Tag Archive: kink

Kink-Aware Professionals

Even in the healthiest, most supportive, wonderful environments, kinky people are eventually going to have to interact with the medical community.  Some are going to need help from psychologists, psychiatrists, or life coaches.  Most of us (unless you happen to be one of those incredible people who knows how to do their own taxes and make deductions for your mortgage and whatnot) will need assistance from accountants and personal finance professionals.  Many will look for spiritual guidance.

Sometimes we like to think that these areas of our life remain delineated and separate from our kink lives.  And in many instances, it can be true.  But when your general physician asks you why you have what looks like rope burns on your arms and thighs or when you need to talk to a councilor about issues arising within your consensual D/s relationship, you realize that sometimes this very private area of your life has bled out into new territory.

There’s a lot of stigma that comes from that.  One of the strongest stereotypes about kinky individuals is that they have problems with physical or emotional abuse that leads them to this kind of behavior.  Of course this stereotype is unfounded, but if you find yourself meeting with a doctor of therapist who subscribes to this notion, you’re in for a lot of trouble from people who are meant to provide you support.   In faith communities, stigma abounds against people for all kinds of sexual practices, and you can quickly find yourself ostracized when you may need guidance and faith the most.

For situations like this and probably a million more that I can’t even think of, the Kink-Aware Professionals (KAP) directory exists.  I’m not trying to plug this directory for any kind of personal benefit.  I believe it is truly crucial that others know where to turn when they need professional advice or services without fear of being judged, stigmatized, or ostracized.  While I can’t vouch for their professional qualifications, the people listed in this directory are either familiar with or specialize in managing the everyday details of kinky people’s lives.  If you’re ever in a situation where you need to come to someone for help, I strongly suggest you look to these professionals as a first line of recourse.  Sometimes the parts of our lives we most want to keep separate can be the parts that require the most care from the rest of the world.


In Pursuit of Good Porn

For those of you who don’t want the down-and-dirty details of my sex life, you should probably skip this one.

Last night I was lonely and in search of a good wank, so I went to my trusty friend the internet and found a free bondage-themed porn clip to use as an aid.  The clip was provided by Tied Virgins, a site that proclaims “We take amazing beautiful girls and introduce them to Bondage! All so that we can fulfil all your kinky bondage desires.  Every New Tied Virgin is given a full bondage lesson. From simple ballgagging to full suspension bondage we leave no stone unturned for you. Bound, gagged and made to feel like true slaves, these girls are never the same again after a trip to Tied Virgins…”

I had some serious misgivings about this video from Tied Virgins, and as a consequence, my use of free porn in general.  In the video I found, a girl was tied, both hands above her head, one leg to a bedpost, and had a ballgag in her mouth.

Throughout the video, there were shots of her struggling to get out of her bonds and move away from the person who was using a vibrator on her.  This disturbed me, not so much for the content itself (I’m all for introducing more attractive women to rope bondage!) but for the lack of context provided to me about its production.  With both hands immobilized and her mouth gagged, it would be difficult for the actress to call off the scene if it truly became too intense for her.  While her struggling was probably choreographed to add to the aesthetics of the video (or perhaps were simply a natural element of the scene), there’s no way for me to know that for sure.  I don’t know anything about the company that made this film, except what I can glean from their personal website.  I don’t know how they treat their actresses, what kind of dynamics occur behind-scenes during the filming of these videos, or if any of the cast members are coerced or hurt by the company’s practices.

Of course, this can be the case with non-BDSM porn videos as well, but it is not as immediately evident that there is potential for abuse in filming them.  Now this is not a disavowal of porn as inherently abusive—in fact, far from it.  It is, however, an endorsement for a more critical approach to porn viewing.  I’m sure to most people, it seems indulgent to pay for the porn for you watch when so much of it is available free, but there are certain things that I can say with certainty about pay-for porn sites like Crash Pad Series, Burning Angel (Joanna Angel’s site), and Kink.com:

  1. They are fair and trustworthy porn producers
  2. They treat their actors and actresses with respect, and all scenes are consensual

I can’t promise that the free clips on Redtube and Pornhub are going to fulfill those requirements.  And while they may be free, and they may suite your tastes just fine, isn’t it worth seeking out non-exploitative work to perpetuate the things you enjoy?  I don’t buy products from Proctor and Gamble because they test on animals, so I’m not going to patronize porn sites that hurt their actors.  Maybe that doesn’t mean buying a subscription to a porn site, but it does mean looking around and doing some research.  There are plenty of bloggers who have the scoop on free sites that are equally ethical (I personally know that Kink.com puts up compilation videos on some of the major porn sites to drive traffic to their site and encourage subscriptions- I’m sure others do too).  So don’t sit around wondering if that actress was ok after you’ve satisfied yourself with an orgasm or two.  Find new sources for your pleasure that you KNOW treat their performers well.

