Ten Fun or Meaningful Things to Do On International Celebrate Bisexuality Day

Did you know that September 23rd marks International Celebrate Bisexuality Day? Also known as Bi Visibility Day, ICBD is observed by members of the bi community and our allies and supporters, and is used to campaign for greater bisexual visibility, to celebrate bi history and culture, and to show pride in our identities and those of the bi people we love.

If you’re low on energy today, or this is the first time you’ve heard of ICBD, here’s some easy and fun ways you can celebrate and make a difference!

The bi pride flag, for a post on international celebrate bisexuality day1. Wear something purple

Purple is the internationally recognised colour of bisexuality. I think this originally came from the idea of purple as a mix of pink (gay) and blue (straight), which is a little problematic. But, hey, we have our own colour!

If you don’t have the energy to do anything else today – and that’s A-okay! – then why not put on a purple shirt, scarf, shoes or other accessory to show your bi pride?

2. Tell the bi folks in your life that you love them

If you’re monosexual (gay or straight), this is a great time to reach out and support the bi people in your life. A “happy bisexuality day!” from a gay or straight friend has never failed to make me smile on September 23rd.

And if you’re bi, reach out to your fellow bisexual friends, partners and allies, wish them a happy ICBD, and maybe get together for some cake?

3. Share bi content on social media

A retweet, a share or a comment goes a long way towards supporting the visibility and normalisation of bi people on social media. Obviously your comfort levels will vary, and I would never ask someone to out themselves if they weren’t ready or put themselves at any risk, but if you can safely post on social media about queer issues, try these on for size:

“Did you know September 23rd is International Celebrate Bisexuality Day? Just popping up to remind y’all that I’m still bi, regardless of my relationship status! I’ll be wearing purple to show my pride today. Will you wear something purple to show your support?”

“Did you know September 23rd is International Celebrate Bisexuality Day? I’m (straight/gay), but I support my bisexual friends! I’m wearing purple today in solidarity. Will you?”

4. Bust some myths

Hear someone say that bisexuality isn’t real, that bisexuality erases trans folks and enforces the gender binary, or that people can only be bi if they’re attracted to men and women exactly 50/50? Bust those myths! If it’s safe to do so, speak up! Explain why they’re wrong (see the linked articles for inspiration). Stand up for the bisexual people in your life and don’t tolerate biphobia when you see it.

5. Consume some bi media

Read books by bi authors (Virginia Woolf, Alice Walker, Robyn Ochs, Rachel Kramer-Bussell, Jennifer Baumgardner…). Listen to music by bi artists (Freddie Mercury, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Pink, Amy Winehouse…). Watch films or TV shows with bi storylines (try Imagine Me & You, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Call Me By Your Name, the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, Loving Annabelle, Steven Universe…). Share content by your favourite bi bloggers, vloggers, indie writers and content creators (I’ll be doing a separate post on this later).

6. Give your favourite bisexual some cake

It’s well known that bisexuals love cake. It’s our little way of reclaiming that stupid “have your cake and eat it too” expression. Today is a great day to give your favourite bisexual (even if that’s yourself!) some cake.

7. Donate to causes that support bi people

LGBTQ+ causes have historically been pretty shitty about including either the B or the T in their work. Thankfully, this is improving, and there are now organisations specifically dedicated to improving the lives of bisexual people.

The Bisexual Index highlights and combats biphobia, works for bi inclusion in events such as Pride, and connects bi people to resources and community. They also have super-cute merch.

Bisexuals of Colour is a fantastic group for Black, Minority Ethnic and Mixed Heritage bisexual people. Check out their Tumblr and donate via Paypal (bis.of.colour at gmail dot com).

Biscuit is an online magazine and organisation for “modern bisexual women, femmes and those assigned female at birth”. If you experience life at the intersection of misogyny and biphobia, Biscuit is for you. You can donate at their homepage.

MindOut are the LGBTQ-specific arm of Mind, the UK’s mental health charity. Did you know that bisexual people are among the most likely to struggle with a mental health issue at some point during their lives? MindOut is dedicated to combating mental ill health within the LGBTQ+ community and as far as I can tell their bi inclusion is fantastic.

8. Subscribe to a bi magazine

Bi Community News keeps you in the loop about all the fun things happening in the UK-wide bisexual scene – and it’s only £12 for an entire year!

9. Support bi and queer porn makers

You know by now that you should be paying for your porn, yes? Well, what about awesome ethical feminist porn featuring real queer women having real sex? Check out Crashpad Series and Ersties to support awesome women-owned-and-created porn.

10. Plan to go to a bi event

Going to BiCon in 2019? It’s the highlight of the bisexual year and I really recommend checking it out if you can! Failing that, there are regular bi groups in cities up and down the country – check out this list and find one near you, and make a plan to go along. You’ll  be sure to make some friends and allies.

What are YOU doing to celebrate ICBD? Tweet me or comment and let me know.

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions, as ever, are my own. If you want to support my coffee-and-cake habit for bisexuality day, you can do so via Ko-Fi.

