How to Find a Dom or Sub: Five Places to Meet People

Spend five minutes on Fetlife or r/BDSM or any other online kink space, and this question will inevitably crop up. “How do I find a Dom?” “How do I find a sub?” “Where do kinky people meet each other, anyway!?” So I thought it was past time for me to share a few ideas on how to find a Dom or sub to share kinky adventures with.

Looking for your kinky soulmate or just someone to have some fun times with? Perhaps you’ve tried all those “FIND KINKY GIRLS TONIGHT!” sites advertised at the top of Google and had no luck. Wherever you are on your journey, here are five great ways to meet kinky people that you may not have thought of.

How to Find a Dom or Sub: Five Places to Meet People

1. Fetlife

Fetlife, known affectionately as the Facebook of kink, is not exclusively a dating site. It’s a social networking site for kinky people. But I know many people who have met partners on there, and it is a fantastic hub of online kinky socialising.

Don’t just spam your personal ad or start cold messaging people, though. Take the time to create an engaging profile, participate in some group discussions, and contribute constructively to the platform.

Before you message someone, read their profile carefully. Do they clearly state they’re not looking? Move on. Remember that kinky people are people first, so approach them respectfully. Do not assume a dynamic where none exists, and do not get explicit until consent has been established.

2. Munches

A munch is a social event for kinky people, usually held in a vanilla location such as a bar, pub, restaurant, coffee shop, or park. There are munches in most major cities and many smaller towns, too.

In the Covid times, many munch organisers took their events online, and some online munches are still running. These can be great if you live in a rural area or don’t have access to transport. But I really recommend getting out there in the real world if you can.

Don’t go to a munch with the intention of picking someone up on your first visit. Instead, chat to everyone and aim to make friends. If you hit it off with someone you fancy, great! If not, you’ll have started developing a network of kinky contacts and getting your face known in the community. You never know who could introduce you to the Dominant or submissive of your dreams.

3. Ordinary dating sites

Yes, kinky people use Tinder and OKCupid, too!

If you’re using regular dating sites, consider putting something about your kink proclivities in your profile. (But don’t be gross about it. Even something as simple as “Dominant looking to connect with subs or switches” or “I’m looking for the D to my s” is good!)

Again, always read someone’s profile in full before messaging, and always be polite and respectful. As you browse, you might be surprised how many kinksters are on these sites for precisely the same reasons you are.

4. r/BDSMpersonals

Reddit can be so many things – a cesspit or an absolute goldmine of useful information and interesting people. I’ve heard mixed things about the r/BDSMpersonals subreddit, but people do claim to have met both short-term and long-term partners on there.

You can create a post sharing your location, gender, age, kink role, and a bit about what you’re looking for. A recent glance indicates that posts by women tend to get far more engagement than posts by men, but it’s worth a shot whatever your gender.

Remember that, as with any online meeting, be cautious and exercise good judgement. Never give out personally identifiable information until you’ve met in person and got to know each other, and always meet in a well-lit public place at least the first couple of times.

5. Hobbies or subcultures that are popular with kinksters

You know those stereotypes about kinksters and geeks, or kinksters and LARPers, or kinksters and Renaissance Faire enthusiasts? They’re all kinda true. (See also goths, polyam folks, and so on). Obviously not everyone you meet in these spaces will be kinky, and you should never assume. But the crossover is large.

While I do not advocate for getting into a hobby or subculture just to meet a potential partner, if any of them appeal to you for their own sake, they might have the pleasant side-effect of allowing you to meet fellow kinky people in a vanilla or vanilla-ish space.

A disclaimer and word of caution

Naturally, these are only suggestions and I can’t guarantee any of them will work for you. Sometimes, meeting people can be a strange mix of circumstances and right place/right time happenstance, so keep your eyes open and treat everyone you meet in the community as a potential friend.

Finally, please be aware of the dreaded frenzy. If you’re starting to feel like you just need to play with someone – anyone – then you might be in sub-frenzy or Dom-frenzy. If so, then this is a good time to pause and reevaluate before diving into anything.

Happy kinky dating!

I’m Hotter in My 30s (or: Why I’m So Over Men who Fetishise Youth)

When I was much younger, I used to often feel that my youth was the most important and appealing thing I could bring to a relationship. That’s because the men I dated largely treated me as if it was. At 19, I started sleeping with older men – much older. Even today, I tend to date older men pretty often.

But something in my approach has changed dramatically over the last decade plus. And now I’m in my 30s, I’m so, so done with men (it’s always been men in my experience) who fetishise youth. Men whose dream women is 18 or 19, maybe very early 20s. When I think back to the way some of my past older partners reacted to my age, the way they’d treat me like meat or potential bragging rights when I walked into a sex positive space, it makes my skin crawl.

But what’s wrong with dating younger?

Nothing, inherently, assuming all parties involved are consenting adults. But your motivation and way of thinking about your (actual or hypothetical) much younger partner really matters.

It’s one thing to fall in love with someone much younger than you, if you genuinely connect and have things in common. It’s another entirely to consider age itself to be a selling point. At this point in my life, if I see a man exclusively chasing very young women, I consider that a serious red flag. What is it about women his own age that he can’t handle?

We live in a youth-obsessed world

In a world where a 37 year old female actor is considered “too old” for a romantic role, in a world where women are encouraged to use anti-aging products in our fucking twenties, in a world where a man in his 30s on a dating site will tell a women of 26 that she’s too old for him, we cannot deny that we live in a youth-obsessed world.

There’s an immense power to saying “fuck it” to this. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I certainly haven’t got it completely down, and I definitely Had Some Feelings when I turned 30.

But I’ve also realised that I’m way hotter, more desirable, and more of a catch as a partner in my 30s than I ever was in my teens and early 20s. And I fully expect the same to be true into my 40s and beyond. Here’s why.