And if you’re too lazy to do that?  Erotic literature is a sure-fire way to avoid exploitation all together.  There’s no shortage of that on the web, it’s free, and far more varied than most of the porn videos you’ll find anyway.

Aging and Kinky

I’ve spoken before about how uncomfortable most people are when it comes to viewing their parents and other people from previous generations as sexual beings, and the numerous societal problems that stem from that taboo.  Well, here’s one more to add to the list.

The bias against kinky old people is not one that’s commonly talked about, but as social services and even home-care providers become part of the mix for the elderly (but still active!) population, it’s an important one to understand.  Amy Marsh from Carnal Nation writes:

A Citizen’s Guide to Preventing and Reporting Elder Abuse” …presents the warning signs of elder abuse, including those which are physical: “physical assault,” “unexplained bruises or welts,” “injuries that are incompatible with explanations,” and “any injuries that reflect the outline of an object, for example a belt, cord, or hand.”

For a kinky elder, all of the above might simply be the traces of a fabulous night of play. But for a social worker or other mandated reporter, such signs will indicate severe abuse and the necessity to report immediately to Adult Protective Services. That is unless the kinky elder feels comfortable enough explaining these “signs” to a (possibly tight-lipped and judgmental) social worker. And are there any guarantees that the worker will buy this explanation? Not necessarily. The results will not be pretty.”

Don’t think it’s that big of an issue, because “older people aren’t generally kinky?”  Think again.  The over 50 community is increasingly getting involved in the BDSM scene, either as they reinvent themselves after a partner dies or a long-term relationship ends, and/or as the internet opens up new opportunities to seek like-minded individuals.  One of my new favorite bloggers, Rachel Rabbit White, wrote this awesome article called “The Old Masters,” which takes a look at how the older generations are enjoying the freedom and experimentation of BDSM, and considers both the peaks and pitfalls of age in this “erotic version of high-impact sports:”

“When I ask Master Z if the aging bodies makes him nervous he replies, “Hell no.” In his opinion, it’s the kids that get into trouble with hurting themselves, the newbies. The older people tend to know what they are doing, they are the ones who will stop a dangerous scene, and show you how to do it.

But sometimes older people are the newbies. Peaches’ hair is gray, her face sloped with age. In a voice shaky and warmed by southern twang she tells me she got into BDSM seven years ago.”

But she also touches on the troubles associated with seniors who attempt to “come out” to their children and grandchildren, who, more often than not, want nothing to do with such confessions:

“Both Peaches and Master R have tried coming out to their adult kids. Peaches’ kids didn’t want to hear about it, shutting her up with a quick, “Mom, if you are happy, we are happy.” Master R opened up to one of his children, who did not approve. “I know if one of them knows, then they all know, but no one mentions it,” he says.”

This problem compounds upon itself.  The less we talk about elder sexuality in general, the more awkward these conversations with care providers get for older kinky people, and the more awkward the conversations get, the less we have them, and thus, the less we talk about elder sexuality in general.

Personally, I think it’s a huge shame on two fronts: first that we, as the generation that thinks we invented sex, are too cowed by our own personal prejudice against the elder generations to talk openly and without judgment about their sexuality; and second, that the medical establishment has such a huge blind spot in terms of care for the aging population (and if we’re really being honest, for people of all ages- when’s the last time you told your doctor about how much you like piercing play?).

To remedy this, my homework for you all is to start following Joan and her lovely blog, Naked at Our Age/Better than I Ever Expected.  Her writing is humorous, honest, and beautifully emotionally open as she looks at all aspects of sexuality in the aging population.  READ IT!  And get comfortable with it, because someday, you’ll be the raunchy grandparent that makes your kids feel awkward.

