the hormones, and the anti anxiety medication, I’m just still too much in my own head when it comes to sex, and I need to learn to shut my brain off and enjoy the moment.

In most situations, the anxiety takes hold because I’m desperately afraid of disappointing someone or letting them down. But even when there’s little-to-no risk of that, it’s tough to reassure myself. Because no matter how anyone else feels, the one I so often let down is me.

I wanted to scream at myself to just shut up for once in my life. I had Lauren in my bed. Lauren, who I’d gotten involved with way too quickly after Aubrey. Way too quickly after Lauren’s last breakup too. I was having trouble performing again. We’d both been drinking a little—just enough to relax, at least in theory.

My body just wouldn’t listen to me. Again. I was so sick of it, and I just wanted both of us to have a good time. I told myself to focus on her before I gave any thought to myself. Her body. The way it moved. The way it felt. I tried to shut out everything that was complicated or difficult, or…me.

I didn’t give much thought to the fact that when I masturbated, or even when I had sex, I rarely (if ever) pictured myself in the scene. It was like I was so focused on the woman in front of me, that I was barely a presence, even in my own fantasies. That night, I tried to switch. To focus just on Lauren, and then to enjoy the moment as myself. I wasn’t over Aubrey, and I figured that that was why I was so disconnected from myself. But the truth was, part of it felt good and right, and part of it didn’t. That was the last time I ever had penetrative sex.

The strangest part of the dysphoria I still have is that I don’t hate my body. Even the things I wish were different, I don’t hate. They just don’t feel entirely like me. I know that mental health issues are a process, but I feel like I’m past a lot of hating myself too. I can feel happy, proud, beautiful in ways I never would have been able to a few years ago. There’s just this one part of me. This last question that’s more confusing than anything. What am I supposed to do with you?

It wasn’t long ago at all now that I was lying in a hotel bed on my wedding night, feeling like I’d just seen the face of god. My wife had just driven me completely out of my mind for what seemed like forever, and when she asked me if I’d climaxed, I had to say I didn’t know. I didn’t feel like I’d had that release, but how else to describe how it had felt? Was this another part of me changing? But for once, I didn’t think about it too hard.

The truth is, my body knows me. In every fantasy that I thought I wasn’t an actor in, in every time I got lost in the curves of someone else’s body when I had no love for my own, my body was trying to tell me something. That the need and want I was feeling weren’t just about loving women, but about being one. Like calling to like. The shape of me on the inside trying to find something that would fit around it and make it home.

There’s something magic in learning to feel like yourself, at home in your own person. I felt it when I bought my first dress. I felt it when I started liking the woman I saw in the mirror. And I felt it the first time I fell in love, and the last. It’s a soft sigh and an intake of breath, a sense of “Oh, so that’s how it can be.”

I always thought that when my body misbehaved it was because something was wrong (or that it was just being an asshole), but even with the things I have yet to figure out, I know it’s not about right and wrong, or a problem to be fixed.

It’s about the fact that I’m not finished yet. I still have more to do, to grow, to change.

And if my body has taught me anything, it’s that change is good.

AJ Power is a 28-year-old trans writer and editor. When not writing, she can usually be found watching movies in bed or reading…probably also in bed. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her wife. She tweets as @write_errant.

[Guest Post] “Everything I Know About Sex, I Learned from Dan Savage” by Ari Potter

Today’s post is a continuation of my sharing awesome pieces by new voices to sex writing! When I put out my call for pitches I was overwhelmed with the response and the extraordinary quality of so many of the ideas. What I loved about this piece was Ari’s honesty around the trials and tribulations of getting past the problematic ideas around sex that come from a conservative upbringing, and the way she’s told it with a straightforward and humorous tone. Definitely a writer we need to see more of! 

Heads up: this post uses the p-word that is sometimes used to refer to sex workers. It is used in the context of quoting something that was said many years ago, and not in a derogatory way by either the author or myself.

Now, over to Ari…

Amy x

“Everything I Know About Sex, I Learned from Dan Savage”

I am in bed with a recent partner. We are taking a pause to hydrate and I’m supposed to be
thinking about how I want to be fucked: this DJ takes requests. Our conversation turns to sex and childhood and, with a delicious situational irony, it transpires that we have both shaken off prudish attitudes conferred by quasi-religious upbringings. My own were inherited from relatively liberal Bengali parents. It’s not that sex was wrong, per se, but the constraints under which it could be enjoyed were strictly limited: within marriage, to one person, of the opposite sex to you, for life.

Of course, they never sat me down to convey this diktat. Indeed, the sex talk that I got from
my parents was clinical and secondhand. When watching a subtitled Les Miserables aged eight or nine, I asked my parents what a ‘prostitute’ was. They told me to look it up, which led me to asking what this ‘sex’ thing was that you could be paid for. Again, they delegated their responsibility to a book, and a Dorling Kindersley encyclopaedia with an illustrated cross section of two torsos missionarily-connected provided me with a scientifically functional but practically useless understanding.

Over the years, no more is said about the matter, but it becomes understood from their general reticence about me hanging out with boys that All Boys Want Is Sex and Sex Outside Of Marriage Is Very Bad. There’s more than a pinch of It’s Especially Bad For Girls! too, but they reassure me that’s not because they think that, but more because everyone else will.

