Sexual communication, it’s as complicated as you think. But that’s okay, let’s talk about it.

Sex is hard work. And this fact is something that I found out the hard way. I was so restricted in my understanding of how sex worked; thanks to a lifetime of gendered conditioning, that I genuinely believed that because I was a woman, I would just need to follow the already established way of having sex and all would be fine. I was conditioned by systemic patriarchy to believe that woman is an established character in heterosexual relations, and if I was just “the good girl” and followed this prescriptive way of being woman, then everything would be okay. And, I guess, in a way it was. It was okay for the men I was having sex with. They were able to gain the sexual satisfaction within the curated nature of the relationships that existed between us. Except the very foundation of what existed was void of anything of mine – except my body. Patriarchy rewarded me with both attention (I actually find a lot of value in the sexual focused attention sex bring me) and status that having a boyfriend brings a woman; especially young women. Navigating this “good girl” narrative hurt me, it still hurts me. While I am in the healthiest of sexual relationships I’ve ever existed in, the totality of our relationship exists bound by the two, often conflicting, approaches to sex that we both have.

A lifetime of social conditioning created my individual frame of reference – my own unique sent of experiences and understanding that frames the way that I have sex. Our framing – and we all have one, is constructed through our sociocultural upbringing. All the beliefs that we have about sex, in general, and our own moral compass surrounding our sexual behaviours come together to create how we have sex.

Women often have a complicated relationship with sex. Conceptualising who we are as sexual beings – who happen to be women, can be fraught with the lingering effects of trauma, a lack of effective sex education, dominant social mores and attitudes about sex or the multifaceted emotional relationship we have with our own bodies and sexual histories.

To further complicate how women experience sex are all of the patterns of communication that exist. While there are many facets of communication pertaining to our sexual spaces; I’m quite confident in arguing that it is decision making, the way that we go about the minor and major decisions that create the way that we have sex, which is often misrepresented or minimised when considering how it is we communicate about sex.

Linguistics professor Deborah Tannen writes that communication is a continual balancing act, we are in a space that asks us to consider both our own need for independence and intimacy. We need to establish boundaries and a mutual understanding of what is expected to meet our own desires, while at the same time factoring in those needs, desires and boundaries of the person we are choosing to have sex with; and sometimes these needs, desires and boundaries are in conflict with each other. This is one complicated decision to be made.

So how can we, best, go about this?

Get comfortable with sexual language

If you want sex, then you have to be able to talk about it! Often, we become lost in the awkwardness and uncomfortable nature of sexual language. It’s not like we insert words like vulva, pussy, penis, cock, fuck, orgasm, anal, condom or lubricant, in our everyday conversations. But how can sexual communication be effective when we cannot speak the language?

Avoid questions that can only give you a yes or no answer.

These closed questions offer little to no value to the sexual decisions that need to be negotiated. Yes or no has no meaning nor do they provide us with any relevant information. Without information we cannot make informed decisions; and consent is all about informed decisions!

Asking the right questions is at the heart of effective communication. While a yes or no answer may elicit a statement that resembles fact; an answer that moves beyond yes or no offers fact, knowledge and feeling – all of which are required in order to provide more information. And it is from this information that we develop open conversations that enable us to make more informed decisions about what we choose to do sexuallyListen to understand, not to respond.

Sexual communication is more often thought of in terms of what we say, not what we do with the words that are being said to us.

Sexual communication is what enables us to share the same space. And while it involves two people, the commonality necessary to have sex is brought about by bringing together multiple, interdependent, pieces of information. Information that ranges from general to specific, that must not only be shared through words spoken and non-verbal cues interpreted, but used to create mutual understanding. What is said cannot be understood without connecting it to a great deal of background information. This is why negotiating consent cannot be one, brief, conversation that brings about a yes or no answer.

The dominant narrative that “successful” communication is dependent upon accurate messages being sent to another – most often the words of a woman being said to a man is wrong! Communication is, very much, a two-way street. The words that are spoken are meaningless until they are heard and understood by another. Communication is a shared responsibility. If you, or your partner, are not obtaining understanding through listening to what is being said then you are impeding the communication process.

Accept that this is going to feel uncomfortable.

Talking openly and honestly about sex; particularly desire and boundaries, but also birth control and STI’s, is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. These conversations ask us to sit in some deep vulnerability. These conversations are ongoing; they aren’t something that is done and dusted on a first date or in the first few emails. Sex is complicated and this complication filters through to the conversations that we have about the sex we want – or don’t want.

