[Guest Blog] Kink: Not All Whips and Chains by Violet Grey

Ms. Grey is becoming a C&K regular at this point, and I couldn’t be happier about it. She always pitches me great ideas and writes fantastic, thought provoking pieces it’s a privilege to publish. Today, she’s here talking kink and why it’s not all whips and chains!

Amy x

Not All Whips and Chains by Violet Grey

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me!

This classic line from Rihanna’s hit song, S&M, encompasses a general flavour of sadomasochism. It’s a common perception that BDSM (Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism) involve some form of pain or impact play. 

What comes to mind when you think of BDSM? Is it tying people up? Spanking? Paddles? Whips? Giving control to someone else, or being the one in control? 

All these kinks, and many more, are surprisingly common. But “kinky” esn’t mean the same to everyone – it depends on the person. In everyday life, as we’ve seen with books and films like Fifty Shades of Grey, BDSM is often misunderstood if not completely misrepresented. 

Two of the most common misconceptions are: 

  • BDSM, fundamentally, is abusive. 
  • As I heard one person say, “It’s just all hitting each other, isn’t it?”

Firstly, BDSM is not abusive as long as it’s done between consenting adults, limits and boundaries are respected, and they are playing safely and responsibly. While there are individuals who can and do use BDSM as a guise to abuse others, they are not representative of the majority of kinksters. Most of us just want to have good, safe fun. That being said, it is important to vet any potential partners properly and call out abuse when you see it in the community.

Secondly, no, BDSM is not “just hitting each other”. Any knowledgeable and safe sadomasochist will tell you that. If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this piece, it’s this: kink doesn’t have to be about pain. 

Kink without pain!?

This can be quite a shocking revelation to some folks, especially if all they’ve seen of BDSM is someone having a whip cracked against their arse. My first introductions to BDSM were through very two-dimensional Femdom scenes in crime dramas, usually involving heavy bondage and whips. Male submissives were often ridiculed, and sometimes BDSM as a whole was the butt of a joke. 

So when I was first exploring my kinks, it came as a surprise to learn that you can still be really kinky and not incorporate sadomasochism. I’ll be candid here: I’m no pain slut by any means. While I enjoy erotic spankings and rough sex as much as the next person, if you bring a tawse or thick cane near me, I’m running for the hills! 

So how can you navigate getting kinky without pain or impact play? It’s simple: the same as you usually do. Through negotiation and consent, safety protocols and risk assessment. You have your boundaries, and they can and should be respected. 

Painless kink? Let me count the ways!

So what kind of kinks can you have that aren’t necessarily about whips and chains and pain? Oh, so many! 

From someone whose kinks are mostly not pain-related, so to speak, let me list some of mine for you: 

  • Praise kink – A praise kink is where someone feels aroused or enjoys other positive feelings from being praised by a partner in a scene or during sex. A common example is “good girl/good boy”. Basically, if you call me a “good girl” I’m putty in your hands! 
  • Dominance and submission (D/s) – This dynamic forms the foundation for many BDSM and kink arrangements or fantasies. D/s play can incorporate pain and impact play if you want, but it doesn’t have to. Something as simple as doing the dishes or cuddling can be made kinky when you add a D/s twist. 
  • Blindfolds – Pretty self explanatory. Blindfolds can be made of soft material, like a scarf, satin mask, etc., or tougher materials like leather. My go-to blindfold is my silk sleep mask. 
  • Light bondage –  Light bondage can involve something as simple as a scarf, or you can use cuffs or basic Shibari (Japanese rope bonage) ties. As well as the super-hot element of restraining someone, many people find bondage relaxing. However, bondage – even light bondage – carries a risk factor. Always play safely and responsibly
  • Sensual domination – Sensual domination is my kinky happy place. I love it. This is domination that focuses on delighting the senses, rather than giving pain. It is domination that focuses solely on pleasure, and can involve implements like feathers, satin, bondage rope, massage oils, and candles to set the mood. It can even involve all of the above (which for me, it does!) Sensual domination can often be seen as a gateway for people experimenting or getting started in BDSM, but it’s a valid activity in itself that many experienced kinksters enjoy.

Though sometimes I crave the rough stuff, which I also adore, sensual or “soft” kink (as it’s sometimes called) is where I feel most in my element. 

 On that note… 

No shame in soft kink

Some of the more “hardcore” kinks are so-called due to carrying a great deal of risk. Needle and knife play, for instance, are by no means activities for beginners and require deal of studying, safety, and risk awareness to master. 

I’ve seen less “extreme” kinks, or those not involving pain, described as “diet kink.” Some even go as far as to kink-shame people for “not being kinky enough”. Obviously this is not ok.  It’s easy, when looking into BDSM, to internalise “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”. I should like hard spankings and floggers, or I should be able to do 24/7 Total Power Exchange if I want to be “really kinky”.

But the truth is, if you’ve got a kink, even if it’s just one? Congratulations! You’re kinky!

No two people are exactly the same. It can be easy to internalise (guilty as charged) feeling like you have to fit into a kinky box – and, of course, feeling you have to be into pain. For all the reasons I’ve discussed here, you don’t have to be and if you’re not, that’s ok. Your kinks are entirely unique to you. 

So go forth, experiment, and have fun! And as always, play safely and responsibly!

Violet Grey describes herself as “your 20-something lady who loves to write. I write erotic fiction, along with real-life sex stories, thoughts on sexuality, kink, BDSM, and generally whatever else is on my mind.” Check out her blog and give her a follow on Twitter!

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[Guest Blog] I Wish I Could Masturbate Like a Man by Holly Hughes

Today’s guest post comes from Holly Hughes, a writer and intuitive healer based in North Carolina.

I wish I could masturbate like a cis man. I imagine it’s super freeing to be able to lean back and knock out an orgasm. If nothing else, it must be a huge stress reliever. 

I’ve never even considered sitting at my office desk and pleasuring myself. Is it even possible? I mean, the way I need things to be set up – curtains drawn, door closed, pets out of the room, and privacy – there’s no way I believe I could give myself pleasure while seated on a vegan leather office chair. 

I didn’t own a vibrator until I was thirty. Sad but true. There I was, naïve in all things vibrating, and determined to get over it. I asked a friend to come with me to a sex store, so I’d be less intimidated. My friend had firsthand knowledge of the world of pleasure I was about to enter, and I felt safe exploring the black-lit sex shop with him.

