Feb 012017
 

During the campaign, a certain candidate called a certain other candidate a “Nasty Woman,” and since then, the groundswell of women have begun to take back that name, for themselves, for the resistance.

We’re donating 75% of the proceeds for this shirt directly to a new charity every month who’s doing the work to #resist!

Order yours today and let the world, and this “administration” know where you stand.

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Trafficking law and BDSM

 Posted by on July 1, 2014
Jul 012014
 

CageIf you’ve been paying attention to the news, or to NCSF Media Updates, you’ve probably read about a recent case brewing in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, of BDSM gone horribly wrong. Horribly. At the beginning of June the first story arrived, sensationalized: Three accused of keeping transgender woman as slave in Natchitoches Parish: “According to investigators, the victim was held captive, tortured and forced to perform menial tasks and sexual acts.” Several days later another story appeared, dubious: While it may be hard to understand, Facebook pictures from the victim in the Natchitoches human trafficking and slavery as imply she didn’t hate her arrangement. She even posted a picture of her slave barcode as her profile picture…[she] had a high enough status within the BDSM community to come to parties in Shreveport.”

So which is it? A case of horrific slavery and torture? A Master/slave scenario that began consensually and crossed over into abuse? The likelihood is that we’ll never really know what happened – there will be plea bargains & state’s evidence, and jail time, but likely no trial (ala Ed Bagley). What we do know is three people, Amber Lopes, George Rodriguez, and Christina Harper, are charged with battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment…. and human trafficking. Given the alleged facts, the first three make sense. They are crimes within the police power of the state, traditionally criminalized at a state level. But human trafficking? Laws against trafficking, even as they are passed at the state level, are intended to combat “trade in people,” where people are acquired or provided through force, fraud or coercion, for the purposes of labor. These laws are designed to combat conspiracies, rather than to prosecute individual incidents. Nevertheless, this marks at least the third time (including Ed Bagley, and Glenn Marcus) where trafficking charges were brought against someone for crimes which bear certain hallmarks of BDSM relationships – and I think it’s a trend that bears some unpacking.

Trafficking laws began on an international level, to combat an international phenomenon. In 2000, the United Nations adopted a protocol against human trafficking as part of a convention against transnational organized crime. The first section of the U.S. Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act refers several times to the international and “growing transnational crime.” In 2003 the Federal Government incentivized states to pass their own trafficking laws – nevertheless these, too, are based on laws intended to fight the coerced movement of people transnationally for the purposes of labor. Trafficking laws were never intended to be used for consensual relationships gone horribly non-consensual, never intended to be used for individual crimes for which there is already a perfectly appropriate legal response[1]. If, as is alleged, Amber Lopes, George Rodriguez, and Christina Harper, held this woman against her will, abusing her non-consensually, that’s kidnapping, false imprisonment and aggravated battery. Already the three could be eligible for prison sentences of 50 years. The introduction of “human trafficking” into this mix weakens and warps the real definition of trafficking, and smacks of something like hysteria on the part of Louisiana Law Enforcement.

Furthermore: using sex trafficking laws to prosecute activity that mirrors BDSM behavior – and in particular M/s behavior – is a dangerous precedent. The crime of trafficking requires “force, fraud or coercion” – in other words, the crime of trafficking negates the possibility of consent (it is a contradiction – at least in the law’s mind’s eye – for someone to consent to being forced to do something). Indeed, the legal definition of trafficking from the international protocol linked above (to which most laws against human trafficking are traceable) explicitly negates the possibility of consent:

(a) “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment,

transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the

threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of

deception…………

 

(b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the

intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be

irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been

used;

In other words, The law has always had difficulty fitting it’s theoretical little mind around the concept of “consensual non-consent.” For example, we can imagine an entirely consensual scene where someone is punished for inadequate service, and made to ‘try again’ under threat of even harsher punishment. We can imagine a situation – again consensual – where someone is tied to a task or person until that task or person is completely satisfied. Alas the law cannot imagine such things; to the law, these things are coerced labor or labor under threat of force, for which consent is not a possible defense. We spend a good deal of time talking about how consent ought to count as a defense to assault. Should it also count, then, as a defense to trafficking?

[1] In a similar vein, the U.S. Supreme Court just decided a case, Bond v. United States (discussion here) where it said that the chemical weapons treaty, although incorporated into federal law, could not be used against a woman for spreading ill-intentioned chemicals on doorknobs and other surfaces likely to be handled by her husband’s illicit lover (& her former best friend).   In that case, the court wrote that “the law should not be read to ‘convert an astonishing amount’ of local criminal conduct into matters for federal law enforcement.”