Predictably, they learn through my adolescence that ‘you can read anything but you can’t do anything’ is a recipe for parental disaster. I have decided to ignore much of their advice on anything, considering everything from ‘don’t drink’ to ‘get home by 4pm’ under the same broad category of “too strict and reasonable to ignore”. So when the first peers start copping off with each other, I join them. Yet, unlike with the other rules that I have wholesale dismissed, the one about sex has some sticking power in my mind. Aged 15, it’s not that I think my parents are wrong, it’s that I think they don’t understand that it’s OK for me to sleep with my first boyfriend, because we’re in love and will one day marry. Obviously. (Editor’s note – I laughed so hard at this because I had EXACTLY the same train of thought at nearly the same age. Spoiler: reader, I did not marry him.)

The gradual dismantling of these archaic views on sex were a demonstration of hypocritical insistence on conservatism – constantly making exceptions to exempt your own behaviour while trying to maintain an increasingly unsustainable dogma. When I sleep with my next boyfriend (I’m 17 or thereabouts now), it’s okay… as long as you’re in love. After that it becomes fine if you’re in a relationship. Which is amended to add the exception of ‘and on holiday’ (?!) and then finally disappears entirely by the time I’m 21 and in theory, a fully fledged adult. Oh, with the now hilarious exception of ‘I don’t let people go down on me because I’m holding something back for The One’. (Ingenious spin for ‘I don’t have the patience to let inexperienced partners practise on me!’)

My parents don’t realise how far they have own-goaled. By my mid twenties, armed with the view that safe, consensual sex that doesn’t harm anyone is to be celebrated and recently out of a long term relationship, I am keen to make up for lost time. What becomes clear to me is that my introspection doesn’t match my enthusiasm. While I want to explore my desires, the conservative hang ups from my past leave me too ashamed or bewildered to interrogate what I want. The result is a peculiar mix of willingness to try things that means I go along with others’ kinks without knowing my own.

It leads me to question how much I enjoy sexual experiences on a purely physical level. A
public, group encounter with a masked man at a party was certainly anecdote-worthy, but
was it hot? Being decorated in various constellations of latex and rope makes me smile to
recall, but out of context feels faintly ridiculous. Pegging makes me feel as though I am able to confidently take a lead, but does it turn me on? More importantly: does it matter?

Dan Savage’s sex podcast describes a good lover as someone who’s GGG: good, giving
and game. And, rightly, the model assumes reciprocity. Yet, I find that my conditioning
around sex and shame leaves me unable to be frank with willing partners. I don’t want to
only be a participant in someone else’s fantasies without indulging my own, but they are
buried and when one surfaces I second-guess how much it is mine.

‘So what do you want me to do?’ asks my bedfellow, again. Good question.

Ari Potter is a Bengali-British writer who’s particulary interested in gender, mental health and cultural identity. She’s previously appeared in gal-dem, Orlando and Litro. By day, she works for a health and social care charity, and, separately, has recently launched her own campaign on consent and sex education. 

[Guest Post] “Liberating Myself from the Confines of Sex and Love Addiction” by Taylor Morley

This post is the second installment in my “new voices in sex writing” project. This was actually the first pitched piece that I read, and it went straight into the YES pile, on the grounds that it made me cry.

Taylor’s story is extremely powerful and I think will resonate with lots of us who have had our perfectly normal and healthy sexuality and/or romantic life pathologised. I have long been in the “sex addiction is not a thing” camp, and if you want to learn more about this from an expert’s point of view, I suggest you check out Dr David Ley’s fantastic book, “The Myth of Sex Addiction.”

Now over to Taylor… 

A spilled glass of red wine with the word "love" spelled out in the spill. For a post on sex and love addiction

“Liberating Myself from the Confines of Sex and Love Addiction”

“Maybe she abuses sex as a means to cope like her dad abused alcohol,” my psychology
classmate said, as she tapped her leg against the barstool, waiting impatiently for her
second beer.

“No,” the next one said, as she hung up with her boyfriend for the third time in 15
minutes. “It sounds like she has borderline tendencies. Like, she’s not actually borderline,
she just has the borderline-like tendency to act out sexually and lose herself in each and
every partner.”

My friend inhaled as if she was about to speak. Finally, an ally coming to my defense, I
thought naively. “I think Taylor just picks the wrong men and she lets sex negatively
impact her life. She’s definitely an addict.” Then, she changed the subject to talk about
her last failed casual hookup.

I had been the subject of many armchair psychology sessions such as this one. In these
scenarios, my body served as the blank screen onto which people projected their greatest
sexual anxieties, judgments, and fears. I would often sit quietly, as I did that night,
listening to people talk around me as they attempted to diagnose and explain me away. I
suspect that it was easier for them to categorize me and squeeze me into neat little
pathological boxes than to listen to my lived experience. If I were the only broken toy in
need of repair, then no one else would have to engage in any self-examination.

At that point, I had been in recovery for over 3 years, after my therapist and psychiatrist had agreed on a diagnosis of sex and love addiction at age 21.

