What is Consent? 10 Fundamentals Everyone Needs to Understand

Most of us think we know what consent is. But when you start to look at it more closely, the “what is consent?” question becomes murkier and far more complex.

Today I want to share ten basic but essential fundamentals that I wish everybody understood.

Content note: this one contains discussion of sexual violence and a reference to murder.

It’s not just about sex

Consent is vital when it comes to sex, of course. But if we only apply consent to sex, we’re missing out a whole bunch of really vital steps.

Instead, I’d like us to conceptualise consent as something we apply in all areas of our lives. If your child doesn’t want to hug or kiss a relative, don’t make them. When your partner tells you they HATE being tickled, don’t take it as a challenge. If your friend has decided to quit alcohol, don’t push them to drink. And so on and so on.

If we normalise respecting people’s choices and autonomy in all areas of life, it becomes easier to normalise informed consent as a minimum standard for sex.

It’s contextual

Consent to something in one context doesn’t imply consent to it in another. I might love my partner casually grabbing my ass in the kitchen while we’re cooking dinner. It doesn’t mean I want them to do it when I’m on a work call!

Never assume that consent in Context A implies consent in Context B. Always ask if you’re not sure.

It’s not transferable

Consent is inherently person-specific. In other words, consenting to something with one person doesn’t mean you’ll agree to it with someone else. This one should really be self-evident. Unfortunately, in a world where prior consensual sexual activity with someone else is still widely used to discredit survivors of sexual violence, it still needs reiterating.

It’s reversible

Consent is not meaningful if it cannot be revoked. In other words, all parties must be able to stop the activity at any point. That might mean ending an interaction, changing up the activity, or even walking away from a relationship entirely.

I don’t care if you’re the most Twue Real D/s Couple that ever existed. Consent is never, ever, ever irreversible. If it can’t be revoked, you don’t have a relationship, you have a hostage situation.

It must be informed

Consent without all pertinent information isn’t really consent.

Years ago, a friend of mine agreed to engage in a knife play scene with a Dominant who said they had years of experience. My friend found out later that the person had lied – they had hardly any experience at all. This rendered the consent she’d given meaningless, because it was given under false pretences.

In other words, lying or deliberately omitting information in order to obtain someone’s consent makes it meaningless.

It’s specific

Consent to Activity A doesn’t imply consent to Activity B. If I’ve consented to kiss you, that doesn’t mean you can stick your hand down my pants without asking. If I say you can tie me up, that doesn’t mean you also get to spank me unless I say you can. And so on.

Never assume that someone is up for something based on their having consented to something different. If there’s any doubt, ask or check in.

It’s about much more than just “not saying no”

Sadly, I still hear “but she/he/they didn’t say no” as a defence when consent has been violated. Here’s the thing: consent is about much more than just the absence of a “no”.

Is the other person actively engaged in what you’re doing together? Are they responding positively? If not, pause and check in. If they shrug, say something non-committal, or otherwise seem uncomfortable, stop.

It’s everyone’s responsibility

As I wrote about in this week’s Coffee Date, sex education is too often based on a “boys push, girls say no” model. But this is a gross over-simplification of what consent is and how it works.

Bottom line? It’s everyone’s responsibility. Never make assumptions about what someone might be “up for” based on their gender or any other characteristic.

It has limits

As a general rule, I’m a proponent of allowing informed, consenting adults to make the best decisions for themselves. However, this principle has its limits. Following the murder of Grace Millane, the UK outlawed use of the so-called “rough sex defence” in murder trials.

Here’s a great article from my friend Franki Cookney on why the rough sex defence is an antithesis to what consensual kink is all about. The bottom line? Fun, consensual kink play doesn’t cause serious harm. People cannot consent to GBH or death.

You’ll mess it up sometimes

This is the hardest one to swallow, and yet the most essential. We are, all of us, human and imperfect. I’ve made consent mistakes in the past, and I’m sure you have too.

Here’s the thing: making a mistake or fucking up in good faith doesn’t make you a garbage person. It makes you human. Apologise, change your behaviour, and learn from the incident so you don’t cause the same harm again.

What we can do is to do our best in all circumstances. This way, when we make a mistake it’s likely to be relatively minor, rather than an enormous violation that will cause someone else untold damage.

Consent is complicated!

What do you wish someone had taught you about consent?

