Monday, February 28, 2011

S&M & M&M.

If there was one fact about BDSM, just one, that I could communicate to the culture at large, it would be this: at just about every BDSM play party I've ever been to, there has been a bowl of M&Ms.

Those M&Ms may be, as last night, part of a nice spread with cheese and fruit and cookies. They may be the dessert to a full dinner with hot meat and veggies. Or they may be jammed in the back corner next to some ripped-open jumbo bags of chips and 2-liters of Coke. But they'll be there.

(And they'll be all dumped together in a big open bowl, which is kind of gross if you think about where people's hands have been. Next time I help host a party, I'm putting out individual M&M packets.)

These M&Ms are, in some deep way, symbolic of the essential humanity and normalcy of kinksters. We may be freaky perverts, but we still like candy just as much as anyone else. And we still like to stand around the candy bowl talking and joking. And we're still considerate enough of each other to remember to put out candy. The little M&M bowl stands as silent and delicious proof that even the most bizarre-seeming parties with people running around in diapers and chastity belts getting beaten and shocked and lit on fire are still parties, still places people go to relax and connect with one another.

Every time I see "S&M" represented in the media, I look for that M&M bowl. Or if not literally, something akin to it, some small indication that the same person can be genuinely and seriously kinky--and damn sexy about it--and also be a "gotta leave by 12 because I have work tomorrow" real person. TV bondage clubs never have M&Ms.

Then again, I shouldn't make this all about my subculture. Humanity and sex in general have never been easy bedfellows in the media. For some reason being a real, everyday human has just never been an attribute of sex symbols. I don't think a truly sexy sex person is supposed to eat at all, much less eat M&Ms.

Last night Rowdy was punching me and I was literally roaring with the feeling, deep guttural groans as he shoved me up against the wall and his knuckles slammed into my shoulderblades. It hurt, and it shook my body with the sheer intensity of the moment, the realization of the strength in our bodies and the realness and deepness of pain. It was delicious.

And then we went downstairs and ate some M&Ms, because those little suckers are also delicious.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sex is cheap? Dude, it's FREE.

Two people independently sent me this link, so I guess there's a demand for this.

Sex Is Cheap: Why young men have the upper hand in bed, even when they're failing in life.
"Young men" are just one guy, right? Actually, I think I dated him. ...Twice.

We keep hearing that young men are failing to adapt to contemporary life.
We keep hearing it because it's a meme that has a grain of truth and a thick outer coating of things people want to be true for some horrible reason, from "kids these days, with their Xbox and their sexting and their Rainbow Parties" to "this feminism business has just gone too far."

And yet there is one area in which men are very much in charge: premarital heterosexual relationships.
By "in charge," this author means that they're having them. The fact that women are, duh, having the exact same premarital heterosexual relationships just proves what suckers those chicks are.

(Sidenote: Does anyone else feel like the word "premarital" is kind of a weird way to put it? It makes it sound like you're definitely going to get married later. "Nonmarital" seems like a more sensible term.)

When attractive women will still bed you, life for young men, even those who are floundering, just isn't so bad.
"Attractive"? Most of the women sleeping with young men are presumably young, but I don't think anyone collected any statistics proving that they're all hotties. And if the author is trying to conjure up an image of a dude who lives on his mom's couch playing Xbox and has a parade of hotties showing up at the door anyway... yeah, that's not really how it works.

But what many young men wish for—access to sex without too many complications or commitments—carries the day.
Right, because young men never want to have a (ewwww) girlfriend. The funny thing is, in my experience, a lot of young men are actually giant saps. In my sexually free relations with young men, I have encountered offers not just of affection but of "schmoop" and "wugs." This article simply does not account for wugs.

If women were more fully in charge of how their relationships transpired, we'd be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on.
This is presented without supporting evidence, just because we all know that broads only want to snag them a ring.

But actually, these aren't things that (all; your mileage will vary on account of how "women" also is not one person) women just want for their own sake. These are things that women want in a system where they have very little power, so securing a generous and committed husband is the only way to get any status. When we don't need a man's help to get by, we can afford to relax and just have some fun.

The terms of contemporary sexual relationships favor men and what they want in relationships, not just despite the fact that what they have to offer has diminished, but in part because of it. And it's all thanks to supply and demand.
I don't think the supply and demand have changed all that much, buddy. It's been very close to 1:1 for a while now.

Wait... exactly which one of us is the supply and which is the demand?

As Baumeister, Vohs, and others have repeatedly shown, on average, men want sex more than women do. Call it sexist, call it whatever you want—the evidence shows it's true. In one frequently cited study, attractive young researchers separately approached opposite-sex strangers on Florida State University's campus and proposed casual sex. Three-quarters of the men were game, but not one woman said yes.
I'm going to guess this says less about women's horniness than it does about our experience with creepers. A guy who proposes sex out of the blue is potentially dangerous, and in many women's experience, he doesn't even really want sex at all but is just playing some weird game to get a reaction. Blunt sexual advances are a form of street harassment that most of us have been through, and "you wanna fuck me, babe?" has nearly the same tone and intention as "mooooo what a cow." Most random sexual offers to women are neither compliments nor genuine offers.

As Baumeister and Vohs note, sex in consensual relationships therefore commences only when women decide it does.
Well... yeah. Consensual relationships require consent. That took two researchers?

But obviously the man has to decide too. And even within the model where he always makes the first move, making that move is a way of expressing his consent. Guys who initiate sex may always want sex (my tautology powers are tautological!), but guys don't always initiate sex.

And yet despite the fact that women are holding the sexual purse strings, they aren't asking for much in return these days—the market "price" of sex is currently very low.
Sexual purse strings? You mean the ability to not have sex when I don't want to? I'm like the fucking Scrooge McDuck of pussy here.

As for market price... hey, I'm not working for free here, it's just a different currency. Instead of rich husbands, I get paid in orgasms. And business is good.

Since high-speed digital porn gives men additional sexual options—more supply for his elevated demand—it takes some measure of price control away from women.
I'm pretty sure even old-timey Victorian dudes knew how to jerk off just fine.

And seriously, price control, seriously. It's kind of hard to miss the "whoreswhoreswhores" undertone here when you talk about sex entirely in terms of the price the woman charges the man.