It’s okay to feel nervous. It’s going to feel uncomfortable. But if you keep going into these conversations, if you keep cantering the goal of sex – to have mutually satisfying and consensual sex.


But most of all remember this, you are entitled to have sex that satisfies you. You are inviting another into your erotic space in order to create something that is mutually satisfying. The mechanics and “how to’s” of all this are not that important. They are more of a means to an end, rather than the foundation of our sex lives.

We cannot escape the socialised framing that we all bring into the sex we have. Nurture, as we call it, is a formidable force – for good and for bad. But what we can do is make the best choices for us. We can centre the whole of who we are as women; more than just a body, into the sexual decisions that we are making. Communication; the speaking and the listening is what brings about the safe, satisfying, consensual sex that we all desire.




But she sent him a text …

How defensive responses manifests after sexual assault.


I’m starting to see consent as twofold. It is both the foundational structure from which we build up, negotiate and renegotiate the space that exist between sexual partners, sets the boundaries that distinguish acceptable from unacceptable sexual behaviours and sets out the expectations that are present within the erotic space. But it is also a resource that we use within the relationship. It allows us to take what it is we need and to give what it is our partner needs but also  maintains that sense of safety, security, belonging an, validation, mutuality and respect that contains both the individual and the relationship.

And so when this dual consent exists between us; even the “us” that is a dominant/submissive relationship, we are able to feel safe and as we are safe we respond to both our partners and our relationship in adaptable predictable and forward thinking ways.

But when this doesn’t exist it is easy to fall into less adaptive more reactive and defensive responses, what we commonly think of as fight, flight freeze.

So what is it that creates our defensive structures?

This one is a tricky one to answer. Why? Because there are so many variances in who we are a individual human beings, and every single one of these differences combine to create the way that we respond to harm, danger, distress and hurt. And this variance continues into the more intimate and/or sexual relationships that we inhibit.

Childhood experiences of abuse and neglect. Socialisation – especially the ways that we are socialised around gender. What has worked for us in past relationships. And what it is that we need to do to keep us safe and nurtured within the relationship that we are in now. All of this combines to create the structure from which our defence mechanisms manifest.

Most of us have healthy and flexible psychological responses to danger, harm, hurt and distress. We’ve all heard of the 3 dominant responses: flight, flight and freeze.

But did you know there was a fourth?

Fight – in response to harm I fight back.

Flight – in response to danger I flee.

Freeze – in response to hurt I become rigid and fixed.

Fawn – in response to hurt I aim to gain favour and exaggerate affection or responses.

If you were to go to the dictionary and look up the word fawn you will get something like:

  “To exhibit affection or attempt to please”

                “To seek favour or attention by flattery and obsequious behaviour”


This fawn response, like all of our defensive structures comes from our need to survive. We are born dependent on the adults around us for our physical and emotional needs, the things we need to survive. We all have memories of being dependent, be in it childhood (none of us could drive ourselves to sport, cook our own dinner or pay the bills) or later on in life (our need for validation in our friendship groups, the need for our boss to pay us on time so we can pay our bills or the need to depend on our partners when we are ill). And we have all created (in psychology we call this accommodation) conscious and unconscious scripts of rules about the way we survive and thrive.  These scripts tell us who we are, what we need in order to be who we are and what we can and can’t (or should and shouldn’t do) if we are in relationship with another.

It’s important to understand these ideas and theories so that we can begin to better understand the complexity of and nuances between the responses that manifest after sexual assault and/or living within domestic violence.

When we are within a problematic relationship, one with overt domestic violence or one with an absolute inequitable distribution of resources (and I would argue that consent is a resource that we use within our erotic spaces to not only meet our own sexual needs but to keep us safe, validated and respected), we often run on an unconscious  sense of survival, we are in unhealthy relationships. Unhealthy relationships becomes stressful and in a lot of cases traumatic. The situations we face, the violence we experience and the stressors we live with all exceed our natural resources, our abilities to respond in adaptive and authentic ways and most importantly, how we begin to view ourselves as whole women.