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This post is part of my Sex Ed September series, where I’ll be sharing educational content all month long. If you find my work valuable, buying me a coffee help keeps the lights on at C&K HQ.

6 Important Things to Consider When You Choose Your First Sex Toy

If there’s one question I wish people would stop asking me, it’s “what’s the best sex toy?” I understand the reasoning behind this question, of course. When someone’s trying to choose their first sex toy, the options can be overwhelming.

Problem is, it’s the wrong question. Because the best sex toy for me won’t be the best toy for you!

To that end, here’s a quick guide to some of the important factors you should consider when you go toy shopping.

Choosing Your First Sex Toy

Buying a sex toy for the first time can be thrilling and nervewracking in equal measure. If you’ve never bought one before, how do you know if you’ll like something or not?

Unfortunately, there are no foolproof ways. But asking yourself these questions will help.

What kind of stimulation do you like?

Even if you’ve never used a toy before, you might have some idea of what kinds of stimulation you enjoy during partnered or solo sex.

Do you like intense clitoral stimulation? If so, a wand might do it for you. Do you like your sensations very pinpoint, very broad, or somewhere in between? Do you like deep penetration or shallow? Are you into length, girth, or both? And so on.

Use what you already know about your body to guide your choice.

What body part(s) do you want to use it on?

Most toys are designed with specific body parts in mind, but many can also be repurposed and used in different ways. Still, knowing which part(s) you’d like to stimulate will help you make a good choice.

Are you looking for internal (vaginal) stimulation, clitoral, or both? At the same time or separately? Do you want something to use on your penis? How do you feel about anal play? And so on.

If you’re not sure, choose a versatile toy. Many vibrators can be used both internally and externally. Dildos with a flared base are anal-safe as well as vaginal-safe.

What kind of play will it be used for?

I think you all know by now how I feel about the concept of “sex toys for couples”. (There’s no such thing! Anything is a couples’ toy if you use it with your partner!)

However, the kind of play you’ll use your toys for will have some bearing on what you choose. I absolutely love my wands. But I rarely use them during penetrative sex, because they’re just so hefty and it’s hard to fit them between bodies. If I want clitoral stimulation during vaginal or anal sex, I’m more likely to reach for my favourite bullet.

You might choose something different if you’re after a toy for solo play versus something to use with your partner. Again, you might not – but bear this in mind.

A selection of drawings of sex toys, for a post on choosing your first sex toy
Original artwork for Coffee & Kink by Charlotte Willcox

Where and when will you be using it?

Do you have children or roommates at home who you’re worried about disturbing? Does your house have thin walls? Discretion matters a great deal to some people, and not at all to others. Consider your living situation and privacy needs when you select a toy.

Do you like to masturbate in the bath or shower? If so, choose a waterproof toy. Will you be wanting to take your toy with you when you travel? In that case, something smaller or portable is a good bet. Do you regularly play in places like sex clubs where there might not be easy access to a power outlet? If so, rechargeable or battery powered is probably better than mains-powered.

What’s your budget?

This is the first question I ask people when they ask me for a sex toy recommendation, because toys vary wildly in price.

Fortunately, you can get good quality toys on a budget. So don’t let anyone tell you that you have to settle for unsafe crap if you can’t afford to drop three figures on a sex toy! This is simply not true and there are loads of manufacturers making awesome products that won’t break the bank.

Have a maximum budget, or at least a range, in mind before you go shopping.

Do aesthetics matter to you?

Some people have strong aesthetic preferences for their toys. For example, some are super turned on by a hyper-realistic dildo, while others find it offputting. Some like their toys in bright, vibrant colours. Some hate pink. Cuteness is appealing to some and cringy to others. And so on.

Do you have strong feelings on how you’d like your toy to look? You might not, and that’s okay! But if you do, pay attention to what you feel drawn to.

What next?

It’s literally impossible to recommend someone a sex toy without knowing quite a lot about their needs and preferences. The best advice I can give you is to do your research, read reviews, and get to know your body.

Then experiment and have fun!

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This post is part of my Sex Ed September series, where I’ll be sharing educational content all month long. Post contains affiliate links. All views, as always, are my own. If you find my work valuable, buying me a coffee help keeps the lights on at C&K HQ.

Five Ways Not to Invent a Sex Toy

So you want to invent a sex toy? Awesome! The world always has room for people doing cool new things in the adult industry.

But there are a few common pitfalls that people often fall into when they decide they want to do this. Avoid these simple mistakes and you’ll be off to a good start.