But just as critical is the fact that a significant number of young men are faring rather badly in life, and are thus skewing the dating pool. It's not that the overall gender ratio in this country is out of whack; it's that there's a growing imbalance between the number of successful young women and successful young men. As a result, in many of the places where young people typically meet—on college campuses, in religious congregations, in cities that draw large numbers of twentysomethings—women outnumber men by significant margins.
So even if we followed the conclusions the author is implying here with utterly literal "the pussy market works just any other bulk commodity" thinking, we wouldn't see unsuccessful young men getting laid a lot. We'd either see successful young men turning into pussy-gorged mansluts, or unsuccessful young men who have successful girlfriends. Or just a lot of single people who can't find anyone in their demographic who wants them. But there's no permutation of this scenario where Xbox couch dude is a pussy-gorged manslut.

Unless he's got something else going for him. But too much consideration of what "something else" consists of could derail this whole article. Surely the people in these strictly-business sex-for-commitment exchanges don't like each other?

Analysis of demographic data from 117 countries has shown that when men outnumber women, women have the upper hand: Marriage rates rise and fewer children are born outside marriage.
So since the human birth ratio is pretty consistently 1.05:1, think about why men would significantly outnumber women, not in a college or a particular social class, but in an entire country. Because the women are dying. They're getting aborted or killed as infants because girl children are a burden, they're dying in childbirth, they're victims of violence. Some upper hand.

We found that virginity is more common on those campuses where women comprise a smaller share of the student body, suggesting that they have the upper hand.
Virginity is a sign of having the upper hand? Boy you couldn't have convinced me of that when I was in college and still had mine.

By contrast, on campuses where women outnumber men, they are more negative about campus men, hold more negative views of their relationships, go on fewer dates, are less likely to have a boyfriend, and receive less commitment in exchange for sex.
"Commitment in exchange for sex." Hey, I give them credit for spelling it out. Okay, it's not really credit. I think it's more like disdain. FUN FACT: The human female occasionally experiences sensations similar to "pleasure" during certain sexual acts!

36 percent of young men's relationships add sex by the end of the second week of exclusivity; an additional 13 percent do so by the end of the first month. A second indicator of cheap sex is the share of young men's sexual relationships—30 percent—that don't involve romance at all: no wooing, no dates, no nothing.
"Young men's relationships" is such a strange way to describe relationships that involve a man and a woman. You could use these statistics to prove the opposite point by changing that wording.

And hey, why would I want exclusivity if we're not having sex? What's the point of having a man all to myself if I'm not going to use him?

Women's "erotic capital," as Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics has dubbed it, can still be traded for attention, a job, perhaps a boyfriend, and certainly all the sex she wants, but it can't assure her love and lifelong commitment.
When could it ever? Was there a time in history when I could have walked into the street and yelled "Hey! I have a vagina! But you can't have any!" and eager suitors would have swarmed me? There was a time when marriage was more common and longer-term, but based on everything I know about human nature, "love and lifelong commitment" weren't necessarily part of that deal.

Jill, a 20-year-old college student from Texas, is one of the many young women my colleagues and I interviewed who finds herself confronting the sexual market's realities. Startlingly attractive and an all-star in all ways, she patiently endures her boyfriend's hemming and hawing about their future. If she were operating within a collegiate sexual economy that wasn't oversupplied with women, men would compete for her and she would easily secure the long-term commitment she says she wants.
I know a bunch of couples who married at or before 21. Out of six that I'm thinking about now, one is still together. Turns out that when you get married you don't ride off into the sunset on matching ponies, but have to suddenly deal with being married. Which is tough when you're still young and forming your own identity. Most 20-year-olds are damn right they've got a lot of hemming and hawing left to do.

But you know, there's no moment as joyous as "Mom, he proposed! Because he can't get laid any other way!"

Michelle, a 20-year-old from Colorado, said she is in the same boat: "I had an ex-boyfriend of mine who said that, um, he didn't know if he was ever going to get married because, he said, there's always going to be someone better."
Alright, that guy's just a dick.

And yet while young men's failures in life are not penalizing them in the bedroom, their sexual success may, ironically, be hindering their drive to achieve in life. Don't forget your Freud: Civilization is built on blocked, redirected, and channeled sexual impulse, because men will work for sex.
Don't forget the part where Freud's theories have been totally disproven and these days are only ever used for literary criticism, and that's only because literary criticism is, well, not so fussy what theories they'll accept!

And in this mindset, women are... prizes? Trophies? Acquisitions? Purchases? Certainly not people with their own damn drive to achieve in life.

Hey... regardless of whether there's satisfactory sex in the marriage or not, how do monogamously married men ever get anything done?

As the authors of last year's book Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality put it, "Societies in which women have lots of autonomy and authority tend to be decidedly male-friendly, relaxed, tolerant, and plenty sexy." They're right. But then try getting men to do anything.
Has this ever actually happened? Has there actually ever been a society that crumbled because people were just too darn happy with their sex lives? (Okay, the hippies. Moving on.)

Not only are women people rather than pussy-dispensing man-motivators, men are people rather than single-minded crotch-hounds. Neil Armstrong did not go to the moon to get laid. I mean, fuck, cavemen could get laid. People achieve because the human race has as one of our traits, as immutable as the whiskers on a cat, the drive to always want more and better. Give a child blocks and they build a tower; give a person a job and they want to be the boss. Pussy's got nothing to do with it.

And if pussy did have something to do with it, fuck "society," because I'm sure as hell not giving up sex just to get some random schlub's ass off the couch.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gender smörgåsbord.

I think I've come up with a metaphor that clarifies my view of gender.

Imagine a big table with tons of dishes laid out. Some of them are physical traits, some of them are psychological. There's everything here from "big biceps" to "played with dolls as a child." And there are all traits here, not just things you'd associate with gender--this is a table of traits, not of mixed up boy things and girl things. "Brown hair" and "likes classical music" are on there too.

Go ahead, load up your plate. Load it with anything.