Ten Things I Learned at Eroticon

It’s over for another year! Eroticon, the event that changed my life last year (which I drunkenly told Girl on the Net on Saturday night) has been and gone yet again, and WHAT a time it was!

1. I’ve been undervaluing myself, financially.

I went to two sessions on making money from blogging, one from Kayla Lords and one from The Sarahs (Sarah Bryn Holliday and Sarah-Jane). Through these amazing sessions and chats with other bloggers I admire, I realised that I’ve been undervaluing my work and not charging enough for what I do. I’m resolving to change this and ask for what I’m worth from now on!

2. Age Verification under the DEB doesn’t apply to written content.

I attended a brilliant session on legal tips for sex bloggers from lawyer Neil Brown. Much of this, unsurprisingly, was focused on the Digital Economy Bill, which may or may not take effect later this year if the government gets its act together and works out what the fuck’s going on with it. Though, of course, throwing the whole thing out would be better!

Turns out at age verification, should it be implemented, will not apply to purely text-based sites. This will be a relief for a lot of us. However, the rules around images will still affect loads of bloggers, and this bill is still utterly horrifying and we should be doing everything in our collective power to get it overturned.

3. Turns out there are circumstances under which loud, crowded bars are fun for me.

And those circumstances involve “three or more sex bloggers” and “copious amounts of wine.”

4. I can say no when I need to and it’s okay.

Being the lucky girl I am, I had two offers of kisses from utterly delightful people whom I would be honoured to make out with. I declined on the basis of having not negotiated spontaneous ‘Con make-outs with Mr CK (note to self: negotiate that next year!!!) The same with a lovely offer to spank a gorgeous arse. On all occasions, everyone was 100% fine with my boundaries and lovely interactions continued!

I wish the same could be said for random dudes in bars who seem to think that a sexy outfit is an invitation to circle back around every 15 minutes or so and try their luck again. Speaking of which…

5. I look DAMN fine in a catsuit

Have you ever walked through a bar full of unsuspecting vanillas in a PVC catsuit, leather ears and high boots? If you haven’t, I recommend it. The glance, followed by the double-take and the head turn, is quite something.

Thank you to all the Eroticon babes who were so complimentary of my slightly OTT but utterly fabulous outfit choice.

My body in a very sexy PVC catsuit, from Eroticon 2018

6. Podcasting is a blast 

I got to record an episode of Loving BDSM with Kayla and JB, and it was an absolute blast! I had SO MUCH FUN and we laughed so much. And yes, we had coffee while we were doing it.

7. How to give responsible sex advice.

This was the title of a brilliant session I attended run by Meg-John Barker and Justin Hancock, the powerhouse duo behind Enjoy Sex (How When and If You Want To) and their fantastic sex education website.

In this session I learned about self-care when giving advice, about setting boundaries around advice giving, about how to advise someone when the asker is being a dick, and about knowing the limitations of your own expertise and “credentials” (not that such things meaningfully exist in this field). It was SO good and I feel much more confident in my own advice-giving, both on and off this website, as a result.

8. Even the most awesome and accomplished people sometimes feel insecure.

Hearing bloggers and writers and creators I really admire, those who inspire me every day, talk about their own struggles with imposter syndrome and not feeling good enough was weirdly comforting. We’re all a little insecure in our own way. We all occasionally feel like we don’t know what we’re doing. But actually, our work has tremendous value and each of us brings amazing and unique perspectives to the table. Our brains are lying to us. We’re brilliant.

9. I am enough.

Being at Eroticon, and especially hanging out with the of ridiculously awesome people I spent a lot of time with, makes me feel profoundly accepted in a way I’ve rarely experienced anywhere else. It’s okay that I’ve been having a bad mental health time. It’s okay that I haven’t achieved all of my goals yet. I am accepted and I am enough.

10. Your words can change the world

Finishing, as I did last year, with some words of wisdom from Girl on the Net.

Let’s change the world together, babes.

If you’re a reader who would like to support me in continuing to attend events like Eroticon, please consider becoming a Patron, buying me a coffee, or shopping with my affiliates in the right hand sidebar.

If you’re a company who would like to hire me, please email coffeeandkink69 (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll talk.

Ten Things I’m Taking TO Eroticon

Many of you may remember last year’s Ten Things I Took Home From Eroticon blogging meme. Well, I decided to turn it on its head and, with just a week and a half to go until this year’s ‘Con, tell you a little about ten things I’m planning on taking with me this year.

1. My name

Last year’s Eroticon, I wasn’t Amy Norton yet. I was using a haphazard mix of my kink scene name, a diminutive of my legal name, and just “Coffee&Kink”/”CK.” I’d toyed with different names but none of them felt quite right.

This year, though, I’m comfortably sitting in this identity (so much so that select people in my offline life now call me Amy, and I love it).

Hi. I’m Amy. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

2. A schedule

Last year, I pretty much went in blind to Eroticon. I’d glanced over the schedule, but being a newbie I decided to mostly go with the flow and go to whatever felt right in the moment.