As we crossed the threshold, my eyes first went to the cage, the bondage and leather on display. This was all much more daring than my skimpiest Victoria’s Secret lingerie. It was sexual in a way I hadn’t experienced. Some of the devices and apparatus made me giggle, others were appealing, and I wondered how I missed out on so much fun. 

The store’s staff were informative and helpful. I’m sure I looked like a newbie as my eyes ran over everything on display. Fortunately, the staff were happy to ease my nervous curiosities. One employee led me into a room farther back, where various sizes and shapes of vibrators were displayed. She demonstrated how to turn them on and the features that made each one unique. Some were curved, others had ridges, moving internal parts like beads, or multiple controls. She placed each one in my hands, allowing me to feel how hard or soft the silicone was. 

At this point in my life, the only penis that never failed to give me an orgasm (or several) belonged to my ex. When we were together, I used to jokingly plead with him to make a mold, so if we ever broke up, I could still have it. It was just the right length and had the most spectacular curve that never failed to hit my g-spot. Years later, I still wish I got that mold.

Back to the sex shop. After inspecting numerous vibrators of all sizes and shapes, I settled on a lavender rabbit. It had multiple speeds, and the color made it less intimidating. It remained in its box under my bed for months until one night when, alone in my room and feeling frisky, I decided to try it out.

I opened the box, added batteries, shut my cat out of the bedroom, and closed the door. Then I got naked, got under my covers, and turned the vibrator on. I was shocked at how loud it was. I tried muffling it under a pile of blankets. The noise was a complete turn off, and I was sure my neighbors would hear it through my thin apartment walls. Needless to say, there was no orgasm. I packed the rabbit back up and shoved it into my bedside table drawer.

Months later, I tried again. This time I ignored the fear of being heard masturbating and simply enjoyed the experience.

Fast forward a decade or so, and I’ve explored and discovered the type of lover-in-a-drawer that does it for me. Now the biggest hindrance to my ability to enjoy time with it is being a busy entrepreneur, mother, wife, friend, and author. The idea of a little stress relief is always appealing, but I still need to be left alone to enjoy my own devices. I have no doubt my husband doesn’t have the same issue. He’s able to just lean back in his office chair and pleasure himself. 

My typical self-love routine (and I really hate that it’s a routine, but it’s true) starts with digging out my vibrators from the drawer under my bed. I keep them safely hidden beneath an ugly holiday sweater and my old thermal underwear, just in case my daughter ever goes snooping in my belongings. I check to make sure the toys don’t need new batteries. I have one now that needs to be plugged in.

After I make sure I have privacy and a working instrument, I lay back and enjoy a favorite fantasy or two, mostly having to do with Taylor Kitsch or Benjamin Walker. And bam! Stress relief and orgasm are had.

But most times, things don’t go quite that smoothly. Today, for instance, I really wanted to relax before going to get my mammogram. My husband wasn’t home, and I had thirty minutes before I had to leave. So, I broke out my favorite toys. One had no charge, so I had to make do with my backup. I got comfortable and was about to begin when I heard moaning coming from next to the bed. Then I heard the thumping of my dog running up and jumping onto the bed to snuggle next to me. 

“No,” I said. “Get out.”

He looked at me with his big brown puppy-dog eyes and refused to move. Now naked, I picked him up and put him on the other side of my closed bedroom door. 

Before I even made it back to enjoy any sensation of pleasure, I heard a meow, meow, meow. Our kitten was on the other side of the door. 

This was the first time I ever wished my vibrator was louder and could say things like, “Don’t pay attention to the cat. You’re so sexy. You feel so good.” But I couldn’t make my mind tune out the cat meowing or the dog scratching, so I yelled, “Shut up!” Nothing like pets to ruin the mood. 

It’s not as if I get this chance for alone time often. And honestly, when I do, I worry about my husband walking in. Not that he’d mind at all, it’s more about wanting to be left alone to enjoy myself without anyone watching or participating. Isn’t that what masturbating is all about? Self-pleasure? I know my man doesn’t have the same needs or issues, or even gives any more thought to masturbating than, yeah, now’s a good time. No need for soft lighting or routine.  I wish I could masturbate like him.

I imagine many cis men can rub one out in a minute or two, but my body doesn’t work like that. And there are times when I know that, no matter what I do, my orgasm won’t come. That even though I know how to pleasure myself, my body won’t cooperate. This happened to me after the birth of my child, and was especially true after my hysterectomy. I felt like Samantha from Sex and the City, wondering if I’d used all my orgasms up.

Thankfully, of course, that wasn’t true. But it did take me longer than I care to admit to enjoy sex again after both of those life-altering events. My insides felt so different. I felt the changes acutely and I was afraid my husband wouldn’t like them and would find me less desirable. I’m thankful to my sex toys for helping me heal and find my pleasure again. 

But there are always days like today when I think it would be nice to sneak off and not have so many obstacles to masturbating. I imagine, like peeing standing up, there are advantages to masturbating while sitting up in an office chair with the lights on and the dog laying by your feet. As for me, I’ll be waiting for a quiet and private moment to pleasure myself with my always ready boyfriend-in-a-drawer.

Holly is a freelance writer and intuitive healer living in North Carolina. When she isn’t working you can find her getting ready for Halloween or dancing. Check out her website and follow her on Instagram!

[Guest Blog] “Open to Trans Girls?” by Velvet Divine

I put out a call for guest blog pitches at the end of July and oh my, you folks delivered! I received some brilliant ideas and would have loved to accept them all. I’m absolutely thrilled to be sharing today’s fantastic piece by a new-to-me writer, Velvet Divine (fae/faer.) You can follow faer on Twitter!

To me, this post really highlights the experience of trans folks and the misconceptions and bigotry that too many cis people still hold. We have a long way to go. I hope that by uplifting trans voices in this space, I can make a very small difference.

– Amy x

Open to Trans Girls?

“Velvet Divine. Fae/Faer. Non-binary. Trans femme. Pan. Aro. Poly. Domme. Targaryen. Actress. Writer. Artist. Vegetarian. Trash fire. Nerd. Gaymer. Goth. For the Horde.” (My dating app bio.)

Due to living in a fairly small, Conservative town and working with clinically vulnerable populations, I am not yet out in my everyday life. I’m sure my identity as a non-binary trans person would compromise not only my employment but also maybe my safety. So, my main method of connecting with people for ventures north of the platonic is via online dating apps.

