6 Things Not to Do If You Want to Have Anal Sex Successfully

I think I’ve said before that I have a complicated relationship with anal sex. I was pressured to engage in it at a young age, long before I was ready. As a result, I pretty much shut it down and made it a hard limit in subsequent relationships. I did eventually explore it again, and even discovered that I quite liked it!

Nowadays, anal is only an occasional part of my sex life. I have to be really in the mood, and my body and brain have to be cooperating at the same time. But when the stars align enough for me to want to do it, I typically really enjoy it. Apart from the obvious and huge factor of being with safe and respectful partners, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that have improved my relationship with anal sex enormously.

I recently learned that “Anal August” is apparently a thing. So in recognition of that, here are six things to be aware of – and six mistakes not to make – if you want to have anal sex of any kind successfully. (Note: my definition of “successful” anal sex is anything that is consensual, pleasurable, and safe for all parties involved. Beyond that, you do you. We don’t do prescriptive around here.)

Don’t Skimp on the Lube

We all know that we need to use tonnes and tonnes of lube to have anal sex successfully, right? Well, you probably need even more lube than you think. No, add a bit more. No, more than that. Okay, now you’re good. If things don’t feel slippery wet, you’re probably not using enough. If anything is hurting, catching, or you can feel a lot of friction, you’re definitely not using enough.

It’s also a good idea to keep adding lube regularly, particularly if you’re using water-based as it will dry up after a while. I like silicone lube for anal sex because it’s so slippery and lasts ages (but remember it’s not a good idea to use silicone lube with silicone toys.)

A bonus tip: please never, ever use “numbing” or “desensitising” lube. Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong. If you can’t feel it, you may not notice if you’re being harmed until it’s too late. Plus, anal sex is supposed to be pleasurable! If you’re numbing your body to get through it, please consider whether it’s something you are even truly desiring or consenting to. Seriously, these products should not exist and can get in the fucking bin.

Don’t Rush

Apart from lube, the number one key to enjoying anal play is to go slowly. This means not rushing into it before or unless you’re ready. It also means exploring one step at a time, with no pressure.

You probably won’t get an entire penis or dildo in your butt the first time you try anal sex. That’s totally normal. Even if you only get the tip of one finger inside, that’s a success as long as you had a good time. I say this all the time with kink, but it’s true for any kind of sex: it is always better to end a session thinking “I’d like to do more next time” than to end it thinking “fuck, I went too far.”

Don’t forget about exploring externally, too. Anal play isn’t all about penetration! There’s a reason rimming (oral sex performed on the anus) is so popular. That entire area is really sensitive and having it stroked, licked, or teased can feel really good. Even just running a lubed-up finger across the anal opening can provide an intensely erotic sensation.

Don’t Restrict Yourself to Hands and Dicks

Anal sex toys are often erroneously categorised as “for men.” This is problematic in a couple of ways. First, “sex toys for men” is usually used synonymously with “for people with dicks.” And by now we all know that not everyone with a penis is a man, don’t we? Aside from this, everyone has a butt! Some anal toys are designed specifically to stimulate the prostate. And it’s true that if you were assigned female at birth, you don’t have a prostate. However, no matter what type of genitals you have, the butt is packed with nerve endings and sensitive spots that feel really good when stimulated.

What I’m really saying is: get yourself some butt toys! They can be a great way to start out, explore anal play solo, or expand your repertoire with a partner.

If you’ve never done anal play before, start with a mini butt plug (I like Godemiche’s Plug B in small) and work your way up. After that, you can try a larger plug or a small slimline dildo. I like the Godemiche Peg for a beginner anal dildo or just as a great option for those who prefer smaller and slimmer toys. And if you’d like to fuck your partner anally but don’t have (or don’t want to use) a bio-cock, a good strap-on harness should be on your shopping list.

Don’t forget vibrating toys, too! Kiiroo’s Lumen (currently 30% off for Anal August) and B-Vibe’s rimming plugs are great choices.

Don’t Put Pressure on Yourself or Your Partner

Pressure, whether self-imposed or placed upon you by someone else, is one of the ultimate libido killers. It also erodes consent, since a person who is being pressured may not feel able to say yes or no to an activity freely.

If you’d like to have anal sex with your partner, raise it and see how they feel about it. They may say no, in which case you need to respect that. You might decide to explore on your own to scratch that itch, using anal toys such as butt plugs, dildos, or butt strokers. They might be enthusiastic and all for it. Or they might be open to it but nervous or hesitant. Wherever they are, meet them there with love and acceptance.

Treat yourself in the same way. You don’t need to feel any pressure to have anal sex for any reason. Some people feel pressured because a partner really wants to try anal, because they worry they will be seen as prudish or uptight if they don’t, or because they think it is a “standard” part of their sexual orientation (fun fact: according to a 2011 survey of men who have sex with men, less than 40% reported engaging in anal sex with their last sexual partner. Many never do it at all.)

For any kind of sexual exploration, a safe and pressure-free environment is vital as a base from which to explore.

Don’t Forget Sexual Health

Like all kinds of sex, anal sex carries a risk of passing on a sexually transmitted infection (STI.) Current data also indicates that it is a higher risk activity than vaginal, oral, toy, or hand sex. The best ways to keep yourself and your partner safe are to get tested regularly, negotiate your safer sex boundaries clearly, and use a condom for penetrative anal sex.

Don’t forget that rimming, like any other forms of oral sex, can carry an STI risk. Depending on your safer sex boundaries, you may wish to use a dam (or cut up condom) for rimming.

Hand sex is low risk for STI transmission, but it is still possible. Being diligent with hand washing, and using gloves if you like, can lower the risk further (and using gloves is essential if you have any open cuts on your hands.)

Anal sex with hands can also facilitate a transfer of bacteria even if you are both/all STI-negative. If you’re switching between anal and genital stimulation with hands, change gloves or wash your hands in between. Even a freshly washed butt can transmit bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections and other complications, particularly for people with vaginas.

For the same reasons, never go from anal to vaginal penetration with the same penis or dildo without having a thorough wash or sterilising the toy in between.