This time, though, I’ve got a much more curated workshops plan in order to get what I want the most out of the ‘Con. In case you were wondering, it is as follows:

Saturday:
Taboo (Remittance Girl)
Making Money from Your Blog (Kayla Lords)
Legal Tips for Sex Writers (Neil Brown)
Podcasting Panel (Kayla Lords & John Brownstone)
Different Approaches to Sex Toy Activism (Emmeline Peaches)
KinkLab

Sunday:
Is There a Book in Your Blog? (Cressida Dowling)
Getting It Up (Fetish.com)
Shocking the System (Kendra Holliday)
How to Give Responsible Sex Advice (panel)
Financial Wizardry for Sex Bloggers (Sarah Bryn Holliday & Sarah Jane)

Naturally, I’ll also be attending the Friday evening pre-drinks and the Saturday evening social. Other plans include a pre-‘Con run with Emmeline, dinner with Sarah, and food and recording a podcast with Kayla and John of Loving BDSM. Of course, my planned schedule is flexible if I find I’m really not in the mood for something at the time, but this is a good cross-section of stuff I want to learn plus all the workshops I consider unmissable this year!

3. The signature kitty ears

I wasn’t expecting these to be such a hit last year! To be honest, I wasn’t even expecting to be the only person in feline-themed headwear! I just wore them because they make me feel more confident and they help me to tap into my kinky, sexy, sparkly self. But I got so many compliments on them and people remembered me for them (I literally pitched an article to Girl on the Net with an email that included a sentence along the lines of “if you don’t remember me, I was the one with the ears.”)

Yeah, they’re definitely coming with me again this year. I might even pack a couple of different pairs. Yes, I have daywear ears and formal ears. Doesn’t everyone!?

4. The Catsuit of Joy

Remember this one? It was a review item/gift from my friends at Oscuro Adult Boutique and the cause of The Boobs That Made Straight Girls Question Their Heterosexuality.

Yes, I’m planning on wearing it on Saturday night. Yes, I will also be pairing it with the aforementioned signature ears. And yes, you have my full consent to stare at my chest as much as you like.

5. (Small) sex toys

I’m not interested in hooking up at Eroticon, but I did realise last year that hearing so much glorious smut during the day would inevitably lead me to needing to have a quick wank back in my hotel room before bed. Couple this with the fact that citalopram withdrawal has made my sex drive go a bit haywire this last week or so, and… yeah.

I’m gonna be short on packing space but I think the Tango and MiMi will fit nicely in my case.

6. Fabulous femme things

I can’t wait to get my femme on at Eroticon. I’m already planning makeup experiments of the kind I don’t normally attempt. There will be glitter, for sure, because I need to make the most of this opportunity as I am no longer allowed to wear glitter at home (you get it in the sofa ONE time…!)

There will also be jewellery, made for me by my sweetie The Artist, getting its first outing that weekend.

7. A portable coffee mug and good coffee

Um, hey. Have you met me? I’m obsessed with coffee and would probably replace my blood with it if I wouldn’t die. I just ordered myself an awesome new travel mug, which is coming with me and will be filled permanently with coffee in order to keep me going at top capacity through the whirlwind of the weekend. I’ll probably also bring a stash of coffee bags, because I find the coffee most venues serve leaves a lot to be desired. (Yes, I’m a snob.)

8. My Fuck.com notebook

This was in the goodie bags at Eroticon 2017 and it’s still my favourite notebook to scribble smutty notes in. I’ll be frantically taking notes and story ideas and sound-bites and hanging on every word my favourite presenters have to say!

9. Hugs to give out

There are so many people I want to cuddlepounce the fuck out of next weekend. I will be coming with my best hugging arms and ready to wrap them around anyone who consents.

10. Realness

Last night, I was panicking that I haven’t achieved all of the things I wanted to achieve ahead of this year’s Eroticon. I haven’t lost 50lb, or finished my novella. I haven’t quit my job to spend my days writing about dildos (okay, that one is a pipe dream rather than an actual plan) or completely weaned myself off my antidepressants. Hell, I haven’t even finished my PhD application!

But then I realised: it doesn’t matter. I can bring my realness to Eroticon. I can be a hot mess in all my hot, messy glory, and it will be okay. These are my people and this is my community and I can be both a fabulous, smut-loving #Sparklefemme AND an anxious wreck with a hefty dose of imposter syndrome. Both of these things can be true. It will be okay.

I think the theme of this Eroticon for me will be: I am.

If you’re there too, come say hello!

I’m very friendly. Talk to me about BDSM, sex toys, smashing the patriarchy, what you’re reading lately, musical theatre, coffee, sex ed reform, feminist fiction, femme identity or non-monogamy. Or just tell me about your work and I’ll lap it up.