May 092014
 

IPE IPPC 2014 Family Beyond Leather 2014 Kat 1209Congratulations on your win! Can you tell us about the competition and a bit about its history & purpose?

Thank you, we’re thrilled to have won the title! The International Power Exchange Contest is held annually at Beyond Leather in Florida. The contest is about celebrating the vast diversity of power exchange dynamics in the BDSM/kink/leather communities- it is open to couples or triads with any power exchange dynamic. So a couple/triad could enter as Master/slave, Dominant/submissive, a leather family, Daddy/girl, Trainer/pup, Mistress/boi, Rigger/rope bunny… and the list goes on! It is an educational title and is also not limited to those who identify as leather. This is the third year of the International contest, and there are multiple feeder contests across the US, including Great Lakes, New York Metro, and Rocky Mountain. There is much more information on their website: http://www.beyondleather.net/bl/contests/ipe.html

Why did you decide to compete?

As part of the effort to get the Pacific Coast Power Exchange (PCPE) feeder contest started up, we were asked by the local PCPE producers (in cooperation with the international contest producers) to represent the Pacific Coast region this year. We had already been invited to present at Beyond Leather, and the contest, with it’s goals of increasing awareness of “non-traditional” power exchange dynamics, really resonated with us. We don’t identify as Master/slave and therefore had never considered ourselves eligible to run in the Master/slave contests- our power exchange dynamic has many dimensions (including Dominant/submissive and Owner/kitty). I think people can perceive Master/slave as “the way” to do power exchange, and if that specific dynamic doesn’t work for them (as it didn’t for us) they may feel that they’ve “failed” at power exchange. Discovering the vast array of alternative power exchange dynamics out there was an epiphany for us, so we are passionate about increasing awareness of these dynamics!

What was the competition like?

We really went into this contest with very little clue of what to expect! We hadn’t seen the IPE contest before and hadn’t been through a local feeder contest like the other International contestant couples had. Our handler tartelette was AMAZING (we couldn’t have done it without her, she was truly invaluable), however she was in the same boat as us in terms of contest-specific knowledge. We did all the prep we could based on reading about the contest, but it was quite a different experience from what we thought!

The contest scoring will sound familiar to anyone who has been to a leather contest- there are four judging sections. First is the “educational presentation,” which is a 5-10 minute prepared presentation to offer an explanation of your power exchange dynamic. This is similar to the speeches that are part of more traditional leather contests, however this is delivered jointly, is longer than traditional contest speeches, and can involve the use of props/visual aids. For this portion, we did a presentation that used various collars we’ve had through the years as a way to frame a discussion of how our relationship has changed and grown, and how our dynamic works now.

Second, there is a “fantasy/demo” portion- this was an opportunity to show the judges and audience our connection. The fantasy was the part of the competition that we were both the most excited about, because we had a really personal performance we wanted to do. Shay comes from a background of domestic violence, and has experienced so much healing during and through her time in the BDSM community- for over a year we’ve had an idea for a fantasy piece exploring that journey. We were thrilled to have a chance to share that journey and performance. That was easily the highlight of the competition for us- we got a standing ovation and had the whole room (especially ourselves) in tears. There was a lot of raw emotion and it was overwhelming experience. IPE No date

The last two judging sections were “overall impression” and the interview. So during the entire weekend, the 7 judges were watching all the contestant pairs, looking both at how they interact with each other and how they interact with the other event attendees. It was pretty nerve-wracking to feel under a microscope like that for an entire 3 day stretch! There were three other contestant pairs, and they were all AMAZING people- we loved having a chance to meet them all and wish we could have spent more time socializing together!

What are you most looking forward to about your title year?

We do a ton of traveling and presenting anyway, so in that sense, not much is going to change for us. We are planning to focus our education more on power exchange during our title year, and we really look forward to increasing awareness of alternative power exchange dynamics! Also, while the contest is quite well established in other parts of the country, our region (the west coast) is really just learning about it, so we’re excited to increase awareness about the contest specifically in our area for others who might be interested in running!