Don’t Stress If It’s Not For You

Like anything else, anal sex isn’t for everyone. You might reflect and decide that you have no interest in trying it, now or possibly ever. That’s cool! You might try it and realise you don’t like it. That’s fine, too! You’ve learned valuable information about yourself!

What do you wish you’d known before you tried to have anal sex?

This post contains affiliate links.

[Guest Post] Revisiting My Erotic Fiction with a New Perspective on Consent by Alex Holmes

I’m pleased to be welcoming Alex Holmes (he/him) to Coffee & Kink with his first guest post. I’d also like to thank him for his extraordinary patience while I took a million years to read, edit, and publish this piece.

Alex has also, coincidentally, covered the subject of revising your boundaries downwards in this piece. This is something I think we don’t talk about enough and something I really want to write about more in the future. So look out for that coming soon!

Heads up: this post discusses forms of violence including rape, sexual abuse, “stealthing” (which is also a form of sexual violence,) murder, and intimate partner abuse. If that’s likely to be triggering for you, please skip this one if that’s what you need to do to take care of yourself.

Amy x

So, I have a confession: a few years ago, I wrote a series of erotic novels (under a pen name, before anyone stops reading this to go hurriedly searching for them!) They did pretty well, as erotica goes. But these days, I’ll admit that I’m hugely conflicted about them.

Don’t get me wrong, they were decent books – well-written (if I do say so myself), decent plot (ditto), plenty of “action,” and they sold well enough to pay a few bills and get excellent reviews along the way. They still sell, albeit occasionally, and I still get the odd quarterly royalty payment from them even now. None of that was the problem.

The issue to me, now, is that two of those books are very clearly based around an implicitly consensual non-consent (CNC) setting that’s, in hindsight, more distinctly borderline on the “consensual” part than perhaps I’d like if I were writing them today. Put bluntly, they feature a very obviously “fantasy” slavery setting that a decade or more later I’d have to say I’m not particularly proud of. I was younger and I’ve learned and grown since then, what can I say?

Now, these books were very clearly set in a fantasy alternate history, behind a very clear These stories are fantasy. In real life, consent and safety are two of the most fundamental cornerstones of BDSM…’“introduction, and no-one – I felt then – was going to take the “captured heroine” thing seriously as an expression of how women should actually be treated. Moreover, a significant proportion of the readers were women, and all the comments I ever heard about those stories –from all genders – were entirely positive. They were fantasy. People got it, and readers enjoyed them.

The stories obviously played to the same fantasy audience as Roquelaure and Reage (to be clear, though, they weren’t anywhere near as well written as either!): the idea of fantasy helplessness, of being in a situation where choices were taken entirely out of our hands and safewords and traffic-light check-ins were unheard of, appealed to audiences of all genders, it seemed. No-one suggested that there was anything going on other than some relatively okay-ish erotic writing and a little fantasy alone-time.

In private, I’d continued to practice kink with consenting partners, and with discussed and agreed-upon limits, aftercare, safewords, easy-release knots, safety rules, and regular wellbeing check-ins. At no point did I equate that world – other than in an occasional “shared storytelling” sense – with the fantasy land of poor Princess Elizabeth (my protagonist) and her unfortunate downfall and eventual rehabilitation and revenge.

Why Consent Is On My Mind (And Should Be On Yours, Too)

I started thinking (again) about this stuff recently, in response to the Andrew Tate arrest and the unfolding horror of what was allegedly going on in his house in Romania. It coalesced into a coherent (I hope) set of thoughts in response to a number of tweets I’ve seen talking about masculinity in BDSM, and how – apparently, according to a certain section of Twitter populated entirely by profile pics of faceless men in suits and ties, often holding a leather belt – “feminism has no place” in D/s. Women, apparently, have no place in dictating what Dominants (read: men, or so these people assume) can and can’t do. Essentially it was toxic, who-gives-a-damn-about-consent? masculinity writ loud.

Those tweets, and the stories of misogyny and the radicalisation of young men lured in by Tate’s philosophy that were coming into the mainstream media in the wake of his arrest, triggered some of those concerns I’d had previously. This raised (or maybe re-confirmed) a bunch of questions for me about how we talk about consent. As much as I believe I’ve learned and grown in the period since my books were first published, and as much as the stuff I’ve written more recently (and the way I try to treat others in the bedroom and in general) is hopefully a little more “two-way-street,” it saddens and disturbs me that, in the third decade of the 21st Century and sixty years since the height of the Sexual Revolution, an article on consent even has any reason to still be written. And yet, here we are.

Consent is Fluid, Changeable, and Revokeable

I’ve always believed that, in any D/s scenario, the power lies with the bottom, not the top; submission is a gift that’s given to a partner, not taken, and it can be revoked just as quickly if things no longer feel safe or enjoyable. Similarly, we know that consent isn’t a fixed, one-time thing. It’s fluid, and it can be withdrawn if something no longer feels right. We’ve heard a lot recently about “stealthing”, in which men receiving consent for safer, condom-clad sex only to surreptitiously shed the contraceptive and try to slip in bareback in the hope that their partner doesn’t notice until too late. A note to those men: if it wasn’t what was consented to, then it’s non-consensual. And there’s another word for that.

But consent can also be withdrawn for stuff that you thought you wanted and then it turned out you didn’t; sure, if you like being spanked then you might think “I quite fancy being caned”, or paddled, or whatever. It’s a reasonable progression to consider. But after the first stroke you realise that, in fact, it’s a very different experience and actually you’re really not into it at all. It’s entirely reasonable to ask for it to stop. That’s withdrawing consent, and it must be respected and accepted without question.

Revising Your Boundaries Downwards

But it’s even more nuanced than that. What about those things we used to love, but which kind of don’t fit quite so well anymore? We all talk about how, particularly in long-term, supportive relationships, our boundaries and trust develop and things that perhaps we didn’t feel comfortable asking for become easier or more natural. But it happens the other way, too.

Sometimes, stuff that used to make us as hot as fuck sometimes just feels kinda… ookie. That’s ok. We’re allowed to have that to happen, and we should be able to say “yeah, I don’t want that right now, actually” without incurring the “well, you used to be fine with it” huff.