What I Love About Polyamory

During the most recent months of my blog-scouring and self-reflection, I’ve been honing in on a lot of material about the polyamorous community and all the wonderful growth and learning experiences that living in a poly relationship can bring.  So here’s my list (and a number of awesome articles  to go with it!) about what polyamory can bring to the table for personal improvement and interpersonal intimacy

1.  Living in a poly or open relationship forces you to be an amazing communicator.

The top priority for every poly person is to love while doing no harm.  Just because people are in open relationships doesn’t mean jealousy doesn’t happen, feelings aren’t going to be hurt, or problems won’t arise.  Because it does, they are, they will.  Polyamory has so many pitfalls if you aren’t being completely, 100% honest with your partner.  They need to know what you are thinking and feeling and needing not only in regards to their relationship with you, but in regards to their relationship as it relates to your OTHER relationships.  Tricky stuff.

One of the biggest aspects of polyamory among couples that date separately is the question of “negotiating permissions.”  For an illustration of how this works, but also why it can be tricky, I direct you to The Ferret, a blog on polyamory, and his explanation of “The Butterfinger Metaphor.”  

“Look,” I said. “Imagine that we’re going out to see a movie. You know I love movies, because movies are awesome. But imagine, if you will, that there was a chance that at this movie theater, on any given night, the cashier might also give me free Butterfingers. …[But] you care about the Butterfingers so much that I have to make sure you’re aware of every Butterfinger I eat. So every time I head to the movies, I’m all like, ‘Hell, if there’s a chance at Butterfingers, I’d better clear it with Gini – because if it turned out there was someone willing to give me Butterfingers and you would have been okay with that, I’d hate to miss out.’” 

“So we spend a lot of time discussing Butterfingers,” I boldly continued, “But the actual amount of time I spend getting Butterfingers, or even deeply caring about Butterfingers, is pretty damned slim. I just want to make sure that if Butterfingers are available, it’s okay with you.” 

 Maybe the metaphor is terrible, but it’s also an adorable way of illustrating the importance and difficulties of negotiating permissions.  If you want to spend time with another partner, but not hurt your primary partner, you end up asking a lot more often that you end up receiving, which can in turn, irritate your primary partner because you spend so much time asking to sleep with other people.

HOWEVER, I would argue that the hyper-developed communication skills which led to the Butterfingers problem also allowed it to be solved, because both partners were able to talk about why there was a disconnect in the way they were interacting and feeling.   And creative, constructive dialogue is awesome!

2.   Being in a poly/open relationship allows you to experience things sexually that another partner is unable to give, and/or offer the variety you feel like you’ve been missing.

One of the major boons about poly life in the kink community is that it combines the emotional commitment and trust that many kinky people need in their sex lives without needing to put all your eggs in one basket, as it were.  Many kinky people have a variety of practices that interest them, but have a life partner that is either not kinky at all, or that is drawn to different varieties of kinks than them.   For example, a male/female couple may both like domination and submission play, but the man also likes fire play or other practices too extreme for his partner.  Likewise, the woman may like to switch and play with other women in the opposite role from when she plays with her husband.  This kind of variability is incredibly useful to kinky people, and is much safer- physically and emotionally- than playing with strangers at parties or in the club scene (not that there’s anything wrong with that- but it is more dangerous).

This is equally true for vanilla relationships and single people who fear “getting tied down by true love” before they’ve experimented and satisfied their curiosity with people who aren’t “the one.”  Dan Savage talks about this brilliantly in “What Does Marriage Mean,” where a young couple with three children ends up separating because they realized that they hadn’t had enough sexual experiences of their own before settling down with each other.  But because they were unprepared to acknowledge the potential for a non-monogamous, yet committed relationship, they had to leave each other, which I think is a frustrating and un-productive endgame.

3. Poly/open relationships take the stress of dependency off of a diadic partner relationship.

The swinger’s blog, Life on the Swingset, provides a great explanation of this in their post, “All Things Re-Considered.”

“In every aspect of a modern life, we’ve become interconnected and interdependent with others. Every aspect except sex, that is. Most still expect themselves to be everything for their partners in the bedroom….And with all of those expectations comes pressure. And feeling insufficient, which may just be the root of all jealousy….All of us in different open relationships, whether swinger, poly, or in some custom-built arrangement, share a comfort level in having another human being provide for our partners. In purely sexual terms, there are certain types of orgasms that [G] can’t have with me. “

4. Poly/open relationships give us the opportunity to explore ourselves emotionally- to better understand why we feel the way we feel about certain things, and to make us better people in general.