 

May 062014
 

Xrated_eCard_Banner2 (425x305)COCONUT CREEK, FL The X Run is now a sexier and streamlined event, formerly the X-Rated Run, the re-branded mud run will be hosted by Playboy TV’s leading sexologist and bestselling author Dr. Jess O’Reilly. The X Run also welcomes celebrity guest Ash Armand, star of Showtime hit series Gigolos. Fans will have the opportunity to meet Ash and Dr. Jess for signed autographs, photos, and more when they register for the event. The X Run will be held on Saturday, May 31, at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park in Miami, FL. For more information about the event, including sponsorship opportunities and interview requests, contact Kelly at [email protected] or  (954) 461-4211 or visit  www.thexrun.com.  For more information on Ash, please visit www.AshArmand.com.

“Fitness and healthy relationships go hand-in-hand, so I’m very excited to be working with the The X Run in Miami,” said Playboy TV sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly. “Not only are they supportive sex-positive non-profit groups, but they’re making exercise sexy and this will only help to further the message that working out is good for your overall health — and your sex life!”

The X Run is made possible through sponsor support and thanks their partners Bang Bros, Juicy Ads, StorErotica, Swing Lifestyle and Wasteland. To see complete list of sponsors, please visit www.thexrun.com.

“SwingLifestyle.com & SLS Parties are proud to announce our new partnership with X-Rated Run Miami 2014,” said Emily Hartstone, event coordinator for SLS Parties. “We are very impressed with Kelly’s idea to organize such a spectacular event to promote sexual positivity and healthy living. We know between Kelly’s ability to plan such an innovative run, combined with the millions of followers of SLS events, together we will pull off an EXPLOSIVE and EPIC EVENT!!!”

The event was created to promote sexual positivity and healthy living, encouraging both novice and experienced runners to take part in this epic mud run. The X Run will be raising funds for Clitoraid.org – a nonprofit association focused on offering free medical services for the physical restoration and rehabilitation for FGM victims.

The First Annual X Run is an un-timed, adult-themed, 5k (3.1 mile) obstacle course and mud run for men and women of all fitness levels. The event will take place on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park (Address: 4020 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami, FL 33149).

The X Run will accommodate 4800 registrants and include numerous adult themed exhibitors. Competitors can enter on their own, as a pair, or as a team. Registrants must be 21 to participate.

The new location promises to deliver a more exciting and fun experience for all – located off the Rickenbacker Causeway, The Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is just minutes away from Miami’s downtown financial centers, top tourist destinations, sport facilities, retail, dining, and renowned educational institutions.

The X Run promises to be a day of racy amusement and gritty determination as competitors tackle 14 wild and outrageous obstacles like the Dominatrix Dungeon and the Blue Balls Dash. The Post-Race party will keep the action going with adult starlets, live music, food vendors, beer stands, a mud wrestling pit, a Mr. and Ms. X Run Competition and much more! While there will be no sex or nudity on the run, there will be euphoric, non-stop action, plenty of physical challenges and lots and lots of mud!

Registrants will receive a free X Run T-shirt, one free beer ticket, a condom wrapper-shaped medal and entry into the Post-Run Party. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to sex-positive organizations, including  www.clitoraid.org, which campaigns against female genital mutilation (FGM).

THE INAUGURAL X RUN IN FLORIDA PROMISES TO BE A FILTHY GOOD TIME!

For further information about the X Run, including sponsorship opportunities and interview requests, contact Kelly at [email protected] or  (954) 461-4211 or visit www.thexrun.com.

ABOUT THE X RUN:

The X Run is organized by Kelly Perez, owner of  www.sensualsteals.com. She was inspired to create X-rated mud runs in her own efforts to lose weight. Her ex-marine cousin was putting her through military-style drills in preparation for her first mud run. As she crawled through the grass commando-style, Kelly reached her limit and yelled at him, “I sell sex toys for a living, I don’t do this type of s#!t!” He told her to stop complaining and imagine she was crawling through a penis tunnel. A great idea was born.

Bawdy Scratches Our 7 Year Itch!

 Posted by on March 6, 2014
Mar 062014
 

20140226_bawdy feb 26 - get lucky_8396-2048px (425x294)This week the storytelling powerhouse “Bawdy” celebrated its 7th year anniversary and if you were at the celebration events you’d have seen why! By consistently presenting real life sexy & hilarious stories (and storytellers) coupled with the super dynamic hostess, Dixie, the event has developed a cult following. There are audience members that come back every month and yet the event also has a huge draw for ‘fresh meat’. The vibe manages to be edgy AND un-intimidating, which is no small feat.