I know who I am now

I know exactly why a certain type of older man likes very young women. It’s because they feel that they can mold those women, shape them into their idea of feminine perfection. And when I was that naive teenager and 20-something, I let men (one in particular, but not just him) do that to me.

But you know what’s awesome? Someone who knows who they are. There’s a tremendous confidence in being able to say “this is me, take it or leave it”, and knowing that if they choose the latter, they’re the one missing out.

This extends to knowing my body, too. Men like some of my exes, men who want women as close to virgins (a social construct, by the way) as possible, are missing out. The purity-obsessives I’ve slept with wanted to bring all the ideas, call all the shots, introduce me to all the things I’d never done before. They never considered how awesome it might be to have sex with someone who could bring her own ideas, introduce them to some things too, or tell them exactly how to get her off.

I can say no now

I was never very good at saying no in my younger years. Whether it was going along with sex I didn’t want, smiling and swallowing my disappointment when a guy let me down again, or wearing shoes I couldn’t walk in just because he thought they were sexy.

But when you don’t feel like you can say no, your yes is meaningless. The older I get, the more I embrace the power of “no”. And to paraphrase something one of my partners said recently, if they can trust me to say no when I mean no, they know that my yes is genuine and heartfelt.

And enthusiastic, wholehearted consent is sexy to any right thinking person.

I’m no longer relying on something fleeting

Here’s the biggest headfuck about dating a man who fetishised my youth: I knew that I was worth less and less to him with every passing year. None of us can get younger. None of us can magically become nineteen again.

But now I’m in my 30s, I feel as though I’m relying on other things to attract and keep partners and lovers. Personality, intelligence, kindness and compassion. (I would say wit, but I’m not funny – I know my limitations!)

And those things don’t fade with each year that passes. Focusing on things I can cultivate, rather than something that will disappear no matter how hard I try to hang onto it, has been profoundly freeing.

I expect more now

Self-esteem and valuing of yourself is extremely sexy. (And if you think it’s not and prefer partners with low self-esteem, well, that sounds like a significant You Problem). I’m less easily impressed and hold my relationships to a much higher standard.

As I explained it to my metamour recently, there was a time that I was always the youngest and maddest of any polycule I was a part of. This meant I inevitably got cast in the role of the flit-in, flit-out Manic Pixie who would let the older men I dated vicariously re-experience their own youth.

But I’m saner and tireder and I expect more from relationships now. I’m done being some dude’s midlife crisis. I’d rather be his equal, whether we have an age-gap or not.

A note to younger women

None of this is intended in any way to disparage young women in their late teens and early 20s. I am not, as someone rather charmingly put it on Fetlife recently, simply jealous because my “older pussy” is less desirable to men.

If anything, what I want younger women to take from this is a message of hope and empowerment. I have all the love for you, because I was you a few short years ago. And I don’t want you to give these years of your life to an older dude whose main reason for being with you is your age, not because you’re amazing (even though you are).

If you take nothing else from this post, take this: men who fetishise you for your youth are deeply creepy and should be avoided. You deserve someone who knows you get more and more awesome with every passing year.

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What is Commitment Without Entanglement?

I’ve been thinking about commitment a lot recently. What it is, what it means, and how I can ethically incorporate it into my life in a way that aligns with my needs, my values, and my partners’ needs and values.

As a polyamorous person and an ethical slut, commitment matters a lot to me. Does that surprise you? Many people assume that true commitment is impossible in a non-monogamous context. Of course, I don’t agree.

What is commitment, anyway?

Oxford Languages suggests the definition of commitment as “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc”. I think this is actually a pretty okay definition.

We all think we know what commitment means in a relationship, especially as it relates to mononormative culture. People often equate commitment with things like getting married, living together, and raising children together. Our society also strongly equates commitment with exclusivity. (Hands up every polyamorous person who has been asked “when are you going to commit to one person?”)

As a non-monogamous person, I suggest we look at commitment a different way. Instead of asking “what does society tell me a committed relationship looks like?”, ask yourself “what does commitment mean to me?”

Here are five things commitment means to me.

  • Commitment means I will prioritise you highly. This does not necessarily mean I will always put you first, and I will not necessarily prioritise you to the detriment of other important things in my life. But I will always consider you and strive to behave in ways that honour our connection.
  • Commitment means I will attempt to work through problems that arise in our relationship, engaging in good faith and seeking solutions that work for everyone involved.
  • Commitment means that I honour the ways in which you, I, and our relationship will grow and change. I want to grow along with you, not away from you.
  • Commitment means I want you to be in my life for as long as it is a happy and healthy choice for both of us. Ideally that means “for life,” but I accept things change. If our relationship is no longer good for one or both of us, I will let you go.
  • Commitment means that your happiness matters to me. To the best of my ability, and to the extent it doesn’t harm me or anyone else to do so, I will behave in ways that faciliate your happiness.

Your answers may be different. But I encourage you to think about what commitment is to you and maybe write down a “commitment manifesto” like the one I’ve shared above.

What is entanglement?

When I talk about entanglement in a relationship, I’m broadly referring to what is often known within polyamorous communities as “the relationship escalator.” Coined by writer Amy Gahran, the relationship escalator is described thus:

The default set of societal expectations for intimate relationships. Partners follow a progressive set of steps, each with visible markers, toward a clear goal.

The goal at the top of the Escalator is to achieve a permanently monogamous (sexually and romantically exclusive between two people), cohabitating marriage — legally sanctioned if possible. In many cases, buying a house and having kids is also part of the goal. Partners are expected to remain together at the top of the Escalator until death.

The Escalator is the standard by which most people gauge whether a developing intimate relationship is significant, “serious,” good, healthy, committed or worth pursuing or continuing.” (Source.)

The relationship escalator isn’t inherently bad, if it’s something you genuinely want (as opposed to something you’re following because of social, cultural, or familial pressure). But holding up the escalator model as the pinnacle of relationship achievement is deeply damaging to many people.

