Eroticon 2019: Virtual Meet & Greet

I can hardly believe it’s almost Eroticon time again! This will be my third year going to this amazing conference and I’m so excited. Let’s dive in to another Meet & Greet, shall we?

NAME (and Twitter if you have one)

Amy Norton (CoffeeAndKink on Twitter)

Tell us 3 things you are most looking forward to at Eroticon 2019

  1. Bringing Mr CK along for the first time and getting to introduce him to so many of my sex blogging friends.
  2. Presenting my first workshop! (Once I’ve actually got around to writing it).
  3. All the new things I’m sure to learn over the weekend. I never come away from Eroticon without a head full of new information and new ideas.

We are creating a play list of songs for the Friday Night Meet and Greet. Nominate one song that you would like us to add to the play list and tell us why you picked that song.

You’ve Been Written by The Vocal Few. Because it’s a gorgeous love-song and is sort of about writing, too.

I write everything down that I like
and you’ve been written into the songs of my life,
and I like the songs that we write…

The pages filled, recording wars and victories that we’ve been given,
like altars built, preserving all our history, yes we’ve been written
in the melodies you gave to me.”

What is your favorite item or book you’ve purchased so far this year?

Jillian Keenan’s Sex With Shakespeare. “Extraordinary” doesn’t even cover it. (Yes, I will be writing a proper review soon). But seriously. Read this book.

You can have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what is it? Sushi? Scotch Tape?

Self-esteem, since lack of it is the thing that most often holds me back.

What is your favourite quote from a movie?

“Can you see what we’ve done here, by coming together all of us? We made history!” – Pride (2014

What is your word suggestion to next years Eroticon anthology?

Memory

Complete the sentence:

I feel… as though 2019 is the year I will crack myself open, break apart into tiny pieces and eventually put myself back together again.

Can’t wait to see you all there!

Interview: Porn Researcher Rosie Hodsdon

I was thrilled when Rosie Hodsdon reached out to volunteer to be an interview subject. I’ve known her through the UK kink scene for a while and she’s totally lovely as well as ridiculously smart. Here, we chat sex and relationships, academic porn research, and why the Digital Economy Bill sucks. 

A picture of Rosie Hodsdon, a white woman in her 20s with shoulder length brown hair. She is wearing a blue jacket and smiling at the camera. There are flowers in the background.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I am currently working towards my PhD at Northumbria University, looking at the regulation of online pornography in the UK and how this affects the people who produce it. 

What made you want to get into porn research?

My research interests float around sexualities more broadly, and this stems from the failure that was my school’s sex education! I felt incredibly alienated from everything we were taught and had to find the information that I felt I needed out for myself, and was very lucky to be able to do this at a time when the internet made this a little easier! I knew that I never wanted people to feel as alienated as I did growing up, and wanted to be someone who helped others to learn about the range of sexualities out there in a safe and supportive way.

To me, porn forms just one part of that much wider sphere of things, and I have worked, or would love to work, on projects concerning kink, polyamory and sex work as well. [My work is] about dispelling misconceptions surrounding sexuality more broadly and wanting to work towards a society where these things are free from stigma and judgement. 

What’s your background and how did you break into this work?

Almost by accident, really! I did my first degree in Anthropology and Sociology and I knew as soon as I started that I wanted to focus on sexualities research. Towards the end of my undergraduate degree, I had a guest lecture on my Sociology of Gender and Sexuality module from Professor Clarissa Smith on extreme pornography, which I found fascinating. At the same time, the AVMS regulations had been passed, so pornography was at the forefront of my mind. However, the more I tried to read into academic research on the porn industry, the more I noticed that the voices of those who worked in the industry were rather absent, so when I got an email in my inbox asking for PhD proposals relating to law and sexuality, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. 

What’s the most challenging thing about your work?

There’s a few things that spring to mind, which all cover somewhat different aspects of what I do!

The first problem is somewhat inherent to academia, which is that I can’t ever really escape my work – I can’t go home at the end of a work day and forget about it, because it’s always going to be in my mind and if it’s in my mind, then I’m thinking on it and working!

The second is how frustrating it can be. There’s something very futile about trying to work for a better understanding of sexuality and sex work in a society where everything seems to be pushing back against it – everything from the Digital Economy Act to FOSTA/SESTA. Even in the few days that I’ve been working on this interview, Tumblr has announced its porn ban and Facebook has tightened their control over what language you can use.

The third is that the work itself can be pretty misunderstood and stigmatised. I’m very wary of saying so, because the stigma attached to this academic work really can’t be compared to the stigma attached to actually making porn, and I wouldn’t want to ignore that. But I have had a lot of judgement myself because of what I do, from strangers on the internet all the way to previous partners. Shout-out to my ex specifically, who told me that no one else would ever love me because of what I do. Look at me now, dickbag!

What about the most rewarding thing?

I get to meet some incredible people who are doing some fantastic work, both as producers and as activists. And sometimes I get to be considered amongst them as well! Feeling like I have the ability to change people’s viewpoints or give them a new perspective on things is both very powerful and very humbling, and I feel a huge responsibility with it, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. 

Who’s your favourite porn performer and why? What about your favourite production company? 

I have to pick just one? I’m not going to play by these rules! [Spoken like a true polyamorist! – Amy] There are some amazing performers who represent the industry in such a positive way, both in the US and the UK.

Stoya was the first person I encountered who combined porn with activism, and I’ve appreciated her work ever since. I’m also a huge fan of Pandora/Blake, who works tirelessly to support sexual freedom. Jiz Lee has done some amazing work, and their book, Coming Out Like a Porn Star, has been hugely influential to me in its approach to centering performer voices.

As for my favourite company, it has to be Crash Pad Series! It’s radical, queer, kinky, feminist-grounded porn which focuses on a fair production process and has the inimitable Shine Louise Houston at its helm, also fighting for new approaches to sexuality in society more broadly. And it’s hot. 

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the incoming age verification regulations to access online porn in the UK. What’s your take? 

Where do I start!? The whole thing is a tangled mess of clusterfuck. I could spend hours ranting about this, so I’ll do what I can to condense why the entire thing is a terrible idea. It’s time for some bullet points.

  • The rationale behind the law is to “protect children”, and this is based on fundamentally flawed evidence. The study which forms the basis of the legislation, carried out by the NSPCC, has since been discredited by 37 academics for poor methods and conclusions which stretched far beyond the scope of the study. This is no basis for legislation.
  • Furthermore, what are we protecting children from? Of course no one should have to see porn without wanting to, but this does not just apply to children. There is no evidence which proves that children are harmed en masse by watching pornography. In studies which have explored young people’s motivations for viewing such material, the overwhelming theme is that pornography allows them to explore their sexuality and learn about sex in a way that they otherwise do not have access to. Pornography should not be a substitute for sex education, and this can only be solved with a drastic overhaul of the SRE curriculum. Porn should form a part of this, but so should issues of queer identity, pleasure and safe sex practices. All of these are currently very much lacking in the UK (and in most other places!). 
  • The laws are also almost certainly going to have the least impact on young people, given that they are generally far more technologically literate than a lot of adults. Anyone, including young people, can just get around these restrictions through the use of a VPN.  On a practical level, it won’t work.
  • So what will it do? For the consumer, it will place their private personal information in the hands of companies who are not required to enforce stringent protections of this data. As much as I would like to live in a world where people are not shamed for their sexual desires and preferences, this is not currently the case. We can see in countless examples how information about people’s non-normative sexual preferences has had major real-world consequences, such as losing their jobs or custody of their children. A database which stores information about what porn people watch? Hackers are going to have a field day.
  • Finally – given that this is where my research lies! – it’s going to decimate the porn industry. The financial impact is likely to be significant, particularly for smaller companies with more niche audiences, who are likely to struggle to implement AV systems from an economic standpoint. These are often the studios which produce explicitly ethical, feminist, queer, kink pornography so to lose these would make the industry even more homogeneous and less diverse. There’s also the emotional impact of the regulations to consider – people are fearing for their jobs and businesses. The government is telling people that their work is actively harmful for society. Their own sexualities are being delegitimised. And when you consider further that people with a significant background in porn may well find it harder to find “square” work due to the stigma attached to sex work more broadly, people are very worried about their future. 

Ultimately, the AV laws are like trying to fill in the Gran Canyon with a bucket and spade. I’m going to actually be rather lazy here and take a quote from my own response from the BBFC consultation of which I am rather proud:

Age verification seems to be merely an ineffective, unsubstantiated patch-up for a much wider social issue with regards to how we inform young people about sex and our wider sexual culture– including pornography. Young people are desperate for accurate, inclusive, informed sex education, which produces greater positive outcomes for their sexual, emotional and relationship wellbeing. Focusing on age verification serves to mask that problem rather than confront it, and may instead be detrimental to the development of sexual knowledge if not supported by compulsory and comprehensive sex education. This would be a much more effective use of government resources.”