Being with more than one person at a time, and having to negotiate the complex cultural baggage and your own mental hoops about  what it means to care for multiple people IS HARD.  But it’s also rewarding.  You find different kinds of intimacy from different people;  they uncover new aspects of your personality and push you to learn more about your own limits and expectations.  There’s a reason Zachary Karabell refers to open relationships as “Sex as an extreme sport.”

5.  So that’s a lot of articles I just threw at you, but here’s one more- “Where We Are” by Lust and Confused.  They explain my favoritereason why poly relationships are awesome: because it means more love for everyone.  ❤

Stay cool, queer kids.

I’ve waited long enough now that I think it’s fair for me to comment on Rhianna’s S and M video which caused so much media fervor when it was released.  I’ve seen many different critiques on the video and the responses to it, ranging from the mainstream arguments about perversion and the degredation of women inherent in BDSM practices to the feminist counter about male vs. female privilege in addressing sexual issues in music to those who simply hailed Rhianna as visionary and daring.  But what I want to look at the self-awareness in the S and M video which I find so impressive, and attempt to deconstruct its ideas in a way that makes sense to be people who watched the video and simply thought “WTF???”

So, for those of you who haven’t seen it already, Rhianna’s video is available here:

Rihanna – S&M by jimihubabua

First and foremost, I want to breakdown the references that Rhianna used in the video, because she did a fabulous job of showing diversity of expression within the BDSM community.  For simplicity (and because I’m a bit Type-A), I made a list:

  • Submissive roleplay

Rhianna’s video actually starts out with a fairly common role-playing scenario, both within the self-identified kinky community and the rest of the world: the office submissive.  Rhianna holds a press conference and is surrounded by dozens of office underlings following her every word, nodding along to her singing, silenced by ball gags.  It’s really a brilliant opening image because of the more universal aspect to this kind of roleplay.  Many people have thought about how wonderful it would be to force that uppity Executive Vice President in their office to sit down, shut up, and start taking notes from them.  There isn’t necessarily a sexual relation to it, but the element of power play in the reversal of office roles is definitely an S and M dynamic.

  • Mummification (plastic wrap)

In the same scene as the office submissives, Rhianna is displayed behind a barrier of plastic wrap, reminiscent of the S and M practice of mummification.  Mummification, as explained by Wipipedia, is “a BDSM bondage practice involves restraining a person’s body in a non-damaging way by wrapping it head to toe in materials like clingfilm, cloth, bandages, latex or linen sheet, rubber strips, plaster bandages, sleep sacks, or strait jackets. The end result being a person completely immobilized and looking like an Egyptian mummy. They may then either be left bound in a state of effective sensory deprivation for a period of time, or sensually stimulated in their state of bondage, before being released from their wrappings.”

  • Puppy play

More than anything, I like S and M because Rhianna gets to walk Perez Hilton (that pretentious little snot) around on a leash and treat him in the condescending manner he deserves.  This is her nod to another kind of roleplaying relationships, wherein one partner takes on the mannerisms of a dog (although variations of this exist for many other kinds of animals) and the other is the owner.  Sometimes these scenes are based on a loving, affectionate interaction between owner and puppy, but others manipulate scenes primarily with the objective of giving their partner orders, as one would “train” a puppy.

  • Leather girls/boys

Leather fetish is probably the most established trope about the BDSM community in the books, probably because it establishes such a strong visual image and there’s such a large commercial market for leather gear.  Thankfully, Rhianna touched on leather fetishism without dwelling on it too long, allowing time in the video to explore other, less well-known aspects of S and M.

  • Robot/futuresex fetish

Who doesn’t want to see Rhianna dressed up in white latex robot costume, taping her underlings to the wall and doing whatever the heck she feels like?  This scene was a great incorporation of robot/futuresex fetishism with dominant and submissive undertones and….

  • Bondage!

My favorite!  Bondage shows up a couple of times in S and M- not only in the dark context of Rhianna the robot and her helpless future-world slaves, but also in the lighter, more playful scene where she is bound up in a bubbly, pastel-colored Japanese manga-esque dress and jokingly bites at her restraints.

