The Kinky Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

This is the first in a mini-series of posts where I explore the five love languages as they can relate to kink and BDSM. If you don’t know your main love language, take the quiz to find out! Most of us are a mix of several or all of them, but have one that comes out most strongly. The model is somewhat flawed (I think there are more than five languages – two additional ones of mine are co-creation and food, for example) but it’s a useful starting point for exploring how you like to give and receive love. I believe that a lot of problems with one person feeling unloved and unappreciated, in relationships where everyone is acting in good faith and doing their best, come down to a mismatch of love languages and not understanding each other’s.

A piece of paper saying "I love you" with a lipstick kiss, for a post on words of affirmation as a kinky love language

Words of Affirmation

People whose primary love language is words of affirmation like to be told they’re loved. They like to be told explicitly, out loud and in detail that they are valued by their partner(s.) People who understand love via words of affirmation do not ascribe to the adage that words are meaningless and only actions count. Don’t get me wrong though – your actions still need to back up your words!

How to show love to a submissive whose primary language is words of affirmation

Many submissives will tell you that the words “good girl,” “good boy” or similar will just make them melt in their Dominant’s arms. If you have a submissive who will do anything for these nuggets of praise, you might just have a sub whose love language is words of affirmation. Offer them genuinely as often as you can.

You can take it a step further, too. Mix in other compliments and words of praise. This can range from “I’m so proud of you” when they accomplish something, to “you look so hot kneeling for me like that” during a scene. Compliments – on their achievements, talents, character and looks – should be given freely. Remember to make sure everything you tell them is genuine and heartfelt. A person who speaks this language can tell when you’re just parroting the lines with no feeling behind them.

A submissive who needs words of affirmation is likely to need regular reassurance, too. They might need to hear that you love them, that you value them, and that they’re not too much or too needy. If you’re in a non-monogamous dynamic, they’re likely to need verbal reassurance sometimes when you’re spending time with others. Tell them explicitly how much they mean to you.

Don’t underestimate the power of written words, too! If you live apart, a “good morning beautiful/handsome” text could brighten their whole day. If you live together, a naughty or affectionate IM while they’re at work will make them smile and keep them thinking of you.

Writing tasks were also made for these submissives! Have them write down fantasies, write in a daily journal, or write down mantras to increase their confidence in themselves or the relationship. You could even set “lines” as a punishment if they misbehave! As with any punishment or protocol, make sure you negotiate fully.

How to love a Dominant whose primary love language is words of affirmation

People tend to forget that Dominants have emotional needs too! Like anyone else, D-types also have ways that they prefer to give and receive love. So if your Dom is into words of affirmation, how can you make sure they feel loved and appreciated consistently?

A Dominant who is into words of affirmation might love to hear lots of verbal feedback during and after play. You don’t have to go overboard or fake it, but a well-timed “mmm, that feels so good” or “this is making me so hard/wet” is likely to go over well. After play, general words of appreciation (“I needed that so much, thank you”) or specific compliments (“the way you handle the whip is so sexy”) are likely to make them glow. Again: whatever words you give, it’s important that they are genuine! Only say things you mean!

It’s amazing how often submissives don’t realise this or forget it, but: COMPLIMENT YOUR DOM! I often say “hey, nice ass” when I see Mr CK walking around naked. (Words isn’t really his language, but it is mine.) Tell him that shirt really suits him. Tell her the way she looks in those boots makes you go weak at the knees. Make sure they know you really appreciate their skills as a… whatever it is they’re good at. Tell them you love their laugh, their random acts of kindness, their devotion to their family. Just pick something and tell them how great they are!

However confident and stoic they seem, Doms can also feel insecure, jealous or wobbly. Regardless of your relationship structure – but especially if you’re non-monogamous – check in with your Dom regularly to see how they’re doing. Be prepared to offer any verbal reassurances they need. Ask them what they need you to remind them of, or pick it up from contextual clues, and tell them that thing. Let them be vulnerable with you and meet that vulnerability with words of love and support.

If your D-type sets you a writing task, take it on promptly and joyfully. Do the best you can with it. In fact, you might even suggest this to them if they haven’t thought of it!

Additional tips that are good for anyone

Don’t be afraid to remind your partner of your confidence, faith and pride in them. As someone who speaks the words of affirmation language, if I have a big interview, presentation or important meeting coming up at work I love nothing more than hearing “good luck, I know you’ll rock it!” from my partners. And if something they aim for doesn’t pan out, be there to pick their spirits up with loving reassurance that it doesn’t mean anything about their ability and that things will go better next time.

Sexting was made for relationships between people who communicate their love in words. Share a filthy fantasy, a sexy dream you had, or spinning an elaborate scene together over text or IM are all great ways to feel more connected… and to gain delicious new ideas of things to try together.

If you live apart (or even if you don’t!) then consider love-letters. These could be emails or actual, old-fashioned pen-and-paper letters. However you do it, they’ll give you something to look back on and cherish for years to come.

Say “I love you.” Seriously. Say it often. No-one who speaks the “words of affirmation” language will get tired of hearing it.

Do you speak “Words of Affirmation” as your love language? How do you like to give and receive love in your kinky relationship?

Do you want to support my work and help me to keep producing content like this? Join me on Patreon (I’m trying to get better about posting on there, I promise!) or just buy me a coffee.

[Wearable Review] Bondage Boutique Rainbow Leather Harness with Collar

Before I tell you about this lovely harness, I feel I should acknowledge that I haven’t blogged since 18th May (and that was a guest post!) and today is 6th July. This is by far the longest blogging break I’ve taken since I started, and I thank you all for bearing with me. I wasn’t sure, for a while, if I was going to come back at all.

My mental health took a serious downturn back in May for a number of reasons, and most of my energy has gone on my recovery. I took some time off work as a result for the first time. I’m not back to 100% yet, but I’m making progress and felt able to start writing again – albeit maybe a little more slowly for a while. With that out of the way, let’s dive in…

Happy Pride, friends!

A bunch of bright multicoloured roses for a review of a leather pride harness

Today is Pride in London. I am, sadly, not there. Aforementioned health issues, plus lack of spoons for travel and huge crowds, means I’ve sat this one out this year. However, in the spirit of celebrating a little bit at home, Pride day felt like the appropriate time to share my review of this rainbow-themed piece with you all.

Whether you’re celebrating in the Capital today or not, I hope you’ve all had a very happy Pride.

Boutique Bondage Gear…

Bondage Boutique is Lovehoney’s in-house range of kink and BDSM gear. With pieces ranging from cuffs to wax play candles, from nipple clamps to rope, they’re a great place to find affordable and entry-level kinky things. In honour of Pride season, they’ve recently added a line of rainbow themed items, one of which I was only too happy to try out!

Rainbows, Leather and Kink: A Few of My Favourite Things

The Bondage Boutique pride rainbow harness laid out on a white sheet

The Bondage Boutique Rainbow and Leather Harness with Collar is a really versatile kinky piece. It’s a unisex design, suitable for any type of body. The aesthetic is fairly androgynous, too, neither particularly femme or particularly masculine. You could totally femme or masc it up depending on what you wore it with!