They rest on fundamentally-flawed foundations of research and are likely to cause a significant amount of social harm.

What’s something that people always misunderstand about your work?

People think that I sit around just watching porn all day. They’re not wrong, but I then have to write about it afterwards. People seem to find that part much less sexy. 

What do you really wish everyone understood about pornography?

Ooh, this is a really interesting one! There’s a lot I could say here, so I’ll break it down into some more bullet points:

  • That (most) porn costs money to make, and all of it takes work. Pay for your damn porn. Or, at least, access it for free only directly from creators, not through any pirated means.
  • That porn performers (and producers) are human! There’s a narrative in anti-porn discourse which tends to paint performers particularly as being nothing more than vapid, blow-up fuckdolls, which not only removes their agency and autonomy, but also reduces them to their having sex. We live in an age now where it’s easier than ever to move past this image – we have performers doing some amazing activist work or simply engaging with their fans on social media, and the image that persists of people, particularly women, in porn as being either a mindless set of holes or an exploited victim, denies them their personhood,
  • That it’s not a public health danger. There is no research out there which proves that porn is inherently harmful, and while I would never want to belittle any individual issues that pornography has caused (because yes, people can have issues with it and people who do need appropriate support), it does not do this on a large scale.
  • That pornography can be massively positive. Emerging research is starting to show that porn isn’t just used by consumers to get off, though that’s part of it too. It’s a way to explore their sexuality and identity, a way to connect with others (if you’ve never shared the Lemon Stealing Whores introduction with your friends, I recommend it), an education resource, a method of stress relief, and much more. 
  • Finally, that it’s okay not to like pornography! Whether that’s a particular type or the genre as a whole – as much as I’m positive about what pornography is, what it can do and who makes it, I don’t expect everyone to like it. All I want is for it to be respected as a form of labour and as a creative product, and for the freedom of others to be able to access it and make it should they choose to. 

Who inspires you personally and professionally?

On a professional level, there are so many people I want to name here! First of all, I have to note the amazing things that my participants have shared with me over the course of my research, and their openness and trust with me is massively motivating.

Secondly, my PhD supervisory team – Chris Ashford, Tony Ward and Laura Graham – who continue to blow my mind and push me to succeed, even when I want to give up, and whose research has paved the way for someone like me to do something like this.

Thirdly, the tireless activism of Pandora/Blake and Myles Jackman. I’m so in awe of the both of them that even now, having met both multiple times, they still scare me slightly!

Fourth (and finally, for this part of the question), the awesome communities that my research has allowed me to become immersed in – academics, sex work activists, porn producers and creators – who are all doing such amazing things themselves!

On a personal level, I am very lucky to be surrounded by some incredible people. My partner, Lewis; my boyfriend, Willtom; and my girlfriend, Tiggy, have all provided me with invaluable support and happiness. They push me to keep going even when I just want to throw my thesis in a fire! (They’re also hella cute). I also have an amazing family, who have dealt with trying to explain my PhD topic to far too many people! I hate feeling like I’m “lucky” to have their support, because it should be a given. But I know that that’s not always the case and that I am grateful that they’ve not disowned me yet. And I can’t not also mention the lovely people of the Durham, Leeds and Reading kink scenes, who are unfailingly wonderful and who have also supported me along the way. 

Who’s your favourite sex educator and why?

So much of my inspiration to enter sexualities education (in a sense) myself came from Scarleteen, so I’d like to say their entire website! Also, my entire Twitter feed has been improved since introducing Alix Fox into its mix. She combines some spectacular puns with activism and awareness work, and I’m always impressed by her willingness to reach out and continue learning from others. [We love Alex here at C&K! – Amy]

What’s something you used to believe – about sex, relationships or porn – that you don’t believe any more?

I feel like there’s a tendency to put romantic love on a pedestal, and as has probably been demonstrated in this interview, there are so many other forms of relationships that can be just as wonderful, supportive and fulfilling.

And just for fun because it is “Coffee & Kink” – do you like coffee? How do you take it?

…I don’t. Unless *insert enema joke here*? 

(Please don’t hate me!)

Thank you so much to Rosie for her time and for the awesome work she’s doing, which will undoubtedly benefit all of us – when porn and sex work are destigmatised, all of us gain greater sexual freedom. You can keep up with Rosie via her Twitter, and as ever if YOU are doing something awesome in the field of sex or relationships and would like to be featured on the blog, hit me up.


Ask Amy #8 – “When a Man Can’t Reach Climax”

It’s been a while since we had an Ask Amy column, hasn’t it!? Remember you can always send me your questions using any of the usual ways to get in touch.

A man wearing blue jeans with his hands over his genital area, for a post about men struggling to reach climaxI replied to today’s lovely reader privately, but he kindly gave me permission to reproduce his question for the column as I suspect there are lots of people who could benefit from this advice. He asks:

Any ideas for a guy who can’t reach climax? I experience a loss of sensation due to my ongoing illness and the medication I have to take. Sometimes using a high-powered vibrator like my wife’s Doxy helps, but only occasionally. I still enjoy sex and try not to worry too much about orgasm, but you can understand this is very frustrating. Sometimes I just don’t want to bother. There’s so much information out there about premature ejaculation, but not much about loss of sensation or inability to climax for men.

This is such a great question, and one that is so rarely talked about. As you correctly identified, there’s tonnes of information for cis guys who orgasm too quickly, but very little for those who struggle to get there in the timeframe they’d like… or at all.

First, I’m going to give you the obvious but necessary advice. Try, if possible, to relax and not stress about it. For a lot of people, making orgasm the express goal of sex or masturbation stresses them out so much that it makes it even MORE difficult to get there. And remember, you can still have loads of sexy fun without orgasm and even without a hard penis.

Secondly, if you haven’t already, please talk to your doctor. I don’t know what medication you’re on, but anorgasmia and difficulty orgasming is a hugely common and problematic side effect of many medications, including common antidepressants such as SSRIs. (Ask me how I know!) Sadly, many medical professionals don’t take sexual side effects seriously. But sex is an important part of life for many people, doctors need to take these side effects seriously. There may not be another medical solution, depending on the specifics and what your condition is. But it’s an avenue worth exploring if you haven’t already.

Third, I’m going to make a couple of toy suggestions for you. You mentioned using the Doxy wand can sometimes bring you to orgasm. How are you using it? If you’re just pressing it against your cock, that’s awesome for a lot of men but you might also wish to try using an attachment. My partner absolutely loves the Hummer. The advantage of an attachment like this is that it transmits the vibrations all over the penis, rather than concentrating them in the one spot where the toy is sitting.

I also highly recommend you check out the Pulse III by Hot Octopuss. Unlike the Doxy, this “guybrator” is actually not a vibrator at all. It uses PulsePlate technology, an oscillating mechanism based on proven medical research. It’s the same medical technology that is used to help men with spinal cord injuries to ejaculate. It can be used on either a flaccid or erect penis. Tests have shown that it can induce orgasm even while the penis is flaccid! Of course, no toy is perfect for everyone, but given that this one was based on devices designed for those with little or no sensation, I think there’s a very real possibility it will be a great option for you.

Hot Octopuss have kindly offered a limited time discount code for Coffee & Kink readers. Use code PULSE15 at checkout between now and 18th October to get 15% off the Pulse Solo or Duo.

This sounds like a really frustrating situation for you. I really hope some of this advice is helpful. I also really hope that seeking further medical advice specifically around the sexual side effects of your medication gives you some answers.

Today’s advice column is kindly supported by Hot Octopuss. Using any of the affiliate links in this post to purchase toys sends a small commission my way and helps support my writing and sex education work.  

 

Ask Amy #7: “Respectful Flirting for Queer Women”

Today’s advice question comes from one of my wonderful Patreon supporters, who has been very patient in waiting for me to get to it. I’ve also, I must admit, been sitting on this one a bit because knowing how to answer it was tricky.

The reader in question is a woman, in case that wasn’t clear from context. Let’s go…

Two women drinking coffee at an outside table. Only their arms are visible. For a post on flirting as a queer woman.“Hey Amy,

I like girls but am very nervous about flirting, in part because they’re so cute my brain melts, and in part because I want to be polite and respectful.

What are your tips on approaching cute humans in public places (cafes, bookshops, etc.) in a respectful way, to tell them their shirt is nerdy and cool, and to maybe indicate I want to start flirting with them?”

Oof. My dear reader, if I knew the definitive answer to this one, I’d date a lot more girls. But I will do my best, writing from the perspective of a woman who likes women and is maybe open to being flirted with by them.