Often we become co-dependent. In that the dependent one will strive to do whatever it take to maintain their sense of safety, security and the physical and emotional nurturance that we get from our intimate partners. Sometimes the most innocuous scenario can resemble something that was or currently is, experienced as a trauma, and we trigger our psyche’s defensive structures; the flight, fight, freeze and fawn responses. At other times we encounter a new scenario – say a physical or sexual assault and these responses are triggered and we respond in ways that are designed to protect ourselves – by responding aggressively, in ways that create distance between us and the harm, by fleeing physically, or dissociating and fleeing emotionally. Or in the case of the fawn response, to act servilely, to shy away from more conflict (because this will create more hurt, harm, danger and/or distress) and to pacify. She does this not as an adequate or authentic response to the scenario or to questions asked, but as a defence mechanism aimed at protection and diffusion of harm, hurt, danger or distress.

Peter Walker writes a great example of this fawn response. He writes that a toddler can quickly learn that “protesting abuse leads to even more frightening parental retaliation, and so she relinquishes the flight response, deleting “no” from her vocabulary” And it’s easy to take this learning; that protesting or challenging will lead to more hurt, harm, danger and distress,  and apply it to women who have been sexually assaulted.

Let’s say that Mary has been sexually assaulted by Louis. Louis and Mary have been in a dominant submissive relationship for a few months, where the continuing theme is boundary pushing. In this particular dynamic Louis established early on that he knows exactly what it is that she desires and if she only surrendered to him; in that he means her boundaries, her consent and her safe word, then he will be able to give her what it is he knows she desires.

From day one Mary has had multiple points of confusion. She doesn’t understand the conflict that she is experiencing. She has done all that Louis has asked of her and yet, she still can’t quite get what it is she truly desires. She has asked Louis a number of times to help her understand what it happening for her. She has confronted him about some of his choices. And she has tried to say no & asked him to stop. All of which have lead to Louis retaliating. He laughs at her. Reminds her that there are lots of other women who would love to be where she is. He tells her that if she was truly submissive she wouldn’t be asking these sorts of questions. He downplays her concerns. He gets angry at her, punishing her and reminding her that if she just did what she was told he wouldn’t need to hurt her.

Mary is learning that protesting will lead to more harm, hurt, danger and distress. But that if she acts servilely, if she shy’s away from more conflict and confrontation  and if she pacifies him; even if these are manufactured, inauthentic responses to scenarios and questions asked, then she can reduce the amount, level and duration of harm, hurt, danger and distress.

One night Louis sexually assaults Mary.

The next day he texts her and a conversation eventuates where Louis is comforted and pacified by a text Mary sends. A text that assures Louis that “he didn’t rape her”.

A statement that is inauthentic, manufactured and done so to shy away from more hurt, harm, danger and distress.

A lie!

A lie said to keep her safe while she is processing the events of the previous night, the context within which they occurred and deciding what it is she is to do now.

Mary lies to Louis in order to reduce the harm that she is experiencing. She is doing nothing more than responding from that defensive structure that kicks in when what it is that we are currently experiencing overwhelms and exceed her natural resources and her abilities to respond authentically.

We know that there are men how reject outright that idea of consent.

We know there are men out there who see women as objects to use as a means to an end.

We know that there are men out there who use BDSM as a protection against having to be accountable for their sexual choices.

How do we know? They tell us. They brag about not bothering with the social mores, etiquettes or protocols of either the vanilla or BDSM communities. They use their aversion to and rejection of consent as a badge of honour, a marketing strategy to sell themselves as something that they won’t find elsewhere.

But what we also know is that sending a text message defusing a situation and allowing us to protect ourselves from more hurt, harm, danger and distress is a normal and expected response in a situation of sexual assault.

If we believe men when they say they don’t give a fuck about consent.  And if we accept that men choose to manufacture consent after the fact, only when they are called before the Courts to be held accountable for the sexual choices that they have made.

Why can we not accept and believe that the objective and observable theory of “flight, fight, freeze and fawn” creates the inauthentic and manufactured responses that women give to men – a single text message for example – when there is a genuine belief of more harm, hurt, danger and distress?


This is rape culture –


I’ve sat with this for the last day. I wanted to write an emotive, reactive piece, full of as may expletives I could fit into one blog post. But I decided to sit with this and come at it from another position. Angry, yes, frustrated and pissed that I even should write this, you bet! So exceptionally frustrated that I made the decision last night to not write anything at all.