And the really important thing here is that the dishes are not paired off. "Chest hair" and "breasts" are not a dichotomy. You can get one, both, or neither. Ditto "watches pro wrestling" and "sews prom dresses." Certainly some dishes are popularly eaten together--"penis" and "testicles" is a perennial favorite combo, and "penis" and "likes racecars" do seem to have some mysterious association--but they're not locked together. It's possible and acceptable to have one and not the other. Then again, anything that's possible is acceptable. And any combination is possible.

Gender is a prix fixe menu. Pick one of two and eat what the chef serves you. And if what he decides to serve you is a shit sandwich, well--depending where you are and which course the shit sandwich is, the consequences range from trivial to life-threatening if you don't eat it. If you get some or most of your courses off the other menu, the fact that it's "the other menu" is something everyone's explicitly aware of.

But when you eat off the smörgåsbord, it's not really about mixing up gender any more; it's just about mixing up traits. And at that point, I feel that the entire concept of "gender," to even refer to the existence of the prix fixe menus, no longer serves any purpose. To see someone's combination of traits and go "well, yeah, but you're basically a woman then, right?" is to miss the entire point.

Ultimately, though, my cute metaphor doesn't really matter. Because whether you say "wow, it's exactly like that" or you scratch your chin and say "hmm, I see things differently," or even if you say "I'm offended by this because it seems dismissive of certain gender identity issues," you're not the intended audience. (Also if you're some sort of smartass that goes "what, 'has a gender identity' isn't a dish?") The intended audience is the people who are not reading, the people who would go "what is this gay shit" if they did read: the people who will treat people like shit if they feel they're committing a gender violation. Whether the shit consists of tiny backhands like "it's cool how you're a girl but you do guy things" or crappy pseudo-tolerances like "I don't care what you do in your private life, but you have to act like a normal person at work" or outright harassment or attack... it's shitty.

And I don't understand it. I've tried to dissect the thinking behind gender enforcement and I always get stuck. I don't think there is a thinking, at least in the sense of a set of principles that you could lay out logically and defend. I think it's more like a cognitive association. "That person looks funny" may be a shorthand for "that person is making me think too hard. I should be able to label someone in one swoop and know everything about them." There's also a heaping helping of homophobia--if someone isn't a clear gender, then maybe they can't be clearly heterosexual, and OH NO WE CAN'T HAVE THAT.

And there's just no explaining to a certain kind of person that we don't even require genetic heirs for inheritance these days, you can write your will out to pretty much who ever you want, plus most of us don't need to have more children so there will be more help on the farm, so the whole homophobia thing is seriously obselete. Go get a bug up your ass about the essential rightness and God-ordained fact of primogeniture or something.


If our culture had any goddamn consistency, STIs, in a man at least, ought to be seen as a sign of virility. I mean, what better proof that you've at least had sex, and stereotypically that you're really getting around?

"You've got herpes? HIGH FIVE DUDE."

"Oh man, look at that guy, you just know he doesn't even carry HPV."

"Am I any good? Baby, I've got chlamydia and gonorrhea."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cosmocking: March '11! Part 2!

Wow, that was a long gap between Cosmockings. But this shit ain't over 'til it's over.

There's an article on "super-predators," which are of course women who steal other women's men. The man's role in all this or his feelings about it are joyfully unexamined.
One of her favorite scenes to prowl? The workplace, where she can toy with her prey on a daily basis.
Confession: I flirt with a taken man at my work. I'd never fuck him unless I was assured this was cool with everyone, and the flirting is more like joking around than like "take me now you stallion." But toying with prey? No, no, you don't understand, I'm flirting with this guy because I like him. Maybe I'm some New Age freak, but my experience of liking someone is that I want them to be happy and want good things to happen to them. Grrr, predatory.

Woman-as-cat is a strangely pervasive cultural metaphor. There's "pussy," of course, but I think that's mostly just a pube joke. But beyond that, there's this image of femininity as scheming, manipulative, as hunting with silence and sneakery while men (dogs) hunt with brutality and strength. We don't just express attraction to a guy, we stalk him from the shadows and lure him into our grasp and then pounce and bat him around for a bit before eating part of his intestines and leaving him out on the kitchen floor as a present for our owners because we love them so very much and then we go pee in a sandbox and kick a bunch of pee-sand out on the kitchen floor too.

Tell him you recognize that she's a siren, and if you had an attractive coworker who was that intent on seducing you, you're not sure you'd trust yourself alone with him.
But... I would. I mean, I'm with me all the time. I don't so much as scratch my nose without my permission. It's not like I'm going to sneak off and do something I don't approve of.

And I'm going to go ahead and be a sucker, and trust that the same is true of a man. It's possible that he'll decide to cheat on me, but that's not quite the "whoops, I tripped and landed in her vagina" situation you seem to be positing here.

Then follow up by giving him an ultimatum: You don't want him to have anything to do with her outside work obligations, and if he ever crosses the line, you're out.
Controlling which people your partner can associate with is a warm and healthy action done by good people.

I believe that if a company is losing business, and the only solution management can come up with is to hold a lot of meetings where they yell at the underlings "work harder, we need everyone working real super hard," that business is screwed. Likewise, if the only way you're keeping your partner from cheating is by ordering them not to, your relationship is in about the same place as Wile E. Coyote trying not to look down. A guy who wouldn't say no to a "super-predator" is a guy who wants to cheat anyway. It's not all about her super magic siren seduction powers.

This featherlight touch will have you both tingling: While still kneeling between his legs, dab flavored lube on your nipples. Then cup one of your breasts in your hand, and slide the top of your nipple from the bottom of his testicles to the tip of his shaft, circling the head and then sliding it back down.
Oh god, I thought I was kidding about "nipples on testicles"! I THOUGHT I WAS KIDDING.

Also... why does it need to be flavored lube?

Zero on each other's nipples. The nerves here have a direct connection to the nerves in your genitals[...]
See, this is what I mean by saying "the moon is made of bleu cheese." This isn't just a matter of disagreement with my opinions. This is disagreement with consensus reality. The nerves in your nipples have a direct connection with your brain. Obviously.

I think what Cosmo is trying to say is that your nipples may be psychologically associated with your genitals. Which they may be! But you don't get to describe something as a physical reality just because you sorta feel that way. That's like saying "my boyfriend and I have flesh that is literally fused together" to express how much you like him. It's factually wrong and it's just weird.