But I had been a part of this process, as well. The tricky thing about sex and love addiction is that you have the opportunity to diagnose yourself. You can even do it online with a vague questionnaire. In reality, this ludicrous practice opens up far too much space for people who have been shamed sexually to convince themselves that they are, in fact, damaged. When you are raised in a society that defines ‘healthy sex’ in such a narrow fashion – heterosexual, procreative, monogamous sex with cis bodies and few partners – there is far too much room for everyone else to fall into the cracks. Down I fell.

It hadn’t always been this way.

With no basis for self-love, body positivity, or confidence
in my youth, I had somehow managed to build and sustain it on my own for a few
beautiful years. As I look back on it now in adulthood, I realize how magical and unique
that was. When I was 18, I wrote in my diary that sex was “exhilarating and life
affirming.” I basked in my own glow. I noted the way my freckles curved around the
right side of my back, and named my legs as my favorite body part. I wrote with
excitement about my last sexual encounter, reveling in the limitless feeling of orgasm.

While my friends pined for monogamous relationships, I preferred casual dynamics that
spoke to my need for exploration and freedom. But that kind of authenticity and self-
assuredness had no place in a world that refused to see me as a sexually autonomous
being, especially as a young woman. My wings would have to be clipped before I
reached the sun.

In those same years before the diagnosis, I was harassed and stalked both on and offline,
slut-shamed relentlessly by friends and classmates, sexually assaulted, and victimized by
image-based abuse (also known as revenge porn) on more than one occasion. The last
encounter with image-based abuse destroyed my budding career and all of my future
ambitions when the photos were sent to current and former employers and coworkers.
These events sent me tumbling down the rabbit hole of self-loathing, which had been the
goal all along. Once I had convinced myself that sex was negatively impacting my career
and relationships, I surrendered to the label of sex and love addict.

I went through the 12 steps, making amends to friends and loved ones, apologizing for “acting out” and allowing my quest for sex to overrule my life.

I examined past traumas, attended women-only meetings as often as possible, and took the program seriously. But as the years drudged on, questions and doubts loomed in the back of my mind. Why were straight and bisexual women overrepresented in all of these recovery meetings? Why were men defined as sex addicts, while women were always identified as sex and love addicts? If the scientific community had never legitimized this addiction, why were we so convinced that these diagnoses were correct? How could doctors even diagnose someone with a condition that did not exist in the DSM? These questions were left unanswered in meeting rooms, and they were always met with pushback and anger, as if I had pulled the rug out from underneath us all.

The underlying, bare bones message from clinicians and fellow addicts were the same:
“We see that you enjoy sex, but you don’t seem to feel an adequate level of remorse or
self-disgust about it.” The brazenness and the confidence, the casual nature of my
relationships – these were the attitudes and behaviors that needed to be fixed, or
eliminated entirely. While other people in the program insisted that recovery would bring
freedom from shame, I could not taste the independence. Instead, this so-called
‘recovery’ was a pillow held firmly over my face, suffocating me with shame. Every
subsequent sexual experience was an exercise in self-flagellation. Whenever I looked at a
man and felt a mere twinge of lust, or yearned for a casual encounter, I berated myself
internally for falling back into toxic behaviors and ran off to a meeting with my head
hung low.

When society grows tired of policing women’s sexual activity, they teach us to
police ourselves, and I was monitoring my own behavior so closely, no one else had to
weigh in. It was a dull, colorless existence, and it only served to exacerbate the
depression that was already simmering underneath.

If authenticity was my goal – and it was – I would have to liberate myself.

The first step was to exit the program and leave the sex and love addict identity behind. I sought out a sex therapist that had worked with other defectors from the program, and over the past few years, he has helped me re-learn how to have pleasurable, exhilarating, life-affirming sex without the existence of shame. It is a process that has yet to reach its
conclusion, but for the first time in over a decade, I have no interest in contorting myself
to fit into a tiny box in order to be more palatable or acceptable to society. My healthy
relationship with sex will not be explained away, or pathologized. You will just have to
sit there quietly, and listen to my lived experience.

Taylor Morley is an activist, writer, and advocate who writes and speaks on topics ranging from sexual liberation, to anti-imperialism and human rights issues. She does marketing and development for non-profit organizations in Los Angeles, where she resides with her Dorothy Parker books and her vinyl collection.

[Guest Post] “RESPECT: Find Out What It Means to Me” by LittleWelshMinx

I recently decided to run a pitch call for newer voices in sex writing – specifically, the criteria was anyone who has never been paid to write about sex/relationships before. I got a huge number of pitches and many of them were outstanding in quality. In the end, picking just one from the 70+ I got was too hard, so I picked a small number of my favourites and will be publishing them one at a time between now and Christmas. Today’s is from LittleWelshMinx. This one stood out to me because of its unique take on the role of song in self-care around dating. I also wanted to share this one first because it’s so timely given Aretha Franklin’s sad death last week. 

Without further ado, over to LWM…

RESPECT: Find Out What It Means to Me

A shelf of records in a store, for a guest blog on Aretha Franklin and RESPECTToday I’m talking about relationship rituals.

I have been dating now for 18 years. During that time, I have developed certain rituals for getting me through the tough times and for getting me through the really tough times. As my regular readers will know, I’m a big music fan. I often use music as a way of feeling, thinking, soothing myself, and finding the strength to face the pain, love, rejection, betrayal, and the unknown that is the world of relationships and dating.