  • Daddy/girl play

That same dress may have also been a nod to another kind of roleplaying relationship with a similar dynamic to puppy play- daddy/girl relationships.  Rhianna, dressed as a bratty little girl in her infantilizing dress, illustrates the kind of “punishment-style” daddy/girl interactions that stand in opposition to more caring, loving, incest-play.  (This is a style of roleplay that many people outside and inside the BDSM community have trouble with because of its undertones of incest and child abuse, which is why I will once again take this time to note that this is first and foremost a form of PLAY.  If you want examples of how a healthy daddy/girl relationship works, I implore you to read some of the writing on Sugarbutch)

So, having semi-dissected the video, let me tell you why I really think it’s interesting and useful relative to the BDSM community.  First and foremost, S and M is a form of exposure to the community that most people would otherwise never have.  That being said, a lot of people don’t understand the video and/or are offended by it, so this can often be a two steps forward, one step back approach, but I appreciate Rhianna touching the issue at all.

Second, I am so happy, as another blogger- Vanilla Edge– brought up, that S and M doesn’t focus exclusively on the “dark images” associated typically with BDSM (chains, whips, leather, etc.).  Her video is colorful, playful, and exposes people to a spectrum of BDSM practices, which is awesome!

At the same time, however, the video is very self-aware of the way it would be perceived by the general public.  There are a few quick cut-scenes of Rhianna with newsprint running behind her questioning her sexual ethic, calling her a whore, etc, which is a very ingenious way of breaking the fourth wall with her audience.  She is acknowledging both the practice of S and M as taboo while simultaneously noting the fact that her own video will then incur those same taboo associations.  In a way, such an approach pre-empts any negative press the video would receive and makes a very eloquent artistic statement.

Last but not least, I want to look at the content of Rhianna’s video as a composite piece.  Whether she did so intentionally to make a statement or simply to avoid further censorship by the media, there’s no ACTUAL SEX in her video.  I’ve heard this used as a critique of the video because for men, it’s no problem to include much more provocative images that Rhianna utilizes and this double standard caused her to shy away from any explicit images, but let me offer an alternative explanation: the lack of sex in S and M was a purposeful statement about the manifestation of S and M relationships.  Not all BDSM scenes involve sex.  Many people get off on S and M practices exclusively, such as spanking, roleplaying, or electrical play.  There doesn’t need to be sex for something to qualify as BDSM, so the absence of sex in Rhianna’s video can be interpreted as an acknowledgement of that fact.

As you can probably tell, I really like this video, and I honestly didn’t expect to.    I expected it to feed the popular misunderstandings of the BDSM community, vilify it moreso, other it even farther so that it becomes one step more removed from “the normal world.”  Lauren Berlant wrote in her article for the Nation about sexual scandal a few words which I think are intensely applicable:

“..when a sexual scandal happens, people indulge in projections of what makes them uncomfortable about sex: its weirdness (I was just standing up and talking and now I’m doing this?), its sloppiness, its awkwardness, its seeming disconnection from so many other “appropriate” drives (to eat, for example). Then there’s the fear of becoming a mere instrument of someone else’s pleasure, in a way that one doesn’t want.

Nonetheless, I’m just saying, I really like sex. We have no idea what sex would be like in a world that saw it basically as a good. A weird good. A good that can tip you over and make you want to do strange things. A good that can reveal your incoherence, your love of a little disorder, your love of a little control (adjust the dial as you like). A good that can make you happy, for a minute, before the cat starts scratching the corner of the bed, or the phone rings, or the kids mew, or you’re hungry and sleepy, or you need another drink or the taxi comes.” (You should also read the whole article, because it’s excellent)

This is what Rhianna has done for the BDSM community, in a highly literate and entertaining way- made BDSM and those weird, awkward, uncomfortable parts of sex a little more connected to the world we know.  If a popstar can sing about them, can’t we at least acknowledge them?

I would never go so far as to say that the world will take Rhianna’s S and M video as a justification for experimentation with BDSM- in fact, I highly doubt that it truly swayed many people’s opinions at all.  But it did provide exposure, and S and M did so in an impressive and balanced way.  To get people talking is the first step towards changing opinions.

So get talking, queer kids.