On or off the escalator?

Even though I strongly identify as non-monogamous, I’ve always valued having a core, deeply entangled relationship in my life. This is what Mr CK and I have. We live together, we share bills and cats and household chores, we are at least somewhat financially entangled. We’re each other’s next of kin at the hospital. We make big decisions together, and we hope to be together for life.

I also do not want all my relationships – or indeed any others – to be this entangled. The beauty of non-monogamy is that relationships don’t have to be all or nothing. If you have great sex but don’t have romantic feelings for one another, you can have a great friends-with-benefits arrangement. If you love each other but don’t want to live together, you can enjoy the connection for what it is without pushing for it to be more. When you have a need one partner can’t or won’t meet, you can get it fulfilled elsewhere.

This means you get to choose whether each relationship is on or off the escalator. It means you get to choose what level of commitment you want, and what that means for you and your partner(s).

You can even decide to take certain steps on the escalator but skip others, if you want to. For example, “we want to live together but no kids,” or “we want to get married, but monogamy isn’t part of our arrangement.”

Commitment without entanglement

When you try to define commitment without the trappings of heteronormative, mononormative, escalator-driven relationships, it gets complicated fast. It also gets really, really diverse.

Here are five things I’ve learned about how to do commitment without entanglement.

Create milestones that matter to you

Every serious relationship has meaningful milestones. What these look like and what they mean to you both/all will be different in each relationship. A few common milestones that don’t necessarily imply entanglement include the first kiss, the first time you say “I love you,” the first time you have sex, and the first night you spend together.

Unromantic milestones matter, too. In my relationship with The Artist, I remember feeling like our relationship had turned a corner the first time we navigated a (non-relational) crisis together. It wasn’t fun at the time, but in the long run it cemented our bond even further. I felt similarly after the first time they saw me in the middle of a major mental health crisis and didn’t run away.

What relationship milestones feel significant to you and your partner(s)? Think about both things you’ve already done (“the first overnight we spent together felt really significant to me”) and things you’d like to do someday (“I really want to introduce you to my best friends.”)

Have each other’s backs

For me, one of the biggest signs of commitment is when someone is by my side through difficult times. I enjoy the sex-with-no-expectations brand of relationship with some people. But I want to know that my inner circle people are there for me.

If you’re around when you want a hot shag but then disappear when I’m sobbing on the sofa because my depression is so bad, I won’t see the relationship as a committed one and will adjust my expectations accordingly.

Having each other’s backs isn’t the same as expecting the other person to drop everything to care for you in every crisis. But it does mean stepping up when you can, being there for the bad times as well as the good, and going out of your way for the other person at least some of the time.

Ask, don’t assume

When was the last time you asked your partner what love and commitment means to them? It’s easy to assume other people define these things in the same ways that we do. But assumptions are the fast-track to hurt feelings and miscommunications.

If you’re not sure what your partner needs or wants, ask them! If you’re not sure how they’re feeling, don’t try to guess. Just talk about it.

Learning each other’s love languages can be useful here. People often make the mistake of assuming that everyone gives and receives love the way they do. The love language framework isn’t perfect. But it gives you a way to explore and communicate your needs to your partner and to understand theirs.

Asking isn’t unromantic! Asking someone what they need or want is actually a huge sign of love and respect. Mononormative culture holds that we should be able to read our partner’s mind. This is bullshit. Don’t try. Seriously, I cannot emphasise this enough – just fucking ask.

Stand up for the relationship

When I was with my ex, one of the things that stopped me ever feeling safe was the fact that his wife had veto power. Even after years together, she could have told him to dump me at any time and he would have complied. Even though it was only ever hypothetical, we talked about the possibility at length. One of the things that really hurt was the knowledge that, if push came to shove, he would not stand up for our relationship.

I won’t date anyone with a veto arrangement any more. I believe that longer-term and more entangled partners should absolutely get a say and be able to voice concerns. But I cannot be in a situation where my relationship could be unilaterally ended by someone who isn’t even in it.

If you want to show commitment to your non-entangled partner, that means being willing to stand up for your relationship if you ever need to. This might mean telling your spouse or nesting partner that no, they don’t get to slam a veto down. It might mean speaking up when your friends or family (if you’re out to them) dismiss your non-entangled relationship as not real, not serious, or not important.

Keep the promises you make (and don’t make ones you can’t keep)

To my ex, promises made to me were always breakable if anything better came up (or his wife just had a bad day). This prevented me from ever feeling truly important to him.

In general, if you make a promise or commit to a plan with your partner, you should do everything you can to honour it. Emergencies happen, of course. Part of being in a long-term relationship means being flexible enough to roll with the punches when crises arise. But breaking promises or cancelling plans for minor reasons impedes building a true sense of commitment in a relationship, in my opinion.

The other piece of this is not making promises you can’t keep. My ex used to tell me that we – me, him, and his wife – would all live together and I’d be an equal co-primary someday. I eventually realised this was never going to actually happen. If I’d known that earlier, I could have adjusted my expectations accordingly. Instead, by promising something he never intended to actually follow through on, he deprived me of the ability to make an informed and consensual choice about how much I wanted to commit to that relationship.

If your non-entangled partner is asking for something, it can seem kinder to say “yes, someday” then just keep pushing it off into the distance. But if the real answer is “no, never” or “probably not,” it’s actually much better to tell them that. Hearing “no” to something you want is never fun. But it’s much better than being strung out on a false promise and then being let down again and again.

What does commitment without entanglement mean to you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’m so curious how other non-monogamous people handle this.

[Guest Post] Happy Never After by Velvet Divine

Velvet Divine (fae/faer) is becoming something of a C&K regular at this point! I’m delighted to welcome faer back again with this wonderful person piece about being on the aromantic spectrum. Don’t forget to follow Velvet on Twitter!