Perhaps pair it with killer heels and cute stockings… or with some sexy as fuck leather trousers? Or even just throw it on over a t-shirt to add some public-safe queer joy to your Pride ensemble! I love the little rainbow panels, which give an otherwise fairly standard bondage piece a fun and playful edge.

The Bondage Boutique rainbow pride harness laid out on a white sheet

This harness also features two D-rings, one in the front centre of the collar and one in the front centre of the waist band. This means it’s practical for play as well as decorative. You could clip a leash to the collar, use the lower D-ring to tie off a crotch rope, or cuff your submissive’s hands to the harness to restrict their movement.

Materials & Care

This harness is made of real leather. For some this will be a huge advantage, and for others such as vegetarians or vegans it may be a serious downside. I personally love leather (even though I’m a vegetarian – yes, I know, I’m a hypocrite!) The softness, the smell and the undeniable associations of real leather all really do it for me. Leather is also exceptionally durable, and tends to get softer and more supple over time.

An anonymous white female bodied person wearing the Bondage Boutique pride harness and a black sports bra

The small rainbow panels are stitched over the leather. The fastenings are made of metal.

Care for this harness the way you would with any other leather item. Cleaning after every wear isn’t typically necessary, but clean it occasionally with a special product designed for leather – many leather enthusiasts recommend saddle soap. If it needs a bit of extra shine, use a little gentle leather polish plenty of time before you next want to wear it. (Or have your sub do so – a fun service play task, perhaps?) Store your harness unfastened and as flat as you can. Don’t store or transport it with anything that could scratch the leather.

Remember that leather is a porous material and will therefore absorb traces of sweat, your skin’s natural oils, and any other bodily fluids it comes into contact with – including blood and sexual fluids.

Harness Fit

This harness is adjustable in three places for a versatile and customisable fit. The adjustable parts are the collar, the waist belt, and the strap that runs down the centre of the chest.

A close up of the Bondage Boutique pride harness on an anonymous white female bodied person wearing a black sports bra

Lovehoney’s site conveniently lists the measurement ranges, so you can check this piece will fit you before buying. The collar fits a neck circumference of 13.5 – 18 inches, the waist belt ranges from 26 to 34 inches, and the connecting strap can be anything from 5.5 to 10 inches in length.

I currently have a 34 inch waist (UK size 14) and found this harness comfortable on the loosest setting. As a short person, I really appreciated being able to shorten the connecting strap too.

A close up of the collar of the Bondage Boutique rainbow harness on an anonymous white female bodied person in a black sports bra

Unfortunately, this harness does not currently come in a Plus Size version. Please consider making one, Lovehoney pals!

So do I recommend it?

I love this harness! It’s super cute, relatively comfy, and pretty affordable. I’m always recommending Bondage Boutique to kink newbies, but wherever you are on your journey, grab this piece if you want to add a little rainbow sparkle to your kinky life.

The Bondage Boutique Rainbow and Leather Harness with Collar retails for £39.99.

Thanks to Lovehoney for sending me this piece to review. All opinions are my own. Pictures are by me. This review contains affiliate links!

[Guest Blog] Broken Toys Are More Fun to Play With by Lilith Young

Today’s guest blog is from the fabulous Lilith Young. Lilith describes herself as a “30-something kinky lesbian switch” and blogs at Lilith Young Writes . I absolutely loved this piece and am delighted to be sharing it with you all today.

A woman with her hands tied above her head in cuffs, for a guest post by Lilth Young

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice on how to make kink safe for you. Do your own research. What is safe for me may not be safe for you.

This is my first time writing about how my disability affects my sex life. To be honest, it’s quite terrifying. But, in the end, all the good stuff is just that. Quite terrifying. Maybe that’s just one of the reasons I am into kink – I like the edge that comes with being scared. So in the words of Jenny Lawson, “Be bizarre. Be weird. Be proud of the uniquely beautiful way that you are broken.”

My name is Lilith and I am broken. I am a 30-something kinky lesbian switch, who makes awkward jokes when I am nervous, and I have EDS and POTS. To put it simply: my joints fall out of place and my heart rate often races until I pass out. Sorry fellas, it’s not you making my heart race – it’s my poor circulation. Ladies, on the other hand… well, that’s poor circulation too, but you do make me wet. So that counts for something, right?

That’s all nice, Lilith, but how does this affect kink? I mean, why am I even still reading this post? Perhaps your kink is women who ramble incessantly. In which case, hi! I’m Lilith, and you are?

For me, kink and disability all boils down to negotiation.  It is super important to explain anything that impacts your safety or your partner(s) safety. If someone seems unsure, can’t keep you safe, or dismisses what you are saying, don’t play together. You know the type. The guy that calls himself a master, but doesn’t know what he is talking about and casually dismisses your concerns. Cringe. Red Flag. Run Away! Or make an excuse to go the restroom and call your friend and sneak out a window. Whatever method is easiest for you.

It can feel impossible to say to someone, “Hey, I just met you and this is crazy, but play with me maybe and… I have lots of medical issues. No, wait, don’t run away – I have a cute butt. I swear.” In reality, a lot of people will not be intimidated by you expressing your needs clearly. In fact, many will appreciate it.

So, you caught the big fish and you found someone to play with. It’s not so hard to quickly get down to playing. Just make sure you discuss anything that can hurt you or others. That’s it. You do not need to share your life story.  Can you stand? Can you sit? Can I hang you upside down? Do you bleed easily?

One time I got one of my many spontaneous nose bleeds at a fashion show in Miami. Gushing. I was in the bathroom for thirty minutes trying to get it to stop, thinking, “Great, now everyone here thinks I am super into cocaine! And where is someone with blood kink when you need them?”

Be specific about your limits and give details. Such as, “I pass out easily. My primary partner knows the signs; listen to them when they call it and don’t freak out if it happens.”  

So what are some big things I personally negotiate

  1. I can’t stand for long periods of time. So don’t ask me to. Lots can be done from a stool or a bench or kneeling on the ground. Oh so much…
  2. I can’t be still either. So again, don’t ask me to. Five minutes of stillness and my joints start to sublax (that’s when they slide in and out of place on their own). I find watching it fun, in a creepy sort of way. But it does hurt (and not the kind of pain I am looking for), so I have to be able to adjust my position at all times. Fullstop. Someone who is super into protocol probably would not want to try to negotiate a night of high protocol with me, but guess what? I make a terrible slave in other ways as well. Literally terrible. The worst. They would never invite me back!
  3. You’re probably thinking: if you can’t sit still, I would tie you up. That is almost always what is said next. Sorry folks. That will just pull my joints all out of place. Plus, now I am still… and in undesired pain. How about you let me tie you up instead? That I can do. I once had a friend run their hand over my spine and my spine moved around in their fingers. I laughed. They freaked out.
  4. I have lots of extra safewords. There is so much debate on safewords – some people argue that a Dom should recognize the signs and know when to stop. Some people argue that you should never play without safewords.  I will not dive down that rabbit hole today. For me, I use colour safewords. This is something almost everyone has experience using and feels comfortable with. Since I need to be constantly checked in on, I like green, yellow, red for that. This way I can pause things with yellow to adjust as needed. “Yellow! I need to move my arm.” I also use purple when playing with long term partners. If something has triggered an anxiety or panic attack that’s unrelated to what we are doing, I will use “purple” to stop play. I wanted something that indicated that we had not crossed an agreed limit, but that something had gone wrong and I needed to stop. Those are deep conversations I don’t have with everyone. With someone casual, I will just red out. Goodness, I can’t unload all my baggage on casual play. And I don’t think I really should.

