Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Open Letter to LGBT Community Center Hosting The Scary Party


Dear (Executive Director),

I have shared a deep concern with the (LGBT Community Center Hosting The Scary Party) staff via email a couple of times and my complaint has been ignored. Just a heads-up that what you are about to read may be triggering, and for that, I’m sorry.

I am writing to you under my blog name to minimize outing other partners I’ve written about on my blog.

Since finding out that (LGBT Community Center) is now hosting (The Scary Party's) monthly parties, I have been suffering flashbacks to traumatic events that happened to me at the hands of their leadership, as well as feeling that I no longer have safe access to (LGBT Community Center) for counselling and other events.

At an (Scary Party) event in 2013, I experienced numerous consent violations from the head of security at the time and his friend, who was also on the security staff. In response to my report, the dungeon's leadership gaslighted me, blamed me for what happened, and the entire (Scary Party) community gang-trolled me on FetLife. 

I have considered (LGBT Community Center) to be a wonderful resource in the past, but until this situation is corrected, I will no longer feel safe using your services, and I don't think any woman/femme/submissive should.

Here are detailed blog posts on both the original incident and the FetLife nightmare. In the future, I hope you will consider safety and consent in your booking decisions.

"Pretty Ribbons"

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Heart and Hoo-Ha Check-In

The other day in a tricky facebook argument about the porn industry, a twenty-something woman who was mistaking my anti-rape stance for being anti-sex helpfully explained to me that “Sex is good and people like having it.” She was on the defensive and making a mistake about what my values are, but she got under my skin.

Being mistaken for a Puritan got me thinking, where DO I stand with sex these days? This blog wouldn’t be here if I didn’t find sex a difficult thing to wrap my head around, and lately I’ve been wondering if I might be something like demi-sexual. I almost typed demi-romantic but then I remembered what really sweeps me up and carries me away.

One thing I’m sure of is that sex is not presently the central force of my life. My wrongheaded friend inadvertently shamed me for that, but most of the time, my life is a happy and calm one, punctuated by marches and letters to congress. When I’m not working or activist-ing, I prefer to be by myself, reading novels, drawing, singing random songs to the cats. Sex is still with me, just quietly, a gentle tide that buoys me up sometimes, but not the emergency it used to be. Sometimes I miss it, but mostly I’m just relieved.

But also, there’s this: I let my heart run away with itself for Mr. Makeout Music, and, to a more sense-making extent, for The Professor. The pain of those two failures-to-connect is still so much that it’s hard to see the good in those attractions, hard to see what was gained. The sense of loss I feel around those two guys has turned into a barrier against even the most modest fantasies. I’ve dated since them, sometimes to great enjoyment, but those two still loom large in my heart.

There’s no risk of running into Mr. Makeout Music—I haven’t even been to the library where we used to work together since I left. I didn’t go to the Big Poly Conference this year, partly because of some misogyny in the organization’s leadership but partly because the pain of seeing The Professor and not hugging him would have been too much.

The thing with Mr. Makeout Music ended in such misery and heartbreak that he is a lost cause, and probably The Professor is too, but there was something so real about my connection with the latter, something so sweet and easy about the physical spark between us—I am still having a hard time convincing myself that there wasn’t a potential there for love, a potential that I ruined in a flurry of panic and, okay, both of us being jerks. I ended up feeling thoroughly embarrassed, and because The Professor is so connected to the higher-ups of that particular poly community, the embarrassment feels public and hard to get past.

Oops, I set out to write about sex and ended up writing about love. These are attachments built on a workplace flirtation and a few days of glorious hotel-kissing, followed by an almost-relationship where we talked on the phone while I colored in a coloring book called “Secret Paris.”

Objectively I don’t see what’s wrong with being a fool for love, I would never judge a friend for it, but I am angry with myself still for the shame, loss, and trapped feeling that went along with Mr. Makeout Music, for the miscommunication and can’t-keep-up feelings of that connection with The Professor.