Fantasy and Reality Are Wildly Different Things

When I was researching for my books (and yes, I did actually research stuff), I did a fair amount of talking to people in BDSM groups, in person and online, to find out what was and wasn’t considered okay, rather than just relying on my own take. I realised I wasn’t the oracle on this, and that other people had a great deal more experience and knowledge than I did. Part of that involved spending some time in online chat rooms and message boards, where I was amazed at the number – and it’s a stupifyingly high number – of supposedly Dominant men who thought that, simply because someone has a lower-case letter at the start of their nickname (signifying their being a sub), they’re fair-game for opening up with “on your knees, slut.” I watched it, time and again, thinking “would you start off with that opener to someone you’d never spoken to before down the pub?” There is, it seems, a significant number of people who can’t tell the difference between dominance and simply being an aggressive asshole.

So what’s the point of all this? I guess, fundamentally, it’s one that every good partner should know. Whether we’re in a D/s scenario, in a more vanilla setting, or just living our lives together, respect and communication are paramount. That trust is fundamental, and it’s built slowly and lost in an instant. Afriend of mine used to say that “trust arrives on foot and leaves on horseback.”

Consent is an active thing, and it’s constant, fluid, and not “one time only”. The safety and welfare of our partners is way more important than our particular fantasy or getting our rocks off – and that goes for dom/mes as well as subs. Aftercare and check-ins are fundamental to safe and consensual play, both ways around.

To bring it full circle back to those old erotic stories again, the fantasy idea of being chained up in a basement and used for fun – or whatever – is more common than you might think. CNC, bondage, and the loss (or temporarily giving away) of control can be fun, if they’re done within the right situation and context.

The kind of content Tate was peddling to millions of boys and young men across the world, though, normalises the misogynistic, violent, oppressive view that they really have a right to take away women’s consent, control, and agency. In a world where one in three women and one in four men suffers some kind of intimate partner violence, and where over 130 women are killed by a partner or family member every week globally, that line between consent and coercion should be at the forefront of our minds in any interactions – regardless of what the Tates of the world would have us think.

You can find Alex on Twitter @AlexJH1973, on Facebook @alex.holmes.96780, and on Instagram @alexh1973. In lieu of accepting payment for this piece, Alex asked me to make a small donation to Studio Upstairs, a mental health arts charity. You can learn more about them, and donate if you feel so inclined, here.

Kink in Public: Is it Okay and How Can You Do It Safely?

A lot of people have exhibitionism kinks, meaning they get off on the idea (or reality) of doing sex and/or kink things in front of other people. But is this something you can do? Is it something you should do? The short answer is yes, but you need to be careful and considerate if you do choose to go for it.

Consent Matters

Consent to sex and BDSM extends to anyone who will witness it. And this means that random members of the public should not be seeing your activities, since they have not consented to do so.

In some spaces, such as swing clubs and kink dungeons, consenting to be there means consenting to see certain activities that fall within the rules of the space. So if you want to get your exhibitionist on, consider going to one of these spaces so you can do so in a safe, controlled, and consensual way with enthusiastically voyeuristic participants.

Remote Control Sex Toys

One way to play subtly in public spaces is to use wearable, remote control vibrators such as the Lovense Lush or We-Vibe toys. These toys are generally quite quiet, meaning that you can safely use them in spaces with a decent level of ambient noise. Plus if people hear something vibrating with no other context, they’ll likely assume it is a mobile phone ringing.

Obviously, you’ll need to keep your facial expressions and responses under control if you want to do this.

Check out my Lovense Ferri review, We-Vibe Chorus review, and Lovense Lush review for some inspiration for remote control sex toys you can use.

Subtle Protocols

Many kinky and D/s couples continue their dynamic in public – without violating anyone’s consent – by implementing protocols that people would not associate with kink without additional context. Easy examples include the submissive always walking on a particular side, the submissive carrying the Dominant’s belongings for them, or the submissive going to the bar to fetch the drinks as an act of service.

These are just a few ideas. Use your imagination and come up with subtle kink protocols that work for you.

Day Collars

I have mixed feelings on the subject of wearing obvious BDSM collars in public. On the one hand, we all get to wear the things we like on our own bodies, and many collars could plausibly pass for simple chokers. On the other hand, a collar can still be a fairly obvious symbol of a power exchange dynamic. You must decide for yourself where you fall on this. I used to wear my collar in public when I was in my former 24/7 relationship, but I probably wouldn’t do so now.

Fortunately, you can get subtle or completely vanilla-looking day collars. Mine used to be a bracelet with a little lock and key charm. Some look like simple necklaces. Your “day collar” can be a necklace, bracelet, ring, or something else entirely. I even know people who have a tattoo as their day collar, though obviously this requires an enormous degree of commitment and certainly!

Wear Something Your Dominant Chose

An easy way to feel submissive all day long? Ask your Dominant to choose your outfit for the day (or even an aspect of it, such as your underwear). Kayla Lords has written before about having her Dominant partner choose her panties for the day when they were long distance, and I think this is a great idea!

Receiving Tasks by Text

If you’re out and about away from your kinky partner, why not experiment with sending and receiving tasks by text (or email, messaging app, or communication system of your choice). These tasks can be sexual (“next time you go to the bathroom, take your knickers off and put them in your bag”) or completely vanilla (“drink a glass of water in the next half hour”). This is a great way to feel connected as you go about your days, and does not risk involving any non-consenting participants in your dynamic.

This post was written as part of Smutathon 2021! You can check out all our work and learn more about the challenge on the Smutathon website. Please consider donating to this year’s charities, Gendered Intelligence and Trans Lifeline.

How to Set Boundaries Firmly But Lovingly

As I’ve got older, I’ve realised more and more that when it comes to healthy relationships (romantic, professional, platonic, or otherwise), good boundaries are everything. But what are boundaries, why are boundaries important, and how do you set boundaries firmly but lovingly?

I’ve been thinking about, and setting, boundaries a lot lately. This post will have somewhat of a focus on romantic/sexual relationships, since that’s the focus of this blog, but many of these tips for setting boundaries can apply to any type of relationship.