My parents have handed down to me a very eclectic taste in music, and one of their favourite genres – and mine – is soul. In turn, soul music became one of the key elements of my own personal relationship soundtrack.

The deep, powerful voices would resonate through my room, vibrating through my heart, connecting me to singers from over 50 years ago, making me feel slightly less alone as their voices raised in celebration, desperation, and elation.

Of all of them, I loved Aretha Franklin’s Respect the best.

Here was a woman, not bowed in defeat, not crying in a corner but standing up for herself. Rather than giving up and walking away, the woman within the narrative of the song seems to be drawing a line, telling her partner the way it is, and demanding better treatment. You get the sense that she has taken some crap and just isn’t prepared to take any more.

Every time I was in a bad place, and had been neglected, ignored, abandoned, patronised, cheated on or dumped, I would turn to music, and inevitably, turn to Aretha.

Respect acted like a much-needed shake from a collective sisterhood, putting fire in my heart and stiffening my backbone. When I was looking for the strength to keep going, stand up for myself, or screw up enough resolve to look inside for the truth, for the reality of my situation, to face my unhappiness and find the strength to leave, her voice and words would give me courage, hope, and determination. She sang about not taking any shit back in the 1960s. I’d be damned if I’d take any shit 50 years later.

And so this women, with her words and raw power, would get me through.

She was there for me during the pain and shame when “D” made me go shopping with him for his girlfriend’s Christmas present, knowing I loved him, and the day after he slept with me for the first time.

She was there for me when “S” was playing mind games, gaslighting me before I knew gaslighting was a thing, when in my bewildered state I questioned my own sanity and morals.

She was there for me when “J” trailed off into oblivion.

She was there when “R” left me for another woman, three days after introducing me to his extended family, and three months after insisting I meet his son.

This song, among many others, has been a touchstone for me. An audio reminder of who I am, what I want, and what I will and will not tolerate in my own life and relationships.

The thing to remember is that we all go through tough times and we all get our hearts broken at some point or another. To survive it, you need to have things you can fall back on, and songs like Respect, that help to snap you out of the pain, make you laugh at yourself, and keep moving forward.

Whenever I find myself hurting, I find bittersweet comfort knowing I can turn to music for solace. More than just reminding me to be strong, Aretha has been a thread throughout my dating life. Whenever I listen to Respect in a moment of pain, I am forced to remember the previous moments, but also forced to remember the fact that I got through them, and survived, a little wiser, a little tougher, and a little stronger.

When I heard the news of her death, I stopped in my tracks. Later that night I wept. I wept for a woman I never met, because her song helped me to become the woman I am.

Thank you, Aretha.

xxx

Little Welsh Minx in a masquerade mask.About LittleWelshMinx

Hello! I’m a 30-something girl from Wales, who likes classic literature, rugby, salsa, old Hollywood cinema, 40s/50s/60s fashion, and drinking gin and tonics. I blog about sex, from as many different view points, subjects, and angles as possible… academic, historical, geographical, scientific, technological, moral, personal, socioeconomic, political, emotional….

Sex – it’s not just a noun or a verb.

[Guest Post] “Three Pairs of Ruined Panties, Two Delicious Dinners, and One Squirming Sex-Blogger Slut” by Quinn Rhodes

Today I am super honoured to be hosting a guest blog by the gorgeous and talented Quinn of On Queer Street. She’s so brilliant I am frequently amazed when I remember 1) how young she is and 2) how new she is to sex blogging. Definitely an up-and-c0ming talent to watch out for, and a woman I am privileged to call a friend. I’ll let her introduce herself…

– Amy

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A woman's body from the waist to mid-thigh, wearing black lace knickers and drawing a heart on her hip and belly with red lipstick. For a guest post by Jadis Liddell.

Hey, I’m Quinn Rhodes, a queer sex blogger who writes erotica, reviews sex toys and talks about mental health. I blog at On Queer Street, and am on Twitter at On Queer Street. I’ve been blogging for less than six months, so I was really excited, but also really nervous, to pitch this post to the wonderful Amy at Coffee & Kink, who I have a wee bit of a writer-crush on. I recently had my first threesome , a really interesting conversation about reclaiming the word ‘slut’, and took myself out on a date…

(And yes, bonus points will be given to those who sing the title of this post to the tune of the Christmas song that I have been told off – and spanked – for singing in May.)

While I’m sure there are many people who arrive at my blog looking for more science-related-content than my erotica delivers, I am at heart a scientist and a very curious person. A few weeks ago, I realised I had a unique opportunity to conduct a very fun experiment that played into many of my kinks and could hopefully help me learn something new about my sexuality.

I had a date for kinky play with two cute humans lined up in the next few weeks, and we’d spent a lot of time discussing and negotiating sexy fun for our adventure together. Lots of this involved playing into my kinks of denial and humiliation, with them making fun of me for how wet and needy my cunt was after they’d tormented me to their satisfaction. To help with this, and especially so we could explore them teasing me in public, I’d bought a new toy: specifically, the Desire butterfly vibrator from Lovehoney. (Reviewed by Amy here).

I was about to enter a week of denial when I wasn’t allowed to masturbate – following on from a few days when I was allowed to wank but not orgasm – to make sure that I was a horny mess by the time I got to play with them. I think this was guaranteed anyway, but they wanted to be certain. (As well as see me squirm, because they are a wonderful sadistic bastard and a mean-in-the-best-way switchy girl respectively.) However, I hadn’t tried out the new toy yet, and I was struck with inspiration for how to do so.