When I sat down to write this, I imagined that it would be a post about being a little scared of sex right now because of “metoo, because Trump is president (PLEASE WATCH THE BROAD CITY EPISODE “WITCHES” ON THAT THEME) because activism is demanding and news cycles keep bringing new waves of fight or flight, because it’s hard to relax and be vulnerable in the midst of so much fear.

But it isn’t bodily harm I’m afraid of, it’s love. I fall. I fall and it so seldom works out well. I feel like I can’t keep up because I CAN’T KEEP UP—people can fall into physical affection without worrying what it means, meanwhile my heart is sprouting flowers and building monuments. I’m afraid of the addictiveness of those flowers and monuments, and I’m afraid of the way everything else pales in comparison. I LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE, I don’t WANT it to pale.

So, the times when sex and love are put aside are just as important to me, just as vibrant, just as shiny with life-force. Love and sex are overwhelming to me and sometimes I like to be overwhelmed by other things. I don’t want to be ashamed of the times of solitude or of the romance that sometimes spreads rampantly from me like morning glory vines. I want to accept that it happens at inconvenient times, with the wrong men, or the right men when I’m unready for them. I’d like to think that none of it was a failure at all, just awkward, messy collisions that were just as important as the loves that make more sense, just as beautiful and necessary.

Friday night at yoga, I was stunned to notice that a beautiful man seemed to be flirting me, maybe seeing through the veil of good vibes and invisibility I tend to bring with me to self-care occasions. He was covered in tattoos that were clearly from a younger part of his life. On one hand it said “fear” and the other it said “less.” It was from when he used to think he was tough, he said, and I recognize a good new mantra when I see one. So that’s the goal: while I work to accept my solitary self, I can probably make a little more room for magic, I can probably manage to fear love less.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Bye and Thanks to The Socialist

My third date with The Socialist (a week ago yesterday) was just as warm and snuggly as the first two. I drove out to visit him in the suburbs, to his very guy apartment with a goth mix playing and Smiths posters all over the walls. He was wearing a Smiths t-shirt that matched the rest of the aesthetic, and all of it felt very homey and familiar. When I was nineteen, my boyfriend-type-person was a goth guy who took me to a rave club on Friday nights, and that seems to have influenced most subsequent decisions.

I felt so cozy sitting on his (velvety black) couch with my feet in his lap, talking about books and life and politics. I was SO RELIEVED when he made fun of the idea of a rigged 2016 primary! I told him he deserved ten blowjobs for that, and I meant it, but maybe I need to set my bar higher than “only buys into SOME misogynist news cycles.” Kinda where we are right now, though.

In bed, it was easy and warm. He knew just how to kiss me and just how to fuck me, didn’t mind when my exuberant moans rattled the walls of his crowded apartment building, though he did eventually get up and close the window. I couldn’t contain my joy, and he didn’t want me to.

After a couple of snuggly hours, I got tired of the goth music and (this is seriously one of the best date things that ever happened to me) put on one of his TWO Monkees playlists, singing along to cheery retro deeps cuts with his whole heart and his whole face. This, to me, is the miracle of dating, the way that, in spite of every wall and flaw and trope, a near-stranger’s perfect goofball humanity can shine out of him like the sun, and I am sometimes lucky enough to be there, naked and satisfied, to witness it. (And, in this case, laugh my head off.)

Definitely not hot songs, but I climbed all over him some more anyway—"Another Pleasant Valley Sunday” indeed.

The trouble started when I tried to tell him what I needed in terms of post-snuggle communication. He had disappeared for most of the week following our excellent second date, and as I tried to ask for something other than radio silence I felt stupid and needy and a little flower of hurt bloomed in my chest. I knew I wanted him to be more present by text, but everything I said felt like it had the potential to scare him away, everything kept coming out wrong.