Yes, my husband, Scott, and I share plenty of awkward moments, but I would never let one rip in front of him and then wait to see whether he's repulsed.
Me either. I prefer to hit and run.

Without even getting into the feminist implications of not allowing women to have human biology (New Rule! The Krebs Cycle is unfeminine! Don't get caught metabolizing in front of your man, you ickypoo!), how does that even work? Do you go to the bathroom just to fart? Or do you hold it in and then... it doesn't just go away. Can it actually go all the way back up and turn into a burp? Does it sort of mix into your poo and aerate it, so you make a lot of floaters? Or do you just take the fartiest poops ever?

...boy, this is one sexy sexblog I've got here.

That said, psychologist Billy Lee Kidd [...] assures me that just because Scott's put off by my peeing with the door open, it doesn't mean he'll freak about all unsavory things, since guys usually find only some behaviors offensive. For instance, morning breath and bedhead may be fine--Kidd says they could remind Scott of sex.
It's good that you have his permission to have morning breath and bedhead (but only because they're sexy sex things!), because how the hell do you sleep with someone every night and not show them these things?

Also, that is the cowboyest name for a psychologist ever. "And his esteemed colleague, Wyatt Jesse Cassidy, PhD."

Player-proof your life: wait a few dates longer than you think you should to sleep with a guy. A-holes will lose interest and weed themselves out.
So the way to keep a guy from fucking and leaving is to test him and see if he... leaves. You're kinda out of luck either way, aren't you? At least one way you got laid.

The Alpha Male's bedroom MO? Nearly 50% of you said he makes you feel like the only woman on Earth.
"Oh my God... Mom? Grandma? Auntie? My best friend? My sister? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why I didn't have an abortion.

Because I never got pregnant in the first place.

I lost my virginity, and entered into a pretty regular sexual relationship, at age 15.

I knew about condoms, well, first because I was a smart kid and also horny as fuck and had researched all this stuff on my own, but also because when I was 13, Planned Parenthood came to my high school and did a presentation on safe sex and birth control. The teachers wouldn't, for whatever ridiculous reason, talk about condoms themselves, but they let the educators from Planned Parenthood do it. They told us about all the options for birth control and they showed us exactly how to put on a condom.

I couldn't possibly afford to have a baby at 15. I was in college, I was rather lost and confused, I didn't have a lot of family or community support, I was living in a dorm, I really had no idea about the basics of surviving on my own, and my financial means were pocket change. So I knew how to use a condom when I lost my virginity, and did not get pregnant, and did not have an abortion.

A couple years later, I wanted to get on backup birth control beyond condoms. I was working part-time and didn't have health insurance. I didn't have a primary care physician. I was also living at home, and had to fly way under the radar with anything that could indicate I was having sex.

I went to Planned Parenthood. They didn't charge me much. They were kind and supportive and told me what my options were but not what to do. They kept everything confidential and didn't call my home or mail me anything that could have gotten me in trouble. (I know, evading parental authority! Yeah, well, you want me obedient or you want me happy, healthy, and not pregnant?) They encouraged me to get a Pap Smear while I was there, did STI tests and a general GYN checkup, and gave me a prescription for the Pill. So I took the Pill, and did not get pregnant, and did not have an abortion.

I'm a goddamn Pro-Life success story.

Thanks to Planned Parenthood.

(The good news is that the bill to defund Planned Parenthood and other family planning organizations probably won't pass the Senate, or won't be signed by Obama if it does. The bad news is that the House is made up of people who--or pander thoughtlessly to people who--are more interested in thundering how they can't possibly tolerate even one abortion, than in actually reducing the number of abortions.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I seriously don't know that I'm a woman anymore. I mean, I don't think I'm a man. And I don't really have it in me to tell other people not to be their gender. But...

I just don't know what I do in an average day that's womanly. I'm female, but that doesn't necessarily imply "woman." I wear dresses and skirts and such sometimes, but so do plenty of guys. I'm occasionally sort of frivolous, occasionally obsessed by "cuteness", and occasionally sort of shyly passive, but so are a lot of guys. And then again sometimes I love to wear cargo pants and stompy-boots and act assertive and aggressive and horny and use power tools and watch "Mythbusters." But so do a lot of girls.

So how the hell do I know I'm a woman? I sure as hell don't feel any deep-down "I just know it, I just do" sensations. And stepping onto dangerous ground--how do we know anyone is a woman?

Being genderless is often conflated with being sexless, which I decidedly (for either meaning of "sex") am not. But what then? What if I don't have a gender? How will we know what jobs I'm qualified for? How will we know who's supposed to lug 'em around if I have kids? Oh God, how will we know if I'm hot?

The last is somewhat legit--if gender doesn't mean anything, then why does orientation mean anything? And doesn't this kind of conflict with trans (and cis, for that matter) people who do seem to have a "I just know it" about their own gender? I totally cannot answer those questions.

I'm still going by "Holly." I'm still going by "she." Fuck, I'm still going by "woman" for everyday non-philosophical use. Those are mostly out of momentum and a desire to avoid getting treated weird. I'm still standing up for the rights of women, if only because I sure as hell can't stop the world at large from seeing me as one. Female rights, at any rate.

Sometimes I think--and see two paragraphs above for why I'm not going to push this, but I do think it--that the whole idea of having two personality types assigned to two biological roles, or even not assigned, is just a complete crock. People is. Beyond biology, I don't know that it's meaningful or in anyway useful to divide things down into two terribly ill-defined yet painfully stereotyped groups. People just is.

More allies than you think.

Rowdy and I ducked out of the Fetish Flea to the drugstore across the street to get some snacks and see if drugstores in Rhode Island sell beer. (No.) The cashier asked us, "Hey, is there some kind of event going on in that hotel?"

We hemmed and hawed for a moment. "Er, yeah, there's a conference..." The cashier was a young woman, totally ordinary-looking; maybe if she'd had dyed black hair or Goth eyeliner or a facial piercing we could've taken a chance on her being "one of ours" but she seemed all normal. And normal means someone probably hates any kind of sex that isn't heterosexual monogamous vanilla missionary after an expensive dinner! If we told her she'd judge us! She'd be repulsed!

