December 1st is World AIDS Day. The AIDS epidemic, at its height in the 1980s and early 1990s, is still in many ways ongoing and has claimed over 35 million lives in the last ~40 years. Check out this fact sheet to learn more.
From the World AIDS Day website:
[World AIDS Day is] an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.
Many of us, especially LGBTQ+ people, feel helpless in the face of something this huge. It scares the shit out of lots of us – and it should. AIDS was and is one of the most destructive pandemics in human history. But there is hope, too. UNAIDS have a hugely ambitious treatment plan which, if it works, will see 90% of HIV-positive people knowing their status, 90% of these on antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of these with a viral load declared “undetectable” – all by 2020.
So today I wanted to share some small but meaningful things you can do to make a difference this World AIDS Day.
1. Donate if you can
Donate to a charity that’s doing important work in the areas of HIV and AIDS. I suggest amfAR who are pioneering research into a cure, Terrence Higgins Trust who campaign and provide services connected to HIV and sexual health, or the National AIDs Trust who fight for change and champion the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.
2. Get a test and know your status
When was your last full sexual health screening? Go book one in now! If you’re sexually active, you really should be getting a test every six months at a minimum – and more often if you have multiple partners, practice unprotected sex, or regularly have anal sex. I’m fairly slutty and I have a full screening every 3 months. Knowing your status is the best way to protect yourself and your partners.
3. Smash the stigma and share factual information
See people talking shit about people with HIV, AIDS or STIs? Tired of false information? Engage in some stigma-smashing by challenging them to rethink their views and sharing some facts. People living with HIV are not dirty, sluts, immoral or stupid. HIV cannot be transmitted except via infected blood or sexual fluids (or to infants via breast milk). It cannot be passed on through kissing, skin-to-skin contact, sharing food or drinks, water fountains, toilet seats, mosquitoes, saliva, sweat, or modern blood transfusions. This handy guide is useful to share.
4. Stock up on sexual health supplies
As many people as possible practicing safer sex is one of our greatest weapons against HIV/AIDS. Make sure you’re well-stocked with condoms, dams and gloves, as appropriate to the types of sex you have. If you can’t afford to buy supplies, ask your doctor or sexual health provider where you can access them for free. Remember to check your condoms and dams before using to make sure they’re still in date!
Pro tip: Gay bars/clubs and sexuality-focused events often give out safer sex supplies as freebies. If you go to any of these, don’t be scared to claim some for yourself! I used to go out to gay bars so often I don’t think I paid for condoms until I was 24.
5. Wear your red ribbon
The red ribbon is the internationally-recognised symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness and advocacy. Here’s a useful list of where to get them in the UK. If you can afford to, you can also buy a brooch version and support NAT’s work.
What are you doing to support World AIDS Day and show solidarity with people affected by HIV all over the world?
What do we mean by chastity play? Broadly speaking, it’s a form of kink play where the submissive abstains from orgasm – and sometimes from any form of sexual contact – for a period of time as determined by their Dominant. If you’re not currently in a relationship, you can also play with it by yourself, of course. This might or might not include the use of a physical chastity device such as a cock cage or chastity belt. It’s also sometimes referred to as orgasm denial, orgasm control, no-touch, and other variations.
So what are some great reasons to give it a go?
It’s a great way to enhance your submission/Dominance
Giving someone control over your sexual release is, in some ways, the ultimate surrender. Whether this involves handing over the keys to your chastity device to a “keyholder” or simply pledging not to touch yourself until given permission, needing someone’s say-so to experience pleasure and orgasm is likely to make you feel submissive to that person really quickly! And for the Dominants amongst you, having someone’s release at your mercy is awesome. Hearing them beg for it is a hell of a power rush.
The eventual pleasure is so much better
When I’ve been denied for a period of time, the eventual orgasm is just so much stronger and more satisfying. A bit like that first bite of your favourite meal when you’re starving hungry, an orgasm after a period of chastity is like no other orgasm you’ll ever experience.
It keeps your mind on your service even as you do other things
Going about your day to day life and feeling your chastity device under your clothes or just remembering you’re not allowed to touch is a great way to feel connected to your Dominant and to your feelings of submission, even when you’re not actually playing.