 

I’ll fess up that I’m biased, when I moved to the Bay Area from Boston last year I was invited to tell a story and have since had the pleasure of getting to know Dixie as a friend. However, I never promote anything I can’t personally approve of and in this case, I do so enthusiastically! It can be hard to keep my attention if I’m not performing (um hello, exhibitionist here!) but I always have a great time when I go to Bawdy.

For February, the anniversary month, Bawdy did two shows in its original home city, San Francisco. That’s right, two wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am events in one week! Wednesday night (which I attended) featured the “Best of Bawdy” storytellers, which were chosen based on internet votes. Each show has a theme, and this one was “Lucky” because Bawdy is notorious for getting attendees action of all kinds (including apartments, sex & relationships!). 20140226_bawdy feb 26 - get lucky_7966-2048px (200x300)

The line-up of storytellers was, unsurprisingly, super-hot. Airial Clark, the Sex Positive Parent, opened the night up with a tale of delightfully lewd elevator sex. That woman seriously knows how make it happen, quick & dirty! Next was Psychocat Kitty, owner of Wicked Grounds the local kinky café with another illicit tale of the best kind (years in the making, patience is a sexy virtue!).  Allison Moon shared the ridiculously hot tale of meeting (now) long-time partner Reid Mihalko (who was also voted Best of Bawdy but was already scheduled elsewhere). One of my favorite lines of the night went something like “our hetero bodies were GOING to find a way to completely queer up this sex”. Fuck yeah.

20140226_bawdy feb 26 - get lucky_8178-2048px (200x300)Miss Maggie Mayhem absolutely slayed the crowd with a tale from the vaults of custom porn requests. Thanks to her delightfully animated performance (including a prop!) none of us will ever look at socks the same way again. Carol Queen (one of the rare people that totally make me fan-girl sqeee, even after knowing her for years!) told us a teasingly wandering story (“…but I’m not here to tell you about that”) about meeting her long time partner & making out at a legendary warehouse party. To finish the night, Mollena Williams, who had won the most votes for Best of Bawdy, commanded the stage in her usual powerful way to share the recent love she’s found. For me, her story confirmed that saying “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”. Doing the work for personal growth & putting yourself out there CAN and DOES lead to love.20140226_bawdy feb 26 - get lucky_8367-2048px(1) (285x300)

Siouxsie Q won best musical act & entertained us with a ukulele performance inspired by Bawdy about her awesome podcast, ‘Whorecast’. She also kicked off the show after the break & was absolutely adorable both times! The nights much celebrated sponsor, Lelo, donated HUGE amounts of sex toys, so many in fact that everyone who attended walked out with one! At every Bawdy they do this fun ice-breaker called “Bang-o” which is like Bingo but finding people who have had various sexual experiences to sign in the boxes. So there was also 2 bags of hundreds and hundreds of dollars of Lelo sex toys that were given to the random drawn winners of “Bang-o” PLUS all of the VIP seats got a specialty toy. Whew! Dixie truly was “Groperah” for the evening with all those give-aways!

This was an extra-special blow-out version of Bawdy to celebrate its 7 year (and counting!) run, but every single month it’s a great way to spend a Wednesday night in San Francisco. So check out the site & get your tickets for a Bawdy show as soon as you can!

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All photos Copyright 2014 Benjy Feen, benjyfeenphoto.com

Of Kink and Discernment

 Posted by on January 17, 2014
Jan 172014
 

Fortune Cookie (Think)Discernment exists in many forms.

For anyone who has ever considered becoming a lay person at your church or congregation, thinking about joining the cloistered life, in love with the Benedicts and the silent halls of their monasteries, or want to become ordained there is a level of concern that comes up.

We often use different aspects of religion as kink.  This can come into a form of a discipline, humiliation, a general kink or fetish surrounding religion, viewing our Dom/Domme as a god or goddess, and creating idols.  It’s no wonder there is fascination; when we look at monks and how devoted they are to their practice we are in awe.  When I look at my present supervisor, who has been a Jesuit Priest for decades, I am in awe at how he lives his life even if he is not associated with Parish Ministry.  He lives what he believes and he takes an active role in his own beliefs.  I rarely question if his vows are just words to him or if he really takes heart in his vocation.

I am sure that at some point everyone who is reading this has decided to do a random thing that their group of friends, in the poly or kink community, has stopped and scratched their heads about.  You wonder why someone would do something, if it fits into someone’s lifestyle, and if there is anything you can do to help them or get them to change their mind.  On the other end of the spectrum, such as some of my now former partners, you will be wished (or wish) luck to your friend and go “well, you’re out of the community now, here are your walking papers.”