A cool thing I learned about flirting a long time ago, which has always served me well, is to consider treating it as an end in and of itself. Flirting is a joyful activity as long as both parties are fully on board with it, and it does not necessarily need to lead to sex/a date/a relationship in order to be “successful”. This mindset will both help to guard you against crushing disappointment if that cutie you’re chatting to turns out to not be interested in taking things further, and helps to prevent you coming across as “creepy” or having an “agenda”.

To approach or not to approach?

When it comes to deciding whether to approach someone in public, it’s important to look for visual clues as to whether they may be open to being approached or not. If they’ve got headphones in, for example, or are hiding away in a corner behind a book or laptop, they’re probably either super busy or wanting to be left alone. Body language and general demeanor are important too. Does she look sad, stressed out, pissed off? That person is unlikely to be in the mood to chat. But someone who seems chilled out, happy or content is more likely to be open to meeting new people.

What to say?

A good way to approach someone and gauge if they’re interested in chatting to you is to offer an opener that they can either pick up and run with, or answer quickly then get back to whatever they were doing.

“I love your shirt! Where did you get it?” is a great one, especially if they’re wearing something that reflects a shared interest. You can also substitute “shirt” for bag, item of jewellery, shoes, cute notebook, etc. etc. Anything that clearly reflects an interest or personality trait. The key is to be genuine in your compliment. That way, if she’s not interested she can say thanks and you’ll have made someone smile. If she is open to more conversation, you’ve got a perfect first thing to talk about.

“Oh, I love [Author Name]” is also a good one if, say, you’re browsing the bookstore and see a cutie checking out one of your favourites.

Then, if she seems open and receptive, you can maybe tell her your name and ask hers, and see if you can get a conversation going. Ask if she wants to sit with you, or if she’s up for company at her table or would prefer to be alone. If you’re scared of backing her into a situation where she feels unable to say no, try the ball-in-her-court approach: “I’ve got to go meet my friend, but I’m [Name] on Facebook if you fancy looking me up. I’d love to get coffee and geek out over [shared interest] with you sometime”.

The “is she even into girls?” problem

Of course, you can’t usually tell by looking at someone if they’re queer or interested in your gender. There’s no easy way around this unless they “flag” in some way. Many people prefer not to be openly queer until they know they’re in a safe space to do so. This is particularly true in small or conservative communities.

There’s not a super easy way around it. Often, you’ll find out if someone is queer or available in the course of conversation and getting to know them. But one way to show that you’re a safe person to be open around is to flag queer in public, however subtly or overtly you’re comfortable with. This also makes it more likely that other queer folks who think you’re cute will approach YOU! Consider a rainbow bracelet, a “queer” or F/F symbol pin badge, a bi pride necklace, a risque phone case, or an LGBTQ/sex-positive tee.

Other ways to meet people

It’s probably also a really good idea, if you don’t already, to try to join some activities where people like you will congregate. Is there a feminist book club, a queer women’s social, an LGBTQ+ film group, a board game geeks’ night, anywhere near where you live? Go along and make friends, not with the specific intent of getting a date, but with the intent of meeting other people who share your interests and making friends. One of these people could be the next love of your life! Or they could invite you to a party, where one of their friends will turn out to be the cutie your heart desires.

In these environments, you’ve got a huge advantage over just meeting people in public. Everyone is, presumably, there to socialise and meet others to a certain extent. Not to mention you’ve got a ready-made thing to talk about! If you’re nervous, “I’m new, how long have you been coming?” is a fine opening gambit.

Most importantly: give yourself credit

Meeting people is hard. Saying hi to someone in public is even harder. This is all amplified by a thousand when you’re a queer person trying to get by in a heterocentric world. So if you say hi to someone cute, congratulate yourself! Maybe you’ll get knocked back, maybe you’ll make a friend, maybe you’ll get a date. The result isn’t the only point. The point is you put yourself out there. Confidence, coupled with a healthy respect for other people’s boundaries and comfort, is sexy as hell. So go you!

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Ask Amy #6: “The Care and Feeding of Your Unicorn”

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Whew, it’s been a while since I had an advice question from a lovely reader. This one, I must confess, has been sitting in my inbox for a while. Thanks to the person who sent it in, both for the excellent question and for waiting so patiently for an answer.

An artistic drawing of a sitting unicornNOTE: For those who don’t know, a “unicorn” is a person (usually a woman or AFAB person, though not always) who gets into some kind of relationship with an existing couple. So called because this type of person is almost as rare, precious and highly sought-after as the mythical horned horse. “Unicorn hunter” couples get a bad rep because so many of them approach this type of relationship from a fantasy-fulfillment perspective without due regard for the third person’s feelings, needs or, well, humanity.

Let’s dive in…

Hey Amy,

So my primary and I have suddenly and quite unexpectedly acquired a unicorn! We love them so much (we’ve been friends with them for years). So far we are all three having a delightful time. We are, as much as possible, using our polyamory skills to continue this state of affairs.

But I am nervous. Obviously being a unicorn is a terribly vulnerable position and so many unicorns end up really hurt. So: can you give me some tips from your own experience on making sure we keep our unicorn as gloriously happy and safe and secure as they deserve, while also making sure that we look after our own needs too? Because, my goodness, they deserve all that is good and wonderful.

Dear Nervous Unicorn Handler,

Okay, first of all, I LOVE this one. Not only because you say you are all having a wonderful time in your newfound triad, but because you are obviously as invested in your new partner’s happiness as you are in your own and your Primary’s. So, yay for you! You’re already way ahead of the curve here.

You’re also doing the right thing in realising that being a unicorn is a vulnerable position. Your unicorn has a certain level of advantage in that they’ve been your friend for a long time, but you and your Primary will still have tonnes of shared history, intimacy and knowledge that your unicorn has not been privy to.

I find myself wondering if you’ve talked to them explicitly about this? Even something as simple as “hey, we understand that being a unicorn can be a really vulnerable position, and we want you to know that we love and value you so much and are really invested in your happiness in this relationship. Please don’t be afraid to tell us what you need and let us know if something doesn’t work for you” can go a really long way. Then, obviously, follow through on that with actions such as listening actively, consulting them on things that affect them, and not getting upset with them for expressing needs or emotions.

Balancing multiple people’s needs is tricky in any relationship. It does, of course, become somewhat more difficult the more people are involved. However, there’s no reason you can’t keep all of you safe, secure and happy for a long time to come!

Communication, as ever, is key. It sounds like you’re well aware of that and all making efforts to communicate well. Keep doing that!

I also advise, in so far as it’s possible, each of you having one-on-one time with your third partner sometimes as well. Just as the two of you need alone time together in order for your relationship to flourish, your relationship with your unicorn and your partner’s relationship with them needs the same to a certain extent. But, of course, lots of lovely all-three time is also really important to schedule and prioritise.

Looking after your own needs is vital in any relationship. So, try to keep a good handle on where you’re at internally. Ask your partners to look out for themselves similarly. Have you considered a periodic check-in meeting for all three of you? This can be by Skype or phone if you live far apart, or around the kitchen table over coffee, or even snuggled up in bed together. It doesn’t have to be serious. It can just be, “how are we all doing? Anyone got any issues they want to raise?”  Then if anything comes up, you talk about it. If it doesn’t, you carry on doing the snuggling/coffee drinking/kinky fuckery. Obviously, you can react to things as they arise. But don’t underestimate how useful it is to have a designated time to check in with everyone and focus on your three-way relationship.

Beyond this, the things that spring to mind seem obvious and I’m sure you’re doing them/not doing them already:

  • Don’t try to control/limit who your unicorn can date. Having a secondary relationship with them while being in a primary relationship with your existing partner is A-okay, but don’t try to make them be exclusive to you or make it difficult/impossible for them to date others.
  • Discuss, with your Primary AND all three of you together, what will happen if someone feels jealous or left out. “We’ll close down the relationship and kick the unicorn out” is not a valid answer to this.
  • Keep your promises and honour your commitments. Emergencies happen, of course, and a degree of flexibility is important. But your partner should feel that the two of you are reliable and will do what you say you’ll do.
  • Related to the above, don’t make promises you may not be able to keep.
  • Never, ever, for the love of all that is sexy and good in the world, throw your unicorn in the middle when you and your Primary have a disagreement.
  • Try not to set rules on who is supposed to feel what for whom. This is a recipe for disaster because the heart doesn’t obey rules. Expecting your new partner to feel exactly the same way about each of you, for example, is unrealistic at best and straight-up coercive at worst.

I just want to finish by saying this seems like a really positive, healthy relationship. I’m not getting any of the red flags I so often see in a couple+unicorn situation. You’re doing everything write, Letter Writer, and I wish you all the best for a long, loving and wonderful relationship.

Again, please submit your questions to me for an anonymous answer on the blog. Patreon supporters get priority!

Amy and Exhibit A on… Group Sex!