The Eroticon 2018 rainbow lips badgeIf you want to support my work and help me keep attending conferences like Eroticon, which are the highlight of my year but also expensive, you can buy me a virtual coffee, shop with my affiliates in the right-hand sidebar, or become a Sexy Patron to access some exciting bonus content. Thank you to Oliver, my newest Patreon supporter.

2017 “Top 5” Roundup

Apart from my 1 Year Anniversary post on New Years’ Eve (which is written and ready to go,) this will probably be my last post of 2017. In that vein, I wanted to end the year with a roundup post of sorts, some Top 5 lists from the year.

I hope you are all having a wonderful festive season and I can’t wait to keep the conversation about all things sex and kink going with you in 2018.

Top 5 New Sex Toys

#1Doxy Number 3, simply one of the most perfect things to ever have graced my bits.
#2We-Vibe Tango, the only bullet I will ever need.
#3Satisfyer Pro 2 Next Generation, the toy that made me like suction toys.
#4Come Hither Rabbit, the only rabbit vibrator I’ve ever enjoyed.
#5The Ruby Glow, a revelation in ride-on fun.

Top 5 Sex Blogging Inspirations

#1Kayla Lords
#2Girl on the Net
#3Molly Moore
#4Kate Sloan
#5Emmeline Peaches

Top 5 Awesome Events

#1Eroticon 2017, the one that started it all.
#2 – Autumn CM/nf, where I get to be naked and ogle pretty men in suits.
#3 – Lube & a Laptop, a fun summer social with other sexy writers and creators.
#4 – BiCon 2017, where I got to teach my workshop on “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex Toys” for the first time (while extremely hung over.)
#5 – Sex Blogger Christmas, a super fun (and boozy) event hosted by the wonderful EA and Livvy.

Top 5 Books About Sex

#1Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
#2How a Bad Girl Fell in Love by Girl on the Net
#3Approaching the Swingularity by Cooper S Beckett
#4Enjoy Sex (How, When and IF You Want To) by Meg-John Barker & Justin Hancock
#5The Myth of Sex Addiction by Dr David Ley

Top 5 Podcasts

#1Loving BDSM, where Kayla and John bring their unique brand of humour, opinions and adorableness to speaking and educating on all aspects of the BDSM lifestyle. #CricketCrew4Lyf
#2The Dildorks, “dorky discourse on sex, dating and masturbating,” with the wonderful Kate Sloan and Bex Caputo.
#3The Guilty Feminist, which makes me cry with laughter and feel better about all the times my life choices don’t fully match my highest feminist ideals.
#4Polyamory Weekly, a very long-standing favourite about all aspects of unconventional love.
#5Life on the Swingset, the swinging and polyamory podcast.

Top 5 Blog Posts

#1The Tyranny of No Rules: In Defense of Polyamorous Heirarchy
#2I’m Looking for Baggage that Goes with Mine
#3“Pretty” is Not My Success – On Being a Swan
#4#SexNotStigma: Using My Sexuality to Manage my Mental Health
#5“Bring the Collar” – The True Story of a D/s Breakup

Top 5 Accomplishments

#1 – Winning the New Voices Award from Molly’s annual list of the best sex bloggers.
#2 – Placing as one of Kinkly’s Top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes.
#3 – Starting to earn Actual Money from writing about sex.
#4 – Organising Smutathon 2017 and raising £2,000 for Backlash and Rape Crisis.
#5 – Doing #KinkMonth/30 Days of Ds and writing a post every single day for the month of October.

Top 5 Goals for 2018

#1 – Start a PhD programme.
#2 – Cut down to 4 days a week on my day job and make up the additional income from writing.
#3 – Place in the Top 50 of the Kinkly Sex Blogging Superheroes list.
#4 – Have a piece of erotic fiction published, either in an anthology or as a stand-alone.
#5 – Finish my sexy novella set at a BDSM convention.

So there you have it, friends! What were your Top 5s of 2017?

Affiliate links are used within this post. All opinions my own.

Self Care for ‘Con-Goers

Mr CK and I are off to a kinky Convention for the weekend tomorrow, so it seemed like a good time to revisit this piece I wrote last year on taking care of yourself at a Con(vention/ference,) update it with some new things I’ve learned and share it with y’all.

‘Cons can be an intense time, as anyone who has been to one will know. All the fun things to see, do and learn, plus the late nights and the heady feeling of being among Your People can be quite a potent cocktail. (And that’s before you mix in a few actual cocktails, which many of us do partake of when at events.)

Things can also go from “Awesome” to “Burnout” really fast, and I’ve been doing this long enough now to learn a few tricks to come out the other side still physically and emotionally intact. Follow these seven easy steps for your best ‘Con ever.

1. Biology Comes First

Sleep. If you know you need six hours of sleep to not be a walking zombie, don’t try to get by on three. Take a freaking nap if you need to.

Eat. A lot of events provide food, so you really have no excuse – but even if food isn’t laid on there’s bound to be a lunch hour. Don’t forget to make time to have dinner between the day’s activities and the evening entertainments. Carry snack bars, nuts, fruit or chocolate in your bag for a quick pick-me-up. And for the love of all that is kinky, eat breakfast.