“Are you open to trans gals?”

Six little monosyllabic words, typed with practiced trepidation or tired resignation, depending on the day. More often than not, this is my first message to women I connect with on dating apps (specifically, cisgender women). Sometimes, it’s the third or the fifth message, following an initial volley of back-and-forth compliments. But it’s always something I feel the need to clarify as soon as possible. Part of it is in the spirit of transparency (pun intended). I like to get it out in the open in the event that it’s any kind of a deal-breaker. But the other part is a visceral fear of coming across as predatory.

Bigoted people have long been pushing a narrative that trans women and trans femme people are predatory, using their transition to gain access to vulnerable women and female spaces in order to sexually harass or assault women. A lot of us have, unfortunately, internalized a lot of this transmisogyny. When you combine that with my hyperawareness of how masculine I still present, you get a knot of anxiety at being perceived as the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. 

I had my first taste of this in college, soon after breaking my egg (trans lingo for “coming out” or realizing one is trans). I began attending the LGBT+ Center’s Women’s Group. The second of the two sessions I attended consisted of the facilitators addressing “concerns” that some were there for the wrong reasons. Cue all eyes on me. I was the only trans feminine person and, more importantly, I did not look the part yet.

They went around the circle, asking everyone to share why they were in the group and what they hoped to gain from it. I don’t recall my answer verbatim, but it was something along the lines of wanting to connect with other LGBTQ+ women and femme-aligned folks. I looked around for some measure of commiseration or solidarity, but met only silence and a crowded room of women who wouldn’t look me in the eye.

So I never went back to the group. After a few times, the facilitators stopped asking me when I would come back whenever we ran into one another. Maybe the others thought that I was there trying to pick up a date and took my lack of feminine clothing and makeup as admission to this perceived grift. Maybe I just projected my own insecurities and completely misinterpreted the situation. Regardless, that pit in my stomach never left me. I continue to feel the need to question whether or not I am intruding upon a space that isn’t for me, or offering my company to someone who is merely tolerating it.

I ask women who match with me if they’re cool with or open to trans girls and they’ll reassure me, many vociferously and graciously, with “trans women are women” or “I love ALL girls”. Others will make a crack about how it’d be silly if they weren’t, considering it’s plastered all over my profile and hard to miss.

I will continue to ask them if they’re comfortable. I will ask them when we plan a date and I explain that I will not be dolled up because I’ll be coming from work or getting a ride from a relative. I’ll ask them again if the subject of sex comes up and we discuss desires and boundaries. I’ll ask them again during the act itself.

“I am Non-binary and trans-feminine. At the current moment, I am unable to access HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) due to my housing and economic situation. I’m on the chubby side and I still have my bio dildo. If any of those are an issue, feel free to exit stage left.”

That’s what my usual “disclaimer” looks like on my profiles. I add these because, again, I want to lay my cards on the table. Because I’m afraid that otherwise, people will feel misled somehow. Logically, I don’t imagine that these disclaimers are anything but obvious. I’m thick and, even if cis women thought I was just butch, the mention of being trans and the bio dildo euphemism would make it clear. (I used to use the expression “fleshy strap-on” but that kept going over people’s heads). But you’d be surprised. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that cis Sapphics also often feel like they need to “disclose” that they’re on the thicker side up-front. Solidarity, sisters.

Even among the LGBTQIA+ community, there is a staggering amount of ignorance regarding the trans experience on the part of cisgender folks. I’ve had many people mix up trans women and trans men. Most recently, I had a woman ghost me after I corrected her misconception by reiterating the fact that I have a “bio dildo” and explaining the euphemism. Some of my favorites, though, are the ones who think that being trans is like a Magical Girl transformation and that by shouting that I’m trans into the ether, a la Greyskull, I will immediately undergo years of HRT and surgeries. I wish that were the case.

Though these hiccups are more common than I’d like, I’m grateful that they tend to come from places of ignorance and misunderstanding rather than malice. I’ve been using these apps for years and can count on one hand the number of times that women have been intentionally rude or hateful towards me (men are a whole other story). Women are always a treasure to connect with. Even people for whom the bio dildo and transition were deal breakers have generally been perfectly respectful about it.

I want to thank Velvet again for sharing faer insights in this fantastic post. I pay all my guest writers and would like to increase the rate, hire more amazing writers, or both. If you want to see more new voices on C&K, head to the Tip Jar to support the blog.

Pride Month Guest Post: Wrapped in Rainbows by The Barefoot Sub

I’m delighted to be ending my Pride Month guest post series with this personal story from C&K newcomer, The Barefoot Sub. As a fellow queer woman who struggled to know how to define her sexuality, this one resonated with me deeply.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, which also featured pieces from Violet Grey and Quenby, and that you’ve all had a safe and happy Pride Month.

Amy x

TW: this piece contains discussion of coerced sex and homophobic emotional abuse. Look after yourselves, loves.

Wrapped in Rainbows

It is my understanding that many people know where they lie on the sexuality spectrum from a young age, even if they didn’t always understand exactly what it meant. For some of us, though, it isn’t such a simple path to follow, and I would like to share the journey of how I came to be 37 years old and celebrating my first Pride wrapped up in rainbows.

As a child I was always encouraged to be myself. 

Being a tomboy meant I had the freedom to follow my brother. I was never a “girly girl” and gender never seemed to have much to do with anything. As I grew-up, I didn’t experiment with sexuality ike my peers. Make up and push up bras, short skirts and heels – these were all things I didn’t really understand.

This was part nature, but also nurture, as my mum was far from sex-positive and actively chose to protect me from the grown up world of lust and deviance. To this day she holds very conservative views on sex and relationships. As an adult I am now able to have gentle discussions with her on relationship styles, but in those formative years you can imagine how little I was able to learn. 

I had been bullied by girls at primary school, for being different.

Though I made friends through secondary school, I walked a fine line within those groups because I still didn’t fit the mould. I was the short-haired, flat-chested rugby player who spent too much time hanging around in mud with her older brother and his friends and I… didn’t even shave my legs! Yes, I was the “butch” one in my year. I didn’t even join in games like “pass the ice pole” with my girlfriends for fear of being classified as the “dyke,” which I was fairly certain I wasn’t. 

But what if they were right?