What Are Boundaries?

Love is Respect (a fantastic resource on healthy relationships aimed at young people) has this to say:

Boundaries are really about your relationship with yourself; they help you honor your needs, goals, feelings and values. Boundaries can be emotional, physical or even digital.

Love is Respect

In other words, boundaries are about the things that are yours and over which you have ultimate say. Access to your body, your time, your home, and emotional or physical intimacy with you, are all areas where boundaries are essential.

Your boundaries state the things you will and will not do, and will and will not accept, when it comes to those things that are yours.

Why Are Boundaries Important?

Good boundaries are a crucial component of taking care of yourself. Without strong boundaries, you are likely to end up feeling used, burned out, or taken advantage of. This can happen even if no-one has any ill intent towards you! And if someone does have less than positive intentions towards you, a lack of good boundaries may help them to get their claws in.

This is not to say that being abused or harmed is ever the victim’s fault. It absolutely isn’t and no-one, no matter how good or poor their boundaries, deserves to have that happen. But in a world where some people sadly do have bad intentions and operate in bad faith, good boundaries are one tool we can use to help protect ourselves.

Good boundaries also help you to keep a strong sense of self. A boundary that I have now is “I will support my loved ones when they need it, but I will not take on someone else’s problems or emotions as my own”. This has helped prevent me from losing myself in a relationship or making myself solely responsible for someone else’s feelings, which is definitely a mistake I’ve made in the past.

Finally, good boundaries enable true consent to exist. I firmly believe that a person can only give a meaningful yes (to sex, a date, a new project or responsibility, or even just a conversation) if they also have the ability to say no. Good boundaries allow us to say yes when we mean it, and no when we need to.

How to Set Boundaries (Firmly But Lovingly) in a Relationship

If you’ve historically been bad at setting and maintaining boundaries, it can be difficult to know where to start. You might worry that people will be upset, angry, or disappointed when you start to set boundaries with them. You might even be right! But that just makes those boundaries even more important.

The thing people often miss is this: you can set boundaries in a loving way! Here are seven ideas and strategies I’ve found useful when it comes to setting firm boundaries and keeping my relationships intact.

Use “I” Statements

Boundaries are about you, so use “I” statements when you set them as far as possible. This can help prevent the other person from getting defensive or pushing back against what you’re saying (it’s harder to argue with someone about their own feelings, thoughts, or needs!)

Here are a couple of examples:

“I’d love to cuddle with you but I don’t want to have sex tonight.”

“If I’m in my office with the door closed, I’m working and only want to be interrupted if it’s an emergency.”

Use a Calm Tone of Voice

If you can, communicate your boundary calmly. It might sometimes be necessary but in general, the middle of an argument isn’t a great time to discuss your boundaries respectfully. A neutral tone allows the other person to be receptive to what you’re saying. Raised voices, name calling, or an accusatory tone are all likely to make them defensive before you’ve had chance to make your point.

Assume the Other Person is On Your Side

Unless you have very clear evidence to the contrary, assume that the other person – your partner, friend, family member, or even coworker – is on your side and cares about you. This means that they wouldn’t WANT you to overextend yourself or say yes when you really mean no.

This will help you approach the boundary as a necessary self-care step for yourself, and not as something you’re doing to the other person. It’s also a clever conversational trick – if you signal to the person that you expect them to be understanding and respectful, they’re more likely to want to live up to that expectation by responding appropriately.

Consider When to Compromise (and When Not To)

Compromise is essential in healthy relationships. This means you might not get 100% of what you want in every situation. If your needs conflict with your partner’s, it can be useful to have a frank conversation and try to come to a compromise.

However, you should never compromise on a firm boundary. If you’re someone who (like me) tends towards people-pleasing, what the other person thinks is “compromise” can look like you conceding your boundaries in favour of keeping the peace. Don’t do that.

Directness is Kindness

One of the biggest headfucks for me in past relationships has been not knowing where I stand or what the other person needs. By making someone guess at your needs or hiding your true feelings, you’re not doing them any favours. People who care about you would rather know what’s going on with you.

Being direct gives the other person the gift of knowing you better and having clear information about what you need. Being vague helps no-one. Clarity, specificity, and directness are the name of the game when it comes to boundaries.

Model Respect for Others’ Boundaries

In a healthy relationship, both (/all) people have their boundaries heard and respected. So as well as setting your own boundaries, you need to listen to and adhere to theirs.

Their Feelings Aren’t Your Problem

You might do everything right when you set your boundaries, and the other person might still be upset. At this point, it’s not your problem. While you can sympathise and work with them to get both your needs met, their feelings about your boundaries are ultimately not your job to solve.

If someone becomes very angry or upset about a reasonable boundary, it might be because they felt (consciously or subconsciously) that they were owed a certain level of access to you. This is a huge sign that the boundary was necessary!

Stand firm and resist the urge to compromise your boundaries in the face of yelling, guilt trips, sulking, or other manipulative behaviour.

Do you have any tips for lovingly setting boundaries? Share them in the comments!

If you’d like to help me keep the blog going and writing things like this, you can buy me a coffee or shop with my affiliates using the links in the right-hand sidebar.

A Dom Ignored My Safeword. Now What?

No, the title of this post isn’t something that has happened to me recently, so please don’t worry! But it’s something I see shockingly frequently, from Fetlife to Reddit’s r/BDSM and many other places on the internet. “My Dom ignored my safeword. What do I do now?”

I hate how common this question is, and I wanted to address it.

For anyone who doesn’t know, a safeword is an agreed-upon word that clearly and unambiguously means “stop immediately”. They’re often employed in kink and BDSM situations, particularly those where words like “no” and “stop” not being taken at face value is part of the game.

“Red” is a common safeword (with the accompanying “orange”/”amber” meaning pause and check in). But your safeword can be whatever you want it to be. My first one was “canary”.

A safeword is an absolute. You should never play without one, no matter how long you’ve been together, and you should never, ever ignore one. Oh, and by the way? If you haven’t explicitly agreed otherwise, “no” and “stop” are the ultimate safewords in every context.