"What kind of conference?"

Okay, fine, whatever. "It's the Fetish Fair Fleamarket, actually."

"Oh, I heard about that! I totally wanted to go! It sounds like so much fun! Do you know what the hours are tomorrow?"

That's not the only way it could have gone. She could have been repulsed, but what then? She'd have said a really frosty "Oh. I see." and rung up our pretzels. It's not like the CVS cashier is going to send a pitchfork-wielding mob after us if she disapproves.

But without extending that olive branch--without letting the world know who we are and that we're not particularly embarrassed of it (nor creepy/pushy about it)--we'll never know that there are actually cool people all around us. People who seem "mainstream" can surprise you. Not necessarily with being explicitly sex-positive, but more importantly, with being able to accept things with a "hey, doesn't sound like it's hurting anybody, so it's cool with me." It's that capacity for open-mindedness, more than any specific belief, that gives me hope for the future.

There's also the consideration that Rowdy and I don't have black hair, eyeliner, or piercings either, and for all we know that cashier was a total full-time freak who was sussing us out.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baby's First Cosmocking!

I was sorting out my old personal papers today, and I came across some comics I drew in 2000, at age 14. (No scan, because the one in question is almost all text, and my handwriting in high school was... something. My handwriting's bad now, but was I holding the pen in my teeth? Had I ever even seen the Latin alphabet? Trust me, you're much better off with a transcription.)

Female character holds up a copy of "Cosmo Girl."
F: Lookit this: "What his kisses really mean." It's about finding if your boyfriend really likes you from how he kisses you.
Male character: Jeez. That is scary. Think you can do better?
F: Of course!

Magazine cover mockup, with female character in a "Girl Power!" top surrounded by headlines.

The magazine that would never advocate sex, drugs, violence, or anything else that all the cool people do.

Are you insecure? Take our quiz and find out!
Plastic surgery: a natural, healthy step in every teenager's life
How to act dumber than you actually are
George W. Bush vs. Al Gore: Which one would be a cuter President?
How to decipher "Guyspeak?" Innocent comments reveal his true thoughts!
How to cope with a breakup: a 3-month heartbreak calendar
Perfect hair in under 3 hours
Do you have a crush on him? The 47-part quiz continues
How to pretend to be scared at horror flicks
Platonic friends: Myth, lie, or delusion?

Man, age 14, not exactly a polished satirist, but I had the exact same bugs up my ass about these magazines. I'm so proud of little proto-Holly.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Retroactive pedophilia.

You know what's always a really awkward experience? Seeing pictures of someone you're sleeping with, when they were a child. Especially if they're the sort of person who didn't change much with age, so as a kid they kinda had the same face.

"Wow, I know exactly what that eight-year-old will look like in twenty years... with a cock in his mouth."


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The 50% problem.

I believe 50% of CEOs, in a perfect world, should be women. But 50% would still be men, so I feel like I can't pick out a specific company and say "fire the man; this one should be run by a woman."

I believe 15% (or whatever; some, and not "basically none unless this is a Designated Gay Movie") of love stories should be non-heterosexual, but this leaves 85% heterosexual, so there's no one book or movie I can point to and say "no, really, why doesn't Harry end up with Ron?"

(Or, like, Ron and Hermione, but I'm pretty resigned to the fact that polyamory is a complete non-option in polite society.)

This puts feminism in the awkward position of being surrounded by obvious inequality, but no precise place to begin change, because the problem is systematic rather than localized. Protesting any single political appointment for being "yet another man" isn't right--but it's infuriating when nearly all of them are, yes, yet another man.

See, if feminists just wanted to take over the world and grind men down, this shit would be easy. But when you believe that of course lots of men do deserve positions of power in addition to women, it becomes really hard to know what to say when you're told for the millionth time "this was a tough decision because there were so many good [male and female] candidates, but we decided to promote Ed! For all his hard work! Everyone congratulate Ed!"

And you know, Ed probably is a super hard worker.

Cosmocking: March '11! Part 1!

Today's theme, remember, is The Lessons Of Cosmocking! Thanks to Katie and Rowdy for contributing on this one.

Red cover! Lea Michele! She's naked! No, there's a little bit of cloth sort of off to the sides of the photo! But not much! Usually Cosmo cover outfits are relatively practical so it's weird to see one that's way on the other side of the "could you wear this on the sidewalk" line! Best headline: "For His Thighs Only!" It reminds me of this comic! All of the headlines are about getting men, looking good for men, or having sex with men!

LESSON: Cosmo presents itself as a generalist magazine on "women's life," but it's really a hobbyist magazine, on the level of "Popular Woodworking" or "Outdoor Photographer." If your hobby is being conventionally feminine and boy-crazy, then I guess Cosmo is your hobby mag. But if you're any other kind of woman, you're a studio photographer--this magazine isn't exactly wrong, just not applicable. Being a Cosmo girl is just one of millions of options, not something you're stuck with the instant you get born female.

The unfortunate thing about Cosmo (besides having too much bad advice and misinformation to be a useful hobby mag) is that they won't acknowledge this, and pretend that there is, or should be, no line between "woman" and "Cosmo girl."

Inside, there's an ad for Maybelline that includes little samples of eighteen different foundation shades. They range from "110," which is about the color I am without a tan, all the way to "355," which is... about the color I am with a tan.

LESSON: The intersection of race and commerce can be a really sticky thing. I'll give Maybelline the benefit of the doubt and guess that they aren't excluding dark skin tones because of thoughtlessness, or because they're trying to cultivate some ultra-white image. More likely they did some market research and found that most of their potential customers happened to be white. Of course this is an effect as well as a cause of the limited selection, but it means that reaching out to black customers would be taking a risk. Is a company obligated to do something that makes sense morally but may not make sense financially? I'm not sure, but even if this is "just the market reality," it wasn't a wise choice to display it like this.

Maybe it's racism, maybe it's cynicism, maybe it's cold hard calculation. Maybe it's Maybelline.