When I first discovered sex, I was only interested in men. When I stumbled across my brother’s secret porn stash I turned a blind eye to the images of beautiful women, choosing instead to read the stories or fuck myself along with the couples. I denied any curiosity as dirty and wrong.

Though I spent a lot of nights out in the gay bars while at University, I only went for the haven they provided, brushing off any attention I received from women. Considering the plentiful experiences I had in my late teens, it is curious that same sex hookups were the one thing that I turned my nose up at. If someone saw me with a woman… what would they think? 

It was all too alarming!

The disgrace of my (mostly) liberated sexuality caught up with me after a number of years and I met a man who said he loved me. We married 8 months after meeting, but the insidious slut-shaming began within weeks of us getting together. A mixture of love-bombing and loathing created a dependency on him which I only began to understand two years after we separated. He had quite the knack for eating away at my self-worth, and as such my libido was almost entirely eroded. He was very good at nagging me until I gave in and let him have sex with me, but on the occasions that I refused and wouldn’t be made to feel guilty the name calling would start. It was always around my worst insecurity. “You don’t want to have sex with me because you’re a lesbian” he would say, without fail. And the comments would continue for days afterwards until I relented because, well, I thought I should probably just shut him up. It stopped the taunting. 

Until the next time he wanted sex, and then it would start all over again.

After eleven years I was at my wits end and, while I was searching online for a better life, I met someone who would enable me to become my best me. Not that I knew this at the time, of course. I was able to open up to him and, in amongst the fantasies and daydreams, I was able to find the words. I shared what had been in my mind since watching my school friends pass those ice poles: “I’m curious about whether I’m bi-curious.”

He knew how hard that was for me to tell him and the background to my fears. As is his way, he helped me to understand that there would be nothing wrong with me if I did discover I preferred women, and it did not matter what anyone else thought either. It was also ok if I experimented and didn’t enjoy myself. 

What was important was for me to be myself. 

After a while, he started to test my curiosity by setting me little tasks. They seem little now, but at the time they felt huge and they were a big stretch. Flirting, a kiss, a touch… I had his support in the background, but he gave me the space to learn if the path was right for me.

When work took him away I continued to delve deeper into this new side of me. No tasks this time, just finding my feet and following my heart. There were some less-than-wonderful trials and some incredible liaisons. For the first couple of years I didn’t have much confidence in meeting new people, regardless of their gender. I had no idea how to engage with women as I had shut myself off for so long, in fear of the name calling that would follow a developing friendship.

As I started to make friends through the local fetish and swinging scenes, I found a circle of people who liked me because of me. With my D/s relationship and the acceptance of these communities, my confidence grew and I was able to ask for what I wanted, share my stories, and upgrade my experiences with some truly amazing people from all over the gender spectrum.

Before I stopped being afraid of what my sexuality meant to other people, I had no idea that there could be so much pleasure, fun, and laughter outside of heterosexual relations. A person’s beauty and desirability isn’t necessarily linked to their gender identity or genitalia.

With the support and guidance of Sir, the generosity of spirit that my wonderful friends have showered me with, and a little bravery to conquer my fears, I have learnt that I was right all along. I am not lesbian. But I’m not straight either. 

This year marks the fifth pride month since my explorations began, and I am proud to say I am confidently queer and celebrating!

The Barefoot Sub can be found over at A Leap of Faith reminiscing about her self-discovery through kink while also sharing smut that is yet to happen. You can find her over at Twitter, usually getting distracted by the filthy GIFs, and occasionally on Instagram, where she is almost always covered in rope.

Pride Month Guest Post: Bi the Way… by Violet Grey

Happy Pride Month! I decided to put out a call for pitches for this month to showcase just some of the amazing, brilliant, and diverse voices that exist within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Today’s post comes from C&K guest blogging regular, the supremely talented Violet Grey.

Amy x

Bi the Way…

Hi, I’m Vi. I’m also bi. 

Yes, I’m bisexual. For me, that means I am attracted to both cisgender and transgender men and women. Some think that, as a bi person, I should mouth shut about LGBTQ+ rights and that I don’t belong at Pride or in other LGBTQ+ spaces. I’m here to tell you that is complete and utter horseshit

First let’s get some stereotypes out of the way:

  • Yes, bisexuals do exist. Surprise! *jazz hands*
  • No, our sexuality does not mean we are more likely to cheat on you. Never have, never will. Sexual orientation and infidelity are not linked. 
  • No, we don’t all have threesomes. Some of us do, but not all of us. Again, sexual acts and sexual orientation are not the same thing. There are plenty of straight, gay, pansexual, etc. people who have threesomes, and plenty of bi people who don’t.
  • The only things I’m greedy or selfish for are cuddles and chocolate.
  • Bisexuals don’t have to “pick a side.” We like more than just one gender. Get over it. 
  • Bi doesn’t mean having multiple relationships at one time. That’s polyamory. They are two very different things. 
  • We’re not just straight girls experimenting or gay men just biding their time to come out. We are bisexual. 
  • And sadly no, we don’t all cuff our jeans. As much as I love a good pair of cuffed jeans, they don’t love me. I do have a thing for leather jackets though…

Anyways, now we’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to move on to a subject that is very personal for me: erasure. Among the fellow bisexuals in my friendship groups and family, I don’t know a single person who hasn’t experienced some kind of erasure or negativity, usually in the form of the harmful stereotypes listed above.

What I’ve found particularly jarring is when bisexuals experience negativity from not just certain bigoted straight people, but fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community. Despite us being right there in the name (what did you think the B stood for!?) we are often told we don’t belong in LGBTQ+ spaces or at Pride.

Having recently come out, seeing that marginalisation – within a community that prides itself on campaigning for the safety and rights of those marginalised for their sexuality or gender identity – is incredibly saddening. As a result , it’s not uncommon for bisexuals to feel like we don’t belong in either community. We’re told we a re “too queer” by people who are straight, but “not queer enough” by fellow queer people.

I am a feminine bisexual woman in a monogamous relationship with a straight man, and have been for almost five years now. Even in that dynamic, prejudice can rear its ugly head from those on the outside. A bisexual woman with a lean towards men, like me, is not seem as really bisexual (insert “not queer enough” prejudice here). 

People assume I’m just saying I’m bi so men will fetishize me, while having the privilege to “blend in.” Sometimes, this comes in the form of a backhanded compliment, such as: “Well, you’ve made the right choice if you want to have a baby.” Yes, people say that, and no, it’s not a compliment.