*NB: More information about any of these BDSM activities can be found at http://www.londonfetishscene.com/wipi/index.php/Main_Page.  Furthermore, a must-read for anyone interested in practicing BDSM is this safety manual from  ACT Toronto.

Three’s Company

For one of my classes this week, we had to watch the movie, “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (And Your Mother Too), which is, among other things, a very overtly sexual coming-of-age story.  In one of the pivotal scenes (spoiler alert!), the two main characters- two male friends who talk about their exploits with girlfriends and lovers non-stop)- get really drunk on mescal and eventually have sex with each other.  There is a moment in that scene, when the woman they were both originally trying to seduce falls away from view and they truly catch sight of each other, that gets me at the core.  The next moment they are embracing, kissing, and falling onto the bed before the inevitable camera cutaway.  Watching this, I found myself once again confronted with a familiar feeling from my childhood of obsessive romantic-comedy watching.  Though I find nothing that inherently sexy about gay male sex, watching this scene, I’m smiling like a goofy little girl, content as can be.  I’ve fallen in love with the relationship of the actors.

Perhaps some of you have felt this also- where you look at a couple and are completely overcome with happiness or jealousy or some kind of intoxicating emotion.  Looking more closely, you realize that you don’t want to be either of the people in the couple- you want to be the couple. When speaking about this with Beth, we compared it to rooting for a couple that you know to be doomed, because they mean something more together than the individuals do by themselves- they are beautiful, lovable, etc. because they are together.

I found the most marvelous article in Nerve about a woman who has been in a lot of threesomes which actually speaks to this idea.

“I came to realize I was more attracted to couples than I was to individuals. I might not remember some of these people at all had I hooked up with them one-on-one. But as a pair, I would fall in love with their familiarity; their affection for each other got me off. The most recent couple I fell for, James and Noël, were rock stars, straight up. They were reckless drunks, bursting with manic energy as bright and chaotic as their tattooed sleeves. After five minutes with them, it was clear: they were it for each other — and I was smitten. I found myself flirting shamelessly with both of them, slyly working to command their collective attention and approval.”

I find this equation for intimacy to be at once incredibly beautiful and intriguing.  I’ve never been in a threesome, nor have I had the opportunity presented to me, nor had I (until recently) even thought seriously about the idea, as I simply assumed that feelings would inevitably complicate things.  However, this article, and the sentiment of falling in love with couples, makes me hopeful.  I have always felt bizarrely attached to couplings I witness- in movies and tv shows, in real life, in books, and so forth- to the point where I feel that I almost love their relationship.  Somehow, within the context of this paradigm, such feelings seem more normal- and more explorable.

For most of society, the primary opposition to threesomes comes from the debasement of intimacy that they supposedly cause. Because sex is “made for two people,” the introduction of a third simply demeans the closeness of the interaction.  Now I don’t hold  it against anyone who does believe this, but I find two things troubling about that format for me:  first is the presupposition that all sex must be for love, which I honestly believe it does not.  This isn’t anti-romantic, simply practical.  As a sexual being, one can have sex without committing to the full spectrum of emotion that a long-term, committed relationship demands.  Second, however opposite, is the assumption that threesomes cannot be intimate.  For this, I’d like anyone who agrees to read this lovely article on intimacy by Greta Christina.  All of the things she talks about- listening to your partner(s), being engaged and attentive, being selfless and selfish simulteously, giving yourself over to the moment- can all happen in the context of a relationship, or a one-night stand, or a threesome in any form.  It simply takes the right people and the right situation.

In one sense, I value monogamy and dedication to another person.  Yet in another, I am equally devoted to the love I feel between those outside of myself and my relationship.  I find it beautiful, electrifying.  I have no idea what this means in practice, nor if or how I would carry it out, but I like the concept all the same.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this one…

The Learning Channel has just launched a new series called “Strange Sex,” which is an attempt to chronicle alternative sexual experiences and bring light to the diversity that is American sexuality.  Or…something like that.

TLC’s official press release explains: “Throughout the series, Strange Sex highlights some of the most atypical sexual encounters, including a man who has a balloon fetish, a woman who tries to have an orgasm during childbirth for the second time, and a couple who welcomes another man into their relationship, sex life, and home.”