I’ve taken a break from writing for five months because my life has been a whirlpool.

It’s been an insane trip… and after being laid off from my cushy corporate telecommuting job ( Goodbye evil corp!) I saw the way plowed through to let me move on towards my calling.

Divinity, Ministry, and Religion is an interesting mix in what many “refer to” as the “local scene”.  How we got to a community scene where we mostly define the “local scene” as running around naked and taking photos of each other is beyond me.  At the same time I realize I must not be the only person who has had this happen to them.  This thing, this awakening, this moment where you realize that what you maybe doing will impact you later on.  My local minister, who has escorted me straight under her wing and respects me for what I bring to the table,  really doubts that the committee who will be interviewing me to find out if I am “ordainment” material will really care what I do in between the sheets.

This is not the concern.

A few years ago, in a relationship that is now in non-existent (Thank the lord *wink*) I got one small piece of advice that came back up to the surface for me in September.  I had a partner who was somewhat long distance and very much into humiliation play.  It was to the point that I became uncomfortable, I felt ethically and morally that it was wrong, and I dragged my feet at it.  I was doing it to please him even though I had mentioned to him more than once that my career choice, at the time, was sensitive to the practice of posting naked compromising photos on the web for all to see.  He really didn’t understand at the beginning, amusing to me since he is a consultant and his main goal is to advise companies on how to have a healthy persona, but near the end of our short and quaint relationship he let me know that he had made the mistake by putting me in the compromising position.  The damage had been done and I was now stuck with holding the rope, along with having two hundred dollars’ worth of camera equipment which I was told was a “gift”, and yet again mostly alone in my kink.

Despite this horrible, and uncouth, relationship where in retrospect I should have just ran far away from the man and go “have fun, don’t call me, and I won’t call you” I did learn something valuable.  Protection of identity is important.  It’s something that I have carried in my back pocket from him, one of the few things that I have carried in an attempt to gain some insight on the relationship which is my goal in any relationship I get into, and it’s helped me out well.

When I chatted with a local friend about “protection of identity” in our local community she struggled to sell me on the idea that my identity was completely protected.  At first she tried to sell me on the idea that “ethically” no one would tell anyone else that so and so is kinky.  That’s great… but when I become ordained, when I reach the point of going into a hospital setting or other ministry in a paid position, what are those pictures in my underwear drawer going to say; what is the drunken cell phone picture on my buddy’s phone of me a few years going to state.  I don’t regret the drunken photo, for the most part I don’t remember the drunken photo opportunity, I vaguely remember doing it.  It’s something between friends but if you think about technology, if you think about what the ministry, we must think what does discernment mean in the lifestyle and how do we overcome our struggles to fit in while being bravely modest.

Interview – Darla Hallmark

 Posted by on January 10, 2014
Jan 102014
 

38180_1037073 (425x278)By Julian Wolf

Darla Hallmark might not be a name that you’re familiar with, but if you’ve been in the kink/Leather/Fetish scene for a few years or read fantasy, you’ve likely seen her work. She has supported regional titleholders by painting/drawing their portraits and putting the image on art magnets (to be sold for travel funds) and has allowed her images to be used on lifestyle websites, notably “Kitty Bondage” on the Pantheon Award Winning club Alternative Erotic Lifestyles’ site. Additionally, you can purchase her sculpture, prints, buttons and more at everything from BDSM conventions to Bubonicon, New Mexico’s long running literary science fiction convention, where her art is featured yearly in the program. A woman of many mediums, Darla works with a myriad of materials ranging from old romance novels to sculpting clay as well as being a master of the classics- teaching classes on figure drawing and working with canvas and paints. For years she’s functioned as one stop shopping for Albuquerque residents. Need a pair of horns for that costume, a antique poster mounted for your living room, a framed landscape photograph for your mother in law and a set of naughty fantasy elves getting it on for your gaming group? Give Darla a call, she’s got what you need, handmade and ready to go. Darla agreed, on short notice, to be interviewed for Fearless Press, and I’m delighted to feature her.

How long have you been creating art that features the kinkier side of life?

“Since before I knew what “kinky” was. I was always attracted to imagery that stirred my un-recognized fetishes. I drew fairies stuck in honey and pixies tangled in spider webs way before I had even heard of bondage fantasies. So, I guess it would be fair to say I have been drawing kinky stuff since I was a child.”

You are the owner/operator of the Unseen Gallery. How did you decide on that name?