Hydrate. Beer doesn’t count. This is especially important in the hot weather we’ve been having lately!

Carry any medication you need or think you’re likely to need (more on this in point 5.) Find out who the First Aiders are and who to go to if you need urgent medical help. In an emergency, any passerby can run for help for you.

In short, take care of your body and your physical wellbeing first. The rest will follow.

2. You Don’t Have To Do Everything

You know how it’s better to leave a really awesome scene going, “wow, I would have loved to go further!” rather than, “holy shit, I went too far?”

‘Cons are the same.

You do not have to go to Every Single Session. Promise! You do not have to scene with every hot person you meet. If you’re there with a partner, you do not have to do every single scene idea you’ve ever come up with or try every single piece of kit the venue has to offer. You do not have to be the first to arrive and last to leave each day.

There’s always other events. There’s always next year.

By all means, immerse yourself and experience your event to the max… but know your limits and don’t try to push yourself beyond them in service of “Must Do Everything.”

3. Have Someone Looking Out For You… And Look Out For Them In Turn

If you’ve come with a partner, partners, friend or group of friends, you’re in luck here as you’ve got a ready made support person/network. Look out for each other. You don’t have to be glued to one another’s sides, but check in and say, ‘hey, how are you doing? How are you finding it all?’

If someone’s struggling, ask what they need. It may be a hug, a snack, a chat about what’s bothering them, a nap, or even just some quiet time. If you’re struggling, ask for what you need.

If you’re there alone, never fear! You’ll soon make friends and if you click with someone, don’t be afraid to ask if they’d like to agree to look out for each other and maybe check in later to see how you’re both doing.

If nothing else, make yourself known to an organiser or crew member as a nervous newbie and/or solo attendee. Any good event staff member will help you find your feet and look out for you as best they can.

4. Think About Your Boundaries Before You Come

You know how you shouldn’t renegotiate established boundaries mid-scene? The same is true mid-‘Con.

If you’re coming with a partner, discuss beforehand the kinds of play you might like to do together and anything you definitely DON’T want. Is play with other people on the cards or not? Under what parameters? Are you going to do everything together, or go to separate workshops and compare notes later? You don’t need to structure your weekend super rigidly, but even a basic game plan can help you feel prepared.

If you’re coming alone, think about what you might want to do and not do. What workshops interest you and which are a “FUCK NO?” Which are a “maybe, if I’m in the right headspace?” Do you want to play? With specific people? Are you open to casual play? Casual sex? Nudity? Hugs, physical touch?

And, crucially, stick to these boundaries. Don’t suddenly change your mind in the heat of a moment that you could very easily regret. Again, you can always push yourself further next time.

Honour your own limits the way I hope you’d honour anyone else’s.

5. Carry The Things You Need (Or Might Need)

Bottled water or sports drink? Healthy or sugary snacks? Medication? Simple painkillers in case of a headache? Notebook and pen for journalling? Cuddly toy or other comfort item? Favourite blanket?

Whatever it is, if you know you will need it or feel safer or more comfortable having it on hand… have it on hand! Or at least know where it is and how to instruct someone on where to find it.

6. Have An Aftercare Plan

‘Con drop is real, y’all. When you get back from a fantastic, physically and emotionally intense time, you’re likely to feel tired, drained and possibly even a bit fragile.

Just like you’d make aftercare provisions for a big scene, do the same thing for the ‘Con.

I always take the Monday following a weekend event off work – I know there’s no way I can be fully functional again so quickly and my job requires me to be on top of my game. I typically sleep late, take it easy and possibly do some nice or fun things for myself and my partner.

If you can, don’t be alone straight after the event. Try to be with a friend or partner who understands and with whom you can decompress and talk about your experiences. If you must be alone, reach out on FetLife or Twitter as it’s very likely others will be experiencing the same things.

Eat nice food, cuddle your partner/friend/pet/stuffed toy, have fun things on hand that you enjoy doing. Relax.

7. And finally… HAVE FUN.

Try not to worry – everyone’s at a ‘Con to have a great time and the organisers and crew should be on hand to help with any problems you may have.

Breathe, pace yourself, and ENJOY.

Go forth and be kinky, y’all.

When Consensual Sex is Punished More Harshly than Rape (or: Smutathon – the Reason Why)

This post comes with a HUGE trigger warning for sexual violence from intimate partners, including while underage. Please feel free to skip this one or step away to care for yourself if you need to. It also carries a hefty dose of vulnerability and exposure of my personal traumas. Victim-blaming or doubt-casting comments will be deleted and the commenter permanently blocked. This is a one-strike-and-you’re-out deal.

The Rape Crisis England and Wales logo for a post about Smutathon and rapeThe Backlash UK logo for a post about Smutathon and rape

I was sexually assaulted for the first time by a classmate when I was twelve. It was “only” breast and crotch grabbing through clothing, but I was deeply troubled by and ashamed of it. It was three years before I could even begin to find words for what had happened, let alone how it had made me feel.