One of the best things about being a creative person who is friends with other creative people is the opportunity to co-create! This is the third piece I’ve done with Exhibit A (we’ve also covered pegging and penis size!) and it was enormous fun to discuss group sex with him. The ever-so-slightly edited transcript of our Q&A/discussion is below. 

Buckle in and get some coffee for this one, folks – it’s over 4000 words long! (Are you surprised two of your favourite opinionated sex writers had a lot to say!?) Now without further ado, here we go… 

A bed with dim lighting and rumpled sheets. For a post on group sexEA: Right, let’s doooooo this. Where do you want to start?

CK: Yessss. I guess a good place to start is… why group sex? It’s clearly a thing we’re both very into. And I think it holds a lot of fascination for a lot of people. But what’s the appeal? What’s so great about it?

EA: Phew, that’s a huge topic to kick off with! I could write 10,000 words on that last question alone. Short answer though? It’s more. More of everything. More cocks and/or cunts, more arses and boobs, but also more sensation and emotion and connection and chemistry. More combinations of different people and different body parts. For those of us who self-identify as greedy, it’s a no-brainer!

CK: I love that. And I am definitely also in the camp of “greedy.”

EA: How about you? What would be your group sex ‘elevator pitch’?

CK: Hmm. I think it’s a lot about the possibilities it opens up for me. Like, there are things you just can’t do with only one other person, like certain sex configurations or especially certain kink dynamics/scenes. Two people offers a huge number of possibilities, but with three or more it’s pretty much infinite. Plus, honestly, I get to embrace the power of “both” – if I want both cock and cunt, I can have both. If I want to both Dom and sub, I can do both.

EA: Yes, and even when there are things you can do with just two of you (spit-roasting, for example, using cock and toy or toy/toy), it’s so much easier and more fluid with a third pair of hands.

CK: Absolutely! When you first experienced group sex, was it like you expected it to be in fantasy?

EA: Funnily enough, the first time I had what you’d call group sex (a threesome that I wrote about here), it features far less in my fantasies than it does now. So my expectations were…hmm, open-ended, I guess. I’d talked about it a lot in advance with the couple in question, but it was a completely new thing for all three of us, so I guess we kind of figured it out as we went along, rather than relying on set ideas about what might happen. Since then, threesomes and moresomes have ranged from entirely aligned to my fantasies, on the one hand, to wildly divergent on the other. But that’s sex in general, right?

CK: That makes sense. My first time was completely the opposite in a way – entirely unplanned, just happened in the spur of the moment). My early experiences tended to go like that, whereas now there is usually – not always, but usually – at least a bit of pre-planning that goes into it. And sometimes things come out as planned/fantasised about, sometimes they don’t.

EA: Where do you stand on pre-planning group sex? I can see arguments in favour and arguments against, but I’m aware that a) you have more experience in this department, and b) you guys have a more structured approach than we do in general to involving other people in your relationship (in whatever context), so I’m curious to get your perspective.

CK: I’m still torn about it, really, and it very much varies depending on circumstances. I do like the planning/scheming/idea-sharing (and, let’s be real, wild sexting) that comes in the lead-up to a planned session. However, I do feel like it can end up with everyone feeling undue pressure – like it’s going to be a big failure if it doesn’t come off or doesn’t come off in the right way? I tend to thing the pros of pre-planning outweigh the cons, in general, especially because you can easily discuss boundaries, limits, safer sex protocols and all those other important things while everyone’s still got their clothes on. But I have had spontaneous fun that was wonderful, too. The reality for me is most of it has to be somewhat planned – I live in a tiny town with no scene, live with my Primary partner but all my/our other lovers are at least a drive away, and so we have to make plans for people to visit/for us to visit them/to go to the club or a kink event.

EA: All that makes sense! Again, there’s a lot of overlap with general sex considerations – the bit about discussing boundaries, limits etc can apply to any sexual situation, especially one with a new partner. I can see that the importance of those discussions is elevated slightly by the fact that three (or more) people are involved – and that in a lot of cases you’re talking about an established couple inviting a new person into their bed.

CK: Yes, absolutely. A lot of it is general sex concerns, amplified because more people.

EA: The whole porn/erotica trope of something just happening, spontaneously and without any prior indication that you might all end up in bed together, sounds great…but I imagine is pretty rare. It takes a certain amount of boldness to say to someone (or to a couple) “heyyyy…shall we all fuck now?”, unless you’re pretty damn sure they might say yes!

CK: Hah! I have literally never had that happen. My spontaneous group sex has always either been “more than one person I’m already banging happens to be in the same place” or “we’re at a sex party and everyone is here for precisely this.”

EA: Actually, that leads nicely into a question we had from someone on Twitter…

CK: Ooh, go for it!

EA: “Assuming the “couple +third” paradigm, who typically initiates, the couple or the third, and how can folks manage the additional pressure of being approached by or approaching two people?”

CK: Based on my experience, it’s a lot more common for it to be the couple who initiates – like, couples looking for a third is so much of a thing that it’s become a stereotype (“unicorn hunting,” anyone?) But I have been approached, as part of a couple, by a third person wanting to play with both of us. A couple of times actually. It’s always surprising but awesome. Has that been your experience too?

EA: Yes, while you were typing I was thinking back through my experiences, and it’s pretty much always been the couple who’ve initiated things. Though it’s not necessarily one or the other! There’s been at least one occasion when I’ve discussed it separately with my partner and the third person, before my partner and I have then suggested moving things forward. As you said, there’s a lot of fun sexting to be had around group sex, and I suspect it’s not uncommon for two (or even all three) sides of the triangle to have independent, exploratory conversations about all fucking each other. And that’s great actually, because then you at least know you’re all on the same page before someone sticks their neck out and asks the question.

CK: With regards to the additional pressure thing, it’s definitely a concern. If I’m on the initiating-as-part-of-a-couple side, I try to make it very clear that whatever answer the other person gives is A-Okay and there’s never pressure from us to do anything they’re not comfortable with. But I’ve certainly had experiences where I’ve found it harder to say no to two people than I would to say no to one. Especially when I’ve been in their space. What I’ve also noticed is that the couple+third dynamic is VERY different to a couple+couple dynamic.

EA: See I’ve only ever done couple + third, or just general mass of bodies (SO good). We’re yet to play with another couple outside a sex party, so I’m interested to know what you think the main differences are.

CK: Mmmm, mass of bodies… ANYWAY. It feels easier to make the approach with another couple, for me, because there’s a sense of balance that isn’t often there with couple + third. But actually, despite the even number, I’ve found it harder to navigate a situation that makes everyone involved happy when there’s 4 people as opposed to 3. Maybe it’s just more people’s preferences at play all at once? We’ve had so many couples approach us where, essentially, the other husband wants a live lesbian sex show starring me and his wife, and just assumes my partner will be into that too. Which is… fine but not really what we’re after!

EA: That makes sense to me. You’re also talking about two relationships, with all the attendant emotions, history, kinks, interests, and – yes – jealousy that might be involved with them. Of course it would be more complicated.

CK: Yes! Which leads me nicely onto the often asked question of jealousy… does it come up? How do we handle it if it does?

EA: I’ve been lucky enough not to experience jealousy as an issue in the group sex I’ve had – any time I’ve been part of a/the couple, we’ve both been pretty clear in our minds about what the other person is into, what they want, and what might turn them off or trigger jealousy/trauma of some kind. I feel like we say this in every one of these chats, but that’s where good communication is SO important.

CK: Huh, interesting! I’ve never had it come up for me in a group sex situation either, though I have had a partner’s jealousy come up.

EA: Really? What happened and how did you deal with it – at the time and afterwards?

CK: I’m specifically thinking of a time very early on in our relationship where another guy, who I had been into for a while but this was the first time we’d played, asked if he could have penetrative sex with me. My partner had some jealous feelings come up and decided he couldn’t handle that at that moment. It was fine – we reassured him his boundaries mattered, we weren’t upset, and there were hugs, then we continued to do other things. And the next time we played with that guy, there was penetration and it was absolutely fine. We talked in private later, of course, about what he’d been feeling and what had caused it. But that was very early on and it hasn’t come up for either of us in a really long time. I think a big part of it is we’ve got good at checking in with each other during, even non-verbally, to make sure we’re still having a good time. Sometimes just a “hey, I’m here” squeeze of the hand can be all you need.

EA: YES! That’s a really good point! I can’t emphasise enough the importance of non-verbal communication during a group sex scenario, actually.

CK: Absolutely – when you know your partner really well, you can say SO much with just a look or a touch, and it can be so reassuring.

EA: Which makes absolute sense. You’d instinctively/unthinkingly offer that same reassurance in so many situations with your partner, especially one you have a close/longstanding relationship with. Of course you’d do the same thing during sex

CK: I see a lot of people asking if they should have a threesome/swing to please their partner when they don’t actually want to, and my answer is always an emphatic NOPE DO NOT DO THAT THING. Everyone has to be into the idea, otherwise it is almost guaranteed to go awry.