It’s really fun for long-distance relationships
If you’re long distance, you might wish to implement a rule such as that the submissive is always in chastity when not with the Dominant. A less extreme but still fun version is only allowing your submissive to masturbate and orgasm when on the phone with you. Or you could play edging games on the phone, only to lock your poor submissive up again without release at the end. The possibilities are endless, and playing with chastity is a great way to feel close when you’re apart.
Pleasure can act as a motivator
Are you trying to train your submissive and instill desirable behaviours (or break problematic ones)? Chastity can be a great motivator! Perhaps they only get to touch themselves if they drank their 8 glasses of water today. Maybe you’ll only let them orgasm after they’ve got all their writing done. Or perhaps they get an extra day in the belt for every day they forget to eat breakfast. I’m a big proponent of using kink as a tool for self-improvement. Release-as-reward is one fun way to play with this.
Do you play with chastity? What do you love about it? Tweet me or comment below!
 A word of safety caution: ALWAYS keep a spare key where the wearer can access it if they need to. You never know when a medical emergency or similar may crop up.
As a feminist, I’m in favour of many of the aims of International Men’s Day. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. There are tonnes of really important issues affecting men today – from lack of mental health support which leads to a much higher suicide rate for men, to male victims of rape or domestic violence going unacknowledged.
What I don’t believe, however, is that feminism – or women – are responsible for these issues. They’re a symptom of patriarchy, the fucked up system under which we all live, and which also harms men – in different ways to the ways it harms women, sure, but harm nontheless.
But plenty of better writers than me have already said all of these things much more eloquently than I have. And this is a sex blog, after all! So in celebration of International Men’s Day, I wanted to share with you some of my favourite examples of positive masculinity, as portrayed in erotica. Because Fifty Shades of Grey is all well and good, but Christian Grey is fundamentally a misogynist and a rapist – literally the embodiment of toxic masculinity in sexy-pants, richer-than-God, sold-100-million-copies packaging.
Anyone who has read these books will be unsurprised to know I have a huge character-crush on Bruce. What I love about him is that he’s confident as hell (to the point of juuuust occasionally coming across a tad arrogant) but is actually a complete softie and quite vulnerable underneath it all. The sex is hot as hell (of course) but it’s the emotional depth of this novel that really gets me. Bruce’s struggle to let go of the past, his enduring love for Paige, and his desire to save everyone – even to his own detriment – combined with the older-man sexiness make him a romantic character I can’t resist.
“Are you still upset with me?” he asks after a long silence.
She turns, surprise on her face. “No, I’m…”
“She’s inside me too, you know.”
[Disclaimer: the above is an affiliate link and if you decide to get this book, I would super appreciate you supporting me by buying from Shevibe!]
If you like billionaire-older-man romance, Neil Elwood is a much more positive antidote to Christian Grey. The romantic relationship between Neil and Sophie is built upon trust, mutual respect and actually getting to know one another, not upon fear and bullying-masquerading-as-dominance. He’s not threatened by Sophie’s success in her career and explicitly doesn’t use his position to sexually manipulate her. And he’s willing to admit when he’s wrong. Oh, and crucially, there’s tonnes of explicit and enthusiastic consent.
He kissed me hard, his hand tangled in my long hair, and when we were both breathless he lifted his head to answer my question.
“Not now. I thought I’d lay you down on this sofa and bury my face in your cunt first. Unless you object…”
This is a really lovely, sweet-yet-sexy romance about a woman recovering from a broken heart and a Daddy Dom she meets through her blog. What I love about it is how respectfully Johnathan approaches Katie, and how he slowly gains her trust as their relationship develops. There’s a constant underlying thread of consent – even as simple as “don’t feel pressured to answer all the questions I ask you”. The biggest character trait I get from Johnathan is kindness, which is underrated but extremely powerful when combined with just the right amount of sexual dominance – and I am very very here for it.
“Look at me, girl!” Johnathan’s voice took on a feral tone. “I want you as a woman and as a submissive. I will not deny my nature any longer. I also won’t force you to accept something you don’t want. But I think you want this as much as I do. If you do, tell me. We’ll go slow, but just fucking tell me.”
See? Everyone who told you that women only like slathering rapey beasts was full of shit. Give me kind, respectful dominants who value consent and mutual pleasure any day. Who are your favourite male characters in erotica, and why?
 *Narrator voice* “Fifty Shades was not, in fact, all well and good at all.”