But after giving myself some time to sit with, and really think about what I wanted to say, what I really needed to put to paper I realised that this deserved more from me than silence. Silence caused by a fear of being labelled nothing more than “hysterical feminist nagging”.

I have never hidden the place of feminism in my writing. I am a feminist who writes about female sexuality and submission. I try to use this platform to bring an alternative position to some of the more dominant framing of both female sexuality and submission; because I think it’s needed and important to those of us who live this. If we only get to see or participate in one version of all of this; then how can we evolve our sense of self to a place it’s most safe within? If the only way that I am allowed to write about any of this is from a place which positions privilege of and obedience to those with power than doesn’t that rule most of us out of both conversation and change?

If I can’t write in a way that makes people uncomfortable and, yes, challenges those who have done wrong to see their choices as illegitimate within BDSM, then I have no reason to keep on writing! For me, as an ardent and unapologetic feminist, I am all about challenging the status quo. About recognising that the way things are, and have been, are so deeply saturated in patriarchy that women have little safety and legitimacy; especially when it comes to our sexual autonomy, choices and voices.

I write because I believe my voice is important and legitimate. I believe my words are needed. And if my words can empower one woman to feel safe enough to explore her sexuality and surrender, or let one victim of sexual violence feel like they are heard and believed then I’m going to keep going.

Even if some would characterise what I write as interfering!

This has all been prompted by the appearance before the courts of “the wolf” (from here on in only referred to as this man) and the allegations of bullying made. Allegations may not be the right words here. I’m not sure if they are exactly that; but they were repeated in the media overnight, and so I am going to go with allegations made. Yesterday it was implied there is an organised attempt to make a mountain out of a mole hill when it comes to the acquisitions of sexual assault being investigated and before the courts. This man, genuinely believes that he is the victim of an orchestrated campaign against him. One that is being undertaken by any of us that comment about him in any way; and I can only assume is a continuance of the one that was happening before he was arrested.

If I believed for a moment that this man felt bullied I would completely disengage with what I’m doing. I’m not calling him a liar, or saying that his lawyer stood before the Bench yesterday and made a false claim. I just don’t believe that what he’s experiencing is bullying; so much as it is the seismic shift of power being taken away from him!

And power is the key theme here. Power over others to extract what you believe that you are entitled to; be in submission, sex, social platform or silence. Silence begotten through the accusations of bullying, and positioning him as the victim. You see, the second men like this lose power, they become the victim. Because they no longer wield the authority to control that becomes the oppressed! Pretty pathetic huh?

The connections between this bullying claim and his manifesto are so obvious to me. See, he was saw himself as an almost puppet master; not just of women – his victims and otherwise, but of the outsiders too. Those of us questioning is writing. Laughing at his predictable prose and poses and supporting those who were posting pieces against him.

One of the most telling pieces he published was a piece called “The exquisite blondes”. The title itself tells you a lot about his need to objectify in order to find connection. For me it was a particular paragraph that really cemented who this man believes, and even now still believes, about himself. He writes …

“I’d been thinking about almost nothing else for a week. I’d been with multiple girls before and yes, the thought of that alone is enough to (literally) keep me up at night but there was far more two this, another level of adventure that had me completely enthralled. I played the scenarios over and over in my head. I could expect complete compliance from both of them, I held the paintbrush and they were my canvas. How corny is that? But how hot is it too?

He held the paintbrush. He, and he alone was the one on active control over everything. His image, the caricature of “the wolf”, his audience and the stories permitted about him. And, like he wrote, he expected complete compliance (how many times can we say this COMPLIANCE IS NOT CONSENT) and, unfortunately, he got it.

Until one woman stood up and said no more! Until she went to the police and made the initial complaint, that lead to the initial investigation, his arrest and multiple charges being laid. An ongoing investigation with the potential of more changes being laid.

The moment Miss X went to the police was the moment that the paintbrush fell out of his hands and his imagined, compelled blind and complete compliance of those around him began to fracture.

Bullying or a smear campaign by the media and those, like me, who write about this, have nothing to do with him being where he is today. The relationship of victim 2 (full disclosure here, if this is who I think it is I have no respect nor time for this man. I think he’s sexual ethics are just as atrocious as this man’s) has now if of no concern to the facts of the (alleged) act of sexual violence perpetrated against her. It is his choices, his absolute lack of regard for the law and for the autonomy and wellbeing of those that, genuinely, loved him, trusted him and wanted to be with him, that see him and his smug face plastered across the Sydney media, and his ass hauled before the courts.