Guys live in the day-to-day, so plans that need to be made months--or even weeks--in advance go straight to the back burner. It's not that he's trying to weasel out of doing prep work; he's just too focused on what you two are doing in five minutes to worry about the long term.
LESSON: Feminism has a lot to offer men. Although I'm afraid "low expectations" isn't one of the things on offer. Still, low expectations come with low esteem, and in the long run I think "men have all the emotions and intellect of a human being" works out a lot better for guys than "seriously, ladies, count yourselves lucky if he's potty trained."

What's up with guys cheating down?
You've gotta wonder why guys like Tiger Woods, Jesse James, and now supposedly Tony Parker are cheating on their wives with women who are a major downgrade.

LESSON: Think about what you're saying, for God's sake. Define your terms, if only to yourself. I bet you a couple bucks that if you asked the person who wrote this "what exactly do you mean by 'down'?" there would be a whole lot of "you know, c'mon, you know what I mean" in the answer.

But really, I don't know what they mean. Probably "sluttier," less "nice" and "refined," but I don't know what any of those words really mean. Wearing less expensive and more revealing clothing in public, mostly. Or being a sex worker or a woman willing to sleep with a cheating man, althrough it would be hard to cheat with any other type of woman.

They don't really mean any of these things. What they mean is "someone who makes me reflexively feel all disgusted and disapproving without the impulse ever passing through my forebrain." And that's a scary, scary thing. If you think about it.

Look down while you're riding him on top. "You'll be able to watch his penis penetrate you, and your brain will process this information, leading you to a stronger climax."
LESSON: Don't say stuff like that, because you'll sound ridiculous.

Or more generally, don't try to make yourself seem smart and authoritative by attaching the fripperies (but not the content) of science or philosophy. And don't believe a word out of the mouths of people who do that. If it can be said in words a ten-year-old would understand, it should be. Big Science Words are necessary to communicate Big Science Concepts, but when you really just have a simple everyday concept, the honest thing to do is express it simply.

Look down while you're riding him on top. "You'll be able to watch his penis penetrate you, and that's awesome."

Is the remote always glued to your guy's hand? The next time his fave show is on, put on a girlie program, like "Real Housewives," before he has a chance to get to the TV. When he asks to change it, give the okay only if he'll split control of the clicker 50-50 in the future.
LESSON: One big problem with the "opposite gender" way of thinking--everything on Earth is either a man thing or a woman thing--is that in a heterosexual relationship, you have nothing in common. Sharing interests would make one or both of you, I don't know, gay. So not only do you miss out on the bonding experience of watching "Mythbusters" together, but your relationship becomes fundamentally adversarial, caught in the tension of whether you should do the girl thing or the boy thing any time you do anything together.

LESSON: While some compromises are always necessary, if your relationship is defined by hostage negotiation and ransom demands, it's probably time to move on. You split the clicker 50-50 because that's a fair agreement, not because one of you cornered the other into a disadvantaged tactical position.

There's a lot more Lessons of Cosmo to come! Also: rubbing nipples on testicles! Probably.

Monday, February 14, 2011

All Fleaed out.

Whoof. Tired, sore, did not get any writing done, and soooo happy. I was hypnotized, beaten, flogged, tied up, fucked, fisted, scratched, dragged around by the hair, and at one point had blood suction-cupped out of my body via the holes made by a stapler. I also got to see just about every kinky person I've ever met, watch the most fucking hilarious BDSM comedy show imaginable, and attend some fascinatingly informative classes on everything from "Mind Play 101" to "The History Of Torture." And the shopping. My left forearm will take weeks to recover.

(Stupid inside joke explanation: when you shop for hitty-toys, you test out their precise level of hittyness by hitting yourself or your shopping buddy on the forearm. When you're shopping through thousands of hitty-toys, the damage adds up.)

Oh, and some tidbits for the ever-simmering "BDSM and feminism" cauldron: I've never been in a more gender-comfortable space. All sorts of people were presenting all sorts of ways and very few assumptions were made--including the assumptions often made of ciswomen presenting as traditionally feminine. The Flea intro booklet had an entire page on transgender etiquette. Bathrooms were open to all genders, which I was way too into--"I'M PEEING IN THE BOYS' ROOM!" The general skeeve factor was admirably low, frankly much lower than at your average non-sexual nerd convention. Everything in the classes was phrased in the language of inclusion, respect, and the right to be and feel safe while doing bizarre shit to each other's bodies and minds. The word "consent," taken extremely seriously, came up probably eighty times a day.

I felt safer letting someone flog me at the Flea than I feel just talking to some people outside it. I don't know if that's "feminism" exactly, but it's awesome.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fleaing the scene.

I'll be leaving for the Fetish Flea tonight, and the hotel charges a stupid amount for Internet, so I won't be posting 'til Monday or possibly late Sunday. I'll try to write down my experiences for some fun posts when I get back. I'll tweet some too.

I won't be able to get emails there, but I will get texts, including Twitter messages.

I'm also bringing my fully annotated Cosmo with me, and hope to write a really good Cosmocking if I have any downtime. (Downtime at the Flea? Perish the thought! But I tend to have early-morning insomnia, and I suspect 6 AM could really be downtime.)

This time around, I want to focus on The True Meaning Of Cosmocking. It's easy to hit the slowpitches of "rub his balls with your nipples!" and "want a guy to do something particular for you? think about it really hard!" I'm getting bored of that. I want to dig into what we can learn from Cosmo.

LESSON 1: Just because it's printed nicely doesn't mean it's true.
I mean, duh, right? But there's a tremendous amount of credibility afforded simply by the medium of glossy printing and broad distribution--ever since we read textbooks in school, we've associated professional printing with Truth and Facts. We were taught that when the source is "reputable" (i.e., printed nicely), our job was to absorb and apply, not to second-guess or criticize. It can be kind of a quiet revelation to fully understand that access to a nice printing facility just means you have money, and that the writers of a national magazine are under no binding obligation not to tell us that the moon is made of bleu cheese dressing.

There's a lot more lessons. I'll get to those when I get back from the Flea.

I know posting has been light/lazy of late and I thank y'all for bearing with me. My energy for life waxes and wanes, and the last couple weeks it's been at a definite "sleep eat work, sleep eat work" wane. These slumps never last--and having some kinkventures is a great way to break out of them, too--and I know I'll come back strong and ready to yell at people on the Internet with renewed zest and vigor.