EA: Oh god, yes. Again, true of just about everything, but maybe even more true of something where you’re involving other people. Not fair on them and definitely not fair on yourself.

CK: Definitely. When I wrote my post about being a good couple to have a threesome with, I think the most important point I made was the “have your house in order first.” (link here). So I had an interesting question from a reader…

EA: Shoot.

CK: They ask: what if you’re in a group scenario but you don’t want to have sex with everyone in that group, or only do certain things? (The example they gave was, say, happy being spanked by anyone but don’t want to have genital contact with everyone?) Is that a thing you can navigate? And this also ties in to some thoughts I had about mixed orientations within group settings.

EA: Do you want to dig into those thoughts while I have a go at answering the main question?

CK: Sure! I mean, I’m in a mixed-orientation relationship. I’m bi while my partner is, for all intents and purposes, basically straight (a little bit flexible but that’s usually neither here nor there.) This is quite useful in group scenarios in a way, especially given the high percentage of bi/pan women within non-monogamy. But it’s also something to be careful with… we’ve had a situation with a queer woman and straight man, and both of them were trying to get their hands on me, which led to my partner feeling left out. But I’ve also played in group scenarios with straight or mainly-straight women, and it’s been fine. Sometimes there’s kissing/fondling/light play, sometimes nothing at all, depending on her comfort levels. But that could be a problem for some people if a priority for them in group sex was getting their needs for the-sex-that-their-primary-partner-isn’t-into met.

EA: Regarding your reader’s question, I don’t know that I can give a satisfying solution to this one! The more people you add to any scenario, the greater the level of social complexity – partly because there’s a heightened expectation that you’ll all just muck in. If a stranger approached you in a bar, no-one would expect you to have a conversation with them – if you’re at a cocktail party, where everyone knows someone, and that same stranger tries to engage you, it would seem far ruder just to ignore them. So in a group scenario I can see why that same pressure would be there! But…

CK: That’s a really good point, and I think it is quite dependent on the people involved and their social dynamics. I think it’s mainly important (again!) for everyone to be honest about where they’re at and what they’re trying to get out of the scene.

EA: You just have to be firm and clear about what you want. And look, this is a hard one to simplify, because a (larger) group scenario can be constructed in so many ways. Are you on your own or there with a partner? Are you at a sex club, a private party, or in a hotel room with a bunch of people you know? The answers to those questions will clearly determine how you approach the situation, and how much other people are already likely to know about your intentions. But the basic principles apply: no means no, only do what you’re comfortable doing, and no-one has a right to do anything to/with your body. The clearer you are with people about what kind of fun you’re up (and not up) for having, the less likely you are to run into any awkwardness.

CK: Yes! It all comes back to consent is the bottom line. And, again, I think it’s best if everyone can be really honest going in. “I’m up for anyone spanking me but please ask before you touch my genitals, as I may or may not be up for that” is a fine and useful thing to say.

EA: Ok, let’s spice things up a bit here. What’s your favourite kind of group sex scenario – and/or, what’s been your hottest group experience? Alternatively/additionally, what haven’t you done yet, but would really like to?

CK: Ah, my favourite question! My favourite scenario is a toss-up between “switch-in-the-middle” (usually a man who is more dominant than me and a woman who is more submissive than me) or “co-subbing to two or more people” where I pretty much get ganged up on and they do evil shit to me. The one I REALLY want and haven’t done yet is a gang-bang. Just endless cocks… factory-installed or silicone, I don’t care, just LOTS of them. I’m seriously considering a gang-bang for my 30th birthday in a couple of years if I haven’t done it by then.

EA: “My name’s Amy and I’m #greedy”

CK: I mean… yeah, accurate! Same questions to you?

EA: It’s funny, in theory my favourite is MMF with a guy who’s either bi or at least into some same-sex stuff going down (heh)…and when I’ve done that it’s generally been great…BUT I have to say I’ve probably enjoyed MFF threesomes even more in reality, because they’ve always involved awesome people (whereas the other guy in each of my MMF encounters has been a stranger to me, pretty much). That’s made it much easier to relax and let go of any remaining inhibitions, especially when the focus has been on my pleasure. Having two women suck your cock at the same time sounds (and is) great, but in a weird way it’s also a lot of pressure! It helps to know they’re both lovely.

CK: Hah! That makes sense. It does (often) help if there’s already some connection with the other people. What’s on your group sex bucket list? (Fuck-it list?)

EA: As for what’s at the top of my group sex fuck-it list… ha! Snap! A really hot, no-holds-barred (no-holes-barred?) night with another couple is right up there. Or an MMF threesome where I get fucked by the other guy too – or by a strap-on while I suck his cock. Y’know, little things like that.

CK: Yum on all counts! Any single hottest experience so far stand out for you?

EA: I’d say the threesome we had with a fellow Eroticon delegate after the Saturday social last year! It was sort-of planned, in the sense that she came back to ours when she had accommodation arranged elsewhere, but then it all unfolded really organically and spontaneously once we got here. Fucking her from behind while she went down on Liv was just…hnnnngh… You?

CK: One that really stands out for me is when my partner was dating his last secondary girlfriend and she came over one evening. He and I had discussed that we were up for it if she was, and apparently she’d said she was up for it if I was, and… it all just sort of happened. We went from cuddling to snogging to pinning her down and making her come with the Doxy (and then falling about laughing when she recovered from her orgasm and declared “I’M GETTING ONE.”) And it all just flowed from there.

EA: The chill-out time after a good threesome, when you’re all still high on the endorphins, is definitely one of the best things about them.

CK: Oh, so much! And the three- (or more-) way snuggles are just…. mmm. Yes. Have you ever had a group sex experience go badly that you’re willing to talk about?

EA: Happily both the short and the long answer is no – I’ve been very lucky in that sense. There have been times when group sex has been discussed (or hinted at) and it hasn’t panned out, but I’ve never been in a situation that’s got out of hand in a bad way…or just failed to deliver.

CK: That’s really good! (And probably not a very common experience, I imagine?)

EA: I was going to ask about the voyeuristic element of threesomes with your partner. Is that an active part of the appeal for you? If so, what is it that appeals to you about watching someone you’re in a relationship with fuck someone else?

CK: Funnily enough I was thinking about/discussing this with my partner this weekend. It’s definitely a big part of it for me. When I feel secure in a relationship I feel compersion quite strongly, so watching my partner having fun just fills me with joy in a way that isn’t even immediately sexual. But I am also a huge voyeur, so I guess the appeal is watching two or more people I’m wildly attracted to getting it on. (And knowing I get to join in too just makes it even better!)

EA: Yes, that last bit is definitely something I get too. The anticipation of watching things heat up between two people you really want to fuck…and knowing that at some point you’re going to, y’know, fuck them…is SO good.

CK: Oh yes! What do you think are some of the biggest myths around group sex that people tend to believe?

EA: There’s an odd but pervasive assumption that any threesome involving two cis men and a woman is just going to end up as a bro-tastic spit roast with as little physical or eye contact between the guys as possible. That’s not been my experience of MFM, and certainly there are a lot of self-identified straight men out there who are just as curious and experimental about M/M plat as our various cultural norms would have you believe straight women are about F/F.

CK: Oh, absolutely. In the swinging and non-monogamy communities there seems to be a really pervasive assumption that men are all straight and women are all bi, which is not the case at all!

EA: I think there’s also a belief that threesomes always have to be these big, high pressure ‘Events’ – that they’re somehow different to just regular ol’ sex. And sometimes that’s true! As this chat has made clear, there are considerations with group sex that don’t always apply to sex with just one partner. At the same time, though, there are downsides to putting ant kind of sexual activity on a pedestal – namely that it ends up looking really daunting to people who maybe aren’t that confident or experienced.

CK: I think it also sets people up for disappointment – if threesomes/group sex are held up as this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime thing that represent the pinnacle of sexual achievement, how can the reality ever match up to the hype?

EA: Yep. Threesomes can also feel really easy and natural, or like an extension of the fun and intimacy you have with an existing partner. They don’t have to be a huge deal, and they do sometimes evolve organically, without the need for endless discussion/negotiation beforehand, and without feeling like anything especially significant. Those experiences are 100% valid too, and they maybe get overlooked or downplayed a bit. Next question for you: any practical tips to make sure no-one feels left out during a threesome?

CK: The left out thing is really interesting because I’ve never actually experienced it either from myself or from a partner. I suppose the tips are obvious – make sure everyone in the situation is actually comfortable with everyone else, take turns to be the centre of attention (this can flow very organically!) and as much as possible, come up with configurations that all 3 (or more) can engage in at the same time. Final question from me before we wrap up: what advice would you give a person or couple before they experience group sex for the first time?