SPOILER ALERT! This post will contain spoilers for You, Me, Her seasons 1-3, so if you care and haven’t watched yet, click off this post now.
You may remember my ridiculous quest to recap every episode of this stupid show, which fizzled out somewhere in the middle of Season 1 because I ran out of time, energy and fucks to give? If not, go read them. It’s snarktastic, I promise you.
In case you haven’t seen it, You, Me, Her is an American comedy-drama series following suburban married couple Jack (Greg Poehler) and Emma (Rachel Blanchard) as they enter into a polyamorous triad relationship with 25-year-old college student and escort, Izzy (Priscilla Faia).
Instead of reviewing this mess one episode at a time, I thought I’d bring you all the things I think it got wrong about polyamory – so far – in one easy post.
1. Izzy would never date these two idiots.
Izzy is a beautiful, 25-year-old college student who is escorting her way through university for the money. When Jack hires her for a date and then Emma later (having found out) does the same thing, she inexplicably decides she’s super duper into both of them for some fucking reason. That would never happen. Any sex worker in Izzy’s place would do her job, take the damn money, and leave this pair to work out their shit in suburban hell by themselves.
2. It’s PORTLAND, not the Bible Belt.
This show is set in Portland, Oregon – a city famous for being super-duper liberal and where I know for a fact there’s a huge polyamorous community. Sure, there are some conservative people there (they’re everywhere, sadly) but the idea that being out as non-monogamous – or even bisexual – in fucking Portland would totally destroy Emma’s life is patently unrealistic. If they wanted that narrative to work, they should have set it in rural Alabama or something.
3. Being bisexual is apparently a worse crime than cheating.
There’s a scene in their therapist’s office where Jack shames the hell out of Emma for telling her bisexual origin story and having slept with women before they met. Seemingly forgetting he cheated on her with an escort about, ooh, a week before. (Also, Emma later declares that her bisexuality “wasn’t a thing,” despite having relationships with four – FOUR – women! That is definitely “a thing”.)
4. Partners are not commodities that you have to share out equally.
Jack and Emma agree that they each get “two nights with her… I mean you” per week. They then have a debate about who “gets” her first. This is gross beyond belief. She’s a human being, not a pie that you both want equal numbers of slices of. Ugh.
5. Dating someone new isn’t how you inject sexual spark back into your ailing marriage.
Jack and Emma’s idea is that they’ll each go on dates with Izzy, then come back fired up and ready to ravish the hell out of each other. That’s not how polyamory works. That’s not even how feelings or sex drives work! And it’s, once again, objectifying as all hell. They’re basically using her as a human sex toy. Also, Jack gets mad when Emma comes back from a date and isn’t up for fucking him right there and then. Your partner doesn’t owe you sex just because they just went on a date with someone else!
6. Jealousy IS inevitable. That doesn’t mean courting it is good for your relationship.
Jealousy is normal and fine, as long as you deal with it in a healthy way. Trying to make your partner jealous deliberately in order to… what, make them want you more? is a REALLY bad idea. And half the time seems to be these idiots’ entire game. Jack and Emma use Izzy to make each other jealous. Izzy uses Andy (who is a dick but seems really into her) to make Jack and Emma jealous.
7. Treating someone like crap then chasing them through an airport isn’t romantic!
Jack and Emma treat Izzy like total crap for the entire show. One romantic gesture (chasing her through an airport to “bring her home”) isn’t
8. Polyamory isn’t just for rich white people!
Jack and Emma are the classic middle-aged, upper-middle-class, professional married pair I’d expect to see at a swingers’ club. Nothing wrong with that, except that the polyamorous community is actually hugely diverse. Trust me, we’re all bored as hell of seeing every representation of our community reduced down to “rich white people who don’t enjoy sex with their spouses any more”.
9. You can’t expect someone to fall for two people in the same way, at the same rate, at the same time.
And that’s EXACTLY what Jack and Emma expect of Izzy. At one point, it becomes apparent that Izzy’s connection with Emma is growing stronger while her connection with Jack is developing at a slower pace, and Jack throws a hissy fit to the point of fucking off for several days. This is exactly the kind of expectation inexperienced unicorn hunters put on new partners, and it’s grossly unfair.
10. Sex doesn’t solve your problems. Communication does.
Whenever these three have a problem, they just fuck and it all goes away… until next time. Sex is great but it’s not how you fix your problems. Only actual, honest, open and respectful communication can do that.