I wanted a name that showed the conflict between my desire to show and sell my work, and my lifelong problems with Agoraphobia. I considered several possible words meaning “hidden” or “secret” and this seemed best.

Eyegasm is a traveling art show that has made appearances at Rio Grande Leather and more- How did Eyegasm get its start and what is its future?

“It’s an idea I had to help artists who do erotic artwork have a place to show their work. I have done several Eyegasm shows, but I took last year off, having a lot of other things going on. I hope to get another show going next year, perhaps in the summer. I base the format of the show on trade shows I have shown at, which make it easy for both artists and collectors to take part. Entry fees are nominal, and artists are not required to be present.

I will need to re-assemble my crew, and find a venue.”

What inspired your series of coloring books?

“Lousy coloring books. Even as a child I was frustrated by coloring books that were too simple-minded. They are insulting to any reasonably intelligent child. Get your kids something that’s challenging! It’s not like coloring is a game that you can /lose/. So, I started with my unicorn and dragon coloring books. I made the drawings fun, complex, but with heavier outlines of simple areas, and a complete background.

Then, it occurred to me that some of us grown ups still like to color. So, I went for more mature themes. The FemDom coloring book is going over well. I’m not sure what I’ll do next, but it will probably be either Trans-gender pinups, or The Coloring Book of Revelations.”

In 2009, Darla’s first full tarot deck “The Hallmark Tarot” was both featured on the cover of Tarot Magic and was published by 7th House. She continues to make an impact in alternative communities as an artist and an advocate. She has created material featuring the “BrickHouse Betties” logo (a local fat positive/body positive group) and several years ago she donated enough material to a board member of New Mexico: the Next Generation that her donations were used at an October fundraiser as door prizes. The southwest is lucky to have such a talented Renaissance woman willing to give her time and share her talent. Check out Darla’s work at the Unseen Gallery and KinkySpot.

Originally posted October 25, 2010

How Bleeding Has Been Stained

 Posted by on January 8, 2014
Jan 082014
 

drop of bloodby Deirdre O’Donnell

Between Lil’ Wayne’s rap about being “a venereal disease, like a menstrual bleed,” Jonah Hill’s about-to-vomit freak out (in the scene from Superbad) when a girl gets menstrual blood on his pant leg while dancing with him, and the fact that boys and girls are still separated for “the talks” in health class around fourth grade, I find myself constantly having to convince myself that the people in charge of all the major industries and institutions in this country are not evil and intentionally trying to silence the female sex, and anyone else who might be bleeding along with them. With influences like this targeted at teenagers, it’s no wonder that menstruation is stigmatized. As a matter of fact, it’s no wonder why there is such a disparity between men and women in American culture at large.

It’s a real bummer that thinking back on biology or health classes throughout my youth, all I can remember learning about menstruation was in medical terms. Nobody ever taught me about how to feel good about having my period—how to alleviate cramps, how to prevent myself from bleeding onto desks, how to cope with embarrassing moments, why those moments should not feel embarrassing to begin with, or that menstruation is not a dirty, disgusting thing—despite the idea that pads and tampons are also known as “feminine hygiene” products. I wish that someone helped me reverse the self-loathing and disgust that I felt for the first ten years of menstruating when I was still young and impressionable! Why didn’t anybody throw me a party to celebrate the fact that I was healthy and newly capable (also, newly responsible) for the power that ran through my body? Menstruation acts as a sign that the female reproductive system is functioning and that the individual is healthy! It is a natural, biological process that we are taught to discipline in a very hush-hush sort of way. However, women are still thought of as creatures designed only to reproduce in many parts of the world, including parts of the United States. Similar messages are sent to Americans—predominantly adolescent and preteen demographics. It is just done invisibly, and the messages are internalized. According to The Guide to Getting it On (Paul Joannides), 25 percent of the female population is menstruating at this very moment (age 15-45 and not pregnant, page 586). That is one in four women. And yet, as I have grown into my adult body, I have been forced to go from formulating my own assumptions about periods, which were born from silence surrounding the subject, to forming ones based on its derogatory connotations. Young women never get any positive re-enforcement about what menstruation really is and what it means, at least from the media, which is the main source of information for most young people. The philosophy here is awfully inconsistent, since it preaches that a woman’s reproductive system can be so beautiful only if it is bringing new life into the world, but otherwise is considered disgusting when going through the biologically necessary process that allows pregnancy to even occur (because the male-run companies profit from the pregnant women on the covers of magazines, and from the menstrual products, a.k.a., Tampax and Kotex?).