It took me a considerable amount of time to gain confidence in my play and life surrounding my health. It happened so slowly that I did not realize I had overcome a lot of my fears. Until one day, I started wearing my compression socks out in public, whether or not they made me look like an old lady with stockings on, and no matter how many people made comments on them.

“I’m not looking up your skirt, I’m – are you wearing stockings?” That was my boss. Because at that point, I knew I didn’t give a fuck how it looked to other people. I only cared about how it helped keep me from getting dizzy and blacking out.

So I don’t care if creating a long detailed negotiation is too much for some people. Those are not my people. I care about how I feel when I play.

Once you begin to accept yourself, a whole world opens up. You never know what may happen. I even found a pair of bondage cuffs that allowed enough movement for me, and I am pretty sure that moment is exactly the same feeling people get when they climb Mount Everest. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating. A little. What can I say? Kink is all about letting your imagination run wild.

So, jump in and start playing.

Thanks to Lilith for sharing her story so generously with us. Don’t forget to check out her blog and give her a follow on the Twitter!

Ten Things a Collar Can Mean (But Doesn’t Have To)

Mr CK and I recently had a discussion about collars – specifically, whether there was any context in which either of us using a collar in kink play with somebody else would ever be okay. (This is, and currently remains, one of my absolute bottom-line boundaries – seriously, that limit is so hard you could etch it on a diamond).

A black collar lying on a white bed, for a post about collars sponsored by Taboo Brighton

After a while of unproductive discussion, we realised we were talking past each other for a simple reason:

We both understood what we were talking about in completely different ways!

To him, a collar essentially means very little. He considers it a piece of equipment, no more inherently meaningful than a length of rope or a paddle – useful as a way to, say, move someone around or immobilise their hands by tying them to it, but that’s about as far as it goes.

To me, a collar means everything. I don’t do 24/7 D/s dynamics any more (for good reasons) but wearing a collar for someone is still a profound display of love, trust, vulnerability and – yes, even for a limited amount of time – giving myself to them completely. For me, my primary partner collaring someone else would be a betrayal akin to putting an engagement ring on someone else.

We were elightened by this realisation, but remain unable to completely reconcile our massively different views on this topic.

But it got me thinking about all the different things collars can mean, and not mean. A simple band of leather (or stainless steel, or faux leather, or whatever) can take on so many different significances. Here are some I thought of, though I am sure there are many more.

A lifetime commitment

This is perhaps the closest to the “a collar is an alternative to a wedding ring” school of thought, to which many kinksters ascribe. For people who feel this way, a collaring – whether with a formal ceremony or not – is as significant as a marriage. I very much felt this way when I was collared to my ex.

Permanent ownership

Not everyone who wears or gives a collar views it as a symbol of ownership or ascribes to an “owner/property” dynamic, but many people do. In this kind of permanent D/s relationship – which may also be romantic or not – the collar can serve as a symbol, marking the submissive out as property of the Dominant. Many people in these types of relationships will use collars that lock and cannot be removed without the key. (If you do this, please, please give your submissive a spare key in case of emergency!) Some even go as far as to get a body modification, such as a tattoo or piercing, in place of or as well as a more traditional collar.

Remember: ownership (of whatever kind) does not necessarily imply monogamy. Polyamory can absolutely be a part of a D/s dynamic.

Temporary ownership

This is perhaps closest to the way in which I think of collars these days. I do not wish to be permanently owned by anyone – but I find enormous comfort, meaning, and hotness in giving “ownership” over me to my partner for a limited amount of time (usually a scene, sometimes an afternoon or day, occasionally up to a weekend). In this type of non-24/7 D/s dynamic, the collar serves as a symbol of going into and then back out of that headspace. When it goes on, I am his property. When it comes off, I am me again.

Connection and closeness

I heard this one a lot from people in long-distance relationships when I threw this question out on Twitter. Wearing a collar can symbolise closeness and connection to your partner, and even a sense of being “with” them while apart.

Consideration or training

There’s a certain school of thought on collaring that has submissives wear a “training collar” or “collar of consideration” for a period of time before being formally taken on as a submissive (at which time they would receive a permanent collar). Many people who view collars in this way describe a collar of consideration as the D/s equivalent of an engagement ring, and the permanent collar as the wedding ring.

A way to get into a headspace

When Mr CK and I go to an event together where I’ll be in the submissive role, often one of the first things he’ll do on arrival is put my collar on me. Kneeling in front of him (or even standing with my head bowed and moving my hair out of the way) while he puts it on is an almost instant subspace trigger for me. This seems to be a pretty common experience – with the collar, you also “put on” a certain role or headspace. Similarly, a pet play enthusiast on Twitter told me that putting on their collar is how they quickly access their “pup” headspace.

Leave me alone, I’m taken!

When I was in a 24/7 D/s relationship, my partner rarely came to events with me. As such, I was usually attending with friends without a partner in tow. Often, I’d be the only person not visibly partnered in our group. So wearing my collar was an easy way to signal “not available!” It worked… sort of. I definitely got significantly less unwanted attention when wearing it (and yes, I did an experiment). Unfortunately, it also led to some comments implying that if he wasn’t physically with me, I was available for any random Dom who took a fancy to me.

Nothing, it’s a tool like any other!

This is the version Mr CK most closely ascribes to. In this schema, a collar is there for what it can do rather than what it means. For example, he’s had me wear an anal hook to an event and then fastened this with rope to the back of my collar. He’s also clipped my cuffed hands to the ring at the front of my collar to immobilise me. There are dozens of ways that a collar can simply be of practical use as part of a bigger scene.

Nothing, it’s just for decoration!

Collars look pretty! I have one that, though I adore it, doesn’t have any particular meaning as part of a relationship (it was given to me as a freebie to review). I sometimes wear it out and about, just because I think it looks pretty, complements my outfit, or subtly flags me as kinky. Which brings me on to…

Flagging kinky in public

“Flagging” originates from the “hanky code” of the 1970s US gay and bi male scene, where coloured handkerchiefs placed in certain positions indicated interest in various sexual practices. Thus, it refers to using outward symbols to subtly indicate your proclivities to other interested parties. There are any number of events where it’s safe to assume many of the participants will also be kinky, but not all of them will be. (Think gay and bisexual community events, goth clubs, geek/sci-fi events, Renaissance Fairs and so on). For me, wearing my collar signals that I am a kinkster and invites other kinksters to come and make friends.

Do you wear a collar, or does your partner? What does it mean to you? Comment below or tweet me – this topic is so fascinating to me in sheer variety alone.

The Taboo Brighton Logo

This post was sponsored by the good folks at Taboo Brighton. Taboo launched in 2003 and has established itself as a genre-defining Brighton retail experience, winner of the “Best Sex Shop in the UK” at the Erotic Trade Awards and once described in The Guardian as the “Dolce and Gabbana of Sex Shops”. It has also featured on many TV shows including C4’s Sugar Rush, The Sex Inspectors and the forthcoming documentary The Family Sex Shop Business. I love checking out Taboo whenever I make it down to Brighton, but you can browse and shop their whole extensive collection online. All views are, as always, my own. 