Likewise, and more importantly, it is neither those of us who are discussing this nor the bullying that he is claiming, that is empowering women to step forward and talk about him; to the police or others.

How one can even begin to rationalise that it is through bullying that women venture into the vacuum that is the legal justice system is beyond me! This idea that it is only because of bullying towards him that another woman has stepped forward is, quite simply and nothing more than rape culture!

For those unaware of the concept of rape culture let me explain what I mean by it.

Rape culture are all the dysfunctional, erroneous and compounding ideas, the social norms and sanctions, the language of the media, legal arguments, attitudes and statements of politicians and the public that combine to not only frame the way that sexual violence is perpetrated upon the female body but to constrain the way women are allowed to speak about, and demand redress for their own experiences of sexual violence.

Let me put what was said in context. This case in no longer about two women who were victimised by the sexual choices of this man. This is no longer about victims seeking out the courts to get justice for the crime/s perpetrated upon their bodies. For victims to access legally entitled redress from a man who chose to ignore their agency and violate their right to make informed, reactive decision about their bodies and sexual labour.


This is about a conspiracy.

This is about a man. And another man.

This is about one man orchestrating a vendetta against another and using an allegation of sexual violence to bully the other.

This is about a perpetrator of sexual violence using the courts and the media to discredit and silence the victim. She cannot possibly be believed because she is lying; and she is lying because her boyfriend is bullying the accussed!

Look up the statistics! Listen to the reasons why women are reluctant to come forward with accounts of sexual violence.

Now take every vile word, attitude and deed that creates rape culture and add to it, that women are now the pawns in an orchestrated bullying campaign for male supremacy in BDSM.

He “claims he has been the victim of an “online bullying campaign”, leading to an extra charge of sexual assault being laid against him”. Yep this man believes, once again, that he is the victim here!

Sound familiar to anyone else?

You see, the second his lawyer stood up yesterday and said the “B” word he not only began his campaign against the second victim, but he began his platform to curate and control the parameters of discussion allowed about this.

This is about, one last desperate attempt, to take back some control over the story that he is the lead villain in. One last pathetic attempt at rebranding himself as a victim as opposed to the perpetrator of sexual violence against women.

This is nothing more than rape culture!





Can I allow my body nurture and reward while being submissive?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all of the things that I ask of my body. Life, like I’m sure it is for many of you, is hectic at the moment; it’s the middle of winter, we’re on a deployment cycle, parenting a teenager, I’m in my last 2 months of collage & I’m working on establishing my own private practice. It’s like I’m jumping from busy to busy; with little in the middle to nurture and reward my body for all the things I’m asking it to do right now.

And I’ve started to notice a similar pattern in what I’m asking of my body sexually too. I ask it to settle into the intentional and very directed distress that is kink and beyond a shower and sleep I don’t do very much to nurture and reward it for the immense pleasure it affords me (and my husband).

Is it even acceptable to see your body as being deserving of nurture and reward? It’s seems so like the over used idea of ‘me time” (something I’ll admit I do indulge in) and yet so unlike the common theme of “after care” in kink spaces, it’s indulgent – like me time, but not something that I’ve ever thought about negotiating within my dynamic. On the one hand, I feel like this is something that I need to start doing – after all I’m choosing to engage with the intense sexual behaviours that we use, those which I know distress, through bruises and marks as well as exhaustion and mental “fog” while, almost immediately asking my body to perform normally and without hesitation those things I need to be adulting (as my teenager would say). But on the other I feel that this would add another layer to the erroneous idea that submission cannot coexist seamlessly alongside everything else that makes up the whole of my life. That I’d be somehow buying into the narrative that one must clearly divide their “kink” self from their “normal self.

But I think my apprehension towards this comes from one of the most prolific problems that I have with the way we depict surrender and submission. The idea that we are, inherently and by virtue of some personality architype, altruistic. Selflessly giving of our bodies and our sexual labour; without need of return or recompense. I have many “shame stories” that frame the way I experience myself and my body and I think that this “not enough because I need reward for my surrender” would be in my top three! I feel, somewhat, less than, simply because I cannot and will not abdicate my need to feel as if the surrender I offer him and the ways that I allow my body to be used in our erotic space are worth more than a pat on the head and a “good girl” and more than the just knowing that he is satisfied.