We did spend a very pleasant half-hour joking our way through the emoji keyboard (Upside-down-smiley-face makes a much better ping than the businesslike thumbs-up, don’t you think?!) As I was putting on my pants, though, I knew I had to try and get serious, and he could not have looked more miserable about that.

I explained that praise is a really important part of sex for me. “Praise” makes it sound more BDSM than I meant it to. What I really meant was…softness. Kind words. He hadn’t given a single tiny sparkle of a compliment, and I explained that I couldn’t read his mind to tell if he liked me. He argued that he wouldn’t have had me over if he didn’t like me, but that is just nonsense when it comes to sex. (And I have, like, five years of blogging to prove it.)

“I’m just not good with praise” was the verdict and so was “I just don’t like all the talking.” I said that if we were fucking, he needed to communicate better, and he seemed to take it to heart.

On the long drive home, my phone chimed, and I got my hopes up that maybe he’d said something sweet. When I pulled up at home, I opened the phone and saw…more bantering about emojis, which is admittedly fun and cute but also nagged at that little void in me where kind words should’ve been. I have all the kind words to offer, and I wanted to believe that I deserved some in return.

He pinged the next day, but the connection felt broken. There would’ve been so many things to chitchat about all week—the Blue Wave! The new emojis! Orange heart! But my phone was silent except for reminders from ResistBot, so I had to admit that The Socialist didn’t like me the way I liked him.

After I let him go, I felt a return to myself, a relief from the emotional hangover that had made the sad election anniversary even harder to navigate.

What I want is simple, I want the cute person to tell me I’m cute. What isn’t so simple is remembering that I deserve it.

As the dust settled and I sent my OKC app to the cloud for a breather, I realized something I’ve never been able to non-judgmentally take in about myself before: sex is a scary thing to me. It’s all of the wonderful things, too, but sharing my space, my body with someone takes a deep investment of trust. I’ve always wanted it to be no big deal but with a sensitive body and soul and a heart that will leap into action at the least provocation, I have to take care of myself. I have to admit what I need.

So it’s a sad week, guywise, and I’m disappointed, but this is also a good, big step. I listened to him when he told me what he had (and didn’t have) to offer, and I believed him. Instead of treating the difference between us with self-sacrifice and eventual resentment, I treated us both kindly, setting us free to find a better fit. Sigh-go me.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Dating in the Upside-Down: A Like Story (Part Three)

            Thinking about the rest of this story, I had a saaaaaaad realization: I’ve lost a word since the last time I wrote about sex! Let’s have a moment of silence for the word “pussy,” which will never not remind me of the rapist-in-chief. I used to like using it sometimes, and now I’m kinda lost about what can replace it. It sounds a little clinical, I know, but I think for now I’ll just call body parts by their names and hope for the best.

Okay friends. If you’ve been keeping score, you’ll know that I haven’t had sex in a couple of years, not since blue-canary-nightlight guy, so I might not have the most perspective on what it was like with The Socialist, but it was good. Easy. Friendly. PIV sex has always been the big mystery to me, the hardest thing to settle into, even though it’s often what I want the most. This was a night where bodies just knew what to do, where everything just sort of took care of itself.

Soon after we got into bed, he got out of it. He knelt on the floor and pulled me to the side of the bed, put my legs over his shoulders, and BURIED his face in my vagina, like I was the most delicious thing in the universe. As assured as if this had been happening since the beginning of time, like he owned the place. Urgent and expert, he sucked my clit and thrust his tongue in as far as it could possibly go, and it felt so ridiculously good that I laughed between cries, apologized for laughing, then descended into giggles again.

All those years on lesbian island had made me sort of indifferent to receiving oral sex, but I guess that’s over now. I felt beautiful and silly and so, so happy. I kissed his slippery face gratefully, then set out to learn his lovely penis. It was friendly in my hand, sure of itself the way he is, and as affectionate. I felt self-conscious about my skills since it had been so long, but he assured me that there would be plenty of time to practice.