[Kink Product Review] Three Mini Reviews: Cuffs, Rope, Paddle

It’s no secret to my readers that I love small, independent, women-owned-and-run businesses, especially when they sell exclusively body-safe adult products. That’s why I am proud to be an affiliate of The Pleasure Garden Shop, a homegrown (pun intended) online feminist sex shop right here in the UK.

I must first apologise for the delay in getting these reviews out – my health (physical and mental) have taken a nosedive since the beginning of the year and Mr CK has been unwell too. As such I am woefully behind on testing and writing about everything! But no matter – we’re here now.

I was really excited when Francesca, owner of The Pleasure Garden (who I interviewed recently!) reached out and suggested a series of mini-reviews of kinky products that might appeal to people looking to explore BDSM for the first time, along with some handy tricks and tips on using them safely. This is the first of such a series – let’s take a look at what was in my very exciting parcel when it arrived…

Bound Noir Slim Wrist Cuffs

People who have seen me getting my sexy on will know that I kink super hard for leather. (Yes, I know, as a vegetarian this makes me a horrible hypocrite – don’t @ me!) Good quality leather also tends to be expensive, which is probably why I don’t own that much of it.

Bound Noir black leather cuffs

So the Bound Noir Slim Wrist Cuffs had me squeeing for joy! Not only are they super stylish, made of soft black leather with gold coloured metal accents, they’re also an absolute steal at £32.99. I’ve seen leather cuff sets go for £100+, but there’s no need to spend that much when these are so good! They come with a removable connecting chain with clips at either end, and each cuff has two D-rings – so lots of ways to fasten your sub to something (or to themselves) should you desire.

Bound Noir black wrist cuffs on anonymous hands

These cuffs feel super luxurious to wear. The leather is really soft and supple, and just gets softer with use as you break them in. I’ve worn them for well over an hour before, including in a session where my wrists were above my head. They remained comfortable the whole time. The gold accents give an elegant feel. The perfect accessory for any sexy outfit!

Bound Noir black wrist cuffs on anonymous female hands

They’re super adjustable. They have 5 notches, and there’s no reason you couldn’t get an extra one put in if you wanted to. (Take them to a professional leather worker, you could ruin them if you try it yourself!) The adjustability means they’ll work on most bodies. I have tiny wrists so I use them on the tightest setting. But I’ve also used them on people with much bigger hands/wrists than me with no problems at all.

Leather Wrist Cuffs Tips & Tricks…

Bound Noir black leather wrist cuffs on anonymous female hands
  • Experiment with different positions. Not everything will be comfy for everyone. Clip your partner’s hands together behind their back, hook their arms around the bedpost, tie their hands to something above their head.
  • Pair with a set of ankle cuffs and a 4-way hogtie for more complete immobilisation.
  • Cuffs should be loose enough that you can slip 1-2 fingers between the cuff and the skin, but tight enough so your partner cannot wiggle free. Experiment with different settings and check regularly. If there is any numbness, tingling or pins and needles in the hands, take the cuffs off IMMEDIATELY.
  • Never, EVER leave a bound person alone.
  • Store your cuffs flat, not fastened – the leather will degrade quicker if you store them closed.

Bound to Please Hemp Bondage Rope

Ask any rope bondage aficionado about their favourite type of rope, and you’ll get wildly different – but equally passionate – answers. We all have our favourites. I’ve always been a jute fan; I love the smell of it, the feel of it and the way it handles. But hemp is also a really popular choice. So I was delighted to try out this hemp bondage rope from Bound To Please.

Hemp rope coiled

This rope comes in 10 metre lengths and 5mm width. I believe this is the most ideal rope thickness for most bondage – any thicker and it starts looking bulkier and less elegant, any thinner and it starts to make ties more painful due to the way thinner ropes cut against the skin. (Not necessarily a bad thing if you like pain, but I don’t suggest tying with anything below 5mm until you’re experienced!) Each length costs £12.99.

“How much rope should I buy?” is always a question beginners ask me. It depends on a number of things, including types of ties and the size of the bottom. If you eventually want to move on to complex ties and suspensions, you’ll need more. If all you want to do is tie your partner to the bed for sex, you can get away with a couple of lengths. As a rough guide, for a TK (Takate Kote or Box Tie, the first formal harness tie most riggers learn) you’ll need 3 lengths and possibly 4 lengths for larger bodies. (If your partner is very petite, you might get away with 2.)

(I should just write a Big Guide to Choosing Rope, shouldn’t I? Okay, coming up…)

Anonymous leg tied in a futomomo with hemp rope

The thing I really love about natural fibre ropes, and especially hemp, is the smell. Hemp rope has this slightly undefinable sweet/woody smell and it’s gorgeous. I love tying in a room full of rope enthusiasts because the mix of natural fibres, bodies and sex in the air is just so intoxicating. Natural fibre ropes also get softer and smoother with use, as they are handled and absorb the natural oils from your skin.

Yes, I LOVE this rope!

Rope Tips & Tricks…

Close up of part of a futomomo in hemp rope on anonymous leg
  • Firstly and most importantly, always – ALWAYS – keep a cutting tool to hand. The safest and best tool is a pair of EMT shears, like this, which you can by for a few quid on Amazon or from a medical supplies store.
  • Suspension looks cool and is great fun, but it is NOT the be-all, end-all. It is also very dangerous if not done properly. Gain proficiency in floor-work before you even think about suspending, and then do it under the tuition of an experienced rigger. Bottoms, this applies to you too – don’t ask someone to suspend you when you’ve never even worn a basic chest harness before.
  • Rope is for everyone! No matter the size of your body or your ability level, you can do rope if you want to. Listen to your body and be prepared to adjust.
  • Get some lessons! Rope bondage is inherently risky, and can be dangerous if not done properly. If you’re really lucky, there might be a rope studio near you. Otherwise, see if there’s a Peer Rope event in your area (these are usually listed on Fetlife) or find a trusted private tutor.
  • Check out some instructional Youtube videos. Ask in your local community or on Fetlife for recommendations, as not all teachers are created equal.
  • Get a book, such as Shibari You Can Use or Showing You the Ropes.
  • Learn about the safe areas of the body to tie. This is a great and thorough guide to bondage safety.
  • Rope can be a scene in itself. “Tie them up and fuck them” is great if that’s your thing, but don’t discount the possibility of rope for the sake of rope. Some of my most amazing scenes have been rope and nothing else.
  • To keep your rope in the best condition, coil it and put it away as soon as you can after a session.
  • This is worth reiterating: NEVER leave a bound person alone!

Bound to Please Silicone Paddle

I’d never used a silicone paddle before, so the Bound To Please Silicone Paddle was an exciting new addition to my impact play collection. It measures 41cm long by 6cm wide and is nice and light to handle. Silicone is super easy to clean and sterilise (just chuck it in boiling water or use a body-safe medical wipe), and as it contains no animal derived materials is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

BLack silicone paddle

I tested this one out with The Artist. From what I recall, my reaction to it was a string of profanity, followed by tears (because it hurt so fucking much, y’all). Due to the density of the silicone and the slender design, what feels like a relatively light stroke to the Top can deliver a hell of a sting to the bottom.

