How to Do Better When You Fuck Up

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” 
– James Joyce

Another week in the sex blogging world, and another company that purports to be ethical has behaved horribly.

I’m not going to name them here, because that isn’t the point of this post. I’ve removed all their links from my site and won’t be supporting them again unless I see real and meaningful change.

This post isn’t really about them. This post is about the fact that this shit keeps happening. Whether it’s ostensibly sex-positive companies or their owners tweeting misogyny, or kink websites perpetuating transphobia, or big-name educators turning out to be serial abusers, it feels never-ending.

I believe that very few people are inherently evil or incapable of redemption. In fact, I believe that for most of us, our mistakes are how we learn, grow, and become better people.

God knows I’ve made plenty of mistakes – big ones and small ones. I’ve fucked up and I’ve hurt people and I’ve caused harm. I challenge you to find me a single person who hasn’t.

But when you fuck up badly? Accountability is needed. You need to apologise meaningfully, make amends, and do the work to ensure you never repeat the same harm again.

With the enormous caveat that I am not an expert, here are a few things I’ve learned about doing better when you fuck up and get called on it.

Don’t double down

If you’ve been called out for shitty behaviour, it is very unlikely that doubling down and attempting to justify it is going to go over well. Unfortunately, doubling down often comes across as invalidating (“you’re misinterpreting what I said”) or straight-up gaslighting (“that didn’t happen the way you say it did.”)

Many people, when called out, will lash out at the people telling them they fucked up. Some will even act as though denouncing harmful behaviour is an act of abuse in itself. Seriously: do not do this.

If your behaviour was a result of baggage or unresolved trauma, that might be relevant context, but it can only ever be a reason – not an excuse.

Don’t expect a half-assed apology to fix everything

There’s a recurring pattern with the people and companies who fuck up in these ways: if they apologise at all, it’s only after multiple very public call-outs.

If you fuck up and get called on it, apologising is a good thing to do. But don’t expect it to fix everything immediately. People aren’t obligated to forgive you. They might eventually, or they might not. That’s their decision to make.

And if you’re not actually sorry you did it but just sorry you got caught and called out? Don’t even bother. Because we’ve seen this before and we can always tell.

Accept the consequences

It’s hard to be truly accountable without accepting the consequences of your actions. Sometimes, people won’t want to be friends or share space with you any more. Some might choose not to buy from your company any longer. You might lose sponsorship deals, speaking gigs, income opportunities.

All of these are likely to be proportional and appropriate responses to the harm you have caused. You’re not being silenced or cancelled or having your life ruined. You’re experiencing consequences for your fuck up. Owning and accepting them is actually part of the process of healing.

Work to ensure you don’t repeat the mistake

Apologising and making amends is useless if you just repeat the same harm again and again. So take the necessary steps you ensure you don’t. This might mean educating yourself, getting therapy or other professional support, or seeking help from your friends and loved ones (NOT including the person you harmed) to hold you accountable.

The best apology, after all, is changed behaviour.

Quote Quest badge, for a post about making amends when you fuck up

I wrote this post as part of Quote Quest, a fun blogging meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the logo to see what everyone else is writing this week! Oh, and if you enjoy my work, please consider buying me a coffee.

I Won’t Apologise For My Body Any More

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

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

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

I will not apologise for my weight.

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

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

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

I will not apologise for my scars.

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

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

I will not apologise for my body hair.

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

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

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

I will not apologise for my physical limitations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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