First: no, you’re not overreacting

When a Dom has ignored your safeword, you might feel a range of different emotions. You might feel angry, sad, betrayed, frightened, numb, or something else entirely. When a Dom ignored my safeword in a scene years ago, I felt scared first, sad second, and angry much later. Your experience might look very different.

Whatever you feel, and whether the harm is physical or psychological or both, your feelings are valid. You are not overreacting.

Seek support if you need it

Do you need to talk to a kinky friend or another partner, see your therapist, or yell into the void of an anonymous online forum? You get to seek support, whatever that looks like for you.

If the consent violation occured in a public or semi-public location such as a dungeon, sex club, munch, or even a private kink party, consider telling an organiser, team member, or dungeon monitor. They should make sure you’re okay and help get you the support you need in the moment. They may also remove the perpetrator from the space and perhaps even issue a (temporary or permanent) ban.

You might also have been physically harmed. If you have been physically injured or been sexually assaulted in a way that leaves you vulnerable to an STI or an unwanted pregnancy, please seek medical attention immediately.

You don’t have to confront them (though you can)

Your only job is to take care of yourself. You don’t have to confront the person who ignored your safeword and call them out on it. But if you want to, you’re also within your rights to do so.

If telling them that what they did was fucked up and not okay, have at it. If you’d rather stay far away from them, you get to do that, too.

You don’t have to decide immediately if you’ll ever play with them again

If you ask me if I think you should give a Dom a second chance after they violate your safeword, I will always say absolutely not. I can forgive a lot of things, but this is such a complete and total annihilation of trust that I would never let that person near me ever again.

But your mileage may vary. If you feel conflicted, you don’t have to decide straight away. You get to take all the time you need and you’re allowed

Also: you’re not obligated to give them a second chance, no matter how apologetic and contrite they seem. Don’t let them guilt you into it if you don’t want to.

Their reputation is not your concern

Choosing whether to speak out publicly in the community about your experience is a very personal decision. There are good arguments on both sides and ultimately, the best choice is the one that’s right for you.

Either way, remember that their reputation is not your problem. You do not have to keep silent to protect them. You also do not have to make excuses for them or downplay what happened if you do choose to share.

Sadly, when someone speaks up and says “this Dom ignored my safeword”, some people will accuse them of exaggerating or instigating a witch-hunt. You’re not. Keep speaking your truth if you want to.

Don’t blame yourself

You might be tempted to blame yourself. You might be wondering if you didn’t say your safeword loudly or forcefully enough[1], if you should have put up more of a physical fight when the Dom continued, or if you just safeworded when it wasn’t “necessary.”

Sometimes, the D-type in question will seek to blame you, too. One common tactic amongst abusive Doms is to say something like “I knew you could take more”, “I know what you need better than you do”, or “I told you I played hard so you should have known what to expect”.

No. All of this is bullshit. The only person to blame for ignoring your safeword is the person who did it, and there is never any excuse. Kink is about consent and without ongoing, active consent, it is abuse. You get to safeword at any point for any reason and have that respected.

If you take nothing else away from this piece, please take this: it is not your fault.


[1] I want to acknowledge that there might be rare incidents where a Dom genuinely does not hear a safeword. This might happen in a loud environment like a play club. But in those circumstances, they will be mortified and apologetic and go out of their way to take care of you the moment they realise what has happened. It is also the Dom’s responsibility to ensure consent is ongoing in those environments, whether through clear non-verbal safe signals, regular check-ins, or even just choosing to play somewhere a little quieter.

If you find my work valuable, you can support the site by buying me a coffee to say thanks!

What is Ethical Porn and How Can It Enhance Your Sex Life?

I think porn can be a wonderful thing. 

People are often surprised when I say that. As an outspoken and unapologetic feminist, surely pornography would be against everything I stand for? Well, not exactly.

It’s true that the mainstream porn industry has a lot to answer for. Too often, the large “tube” sites profit from stolen content or non consensual content, including revenge porn and child abuse material. 

But there’s an alternative. If you’ve never explored ethical porn, you’re missing out on something that can be a wonderful addition to your sex life. 

Bellesa Plus ethical porn streaming platform

Today I’m spotlighting Bellesa Plus, a porn streaming platform that calls itself “The Netflix of Porn” and offers a “pay what you can” model costing from as little as $1 per month. The higher prices offer special perks, such as free sex toys and gift cards to the Bellesa Boutique (BBoutique), but the low entry point means you can enjoy more ethical adult content even if you’re on a budget. 

But What is Ethical Porn?

As with many of the things we consume, from food to media, people are becoming more and more concerned about the ethics behind their porn. Untangling exactly what constitutes ethical porn can be a minefield, especially given that the porn industry is still often defending its right to exist at all. 

Here are four things that I believe go into making porn ethical. 

Consent

This might seem like a bare minimum standard, but it’s missing from a shocking amount of mainstream porn. 100% of Bellesa’s content features consenting adults having consensual sex that has been consensually filmed. 

Performers have the opportunity to negotiate with their partner before filming starts, exploring their likes and dislikes. If a scene involves roleplay, performers will be briefed on their role in plenty of time to ensure they’re comfortable with it. 

And if, like me, you’re squicked by all the pseudo-incest (think: “step sister”) content that pops up on mainstream sites, you’ll be pleased to know Bellesa doesn’t do any of that. 

Chemistry and Connection

When I watch porn, I often gravitate towards amateur content because it feels so much more authentic. Whatever the specific acts that they’re engaging in, ultimately I want to watch people who truly like (or even love) each other, having hot sex that they’re genuinely enjoying. 

Many mainstream porn studios don’t give performers much choice who they work with. Bellesa pairs performers who truly have chemistry and actually want to have sex with each other. Because real connection and attraction makes for much hotter content and a much better working environment for the performers. 

Women as Subjects, Not Objects 

One of the things that will turn me off the fastest in any porn scene is seeing women being objectified. This is apparent in everything from the naming of scenes to the ways in which female pleasure is explored (or, often, ignored.) 