This thing is fucking vicious.

SIlicone paddle

I absolutely adore this paddle. But I am an experienced bottom and have been doing impact play for well over a decade at this point. Unless you have a high pain tolerance and a very clear idea of your body’s capabilities and limits, I cannot recommend this paddle to a beginner.

A wide leather paddle or a paddle that is padded on one side are great options for a gentler start for complete beginners! If you’re feeling brave enough to try this fucker, it retails for a very affordable £24.99.

Paddle Tips & Tricks…

Black silicone paddle in anoymous hand
  • Start slowly. People can take more impact if you build up gradually rather than just whack them at full force straight away!
  • Remember that the goal isn’t “take as much as you possibly can”. The goal is for both of you to have fun and get something out of the session.
  • Get clear about what kind of scene you want and what impact play means to you. Playing with punishment is hot to some people, and emotionally painful for others. “Teacher spanking a naughty student” roleplay is a VERY different scene to “I’ve had a terrible week and need you to spank me until I cry“, even though both might superficially look similar.
  • Learn the safe areas of the body to hit. Upper back and butt = good. Thighs, chest and genitals = yes if you’re careful. Face, head, joins, spine, lower back and neck = absolutely not.
  • Making your partner count the strokes and/or ask you for them can be super hot. Try phrases like, “Thank you Sir/Miss, may I have another?”

Other recommendations for your beginner kit…

When you’re just starting out in kink, you don’t necessarily want to spend a fortune on kit – especially before you’ve fully worked out what you like! Exactly what you prioritise spending your money on will, of course, depend on your interests. But here’s a few things I think you should consider for your basic all-purpose kink kit…

Thank you to Francesca at The Pleasure Garden for sending me these items to review. Please check out the affiliate links in this post – by buying from The Pleasure Garden, you’ll be supporting a small woman-owned business as well as sending a little commission my way to help me keep doing what I’m doing. All views are, as always, my own.

[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

A woman in a purple top looking in a mirror and applying mascara. For a guest blog on body image by Violet Grey.

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.

What Sexual Happiness Means to Me

This week is Sexual Happiness Week! I think that’s a sentiment we can all get behind, no? (If not, why are you reading this blog?) My pals at Lovehoney asked me in an email “what does sexual happiness mean to you?” and, of course, it got me thinking.

A cock ring, a bottle of lube, a mini wand vibrator, a pot of orgasm balm and a bath bomb, all from Lovehoney. For a post on Sexual Happiness week.
Being a sex blogger is pretty great when you get presents like this!

My initial reaction was to give my working definition of sex positivity: “supporting the right of all consenting adults to have sex, or not, in whatever ways work best for them, free from stigma or shame”.

And while I stand by that, I think sexual happiness is something a little different. So I started making a list of some of the things that make up “sexual happiness” for me. It’s different for everyone, so your mileage may vary. Why not tell me in the comments what YOUR definition of sexual happiness is?

1. Feeling in harmony with my body

My body and I have… an uneasy relationship. We haven’t always been friends and honestly, we sometimes still aren’t. Feeling good about my body is something I am mostly struggling to access right now, but in order to experience sexual happiness I do at least need to feel comfortable – neutral, if you will – about it.

I can’t have good sex if all I can think about is how much I hate my stomach and how my thighs are too big. But I can get to a happy place sexually if I can turn off all that noise and, if I cannot love how my body looks, at least appreciate it for the things it can do and the sensations it can feel.

2. Having partners I can really trust

You cannot have really good sex without trust. This is something I firmly believe. For me, trust is more complex than just “you’ll do what you say you’re going to do”. Trust means that I know you’ll show up for me if I need you, outside of a purely sexual space. It means I can be vulnerable with you and know that you will hold space for that and not use it to harm me. It means I can rely on you to show up and keep your commitments to me, not because I force you to but because you want to.

My bar for ongoing sexual partners is now much higher. We might or might not fall in Capital L Love with one another, but if I don’t trust you, we have nothing – not even a casual something.

3. A frequency that works

I’m a very highly sexual person much of the time (duh, you all think as you read my sex blog). This means that, much of the time, I’d like to be having quite a lot of sex. Much as I joke about liking my sex like I like my coffee (“hot and several times a day,”) my actual ideal frequency for sex tends to fall around the 4 – 5 times a week mark, a little more when I’m not busy. (LOL, as if there’s ever a time I’m not busy.)

But the key to sexual happiness for me is a frequency of sex that works with where my life is at that time, and works for the relationship I have with that partner. Right now I probably have sex with The Artist about once a month, but that’s… most of the times we see each other. Whereas with Mr CK, it probably averages out to once or twice a week – but we live together and see each other every day unless one of us is away, so we have days when we’re together but don’t have sex much more often. The key to happiness is a frequency that works for everyone.

4. Exploration and new experiences

At my heart, I am a curious creature with a lust for new experiences and plenty of adventure. Sexually, this can mean a lot of things. New partners, yes – sexual variety is one of the reasons I practice consensual non-monogamy. But also trying a new kink act, a new toy (my job as a sex writer blesses me with the ability to do this frequently!), a new position, or a new sex party or club all fall under the umbrella of “variety”.

Basically I want to try shit out. Being with a person for a long period of time and keeping a sexual spark alive comes quite easily to me, as long as there are plenty of adventures to be shared.

5. Plenty of attention given to my pleasure

I nearly wrote “orgasms!” for this one, but, well… I have an orgasm denial fetish. So I’ve amended it to needing a partner to give plenty of attention to my pleasure, in whatever way that looks. It might mean making sure I come, of course. But it might also include teasing me in the way I like, or spanking me in just the right way, or honestly just regularly checking in to make sure I’m having fun and getting what I want out of the scene. Nothing will turn me off faster than a partner who treats me like a sex toy. (Unless that’s a specific roleplay we’ve negotiated… in which case I’m getting something out of it too, so the point still stands).

Today’s post is brought to you by Lovehoney’s Sexual Happiness Week. Check out the great deals on offer. If you buy through any of my affiliate links, I make a small commission.

Masturbation Monday Guest Blog: Date Night by Mr CK

Today’s Masturbation Monday is a very special guest post written by none other than…

(drumroll please)

…Mr CK! Yes, that’s right, after nearly two years of blogging I have finally persuaded my sweetheart to write some smut for you all. And he’s produced a fantasy kinky scene that I’m sure you’ll all agree is simply delicious. This piece came without a title so I’ve called it “Date Night” because, well, I think this sounds like my perfect date.

A woman's bottom, legs and hands. She is wearing black leather cuffs. For "Masturbation Monday - Date Night" by Mr CK

Date Night by Mr CK

On arrival, he tells you to remove your shoes and coat and then go upstairs and into the bedroom. There’s no hint of malice in the tone of his voice, but it’s also clear that it would be best for you to be an obedient sub and do as he says. That’s confirmed when he says those words as you walk into the bedroom, him two paces behind you. “Good girl.”

The bedroom is warm. Lying on the bed are various items, which he gives you time to look at; to sink into your consciousness. A spreader bar. Various leather cuffs. Some rope and safety shears. Two floggers (one large, one small). A leather paddle. A glass dildo and a large, mains-powered wand — the type that gives very deep and rumbly vibrations. You suspect this isn’t going to be a simple cuddle session!