EA: I’d tell them to read our awesome Q&A! I dunno – preparing for any exciting/scary new thing is such an individual thing that I’d be loathe to give much super-generic advice. For every person who would benefit from talking through the whole scenario in advance with the two (or more) other parties, there’ll be someone else who needs it all to feel spontaneous and organic. Even saying ‘make sure you really want it before you do it’ feels a little disingenuous: I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely leapt feet-first into new sexual experiences before, without giving them much thought, and not regretted it – sometimes you need to suck it and see (so to speak) before you know whether a particular kink or activity is for you. I guess maybe I’d tell them to practice self-care (whatever that means for them), keep an open mind, and be clear about both their limits and their preferences. You can’t go far wrong doing those things!

CK: Hah! Yes. Our advice is “this entire post!” I’ve definitely leapt into things without being entirely sure or having much of a plan before, too – usually I’m a planner but occasionally spontaneity has been fun! Practicing self-care is a really good tip because that can encompass to many different things, so people can do whatever that means to them. The only other thing I would add is COMMUNICATE DURING! It can be quick, it can be nonverbal, it can even be sexy – but please just fucking communicate.

EA: Thanks, this has been really great! I didn’t think we’d have any shortage of things to say about group sex, and 4,000+ words later, it turns out I was right. Till next time!

Massive Age Gap Relationships: FAQ

For those of you who don’t know, I am in a relationship with a massive age gap. There is more than 20 (though less than 25) years between me and Mr CK. When we started our relationship, I was in my early 20s and he was in his late 40s.

Yet it works.

A pair of hands making a heart shape against a sunset. For a post about age gap relationships.
Inevitably, we get a lot of questions about our dynamic and how it works. So here, I am going to candidly answer as many of them as I can think of.

Notes:
1.
Everything here assumes minimum legal age of consent is met in all cases.
2. This is written from the perspective of a much older man dating a much younger woman, as that’s my experience, but most of this works for most genders.
3. TW for brief mention of DDlg kink (no details) and discussion of hypothetical death of a partner.

Okay, let’s dive in!

“Isn’t it really creepy for a much older man to be dating a much younger woman?”

My answer to this, surprisingly, isn’t “no”. My answer is “it depends”.

I don’t judge any couple based solely on the age gap between them. It’s if a much older guy exclusively or mostly dates extremely young women that my side-eye starts to creep in.

If I’m dating a guy 20+ years my senior, I don’t need to be the only exception but I really don’t want to be the rule. I want his dating history to be varied and filled with women of many different ages. If everyone he’s dated has been under 25, it tells me two things:

1. There’s probably some weird youth/inexperience fetishising going on.
2. He will probably be looking elsewhere before I’ve hit 30.

If he’s much older than me, I want to know that he sees me as a person, not an age. That he’d have dated me if I was 25 or 35 or 55, because he loves who I am. I’ve been with men with a “barely legal” thing, and I’ve been with men with virgin fetishes who want their women as young and inexperienced (they assume, but lol have you met me?) as possible, and I’ve been with men who saw me as a trophy to brag to their friends about (“yes, she’s only 19! Do I get Man Points for getting the teenager into bed!?”)

What do your family think?

They adore him, because he loves and respects me, treats me well and makes me happy. Thanks for asking.

If you’re thinking of entering this kind of relationship, this is something to consider. One or both families may well not approve. The older party’s family may view the younger partner as a “gold digger,” especially if there’s a significant wealth disparity involved. The younger party’s family might view the older partner as a creep or a pervert. (Mr CK says: “I mean, I am a pervert!”) Or they might just see that you’re happy and in love and that’s enough for them. You know your family best, and ultimately you know how much their opinion matters to you. Make your decisions accordingly.

What about kids?

We don’t have any and we don’t want any.

I appreciate this might be a concern for other people in or considering entering into a Massive Age Gap (hereafter M.A.G) relationship. Only you can make that decision for yourself. I decided long ago that I don’t want children and my goal was to find a partner who felt the same, which I have done. Their age is irrelevant – what matters is that we want the same things out of our life together.

That said, I have seen M.A.G relationships break up – breaking everyone’s hearts in the process – because the younger party wanted children and the older party felt they were too old/had already been there and done that/was no longer biologically able to have children. Anyone can change their minds, and you might think you don’t want kids now but then change your mind in 5 years and have a very difficult decision to make, but that can happen in any relationship. And you may well end up really happy with your decision several years down the line, which has been my experience.

Do you like older men because you have daddy issues?

Nope! I have a really loving, supportive relationship with my father. No issues there at all. I’ve never actually met a woman who likes older men whose preference was caused by “daddy issues”. What does that even mean!?

Is it a money thing?

No, he’s my life partner, not my sugar daddy. (Not that there’s anything wrong with sugar relationships between consenting parties, of course!)

I have my own money and no interest in getting my hands on his.

Is it a kink thing?

About 2% yes and 98% no.

It’s certainly not a DDlg thing, that’s a pretty hard limit for me. As a submissive, I gravitate towards partners who give off the kind of Dominant energy that I like. I do tend to more often find this in older men, it has to be said. But it’s less specifically an age thing and more a confidence and experience thing, I think.

Mostly, though, no. Speaking of which…

So why an older guy then?

Older guys, broadly speaking, have their shit together in a way I find much easier to be in a relationship with. They’ve made all the early relationship mistakes and so are less likely to bring them in to their connection with me. They know what they want, what their likes and dislikes and boundaries are, and they know how to communicate.

This is all a sweeping generalisation, of course – I’ve fucked more than my share of “18 year old boy in a 40+ man’s body”. But the qualities I like tend to manifest more in guys with a good 10 years or more on me.

Plus, not gonna lie, I just find a lot of older men fucking sexy.

Don’t you worry that he’ll die years before you and leave you alone?

Of course I do. I worry about that… not every day, but frequently.

The thing is, you never know what the future holds. He could be the exact same age as me, and get incurable cancer or get hit by a bus tomorrow. I, as the younger partner, could have those things happen to me any time too! But no-one ever says “don’t you worry your partner will die and leave you on your own?” to partners close in age.

We never know what’s ahead, but we cannot let the fear of what might happen one day stop us from accepting the love and joy that is offered to us now. If I do lose him someday, I will be broken-hearted and devastated. But I will also be thankful for every happy day we did share. Same as anyone who loses a partner they love.

I’mma insert a gratuitous Rent quote here, because I can and it seems pertinent:

“There’s only now, there’s only here. Give in to love, or live in fear”.

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Eroticon 2018: Meet ‘n’ Greet

Hard to believe it’s been about a year since I first did one of these! I’m even more excited for Eroticon this year now I know what an amazing, affirming, and occasionally life-changing experience it can be.

So, without further ado, here’s my virtual getting-to-know-you…

NAME (and Twitter if you have one)

You can call me Amy. (I’ll also answer to CK or Coffee&Kink). CoffeeAndKink on Twitter.

What are you most looking forward to about Eroticon 2018?

The people. There are so many people I’m looking forward to seeing again (some of whom I haven’t seen since last year) and I’m always excited to make new friends!

We are creating a play list of songs for the Friday Night Meet and Greet. Nominate one song that you would like us to add to the play list and tell us why you picked that song

All Over Me by Lindsey Harper, because to me it’s just the most perfect love song.

What’s the first career you dreamed of having as a kid?

Something involving horses. Sometimes I wanted to run a riding school, sometimes I wanted to set up a rescue sanctuary, and sometimes I wanted to be a competitive eventer.

Weirdest place you’ve ever gotten up to mischief (define ‘mischief’ however you like…)

I fucked in a bluebell wood that one time…

Tell us two truths and a lie about yourself?

In no particular order:
– At time of writing, I have had sex with a total of 30 people.
– Despite the obsession/addiction I’m known for, I didn’t actually like coffee until I was 22.
– I got up to Grade 8 in piano when I was a teenager.

 

Complete the sentence: I want…

…unlimited time, a wealthy patron and to never get sick. With all these in place, I might have time to do at least a fair percentage of the writing I want to do.

See you at Eroticon!

CK & Exhibit A on… Dick Size

I did a discussion-based joint post on pegging with the awesome Exhibit A for his site a while back, and it was so much fun we decided to reconvene for another one. Inspired by our friend who wrote in about being insecure about his girlfriend’s toy usage, this time we’re talking everything to do with dicks, and specifically the size of them.

]Note: we use some cis-centric language here, referring to people with penises as men. This is due to the experience we’re writing from (EA is a cis man and I’m a cis woman who has fucked a lot of cis men) but we acknowledge this shortcoming. In no way did we mean to imply that women can’t have penises, men can’t have vulvas, or that these are the only two gender options.]