Happy Never After by Velvet Divine

It’s fitting that I compose this piece as Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week comes to a close.

Let’s start from the top – my name is Velvet Alicia Lilith-Victoria Azshara Divine. I am trans-femme, non-binary, Sapphic, and – most recently discovered – aroflux.

Aroflux falls under the aromantic spectrum and is described as fluctuating between points of aromanticism (not experiencing romantic attraction) and alloromanticism (experiencing romantic attraction.)

I describe my particular experience as an inability to distinguish between romantic and strong platonic affection. I love my partners in the same manner that I do my closest friends, the only real difference comes in the manner that those affections are expressed and reciprocated.

This can also make something as simple as a crush or casual interest wildly frustrating as I’m never sure if I want to friend-up or bone-down, much less where the other party stands! Furthermore, it’s quite a hurdle to forming any semblance of a relationship or consistent companionship, at least on any level north of the platonic.

Alloromantic folks are (understandably) reticent about getting involved with someone on the aro spectrum and for those that I have been involved with, it was always understood to be an ephemeral arrangement, lasting just until the fire faded or they found an alloromantic partner.

I wish I could tell you that I’ve embraced being aroflux as easily and even enthusiastically as I have being non-binary, but that would be a fib of the highest order.

Most days I resent the realization.

As someone who has a voracious craving for physical intimacy and relies on sexual intimacy to find validation despite vicious gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia, it’s a cruel joke to only find those things in incredibly niche circumstances.

In no way do I want to imply that physical or sexual intimacy is necessary for a whole and fulfilling life or relationship, but these are aspects of intimacy that are important to me. Moreover, by niche circumstances, I refer to the already small dating pool as a trans femme Sapphic being further shrunken by those willing to engage in the necessary level of communication and understanding to navigate the caveats of my being aroflux.

Ironically enough, I’ve been essentially navigating the hookup and casual sex scenes as an aroflux person, just without the label. My various trysts and liaisons were short-term or consented to end at a set point – whether I felt I had too much going on to try to establish a relationship or the other party found a partner more suitable. At points, I even thought it was simply a matter of working through my baggage and trauma before I would be able to connect with someone on that level.

As my therapy progressed and under the copious amount of self-reflection required to cope with the current pandemic, I had the opportunity to do a lot of self-reflection and evaluation of what it is that I truly want out of an interpersonal relationship. This is when I began to realize just how little difference there was in my interactions and expressions of affection between my intimate partners and my close platonic friends. Often, the difference was only a matter of physical or sexual intimacy.

There’s an incredible beauty to the way I approach relationships and I’m endlessly bemused by the fae-like, casual contracts I have with certain connections regarding the comfortable ways we can exchange affection and the term limits that dictate until when that mode of affection may continue. But now and then I feel almost cheated.

I have a lot of trauma surrounding attachment and abandonment, to the point that I will frequently check in with people I’m close to just to ensure that my company is still desired in some capacity. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve expressed some version of the sentiment, “I don’t care in what capacity, I just want to be a part of your journey”. Up until recently, I had always held out hope for that fairytale type romance, whether that came in the form of one partner or many – the type of love my mother has told me my entire life does not exist and that society all too often tries to tell me that I’m not worthy of.

Now, by some caprice of fate, the door to a classic happily-ever-after is closed to me. 

I know that romantic love is far from the end-all-be-all, and maybe my current frustrations stem from a place of internalized arophobia and conditioned amatonormativity, but I find that I no longer have any clear picture or idea of what a possible physically intimate relationship would look like for me. A dear friend of mine recently asked me what the ideal scenario would look like for me and I said that the most plausible scenarios would be some kind of non-monogamous situation or some kind of queerplatonic arrangement with another allosexual aromantic person in a similar position. 

I could carry on as I have and see for how long this revolving door method is sustainable, but I’m tired of having to get close to people who will not be staying or being a placeholder until a better alternative appears. I could come to terms with the fact that what I want is unattainable and that it’d be better in the long run for me to get used to filling those needs with toys or vicariously through ethical and worker-owned media, but I can’t imagine either filling the gnawing void. Maybe nothing ever will. Which would track for me.

None of this to say that I don’t receive an overwhelming amount of love and support from my friends, I do, and I’m beyond grateful for it. However, there are things that my platonic friends cannot do for me, one of them being to commiserate with me on this topic. As far as I know, none of my friends are aro, and the few aros that I have met are aro-ace. So while there’s plenty of solidarity and support to be had around being aspec in an allo world, I don’t have anyone to relate to my specific situation.

I’m allowing myself the time and space to mourn the model and vision I had for myself as far as relationships go, even deleting my dating apps and taking myself off the proverbial goblin market while I work through some issues that continue to impact my interpersonal relations.

I hope that with time, I’ll learn to like and appreciate being aroflux for what it is. But until then I’m choosing to give myself grace for once and let the process play out.

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Things That Matter More to Me Than Looks

I won’t pretend that looks are completely unimportant to me in a relationship. There does need to be a level of physical attraction – I need to be physically into my partners and have them be physically into me. But looks only get you so far and they’re so much less important than a great many other things.

I have met people I was physically attracted to, only to have that attraction greatly diminish or completely switch off due to some other trait in the person. At least a couple of crushes have been snuffed out when the hot person turned out to be an asshole.

So here are a few things that are ultimately way more important than looks.

Kindness

When it comes to dating someone or having them as a close person in my life, this is probably the single most important attribute they can possess. If someone isn’t kind, I’m unlikely to want to get close to them.

Even if I’m not immediately physically attracted to someone, kindness is one of the most reliable indicators that attraction could grow.

Things in Common

Obviously, no two people have everything in common. And separate interests and activities can be healthy in a relationship. But if we don’t have enough in common that we can share at least some hobbies and enjoy doing some things together, that’s unlikely to be a good fit for anything more than a very casual fling.