Ethical porn puts the pleasure of all participants front and center. In ethical porn, the women being depicted are full human beings with their own desires and erotic agency. In other words, subjects of pleasure, not objects to be acted upon. Bellesa porn is directed and produced by women, headed up by the inimitable Jacky St. James

A Safe and Respectful Working Environment

Making pornography is work, and performers deserve a safe working environment just as much as employees in any other industry. 

This can be as simple as prioritizing their comfort on set, such as making sure they’re well fed and hydrated. Sexual safety is important too, whether that’s ensuring plenty of lube is used or carrying out rigorous STI (and now also Covid-19) testing. And, of course, performers must retain the right to say no or to call “cut” on a scene for any reason. This goes back to consent. 

Performers should also be fairly compensated for the work they do. Making porn can be huge fun but it can also be physically and emotionally taxing at times. Performers are workers and deserve to be paid a fair rate. 

How Ethical Porn Can Enhance Your Sex Life 

Despite what naysayers might say about it, I believe that porn can be an extremely healthy and positive addition to your sex life, whether you’re single or partnered. When you make a point of consuming ethical porn, you can feel good about your viewing habits.

Here are three ways ethical porn can enhance your sex life. 

Get New Ideas

I recently experimented with a new kink activity with my partner. Why? Because I saw this specific act in a porn clip, thought it looked hot, and asked him if he’d be willing to try it with me.

Good porn has the potential to introduce you to new kinks, activities, and ways of having sex that you might never have thought of before. While you might not want to try everything you see, some things are sure to resonate. 

One of the things I love most about human sexuality is its infinite variety. Every single day, people are having sex in endlessly creative ways, many of which I’m sure I’ve never even thought of – and you probably haven’t, either! Ethical porn gives you a consensual window into other people’s bedrooms and allows you to draw inspiration from what you see. 

Enjoy Things You Can’t Do in Real Life

Perhaps there are things you fantasize about but can’t (or don’t want to) do in real life. For example, you might be a bisexual person in a monogamous relationship with a different-gender partner. Watching porn can allow you to express your attraction to same-gendered people without changing the relationship you have with your partner. 

Or maybe you have a particular fetish that your partner doesn’t share. If your relationship agreements don’t allow for getting that itch scratched with others, porn featuring your kink is another ethical and safe sexual outlet. 

It’s also valid to enjoy things in fantasy that you don’t want to do in real life. Let’s say you fantasize about gangbangs but consider the idea too risky to carry out in reality. Ethical porn is a wonderful way to enjoy your fantasies in a safe way that doesn’t carry any of the real-world risk that might come with realising them. 

Boost Your Desire

For many people, including me, arousal begets arousal. In other words, the more you masturbate, have sex, or consume erotic media, the more you’ll want to. The anti-porn crowd would say this is a bad thing, but I believe it can be just the opposite! After all, sexual pleasure is healthy and orgasms are good for us. Why not seek a little more of both in your life? 

So if you’re looking to get in the mood more often or more easily, pulling up your favourite steamy scene can help make that happen. Whether you watch alone or with a partner, the right porn can help to fire up your libido when it needs a little extra help. 

Want to Explore Ethical Porn?

If so, grab yourself a Bellesa Plus subscription. You’ll get access to top content from 50+ premium porn channels, unlimited 4K streaming, access to interactive sex education content, and unlimited access to over 600 erotic stories. You’ll also enjoy 24/7 support, discreet and secure billing, and an ad-free viewing experience. 

Best of all, you can get off to some of the hottest content you’ll find anywhere, and know that you’re supporting a company doing good in this industry. 

Bellesa Plus ethical porn logo

FYI: this post was sponsored by the good folks at Bellesa. All views, as ever, are my own. 

Edge Play: How to Safely Experiment with Darker Kinks

“Don’t worry about the darkness in my soul. It ignites me like an embered coal.”
– Anon

I believe that we all have dark places within us somewhere, and that it is important to honour the dark parts of ourselves rather than running from them. I believe that consensual kink is one of the places that we can safely revel in our darkness in a controlled and safe way.

I’m deliberately not defining what a “dark kink” is here, because it’s different for everyone. One person’s hardcore edge play is another person’s average Friday night. If you’re playing around your edges, you’re doing edge play, and this advice will be useful to you.

Ensure your partner is enthusiastic about going there with you

Consent is always vital, of course. But it takes on a new level when you’re experimenting with your edges or your darkness. Edge play is inherently risky – even if there’s limited physical danger, it’s entirely possible for someone to end up triggered or traumatised.

This applies to Tops, too, by the way. Tops get to give or withhold consent just as much as bottoms do – and Tops can also be traumatised by engaging in something that they’re not fully consenting to or something that goes wrong.

Practice RACK

Risk-aware consensual kink, or RACK, acknowledges that we cannot eliminate all risks inherent in sex and BDSM. But we can take steps to understand and mitigate them.

So if you’re going to try something edgy, take the time to understand the physical, mental, and emotional risks in what you want to do. Once you understand them, put

By the way: when you start doing this, you might decide the reality is too risky and you’d like to keep this kink as fantasy-only, for now or forever. That’s fine too – you get to pull the plug at any stage.

Have an aftercare plan

Don’t try edge play or a kink that’s straying into darker territory for you the night before a big meeting or an early start or a long drive. Ideally, if you’re going to experiment with edgier kinks, it’s best to do so when you’ll have plenty of time to recover, take things very easy, and take care of yourself.

Talk to your partner about an aftercare plan ahead of time. Ensure they’re fully briefed on what you’re likely to need and willing to provide it – and willing to adapt on the fly if the reality turns out to be slightly different.

A good aftercare plan might involve a long sleep, time to cuddle and debrief with your partner, and your favourite snacks within easy reach. Remember that drop from an intense scene can hit several days later, so plan how you’ll handle it if that happens.

Take it slowly

It’s always better to come away from a scene still wanting more than to come away upset or traumatised because you went too far. Remember that there will always be a next time.

Take things slowly, check in often, and don’t try to do everything all at once. If you’re experimenting with a new kink that’s edgy for you, maybe start out just by reading some erotica together or doing some dirty talk around it. When you do start playing, only go as far as feels good… and try to stop before you hit the “shit, we went too far” point.