It may have taken me 24 years to accept that I’m bi and that there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’ve always known my sexuality was more fluid than my exclusively heterosexual peers. It’s ok to like one gender more than others, and doesn’t make you any less bisexual.

Let’s take a moment to discuss “blending in.” I won’t deny the privilege I do undeniably have. Both my partner and I are white and live in the UK. That in itself affords us a lot of privilege. However, anti-LGBTQ sentiments are still alive and well here in the UK. So what looks like “blending in” and benefiting from assumed heterosexual privilege to you, looks like having to stay closeted to me (which around certain people I am.) And believe me, being in the closet for the very real fear of negative reactions is no privilege. 

While I’ve been lucky to not experience as much of this as others, biphobia is a big issue that definitely needs tackling. So, here are a few things to help if you’re unsure and/or want to support a bisexual friend or family member: 

Believe Them

I can’t stress this enough. We bisexuals get enough of being erased or fetishized by society as it is. The last people we need it from is from those close to us. You may not understand everything about bisexuality, or any of it for that matter, but it’s important to keep an open mind and give your nearest and dearest a place where they can be safe. 

Don’t tell them that it’s “just a phase,” even if they’re not sure exactly where on the sexuality spectrum they fit. If someone is questioning or unsure of their sexuality, they are already feeling pretty vulnerable. So instead of dismissing their feelings, say something like, “It’s ok, you’ll figure it out. It changes nothing between you and me.” Let them know they are safe and loved. 

If You’re Unsure, Ask!

No one is expecting you to know everything. What we ask is for you not to be a jerk about it. Many of us have stereotypes about certain people reinforced by our surroundings or upbringings. That can take some time to get your head around and unlearn. But again, don’t be a dick. 

Someone is trusting you with personal information about themselves. Even for people like myself, who knew my immediate family would be accepting, I was still absolutely terrified. So it’s important to listen and learn. If you’re unsure about what bisexual means, ask. Let them know it doesn’t come from judgement, but wanting to learn so know how better to support them. 

Support Them

Homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic behaviour is bullying. So please don’t be a bystander. Support your loved one. Support and uplift bisexual and other LGBTQ+ voices. Don’t stand in silence. 

Be there for them if they need to talk to someone. Perhaps they’re having a bad day or they got bother from that homophobic auntie at the family reunion. When queer people come out, it’s important to know we’ve got support around us. Just that one person can make all the difference. 

Keep It Discreet

If your loved one have come out to you but not to anyone else yet, please don’t betray confidence. It is up to them to tell the people they wish to, based on their own comfort level and safety.

They have trusted you with this information, so be the good person and keep that discretion. Never out someone. Again, this is for their safety, because let’s face it: we don’t always know how someone will react. Keep it quiet until they decide, if they do, to come out to others around them. 

Love is love. Make sure your loved ones know that you are there for them.

Violet Grey describes herself as “your 20-something lady who loves to write. I write erotic fiction, along with real-life sex stories, thoughts on sexuality, kink, BDSM, and generally whatever else is on my mind.” Check out her blog and give her a follow on Twitter!

Oh, and if you enjoyed this post, tips help me to keep paying occasional guest bloggers.

[Guest Blog] When Sex is Always Painful (And You Love It) by RT Collins

For today’s guest post, I am delighted to be publishing this essay by the exceptionally talented R.T. Collins. When they approached me with this pitch, I knew I simply had to accept it. Painful sex isn’t something we talk about enough, and I’m always here for opening the conversation.

Please note that this essay is about R.T’s personal experience only, and nothing here should be taken as “advice.” What works for one person won’t work for another. If you’re experiencing pain during sex, please seek the support of a qualified medical professional.

And remember – you can help me commission more awesome guest writers by sending a tip or joining me on Patreon.

Amy x

When Sex is Always Painful (And You Love It)

(Or: How I learned to live with a retroverted uterus and accept pain as a normal (and fun) part of sex.)

Earlier this year Netflix’s excellent series Sex Education featured a storyline about a teenage girl – Lily – discovering and dealing with vaginismus. Vaginismus is a painful condition where a pelvic floor muscles spasm when anything is inserted, making it near impossible to have penetrative sex (even if it’s just a finger).

Lily’s frustrations and sadness struck a familiar chord. I don’t have vaginismus, but I do have a retroverted uterus (also known as a tilted uterus). My vagina itself is unaffected, but my womb is titled backwards, and my cervix is in a different place, causing pain every time anything phallic goes up there.

Like Lily, I found this out the hard way. My first penetrative sexual experience was hugely painful, but I’d been told that was going to be the case, so I assumed it was normal. However, as every consequent experience delivered the same amount of pain, I started to wonder if something was just wrong with me. Unfortunately, this was the early 2000s, and I was too scared to look it up on the one school computer that had internet. I just assumed sex was either particularly painful for me, or was that way for everyone and nobody else was complaining. 

Also, the pain didn’t put me off. I was still a horny teenager with raging hormones and an intense sexual obsession with Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. I still enjoyed clitoral stimulation (despite my equally inexperienced partners not quite grasping the concept) and wasn’t yet really aware that sex without penetration was a totally valid option. The general excitement of sex was enough to make me grit my teeth through the painful bit. I could always imagine it was Aragorn. 

And then in my late teens I had sex with a much older man in a respectful, caring and oh-so-hot tryst in a hotel room on a tropical island. He gave me my first full-blown clitoral orgasm (we’re talking pink fluffy clouds) followed by athletic sex in positions I’d never imagined possible. The sex was as painful as ever, but everything else was just so good. It was my first encounter with a person who actually knew what they were doing, and boy did it make all the difference. I found myself asking for more, harder, pushing my own limits, until finally and unbelievably, I came from penetration alone. 

I left that hotel room a changed person – pain, it turns out, could be its own source of pleasure. It was relief, as I’d all but accepted that sex was going to be a trying experience for the rest of my life. I also knew that this was most likely a fairly unique reaction. Very few people enjoy pain, especially as part of sex, I was lucky to have found a way to make it work for me. 