I was soooo grateful to have a box of condoms in my nightstand like a boss. They’ve mostly been used to make toy clean up easy, but what a joy for them to find a person.

There was something different about the sex this time, and as much as I want to collapse into giggles at the chemistry between us, I think what was different was me. In all my adventures, though so much good, dirty fun was had by all, I could never be fully present in my body. I struggled so hard to reduce sex with men to a transaction so that I wouldn’t be swept up in an inevitable wave of abandonment and hurt. But this? I was here for it, in every sense of the phrase.

He just fit so perfectly, bent me in all the right ways, filled me up in such a joyful, kind, friendly way. When I looked up into his face, he was with me, and when he held me down by my hair and insistently bent to kiss me, I felt the weight of the world lift. This is my bed. This is my body. This is my home, thanks for visiting. I felt grounded and pink, floaty and rooted, and the feeling hasn’t really left since.

Between snuggles, we chatted about music and fascism and other 2017 things. I looked into his deep green eyes a lot, felt silly, and did it some more.

            Since I started writing these posts, I’ve ruled him out and ruled him back in again. I haven’t lost my post-election fear of white men, the fear that somehow I’ll be swept away from The Struggle by the appeal of testosterone and playlists. I haven’t forgotten that he listens to Howard Stern, but I have to admit that The Socialist treated me 100% like a person. He treated my body with respect and admiration, and I can’t dismiss that.

So for now, I’m cautiously optimistic, thinking of an outfit for our next date, and Googling “Stranger Things Valentines.” I can’t ever really be anyone but myself, and I have faith that that will appeal to someone, even if it’s not this time. For now I’m willing to say, who knows?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dating in the Upside-Down: A Like-Story (Part Two)

This isn’t one of those stories where I ignore a red flag and then everything goes awry—everything went PERFECTLY.

For our second date, I asked if he wanted to come over and watch a few episodes of Stranger Things, Season 2. The perfect, spooky, romantic, music-y date, I was proud of myself for thinking of it. I stocked the freezer with toaster waffles and he volunteered to bring wine. Again with the giddy.

When he arrived, (SO big and tall, dressed nicely all in black, looking like he was just custom-made for me…) I mentioned that I’d found our local radio station’s Halloween special “Too Bauhaus-y” and he said there’s no such thing. He showed me his Halloween Spotify playlist and it was indeed very Bauhaus-y, and also full of The Cure, and The Smiths, as well as a little Marilyn Manson I could mock him for: PERFECT. So perfect as to seem fictional. Maybe I was just really, REALLY happy to have a guy on my couch.

Even though it was a Netflix date, I’d worn my favorite red lace dress, and as soon as he sat down next to me, I started to suspect that the dress was coming off before too long. He had a warm, open energy, and draped his arm invitingly over the back of the couch. I think it took me about one episode to snuggle in, and when I did, it felt like it such a natural, easy fit. His hands (I’d spent all week thinking about them, tempted to text and ask if he liked spanking people) were big, soft, and warm, gently but insistently affectionate. As he stroked my arms, my hands, my hair, it became harder to concentrate on the Hawkins goings-on, though nothing could distract me from the terribleness of Bob’s taste in music (Team Bob 4life though) and the awesomeness of the rest of the soundtrack.

I finally turned my head and kissed him (is there anything better than that moment?) during episode three—it was easy, delicate, soft. I pulled away after a little bit (“Wait I really want to see what’s on that video tape!”) and made intermittent attempts to stay focused on the plot points, but after a while, it was time to switch to music, my mix called “Dreamy music” which has an inexplicable and not-super-helpful amount of Radiohead on it, definitely time to edit.

I knelt next to him on the couch and wrapped myself around him, pulled into a soft quilt of man-smell and comforting warmth. His hands went to my boobs in my favorite insistent-but reverent teenage-feeling-up way, and I growl-groaned, relieved and hungry, safe and ecstatic, just like that. He moved to the floor and spread me out over the couch like I was prey, but in the very good way.