Just last week, I was describing a Diva Cup to my cousin, who is a 19-year-old female, like myself. She had never heard of it, so I gave her my pre-planned disclaimer and told her that I have a problem with the way menstruation is presented to young people; how America makes it appear that women have options when they do not. The “option” presented to us in commercial culture is not, “spend twenty dollars monthly on tampons and pads that cause your vagina to absorb harmful chemicals and bleaches, or spend forty dollars once on a bendable silicone device that is good for your body, the environment, and your wallet.” The message sent to little girls is “Tampax, Kotex, Playtex, Stayfree, Carefree, Poison, Hard Uncomfortable Cotton, Store-Brand Name, Infections, Higher Risk of T.S.S., and, P. S., Don’t Let Anyone Know You’re Bleeding and Buy the Tampon that Looks like a Piece of Candy!”

Don’t get me wrong, there are organic brands of what I call “feminine empowerment products” that do not contain harmful ingredients, but I would say they are about as publicized and industrialized as the Diva Cup—hardly at all. I believe it is because these products do not portray bleeding as something to be made cute or pretty. They force a woman to conceptualize what is happening to her body—there is no detachment from the bleeding (oh, how revolutionary!). What I mean is, such tampons usually don’t have applicators and the Diva Cup, in particular, needs to be emptied out in a sink or a toilet. This makes it more difficult to ignore the blood, which is what our androcentric society wants us to do. We are told not to be proud of menstruation or think that it’s a normal process that women, young or old, should fully comprehend. Even just getting a little bit of blood on our fingers is shamed. And yet, it’s alright for young men to burp or talk about taking a dump in public. Those are natural, healthy bodily processes, too. So, why is bleeding so scrutinized that we can’t even talk about it? Because menstruation has been seriously stigmatized, and I’m out to recognize it, and normalize it.

Originally publishes August 29, 2010

Mr. Good on Paper

 Posted by on January 6, 2014
Jan 062014
 

'Wish list' written on a spiral padby Amethyst Wonder

I know quite a few people who claim to have had success on CollarMe. I am not one of them. There was the guy who had not one punctuation mark in his message. There was the guy who wrote me a semi-decent message, only to write another message 34 minutes later berating me for not answering quickly enough. There were several guys who emailed me orders without asking me a single question first. So, perhaps, it was these terrible messages that made an ok message stand out as really promising.

What I shall call him: Mr. Good on Paper

How he earned the name: I’m either not that creative or a bit lazy, because I like literal nicknames. Although, obviously anyone I decide to meet in person will probably look pretty good on paper, this guy seemed like a particularly good match at first. We were both just looking for some fun. However, looking back, I did miss some things.

We chatted online trying to set up a first (and, little did I know, last) meeting. The first sign of this not working out, we’ll call it a pink flag, was when I mentioned that I wasn’t available that weekend because I was going to a co-ed bachelor-bachelorette party. “Well, THAT’s not going to be any fun! Why would you want to do that?” I told him that I was sure it would be a blast. “But, you can’t have strippers or anything!” At this point, I wasn’t sure whether to question why we couldn’t have strippers or why we couldn’t have fun without strippers.

After explaining that 1) there may or may not be strippers, 2) contrary to his deep-seated belief my group of mixed-gender friends might have male or female strippers and be into it, and 3) it would be a great deal of fun in any case, we set a date for two weekends away.

Flag on the Play: We meet over coffee and he asks what my trip was the prior weekend that caused us to delay meeting. It happened to be Dark Odyssey Leather Retreat 2009. Still in a bit of post-LR glow, I told him a bit about the event. “Basically it’s 4 or 5 days of getting to do almost anything you want.” His response was but a sign of things to come. “You mean the girls can do anything they want. A guy couldn’t just walk up and ask some girl to fuck him.” I explained that guys can, do, and often succeed in asking just that. He seemed to not believe me.

Flag: This is more of a recurring theme over the evening, rather than a single comment. One of the areas we were considering was my pegging him. I’m not at all against it, but when I say maybe later, later does not mean 20 minutes from now.

Red Flag: This is where things become unsalvageable. He asked why I had picked this location for our meeting. I answered truthfully that I had friends near by that I could easily escape to if the meeting had gone poorly (If. Ha!) First, he was stunned. “Where did you tell them you were going?” I explained that they were also pervs and I had told them the truth. I also commented that even if they weren’t, I would have just said I had a date I met online. I realize I’m having to explain things a lot, and I start to feel a bit tired of it. And then… “Oh, well if they’re into this stuff, maybe we could go to their place.” I explain that, no, that won’t happen. They don’t know him, and I barely know him. He made a pouty face that belongs on a five-year old and asked if I was sure. I was sure. A bit later he asked again, and I added that they had a not-yet-two-month-old infant in the house. Mentally, I checked out of the date and wondered if it was just a bad day. When he asked again, (yes, again) I knew this was a no go.