Now, off to the Flea!

wheeeeeeee fleeeeeeeeeeaaaaa wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Thursday, February 10, 2011

From this month's "Glamour."

I don't buy Glamour, okay? I buy Cosmo and that's bad enough. But whoever sits at my desk on the day shift always leaves copies of Glamour and Weight Watchers Magazine. (The Weight Watchers stuff is also really scary in its relentless push of "don't eat better, eat less!" There's no "have a salad, because it's nutritious and delicious"--it's all about "have a salad, because otherwise you're going to stuff yourself with bacon-wrapped twinkies like we know you really want to do." Diet tips based on the doctrine of Total Depravity. Yum.)

Anyway, this jumped out at me:

Q: My boyfriend confessed he's experimented sexually with guys. Could he be gay?
A: Make sure you're having safe sex. [...]


While good general advice for anyone who isn't in a "definitely exclusive since last STI test" relationship, I don't think it was meant that way. There's a reason it was this and not "and remember to always wear a seatbelt!" And there's a reason that women who write in about "my boyfriend slept with another woman" usually don't get this advice, at least not as a first line. (Note that the letter writer doesn't say this experimentation took place during their relationship, and now consider the likelihood that any woman saying "my boyfriend slept with another woman, at some point in his life" would get this advice.)

It is, in a strange way, the same reasoning as the Weight Watchers tips. It's the reasoning "if you can't call it immoral, call it unhealthy." If you can't say sex between men is bad or wrong, say it's dangerous.

"I don't disapprove, I'm just concerned" is friendlier than "I hate gay people and oh God I don't even know why," but I'm pretty sure it means the exact same thing.

I had a horrible anti-gay anti-sex roommate in college who told me that "there have been 36 new STDs since all this started." Leaving aside that "all this," whatever you might mean by that, has been going on for quite a few thousand years... that's a hell of a thing to come from someone who didn't believe in evolution.

Act without a name.

I wish there were some special word for the act of fucking someone with four fingers. (Er. I mean, using four fingers to fuck someone.) "Fingering" seems to imply only one or two fingers, and "fisting" requires getting your thumb in. I need a unique verb here. "Handing?" "Subfisting?"

Although I do kinda like calling it "fucking," because I think calling any kind of fucking other than penis-in-vagina "fucking" helps break down the "this is the only real sex" mythos. But I'd like a special word too.

Arbitrarily, I declare this to be "shucking." It's like a handshake, and it's like fucking. Shucking? Good enough.

I got shucked real good this morning. It's one of my favorite things. Not as much of a challenge as fisting, easier to do casually, but still way more intense than fingering. It's a very happy medium.


There was a house fire in my neighborhood a little ways back. The family in the house was killed.

You can't really tell which house it is from the outside--it didn't collapse or char, and there's no police tape left. But all the other houses in the neighborhood have the snow melted off the top of them because of the heat running inside.

This house, standing empty and cold, is the only one covered in snow.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


This weekend, Sprite and Rowdy and I are going to the Fetish Fair Fleamarket in Providence for three days of debauchery, perversion, and general moral turpitude. (I think moral turpitude is what you use to remove moral varnish.)

I'm excited. And a little nervous. I always worry before BDSM events, usually the twin terrors of:

1) Oh no, what if someone hits me really hard?
2) Oh no, what if no one hits me really hard?

They're both just matters of asking for what I want, though. If I can say "I want you to hit me," and I can say "but not real hard unless I say I'm ready, m'kay?", I can deal with most of that fear.

Then it's just... fun. More fun than lust, really. Kink in this kind of atmosphere is rarely a matter of "this is my deepest, darkest desire hidden down in the blood-streaked thorn garden of my soul," and more like "haha I wanna use that toy next I totally want to get tied up all crazy like wheeee." At least for me. And that's awesome.

Plus, these are only concerns that apply to play events, and though I understand there, uh, might be some playing going on somewhere, that's actually not the main thrust of the Flea. There's going to be classes and discussions and events and lots of shopping--basically everything from your typical nerd convention, except that our fandom is sexual perversion--and those are nearly as fun with far less neurosis attached. For those I'm just plain a kid in a candy store.

Man, Friday evening can't come soon enough.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cooperative sex.

Some of the coolest sex happens when you get out of the mindset "I should show him/her what I've got" and into the mindset "oh man, we should see what we can do!" When you're not exactly pleasing each other; you're a team exploring pleasure. When "hmm, let's see what this does" is not entirely a joke and "ooh, we should totally try this!" is not a line.

There's a reason, cheesy as it is, that people on dating sites talk about looking for a "partner in crime." It's because one of the best roles to play in sex is that of co-conspirators. "We've found it! This is the sex they didn't want us to know about!"

Broccoli Morality.

When I was a kid, we'd have broccoli for dinner, and my mom would boil it to death with no seasonings (my mom is the worst cook), and I hated it. The answer I got when I complained?

"Of course it tastes bad. It's good for you."

It's a pervasive message in our society, one that goes way beyond dinner: virtue is the opposite of pleasure. Sexual morality is the restriction of sexual pleasure; healthy living is uncomfortable; honest work is grueling; polite living is self-suppressing. If it feels good, it must be illegal, immoral, or fattening.

Obviously, this is not 100% wrong; "if it feels good, do it" can get you in all kinds of trouble. Sometimes grownups just gotta do things that aren't fun. But taken too far, broccoli morality sends some very wrong messages:

"Morality is about avoiding excess pleasure."
Giving up pleasure may be a side effect of making good decisions, but it is never the goal. The mere fact that something feels good doesn't make it wrong. This is a big hitch sometimes in sexual morality--"you're having [nonstandard] sex just because it feels good!" Damn skippy I am.

"Your natural desires are evil."
It's not much of a leap from this to "so yeah, you're evil," and that's just horrible and untrue. It's also not much of a basis for self-improvement. Is it really worth putting that much work into an evil and greedy soul? But worst of all, it makes evil the default--doing wrong is just a slip back into your natural state, instead of something you chose.