A half uncoiled tape measure on a red background. For a post on Dick Size with Exhibit A

Exhibit A lives in London, describes himself as an “urban fox,” and likes to “write stories and get naked (usually not at the same time.”)

Here’s what we had to say about dicks.

CK: So this conversation started because of a reader question I answered, where the person was jealous of/intimidated by his girlfriend’s sex toys, specifically because he feared her using toys meant his penis isn’t “big enough.”I approached it from a very much “you’re fine as you are, talk to your partner and work on your insecurities” angle but, as a vulva-owner, I don’t really get the penis insecurity thing. Especially because, for me at least, dick size is such a tiny factor when it comes to whether or not I want to have sex with someone! But I think you had some thoughts to add to this as a penis-owner?

EA: Well yes – when it comes to dick, I have lots of thoughts, some of which are about size. On this occasion, what I found interesting about your answer (especially in light of what you just said about your own preferences) was that you didn’t give the generic “hey, size doesn’t matter, your penis is definitely big enough so stop worrying” response that other, more mainstream sex columnists might have gone with. You sort of acknowledged in a tacit way that size is important to some people, and that it’s fine for that to be the case.

CK: Yeah, because I have no way of knowing what his girlfriend’s preference is. I did tell him that his dick is fine as it is and that all genitals are beautiful, because this is what I believe, but whether it’s actually “big enough” for HER personal preferences? That I can’t speak to because I’m not her.

EA: Yep, exactly that. I thought it was quite a nuanced way to handle the question, and the (sensitive) issue of dick size more generally. In his position, I think I’d find that perversely reassuring. It’s often helpful, when you have a nagging worry (whether it relates to your body, your job, your friendships, whatever) to have someone around who won’t sugarcoat things or BS you with stuff they think you want to hear. Makes it easier to say “ok, what am I actually going to do about it?” And when it comes to dick size – or more specifically to a gap between what one partner has and what one partner might (in an ideal world) want, there’s PLENTY you can do about it, of course.

CK: Yeah, that’s really true although one obviously has to be VERY careful with it because: self esteem is fragile. There’s absolutely loads you can do about it – including, ironically, toys!

EA: Yes! Toys are awesome for this and they’re awesome in their own right, which is kind of the point. It sounded like your correspondent was intimidated by them because he saw them as a penis replacement – as a way of his girlfriend getting something he couldn’t provide – rather than as something that could enrich their sex life in a more holistic sense.

CK: Yes, exactly – and I tried to tackle that as well by suggesting he try using toys in their sex together and possibly also in his solo sex life. So tell me: is it true, in your experience, that the majority of men are hung (heh) up on their dick size? And if so: why?

EA: I already heh’d earlier at your ‘dick size is such a tiny factor’ comment – apparently we’re all about the puns today.

CK: I am ALWAYS about the puns, especially if they involve cock.

EA: I don’t know that the majority of men are hung up on dick size, but I’d certainly say that for most guys it’s a consideration we’re aware of. Cultural considerations play a big role in that. Whether it’s Sex & the City, suggestive TV advertising, columns in women’s (and lads’) mags, dick size is very much seen as fair game for discussion, analysis, (occasionally cruel) humour, and fetishisation. As a guy, you absorb all that and of course it has an impact on the relationship you have with your own penis.

CK: Absolutely. And it seems to be an easy/lazy attack to throw at a guy.

EA: An attack, and vice versa – having a big dick is seen as something to be proud of, or to brag about. So of course we do, especially as teenagers and young men, whether we actually have one or not.

CK: I kinda think “you have a small dick” to a guy is the equivalent of “you’re fat” to a woman. Whether it’s actually true is irrelevant (and the body positive amongst us know that neither of these things are bad anyway!) but it’s an easy way to hit someone’s self esteem. With one exception, all the guys I’ve had PIV with have been on the bigger side. I don’t know why, because it’s not something I look for! Interestingly, the one who was on the smaller side had a really big complex about it, while all the others didn’t seem too fussed one way or the other.

EA: I spent years in the changing room at school trying to hide my lower half when I got (un)dressed, because I was convinced that a) I had a small dick, and b) people would laugh/take the piss out of it.

CK: That’s really sad but seems to be a really common experience. Can you talk about how your relationship with your dick has grown (hehe) or changed over the years?

EA: To form that insecurity at the age of 14/15, before I’d had sex, and before I’d even really been exposed to porn and the kind of content where dick size is openly discussed, invites an interesting discussion about where it comes from, I think. Both my dick and my relationship with it have grown since I was 15!

CK: Oh gosh yes! Do you think that insecurity came from the kind of harmful “banter” you were just talking about? Hearing other guys bragging?

EA: Perhaps. Perhaps I’d also absorbed cultural messaging without even realising it. There was also some residual insecurity, I think, from being the only circumcised boy in my swimming class at primary school, and having other boys openly stare/draw attention to that, in a negative way. But yes, over the years I’ve come to love my penis for what it is, and to stop worrying about what it’s not.

CK: Yes, cultural messaging is all around us for sure… a bit like the way really young girls are now super insecure about their bodies and thinking they need to diet.

EA: Some of the change was just growing up, I think. Some of it was reading about dick size – like, getting the facts, rather than just believing my mate in the lunch queue when he casually mentioned that 8 inches was average. And inevitably a lot of it was affirmation, love, and happy sexual experiences with/from sexual partners. In an ideal world, none of us would need external validation/affirmation to feel good about our bodies. In the world we live in, of course it tends to help!

CK: Absolutely! That’s one reason I wish we had more comprehensive and accurate sex ed. Such a simple way to make a lot of teenagers more secure about their bodies and stop them absorbing quite so much toxic false information. Apart from more good information, what else do you think would help guys feel more secure about their dick, whatever size it is?

EA: I’ll say this, actually – one additional thing guys have to deal with is the harmful trope that penises are ‘ugly’. If you’re already worried about size, the idea that it’s just making your dick even less attractive from an already low base is pretty depressing

CK: YES! I don’t believe so many people think genitals are ugly, they’re gorgeous – especially when they’re attached to a human I like.

EA: It really helped me when I started to have partners say things like “your dick is beautiful” or “I love the way your dick looks”, rather than just ascribing it a practical/functional value. Getting my head round the idea that women could (and do!) find penises aesthetically pleasing/attractive was a big (and happy) thing for me…again, pun absolutely intended.

CK: So people who have sex with people with dicks definitely have a role to play in this issue?

EA: They do, yes – though it’s important to qualify that by saying they’re not ultimately responsible for the body/penis image of men with dicks. As guys, that’s ultimately down to us.

CK: I think it’s everyone’s responsibility ultimately to work on their own insecurities/hang-ups, with the help of partners and loved ones for sure… but it has to come from within.

EA: But sure, the more external support/affirmation we get, the easier it becomes to ignore any negative messaging, whether that’s coming from within us or from the wider world.

CK: So what IS a guy to do if he’s smaller than his partner would ideally prefer, but they love each other and want to have great sex? And, conversely, if he’s bigger than average and this makes sex difficult? Because my first sexual partner was way above average size and that shit HURT when I was 16 and didn’t have access to lube or proper information.

EA: I was just about to bring it back round to that by saying that I have had relationships – casual and more serious – with women who have been open about their preference for larger dick than I’m packing.

CK: Ooh! And how does that work for you?

EA: Hmm, I actually found it quite easy to rationalise/deal with in the end. I think there are a few keys to overcoming it.. 1. It’s important to acknowledge that whether you’re talking appearance, personality, job, wealth, hobbies, or whatever, our real-life partners are never going to match up in every area with the ideal partner we might create in our head.

CK: That’s SUCH a good point for life in general.

EA: 2. Once you accept that, it becomes easier to kind of interrogate your insecurities. To ask yourself ‘well ok, would I be this bothered if she told me she typically went for really tall guys, just because I’m only average height?’ Or on the flip side, to remind yourself that you tend to eye up women with brown hair, but still fancy the pants off her ‘even though’ she’s blonde. 3. We are the sum of our physical features, our personality traits, our experiences…we can’t and shouldn’t reduce ourselves to one element of them. Obsessing over the fact that your girlfriend prefers hung guys means ignoring all the things she finds hot or attractive about you, and all the reasons why she fucks you, rather than Johnny Big Balls with the 9″ monster cock.

CK: So much yes to all of that.

EA: Also, by focusing solely on the disparity between the dick you have and the dick you imagine she wants, you’re making sex all about…well, all about dick. And that’s a pretty gross way to look at it. When I was in those relationships, it never crossed my mind that my partner wouldn’t enjoy sex with me, just because in a fantasy world where genies came flying out of lamps, she might add an inch or two to my cock.

CK: Also if your partner reduces you to just your dick size or any other physical attribute, they’re kinda… well, being a dick.