I wonder what it would be like to raise this at the submissive munch I often attend. I’m picturing the faces of those regulars; the ones who are seen as the knowledge base of submission, and I’m wondering how they would react to the idea of nurturing and rewarding their bodies for what they ask of it. And I’m not seeing anything I like! And that doesn’t surprise me.

I exist within a community that, seem to me, to have little time for anything that doesn’t foster strength in submission. It feels like anything or anyone who meanders into thoughts that force them to question the choices and needs will soon be brought back into line. That the status quo and the kumbaya singing must be preserved; at the expense of the individual; be it something self-centred as this or something with wider ramifications like speaking of the sexual violence you have experienced. The slightest hint of weakness and you are cast aside, with your ability to “play with the big kids” debated and judgment soon rendered. See, to be, confidently and consciously within the submissive space may be seen and sold as an empowered step by some, but the truth seems to be it is something quite different.

Are our bodies deserving of reward and nurture; considering what it is that we are asking of it?

Can we still claim entitlement to play with the big kids if we recognise that our bodies might need more than the satisfaction of knowing that he got what he wanted?

And are we allowed to admit that we might not all be the submissive superhero’ capable of all sorts of kink indulgences without corrupting the submission is strength message?

Why the man I married isn’t my soulmate, but the man who nearly destroyed me is.

Soulmate; it sounds just so perfect doesn’t it? This ideal mirror of us. They just see you and, as if by some magical instinct brought from some other realm, they know you, understand you and get everything about you. The chemistry is hot and powerful. They shake you up, make you think about the world in ways you’d never thought of before. Your soulmate reaches down to the very core of who you are, and brings you into lessons you needed to learn and, will often, drag us out of the storm clouds and into the other side of the rainbow.

I’ve felt that once in my life. He was someone who I thought was my happily ever after. People would tell us all the time that we were just made for each other, that our chemistry was perfect and we just made each other. And for a while; it really was all of that and more. That was until real life smacked us square in the face. Where you have to come up for oxygen and start being a little more reactive to the world that still existed outside of our little nest.

For a while I was able to convince myself that the flattery and the attention, the packed lunches with sweet little notes and the orgasms were enough to see me through. That all he was doing was protecting me from the world and making everything okay again.

What happened between us, the facts, they’re not important. It’s the story around the what that matters when we’re talking about soulmates.

Because the connection and the chemistry they weren’t enough. And when we needed more, when we need to find the real enough to get through life, the facade fell apart. Fast. Almost as fast as the chemistry and the connection jumped up did it all jump off.

And both the jumping up and the jumping off happened in ways that, even now more than a decade later, I still can’t explain.

But my husband, this imperfect, sometimes infuriating man, I can tell you every detail about us. From the first words in his first email. I can describe the literal “foot pop” the first time he kissed me. And I can tell you the exact moment I knew that I’d fallen in love with this man. I can explain exactly how I came to choose him as the man I wanted to spend my happily ever after with.

There was never a moment like with my soulmate. Never anything more than that chemistry filled love that swept me away from life into a turbulent and overwhelming existence.

What I have, and what I think is the difference between a soulmate and a partner, is safety. Not just a physical or sexual safety ( I had that with the soulmate too) but a deeper, dare I say it a more spiritual safety. I have this vulnerability; coming from within the both of us, that brings out the best of us. We can be two very flawed individuals, but the relationship we have, I don’t know? It’s like it nurtures and holds the both of us, so that we can come together in the way that we do.

I was never d/s with my soulmate; I can’t say that I even knew what any of this was! But I’m starting to learn; and this is obviously quite contrary from the dominant narrative of d/s, that it’s not the d/s that fosters this intensity of partnership we’ve created. Rather what we have, in terms of our dynamic, comes alongside the partnership we build. Whereas my soulmate was gorgeous chaos and licentious lust; It really was so superficial! I’m grateful that I had him as my soulmate. He and our relationship really broke me as a woman, and so it is, in part (I’ve had some beautiful therapeutic spaces created in which I was able to challenge, craft and comfort myself into who I am today) something which I’ve learned through. A means to an end.

But my partnership, my dynamic, my marriage; it’s not a means to an end. More the means and the end.

It’s the means of cultivation and reflection. Of learning and being, and it’s the end. The reason for choosing him. He is my safety.