Don’t plunge straight in without knowing the first thing about materials and safety

Here’s a hint: if someone tells you that you shouldn’t be making your toy out of jelly, rubber, PVC, or another toxic material, and you have to ask why… you are not ready to invent a sex toy.

Do your research on safe materials before you even start thinking about bringing a pleasure product to market.

Don’t rip off other people’s ideas

You would think this would go without saying. Unfortunately, even some of the biggest players in the industry do this.

Obviously there are only so many variations on things to put on your genitals and there will be crossover in some places, but if you’ve straight-up ripped off another company’s product, we will notice. And we will not be happy.

Don’t claim that your product is revolutionary if it isn’t

You haven’t invented the First True Clitoral Stimulator Ever. The concept of a dildo is not new. Many people before you have created Things To Stick Your Penis In For Pleasure. Your toy doesn’t have to be earth-shatteringly original to be good (and many gimmicky ideas kinda suck in practice.)

Unless you’re doing something really, truly groundbreaking, don’t say that you are. We can see through it. And it makes us not trust you.

Don’t try to make a toy that mimics partnered sex (or claim that it does.)

Your toy does not feel like cunnilingus. Stop claiming that it does. We’ve heard it all before and it pisses us off.

Toys feel like toys, not like perfect replicas of partners. And that’s a good thing.

Don’t crowdfund something you can’t actually make

Okay, so you’ve had this awesome idea. Can you actually make it? Don’t start crowdfunding for something until you know exactly how you can actually make it. Where will you source the materials? How much will they cost? Where will it be made, and by whom? How much is the labour going to cost? What about distribution?

And just because you can make one prototype in your garage doesn’t mean you can mass produce it. Make sure your product is feasible on a large scale before you start asking people to pony up cash based on a neat idea.

Have you ever been tempted to invent a sex toy? I’d love to hear your ideas, no matter how wild and wacky!

If you enjoy my work, I’d love you to buy me a coffee to help me keep doing what I’m doing!

Five Ways to Mix Up Your Masturbation Routine

If, like me, you masturbate regularly, you might sometimes feel like your masturbation routine is getting a bit stale. That just means it’s time to change things up! The good news that there are loads of things you can do to keep your solo sex time interesting.

Try some of these suggestions…

Experiment with different kinds of touch

Do you always touch yourself in much the same way? Try experimenting with touching yourself in different places, in different ways, and at different speeds and levels of pressure.

Don’t just go straight for your genitals. Try touching your nipples, inner thighs, stomach, arms or anywhere else that feels good.

Take your time, and pay attention to your body’s authentic responses.

Read some new erotica or watch some new porn

No judgement if you always gravitate to the same scene or the same story to get yourself off! But trying out some new erotic stimulus can be a great way to keep yourself out of a masturbation rut.

Try joining a feminist porn site or checking out some new sexy erotica. Keep an open mind and you might be surprised what turns you on!

Treat yourself to a new sex toy

Do you always masturbate with your hands or with the same toy? If you can, treat yourself to a new toy that intrigues you. Sex toys are one of the best ways to experience a world of different sensations all by yourself.

Try a powerful wand, a rumbly bullet, a silicone stroker or a prostate massager… or whatever most takes your fancy!

Try a new lube

If you’re not already using lube for your masturbation, give it a go! Lube isn’t just for partnered sex and it isn’t just for people who struggle with dryness. Lube keeps everything slippery wet and friction-free, making for a more fun and pleasurable experience. It can also add different sensations, keeping your masturbation routine varied.

I recommend a high quality water-based lube for beginners, but you can also experiment with silicone lube (don’t use this with silicone toys), oil lube (not latex barrier compatible), or warming and tingling lubes.

Have phone or cyber sex

If you have a lover you don’t live with, this one is easy. But if you’re single and feeling brave, there are chat sites, cam sites and phone sex lines you can use to enjoy sexy chat with another person while you get yourself off.

Remember: tip well if you’re using a paid site, and never give out any personally identifying details!

What have you done to mix up your masturbation routine?

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The Masturbation Monday meme is run by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone else is getting off to this week, and please buy me a coffee if you find my work useful! Plus don’t forget it’s #MasturbationMonth and I’m working with Lovehoney to bring you sexy content all month long.

Easter Sex Toys (and their Chocolate Pairings)

Just for a bit of fun, I thought I’d bring you all an Easter Sunday round-up of appropriately seasonal sex toys and some recommended chocolate pairings to go with them.