“I’m in a place…” I said, and I was. I hadn’t been to a submissive place in my heart or head in a long time, certainly not since my ill-fated date with Mr. Makeout Music, and I was very happy to be back there.

I was wearing thick black tights, but when he ran his hand over my crotch I could feel the wetness soaking all the way through. I didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or thrilled, but I’d been this way since I met him, and it felt like very, VERY good news.

Next: I DO have a bed…

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dating in the Upside-Down: A Like Story (Part One)

A lot has happened since I posted last. I’ve all but wrapped up my post-election trauma therapy, paring down the sessions from weekly to monthly, experimenting with how it feels to not spend QUITE so much time thinking about trauma.

Part of me hoped that I would be different once I finished this phase of exposure therapy for PTSD. I’d heard other survivors talk about feeling more open, more accepting, more affectionate, less quick to anger. I guess I’ve changed a little, but there are some boundaries I just can’t bring myself to cross—my yesses are sometimes stronger and easier but my nos are too. It’s disappointing not to just be open like a lovey-dovey post-traumatic flower, it feels a little lonely, but given the world we are currently trying to inhabit, I’m as open as I can be.

I went back to OK Cupid-ing a little while ago when I realized I was getting a crush on my massage therapist, whom I would never, ever hit on. I started swiping and chatting again, and I’ve honed my screening question to perfect bluntness: “Bernie or Hillary?”

To my heartbreak, I have NEVER gotten the chance to flirt with a guy who voted for Hillary in the primary (Seriously, if you know any, kindly send them my way. I will reward their loyalty with SO much generous sluttiness! And cake!) but I liked The Socialist’s answer. It gave me the immediate sense that he was solid and trustworthy, confident, and somehow, I even gleaned from his answer that he probably had a pretty excellent penis. (Spoiler alert: He does!) I don’t know how I could tell all of that from a tiny paragraph about politics, but I could, go me.

Plus, I liked his sense of humor, and he was a close-to-my-age goth guy who was EXCELLENT at the ultimate aphrodisiac: talking about Nineties music. I asked him out for wine and cake at my go-to first date spot, and I delighted in the chance to put a face on for somebody cute for the first time since the spring.

When I saw him, I was even more convinced that he might be a match—big enough to make Amazonian me feel little, so I knew he could probably throw me around. (Further spoiler alert—he could!) He was smiley and self-effacing in a charming way and so, so funny. What really sealed in the liking was finding out that we had both been at the same Dead Milkmen show in 1994-I’m an absolute sucker for that kind of meant-to-be-ness.

And then (there’s always an “and then”) The Socialist mentioned that he listens to Howard Stern all day every day at work. When I expressed shock and dismay, he defended himself a little:

“But Howard Stern supported Hillary Clinton!”

“He also helped create the atmosphere of misogyny that defeated her!”

Knowing that The Socialist was a fan of one of the grossest decades-long perpetrators of lady-objectifying, one of the deepest architects of rape culture, should have been enough to make me leave, but after he conceded that I was probably right, I stayed, and knowing we probably weren’t right for each other gave me a chance to let my guard down even more. I confessed that I’ve had a pants-wall since primaries, that I was worried I would always be at war with men. AND HE WAS THERE FOR ALL OF IT. What I liked so much about him was his ability to remain unfazed, to argue without getting defensive or fragile. He’s A MAN.

In spite of my doubt, I left there giddy. It could have been the wine (I don’t drink enough lately to take it for granted) but I think it was the laughter. He asked me out again right away, and I said yes.

Next: What kind of wine goes with toaster waffles?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Did Bernie Ruin the Men of the Left?

            It like so many of my stories lately, it started out in the most rom-commy of ways. I took myself to lunch at a fancy sushi restaurant to celebrate a few different things, and after the twelve- dollar ramen and the four pieces of yellowtail I could afford, I said yes to a really elaborate dessert. Conditioned by years of Food Network to peer back into the kitchen, I watched the dreamy pastry chef execute the multistep process it took to construct the chocolate fever dream what was eventually set on fire before me. I liked how careful he seemed with his hands, so precise that I thought he just might know some knots.