And maybe that’s the thing with our soulmates. I’m not saying that our partners cannot be our soulmates, but maybe our soulmates; that person, in my case, or those people who are lucky enough to find multiple soulmates in life, are here for us to use as a step into the person we’re needing to be and needing to be with.

I think of my soulmate often. Wondering where he is in his life. Who he is now compared to the man I walked away from. We have a mutual friend and I often find myself hovering over a Facebook message wanting to casually mention his name. He is a part of me, for better or worse. He is my history and has a place within me. But that’s all he is, and I think that is all he ever was meant to be. Something which, when I got through my brokenness, just sits in some small corner of my psyche reminding me of what was and how amazing, needed and safe what is really is for me.

Like Anastasia.

When I first stepped into the world of feminism; from what was a very antifeminist stance, I was stunned by the sense of community that I had entered. Women who were not only encouraged to find their own tribe and their own voice, but who had a responsibility to listen to those who, for so many reason, experienced the world in a way they never would. To form; from near or far, a deep sense of solidarity with each other no matter how different our, inequitable, oppressive experience of the world were. We had each other’s back and made decisions, especially in regards to the words we chose to speak about each other, that would let others know we’ve got this.

Of course this utopian nirvana I thought I had found has lost its shine over the last decade. Feminism is imperfect, complicated, diverse and sometimes down and out infuriating. But it is, and will always be, the one choice I will always make. To not only be a feminist but to deliberately use my space in this world to smash the status quo. 

But, to me, the almost universal premise that brings feminism from the world of theory and academia and into the ways that women, right here right now, make and experience their bodies in this patriarchal world is the curiosity and respect for each other’s voice. And right at the heart of this idea (or is that ideal) is that no other person, feminist or not, is not in any position to tell women what they should or shouldn’t do. While this new vouge feminism centred in choice is deeply problematic; choice, not just the ability but the permission to, engage or disengage with the world in informed ways, has to mean something.

One of the things I’m learning about being a submissive woman, is that I now exist in this cultural paradox. Within BDSM, when a woman tells her story and she says that her experiences of submission are negative, that she has been harmed. That she is living with trauma. She is called a liar. She is shamed. She is blamed. Outside of BDSM, when a woman tells her story and she says that her experiences of submission are positive, that she feels safe, that she is experiencing pleasure. She is called a liar. She is shamed. She is blamed.

It doesn’t matter what we are saying; our voice is ignored, ridiculed and rejected.

I’m not arrogant enough to tell women what they should be doing. So it was no surprise that Caitlin Roper’s latest account of her angst surrounding the newest Fifty Shades release was something that I was going to find hard to read. To me it is deeply paternalistic, her words and those like her are founded in the genuine belief that they know what is best. Rejecting the experiences of women who genuinely enjoy the franchise and intentionally subjugating the dozens if not hundreds of reasons why they are going to see the movie.

So when I see women like Caitlin Roper jumping from the clichéd volley of platitudes usually directed at the franchise (I’m surprised that the condescending mummy porn portrayal wasn’t front and centre in her piece) into the position that tells the readers of the Sydney Morning Herald that “these are the services where women like Anastasia end up” I have to stop and really think hard about what the overall intention of this piece was.

Did Caitlin want to add something to the numerous conversations about the structural and cultural barriers to women freely engaging with frontline services? Was she writing this because she has a genuine concern for women “like Anastasia” and a desire to make sure that we too have access to relevant interventions and services?

Call me sceptical, but I’m going to say it’s a sure bet that neither of these were part of the reason why she wrote this piece. Nor why the Sydney Morning Herald chose to take it to publication.

Because the reality is that women like Caitlin Roper have little to no concern about women like me. The women that they choose to cast as presumptive victims while choosing to ignore our voices and our stories. Women like me, who are safe in our intimate spaces even though the behaviours, language, attitudes and community commonly associated with BDSM and dominance and submission are at the core of our relationships. While people will jump to read the narratives of our sexploits when it is all about the whips and chains and orgasms; it’s getting harder and harder to get others to actually take the time to sit down, shut up and listen to us. Well they have no reason to right?

For all of the pieces about “women like Anastasia” I have not yet encountered one which actively seeks out what we need in frontline services; especially with regard to mental health care. And from the hour or so of searching on the website of those organisations behind this campaign, I can safely assume that not one of them has any dedicated service or counsellor informed about or directed to meeting the needs of submissive women.