11. You don’t have to live with all your partners!
Jack, Emma and Izzy move in together almost the moment they’ve decided to give a triad relationship a go. Not only is this the mother of all bad ideas, it’s just… not realistic. Just as most monogamous people wouldn’t give a new date the keys to their house before things were pretty stable and established, neither do polyamorous people. And regardless of relationship set-up, the “three people sharing a double bed every night” trope is… sweet but unrealistic. Trust me. I can only manage it even in my King bed for a night or two. You can still be polyamorous if you don’t want to live with all your partners, now or ever.
12. Extremely conservative, homophobic parents don’t come around in three seconds flat.
Emma’s parents go from hyper-conservative, openly-homophobic bigots who only care about her having babies, to being totally chill with the accidental dropping of the polyamory bomb in… yeah, less than five minutes of screen time? (Which equates to about an hour in plot-time). People can come around, of course. People question their assumptions when they are directly confronted with them by someone they love. But it usually takes more time than this. Sometimes much more.
13. And finally… NOT ALL POLYAMORY IS A FUCKING MFF TRIAD.
Are we all sick of this very specific picture being painted yet? Good, me too. Let’s move on to something more representative and less relentlessly cishet-male-gazey. Please.
So what’s next? This show has been renewed for seasons 4 and 5. I hate this about myself, but I already know I’ll watch them all. Maybe I’ll even live-tweet them.
Did you know that September 23rd marks International Celebrate Bisexuality Day? Also known as Bi Visibility Day, ICBD is observed by members of the bi community and our allies and supporters, and is used to campaign for greater bisexual visibility, to celebrate bi history and culture, and to show pride in our identities and those of the bi people we love.
If you’re low on energy today, or this is the first time you’ve heard of ICBD, here’s some easy and fun ways you can celebrate and make a difference!
1. Wear something purple
Purple is the internationally recognised colour of bisexuality. I think this originally came from the idea of purple as a mix of pink (gay) and blue (straight), which is a little problematic. But, hey, we have our own colour!
If you don’t have the energy to do anything else today – and that’s A-okay! – then why not put on a purple shirt, scarf, shoes or other accessory to show your bi pride?
2. Tell the bi folks in your life that you love them
If you’re monosexual (gay or straight), this is a great time to reach out and support the bi people in your life. A “happy bisexuality day!” from a gay or straight friend has never failed to make me smile on September 23rd.
And if you’re bi, reach out to your fellow bisexual friends, partners and allies, wish them a happy ICBD, and maybe get together for some cake?
3. Share bi content on social media
A retweet, a share or a comment goes a long way towards supporting the visibility and normalisation of bi people on social media. Obviously your comfort levels will vary, and I would never ask someone to out themselves if they weren’t ready or put themselves at any risk, but if you can safely post on social media about queer issues, try these on for size:
“Did you know September 23rd is International Celebrate Bisexuality Day? Just popping up to remind y’all that I’m still bi, regardless of my relationship status! I’ll be wearing purple to show my pride today. Will you wear something purple to show your support?”
“Did you know September 23rd is International Celebrate Bisexuality Day? I’m (straight/gay), but I support my bisexual friends! I’m wearing purple today in solidarity. Will you?”
Read books by bi authors (Virginia Woolf, Alice Walker, Robyn Ochs, Rachel Kramer-Bussell, Jennifer Baumgardner…). Listen to music by bi artists (Freddie Mercury, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Pink, Amy Winehouse…). Watch films or TV shows with bi storylines (try Imagine Me & You, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Call Me By Your Name, the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, Loving Annabelle, Steven Universe…). Share content by your favourite bi bloggers, vloggers, indie writers and content creators (I’ll be doing a separate post on this later).
6. Give your favourite bisexual some cake
It’s well known that bisexuals love cake. It’s our little way of reclaiming that stupid “have your cake and eat it too” expression. Today is a great day to give your favourite bisexual (even if that’s yourself!) some cake.
7. Donate to causes that support bi people
LGBTQ+ causes have historically been pretty shitty about including either the B or the T in their work. Thankfully, this is improving, and there are now organisations specifically dedicated to improving the lives of bisexual people.
The Bisexual Index highlights and combats biphobia, works for bi inclusion in events such as Pride, and connects bi people to resources and community. They also have super-cute merch.