A few years later I moved to the big city, made new – equally horny – friends, and started investigating the BDSM scene. I figured, if, for me, pain could be pleasure, then BDSM could probably teach me a thing or two, and I was right. My first submissive experience consisted of me on all fours in front of a crowd being introduced to a variety of impact toys by an experienced Dungeon Master and his hilariously evil wife. Each toy created a different sensation. Some irritating, some titillating, and some downright orgasmic. It was exhilarating to be welcomed into a world that understood that pain could be a source of pleasure. At 21, I was a young person on the scene and I was lucky to find people who helped me explore this dynamic in a safe and supported way. I found the space to accept and experiment with pain in all forms, both in and on my body. 

Penetrative sex, with penises or dildos, continues to be painful and pleasurable in equal measure. Most partners I end up with have fairly large penises (or impressive strap-ons). I like to think that’s just by accident, but there’s probably an aspect of challenge as well – I’m always pushing thresholds to see how I’ll respond. Occasionally the pain aspect becomes apparent, and it leads to awkward conversations – “no, I promise I like it.. you don’t have to go slowly… I promise I’ll say if it’s too much” etc. It’s a fair response to question why someone wants to continue with something that hurts, so I don’t mind explaining. I just wish there was more knowledge about conditions like this, so it wasn’t so awkward each time. 

1 in 5 people who have a uterus have a retroverted one, to varying degrees. I have no idea what percentage of those people experience pain, but I’ll wager it’s a lot higher than anyone realises. I’m fortunate that, unlike Lily and her vaginismus, the pain is something I can accept and enjoy. It’s a particular reaction that I doubt many people have. By the time I was diagnosed at 22 by a very caring sexual health doctor, who got very angry about the incompetence of all my previous doctors, I was happy to know what was going on… but mostly angry on behalf of those who may never realise, and possibly continue to think something is wrong with them or never find a way around it that works for them (like taking penetration out of the equation altogether). 

Luckily, series like Sex Education are bringing conditions that cause discomfort during sex out into the open. Shops like Sh! Women’s Store in London now stock vaginismus therapy kits. My hope is that more young people become aware of the wide variety of bodies and ways of experiencing pleasure, and come to understand themselves and find help much earlier than I did.   

Everyone should be able to enjoy sex, in a way that works with their body and desires. I’m so glad I can. 

R.T. Collins is a kink, porn and sexual wellness enthusiast based in London. Follow them @DiscoWrites or get in touch at rtcollinswrites@gmail.com

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

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

What Cats Can Teach Us About Boundaries

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

It can take time.

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

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

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

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

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

Cats aren’t generally aggressive unless provoked first

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

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

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

What cats CAN’T teach us about consent:

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

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

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

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

[Guest Blog] Do I Base My Characters on Real People? by Violet Grey

I’m delighted to be hosting Violet’s second Coffee & Kink guest blog today (check out her first here!) Violet is a brilliant smutty writer and a delightful human. Check out her work and give her a follow on Twitter!

Do I base my characters on real people?

This is a question I’m asked a lot as a writer: Do I base my characters on real people? I’m a writer and blogger. What do I write about? Sex. Lots of sex. IRL sex, erotic fiction, vanilla, kinky, you get the idea. I create characters that get off with each other and have a great time doing it. I imagine different sexy scenarios and create a story surrounding it.

Regardless of what I write, I still get asked that one question: Do you base them on real people?

The honest answer is yes… sometimes.

One of the biggest pieces of writing advice I’ve ever been given is to draw inspiration from what surrounds you. Personal experiences, something seen in the news, a piece of history (Margaret Atwood did this with The Handmaid’s Tale, so you’ll be in good company!) It’s not uncommon (in fact it’s very common) for writers to do this. I am guilty of basing some of my male protagonists’ looks after gorgeous men I see on the train or when walking down the street. Or a celebrity crush. Sam Worthington? Phwoar!

The ethics question…

But there’s an ethical stance to this question we need to consider. Especially so when it comes to romantic and erotic fiction. Where do you draw the line? How far is too far?

We’ve all heard of the stories of the creepy dedication to the love interest. A fictional character based entirely on this person, right down to the last idiosyncrasy. The result is neither erotic nor even romantic. It’s outright questionable and can end uo going down a truly sinister road indeed. Law & Order, anyone? Long story short: don’t be that person.

How do I approach IRL inspiration?

I can only speak for myself here: for a character that’s inspired from IRL, I tend to use snippets from various things and splice them together. Physical traits. Personality traits. A stylish coif or a broad stature. A dimple in the cheek when they smile. How they enjoy watching NFL or having a beer at a sports bar on a Thursday night.

A little bit like layering a few real things with your own twist on them. That’s what I personally recommend as writer when bringing real life into sexy time writing, if you chose to do so. It’s not compulsory and this is not the case for every story I write. In fact, most of my characters are inspired from photographs, music and fantasies one often sees in erotica and romance i.e. the billionaire playboy or the wholesome cowboy. Sounds cliché, I know, but I am a sucker for it.

Layering your inspiration

When I create a character, I like to think of it a bit like a cake recipe (yes, my very British obsession with Bake Off is showing. I’m not sorry!) You have your ingredients: flour, butter, sugar and eggs. This is your foundation.

  • Who is your character?
  • What do they do?
  • What do they look like?
  • What are their hobbies?

Then you’ve got your flavourings, like vanilla (no pun intended), peppermint, chocolate, whatever you like.

  • What are their kinks?
  • What do they enjoy in bed?
  • Are all their kinks (if they have any) sexual or non-sexual?
  • Do they have any conditions that can affect that?

And finally, the decorations: put your own little finishing twists on them to make them stand out. What makes, for example, a particular dominant man different from all the others? Does he have a penchant for a particular kind of aftercare? Does he shower his sub with gifts? Is he strict, soft, or a bit of both? What is it that will make him desirable to your readers?

These are all questions to ask yourself when drawing from snippets around you. It’s not so much about imitating, it’s about breaking down and splicing together, to create your own. Before you know it, you’ll have a character you can work with. And if it doesn’t work? Well, like any recipe, you can always start again.

If you want to guest blog for me, send me a pitch!

[Guest Blog] How Sex Writing and Kink is Rebuilding My Body Image by Violet Grey

I’m thrilled to be featuring a guest post by Violet Grey for the second time. Violet is an amazing writer and, as I discovered when I met her in person at Eroticon, an absolute sweetheart of a person as well. Please note this piece includes frank discussion of body image and body shaming, so please take care of yourselves if these topics are difficult for you. Enjoy this piece – maybe make a cup of coffee and savour this one, as there’s a lot of brilliant stuff here. – Amy x

I think it’s safe to say at some point, we’ve all felt crap about our bodies. We wish our tummies were flatter, biceps bulkier, thighs thinner, dicks bigger, boobs perkier, the works.