EA: She enjoyed sex with me because we had awesome chemistry, and similar kinks, and gave each other great oral, and loved to kiss for hours, and all those other awesome things. Reduce love or sex to any one element and you risk going down a very dangerous path, IMO. I focused on being the whole package (heh) for her in bed, knowing that actually, dick size expectations was one of the easier hurdles to overcome.

CK: That’s such a great approach to sex.

EA: Going back to toys, I would gleefully fuck the shit out of her with an 8-inch dildo while she sucked my cock, or tie her up and stretch her slowly with something thick, knowing that she’d find something equally awesome to do to/with me afterwards. It’s a lot harder to find ways around other problems someone might have with you. Or rather, other preferences someone might have.

CK: Absolutely. And therein you’ve captured perfectly why I advised our insecure friend to use toys with his girlfriend!

EA: I hope he took your advice! By the way, while there are definitely wrong ways to go about doing it, I actually have a lot of time for women who aren’t ashamed/afraid to declare a preference for larger dicks. If they do it in a sex-positive, happy way, rather than a sneering or mocking one, well, I think that takes a fair bit of balls and some good self-awareness/knowledge of their own bodies/preferences.

CK: Yes, that definitely makes sense. I also wish that women who stated we don’t really care/don’t prefer huge dicks would be taken at face value about our preferences!

EA: Women get so much shit for loving sex (or being greedy about it, or wanting to ‘fuck like men’) that to hear someone come out and say “fuck it, I love big dicks” is kinda hot. What you just said, though, that’s the irony of our collective male insecurity about dick size: w’ve cultivated it to the point where women who come out and say “I don’t actually care either way” or even “I prefer smaller/average dicks” – messages that should be music to our ears – simply aren’t believed! Moral of this story? Believe women when they talk about what they do/don’t want. It will be much easier for all concerned.

CK: Also good advice for life. to be honest. Believe people about their own preferences!

EA: Fuck yeah. And talk about those preferences with them! Don’t just assume that “I prefer this” means “it’s my #1 preference, it’s an absolute preference, it exists independently of any/all other preferences, and because you don’t conform to it, I can’t find anything else in you to love/fancy/desire.”

CK: Preach! (Example: my partner prefers naturally hairy women but ultimately having body hair is a small part of the whole package of what he’ll find attractive in a person.)

EA: We all have a preference set. They’re often fluid, nuanced, interdependent, and liable to shift as we experience new things. That’s part of the beauty of being human, and of having sex with other humans.

CK: So the thesis is basically: genitals are great. Dicks are hot. People have different preferences and we should listen to each other. And TOYS ARE GREAT ALWAYS.

EA: Nailed it.

Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed our second co-authored piece. Remember to check out EA’s blog and, if you like the work I’m doing here on Coffee & Kink, consider becoming a sexy patron.

Sex Educator Interview #5: Cooper S Beckett

You may have heard of this little project started by Jenny Guerin and myself, the Sexy Summer Book Club. It’s an online read-along where we share questions, invite discussion and encourage people to use the books as jumping off points for their own writings.

The cover of Approaching the Swingularity by Cooper S Beckett

August’s book is Approaching The Swingularity by Cooper S Beckett, which I actually reviewed a while back. Very fittingly, therefore, today’s interview is with Cooper himself. Without further ado, let’s hear what the sexy-voiced podcaster, author and progressive swinger extraordinaire had to tell us.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I write sexy books, and books about sex, which are sometimes the same thing, sometimes not. I’m also a coach and educator about sex positivity, safer sex, and focus on non-monogamy. I’ve been host of Life on the Swingset, The Swinging & Polyamory Podcast for the last 7 years, and we’re about to record our 300th episode! My goal is always to get people to think about their conceptions of their sexuality and how that relates to their partner(s) and the world, and take the opportunity to color outside the lines a bit, and learn about themselves.

What first made you want to write and podcast about sex and non-monogamy?

Hubris. I’d been swinging for a grand total of like 10 months and I thought, “You know what, I understand this pretty well, I should teach other people about it!” I corralled Dylan Thomas into co-hosting and the podcast was born. The writing has a little more sense behind it, but still not much. Before opening up I was a writer and indie filmmaker, so once I opened up and found the time to get back into it, writing about this all was a natural progression.
 

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a podcaster, sex educator and published author? How does one ‘make it’ in this field? 

 
If anyone tells you they’re “making it” in podcasting they’re the incredibly rare and lucky breed. Honestly, podcasters don’t really make it. It’s all about reach, isn’t it? So podcasting is a vehicle for reach. The more I podcast, the larger my audience, the more opportunity to share my speaking gigs and educating and books with the world. But podcasting itself…it’s nice if it pays for itself. I guess that’s when you know you’ve made it, when the podcast isn’t as valuable as a drain in your bank account.


What does “a day in the life of You” look like? 

 I sleep way later than I should before I go to my (still unfortunately necessary) day job. In my free time I try to focus on projects and writing, while balancing with time with my lovely partner & binary star Ophilia Tesla, and still finding time to keep up on current media like Doctor Who and Legend of Zelda. 


What’s the best thing about being a sex educator, in your opinion? The worst?

The best thing about being a sex educator is the same as the best thing about being any type of educator, that moment when you see the person you’re talking to “gets it” and something changes in them. Since sex is such a major part of people’s lives, and the things I teach have the possibility of changing them fundamentally, it can be a really amazing moment. The downside is that sex is really really looked down upon as something worth educating yourself about. So there’s tremendous stigma surrounding it.

Which of your 3 books is your favourite, and why? Also what’s your favourite episode of the podcast, and why?

Approaching the Swingularity is my favorite, maybe because it’s the newest, but I also think it’s my best work. It allowed me to go deepest into my passions and take characters to new and unexpected places. Also to be really mean to them, cuz that’s kinda my thing. My favorite episode of the podcast was our 200th episode where we were lucky enough to get Dan Savage on as our guest. That was a real feeling of having “made it” – so I guess that also answers a bit of the question above!
 

Will there be a third book in the “Swingularity” series? 

There will, and at the moment it’s a shorter book like A Life Less Monogamous and will follow Jenn and Ryan’s early issues with true polyamory. The working title is Polywogs. But, for the moment, I’ve become distracted with a supernatural series featuring a pansexual poly woman named Osgood as the lead.

Which of your characters do you most identify with and why?

Depends on the day. All my characters are ultimately me, even if their personality isn’t. I split up my traits among them and give them my hangups. Ryan is probably the most ME, but in Swingularity, I’d have to say between Crista and Raymond for the most intense identification.

Who inspires you, professionally and personally?

Tristan Taoramino and Dan Savage are my two big favorite sex educators. I love his acerbic wit, and I aspire to the variety and depth of the work Tristan produces. For fiction my big inspiration is Stephen King, because nobody does character as well as him. I also adore the work of Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury. 

If you were stuck on a desert island (sorry, sorry, I HAD to do a ‘desert island’ question) and could take three toys and one sexy book, what would you pick and why? 

Hmmm. If I’m by myself, a Tenga Egg, the nJoy Pure Wand, and can I bring a bottle of lube instead of a third toy? I feel like the heat would make lube essential. If I’m with someone else, definitely the nJoy Eleven. A sexy book….so many options.

What’s something you used to believe about sex/relationships but are glad you don’t believe any more?

That sex equals PIV/PIA (Penis in Vagina/Penis in Anus) penetration. And if I didn’t have that I wasn’t having sex. It’s tremendously pressuring, especially in group sex situations. Making everything sexual, including heavy making out, sex means that I no longer feel pressure to take things to an obvious conclusion, and can simply enjoy the smorgasbord of sexy in front of me.

What’s the best sex advice you ever got? 

 
It’s okay for sex to be silly. It always looks so dramatic and intense in movies. My best sex involves conversations, mistakes, and laughter.


What do you think is the most toxic myth that our society perpetuates about sex/relationships?

 

That there’s a right way to do it. That gives us all complexes that we’re not doing it right, and we stress out and make foolish decisions because of it.

What’s one question that you wish people would stop asking you? 

“You REALLY use condoms for blowjobs?” Yes I do. I’m happy to keep talking about it, though, until oral barriers are a thing.

And just for fun, because it is “Coffee and Kink”: Do you like coffee and, if so, how do you take it?

Oh god. My Starbucks coffee order is insane and will make people throw up from sweetness. I do a Venti double shot with 5 total shots of espresso and vanilla and caramel syrup. Otherwise, I don’t much go in for coffee.
Thanks Cooper for your time and always-fabulous insights, as well as the sexy books. Next up in a day or two is one of the cohosts of Life on the Swingset, Dr Liz… stay tuned for that!
The image featured in this post is the cover of Approaching the Swingularity and is the property of Cooper S Beckett.