Something I’d been meaning to do since the start of 2018 was taking myself out on a date – which I was defining as getting dressed up and going out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. In my mind, it was an expression of self-care and self-love, and as well as a reminder that I am not ‘less’ because I’m not in relationship. Since my mental health meant I hadn’t yet done it at this point, I decided that I would combine testing my toy with taking myself out to dinner. I wore cute knickers, new tights, a pretty dress, a belt that matched my boots… and under all of it, a vibrator strapped to my cunt.

With instructions from my to-be-play-partners to be a good girl and turn the vibe on while you’re talking to someone, slut, I headed off on my date. In my handbag, the remote for the butterfly lay next to my new LGBTQIA+ YA novel, but by the time I’d reached the end of the street I’d slipped it into my pocket and had fun testing out the settings as I walked to my restaurant of choice.

As I was treating myself and ordering a luxurious three courses, I had lots of time to play with the toy. Like the obedient girl I am, I turned the vibrator on while ordering my dishes and asking for the bill, but I might have tweaked exactly how powerful the vibrations were for that. (Though they don’t know that, so ssshh!) While eating my food, I had the remote on my lap, and wiggled slightly as I increased and decreased the intensity and tried to find the position where I could maximise its stimulation on my clit.

Using the toy in such a public space, occasionally biting my lip to stop any little whimpers escaping, was extremely arousing. It felt like I had a dirty little secret, and I fantasised about getting off while surrounded by all the unsuspecting customers… or someone seeing me trying to get off and striding over to pull my dress up and expose what a filthy girl I was. It will be a surprise to none of you that my knickers were soaked with my arousal by the time I got home.

That was the first phase of my experiment. The next was trying it out when someone else held the remote, to see if it was hotter when someone else was in control.

Everything about my first threesome was brilliant, but I did especially enjoy the moment where I was told to put on the butterfly vibrator so we could go out and get food. They checked that the straps were tight and made me hold it away from my cunt (my poor, aching, hadn’t-been-touched-for-a-week cunt) so they could make sure it worked. I’d been given orders that I was to make sure the toy was charged so they could use it on me, and at the moment they tested its vibrations my bratty side wondered what they’d do to me if it wasn’t… but it was, so the game was on.

I’m a big fan of Japanese food but I’m not sure I fully appreciated the deliciousness of the sushi and noodles I consumed that night. The couple I was with passed the remote back and forth between them under the table, so I could only tell from their smirks who was toying with my cunt at any particular moment. They looked at me earnestly with completely innocent expressions, engaging me in conversation as they turned the vibrations up and watched my struggle to form coherent sentences.

They played with me in a way that was humiliatingly hot and they did it in such a delightfully gleeful way. I don’t think they made me order food; something that I’d been looking forward to and dreading in equal cunt-clenching measure. But I wasn’t brave – or stupid – enough to give my tormentors this especially devious idea to make me squirm.

On the way half-hour journey to their house, I sat in the back of their car with my legs spread and begged the mean pretty girl to turn on the vibrator while I made a mess of the seat under me. I loved every humiliating second.

But there’s another element: did you notice that my title says three pairs of ruined knickers? I admit, I may have simplified for the purpose of a clever blog title – the actual number is probably much higher. The results of my experiment show that I found being helpless in public, at the mercy of two cute humans who controlled my cunt, far more fun than just wearing the toy on my own. What’s maybe less clear, from the results I’ve related above, is that I actually found the discussion about being teased as hot (if not more so) than just playing with the vibrator myself.

One of the reasons I’m a sex blogger is that words are powerfully arousing to me and a key part of my sexuality. And as brilliant as our threesome was, I am not sure if it would have been quite as good if it hadn’t been preceded by weeks of flirting, sexting, and discussion of boundaries that built wonderful sexy anticipation. When I was allowed to, I jerked off furiously with lube and my favourite toys while messaging them about the wonderful ways they were going to make me suffer. When I wasn’t, I carefully sat on my hands so I wasn’t tempted to, because I really wanted to. Their words were good, the kind of good that made my cunt clench and made me catch my breath at their sheer hotness.

I think it comes down to what I’d call my biggest kink. Orgasm control is hot, humiliating scenes are hot, struggle-fucking is hot, but the connecting thread in all of these is power play. Having someone in charge, whether I’m fighting against that or being a good girl, is brilliant – and ultimately it wasn’t there when I was ordering dessert from the cute waitress on my date. The element of dominance and submission that I get off on was there through most of our pre-threesome conversations and left my cunt dripping every time.

So, the results of my experiment overall? I love exploring my sexuality alone, but getting to play with others who want to make me blush and squirm tends to result in doing more laundry, because I ruin so many pairs of knickers…

Remember to check out Quinn’s work!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

[Guest Post] Forget Perfection, Bring Me the Glory – Life as a Disabled Kinkster by Pippin Strange

Today I am so, so honoured to be sharing a guest blog from one of my most favourite people. Pippin is my metamour – my sweetie The Artist’s primary partner – and a dear friend. Among many other things, they identify as disabled, queer and a survivor. They are also supremely wise, powerfully compassionate, ridiculously talented, and kinky as fuck in the best possible way. 