With social media playing a growing part in many aspects of our life and work, the discussion around body image has evolved all the more. “#BodyPositive” is a common hashtag, and backlash around the unattainable beauty standards we see in the media is now commonplace. That being said, this is a relatively small counter when compared to the billboards, photoshopping and websites that encourage disordered eating – not to mention the horrendous amounts of trolling we see online.

Seriously, it’s like something out of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, which parallels the very toxicity of people (particularly impressionable teenagers finding their feet) judging someone purely by their looks. The idea that if we are not ‘perfect’ we are deserving of such ridicule. It’s scary.

If I’m being candid, my body image isn’t great. In fact, it’s not really even that good but I’m working on it. My body has gone through quite a few changes in the last 18 months. Expanding, shrinking, filling out, more stretch marks, all parts of being a woman and human being.

During these changes I freaked out, put myself down and catastrophised in my own mind that no one would ever find me attractive now I no longer sport a 26-inch waist and got a little thicker in frame – least of all myself. It goes to show that falling into the trap of placing a good dollop of your worth on trying to pigeon-hole yourself is all too easy.

Especially so if you, like me, hail from a performance background, where there’s a prevalent culture of being taught that you will land more work if you look a certain way. While for the most part it’s based on ability and on embodying the role in all ways, sadly it’s not uncommon for people to be told by certain schools, directors, companies etc. that they won’t make it as an actor/performer because they are ‘too fat’ or have some form of physical trait that individual personally deems undesirable.

So when it came to my writing about sexy stuff on the internet, I was pleasantly surprised by what I’ve come across in the community. I’ve admired fellow bloggers who share pictures of themselves on their websites, expressing themselves, clothed or otherwise, in memes such as Boob Day and Sinful Sunday. One of the many things I adore about the sex writing community, is just how inclusive and welcoming it has been for me and others so far.

Most if not all of us have had our own struggles with body image. No matter your size or shape, feeling comfortable in your own skin is not an easy task.

For those who are comfortable posting pictures in these memes or just because, I commend their confidence to do so in a culture that is so hell-bent in having us tear each other down. I see the positive comments, telling each other how beautiful they are (which you are!) and it’s so lovely to see such positivity being spread for all genders and body types. It certainly makes a nice change from the vapid comments you see because of a trivial eyebrow shape or the shape of someone’s arse (*cough cough* Instagram!)

With learning more about the BDSM, kink and fetish communities, I’ve interacted with people from all walks of life who – like all communities – share a common interest. Yes, every community has its politics and the aforementioned are no exception. However, compared to others, a constant I have seen online and in real life is the appreciation of the human form, in all its forms.

From Shibari photography to online social networks for kinky people, it’s been really refreshing to be in an environment that is more inclusive and encouraging of positive body image, regardless of one’s shape or size. It’s refreshing to see different forms of expression, from colourful hair and piercings to androgyny, to bondage art, leather and latex, all celebrated rather than derided. And as a woman, it’s nice to see the female form in all their forms being told they are beautiful, and genuinely so.

Seeing such wonderful people with such confidence has and is helping me to rebuild a better, healthier perception of myself. That I am in fact, only human and that being happy and healthy is more important than ‘fitting in’, and that not only is beauty in the eye of the beholder, but that everyone has their own unique beauty, inside and out. My job is making sure I remember that when I feel shit about myself.

Don’t forget to check out Violet’s blog and give her a follow on Twitter. If YOU would like to guest write for me, you can pitch me during my open reading periods. Also, joining me on Patreon or shopping with my affiliates helps me to keep paying occasional guest bloggers.

[Guest Blog] Sex & Physical Disability by Alannah Murray

Part of the point of this “new voices in sex writing” pitch call that I put out months ago was to lift up and amplify marginalised voices. You may remember an incredible piece by my metamour Pippin a few months ago – well, I think this piece by Alannah Murray, also about sex and physical disability, is a perfect follow-on to that. I’m so proud to be publishing it and sharing it with you all today. Check out Alannah’s site and follow her on the Twitter!

Without further ado, over to Alannah…

Sex and Physical Disability by Alannah Murray

Hey everyone! I’m one of the incredibly grateful people chosen to guest blog for
Coffee and Kink! My name is Alannah. I’m 22, from Ireland, and I’m a postgraduate
researcher working towards a MA Research degree. I developed an auto-immune disease as a child which has blessed me with a slick power assisted wheelchair. You should see it on a dance floor!

Because of my physical disability, I see the world a little bit different than most (and I don’t just mean everyone being taller than me!) I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on the fashion industry and advertising, and how advertising affects public perception of disability. I’ve been a vocal advocate of disabled people for the past few years, but I was also a college student for four years – a time where you go out, make all your mistakes, and then venture out into the world. My generation also witnessed the birth of apps like Tinder and Bumble.

So, today I want to tell you all about my experience of being a young physically disabled
person, the funny ways able-bodied people have affected my experience of sex and my body, and what I hope to see for the future of the emerging sexual liberation movement.

The misconceptions around physical disability and sex range from mundane to hilarious.

You find the latter a lot in online dating. Like most people my age, I decided to give Tinder a go when it first got popular. I made sure to use plenty of pictures of myself where my wheelchair was visible, and I had wheelchair puns in my bio. Let it be known now that I adore my body for what it is, and I’ve learned how best to use it. It’s surprising how many people on Tinder have a curiosity about having sex with a disabled person. I’ve had multiple people ask me if they can have sex with me IN my wheelchair which to me just sounds like a logistical nightmare – and looking to get injured. Someone else asked if they could turn my wheelchair into a sex swing; I wanted to let him try purely based on me wondering if it could be done. Others made cruder comments about what an ideal height I was at in my wheelchair, asking me if I was “still functional”. That is a sure-fire way to make sure I will not be having sex with you, ever.

My point is, my experience of disability has been fetishised when it comes to online dating; and yet, in wider society, disabled people aren’t seen as sexual beings. Take disabled bathrooms. I know people have sex in them, regularly. I see you sneaking out together, you aren’t slick. BUT, people would never expect to see a disabled person in that situation. I think if I left that bathroom with someone else in tow people would assume that I just needed a hand in there, that whoever I was with was “incredible for doing what you do”.