Bisexuals of Colour is a fantastic group for Black, Minority Ethnic and Mixed Heritage bisexual people. Check out their Tumblr and donate via Paypal (bis.of.colour at gmail dot com).
Biscuit is an online magazine and organisation for “modern bisexual women, femmes and those assigned female at birth”. If you experience life at the intersection of misogyny and biphobia, Biscuit is for you. You can donate at their homepage.
MindOut are the LGBTQ-specific arm of Mind, the UK’s mental health charity. Did you know that bisexual people are among the most likely to struggle with a mental health issue at some point during their lives? MindOut is dedicated to combating mental ill health within the LGBTQ+ community and as far as I can tell their bi inclusion is fantastic.
8. Subscribe to a bi magazine
Bi Community News keeps you in the loop about all the fun things happening in the UK-wide bisexual scene – and it’s only £12 for an entire year!
9. Support bi and queer porn makers
You know by now that you should be paying for your porn, yes? Well, what about awesome ethical feminist porn featuring real queer women having real sex? Check out Crashpad Series and Ersties to support awesome women-owned-and-created porn.
10. Plan to go to a bi event
Going to BiCon in 2019? It’s the highlight of the bisexual year and I really recommend checking it out if you can! Failing that, there are regular bi groups in cities up and down the country – check out this list and find one near you, and make a plan to go along. You’ll be sure to make some friends and allies.
What are YOU doing to celebrate ICBD? Tweet me or comment and let me know.
This post contains affiliate links. All opinions, as ever, are my own. If you want to support my coffee-and-cake habit for bisexuality day, you can do so via Ko-Fi.
Have you ever played a kinky card game!? I hadn’t either, until recently – when the lovely folks at Pain Play: The Game introduced me to their prototype.
Pain Play is a simple game for lovers of impact play. There are 50 cards divided into 5 decks – 20 “hit cards” (i.e. the number of strokes you will receive, when the two are added together,) 10 “location cards” (where on the body you’ll receive the impact,) 10 “implement cards” (to determine the implement used,) and 10 “modifiers,” which can do anything from doubling or halving your strokes to allowing you to give them to somebody else. You literally draw a card from each deck and then do what the cards say. There are also spare cards, so that you can add your own ideas.
After a devious session of scheming with the creators of the game, I thought it would be fun to share some of the wonderful – and perhaps less obvious – ways of using this delightful little game.
Obvious disclaimers apply
In the context of the game, as ever, full consent and negotiation is paramount. A safeword or any other withdrawal of consent ALWAYS supersedes the rules of the game. Whether in a group or one-on-one setting, no-one should ever be pressured to take part in anything they don’t want to.
Pro tip: you can remove cards from the deck without affecting the mechanic of the game. So if impact on a particular body part or with a particular implement is a limit (or if you just don’t own/have the skills to use any implement,) you can remove it.
Now let’s look at some ways to have fun with Pain Play: The Game.
1. As humiliation play
Is your masochist complaining about the cards they drew? Well, just tell them they did it to themselves!
I recently discovered I have intense feelings (good ones!) about phrases like “you brought this on yourself…” while a Top is doing deliciously mean things to me. Making your submissive pick the cards and then telling them that they’re just getting what they chose can be super fun for the discerning sadist.
2. As a way for newbie bottoms – and Tops – to explore
So you want to try impact play but you have no idea what implements you want to play with, where on your body you might enjoy it, or how hard? Or are you a nervous new Top, wanting to spank your eager submissive? Playing this game is a wonderful way to try things out – and, frankly, to get a feeling of permission to try things out. Afterwards, you can discuss which “rounds” were your favourite.
3. To get a kinky party going
You know that moment at the party when the snack table has been demolished and the introductions have happened and everyone’s like “so… do we just start playing or what!?” Being the first one out onto the play kit can be nerve-racking. Get a few friends together – or even everyone, if it’s a small party – and play a few rounds of Pain Play to start you off. Everyone will be into their kinky thing before you know it!
4. To start a scene with a new partner
You want to play with that hot person. They want to play with you. Awesome! But how do you actually get from the negotiation chat (you’ve done that, right? If not DO IT NOW) to actually getting a scene going? Well, a round or two of kinky cards can be a great way to transition from negotiation-space to play-space.