Content notes  are: chronic pain, intestinal health, ableism, intimate partner abuse and rape. Please look after yourselves when engaging with these topics.

Buckle in and get some coffee for this one, folks. It’s longer than I usually post, but I devoured every word and you should too.

Amy x
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A person sitting in their wheelchair facing away from the camera looking up at a big tree.It’s a bad pain day. My joints are twinging; something untoward is happening in my lower abdomen; my neck feels like two bars of iron stuck on either side of my spine. And my fatigue levels are high – even sitting forward in my wheelchair is a challenge, and I’ve done well to make it out of the house.

Suddenly we come to a patch of bumpy pavement. The Magician increases their pushing speed ever so slightly, and every little jolt sets my buttocks singing with joyful agony from last night’s caning. It’s exquisite. Once we’re on the smooth ground again, I tell them my arse still hurts and it’s all their fault. Even before they stop pushing, I know they have broken into that devilishly handsome, sadistic grin. I shiver. They bend down and we kiss deeply, leaving me wanting more.

I’m Pippin Strange, otherwise known as the Minstrel. I’m a genderqueer, queer, polyamorous switch in my late thirties, with two delightful partners – the Magician (also known on Coffee and Kink as the Artist!), and the Ranger. My relationship with each of them includes kink – I submit to the Magician (who is my primary partner), and I switch with the Ranger.

I’m also disabled. I have joint hypermobility, and an unnecessarily interesting selection of long-term mental and physical illnesses, the former including Complex PTSD, the latter including ME/CFS and some form of seizure disorder. I’m also neurodivergent, with no formal diagnosis but the strong likelihood that I am both dyspraxic and autistic. I take several forms of medication, I’m housebound a lot, and I usually use my beloved wheelchair when out and about. For good or ill, being disabled permeates every part of my life, including my sex life, and it has done ever since I reached adulthood.

An evening in a university town, nearly twenty years ago. I’ve just come back from the bathroom. My lower abdomen is again in a scary amount of pain. The Saboteur – my boyfriend, later to become my husband – is not shy of expressing his disappointment that I’m yet again not well enough for intercourse. I’ve been close to screaming with the pain, but instead we focus on his sadness that we’re not going to fuck. I assure him, desperately, that yes I really am trying my best to sort out whatever is wrong with my innards so that he can be inside me again. I feel like a failure.

I say “an evening”. Actually this happens several times. On at least one occasion, I decide to give it a go anyway, because I can’t bear the guilt any more. The pain is too much, self-preservation kicks in, I speak out. He stops and withdraws. But he is the wronged party; I get no sympathy from him.

Fast forward to the present. An afternoon in an industrial city in the Midlands. The Ranger is above me, fucking me, and it’s glorious. His hands pin mine above my head. My lips are pressed against his collar bone, moaning words of helpless submission into the his soft skin. I know I’m not going to come like this, not in this position, but I love it, I love it so much, and I’m desperate to keep going, to feel the rhythm change and hear his gasps as he comes inside me. But my thigh muscles are too weak, and my right hip joint is complaining. This is not a sexy pain. I keep going anyway, because it is wonderful and I want it so much. But he notices something, checks, asks if I’m comfortable. I realise that I’ve been foolish, and admit that I’m not. He pulls out of me, shifts aside so I can stretch out. I breathe an apology for having to stop but he tells me I have nothing to be sorry for. He smiles at me, praises me for answering his question honestly, tells me how good I am. And seeing I’m eager to stay in the scene, he starts dominating me in a different way…

Looking back, I’ve been a sub-leaning switch for as long as I’ve had any sexual urges at all. And I suspect that I have being disabled, even more than being queer, to thank for how much I’ve allowed this part of me to blossom. My body is already othered, already weird, already unacceptable. I’m already rebelling against a cultural norm every time I use it in any way that brings me pleasure. So if conforming is impossible, at least for someone with my drives and my stubbornness, I’m damn well going to rebel in whatever way I like best. And now that I’m gnarled and middle-aged (and the hottest I’ve ever been) and I only have sexual or romantic relationships with people who are actively lovely (rather than, say, completely dreadful), kink – as both dominant and submissive – has become a crucial part of my sexual identity. And a crucial part of how I cope with the day-to-day reality of my health conditions and the impact they have on my life.

A winter morning. I’m so fatigued that my arms have mostly stopped working. But I have the Ranger stretched out at my side, beautiful and helpless and mine. I can do so little to him physically right now, but there’s so much I can order him to do to himself – and I do, stroking his face and holding his gaze with mine and enthralling him with words. I have no power to do much with my muscles, but I have so much power over him.

To be a disabled dom makes, I would say, an instinctive sense. I’m someone who feels far too powerless in my life far too much of the time. And here is the Ranger, a man I love, kind and fascinating and staggeringly gorgeous. And here he is handing temporary control of his body and mind to me, calling me “Sir”, eyes widening with pain or pleasure as he falls at my command and I play with the power he’s given me. Yes fucking please, on every level. 🙂

And the flip-side of that: one of the worst frustrations I experience in being incapacitated with fatigue so much of the time is how little ability I have to do caring, lovely things for the people who I love. Put simply, my dominating the Ranger makes him happy, and I love making the people I love happy.