I find the concept of Strange Sex to be at once intriguing and frustrating.  On the one hand, THANK GOD our media is finally acknowledging that there’s more to sex than Hollywood’s Jennifer-Anniston-and-Matthew-Mcconaughey-fuck-missionary-style-in-the-pristine-white-bed-of-his-bachelor-pad model.  Strange Sex covers REAL sexuality: the fetishes, generation gaps, polyamory, and sexual disorders.  On the other hand, I feel like Strange Sex is making a terrible spectacle of non-“traditional” sex practices.

Take a look at this trailer about mental orgasms: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=421LxxUOfSY.  Strange Sex is trying to dissect our most personal relation- that between our bodies and our minds- with a kind of sensationalist skepticism that pisses me off.  Why is it necessary to scientifically PROVE that people are able to have mental orgasms?  Why is a cross-generational or polyamorous relationship viewed as strange to begin with?  I think more than anything else, Strange Sex speaks to all the ways our society still doesn’t know how to deal with sex.  We are only capable of looking at things in terms of the normal-abnormal dichotomy, of saying, “This is right, but this is wrong”  when really what we need to understand is “This is what we’re shown all the time and this is what we never hear about,” even though both sides of the equation are very, very common.

I feel like this plays into the way that LGBT people have and still sometimes are treated in society.  We are seen as strange, alien creatures- people with such different habits and outlooks on life that we aren’t even of the same species: we become something that is unrelate-able.  Which is ridiculous, of course.  Yet the idea of a man sleeping with another man (or a woman with a woman, or a woman with two men…) is still so completely incomprehensible, so odd and misplaced to the general psyche, that it becomes the central focus of that person’s entire identity and inevitably a source of conflict and misunderstanding.  Sadly, in a society that can’t see past their own perceptions of “normal” behavior, we as LGBT people will always be known for a sex practices as opposed to our individual lives and personalities.

Maybe I shouldn’t speak before I actually WATCH the show, but Strange Sex seems (from the trailers) to be doing us- us as LGBT, kinky, queer, poly, allied, or otherwise non-normative awesome people- a disservice.

Let’s Get Kinky

Hey guys, we’ve got another guest blogger here to talk to you about kink and what it means to explore your sexuality through kink safely.  Give our writer some love!

So, as guest blogger of the day, I’m going to be talking about kink and fetishism (a subject quite dear to my heart).  Be warned: the sources I link to are NSFW!

At this point, pop culture has done a great job familiarizing the American populace with bondage, dominatrix dungeons, and sexual role play.  These well-publicized types of play are just the tip of the iceberg to the sprawling

world of kink and fetish.

A fetish is just about any sexual desire that doesn’t directly relate to sex.  If you’re unclear as to what it is, remember

that the most common fetish in the US today is large breasts – a fetish so taken for granted that it’s hard to even realize that it is one.  Another one that is frequently assumed to be universal is mud/pudding wrestling – for whatever reason, the sight of two women rolling around in a thick liquid is obviously sexy, which is puzzling if you’re like me and don’t

share that particular turn-on.

Being kinky is itself a tough experience.  Many cultures discourage any deviation from the sexual norms.  US cop dramas in particular love to skewer all the perverts with their crazy fetishes, with even the otherwise open-minded show Bones declaring that fetishism cannot lead to a happy, healthy relationship.  Even if you get past these harmful

cultural messages, there’s the way that some fetishes (like domination and submission) can conflict with one’s own ideals for sex and gender equality.  If you’re kinky, it’s important to remember that having a fetish is not a bad thing – it’s how you act upon it.  It’s all about finding out how to enact your fetish safely and ethically.

If you’re thinking about adding some kinky play into your relationship, then please, PLEASE do some research on what

you’re planning to do.  To take a common example: bondage is great fun, but it becomes significantly less fun if you tied the ropes

wrong and your partner gets dangerously constricted from additional pressure.  Make sure that you understand the risks (physical or psychological!) of whatever you’re trying, and do some reading to educate yourself on the safety measures necessary to ensure a fun and safe session of kinky play.

I recommend asking yourself the following questions before engaging in fetish play.  I hope you can forgive my implicit assumption that the relationship and play is confined to two people – it’s a grammatical convenience, not a condemnation of multi-person relationships.

1.       What am I getting out of this?
Understand what you want.  Are you looking for the adrenaline rush of dominance, the relaxing lull of submission?  Did you read up on something and decide you want to try, or is there some costume or action that just plain turns you on?  Knowing the essentials of your own desires will help you in the process.