Matching Goals for the Relationship

I’ve been in relationships before where we wanted wildly different things out of it, and this is its own special kind of hell. While some things are open for negotiation, our core hopes and goals for the relationship should match. If one person wants a very serious, entangled relationship and the other wants friendship with casual sex, that’s likely to lead to resentment and frustration on both sides.

Compatible Kinks

Sex is important! If I’m going to have a romantic relationship with someone, chances are that sex and kink are going to be a part of it. That means that compatible kinks matter.

Again, no two people will have 100% crossover. Kinks and preferences are far too unique and nuanced for that. But there needs to be a pretty significant overlap for things to work.

I’m primarily a submissive, so while I enjoy dating switches, dating someone who wanted to bottom a lot of the time wouldn’t work for me. Likewise, dating someone whose main kink is my hard limit is unlikely to end well for either of us.

Similar Politics

Some people believe you can have very different or even opposite politics and still have a relationship. I do not believe that. I need someone whose politics are broadly aligned with mine if we’re going to be partners, lovers, or even close friends.

We don’t need to agree on everything. I think nuanced discussion and learning things from each other can be a wonderful part of a trusting relationship. But realistically, no-one who is right of centre is ever going to be a good match for me. We need to be on the same page about the important stuff.

What matters more to you than looks? Let me know in the comments.

Quote Quest post about things that matter more than looks

I wrote this piece as part of Quote Quest, a weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

4 New Years Resolutions Not to Make for 2021

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Make it a good one.”
– Brad Paisley

Well, friends, here we are! 2020 is finally over, and not a moment too soon. This is my first post of 2021, and so I thought it would be good to look at the popular-but-divisive topic of new years resolutions.

I’m generally not a big fan of “resolutions” – they’ve always felt like a lot of pressure, very “all-or-nothing.” Not to mention that January is the most depressing month of the year.

With that said, I do like taking the time during the new year period to look back over the last year, take stock of where I am and how I’m doing, and commit or recommit to my goals. My new year present to myself was an Ink and Volt Goal Planner and a bunch of fun, colourful stickers to use in it, and I spent a fun and satisfying few hours working out how to get where I want to go this year.

Whether you love resolutions or hate them, here are four that I think you absolutely SHOULDN’T make this year.

Go on a diet

Diets, of the type that start on January 1 and have weight loss as their driving goal, are unlikely to succeed. That’s because they tend to be punishing, starvation-based, and unsustainable. They’re also based on forcing our bodies to conform to an ideal that is patriarchal, oppressive, and not even possible for most people.

If you want to lose weight, I’m not going to tell you not to. Our relationships with our bodies are very personal, and only you know what’s right for you. But whether you want to gain, lose, maintain, or ignore the number on the scale entirely, focus on eating foods that make you feel good and moving your body in a way that feels nourishing and joyful.

Just don’t go on a new years diet. Please.

Get a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner

The reason I think “get into a relationship” is a new years resolution to avoid is this: it’s not entirely within your control. Naturally, you can do things that make it more likely you’ll meet your dream person or people (more on that in a minute.) But so many factors – whether the people you fancy are available, whether they fancy you back, whether your wants and needs are compatible – aren’t within your direct control. Not to mention, you know, the ongoing pandemic that is making dating challenging at best.

If you want to date more, or meet more new people, set that as your goal instead! These are perfectly fine goals that are actually within your control. You can get on the dating apps, dust off that old OKCupid profile, join a group or club for one of your interests (maybe virtually right now…) or ask your friends to facilitate introductions to any of their friends they think you’d hit it off with.

But resolutions like “by December 31, 2021, I will have a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner” is a recipe for pressure, frustration, and resentment. None of which actually lead to conducive dating.

Be more positive

There is little I find more eye-rollingly infuriating than toxic positivity, except possibly toxic positivity that comes from a place of unexamined privilege (and is presented in easily-digestible, pseudo-motivational quotes attached to pretty pictures on Instagram.)

I’m not saying we should all be relentlessly negative, of course. That doesn’t help or serve anyone. But I’m a big proponent of the power of appropriate and well-placed negativity.

2020 pretty much sucked. Not entirely, of course. Some good things – some great things – happened. But when there’s a pandemic raging, your government is killing people with their actions or inactions, you’ve lost your job, you can’t see your family and friends, and your mental health is tanking… well, the last thing I want to hear in that instance is “positive thinking is the cure to all your woes!” No it isn’t. The cure for our woes would be a competent government, mass vaccination, adequate and accessible mental health care, and necessities provided for everyone. (I’ll write a whole post on this soon.)

Instead of making resolutions like “be more positive”, what would happen if you decided to honour all your emotions this year? Feel both your sadness and your joy. Allow anger in and sit with it. There’s no such thing as a bad emotion – what matters is how we act on them. Sometimes, negativity is appropriate. Sometimes it’s okay to say “yeah everything is pretty much shit right now.”

Say yes

This is another of those pseudo-deep life advice things: say yes to everything! Embrace opportunity! It sounds great, except… it isn’t.

I’ve gone through phases of saying yes to pretty much everything people asked of me, both the fun and the not-so-fun. You know what happened? I ended up burned out and pissed off.

Saying yes to blowing off work to spend the day in bed with your partner might be great, or it might lead to serious professional repercussions. Saying yes to a spontaneous trip might be a fun adventure, or it might spell disaster for your finances. And saying yes to dessert when you don’t really want it might lead to you enjoying a tasty slice of cake, or it might end up with a sugar crash that leaves you feeling like crap.

Instead, consider your decisions carefully. Say yes when you really want to say yes and when it’s a good decision for you. Otherwise? Learn how to say no more often and more freely.