Get some advice and do your research

Almost any kinky thing you want to do, I guarantee that someone else has already done it and probably created a tutorial on it. So do your research, learn as much as you can, and if possible get some advice from an expert. Many local kink clubs and swing venues hold tutorials on how to do various kinky activities safely (outside of pandemic times, obviously) – and you can also find endless resources online.

Other people’s experiences can’t prepare you for every single eventuality, but they can give you more context, help you think through how you’d handle various scenarios, and show you some of the common pitfalls to be aware of.

Quote Quest badge, for a post about experimenting with edg play

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!

What is Consent? 10 Fundamentals Everyone Needs to Understand

Most of us think we know what consent is. But when you start to look at it more closely, the “what is consent?” question becomes murkier and far more complex.

Today I want to share ten basic but essential fundamentals that I wish everybody understood.

Content note: this one contains discussion of sexual violence and a reference to murder.

It’s not just about sex

Consent is vital when it comes to sex, of course. But if we only apply consent to sex, we’re missing out a whole bunch of really vital steps.

Instead, I’d like us to conceptualise consent as something we apply in all areas of our lives. If your child doesn’t want to hug or kiss a relative, don’t make them. When your partner tells you they HATE being tickled, don’t take it as a challenge. If your friend has decided to quit alcohol, don’t push them to drink. And so on and so on.

If we normalise respecting people’s choices and autonomy in all areas of life, it becomes easier to normalise informed consent as a minimum standard for sex.

It’s contextual

Consent to something in one context doesn’t imply consent to it in another. I might love my partner casually grabbing my ass in the kitchen while we’re cooking dinner. It doesn’t mean I want them to do it when I’m on a work call!

Never assume that consent in Context A implies consent in Context B. Always ask if you’re not sure.

It’s not transferable

Consent is inherently person-specific. In other words, consenting to something with one person doesn’t mean you’ll agree to it with someone else. This one should really be self-evident. Unfortunately, in a world where prior consensual sexual activity with someone else is still widely used to discredit survivors of sexual violence, it still needs reiterating.

It’s reversible

Consent is not meaningful if it cannot be revoked. In other words, all parties must be able to stop the activity at any point. That might mean ending an interaction, changing up the activity, or even walking away from a relationship entirely.

I don’t care if you’re the most Twue Real D/s Couple that ever existed. Consent is never, ever, ever irreversible. If it can’t be revoked, you don’t have a relationship, you have a hostage situation.

It must be informed

Consent without all pertinent information isn’t really consent.

Years ago, a friend of mine agreed to engage in a knife play scene with a Dominant who said they had years of experience. My friend found out later that the person had lied – they had hardly any experience at all. This rendered the consent she’d given meaningless, because it was given under false pretences.

In other words, lying or deliberately omitting information in order to obtain someone’s consent makes it meaningless.

It’s specific

Consent to Activity A doesn’t imply consent to Activity B. If I’ve consented to kiss you, that doesn’t mean you can stick your hand down my pants without asking. If I say you can tie me up, that doesn’t mean you also get to spank me unless I say you can. And so on.

Never assume that someone is up for something based on their having consented to something different. If there’s any doubt, ask or check in.

It’s about much more than just “not saying no”

Sadly, I still hear “but she/he/they didn’t say no” as a defence when consent has been violated. Here’s the thing: consent is about much more than just the absence of a “no”.

Is the other person actively engaged in what you’re doing together? Are they responding positively? If not, pause and check in. If they shrug, say something non-committal, or otherwise seem uncomfortable, stop.

It’s everyone’s responsibility

Standard sex education is too often based on a “boys push, girls say no” model. But this is a gross over-simplification of what consent is and how it works.

Bottom line? It’s everyone’s responsibility. Never make assumptions about what someone might be “up for” based on their gender or any other characteristic.

It has limits

As a general rule, I’m a proponent of allowing informed, consenting adults to make the best decisions for themselves. However, this principle has its limits. Following the murder of Grace Millane, the UK outlawed use of the so-called “rough sex defence” in murder trials.

Here’s a great article from my friend Franki Cookney on why the rough sex defence is an antithesis to what consensual kink is all about. The bottom line? Fun, consensual kink play doesn’t cause serious harm. People cannot consent to GBH or death.

You’ll mess it up sometimes

This is the hardest one to swallow, and yet the most essential. We are, all of us, human and imperfect. I’ve made consent mistakes in the past, and I’m sure you have too.

Here’s the thing: making a mistake or fucking up in good faith doesn’t make you a garbage person. It makes you human. Apologise, change your behaviour, and learn from the incident so you don’t cause the same harm again.

What we can do is to do our best in all circumstances. This way, when we make a mistake it’s likely to be relatively minor, rather than an enormous violation that will cause someone else untold damage.

Consent is complicated!

What do you wish someone had taught you about consent?

The Sex Ed September banner, featuring colourful condoms

This post is part of my Sex Ed September series, where I’ll be sharing educational content all month long. If you find my work valuable, buying me a coffee help keeps the lights on at C&K HQ.

[Guest Blog] What Cats Can Teach Us About Boundaries by Quenby

It’s a rare gem of a guest pitch that can say something incredibly important and make me giggle my ass off at the same time. That’s why this idea from Quenby went into the instant “yes!” pile. As a consent nerd and self-confessed cat lady, I love the way they manage to nail the essence of both cats and boundaries in this piece. Let’s dive in…

What Cats Can Teach Us About Boundaries

Recently I was discussing boundaries with my datemate AJ and they said something that stuck with me. “When it comes to physical affection, I’m a bit like a cat!” (no, this isn’t a piece about kitten play!). This was a cute moment between the two of us, but the more I think about it, the more I think cats actually can teach us a few important things about setting boundaries.

It can take time.