Share your own in the comments!

The Come Hither Rabbit

The only Easter Bunny you’ll ever need, this is simply the best rabbit style vibrator I have ever used!

Pair it with… a timeless classic, such as Cadbury Dairy Milk.

Buy it.

Lovehoney Happy Rabbit

Does anything say Easter more than happy rabbits? This whole range is super cute and well designed, but I’m all about the Thrusting Rabbit.

Pair it with… something fun and playful. A friend on Twitter suggests Galaxy Cookie Crumble.

Buy it.

Mantric Love-Egg

This one was recommended to me by one of my lovely vegan followers. It’s a waterproof and body-safe insertable egg vibrator which is rechargeable and comes in eco-friendly, recyclable packaging.

Pair it with… some tasty vegan chocolate! My friend recommends NoMo.

Buy it.

Tenga Eggs

Tenga Eggs are affordable, single-use (or few uses, if you’re careful) masturbators, great for penis owners looking to spice up their solo or partnered playtime.

Pair it with… what else? A Creme Egg! The ultimate Easter one-bite treat.

Buy it.

Lovehoney Desire App-Controlled Love-Egg

For those who enjoy a taste of luxury, this swish and swanky app-controlled egg vibe is a lovely Easter treat! It’s also suitable for long distance use, for those of you who are not able to spend Easter with your partner(s.)

Pair it with… some really fancy, high-end chocolate. Personally I’m obsessed with Booja Booja.

Buy it.

What are you consuming – and playing with – this Easter, babes?

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).

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.

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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. 

Four Badass Feminist Songs for International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day. There have been tonnes of great writings today! Check out this piece from my dear friend Quinn, all about why she’s staying angry. Or this one, from the wonderful Emmeline Peaches about why she will never apologise for being herself. There are badass women doing awesome work all over the place and we should support them.

Me, though? I’m on a tight turnaround and have had a shit week. So in lieu of a deep, thoughtful essay, here are four of my current favourite feminist tunes.

Fight Like a Girl – Emilie Autumn

(TW: this one deals with violence against women and is at least somewhat a revenge-fantasy song from an abuse survivor).

I am through lying still,
Just a body to be beaten, fucked,
And – if I’m lucky – left for dead,
So who’s scary now?

Listen.

Black Tie – Grace Petrie

I love Grace Petrie’s sometimes-irreverant, sometimes-angry, always poignant protest songs. Honestly at least half her most recent album could have gone on this list, but I’ve picked Black Tie because it’s a love letter of sorts to her younger self, reassuring her that she’ll find her place in the world one day and that traditional gender roles are bullshit.

“And the images that fucked ya
Were a patriarchal structure
And you never will surrender
To a narrow view of gender.
And I swear there’ll come a day
When you won’t worry what they say
On the labels, on the doors –
You will figure out what’s yours.”

Listen.

You Kinda Hate Girls – Rachel Lark

You ever dated a “woke” guy, and then scratched the surface to find he was just as misogynistic as your average bro on the street? Yeah, me too. In this song, Rachel Lark delivers a razor-sharp critique of exactly this kind of man.

“You say I’m “not your type,”
Well, I guess you can’t change what you like,
But if what you like is what society likes,
And society is sick… maybe you’re a dick!
I’m not sure what you mean by “chill,”
I party, do drugs, and I’m on the Pill,
But I’ve been noticing that you’re kinda preferential
For the meek and the skinny and the deferential.”

Listen.

Men Explain Things to Me – TacocaT

Much like the book of the same name, this angry little two-minute ditty calls out exactly how fucking annoying it is when men take it upon themselves to explain things to women… that the women already know plenty about.

Though I know all about
The words you’re spitting out
The floor is yours without a doubt
I already know
How this is gonna go
How this is gonna go
Tell me to calm down.

Listen.

What’s on your playlist today, babes?

Remember: Resist. Support your sisters, not just cisters. Smash the patriarchy.

Happy IWD.

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Fuck You, 2018 (A Surprisingly Positive Year-End Wrap Up)

A lot of things sucked about 2018. A lot. Two people in our lives passed away far too young.  Politics continues to be a fucking farce. It was generally a bit of a trash-fire.

But there were good things this year. Small good things sometimes, true, but good things nonetheless. So, in time-honoured fashion, here’s a top three round-up before we say goodbye to this hellscape of a year.