More than one of my early relationships were sexually violent. By the time I was fifteen, I’d been coerced into sex acts I absolutely did not consent to and was not ready for by a much older boyfriend.

At nineteen, I pushed a man away seconds before he penetrated me – penetration that I had explicitly said, repeatedly, was not on the table that night. On the second date with the same guy (yes, there was a second date) he pushed me to drink and drink and drink, before telling me he wanted me so black-out drunk that I wouldn’t remember anything in the morning. Later, our previously sweet online chats took a turn for the dark as he described his violent, graphic fantasies of raping me (fantasies, he made very clear, that were not about CNC but about Actual Genuine Rape.)

A year or two later, a boyfriend threw me out of the house for not acquiescing to sex. And on and on and on it goes. Sex became about obligation, pressure, coercion and survival. I became divorced from my own body, my own pleasure. They took me years to reclaim.

The point of all of this is to say that I didn’t understand until years later that sex under duress counts as rape or serious sexual assault, even if there was little or no physical force involved. I didn’t understand that as a minor, what happened to me at fifteen was statutory rape as well as sexual assault under coercion.

I didn’t seek any help until I finally got a therapist, long after it was all over. I dimly understood that places like Rape Crisis existed, but I thought they were only for people who’d been raped at gunpoint or assaulted by strangers in dark alleys. “My boyfriend uses the threat of the roof over my head to make me have sex I don’t want, and my other boyfriend tried to penetrate me against my explicit wishes once and is weirdly obsessed with getting me drunk and telling me graphic fantasies of raping me” just didn’t seem serious enough, somehow, especially as I’d also had consensual sex with both of these men and others.

I wish I’d known then what I know now – that Rape Crisis would have listened with sympathy, love and support, given me resources to help me get out of those relationships, and told me that in no way in the world was it my fault.

That’s why #Smutathon2017, my erotic-writing-for-charity challenge, supports Rape Crisis.

In all but one case, I didn’t even report because I knew I’d be putting myself through hell for a less than 1% chance of justice. None of the men who assaulted or abused me have ever suffered consequences of any kind.

The same, alas, cannot be said for the not-insignificant number of people over the years who have been punished (legally, financially, employment-wise and more) for engaging in completely victimless fringe sexual practices with other consenting adults. From 1987’s Spanner Case (in which a group of gay men were prosecuted for participation in consensual sadomasochism) to the infamous “tiger porn” case, to those who have been fired or had their kids taken away for participating in BDSM, sex work or pornography, sexual freedom is constantly under threat.

I cannot sit back and be okay with innocent, good people being prosecuted for consensual sex while only 0.6% of rapists ever see a day in jail.

And that is why #Smutathon2017 ALSO supports Backlash UK, an amazing organisation that defends freedom of sexual expression for consenting adults.

Please donate and support these two brilliant charities if you can. I hope none of you will ever need them – but if you do, they’ll be there for you.

Ten Things I Took Home From Eroticon 2017

The amazing Jenny, who I met on the Sunday of Eroticon 2017, started this lovely meme and I just couldn’t resist taking part. In short: the whole weekend was utterly wonderful and may even have changed my world a little bit.

So what did I bring home from Eroticon 2017?

1. SO MUCH SWAG

Thanks to the amazing sponsors, I came away with a bag full of fabulous free stuff including two mugs, two very NSFW t-shirts, a notebook that has already been heavily scrawled in, a goodly amount of condoms, and a pamphlet of mini erotic stories perfect for reading on the Tube.

2. Friendships

There were people at Eroticon 2017 I’d previously considered “internet friends,” who are now real-life friends. People who were strangers on Friday and friends on Monday. People who I met only briefly, but who gave me so much. Conversation, advice, business cards, their beautiful words or even just a smile in the corridor. And there are people, many people, with whom I want to keep in touch and build on our new-found friendships.

3. A renewed sense of community

The thing I love the most about a good ‘Con is the sense, however fleeting, of being not alone. I often feel isolated. I live far away from almost all the people who really get me. Eroticon has reminded me that there are people like me out there. Miles separate us, but something much more powerful joins us together – Community. (And also Twitter a little bit.)

4. An exciting new toy (actually, two)

I picked up the new Ruby Glow this weekend. I’ve only tried it out very briefly so far but what I’ve seen (well, felt) I liked. I’m looking forward to settling down for a nice long wank with it and some good smut, and then reviewing it for you all. I was also lucky enough, right at the end of the ‘Con, to win a cordless Magic Wand from So Divine. I doubt any vibe will replace my beloved Doxy, but the cordless Wand will be perfect for when we’re playing at the Club or other places where there isn’t a power point nearby.

 5. A new name

After thinking long and hard (heh) about it, I’ve decided not to use either my kink scene name or my real name (duh, right?) as the name under which I will write and hopefully publish erotic fiction. I took some advice from the brilliant Kayla to pick a name that feels right for me to use and answer to, and which has some kind of personal relevance, and I think I’ve found the one.