You don’t walk straight up to a cat and pet them, you give them space and let the cat come to you. Whether it’s your first time meeting someone, or you’ve been dating for a while, sometimes you need to give your partner space. As someone who tends towards physical affection, this took me some time to get used to, and it’s something I still try to check myself on. But I try to come in without expectations, and give a partner time to relax and adjust to my presence. Letting them come to me can help ensure they’re comfortable and helps build the trust needed for us to feel safe lowering our inhibitions and exploring different forms of affection. And otherwise you’re just chasing a disgruntled cat around the house.

If a cat wants to be stroked, they will let you know.

If they want a belly rub they will let you know, and if they want food they will definitely let you know! Affection must be given and received on terms that everyone enjoys. You have to pay attention to your partners verbal and non-verbal signals, and take cues from them. As part of this we can also draw in the idea of love languages (the different ways in which people show that they care for each other.) Ultimately you need to communicate with a partner and find the ways you can express affection in a way that everyone appreciates. Because otherwise it’s not about your partner, it’s not about sharing a connection, its just about taking what you want from the other person.

Sometimes when you’re petting a cat they’ll suddenly stand up and walk away, because they’ve decided that they’ve had enough.

For consent to be meaningful, it must be continuous. Consent is not a singular moment, it doesn’t mean agreeing to something and then being obliged to stick with it. If you stop enjoying something, it’s always ok to stop. It can be hard to remember this when you’re in the moment. When your partner is right in front of you, excited for something that you also really wanted moments before, it can be hard to speak up. But (and lets say it together this time) if you stop enjoying something, it’s always okay to stop! And if your partner doesn’t respect that, they are in the wrong. And that leads us neatly to the final lesson.

Cats aren’t generally aggressive unless provoked first

But if you don’t follow these rules they will lash out, and those claw marks on your face will be your own fucking fault. If somebody fails to respect your boundaries, then you are entitled to be pissed off at them. Whether or not they crossed that boundary intentionally, they’ve fucked up and must take responsibility for pushing those boundaries. You have a right to establish boundaries and you have a right to enforce those boundaries.

This is intended as a light-hearted take on a serious topic – obviously human relationships are too complex and nuanced to be comprehensively explained by cats. But I think that the core lessons I’ve drawn out in this piece are a good starting point. Make time and space to develop trust, listen to what each person is saying. Above all respect the right to boundaries, and respect that those boundaries might change

However, it is also important to recognise that cats are not perfect models for consent practices. Below is a non-comprehensive list of lessons my partners cat really needs to learn on this subject.

What cats CAN’T teach us about consent:

– You should ask before showing someone your asshole, I’m sure it’s lovely but that’s not a dynamic I want to explore with you.

– Stabbing someones thighs should be discussed ahead of time. There are nicer ways to ask for attention you vicious little cutie.

– Climbing into bed while a couple are having sex is considered rude. Yes, we both love you, but in a very different way to how we love one another.

Quenby is a queer perfomer, writer, and activist. If you liked this post you can check out their blog, or follow them on FB and Twitter @QuenbyCreatives.

5 Reasons You Need Sex Positive Friends

After I write this post, I’m going to be jumping in the shower and then loading the car and heading off to Manchester with Mr C&K. There we will convene with 8 of my amazing sex-positive friends for my 28th birthday party. Unsurprisingly, then, when I was considering what to write today I started thinking about sex-positive friendships.

Since I joined the sex-positive and sex writing communities, first on Twitter and then in real life, I have met some of the most amazing people I have ever been privileged enough to call friends. So this is a little celebration of them all, and some thoughts on why you really need sex-positive friends in your life.

You don’t have to self-censor

I hate self censorship, and I do it a lot out of desire to not lose my day job or alienate my family. But sometimes you just want to say “I got fucked realllllllly good last night!” or “check out this awesome shot I took of my boobs!” When you have an awesome group of sex-positive friends, fear of oversharing is… if not entirely eliminated, at least substantially reduced. No-one’s going to say, “ew, I don’t want to hear about your sex life!” when you literally became friends with them through sharing your sex life on the internet.

You don’t have to explain yourself again and again and again

Sure, you’ll occasionally run across someone who doesn’t know the term you’re using, or someone else will use a term you’re not familiar with. And that’s absolutely fine! But the vast majority of the time, terms like polyamory, open relationship, bisexual, pansexual, genderqueer, BDSM, D/s relationship… can just roll off your tongue and no-one will look at you like you’ve grown an extra head.

You can also throw out phrases like, “so my boyfriend’s wife was saying that…” or “when my partner’s girlfriend came over…” without the constant double-take, the wait-what-did-you-just-say?

I don’t mind explaining myself occasionally, and I love dissecting the nuances of our different identities and what they mean and how they manifest for us. But doing polyamory/swinging/kink-1o1 again and again and fucking again is exhausting. With sex-positive friends who get it, you don’t have to do that.

Sex-positive friends will be your biggest cheerleaders

I’ve rarely come across a group of people so loving, so affirming and just so goddamn supportive as sex bloggers, sex writers and other sex-positive folks. These are the people who will retweet the shit out of that thing you wrote that you weren’t sure about, or respond with some variaton of YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL GODDESS when you share a nude, or celebrate with you when you hit a goal, big or small. We lift each other up when we’re down and we share the highs when we’re up.

Affection is free and easy, and so is consent

Something that sex-positive people understand is that the lines between what society considers appropriate vs. inappropriate between friends are almost entirely arbitrarily imposed. They get that everyone has their own unique boundaries and comfort levels, and that individual relationships get to decide what is and isn’t within their rules. The net result of this is that affection tends to be very free and easy – hugs and cuddles can be joyfully shared without it necessarily needing to mean anything bigger, and kisses and kink play and even occasionally sex can happen between friends without it having to make things weird.

It also means that consent is at the heart of all interactions. In these circles, I’ve also never felt pressured into anything I didn’t want to do. Basically, the deciding factor in whether or not to do something isn’t friends do X, lovers do Y, but simply: does everyone involved enthusiastically want to do X, Y and Z?

I don’t want to go all “hashtag-blessed” on you, but…

Basically, I believe this community has made me a better person. It has certainly immeasurably improved my life and made me a lot happier. I only hope I can give back some small measure of all that these amazing people have given to me.

#ManchBirthdayFest, here we come!