Quote Quest: Feeling the Fear and Posting It Anyway

“Right on the edge of fear was where trust could grow.”
― Cherise Sinclair

Content warning: this post contains frank discussion of body-shaming, body image issues, sexual violence, and imposter syndrome. Take care of yourselves, loves.

People ask me how I can do what I do.

“How do you write about your sex life on the internet? Share your innermost feelings so openly and honestly? Post naked and scantily clad pictures? Aren’t you afraid? Aren’t you scared what people will THINK!?”

Of course I’m scared. I’m fucking terrified.

Every time I post a picture of my body, I worry someone is going to shame my round belly or chubby waistline or pubic hair. Of course, I worry that when I take my clothes off at kink events, as well. (Remember those?)

And you know what? Occasionally they do. Just a few weeks ago, a guy on a fetish site fat-shamed me when I said I wasn’t interested in playing with him. Every discussion of body hair eventually attracts at least one person talking about how “disgusting” it is. Every time someone says something cruel about my body specifically or the bodies of people that look like me, I want to retreat. I want to go away and make myself small and hide and apologise.

But I don’t, because it is not their fucking right to tell me that I am wrong.

I posted a nude to Twitter last night. I don’t do this particularly often but enjoy it once in a while. My followers on Twitter are absurdly kind and every comment I received was genuinely lovely and made me smile and blush. Does that mean that every time my phone pings with a notification for 48 hours or so after a new pic goes up, I don’t flinch with fear at what horrible thing someone might have said? Of course not.

It goes a step further, too. I’m afraid of getting sexually assaulted again, of course – find me a woman, female-read or AFAB person who isn’t. But more specifically than that, I’m afraid that if I do, my pictures and my blog will be used against me. That I’ll be the slut who was asking for it because there’s tens of thousands of words about my sex life and more than a few pictures of my naked body floating around on the internet.

It’s not just about the pictures either, though a lot of my insecurities are centred around my body image so that’s where a lot of the fear congregates.

Almost every time I post a piece of fiction, I’m worried someone is going to tell me I’m a shit writer and should just pack it in. Every time I submit to a client, there’s a little voice in the back of my head saying “who the fuck are you that you think this is worth someone paying for?” If I post a negative review of a product, I worry I’ll be met with slander and threats from the company.

When I speak out about transphobia or rape culture or mental health, I fear the trolls and the bigots and the doxxers coming for me. When I speak up about the abuse I’ve suffered, I fear my abuser finding it and recognising himself and raining hellfire down on me in retribution.

So no, I don’t do this because I’m fearless. Truth is, I’m often afraid. I do this because I love it, and I don’t want fear to rule me. I do this because, despite everything, I still believe we all have the power to make the world a little bit brighter if we choose to.

I’m not brave. I just feel the fear and publish it anyway.

The Quote Quest badge, for a post about feeling the fear and posting anyway

This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new 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!

Ask Amy #1: “I’m Jealous of Her Dildo!”

This is my first of what I hope will be a regular reader advice column. If you have questions, get in touch! I will strip away all identifying details, and I will never post your name unless you say it’s okay.

“I’m jealous of my girlfriend’s sex toys!”

Q: Dear Amy,

I’m a 26 year old straight guy and have been with my girlfriend for a year. I love her very much, we communicate well and the sex is great. The only problem is that she likes to use sex toys, specifically dildos, when she masturbates. She also wants to incorporate them into our sex life together. I have a pretty average sized penis – about 6″ long when erect and average girth. The toys my girlfriend favours are all way bigger than me! How can my very average dick satisfy her when she likes such huge things inside her?

I’m scared that her dildo is going to replace me and she won’t want to have sex with me any more, or that she’ll leave me for a guy who’s bigger than I am! It seems so stupid to be jealous of a lump of silicone but I’m finding myself avoiding sex because I’m so insecure about my penis and my ability to please my girlfriend. She’s noticed and thinks I’m rejecting her, that I don’t love her or fancy her any more. Nothing could be further from the truth. Please help!