“Remove all of your clothes except your knickers.” Again, the tone leaves little room for disobedience. Somewhat shyly and a little bit nervously, but also full of that kitty curiosity that you know he loves so much, you strip whilst he watches you; admiring your body.

One hand under your chin, he leans in to kiss you on your lips, the other hand removing your hair-tie and then tracing a single finger from the back of your head, all the way down your spine to your knicker-line. With a smile, he reaches onto the bed and picks up a pair of cuffs.

“Yes — I’m going to restrain you. And then tease you. A lot. I’m not going to touch your cunt at all; at least, not until I think you’ve pleaded enough for me to do so and then I will tease it, spank it and, if you’re very lucky, even give you an orgasm.”

Cuffs go onto your wrists and then onto your ankles. He leads you around the other side of the bed and stands you looking into the full-length mirror, him standing behind you. You watch as he explores your body with his hands, tracing the lines of the inked serpents decorating your curves, a mixture of gentle caresses, light scritches, heavier scratches and a whole bunch of surprise pinches and small slaps that make you catch your breath. He doesn’t touch your cunt. At all.

He turns you around and pushes you onto the bed, face down, cuffs clasped behind your back. The exploration continues. He’s clearly enjoying it — enjoying you — if the noises of delight he’s making at your reactions are anything to go by. More of the mixed-sensation touching, with harder spanks on your bum and thighs, some much harder. You feel his breath on your back, the sensation of his mouth and tongue kissing and licking you. Random bites setting your skin ablaze. And then a pause.

He reaches for something else from the bed. You’re not sure what as he has grasped handfuls of your hair and buried your face in the bed as he did so. Something solid on your back. Cool. The paddle. He uses it on your butt. Once. Gauging your response and asking what kind of pain level that was at. Adjusting, he strikes you again.

“I’m going to give you 8 of these. You’re going to count them, one by one. If you lose count, we start again. Understood?”

You say yes. He hears the trepidation in your voice. “It’s okay — you are a brave girl and you can take this for me. I will look after you.”

The first three strikes were no harder then the test strikes. But only the first three. Gradually, they get harder. He knows your tricks. As you clench your buttocks and try to get away from the paddle, he pulls your head back with the hair he still grasps, forcing your back to arch, making you more vulnerable. The continued strikes are not too hard that you are out of your depth, but hard enough that you are glad there are only 8 of them. You don’t lose count. You feel he must be pleased with you!

“You’re such a good and brave girl!” A calming hand on your back, gentle kisses on your neck. “Turn over — let me kiss your lips.” More kisses and a big hug.

“Now, I’m not finished with you, yet. You’re nowhere near to pleading for me to touch your cunt, so there’s much more teasing to be done!”

To be continued…

Editor’s note 09/03/19: Oops! Mr CK sent me the *earlier* edit of this by mistake. It has now been updated to the final version.

Do we want part two? I think we do!

This piece is shared as part of Masturbation Monday, a meme owned and run by Kayla Lords. Click here to see what everyone else is getting off to this week!

Image from Pixabay.

Interview: Porn Researcher Rosie Hodsdon

I was thrilled when Rosie Hodsdon reached out to volunteer to be an interview subject. I’ve known her through the UK kink scene for a while and she’s totally lovely as well as ridiculously smart. Here, we chat sex and relationships, academic porn research, and why the Digital Economy Bill sucks. 

A picture of Rosie Hodsdon, a white woman in her 20s with shoulder length brown hair. She is wearing a blue jacket and smiling at the camera. There are flowers in the background.

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I am currently working towards my PhD at Northumbria University, looking at the regulation of online pornography in the UK and how this affects the people who produce it. 

What made you want to get into porn research?

My research interests float around sexualities more broadly, and this stems from the failure that was my school’s sex education! I felt incredibly alienated from everything we were taught and had to find the information that I felt I needed out for myself, and was very lucky to be able to do this at a time when the internet made this a little easier! I knew that I never wanted people to feel as alienated as I did growing up, and wanted to be someone who helped others to learn about the range of sexualities out there in a safe and supportive way.

To me, porn forms just one part of that much wider sphere of things, and I have worked, or would love to work, on projects concerning kink, polyamory and sex work as well. [My work is] about dispelling misconceptions surrounding sexuality more broadly and wanting to work towards a society where these things are free from stigma and judgement. 

What’s your background and how did you break into this work?

Almost by accident, really! I did my first degree in Anthropology and Sociology and I knew as soon as I started that I wanted to focus on sexualities research. Towards the end of my undergraduate degree, I had a guest lecture on my Sociology of Gender and Sexuality module from Professor Clarissa Smith on extreme pornography, which I found fascinating. At the same time, the AVMS regulations had been passed, so pornography was at the forefront of my mind. However, the more I tried to read into academic research on the porn industry, the more I noticed that the voices of those who worked in the industry were rather absent, so when I got an email in my inbox asking for PhD proposals relating to law and sexuality, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. 

What’s the most challenging thing about your work?

There’s a few things that spring to mind, which all cover somewhat different aspects of what I do!

The first problem is somewhat inherent to academia, which is that I can’t ever really escape my work – I can’t go home at the end of a work day and forget about it, because it’s always going to be in my mind and if it’s in my mind, then I’m thinking on it and working!

The second is how frustrating it can be. There’s something very futile about trying to work for a better understanding of sexuality and sex work in a society where everything seems to be pushing back against it – everything from the Digital Economy Act to FOSTA/SESTA. Even in the few days that I’ve been working on this interview, Tumblr has announced its porn ban and Facebook has tightened their control over what language you can use.

The third is that the work itself can be pretty misunderstood and stigmatised. I’m very wary of saying so, because the stigma attached to this academic work really can’t be compared to the stigma attached to actually making porn, and I wouldn’t want to ignore that. But I have had a lot of judgement myself because of what I do, from strangers on the internet all the way to previous partners. Shout-out to my ex specifically, who told me that no one else would ever love me because of what I do. Look at me now, dickbag!

What about the most rewarding thing?

I get to meet some incredible people who are doing some fantastic work, both as producers and as activists. And sometimes I get to be considered amongst them as well! Feeling like I have the ability to change people’s viewpoints or give them a new perspective on things is both very powerful and very humbling, and I feel a huge responsibility with it, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. 

Who’s your favourite porn performer and why? What about your favourite production company? 

I have to pick just one? I’m not going to play by these rules! [Spoken like a true polyamorist! – Amy] There are some amazing performers who represent the industry in such a positive way, both in the US and the UK.

Stoya was the first person I encountered who combined porn with activism, and I’ve appreciated her work ever since. I’m also a huge fan of Pandora/Blake, who works tirelessly to support sexual freedom. Jiz Lee has done some amazing work, and their book, Coming Out Like a Porn Star, has been hugely influential to me in its approach to centering performer voices.

As for my favourite company, it has to be Crash Pad Series! It’s radical, queer, kinky, feminist-grounded porn which focuses on a fair production process and has the inimitable Shine Louise Houston at its helm, also fighting for new approaches to sexuality in society more broadly. And it’s hot. 

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the incoming age verification regulations to access online porn in the UK. What’s your take? 