3 awesome new sex toys

  1. Blush Exposed Nocturnal Bullet. This little $32 powerhouse was probably the biggest surprise in this year’s reviewing. It’s small, powerful as hell, rumbly, has controls that actually make sense, and is ridiculously affordable. Now we just need a UK retailer to start stocking them.
  2. Womanizer Premium. At the other end of the spectrum, this was the most expensive toy I tried this year. Simply, nothing else quite mimics the sensations this thing produces. And the cool extras such as the Smart Silence feature really pushed it into the “worth the price” bracket for me.
  3. Sola Cue. A surprisingly strong and rumbly mid-priced vibe that I just keep coming back to again and again. A great in-between when a bullet is too pinpoint but a wand is too broad.

3 proudest achievements

  1. Making spot 6 on Molly’s Daily Kiss’ Top 100 Sex Blogs list. Holy fuck.
  2. Making just over £5000 from my blog this year.
  3. Raising £1100 for Abortion Support through Smutathon 2018: #SmutForChoice edition.

3 favourite blog posts

  1. On Weight, Rope, and Grief for the Body I Wanted. This was probably the most painful thing I wrote this year, talking about being fat and not being okay with it and being unable to engage in some of the kinky things I want to do as a result.
  2. Me and My Fur: All About Body Hair. A love letter to my body hair, a tale of learning to love it, and a rant about the negative reactions it gets from society, all in one.
  3. Love Letters to People I’ll Never Fuck. A collection of mini love-letters for Valentine’s Day 2018, celebrating non-romantic love – to my best friend, my metamour, the longest-standing friend I’m still in contact with, my childhood best friend who moved to Australia when we were 13, and a straight girl with whom I was once in unrequited love/a very emotionally complex friendship.

3 favourite publications elsewhere

  1. The Ethics of Age-Gap Relationships for Girl On The Net. Drawn heavily from my own experience in a relationship with a 20+ year age-gap, I discuss the ethical concerns to take into account if you want to date someone substantially older or younger than yourself.
  2. Sex Robots: The Next Frontier of Sexual Pleasure, or Damaging Rape Simulators? for Sex Tech Guide. I’ve been wanting to explore the topic of sex robots forever, and getting to dive deep into the consent implications of AI now and in the future was fascinating.
  3. Sex Blogging Saved My Soul for Hot Octopuss. A personal story of how this blog, and by extension this community, gave me hope and removed so much of my personal shame around sexuality.

3 favourite events

  1. Eroticon 2018, of course. This event changes my life a little bit for the better each year.
  2. My accidental-sex-party for my birthday.
  3. (Not a sexy event, but) my sibling’s wonderful wedding.

3 amazing books

  1. The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti. If you want to know what I mean when I say “virginity is a social construct invented to oppress women and girls,” read this book.
  2. Vibrator Nation by Lynn Comela. A fabulous history of feminist sex toy shops and how they did so much for the business and politics of sexual pleasure in America and beyond.
  3. Playing Well With Others by Mollena Williams-Haas and Lee Harrington. The book I wish I’d had when I was entering the kink scene a decade or so ago!

3 superstar humans (apart from my two romantic partners!)

  1. Kayla Lords of Loving BDSM, The Smutlancer and more. I never stop learning from this amazing woman (and her equally wonderful husband!) In particular, she’s done so much for me personally with regards to advising me as I launch my Smutlancing career and try to go full time as a professional writer.
  2. Quinn Rhodes of On Queer Street. Yes, you’ve probably gathered by now that we’re play-partners, but beyond and separately from that, in this remarkable woman I have found a true friend and a creative kindred spirit.
  3. My metamour Pippin. I’ve not always had the best experience with metamours, but they welcomed me with open arms into The Artist’s life and continue to be a wonderful friend. They introduced me to the concept of “radical cosiness” and being a part of this polycule continues to be one of the most profoundly healing experiences of my life.

3 goals for 2019

  1. Make £10,000 from my blog and associated Smutlancing activities this year.
  2. Significantly advance my vanilla writing work and income from this.
  3. Finish my damn novella.

And that’s it, folks. Everyone with me now: fuck you, 2018, you relentless garbage-fire of a year.

Thank God It’s Over.

Five Meaningful Things To Do for World AIDS Day

December 1st is World AIDS Day. The AIDS epidemic, at its height in the 1980s and early 1990s, is still in many ways ongoing and has claimed over 35 million lives in the last ~40 years. Check out this fact sheet to learn more.