When I’m submitting, it’s more complicated. I already spend far too much of my life feeling powerless and in pain. So why does, for instance, being held down by the Magician’s firm hand while they torture my nipples until I squeal not only make me wet, but also give me a welcome sense of peace, healing, well-being, and even power?

The obvious answer is that in that situation, however powerless I feel, I actually am nothing of the kind. Every instant is something I have passionately chosen. But it’s more than that. While I do struggle to feel powerful in my everyday life, something that I never struggle to feel is responsible. With PTSD, an anxiety disorder, and a mind that is by nature a constant torrent of words, the feeling of falling into subspace and allowing my mind to be quiet, slow, responsive to what is immediate rather than what is ongoing, brings an instant and glorious relief, and, ironically, a growth of true power within me that lasts long after the scene. As an abuse survivor who struggles with low self-esteem, being praised for my submission by a beloved partner is incredibly healing. As a caree who does not always feel at ease about my needs, to have a situation in which I am cherished and guarded and cared for as a submissive, and in which that adds to the pleasure experienced by the dominant, reclaims some of that space for me away from my own internalised ableism.

And the pain? As every masochist and every chronic pain sufferer knows, pain varies, in quality as well as in intensity. The angry bite of a headache, the enervating ache of a stiff muscle, the sickening dragging agony of an inflamed intestine… “pain” is one word for all these things, but they have little in common beyond it. I defy anyone to enjoy anything about having Ulcerative Colitis, but most of the pains involved in sensation play within kink are of a kind that are at least potentially pleasurable, and at no point give the kind of “wrongness” signals that the body is coming to serious harm. Even when I’m being spanked to the point of tears, I know that I’m safe, that no harm is coming to my body worse than a few bruises or welts. It is blessedly different from anything that comes from my health conditions. It’s not uncommon, even, for kink sensations, coupled with post-impact endorphins, to temporarily overwhelm and drive out my chronic pain; especially useful for me given I cannot safely take most painkillers!

The sense of achievement in sensation play is also a mighty difference between kink pain and chronic pain, and gives me a taste of something that I miss. I’ve always loved the feeling of having successfully pushed my body beyond what I believed it could do. To stand, for instance, on top of a big Scottish hill, gazing down at the incredible view, and thinking I made it. Since I now have moderately severe M.E., exerting my body beyond very narrow (and varying) limits is actively dangerous – it can make me more ill for days, weeks or even months. But a hard spanking challenges my body without that risk. And since I’m afterwards able to gaze on the Magician or the Ranger, the view’s not bad from the top of that hill either.

When it comes to sensations that are pleasurable as well as painful (clothes pegs on my nipples, a punch on my butt, a flogger on my thighs, a bite on my shoulder…), my body gets to feel something it can relish, just as much as with sensations that are purely pleasurable. More so, often, since the high background level of tension in my body can make pure pleasure paradoxically painful to me. A mixture of kink pain and pleasure allows my body to relax into the sensations and relish them intensely – and to be able to relish a physical experience in this body is a powerful thing indeed. Like a lot of people with chronic pain, I wrestle with the temptation to hate my body or feel thoroughly disconnected from it. At its best, sensation play as a sub brings me back into affectionate synchronicity with this fractious, fragile, and yet utterly wonderful meatsack of mine. It is beyond precious.

As I write this, the ring and little finger on my right hand are a trifle numb. Two days ago, with the Magician’s own chronic pain flaring but both of us feeling enthusiastic, we tried something new. They sat back on pillows, comfortably, calmly eating an apple like a (gorgeous) movie villain. And I gave them a show. Stripping at their instruction, torturing my nipples, scratching my thighs, pleasuring myself while they watched me and praised me and noted with delicious smugness that turning me into their helpless toy and slave had been so very, very easy…

It was wonderful. Squirmy and embarrassing and hot and beautiful and loving. And I wrenched my neck. It had been playing up for a few days, and the slightly unfamiliar position I was lying in did the rest. I felt odd after I came (I mean, happy! but odd), and the following day I woke up with my neck, jaw, and shoulders a mess, and the obvious symptoms of some mild and hopefully temporary nerve damage, as well as some indications that I’d had a seizure in my sleep. I don’t regret a thing about that scene (although I am thinking that I might need to go to the doctor if the symptoms continue…), but in future I’ll need to take a lot more thought about how I position myself, and ask for some Tiger Balm or ibuprofen gel as part of my after-care…

I don’t want to give the impression that being a disabled kinkster is easy. That, it certainly is not.

Events are a problem. I can’t get out of the house much, and when I can theoretically get to something, worries about access and the likelihood of running into at least some kind of ableist bullshit can be prohibitively exhausting.

Meeting new potential play partners is a problem. I’m horribly vulnerable, and already a survivor of assault, harassment, rape and ableist relationship abuse. Disabled people are on average twice as likely to be abused over the course of their lives as currently-abled people, and to say that I am very wary of the possibility of it happening to me again is an understatement. The kink scene and the polyamory scene are both riddled with ableism, from the usual cultural disdain for disabled bodies, to the fetishising of certain of those bodies in Fetlife groups, to the extreme end of Relationship Anarchy that rejects anything like a carer/caree (or mutual carer!) relationship between romantic partners – or even one that is merely stable and secure and committed, as is essential for me – as intrinsically oppressive. On top of that, anyone I go on an actual date with needs to be someone both the Magician and I trust to be, at least in a small way, my carer for a couple of hours – including pushing my wheelchair if the situation requires it. Thankfully I already have my two wonderful partners, not to mention three superb “kissing friends”, one of whom I may also start kinking with soon; I am quite beautifully polysaturated! But even if I were more interested in, say, casual play with a stranger or acquaintance than I am, it would not be remotely an option for me.