"You can never be happy."
If your natural desires are for evil, but you have an obligation to be good, then it follows you're going to spend your whole life in a state of frustration, choking down soggy broccoli until you die. Awesome. Like the last one, this makes evil way more tempting than it needs to be. And it's just not true.

"When you grow up, you're going to have to spend most of your time working and go without most of the things you want" is a half-truth.

The whole truth is "When you grow up, you're going to have to spend most of your time working and go without most of the things you want, but you're also going to have fantastic orgasms and nights you stay up til 5 AM just laughing and books you completely lose yourself in and hugs that seem like they make the whole world right. And you should never, ever feel one bit of guilt about loving those good parts."

Also, when you grow up, you'll discover that there's such a thing as bacon-wrapped broccoli.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm twittering my social 2.0 in the cloud!

I got a Twitter. @pervocracy. Not much on it right now. I don't think I'll announce all my posts on it, since I'm near-daily, but I'll use it for interesting links, pithy observations, and short blitherings. And hashtag games! Mustn't forget the hashtag games.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cosmocking: 7 Signs He Has Human Physiology!

I was writer's blocked this morning! I was blocked all bad. I wrote like half of "I want to have sex in the snow," then realized that snow is cold, then like half of a thing about how victims of violence sometimes really are kinda fuckups but that still shouldn't change our attitude toward violence, but I couldn't get my arguments real super lucid, and then I ate some pierogi and fell asleep.

Thank God I'm on Cosmo's mailing list.

7 Signs He Wants to Have Sex (Besides the Obvious One!)
I'm hoping "the obvious one" is him saying "I want to have sex with you." Because that's the one and only obvious one! Boners can come up for all kinds of reasons, and mean anything from "it's morning" to "I'm physically attracted to you, but don't want to go through with sex" to "you touched my crotch so I got hard, but I didn't really want to," to "I gotta pee so bad."

But if you thought that an erection itself is open to interpretation unless you openly communicate about it, boy, you ain't seen nothing yet.

He gets an "eye erection."
His pupils dilate, making the black part of the eye go from small to larger, something that happens when arousal spikes.

Jeez, men always get so horny when you turn the lights down.

Also, picture an "eye erection" literally, and you might not sleep tonight.

He hooks his thumbs in his belt loops.
It's an attempt to highlight the crotchal region and get you thinking about his junk.

I hook my thumbs in my belt loops! Usually the thought is "I don't have anywhere to put my hands, but shoving them in my pockets looks awkward. Holding my belt loops will occupy my hands in a far cooler and more laid-back-looking way." I was not aware that I was sending a sexual invitation to anyone who happened to be looking.

He touches his nose a lot.
Unless he has a cold, this could be a sign since the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine recently reported that the nerves in a guy's nose and his erectile tissue are linked.

Okay, especially in the winter, patently ridiculous. But now I'm just wondering: how do you apply this knowledge? Maybe this is just supposed to give you a little extra confidence when you make a move in the conventional fashion. But I can't help thinking:
"Hey! Why did you grab my crotch!"
"Oh hush, I know you want me. You touched your nose and everything."

He speaks more deeply than usual.
A 2010 study found that people lower the pitch of their voice when they're turned on.

I'll actually give Cosmo this one. The baritone flirt is kinda a thing. Although it's amusing that they seem to be steadily compiling signs that a man with a cold is just the horniest ever.

He cups or rubs your shoulder.
This is often a subconscious simulation of grabbing some tata.

Uh. While I agree that the shoulder rub is often a horny and/or affectionate thing, I really really hoped that the thinking was more "this is a non-threatening part of her body" and less "it's sort of like a bony angular BOOB!"

He goes in for a hug and rests his hands low on your back.
It may not feel sexual, but if he lingers just above your ass, he could be craving, well, ass.

Random anecdote: when I was in middle school, I had my first slow dance. I didn't know what to do and I was tremendously anxious, because boys never asked me to dance and at this point it was basically the closest thing I had to sex. The music got all drifty and lovey-dovey, he put his hands around my waist, and I put my hands... around his waist. Seemed like the thing to do.

In retrospect that's probably a totally reasonable variation, but in middle school it's as socially acceptable as picking your nose with the salad fork during the fish course. I was quickly informed of this and didn't slow dance again until... well, actually, ever.

Anyway, I think lower back hugs are sexy, not because men think entirely in weird puns, but because to get the angles right to do that to a relatively shorter woman, you have to press your bodies way together, which is a slightly less subtle hint.

He bites his lower lip and shakes his head.
Dudes who do this when they're talking to you may be feeling frisky.

Well, yeah, but that's the universal gesture for "dayum, girl." It's weird to mix this into a list of autonomic or ambiguous things like "his pupils are dilated."

In conclusion, there is no way to know if someone is attracted to you without one of you taking some sort of actual risk. You may even have to communicate. My deepest condolences.

95% of this game is 100% mental.

For all the supposed crassness of their gender, in my experience men are often incredibly giving in bed. "My experience" is always skewed, but most men I've been with view the stimulation of their own bodies as a side attraction, as something of an "eh, getting my cock rubbed is fun and all, but I can do that anytime." Most of the guys I've been with, good and bad, have been all about my physical stimulation.

The catch is, they may not be giving something you want to take. A guy saying "hey baby, let me finger you, let me go down on you, let me make your fantasies come true" is just as skeevy if he's not taking no for an answer, even if he's not being physically selfish.

Maybe this is why, when you go into a sex toy store, there'll be like eighty varieties of dildo and vibrator and three or four really sketchy-looking male stroker thingies.

Maybe it has to do with the perception that female sexual experience varies tremendously in quality, while male sexual experience is an on/ohbaby/off sort of deal.

Maybe it's a male gaze thing, where thinking too much about male physical experience and response would be, in some utterly unfathomable yet horribly plausible way, gay.

Either way, it puts me in sexual situations where the toughest performance expected of me is "have lots of orgasms!" and, gosh, I can't pretend to be too broke up about that. I hope this isn't one of those situations where I was supposed to be going "no, no, after me" all along, but I think it isn't. (Particularly with dominant men, who don't exactly have trouble telling me what they want.) I think I really do live in a world where a lot of guys' sexual desire manifests as wanting to give me pleasure.