– Insecure

Oh, my dear “Insecure.” I have so many feelings on this question.

First, I want to commend you for not suggesting that your girlfriend shouldn’t masturbate, shouldn’t use toys, or should switch to toys that don’t make you insecure. This, I’m sure you know, would not be an acceptable response to your feelings. I’m really glad you’re not going down this route. So good for you.

Look, sex toys are great! Loads of people use them and it’s very normal. It doesn’t reflect at all upon how we feel about our partners. My favourite toy in the whole world is the Doxy wand, but that doesn’t mean I wish my partner’s dick vibrated! (I mean, for real that would be fucking cool, but in no way in the world do I find him lacking because his body is different to my toys.)

Partnered sex is about so much more than just “does your body part satisfy my body part?” It’s about connection, about the feel and smell and warmth of a partner close to you, about the thud of body-on-body, about the rhythm and the dance and the responses between two (or more) people. Partnered sex is in-fucking-credible for so many reasons and a toy can’t fully replicate many of them. Pervocracy has a great article on some of the reasons people might love partnered sex. Maybe read it with your girlfriend and have a conversation with her?

Speaking of conversations, if you haven’t voiced your fears to your girlfriend, please do so immediately. Try some variation of this: “Sweetie, this is quite hard for me to say but I want to raise something I’ve been struggling with. The reason I’ve been avoiding sex lately is because I have some insecurities around my body and particularly my penis. I’ve found myself worrying that I can’t satisfy you because the toys you use are bigger than me. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use them, but it would be helpful for me if you could reassure me that I do please you in bed and that I’m not in danger of being replaced.”

Hopefully, if your girlfriend loves you, she will respond with compassion. Then you can have a conversation that will help you on your way to feeling more comfortable. If your relationship is as good and healthy as you say, I can almost guarantee that your partner loves all of you exactly as you are, including your penis. (Which is fine, by the way. Genitals come in all shapes and sizes and colours and they’re all beautiful and perfect exactly as they are.)

However, reassurance can come from your girlfriend but working on your insecurities is your job and has to come from within. Becoming secure in yourself is hard and it really is a process, not a destination – we all have days where we feel really great about ourselves and days when we feel horrible. That’s normal. Techniques you could try include journalling, talking to a therapist, and – don’t underestimate the value of this – mindfulness and learning how to just sit with your feelings when they come up, knowing that they are lying to you and they will pass.

It can also be helpful to step outside the immediacy of the emotion and look at what reality is telling you. Like this: “My fear is telling me that my girlfriend is bored of having sex with me and I don’t satisfy her. However, she frequently instigates sex/usually has an orgasm when we play/tells me she loves fucking me. Therefore, the actual evidence suggests that she loves and desires me as I am. My fear is lying to me.” Repeat as often as necessary. I once spent an hour car journey literally reciting a list of mantras aloud to myself in order to calm a rising panic attack fueled by insecurity. It works.

Lastly, whether you want to incorporate toys into your sex life with your girlfriend is up to you. If you’re uncomfortable with it, that’s your prerogative. However, I’d like to challenge you to at least consider trying it. If you don’t want to fuck her with a giant dildo to start with, how about something like a vibrator? An anal plug? A suction toy? Or even a dildo that feels very different to a bio-cock, such as one made of glass or stainless steel?

Toys are not replacements for the things you can do with your body. They are tools to enable you both to feel a wider range of sensations and to give each other pleasure in different and exciting ways. And don’t forget there are also toys that can be used by a penis-owner. Try a Fleshlight, masturbation sleeve, a prostate toy, or even using a vibrator on your penis. I really recommend trying some, as you might be surprised and find wonderful new ways to experience pleasure yourself.

Talk to your girlfriend and keep that communication going. There really is no substitute.

If you liked this answer and want to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buying me a virtual coffee. It really does help keep the blog going and keeps me supplied with motivation coffee and sex toys. Again, email me your question and you might appear in a future ‘Ask Amy’ column.