Little would they know it would be ME they were doing. It would be the perfect ruse, really. You also never find condom machines in disabled bathrooms. So, able bodied people appropriate disabled spaces to express their own sexuality but don’t expect disabled people to do the same. Society has sanitised and infantilised disabled people so much that people don’t know how to handle it when they express themselves sexually. When they put themselves in those spaces, when they demand to be equals in sexuality with able-bodied peers.

Part of embracing my body is learning every inch of it.

I grew up never seeing my body in magazines or on a runway. I grew up hating how parts of my body jutted out more than others. I hated all the evidence of medical procedures strewn across my body that you’d never see in editorials. It was always someone else’s body, whether it was a doctor or a physiotherapist, or even my parents. I never felt like I was in control of it. So, as I got older and I started working to tune in to my body, I decided it was time to invest in it. It was time to enjoy it and treat it kindly after all it had been put through. That meant doing what any responsible body owner would do when they want to treat themselves; I went sex toy shopping.

Sex toy shopping was… an interesting experience initially.

I didn’t really know what I was looking for, and I was embarrassed. I was 18 at the time I think when I wandered in to my first shop. It was a haven of lace and I think I fell in love with every bra set in there. The toys were down the back, and normally in these situations a staff member would come over and ask you what you’re looking for or something like that. My experience was a little different. The staff were looking between themselves, as if to debate whether to approach me. It was more like trying to figure out how you were gonna lure an escaped pet into the house. Eventually one came over and asked if there was anything they could do, but they were obviously uncertain; maybe even uncomfortable.

I ended up buying a small bullet vibrator which absolutely wasn’t gonna do anything for me, but I was so eager to leave that I just bought it and proverbially ran. I tried to not let it sully my experience because I think it’s important to be in tune with every part of your body and what it needs. It was a long time before I tried shopping in person again though, and my life has been a lot of online trial and error. Plus, shopping online isn’t ideal because I still live with my parents and they love opening my  post. I normally dread when I need to upgrade; thankfully I’m sorted for the moment.

It’s not just toy shopping that can be daunting either.

Trying on lingerie is quite hit and miss for wheelchair users like myself. A lot of dressing rooms aren’t equipped for disabled patrons, whether it be sizes or grab rails. The amount of times I’ve just had to try and ignore gaps in curtains or having my chair poking out of a dressing cubicle is unbelievable. I’ve learned not to be shy over the years, but that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with having a compromised shopping experience because people don’t expect variety in their dressing rooms. However, it’s not all bad!

Retailers seem to be catching up in terms of access; albeit in small doses. In larger retailers
you normally get one singular accessible dressing room… Heaven forbid there’s more
than one disabled person in your shop at any given time, right? Customer service has also
gotten vastly better in terms of lingerie shopping. My favourite experience is lingerie
powerhouse Victoria’s Secret. They recently open a 3-floor store in Dublin and let me tell
you, I’m convinced it is heaven on earth! The staff are incredibly professional and thoughtful, and it reminds me that attitudes towards disability and sexuality are changing. With more brands like Aerie lingerie using disabled models and disability being featured more within modelling through the likes of Aaron Philip and Jillian Mercado, disabled people are becoming more visible; but people’s attitudes still need to change, especially when it comes to sex.

Which brings me to my next point – What my trip to Amsterdam taught me about people’s attitudes towards sex.

I went to Amsterdam last year with one of my best friends. I was having a tough time in
college, she was getting divorced, it seemed like the perfect way to get both our minds off it. There are a lot of reasons people go to Amsterdam. Mine were more culture based – there were lots of museums and stuff I wanted to see – but that didn’t mean we weren’t going to also sample some of the more NSFW culture points.

Funnily enough when we were lost trying to find our hotel we ended up in the red-light district by accident. I think it’s a great testament for how normalised sex work is in Amsterdam, nobody was really paying attention apart from some stag parties. People were completely unbothered. Why would they be, I suppose. I for one found my friends reaction hilarious – she wanted to walk a little quicker because that wasn’t something she’d been around before. Traditional family and everything.

After two days in Amsterdam we decided our last night would be our ‘party night’ where we would go to a café and ramble down to see what trouble we could get into in the Red-Light District. It was surprisingly picturesque, and the neon really added to it. The paths were accessible too which made navigating around a little easier. However, that was where the access stopped. For those who were “window shopping” as I heard people referring to it, there was a step down into the rooms and they were quite tiny. So, if you were in Amsterdam with a physical disability looking for a good time, you were out of luck.

It was the same with the clubs. Some of them were up multiple stairs, or down multiple stairs. There was one that had steps at the front and the security said they were more than willing to help carry me in. I didn’t because of the financial barrier (it was 45 Euros for 8 shows if I remember correctly, and I was just completely smash broke). I just didn’t understand the logic of being inaccessible. This was one of the biggest draws Amsterdam had for tourism, and it was almost completely off limits to an entire demographic of people. It also wasn’t my wider experience of Amsterdam – everywhere else had been great and most places only had one step in, with some friendly local or random passerby more than happy to help you navigate it. It occurred to me that it was as much of a social barrier as it was an architectural one. They weren’t designed to be accessible because obviously it wasn’t expected that disabled people would be occupying those spaces. It wasn’t for them, essentially.

As a 22-year-old queer person who is also disabled, watching the sexual liberation movement take off has been a double-edged sword.

While I am obviously ecstatic to see more people be open about the need for representation and consent, I wish there was more of an emphasis on access for disabled people. I want to be able to access spaces that will allow me to be my most open self, where I can go and be myself without worrying I’m taking up too much space in my wheelchair. When we have diversity panels discussing sex, I want to see more disabled people present to discuss what sexual liberation means for them. It is important that we stop disassociating disabled people from conversations about sex; we have sex, and these spaces are ours too.

We could benefit from disability being seen clearly in lingerie advertising, not in a fetishising way but in an empowering way; acknowledge that disabled people want to, and have a right to, be sexy. Advertising and advocates alike need to catch up and recognize that diversity comes in all shapes, sizes and abilities. Sexual education needs to be more diverse to include disability, and it needs to be accessible to EVERYONE.

Viva la sexuality!

If you’re interested in keeping up with me, my twitter account is @Wheelie_Healthy and you can check out my (frequently inactive) blog. You can also follow our insta (@Wheelie_Happy) where you’ll find my previous work and my contact details if you want to get in touch for anything!