So… hello everyone. I’m Amy Norton.

 6. Story ideas

SO MANY STORY IDEAS, you guys. Article ideas too. And probably poetry ideas, but they won’t go any further than my notebook and possibly Fetlife page. (The poor unsuspecting world does not need my attempts at poetry unleashing upon it!) Seriously, I have like a whole page in my notebook just listing smutty stories I want to write, and another page listing possible article or blog post topics.

 7. Contacts

Two people from the weekend have already asked me to guest-write for their blogs (thank you Kayla and Exhibit A!) I’ll certainly be taking them up on these lovely offers and I’ve also come away with business cards, names of publishing imprints and more – in other words, contacts I hope I can utilise to get my work out there and hopefully, eventually, make some money in this game of “writing about sex.”

8. Revitalised ambition

There’s nothing like a weekend around other people on a similar path to kick-start your own ambitions. Mine have been sleeping recently, as I cope with the realities of a complicated relationship and a demanding day job. But now I’m feeling more motivated than I have in years and I’m ready to go out there, kick ass, take names and WRITE SOME SMUT. I don’t ever expect sex writing to be my full-time job (especially as my “vanilla” (ugh) writing career is also really important to me,) but for the first time I’m looking at this as something that might be more than just a bit of fun and a way to entertain the three people who read what I post on Fetlife.

9. Confidence

This might be hard for you to believe of the girl bouncing around in kitty ears and a t-shirt with the word “FUCK” emblazoned across it (thanks, Fuck.com) and reading porn on the Tube, but… I’m actually quite shy. Shy, plagued by anxiety and lacking in self-esteem, to be entirely honest. I went into this weekend jittery with nerves, not just at the thought of socialising with new people but also worrying I’d be seen as a fraud, a fake, an amateur, not a serious or “real” writer. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only did the people who have read my work say absolutely lovely things about it, those who are much further on in their sex writing journey were also totally validating and amazing to those of us who are just starting out. I thought I’d find elitism, but I found a supportive and loving community.

 10. Words of affirmation

There were so many great things said over the weekend, and lots of the most quotable parts were live-tweeted (check out #Eroticon for just some of the fun!) But the pieces that really struck home for me, I scribbled in my notebook – partly for the joy of writing beautiful words by hand, and partly so I can come back to them any time to remind myself.

I leave you all with the words of affirmation, love and community and are immortalised in ink in my jumbled set of notes from the weekend:

You are not alone. You are not broken. (Formidable Femme)

RELAX. (Alix Fox)

No-one does what you do quite like you. (Girl on the Net)

Stand firm with your boundaries. (Sorry, I can’t remember who said this.)

See you all next year x

Eroticon 2017 – Virtual Meet & Greet

You guys! I’m going to my first Eroticon in London next week (OMG!) I’m also tying (heh) in a visit to my best friend and a date with my FWB in the same trip. I haven’t even booked my hotel yet, so please bear with me if I’m a gibbering wreck by the time I make it to Arlington House.

Without further ado, Molly (the wonderful Eroticon Director of Ops) has organised a lovely Eroticon virtual meet-and-greet. Here’s mine.

NAME (and Twitter if you have one?)|
Coffee & Kink or CK. @CoffeeAndKink on Twitter.

What are you hoping to get out of Eroticon 2017?
Mainly to make some friends and learn some stuff. I’ve been feeling somewhat isolated recently so I really want to meet other like-minded people and geek out about the glorious intersection of writing and sexuality.

This year’s schedule at Eroticon is pretty full on, but which 4 sessions do you already have marked down as ones you want to attend?
– Sex Blogging as Feminism & Social Justice
– Myles Jackman talking about the law (I am a fully paid up member of the Myles Jackman Fangirl Club – and you should be too!)
– Pitching 101
– Blogging 201

Tell us one thing about yourself that not many people know?
I learned how to have orgasms at the age of 14 after hearing some older girls at a sleepover talking about the “clit” and, being the curious creature I was, setting out to find this mysterious button. Happy times. (What!? It’s a sex blog!)

If you made the papers, what would the headline be?
Unicorn Spotted; Makes Daring Escape from Hunters

If you could have one skill for free (i.e. without practice/time/effort) what would it be?
Singing.

Complete the sentence: I love it when…
…I wake up late on the weekend next to the love of my life, and we make pancakes and have coffee and all is right with the world.

I can’t wait to meet you all!

The Reality of Event Organising (or: You Will Do a Lot of Work, and People Will Shout at You.)

I’ve been a kink and sex positive community organiser since I was in my very early 20s. And look, I love event organising. I don’t know if it’s the service submissive in me (or, sometimes, the masochist…) but I love nothing more than standing back and watching people enjoying an event I’ve poured my heart and soul into creating.

But I’m here to give you the reality check of your life if you’re thinking of organising something for your kinky or alternative sexuality community.