“No” doesn’t mean you’re closed off to opportunity, a bad friend or partner or employee, or not spontaneous enough. “No” means that you prioritise yourself, know where your boundaries are, and hold them without apology. And I think that’s far more beautiful and beneficial than agreeing to everything until you feel completely out of control.

Are you making or breaking up with resolutions this year?

Let me know why you love resolutions or why you hate them – and any that you’re determined to never make again!

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This piece was written for Quote Quest, a weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

Five of the Best Virtual Date Ideas

I resisted writing this post for some time, because it felt too close to the whole “moving our entire lives online during COVID” theme I was trying to avoid. However, there are many reasons beyond lockdown restrictions and public health fears why people might need – or even want – to go on digital dates. Long-distance relationships, limited funds, and illness are just a few of the ones I can think of.

So I wanted to share five of my best virtual date ideas with you guys today. I hope you find something here to inspire you. And, of course, you’re always welcome to share your own in the comments.

Movie night

You can use an app like Watch Party to share a virtual movie night, but it’s just as easy to sync up and hit “play” on your Netflix or DVD player at the same time… or even both watch the same movie as it’s being shown on TV.

You can video, voice or text-chat while you watch, if you wish, or just call each other afterwards and talk about the movie.

Get some popcorn and dim the lights for the full cinematic experience!

Looking for movie recs? Check out my friend Livvy’s blog, Sex Love and Videotape, for some inspiration!

Virtual museum tour

Did you know that museums all over the world have virtual tours of their galleries and exhibitions available online? Meet online to explore a virtual museum and video or voice-chat while you wander around.

The Albertina in Vienna, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the London’s Natural History Museum are just some of the world-renowned museums offering online tours right now.

Night at the theatre

Prior to the last few months, many of us could only access live theatre if we could get to a major city and afford the exhorbitant ticket prices (or get to one of the handful of cinemas that showed live-streamed versions.) Since March, however, tonnes of productions have gone online.

Pick a show, sync up, and hit play. Bonuses of the virtual theatre: you can wear your pyjamas if you want to, your bed is probably comfier than an actual theatre seat, and the drinks are cheaper!

Timeout‘s theatre sections have listings that refresh every couple of days!

Cheese and wine party

If you’re feeling fancy, why not share an online cheese and wine tasting? Get some interesting cheeses on your next trip to the supermarket (or order them online.) Pick up a bottle of wine (or two.) Enjoy them and compare notes on your favourites while you video-chat.

To take it up a notch, dress in your most over-the-top fabulous outfits.

Hot virtual sex date

Of course I wouldn’t be me without saying that some hot online sex is one of the best virtual date ideas of all!

Set aside the time to completely focus on each other, and get lost in some deliciously hot phone sex, sexting, or cyber-sex. An app-controlled sex toy can put your pleasure in your partner’s hands, no matter where in the world they are.

This post contains affiliate links. All views, as always, are my own. If you haven’t signed up for Coffee Date, my biweekly newsletter, yet – what are you waiting for!?

How to Write a Killer Swinger Dating Profile

Whether you’re just starting out in swinging, or have been around on the swinger sites for a while but are not having much luck, you might be wondering how to write the absolute best swinger dating profile you can.

For the purposes of this post I will assume you’re looking for play partners as a couple, but most of the advice works just as well for singles and polycules, triads and groups as well. Read on for a few tricks and tips to help you!

Be honest!

I can’t overstate the importance of honesty! It’s no use saying that you’re 6 feet tall if you’re actually 5’7″, pretending to have tonnes of experience when you’re actually brand new to the lifestyle, or – and yes, I’ve really seen this – pretending to be a couple when you’re actually a single person. Not only is it usually really obvious, lying will be an absolute deal-breaker for most people.

Being honest doesn’t mean you have to be self-deprecating. If you’re struggling to describe yourself in positive terms, try writing descriptions of each other to go on your profile. You’ll be amazed how many sexy things your partner will have to say about you!

And if you’re inexperienced, just say so. Most people won’t mind. Try something like this: “We’re just dipping a toe in right now, so please be gentle with us! We’d love to meet a sexy couple for fun, laughs and maybe a trip to a swingers’ club.”

Write in full sentences and check your spelling and grammar

No-one is expecting your swinger dating profile to be a literary masterpiece, but making an effort is important. Triple-check it for obvious typos and spelling errors before you hit “submit.” Break up your sentences with punctuation and use paragraph breaks to make your content easier to read. If you’re not skilled with words, ask a trusted friend to give your profile a once-over.

Don’t use your genitals as a profile picture

Swinger sites are about the only place in the internet dating world where I’m going to tell you that posting pictures of your genitals is okay. But don’t use them as your main profile picture, please! Put them in your gallery! And limit the number – my rule of thumb is that no more than 1 in 10 of your pictures should be a close-up of genitals.

Your main profile picture could be your faces (if you’re feeling brave,) a clothed body shot, a tasteful nude, or a picture of something that reflects your personalities.

Talk about what you can offer, not just what you want

Nothing is more of a turn-off than a profile from a couple who have clearly not thought beyond what they want us to do for them. By all means, state what you’re looking for, but remember to show what you can offer too.

Sex, whether in a long-term monogamous relationship or a swinging context or anything in between, should be a mutual exchange for the enjoyment and benefit of everyone involved. This means viewing your partners and potential partners as full human beings, not fantasy-fulfillment machines.

In practice, what this means is that posting your super lengthy, scripted scene idea to your profile is likely to scare a lot of people off. As is posting an absurdly specific description of your imaginary “third.” Instead, talk more broadly about the kinds of people you’re looking to meet, and give plenty of information on what you can offer.

Try this: “We’re ideally looking to meet other couples within 10 years of our ages or at a similar life stage. With us you’ll find an educated, friendly and kinky pair who are just as happy enjoying good wine and excellent conversation as getting down to some fun in the bedroom.”