From the World AIDS Day website:

[World AIDS Day is] an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

Many of us, especially LGBTQ+ people, feel helpless in the face of something this huge. It scares the shit out of lots of us – and it should. AIDS was and is one of the most destructive pandemics in human history. But there is hope, too. UNAIDS have a hugely ambitious treatment plan which, if it works, will see 90% of HIV-positive people knowing their status, 90% of these on antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of these with a viral load declared “undetectable” – all by 2020.

So today I wanted to share some small but meaningful things you can do to make a difference this World AIDS Day.

1. Donate if you can

Donate to a charity that’s doing important work in the areas of HIV and AIDS. I suggest amfAR who are pioneering research into a cure, Terrence Higgins Trust who campaign and provide services connected to HIV and sexual health, or the National AIDs Trust who fight for change and champion the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

2. Get a test and know your status

When was your last full sexual health screening? Go book one in now! If you’re sexually active, you really should be getting a test every six months at a minimum – and more often if you have multiple partners, practice unprotected sex, or regularly have anal sex. I’m fairly slutty and I have a full screening every 3 months. Knowing your status is the best way to protect yourself and your partners.

3. Smash the stigma and share factual information

See people talking shit about people with HIV, AIDS or STIs? Tired of false information? Engage in some stigma-smashing by challenging them to rethink their views and sharing some facts. People living with HIV are not dirty, sluts, immoral or stupid. HIV cannot be transmitted except via infected blood or sexual fluids (or to infants via breast milk). It cannot be passed on through kissing, skin-to-skin contact, sharing food or drinks, water fountains, toilet seats, mosquitoes, saliva, sweat, or modern blood transfusions. This handy guide is useful to share.

4. Stock up on sexual health supplies

As many people as possible practicing safer sex is one of our greatest weapons against HIV/AIDS. Make sure you’re well-stocked with condoms, dams and gloves, as appropriate to the types of sex you have. If you can’t afford to buy supplies, ask your doctor or sexual health provider where you can access them for free. Remember to check your condoms and dams before using to make sure they’re still in date!

Pro tip: Gay bars/clubs and sexuality-focused events often give out safer sex supplies as freebies. If you go to any of these, don’t be scared to claim some for yourself! I used to go out to gay bars so often I don’t think I paid for condoms until I was 24.

5. Wear your red ribbon

The red ribbon is the internationally-recognised symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness and advocacy. Here’s a useful list of where to get them in the UK. If you can afford to, you can also buy a brooch version and support NAT’s work.

What are you doing to support World AIDS Day and show solidarity with people affected by HIV all over the world?

Image from Pixabay. Contains an affiliate link.

All the Things “You, Me, Her” Got Wrong About Polyamory

SPOILER ALERT! This post will contain spoilers for You, Me, Her seasons 1-3, so if you care and haven’t watched yet, click off this post now.

You may remember my ridiculous quest to recap every episode of this stupid show, which fizzled out somewhere in the middle of Season 1 because I ran out of time, energy and fucks to give? If not, go read them. It’s snarktastic, I promise you.

In case you haven’t seen it, You, Me, Her is an American comedy-drama series following suburban married couple Jack (Greg Poehler) and Emma (Rachel Blanchard) as they enter into a polyamorous triad relationship with 25-year-old college student and escort, Izzy (Priscilla Faia).

Instead of reviewing this mess one episode at a time, I thought I’d bring you all the things I think it got wrong about polyamory – so far – in one easy post.

1. Izzy would never date these two idiots.

Izzy is a beautiful, 25-year-old college student who is escorting her way through university for the money. When Jack hires her for a date and then Emma later (having found out) does the same thing, she inexplicably decides she’s super duper into both of them for some fucking reason. That would never happen. Any sex worker in Izzy’s place would do her job, take the damn money, and leave this pair to work out their shit in suburban hell by themselves.

2. It’s PORTLAND, not the Bible Belt.

This show is set in Portland, Oregon – a city famous for being super-duper liberal and where I know for a fact there’s a huge polyamorous community. Sure, there are some conservative people there (they’re everywhere, sadly) but the idea that being out as non-monogamous – or even bisexual – in fucking Portland would totally destroy Emma’s life is patently unrealistic. If they wanted that narrative to work, they should have set it in rural Alabama or something.