And then there’s the actual impairments. There are some activities I’d love to do that are either physically impossible for me, or which I cannot do for long. Ever tried giving a blow job with your jaw a clicky mass of pain, and when you have both a strong gag reflex and emetophobia? Not the easiest thing. 😉 I actually love sucking my partners’ cocks, both as a dom and as a sub, but my Gods do I have to be having a good day before I can, and deep-throating is most definitely not an option. And sometimes I am just too mentally ill for kink to be safe. Anxiety and depression and even flashbacks are one thing, and under the right circumstances kink can actively help, but on those thankfully rare occasions when my perception of reality is a little porous, let’s just say that telling a partner I’m their helpless captive is not a sensible plan…

But those limitations do come with their own blessings. I can’t have some perfect scene that lasts for hours and doesn’t require extensive in-scene management of my energy, pain levels, and whatever my brain might be up to. And since I can’t have it, I don’t need to try. Instead, my partners and I can get on with doing what works for us on the day – and finding creative solutions to some of the difficulties. After the Ranger and I stopped having PIV sex with him on top in the scene I describe earlier, we found another position that was a lot more sustainable for me, and in which I was able to come really quite explosively. Would we have found that position if my hips had been behaving themselves? I’m not sure we would. My difficulties with stroking his cock for any length of time I have gone some way to fixing, buying him as an anniversary gift a stroker toy that gives me a much easier grip, and which he loves in its own right (not least because it is purple!). The frankness about my body that I have had to develop to survive means that I’m good at giving accurate feedback, vital when trying something new.

The Magician and I, since we live together, engage in a lot of micro-kink: scenes that last literally seconds long and which we fit randomly into our day whenever we’re both up for it. A brisk hand or hairbrush spanking while we run a bath. Their hand closing briefly over my mouth while we’re snuggling. A glare over the top of their glasses that rapidly becomes a contest, with me trying to make them laugh before they can turn me into a subby heap (they usually win 😉 ). Even the very fact that they’re my carer sometimes creates micro-kink situations, as helping me out of bed turns into mutual fondling, encouraging me to rest becomes sternly ordering me to, and helping me undress when my arms aren’t working properly becomes, well, stripping me naked.

Perhaps this above all: every body and every brain has its moments of misfiring. The Magician is disabled too; the Ranger is also not in consistently perfect health. And they both know they can trust me absolutely to understand and empathise when it’s their needs or limitations that mean that a scene has to be changed or halted, or just isn’t possible that day. I don’t want to romanticise the lessons that being disabled has taught me, when the primary lesson it has taught me is that all disabled people live in severely ableist societies with inadequate access, respect, and understanding, and that this desperately needs to change. But I have been forced over the past two decades to teach myself something powerful about how futile it is to search for what is perfect, and how much better it is to build what is glorious instead. And if there is one thing that makes me both a good dominant and a good submissive, it is probably that.

Photo provided by the author. Do not steal it.

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

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

_________________

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

Headshot of Christine Woolgar, a while woman with blonde curly hair, smiling and facing the camera. For a post about sex therapy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Night 7: He still doesn’t come.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If the marriage fails, it’s my fault.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I don’t want to.

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

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

Seriously?

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

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

We start learning about rope.

I begin to not dread sex.

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

He always has.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relief.

Though I miss doing rope.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He begins to lose the fear of hurting me unintentionally.

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

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

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

Now when he touches me, I welcome it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Month 46: Back on the ropes and enjoying it.

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

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

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

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

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

Next day: third orgasm.

Next day: don’t need to keep count.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find me and more of my writings on:

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

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

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

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

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

I know that these posts have really helped people.

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

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

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

The image featured in this post was provided by Christine and is owned by her. It must not be reproduced or copied without express permission.

[Offsite] The Five Biggest Lies I Was Told About Sex…

…And You Probably Were Too!

I’m honoured to be featured again as a guest writer for the excellent Exhibit A, talking lies we were all fed about sex, love and relationships. Here’s the teaser…

We are all fed toxic beliefs about sex and relationships from the time we’re tiny. Whether it’s parents, the church, teachers, your peers or crappy internet porn teaching you these things, they’re almost impossible to escape. Here are some of the most toxic, thoroughly busted by Yours Truly.

  1. “Your first time will be the best sex of your life.”

Why It’s Told: We live in a society where (female, or those read as female) virginity is highly prized and highly commodified, and where woman/vulva-owning people are not supposed to enjoy sex or seek it out for its own sake. Setting up sky-high expectations for the mythical perfect ‘first time’ puts young women under huge pressure to find the ‘right person’ and effectively serves as a warning. If it’s with the ‘wrong’ person, we’re told, we will miss out on the One And Only Opportunity to have The Best Sex Of Our Lives.

Read the whole post here.