What I learned: There are a lot of people out there who don’t have much (or any) experience with exploring their fantasies in real life. As a result, they’re not entirely convinced that pervy kinksters actually exist. So they doubt you. And if they do believe you, they think you’re the only one in your zip code.

Better luck next time: He was polite and respectful (mostly). He was eager, and that should help him with someone. Just not me. If I were up for training or mentoring someone at the time, it might have worked out. As it was, I was looking for a fuck buddy, not a project, so I wanted someone more ready-to-eat than made from scratch.

Originally posted August 29, 2010

The Beginning

 Posted by on January 4, 2014
Jan 042014
 

iStock_000004700184XSmallby Mako Allen

Years ago, I had a profound spiritual experience at a pagan festival, which resulted in my casting aside my atheist and objectivist beliefs, and becoming more spiritual. Pagans find their own particular path. The one that called to me the loudest was Taoism.

I practice “philosophical Taoism” or Tao-chia. I find it’s like Othello – simple to learn, but a lifetime to master. Tao-chia is more spiritual philosophy than religion, and blends very well with many religions, and with kink and sexuality in general. It’s very sex-positive. If I had to sum up Taoism in one word, it’d be “Relax.”

The central work of Taoist wisdom is the Tao te Ching, the “Book of the Way and its power”, written by Lao-tzu around 600 BC. It’s a tiny book, of 81 small poems about various aspects of life. I’ve read these poems over and over, and spent years in contemplation of their meaning in my life.

We’ll explore each of them together one at a time, and see how they might apply to living a more fulfilled sexual life.

Let’s start at the beginning.

1
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.

This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.

Tao is Chinese for “way”. There are all sorts of tao’s. A “tao” is the way you do something, or the way that it happens. The way you pull down your submissive’s pants to spank them is a tao, as is the way their bottom gets red when you smack it.

But that’s not the tao I’m talking about. I mean the big one, the Tao. It contains all those other little tao’s. Wikipedia defines it as “the ever-lasting essential and fundamental force that runs through all matter in the Universe, living or not.”

That’s about as clear as mud soup, isn’t it? What the heck does it have to do with being kinky, or sexual? Everything, actually.

The Tao is the movement of everything. It’s the way sunrise follows sunset, and the way seasons turn. Everything that ever was, is, or will be, is the Tao, including you.

One key idea about the Tao is that it’s not good, nor bad. The Tao just is. As part of it, you can’t study it, can’t learn it, and can’t judge it. You just perceive it.

We kinky people sure do love our labels. He’s a submissive. She’s a dominant. That person is a top. This one is a bottom. The truth is though, that names, which Taoism calls “ming”, get in the way. Ming imply judgment, often a source of difficulty for kinky people.

Let’s imagine that you like to tie someone up and watch them struggle against it. What if you also have a desire to suck someone’s toes? Maybe that makes you a foot fetishist, or a bottom. Can you be a rope top and a foot fetishist at the same time?

Well, if you are those things, then clearly you can be. The Tao is known, not judged. So is kink. Go ahead and tie someone up, and then suck away to your heart’s content!
People in the scene often make value judgments about it, like “A real submissive would do (fill in the blank)” or “A top would never do that.” These are opinions, not facts. The very words we use are subject to debate.

What’s the difference between a submissive, bottom and slave? People hold up the standard of Safe, Sane, and Consensual as a holy grail for these things we do. But who’s to say what’s safe, what’s sane, and what’s consensual? Those are relative definitions at best.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t form your own opinions. You can, should, and will. It’s just human to do so.

When I first got into kink, I was convinced I was completely submissive. I’m an age player, an adult baby. I thought that was all I was, and wouldn’t or couldn’t enjoy being someone else’s top, or Daddy, or Big.

But it just wasn’t true. Over the years I’ve developed a love for caring for other age players. I love giving a good spanking, or checking someone’s diaper and cradling them in my arms. I love topping and bottoming in many other ways, too.

Lao-tzu had it right. When you stop worrying about the kind of kinky person you should be, you can fully embrace the kinky person you actually are.

Originally published September 25, 2010