5. To demo different toys or techniques
Are you a sex and kink educator, workshop leader, purveyor of fine impact toys, or just the resident spanking guru in your friendship circle? How about using this game as a jumping off point for your next teaching session? Whether you’re showing off different skills to the audience on your own partner, or allowing willing volunteers to have a go at being on the receiving end themselves, structuring a workshop or demo around this game adds an element of fun and surprise!
Okay, Amy, you’ve sold me! How do I get a copy?
Pain Play: The Game is being funded through a Kickstarter project, and there’s only a little time left to get them to target! Mr CK and I have pledged £200 which will get us a copy with custom artwork to at our events and parties. But if you can’t afford that much, never fear! Every pledge of £15 or more gets you your own copy of this fabulously filthy little game, with the standard (gorgeous) art and everything you need to play. We should be supporting creativity and innovative projects by people within our community, so please do support if you can!
Everyone deserves to feel gorgeous, sexy and desirable. And one way to achieve this is through wearing beautiful lingerie. Long-time fans of the blog will know that, until a few months ago, I didn’t think lingerie – in the traditional sense – was for me. I’m a curvy girl with an hourglass shape, currently a bit on the chubby side, with large boobs. My go-to knickers were less “sex kitten” and more “shapeless”. But after being sent some beautiful pieces to review, I realised that lingerie is just as much for me as for anyone. I’ve learned to love wearing it, and feel amazing when I do.
So here’s some top tips I’ve internalised that always help me to choose the perfect piece.
Know your measurements and aim for a perfect fit
If you wear bras, it’s really important to get properly fitted! Wearing something that fits you perfectly will make it look and feel so much better. For corsetry, you’ll need your waist measurement. Sizes vary between brands, of course, so don’t be afraid to go up or down from your usual size if you need to.
That babydoll might be perfect for wowing your lover in the bedroom, but it won’t work so well under your business suit for secret everyday glamour. Consider where and when you’re going to wear the pieces you’re buying, and shop accordingly. You’ll shop differently if you’re looking for the perfect wedding lingerie than if you’re after a showstopper for a night out at the BDSM club.
And don’t be afraid to ask for advice! Whether online or in person, store staff will be delighted to assist.
Shop smart online
Shopping in person is great if possible, but brick-and-mortar stores aren’t available in all areas and may not carry all lines. I buy the vast majority of my lingerie online and have never had an issue.
Begin by simply browsing catalogues for inspiration. Of course, looking at a picture doesn’t tell you how something will look or feel on you, but knowing what you’re drawn to is a great start. Bookmark the pieces you like and come back to them later with fresh eyes before you make your choice. Reputable shops will also have a solid and transparent returns policy so if something doesn’t fit right or doesn’t quite work for you, you can swap it for something that will.
But don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone
Don’t discount trying something that you would never normally choose! Pick up something risque, daring or different, or even just try a colour that you wouldn’t usually go for. You might surprise yourself!
Try this fun game: ask your partner, friend or personal shopper to pick something out for you, and try it on – whatever it is. You never know what you might discover.
Seek a second opinion
Taking a partner or lover with you to a store, or browsing online catalogues together, can make for a wonderfully sexy shopping experience! I love trying on pieces that make me feel a million dollars and then showing them to my partner and watching his expression change. If you’re single, shopping with a trusted friend is also a fun option.
You could even consider a private shopping experience. Baby Jane Lingerie offer a personal shopping VIP experience where you have a staff member’s undivided attention as they help you find the perfect look for you in a no-pressure, body-positive environment.
This week: tweet or comment and tell me about your favourite lingerie!
This post was kindly sponsored by Baby Jane Lingerie, a new women-owned business who are committed to helping you find the perfect lingerie. Check out their extensive lines for all bodies and all occasions. All opinions, as ever, my own. Main post image is from Pixabay, logo is property of Baby Jane Lingerie.
After I write this post, I’m going to be jumping in the shower and then loading the car and heading off to Manchester with Mr CK. There we will convene with 8 of my amazing sex-positive friends for my 28th birthday party. Unsurprisingly, then, when I was considering what to write today I started thinking about sex-positive friendships.
Since I joined the sex-positive and sex writing communities, first on Twitter and then in real life, I have met someofthemostamazingpeopleI have ever been privileged enough to call friends. So this is a little celebration of them all, and some thoughts on why you really need sex-positive friends in your life.