            He stuck in my head so I sent him a card. (Outer envelope, restaurant address. Inner envelope: “To the chef who made my (name of dessert) at lunchtime on 4/3.”) On the back of a homemade card featuring a photo of last year’s azaleas, I gave him my number and suggested that he look me up if he was single or in an open relationship.

            It was a silly thing to do and it made me feel romantic and optimistic and happy, but I assumed I’d just give myself credit for trying and never hear from him—but he texted! And when I sent him my picture he sent back three heart-eye emojis.

            He was a great texter for a few days, all “good morning” and “beautiful” and “sleep well” so I was really excited for our first date. We met downtown and walked around the city at twilight, heading for a bench in our most cinematic park, where the tress were almost in full bloom and the fanciest people were walking their dogs.

            Because I am me and he is a guy that I picked, politics came up almost immediately. Though I’d hope to avoid the primaries conversation to at least give us a CHANCE to like each other, he went ahead and said the spell-breakingest, pants-wall-buildingest thing he could’ve said:

“I’m still upset about my man. I know he could’ve won in November.”

            In my heart was a Star-Wars-prequels cheesy NOOOOOOOOOOOO, and what I said aloud wasn’t much better. I think it would be spelled something like:

“GaaaaaaAUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHhhhh, NO!” I practically folded myself in half with anguish and disappointment. I punched him hard on the arm, not a fantastic move a half-hour into a first date, I know. It was a delicious, powerful, bread-baking arm, hard to forget.

            Trump is the very worst, of course, but Bernie has wrecked my love life way more, simply because his slightly subtler “nice guy” misogyny is something I much more likely to encounter in my daily liberal bubble of a life. While my being queer, poly, and fat probably helps ward off any wandering Trumpsters, The Bern is a persistent and pernicious irritation.

            We talked about lots of other things, and in some ways it was a really nice date, culminating with eating cheesecake in a really diner-ish diner, but he kept coming back to Hillary like a chime. What about the banks, he asked, as if Dodd-Frank had arisen from thin air, as if “his man” hadn’t taken money from the gun lobby. The gun lobby!

“That’s understandable, I guess,” said my getting-less-cute-by-the-minute date, pushing my voice up to a level of strident that only Gloria Steinem could hear.

These conversations feel like microagressions, like attempts to put me in my place. Is there anything more condescending than the “I don’t like Hillary, but here are some other women I would vote for” line? Imagine replacing “women” with any other category and it sounds even more tone deaf and creepy.

It’s been a year and I STILL don’t want to hear about how Elizabeth Warren is the kind of woman you could approve of, dude.

To me, Bernie-fervor and the she’s-a-liar disinformation campaign that sparked it was an outgrowth of trolling culture, which itself feels like an expression of rape culture. There might be an anxious-girl leap in there, but that doesn’t actually make it not true. Men who are susceptible to misogynist mob mentality on that scale may never feel safe for me to be around.

It didn’t work out with the pastry chef for a variety of reasons, but I’m happy to come away with hope, with the realization that I have the option to wait, glass-slipper style, for the Hillary-voter of my dreams. That doesn’t mean that I will, but it’s a relief to know that I can.

I know that it wasn’t really a case of Bernie ruining the men of the left. Last year’s primary only served to bring to light the misogyny that permeates all of American society, and it’s a bummer to know that Democrats (OR WHATEVER) aren’t exempt, but we aren’t. Whenever I’m having these annoying conversations with Bernie Bros, sometimes I’m comforted to stop and think “This is the work.” Activism doesn’t only live in pussy hats and marches, it’s in the little day-to-day pushbacks that can slowly move the conversation where we want to it be. I’d rather have snuggles, but for now, I’ll settle for evolution, even in the tiniest of ways.