Where do I start!? The whole thing is a tangled mess of clusterfuck. I could spend hours ranting about this, so I’ll do what I can to condense why the entire thing is a terrible idea. It’s time for some bullet points.

  • The rationale behind the law is to “protect children”, and this is based on fundamentally flawed evidence. The study which forms the basis of the legislation, carried out by the NSPCC, has since been discredited by 37 academics for poor methods and conclusions which stretched far beyond the scope of the study. This is no basis for legislation.
  • Furthermore, what are we protecting children from? Of course no one should have to see porn without wanting to, but this does not just apply to children. There is no evidence which proves that children are harmed en masse by watching pornography. In studies which have explored young people’s motivations for viewing such material, the overwhelming theme is that pornography allows them to explore their sexuality and learn about sex in a way that they otherwise do not have access to. Pornography should not be a substitute for sex education, and this can only be solved with a drastic overhaul of the SRE curriculum. Porn should form a part of this, but so should issues of queer identity, pleasure and safe sex practices. All of these are currently very much lacking in the UK (and in most other places!). 
  • The laws are also almost certainly going to have the least impact on young people, given that they are generally far more technologically literate than a lot of adults. Anyone, including young people, can just get around these restrictions through the use of a VPN.  On a practical level, it won’t work.
  • So what will it do? For the consumer, it will place their private personal information in the hands of companies who are not required to enforce stringent protections of this data. As much as I would like to live in a world where people are not shamed for their sexual desires and preferences, this is not currently the case. We can see in countless examples how information about people’s non-normative sexual preferences has had major real-world consequences, such as losing their jobs or custody of their children. A database which stores information about what porn people watch? Hackers are going to have a field day.
  • Finally – given that this is where my research lies! – it’s going to decimate the porn industry. The financial impact is likely to be significant, particularly for smaller companies with more niche audiences, who are likely to struggle to implement AV systems from an economic standpoint. These are often the studios which produce explicitly ethical, feminist, queer, kink pornography so to lose these would make the industry even more homogeneous and less diverse. There’s also the emotional impact of the regulations to consider – people are fearing for their jobs and businesses. The government is telling people that their work is actively harmful for society. Their own sexualities are being delegitimised. And when you consider further that people with a significant background in porn may well find it harder to find “square” work due to the stigma attached to sex work more broadly, people are very worried about their future. 

Ultimately, the AV laws are like trying to fill in the Gran Canyon with a bucket and spade. I’m going to actually be rather lazy here and take a quote from my own response from the BBFC consultation of which I am rather proud:

Age verification seems to be merely an ineffective, unsubstantiated patch-up for a much wider social issue with regards to how we inform young people about sex and our wider sexual culture– including pornography. Young people are desperate for accurate, inclusive, informed sex education, which produces greater positive outcomes for their sexual, emotional and relationship wellbeing. Focusing on age verification serves to mask that problem rather than confront it, and may instead be detrimental to the development of sexual knowledge if not supported by compulsory and comprehensive sex education. This would be a much more effective use of government resources.”

They rest on fundamentally-flawed foundations of research and are likely to cause a significant amount of social harm.

What’s something that people always misunderstand about your work?

People think that I sit around just watching porn all day. They’re not wrong, but I then have to write about it afterwards. People seem to find that part much less sexy. 

What do you really wish everyone understood about pornography?

Ooh, this is a really interesting one! There’s a lot I could say here, so I’ll break it down into some more bullet points:

  • That (most) porn costs money to make, and all of it takes work. Pay for your damn porn. Or, at least, access it for free only directly from creators, not through any pirated means.
  • That porn performers (and producers) are human! There’s a narrative in anti-porn discourse which tends to paint performers particularly as being nothing more than vapid, blow-up fuckdolls, which not only removes their agency and autonomy, but also reduces them to their having sex. We live in an age now where it’s easier than ever to move past this image – we have performers doing some amazing activist work or simply engaging with their fans on social media, and the image that persists of people, particularly women, in porn as being either a mindless set of holes or an exploited victim, denies them their personhood,
  • That it’s not a public health danger. There is no research out there which proves that porn is inherently harmful, and while I would never want to belittle any individual issues that pornography has caused (because yes, people can have issues with it and people who do need appropriate support), it does not do this on a large scale.
  • That pornography can be massively positive. Emerging research is starting to show that porn isn’t just used by consumers to get off, though that’s part of it too. It’s a way to explore their sexuality and identity, a way to connect with others (if you’ve never shared the Lemon Stealing Whores introduction with your friends, I recommend it), an education resource, a method of stress relief, and much more. 
  • Finally, that it’s okay not to like pornography! Whether that’s a particular type or the genre as a whole – as much as I’m positive about what pornography is, what it can do and who makes it, I don’t expect everyone to like it. All I want is for it to be respected as a form of labour and as a creative product, and for the freedom of others to be able to access it and make it should they choose to. 

Who inspires you personally and professionally?

On a professional level, there are so many people I want to name here! First of all, I have to note the amazing things that my participants have shared with me over the course of my research, and their openness and trust with me is massively motivating.

Secondly, my PhD supervisory team – Chris Ashford, Tony Ward and Laura Graham – who continue to blow my mind and push me to succeed, even when I want to give up, and whose research has paved the way for someone like me to do something like this.

Thirdly, the tireless activism of Pandora/Blake and Myles Jackman. I’m so in awe of the both of them that even now, having met both multiple times, they still scare me slightly!

Fourth (and finally, for this part of the question), the awesome communities that my research has allowed me to become immersed in – academics, sex work activists, porn producers and creators – who are all doing such amazing things themselves!

On a personal level, I am very lucky to be surrounded by some incredible people. My partner, Lewis; my boyfriend, Willtom; and my girlfriend, Tiggy, have all provided me with invaluable support and happiness. They push me to keep going even when I just want to throw my thesis in a fire! (They’re also hella cute). I also have an amazing family, who have dealt with trying to explain my PhD topic to far too many people! I hate feeling like I’m “lucky” to have their support, because it should be a given. But I know that that’s not always the case and that I am grateful that they’ve not disowned me yet. And I can’t not also mention the lovely people of the Durham, Leeds and Reading kink scenes, who are unfailingly wonderful and who have also supported me along the way. 

Who’s your favourite sex educator and why?

So much of my inspiration to enter sexualities education (in a sense) myself came from Scarleteen, so I’d like to say their entire website! Also, my entire Twitter feed has been improved since introducing Alix Fox into its mix. She combines some spectacular puns with activism and awareness work, and I’m always impressed by her willingness to reach out and continue learning from others. [We love Alex here at C&K! – Amy]

What’s something you used to believe – about sex, relationships or porn – that you don’t believe any more?

I feel like there’s a tendency to put romantic love on a pedestal, and as has probably been demonstrated in this interview, there are so many other forms of relationships that can be just as wonderful, supportive and fulfilling.

And just for fun because it is “Coffee & Kink” – do you like coffee? How do you take it?

…I don’t. Unless *insert enema joke here*? 

(Please don’t hate me!)

Thank you so much to Rosie for her time and for the awesome work she’s doing, which will undoubtedly benefit all of us – when porn and sex work are destigmatised, all of us gain greater sexual freedom. You can keep up with Rosie via her Twitter, and as ever if YOU are doing something awesome in the field of sex or relationships and would like to be featured on the blog, hit me up.