You don’t have to self-censor
I hate self censorship, and I do it a lot out of desire to not lose my day job or alienate my family. But sometimes you just want to say “I got fucked realllllllly good last night!” or “check out this awesome shot I took of my boobs!” When you have an awesome group of sex-positive friends, fear of oversharing is… if not entirely eliminated, at least substantially reduced. No-one’s going to say, “ew, I don’t want to hear about your sex life!” when you literally became friends with them through sharing your sex life on the internet.
You don’t have to explain yourself again and again and again
Sure, you’ll occasionally run across someone who doesn’t know the term you’re using, or someone else will use a term you’re not familiar with. And that’s absolutely fine! But the vast majority of the time, terms like polyamory, open relationship, bisexual, pansexual, genderqueer, BDSM, D/s relationship… can just roll off your tongue and no-one will look at you like you’ve grown an extra head.
You can also throw out phrases like, “so my boyfriend’s wife was saying that…” or “when my partner’s girlfriend came over…” without the constant double-take, the wait-what-did-you-just-say?
I don’t mind explaining myself occasionally, and I love dissecting the nuances of our different identities and what they mean and how they manifest for us. But doing polyamory/swinging/kink-1o1 again and again and fucking again is exhausting. With sex-positive friends who get it, you don’t have to do that.
Sex-positive friends will be your biggest cheerleaders
I’ve rarely come across a group of people so loving, so affirming and just so goddamn supportive as sex bloggers, sex writers and other sex-positive folks. These are the people who will retweet the shit out of that thing you wrote that you weren’t sure about, or respond with some variaton of YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL GODDESS when you share a nude, or celebrate with you when you hit a goal, big or small. We lift each other up when we’re down and we share the highs when we’re up.
Affection is free and easy, and so is consent
Something that sex-positive people understand is that the lines between what society considers appropriate vs. inappropriate between friends are almost entirely arbitrarily imposed. They get that everyone has their own unique boundaries and comfort levels, and that individual relationships get to decide what is and isn’t within their rules. The net result of this is that affection tends to be very free and easy – hugs and cuddles can be joyfully shared without it necessarily needing to mean anything bigger, and kisses and kink play and even occasionally sex can happen between friends without it having to make things weird.
It also means that consent is at the heart of all interactions. In these circles, I’ve also never felt pressured into anything I didn’t want to do. Basically, the deciding factor in whether or not to do something isn’t friends do X, lovers do Y, but simply: does everyone involved enthusiastically want to do X, Y and Z?
I don’t want to go all “hashtag-blessed” on you, but…
Basically, I believe this community has made me a better person. It has certainly immeasurably improved my life and made me a lot happier. I only hope I can give back some small measure of all that these amazing people have given to me.
You will be unsurprised to know that, as a writer, books hold an extremely important place in my life. There are many things I am grateful to my mother for (she’s a pretty awesome lady) but one of the biggest is instilling a love of books in me when I was very young. Through the toughest points in my life, I’ve turned to reading for information, for comfort, for that priceless feeling of not being alone.
But this is, after all, a sex blog. So today I want to tell you a little about five of the books that profoundly impacted my sex life.
Come As You Are – Emily Nagoski
I read this one on a flight to Italy. Goddess knows what the people around us thought, when I kept reading out interesting snippets to Mr CK!
Nagoski’s message is, in brief, that we are all normal and we are all fine exactly as we are. She explores concepts such as spontaneous vs responsive desire, and the congruence gap between reported mental desire and genital response. (If you haven’t watched her recent TED talk on this very thing, please do so, it’s fucking brilliant).
Come As You Are taught me how to stop worrying so much about being “normal”. It taught me how to stop saying “I should feel X,” and start saying “I feel Y, and that’s okay”. And perhaps most important, it approaches these concepts through actual, hard science that cannot be argued with. It’s a warmfuzzy affirmation of your deepest desires wrapped up in a blanketof irrefutable evidence, and it’s perfection.
“Even if you don’t yet feel that way, you are already sexually whole and healthy. The science says so. I can prove it.”
The New Topping Book & The New Bottoming Book by Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy
Okay, I’ve cheated here because these are actually two books. But I kind of conceptualise them as two halves of one whole, so they’re getting a shared entry.
These were the first two books I ever read about BDSM, when I was barely nineteen and only just coming to the realisation that I wasn’t the only person in the world who got aroused from being spanked and verbally degraded.