The Expectation: how hard can it be!?
The Reality: Very Fucking Hard

There will be a million things to consider you hadn’t thought of, and the bigger the event the more things you’ll have to juggle. At absolute minimum, you need a suitable venue and effective publicity to get the word out. And that’s before you start thinking about what you’re going to feed your guests if it’s an event of more than a few hours, and where they’re going to sleep if it runs for more than one day, and how you’re going to transport the ten tonnes of gear you will inevitably need, and how you’re going to pay for the damn thing. Which brings me to…

The Expectation: I can make money, or at least break even.
The Reality: Maybe. If you’re lucky. And probably not for a few years.

I’m going to be absolutely frank: my current kinku event project took 3 years before there was anything at all in the pot at the end. The first two years LOST money. Guess who picks up the tab for the difference? The organisers. Luckily it didn’t lose a lot of money, which is why we decided to keep it going, but we had to make some changes to make it financially viable. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you need to really think through the financial side before you embark upon something like this. And don’t lay out any personal money you can’t get back until you’re absolutely sure.

Crowdfunding (we recommend IndieGoGo) is a great way to check out the viability of your event and get people to put their money where their mouth is and buy tickets, with the option to refund everyone in full and not go ahead if you don’t hit your goal.

And if you’re going into kink events hoping to make a living out of it, all I will say is don’t give up your day job just yet. For the vast majority of organisers, it’s a labour of love and they make nothing.

The Expectation: I’ll get to go to cool events if I make them happen!
The Reality: Well, yes… but it’s not like being a guest at someone else’s thing.

You will be stressed. You will be exhausted. You will be in ON mode all the time for four hours or a day or three days or however long your event runs.

I get to enjoy a good chunk of events I organise – I variously go to workshops, I sit in on discussions, I socialise with friends. But unless I’m literally mid-scene I will have a radio earpiece in or my ‘Staff’ badge on, and that gives anyone who needs something permission to come and approach me about it.

And that’s the way it should be. I helped put this thing together and I’m responsible for the smooth running of it as well as partially responsible for the safety and comfort of everyone there.

It’s brilliant. But it’s not like walking into someone else’s event, where you can switch your mind off and just relax into your kinky fun.

The Expectation: Everyone will love me for putting on this great thing!
The Reality: A lot of people will be very grateful for your work, and a lot of people will yell at you.

Look, some people will never be satisfied. There will always be complaints – the venue was too warm, the food wasn’t up to par, you didn’t run a workshop on my specific kink, you had too many workshops on this kink I’m not into, you won’t give a platform to this abusive or problematic person I really like…  and sometimes, those complaints will get really out of hand and people will stop communicating their feedback reasonably, and start calling you names, calling for boycotts, slamming you on FetLife and generally being dicks.

There’s a place in organising for constructive feedback and it’s vital in helping an event grow to the best it can be. But you have to remember the truism that you cannot please all of the people all of the time, and trying will drive you mad.

You have to grow a thick skin. You have to look at all feedback and decide which bits are useful, which bits you can reasonably implement, and discard the rest. And sometimes you have to just look at all the people who are tremendously grateful for the hard work you do in putting on a community event, and let their appreciation hold you up until the storm passes.

The Expectation: I’ll get loads of play partners if I’m an organiser!
The Reality: Eh. Don’t hold your breath.

I won’t lie: being known on the scene does open up your options as far as play partners go, because a lot of people will (entirely reasonably) only play with someone with recommendations and a solid reputation. And organising is one way to become known on the scene. But if you’re doing it solely or primarily for the pussy (I’m generalising, but this phenomenon is most common amongst straight men,) then firstly, you’re doing this for all the wrong reasons and you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Secondly, it’ll be really really obvious.

People who lead with their “credentials” as a selling point to potential partners generally come across as doing so because (at best) they don’t have anything else to offer, or (at worst) they’re trying to hide something. You still need to be polite, interesting, engaging to talk to, and a safe and respectful player. Organising doesn’t, by itself, make you any of these things. I can easily name, off the top of my head, at least five well-known organisers in my community who are also known consent violators. If I’m thinking of playing with you, the fact that you’ve run Club KinkTastic (not a real club) every Friday night for the last ten years tells me nothing about you. Seeing you play, interacting with you, and hearing what others in the community – especially former partners – say about you is what will give me the information I need.

Organise because you love your community and want to give back. Do it because the kind of event you want doesn’t exist, so you’re determined to create it. Do it because you love the process and seeing the final result gives you a buzz. But don’t, for the love of all that is kinky, organise because you think it’s a fast-track to having everyone gagging to play with you. It’s not.

…and even if it were, by the time you’ve waved the last guest off and cleaned up, you’ll be too bloody tired to play anyway.

In conclusion, I’m not trying to put anyone off organising. Goddess knows we need more people willing to do it! But I believe in informed consent in all things, and I want you to know that organising is wonderful, rewarding, huge fun, and the buzz from seeing your event coming off perfectly is like nothing else in the world… but it’s also exhausting, time-consuming, potentially expensive, and a lot of responsibility. And sometimes, people will yell at you.