Camming, Sex Journalism and More! with S. Nicole Lane

I’ve been chatting to some awesome folks lately, guys. I put a call out for interesting people doing awesome work around sexuality who would be willing to talk to me. And oh my you guys delivered! Today I’m chatting with journalist, artist, former sex workier and awesome advocate S. Nicole Lane. I’ve recently discovered her work and I am in love with her writing – check some of it out, I’m sure you’ll love it too.

A headshot of S Nicole Lane

Tell us a little bit about you and the work you do?

I have my hands in many projects. I’m a journalist based in Chicago where I cover a multitude of topics: the LGBTQ voice, women-owned businesses, health in relation to women and non-binary people, the healthcare system, visual art, and my favorite topic – sex.

I’m also a visual artist and create pieces made of latex, found objects, and video. Most of my work stems from my relationship to my body and imagining a queer future. The pieces are familiar but foreign, as they do not resemble in specific part of the body but hint at a commonality. My video work is very sexual, typically working with images and audio that I recorded during my time as a sex worker. Both my writing and visual practice are tied together in such a way that themes and symbols definitely cross over.

What made you want to start writing about sex?

I had a Xanga all through high school where I would embarrassingly describe my relationships and intimate moments. At sixteen, I knew nothing about sex or love. I was just a huge romantic who listened to way too much music. I wanted so badly to be Anais Nin, whose book I picked up my first year in High School. She changed my life. I would write religiously, every day. It became an obsession. I also publicized this blog for everyone to read it – I had nothing to hide and have always been a proud and confident person.

I stopped writing compulsively for about five years until I moved to Chicago where I was struggling with vaginismus—an involuntary muscle spasm that results in painful sex. After being frustrated that zero doctors could diagnose me and there was no easily accessible literature about it online, I decided to begin writing about it myself. My first piece was published on Bustle and my second on The Establishment which sparked my writing career in sexuality.

Before this, I was writing art exhibition reviews (I studied art, specifically photography) but the language was dry and repetitive. Writing about sex, kinks, so-called “taboos” allowed me to reach out to people who were struggling like I was during that time. Now I cover a range of sexual topics and celebrate kinksters around the globe. My beginnings as a angsty teenage nymphomaniac have transformed into a fruitful and very rewarding career.

You mentioned that you used to be a sex worker. Could you tell us a little about how that experience was for you and, if you’re comfortable doing so, why you decided to exit that line of work?

I was a cam girl for almost two years where I also created private videos and sold materials to men online. Camming is so exciting and I still miss it sometimes! I am also a trained dancer so for me, camming was just getting up and dancing for an invisible audience, while making money and losing a little bit of clothing along the way. Freelance writing comes with obstacles and some months. Before really getting into a regular work routine, I would find myself extremely worried about money. I was writing an article on camming for a publication and decided to give it a try.

At first, I was simply “researching” for the piece but soon, I was putting in a full six hours a day or night. Yes, camming is exciting, powerful, and feminist, but I did have my moments of exhuastion. It’s a full time job—viewers messaging you, sending you images, demanding attention. Moreover, moving your body, talking, and performing for hours is a type of tired that I had never experienced before. My body physical hurt after a session. But it was always my choice to turn off my camera, always my choice to shut down my site.

I also talked to my viewers about sexual health. I’d quiz them on topics like HPV or other STIs. I would talk to them realistically. No, I didn’t like deep throating. I wasn’t going to pretend for some extra money. Of course this lost me viewers, but my viewers who stayed were very dedicated. I miss them sometimes.

I decided to exit camming once my writing was more steady. At the end of the day, writing is what I wanted to be spending my time doing.

What is the most challenging thing about writing about writing about sex for a living?

It can be really fucked up! By that I mean that it can make you really horny while your partner is at work, or when they aren’t in the mood, and you’re simply consumed with thoughts of sex positions, dildos, and cunnilingus. Another challenge is coming up with new, exciting topics. I don’t want to write another piece that describes the same tips to giving the best blowjob. Of course, those articles helped the hell out of me when I was young. But I’m not personally rewarded by writing those (plus I think they can be done better). Moreover, many publications reject my pitches because they are too “niche” for their audience—specific kinks or fetishes are still stigmatized.

What about the most rewarding thing?

The most rewarding thing about writing in general is relaying information and connecting to such a vast group of people all over the world. My inbox is always filled with email of people wanting to talk to me about certain health concerns or thanking me for writing a piece.

On the topic of vaginismus, a serious sexual health concern, most doctors dismiss the patient’s pain. I had several doctors tell me it was “all in my head”. This morning I opened up my email to find that someone had written me saying that she felt all alone, secluded in her pain until she read my piece.

As for my more kink-oriented and sexy pieces, those are rewarding because I find joy in eradicating taboos and stereotypes, especially while living in America under our current administration. I couldn’t have asked for a better profession.

What’s something that people always misunderstand about your work?

People always assume it’s just reduced to listicles describing the 10 best ways to achieve an orgasm. I research constantly, I read all of the time, and I put a lot of effort into every single one of my articles. I have to absorb information at a fast pace in order to accurately deliver a piece.

What’s something you’d really love to write on but haven’t yet?

I would really love to have a regular sex advice column for a platform. I feel like many of the sex advisors are very vanilla misogynists who don’t pay attention to non binary and trans people. So I would love to have a weekly column where I focus on all bodies.

What’s your dream byline?

Two years ago I said that once I’m published in Playboy, I’ll personally feel like I’ve made it in my writing career. Last year I wrote a piece on anal sex and now I write regularly for Playboy about art and occasional sex topics! Of course, I’m still not satisfied with my portfolio and hope get published on smaller platforms like Mel Magazine and Jezebel… and, eventually, The New York Times!

What’s your favourite piece that you’ve ever written and why?

Oh this is so hard! I love writing for Healthline, the editors are incredible and supportive. I did a huge piece where I talked to a collection of queer, trans, polyamorous, non binary, and heterosexual people and how sex can change in their decade in September. And then my favorite sex toy piece is on Broadly where I experimented with electro-play.

Who inspires you personally and professionally?

I look up to various writers, especially Abby Norman who wrote an incredible book called “Ask Me About My Uterus”. All of the brave people in the Healing From LEEP/LLETZ Facebook Group inspire me. The MedTruth community. I also look up to my close friends and partner for inspiration.

What essay, article or book about sex do you really wish you’d written?

In 2015, the Establishment published an incredible piece by Katie Tandy which left me slack jawed called “The Dirty Politics of Period Sex.” It’s a love letter to period sex and it’s incredible.

And just for fun because it is “Coffee and Kink” – do you like coffee? How do you take it?

This is funny because I was a five cup a day drinker my entire life. My mom always said, “Don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like coffee or Nutella”. But after researching how coffee can affect me hormonally (acne, issues with my period), I decided to cut it out which resulted in the worst withdrawals I’ve ever experience. My acne didn’t improve and my period sort of returned, though not fully. I’ve been drinking tea for a year but recently—because I can’t resist the smell or comfort—have been cheating and having a cup of coffee every other day. And of course, I take it black.

Thanks to Nicole for her time! Check out her awesome writing and give her a follow on the Twitter and the Insta.