As a new submissive, I devoured The Bottoming Book. I absorbed all its lessons on how to get horrible things done to me by wonderful people in a safe and respectful way. I credit it, in large part, with quelling the rising sub-frenzy and preventing me from spiraling too quickly down a path I was ill-equipped to handle. Even now, I throw it at new and young submissives frequently. I’ve lost count of how many people have borrowed my copy.
I’ve actually read The Topping Book twice. Firstly, from a purely academic perspective – as a submissive, I wanted to understand the Dominant perspective better. It fascinated me, but I didn’t feel any pull to do those things. Much later, when I started exploring my switchy side, I read it again with a more practical application in mind.
These books are, even all these years after their initial release, still the best 101 guides on the market, bar none.
“We bottom in order to go to places within ourselves and with our partners that we cannot get to without a top. To explore these spaces, we need someone to push us over the edge in the right ways, and to keep us safe while we’re out there flying.”
I debated long and hard about including this one. It is not actually a book about sex, kink or any of that good stuff. But actually, it had such a profound impact I couldn’t not include it.
I first approached this book, a dense academic text, at twenty-one and barely out of my first long term abusive relationship. I’ve since referred back to it countless times, especially over the last three years as I try to recover from the worst abusive dynamic of my life.
What this book taught me is that my response to the trauma I’ve suffered is normal. It reassured me that I’m *allowed* to struggle with PTSD even though I’m not a military veteran or childhood sexual abuse survivor. It spoke so profoundly to what was going on in my head, and in my life, that I was frequently reduced to sobbing reading it. I usually couldn’t read more than a few pages at a time. Through Dr Herman’s words, I learned that I could recover with time and the proper support… but that it was and is 100% okay to not be fully “there” yet.
“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.”
There are a lot of how-to books on polyamory on the market now. However, amidst all of them, Opening Up stands out to me as the most rational, sane, compassionate and balanced of them all.
What I love about this book, which I read when I was relearning how to do polyamory after escaping an abusive situation, was how many options Taormino presents the reader with. She doesn’t dictate, as so many how-to books do, that Relationship Anarchy and The Church Of No Rules is the only way to do things right. Instead, she treats relationships as a create-your-own-adventure story, and offers us a smorgasbord of possibilities to pick and choose from. Amidst all this, there are practical tips on time management, communication skills, jealousy busting, and more.
This book came into my life at the perfect time. What it taught me is that I do not have to live up to anyone else’s idea of The Perfect Poly Person, no matter how many books they’ve sold or how many events they’ve spoken at. Instead, all I need to do is collaborate with my partners to create something that works for us.
“Nonmonogamous folks are constantly engaged in their relationships: they negotiate and establish boundaries, respect them, test them, and, yes, even violate them. But the limits are not assumed or set by society; they are consciously chosen.”
Ah, virginity. Has there ever been a topic to provoke so much judgement and angst and stigma? A long time ago, the man who I first had PIV sex with (I don’t believe “losing one’s virginity” is a meaningful concept) made it clear that my value was in my “purity”. I was precious to him because no-one else had touched me, like an expensive work of art you keep behind a glass case lest anyone else get their dirty fingerprints on it. A while later, the second man I had PIV sex with berated me for not having “waited for him,” because – being the youngest woman he’d ever fucked – I represented the closest he’d ever come to “taking a girl’s virginity”. A right, he believed, that I had denied him by shagging someone else three years before I met him.
As a result of these experiences, I’ve dealt with a lot of shame around my level of sexual experience. I fuck a lot of people, and have a lot of casual sex, and 90% of the time I’m more experienced than my sexual partners regardless of their gender. This book showed me how the “cult of virginity” has been manufactured by the patriarchy in order to control women’s bodies, and by extension women’s lives. It showed me that virginity is a medically meaningless concept, and that the only value it has is that imbued by sex-negative, patriarchal, anti-woman culture.
Valenti’s book gave me the permission to go “yeah purity is a bullshit concept”. It helped me to fully embrace my sexual experiences, past and present, as part of the rich tapestry that make me who I am. As a feature, if you like, not a bug.
“The idea at play here is that of “morality.” When young women are taught about morality, there’s not often talk of compassion, kindness, courage, or integrity. There is, however, a lot of talk about hymens.”