3. Being bisexual is apparently a worse crime than cheating.

There’s a scene in their therapist’s office where Jack shames the hell out of Emma for telling her bisexual origin story and having slept with women before they met. Seemingly forgetting he cheated on her with an escort about, ooh, a week before. (Also, Emma later declares that her bisexuality “wasn’t a thing,” despite having relationships with four – FOUR – women! That is definitely “a thing”.)

4. Partners are not commodities that you have to share out equally.

Jack and Emma agree that they each get “two nights with her… I mean you” per week. They then have a debate about who “gets” her first. This is gross beyond belief. She’s a human being, not a pie that you both want equal numbers of slices of. Ugh.

5. Dating someone new isn’t how you inject sexual spark back into your ailing marriage.

Jack and Emma’s idea is that they’ll each go on dates with Izzy, then come back fired up and ready to ravish the hell out of each other. That’s not how polyamory works. That’s not even how feelings or sex drives work! And it’s, once again, objectifying as all hell. They’re basically using her as a human sex toy. Also, Jack gets mad when Emma comes back from a date and isn’t up for fucking him right there and then. Your partner doesn’t owe you sex just because they just went on a date with someone else!

6. Jealousy IS inevitable. That doesn’t mean courting it is good for your relationship.

Jealousy is normal and fine, as long as you deal with it in a healthy way. Trying to make your partner jealous deliberately in order to… what, make them want you more? is a REALLY bad idea. And half the time seems to be these idiots’ entire game. Jack and Emma use Izzy to make each other jealous. Izzy uses Andy (who is a dick but seems really into her) to make Jack and Emma jealous.

7. Treating someone like crap then chasing them through an airport isn’t romantic!

Jack and Emma treat Izzy like total crap for the entire show. One romantic gesture (chasing her through an airport to “bring her home”) isn’t going to make up for that or for doing any of the actual hard, complicated, difficult work of making a relationship between three people work.

8. Polyamory isn’t just for rich white people!

Jack and Emma are the classic middle-aged, upper-middle-class, professional married pair I’d expect to see at a swingers’ club. Nothing wrong with that, except that the polyamorous community is actually hugely diverse. Trust me, we’re all bored as hell of seeing every representation of polyamory reduced down to “rich white people who don’t enjoy sex with their spouses any more”.

9. Even in polyamory you can’t expect someone to fall for two people in the same way, at the same rate, at the same time.

And that’s EXACTLY what Jack and Emma expect of Izzy. At one point, it becomes apparent that Izzy’s connection with Emma is growing stronger while her connection with Jack is developing at a slower pace, and Jack throws a hissy fit to the point of fucking off for several days. This is exactly the kind of expectation inexperienced unicorn hunters put on new partners, and it’s grossly unfair.

10. Sex doesn’t solve your problems. Communication does.

Whenever these three have a problem, they just fuck and it all goes away… until next time. Sex is great but it’s not how you fix your problems. Only actual, honest, open and respectful communication can do that.

11. You don’t have to live with all your partners!

Jack, Emma and Izzy move in together almost the moment they’ve decided to give a triad relationship a go. Not only is this the mother of all bad ideas, it’s just… not realistic. Just as most monogamous people wouldn’t give a new date the keys to their house before things were pretty stable and established, neither do polyamorous people. And regardless of relationship set-up, the “three people sharing a double bed every night” trope is… sweet but unrealistic. Trust me. I can only manage it even in my King bed for a night or two. You can still be polyamorous if you don’t want to live with all your partners, now or ever.

12. Extremely conservative, homophobic parents don’t come around in three seconds flat.

Emma’s parents go from hyper-conservative, openly-homophobic bigots who only care about her having babies, to being totally chill with the accidental dropping of the polyamory bomb in… yeah, less than five minutes of screen time? (Which equates to about an hour in plot-time). People can come around, of course. People question their assumptions when they are directly confronted with them by someone they love. But it usually takes more time than this. Sometimes much more.

13. And finally… NOT ALL POLYAMORY IS A FUCKING MFF TRIAD.

Are we all sick of this very specific picture being painted yet? Good, me too. Let’s move on to something more representative and less relentlessly cishet-male-gazey. Please.

So what’s next? This show has been renewed for seasons 4 and 5. I hate this about myself, but I already know I’ll watch them all. Maybe I’ll even live-tweet them.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, please buy me a coffee!