Keep the judgemental comments to yourself

You’re allowed to like what you like. But shaming others for not conforming to your tastes makes you look like a jerk. I’m fully aware that some people won’t want to sleep with me because I have body hair and am carrying a few extra pounds, and I am at peace with that – but it’s still upsetting every time I see my body-type described as “disgusting” on a swinger dating profile. If someone isn’t for you, scrolling on by or replying to their approach with a polite “thanks, but not for us” is all that is required.

Similarly, you might not be into any kind of kink or BDSM – and that’s absolutely fine! – but describing other peoples’ kinks as “freaky shit” is rude.

Being responsible is sexy

When I’m browsing swinger dating profiles, those who mention their sexual health testing regime or that they always use barriers go straight to the top of the list!

Pro tip: don’t use “clean” to describe yourselves as being free from STIs. This language is stigmatising and STIs aren’t dirty! Try “we test every three months and last tested negative for everything on [date.] We use barriers for… [insert your protocols here.]”

If you do have an STI, such as herpes or HIV, it’s important to be upfront about this, too. Don’t be apologetic – there’s nothing wrong with living with one of these conditions! Just briefly mention it as a fact of your life and state how you manage it. I’d personally much rather have sex with someone who is (for example) HIV-positive and knows their status and can take the appropriate precautions than someone who hasn’t tested in a decade and insists they “just know” they’re negative.

Offer something of yourselves beyond the sexual

It’s great that you have an 8-inch penis or F-cup breasts, that you eat pussy like a champ or give the best blow jobs in your state… but that’s not everything! Most people in the swinging community want to meet human beings they can connect with (even if the connection is brief,) not walking sex machines.

So talk about what you’re into! You don’t have to get extremely deep and personal at this stage. Try something like “we love fine dining and would love someone to show us the best restaurants in town,” “our hobbies include board games, 80s B-movies, and salsa dancing,” or “he’s a gym-bunny and loves to run, she’s more likely to be found with her nose in a book!”

The key is to let your sparkling personalities show through!

This post was sponsored by Swingtowns, the world’s largest non-monogamous dating site. Join up now – it’s free! All opinions are, as always, my own.

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

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

Without further ado, over to LWM…

“RESPECT: Find Out What It Means to Me”

Today I’m talking about relationship rituals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, Aretha.

xxx

Little Welsh Minx in a masquerade mask.About LittleWelshMinx

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

Sex – it’s not just a noun or a verb.

Me and My Fur: All About Body Hair

I have all my natural body hair. The last time I shaved any part of my body was over three years ago.

A green razor on a brown surface. For a post about body hair

The pressure to be hairless begins early.

I first shaved my legs at the age of 11, because a girl at a sleepover told me that no boy would want me if I had hairy legs. I didn’t even like boys at the time! But somehow, even to an 11 year old who had privately decided she was either gay or asexual (not that I had the actual language for either concept then,) the notion of boys thinking I was ugly was impossible to shrug off. Less than a year later, my mum gave me an electric shaver and told me to keep my armpits free from hair at all times. She wasn’t trying to body-shame me – she is, after all, surrounded by the exact same toxic culture that I am. I think she just didn’t want me to get bullied any more than I already did.

I held out on shaving my pubic hair until I was 19. My boyfriend had been increasing the pressure for several years. After we went to an event where he saw naked women apart from me in the flesh for the first time, it became apparent it wasn’t an option to keep my hair any more. So I dutifully got rid of it and for the next five years, I pretty much kept my entire body smooth and hair-free. Whether I actually liked it that way didn’t really enter into the picture. It was just part of the package of having been assigned female, like periods and casual sexism.

Realising I had a choice

It was Mr CK who woke me up to the idea that I actually had a choice about my body hair. He has made it clear from the beginning of our relationship that he finds body hair beautiful and erotic (spot the boy who came of age in the era of 7os porn!) But he also emphasised that I had to do what felt right for ME, and that he had no more say over my personal grooming than the people who had pushed me into shaving in the first place.

So I tried going au naturel for a while. Just as an experiment, to see if I liked it. That was three years ago and I have not picked up a razor since. I credit my beloved for reminding me I did have a choice, but the choice I actually made was all mine.

Learning to love my hair

I love keeping my body hair for a number of reasons. The time and money it saves me is not insignificant. My skin is much happier since being free of razors and shaving balms and post-shave rash and ingrowing hairs. And I just fucking love how it looks. When I look at my naked body in the mirror, I love the look of my little patch of pubic hair over my cunt. When I wear my favourite sexy knickers, I like seeing the little wisps poking out. I love lifting my arms and seeing the shadow of my reddish-brown underarm hair. I love how soft and fuzzy my legs are.

If I’m honest, I also enjoy the implicit things it tells people about me. For better or worse, body hair on women is heavily coded “feminist” – because making a choice about how to groom our bodies cannot just be a choice, it has to be a political statement. Thwarting societal beauty norms feels like a simple way to wear my politics on my body.

I have to acknowledge I have a level of privilege here in that my leg hair, at least, is very fine and blonde (my pubic and underarm hair is much coarser, darker and more obvious). Would I feel different if my leg hair was thicker and darker? If I grew hair on other parts of my body? I don’t know. I suspect I might struggle if it was growing on my face, for example, but I cannot say with any certainty as this is not my experience.

The impact on my sex life

Having body hair has definitely impacted my sex life. Mr CK and I swing together, and a large number of swingers will not have anything to do with people who do not shave every inch of their bodies. Pubic hair, in particular, gets us rejected a lot. (Insert hi-fucking-larious joke about flossing during oral sex here).

It’s been less of an issue in my one-on-one sex life, surprisingly. I don’t actually play with new people by myself that often, to be honest, and when I do the barrier to entry is pretty fucking high. I remember when The Artist and I had first established that we wanted to date, asking them nervously how they felt about women with body hair. The giant smiley face emoji they replied with… well, that was the moment I let out a huge breath I hadn’t realised I had been holding. Until I asked, there was a sense of I really like this person… and I think they really like me too… but are they going to be disgusted by my body when I take my clothes off?