2.       In the best case scenario, what will my partner get out of this play?
Remember that kink, like any part of a healthy relationship, involves more than just your own desires.  There is a flip side to every fetish, someone willing to receive what someone else wants to give – there’s an enjoyable side to each half of the encounter.  Figure out what that ideal enjoyable side is to determine how you can make your kinks palatable and enjoyable to your partner.

3.       What compromises and changes am I willing to make for my partner?
Let’s face it – chances are, your partner won’t necessarily be ready to engage in your ideal scenario down to the last detail.  Figure out what you’re willing to sacrifice to make the scene more comfortable, and also how you can incorporate your partner’s own desires.

4.       What risks are involved in this fetish, and what do I need to know to ensure my and my partner’s safety and well-being?
Is your intended fetish play dangerous at all?  Kinks like bondage, electrical play, and blood play involve physical risks – not even getting into high-risk kinks like suspension, which requires a high degree of skill and knowledge to prevent injury.  Kinks like dominance & submission, humiliation, pet role play, and doll play can delve right into mental cruelty if taken too far.  Some fetishes, like play rape, have the potential for both types of risk.  Not to mention the risk that you get too wrapped up in your kink and overly objectify your partner!  Do NOT take anything for granted – for example, hair-pulling is perfectly safe, but if you do it wrong you could be looking at unnecessary and unsafe levels of pain.  Get online and get an idea of how you can make your scenes and sessions safe and mutually enjoyable.

Above all – negotiate!  Talk with your partner about what you’d like to try.  Be open and honest, but don’t expect your partner to turn into a badass leather-clad dominatrix or a prancing pony overnight.  Set some limits and establish

rapport and trust before you step up to the games.

And for goodness’ sake, USE SAFEWORDS.  This goes for you non-kinky people, too!  Safewords are wonderful tools for

relationships that allow for strong, easily understood communication.  I recommend the “stoplight” system that is popular in the BDSM community – “yellow” to call a time-out in the event of a problem, “red” to put a stop to the encounter and re-establish safety and comfort, and “green” to say “I love that and want to do it again.”

Remember the two acronyms for kinky play: SSC and RACK.  SSC stands for “Safe, Sane, and Consensual” – this refers to fetish play that is well within the limits of safety.  Body worship, foot fetish, and role play are some common

examples.  RACK stands for “Risk Aware Consensual Kink” – this applies to fetish play that can have major physical

consequences, such as the ever-popular bondage and the much-publicized practice of breath play (erotic asphyxiation).  Both of these acronyms refer to the practice of creating a safe environment by making sure that you and your partner understand the risks of the kink inside and out to ensure informed consent.

So, as I keep imploring you to do some research, where can you go to find some info?

Wipipedia (http://www.londonfetishscene.com/wipi/index.php/Main_Page), the fetish wiki, is a great starter source –

as is Wikipedia itself, which to this day contains more up-to-date and detailed information on some fetishes that are woefully unrepresented at Wipi (I’m looking at you, erotic hypnosis).  Still, Wipi has some solid articles on SSC and RACK practices, among other great finds.

If you’re over 18, I STRONGLY recommend checking out Fet Life (fetlife.com), a social networking site for

kinksters.  It’s like Facebook, but without the creepy ads, violations of privacy, and annoying game ads – except that instead of your favorite books and movies, you list your fetishes and favorite sex acts!  Fet Life has groups dedicated to answering any questions you may have, with experienced kinksters on hand to give you advice and point you to more

specific sources of info.  And then there are the local munch groups, which provide open invitations to join fellow kinksters at munches (meet-and-greet dinner parties for kinky company), giving you both friendly encouragement and experienced advice when you proceed.

Special note: Even if you’re as vanilla as a white Tootsie Roll, munches are an awesome place to go to find open-minded and honest conversations about sex and sexuality – they’re set up to provide a safe, non-judgmental space for whoever chooses to enter.  If you keep an open mind yourself, you will probably have a great time meeting new people.  There

aren’t enough events and places where you can talk frankly about sexuality, and munches provide the right atmosphere to relax and be your sexual self.

So this has been a starter article to get you thinking and encourage you to look for as much information as you can.  I in

tend to follow this up with some exploration of some common kinks, such as domination & submission and bondage.  Have fun and stay safe!

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