For this reason, I tend to disclose it to potential lovers before the clothes come off. I feel more relaxed if I know they’re cool with it rather than waiting for the reaction. I hate that I have to do this. I’d much rather it not be a big deal. I wish I didn’t have to feel like it was something I needed to disclose. But mentioning it to sex partners before we get to the sex feels preferable to how devastated I’d be if a lover said something disparaging about my body when we were already in a sexual situation.

And it’s a surprisingly good screening device, actually. Misogynists tend to self-select out of my dating pool pretty fast when they realise I’m hairy.  To be honest, pissing off sexist men is one of life’s simple pleasures for me. Having hair is an easy way to do that.

The thing I’ve actually found most helpful is sleeping with lovers who actively like body hair. I currently have four lovers who I know are extremely into it. The way they look at me when I take my clothes off,the way they run their fingers through my fur or bury their faces in it, reminds me that I can be beautiful and desirable like this. They’re not settling or putting up with it. They actually like it, and me!

Fear of judgement… and sometimes actual judgement

Sure, I’ve been judged for being hairy. I’ve had gaggles of girl whisper and point and take pictures on the Tube because I had the nerve to get my legs out in public in 30 degree heat. I’ve had disgusted, sidelong glances thrown at me in the gym locker room. When I was regularly nude modelling and dared to go on camera with body hair on display, my picture comments went from “beautiful!” to “nice body but please shave that fur”. (No longer wanting to put myself through things like this is one of the many reasons I quit modelling not long after I stopped shaving).

I’ve had couples cancel dates with me and Mr CK at the eleventh hour because they had assumed that of course I was going to shave, and then realised I actually wasn’t. I’ve had guys comment on my pictures on Fetlife, saying “if you were mine you’d shave!” (Good job I’m never going to be yours then, isn’t it, dickbag?) The implication is there that Mr CK is somehow less of a Dom for allowing his sub to go unshaven.

The fear of judgement used to go with me everywhere. Sometimes it still does. When we start messaging a new person or a new couple on the swinger dating sites we use, I worry they’re going to pull out the “ew, pubes are gross” schtick. When we go to new clubs and I run around naked or in lingerie, I’m bracing myself for the “you’d be so pretty if you’d shave!”

Every summer, I weigh up the choice between being unbearably overheated in my oven of an office, or the daily fear of being pulled into a manager’s office and told that my natural leg hair is unprofessional. I sit there quietly while a female colleague bemoans being a woman and having to shave your legs every day in summer. I do not shout “YOU HAVE A CHOICE YOU KNOW!” even though I want to. It’s a constant fucking balancing act between asserting my right to exist in the world with my natural body, and just being tired of it all.

I don’t think I’m good at responding to the judgement yet, when it happens. I usually just want to cry or shrivel up in shame. I’m trying to be better about not letting it get to me, but as someone who grew up bullied, brushing it off is really hard.

Amazingly, no-one has ever actually shamed me – to my face, anyway – in a sex club or kink event. But I’m waiting for it. I’m always waiting for it. Because at most events, I’m the only one – and I see the looks I sometimes get. I see the “ooh, hot girl, nice boobs… oh, never mind” eye-swoop over my body.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “If the judgement bothers you, just shave!” But if you’re thinking that you’ve missed the whole point of what I’m trying to say. The problem doesn’t lie with me. I’m not doing something hugely out there and subversive and wild just by having my body on display in its natural state. I should not have to change it. Nor should I have to constantly defend my choice not to change it.

I like my body like this. The world does not get a say.

Femme identity and body hair

My relationship to femininity has been fraught and complex over the years, but I now sit fairly happily with my femme identity. It’s been a healing way for me to play with my aesthetic and my presentation. To find ways that reflect who I am as both a woman and a queer person. However, for a while I wrestled with the question: can I be femme if I don’t remove my body hair?

Ultimately, I approached this from the same angle as the question about whether you can be femme without wearing, say, lipstick or high heels. There are many trappings that are culturally coded feminine, and femme is about reclaiming these things (which society has often deemed frivolous) and playing with them, making them our own. For me, femme is a way to pick and choose the pieces of feminine presentation I want to embody. A way to escape the rigid codes society enforces about “what a woman should do/be”. To say “in order to be femme you must do X, Y and Z” is just trading one kind of oppressively strict standard for another. Femme is about fun and happiness within your own skin, not following the rules.

For a while, I jokingly referred to myself as “#lazyfemme” for not shaving and for sometimes going out without makeup on. I stopped this, though, because I realised it’s actually playing into the patriarchy to continue coding myself (and by implication other women) who choose not to do these things as “lazy”. As I once furiously ranted online “I have worked sixty fucking hours this week, but sure, I’m LAZY because I’m not wearing lipstick.”

So yes. I am a happy #sparklefemme who chooses the aspects of feminine presentation that work for her, and has decided that shaving is not her thing.

So do I think women who shave are just pawns of the patriarchy?

No! I believe in the absolute right to bodily autonomy for everybody. That includes the choice to shave/wax/tattoo/pierce/adorn/decorate your body in whatever ways you like, or not.

What I wish is that it was a more free choice. I wish there wasn’t such immense societal pressure on women and AFAB people to present themselves in a certain way. That razor companies weren’t constantly trying to sell us the solution to a problem they’ve convinced us we have. That wider representations of beauty were common in our media.  I wish, to be honest, that shaving or not shaving wasn’t such a politically loaded and socially fraught choice.

And I wish we were not teaching little girls at 11 that the most important thing in the world is whether or not boys find their bodies aesthetically acceptable.

Oof – that was a long one with a lot of emotional energy behind it! If you enjoyed it, please consider buying me a virtual coffee!