But beyond “these services” that she has so carefully promoted in her piece not actually being services that would be responsive to who I am and what I would need if in fact I did ever need to access their services; I want to question the dominant narrative of her piece.

There are lots of things wrong with the character of Christian Grey. He is materialistic and status driven. He believes that his philanthropic endeavours account for the business choices he makes. He has acquired so many unhealthy and dysfunctional approaches to and behaviours within both his relationships with women and in his sex life (it’s interesting that, of all the pieces written about his behaviours not one piece has tried to explore the correlation between child abuse and the attachment disorder that Christian so clearly has). He has unresolved trauma. And most importantly connected to BDSM his sexual identity has stalled in its infancy stage, the only way he can feel safe engaging with sex in a mutually satisfying way is my having a signed piece of paper kept in the bedside table; or wherever a billionaire would keep his important documents. Christian Grey also embodies a lot of the fragile yet toxic masculinity that has created the realm of the pickup artist; and, unfortunately, has begun to infect BDSM. It’s egocentric, entitled and dangerous for women, because, amongst other problems it schedules women as passive in their own bodies and as characters that men create through their own sexual prowess. So I am not defending the character that is Christian Grey. And let’s be honest he and the world that he commands is one walking, talking product placement.

Christian is not the absolute everything of FSOG. And while he clearly exhibits problematic behaviours he is a fictional character that is a cluster of everything unlikable and unacceptable. And women are allowed to like him.

And this, as far as I’m concerned, brings to a head the idea that the franchise is glamourising intimate partner violence.

Finding something alluring about a fictional character; even one as dysfunctional as Christian Grey. Finding points of reference in fiction that you connect to, that resemble the story of your own sexual realities. Does not, in anyway, negate the way you perceive intimate partner violence! And to consider the audience of Fifty Shades Darker as ignorant about the realities of intimate partner violence., is quite arrogant!

And that is just not how I choose to approach the millions of women, throughout the world who have gone and will go and see Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. I see them, as I see myself as women entitled to make their own decisions regarding how they spend their disposable incomes. But more than that, I am not so isolated from the community of women who either enjoy the Fifty Shades franchise or who choose to bring behaviours commonly associated with dominance and submission into their erotic space, to see these women as ignorant about the realities of intimate partner violence. We see the same news headlines as you. We read the same reports that tell us the attitudes regarding women, violence and sexual behaviours is repulsive. We know that intimate partner violence kills at least 1 woman a week in Australia and costs our economy billions of dollars in lost wages, first responders, health care and our legal system We see the same shallow and pathetic attempts at awareness, band aid solutions, funding cuts and inadequate structural and institutional action as every other woman. We see the casual and often inadequate ways that the media engage with the complexity of gendered violence. We understand that domestic and family violence has, over generations, has been relegated to behind closed doors, assigned to the too hard or not our problem basket. We may enjoy a movie that some see as problematic, be we, as individuals and a collective group of women are neither the cause of intimate partner violence not blatantly ignorant of it.

I think that there is a lot wrong with infantilising women’s consumer choices. The women who are seeing this movie found something interesting to see; and dare I say it something that turned them on. I know I did! And I will unapologetically, defend the right for a woman to watch a movie and, when well informed by complete understanding, motivated by mutual satisfaction and framed by affirmative consent, defend the choice to be “like Anastasia” in her boudoir. 

So while I have to agree with her proposition that we (although I have no doubt that her “we” does not include women like myself) need to begin to really interrogate the way that intimate partner violence is discussed and represented I will not be actively supporting anything that intentionally creates and us and them divide. As a woman “like Anastasia” I will let other women just like her make their own choices about what they watch at the cinema and how they come to understand what intimate partner violence is.

And if that contribution to creating a better understanding of women’s experiences of intimate partner violence involves actively boycotting one book/movie franchise than, by all means, actively boycott Fifty Shades Darker; and in a years’ time when Fifty Shades Freed is released, make the same choice. But the choice to watch the movie is no more or less a choice.

But please, understand the services and the political/social ideology that you are really supporting. Spend 5 minutes Googling the individuals and organisations behind it and where exactly your money will go. Because, as a feminist, I unequivocally stand behind the idea that it is only through education; both as a social institution and self-driven, that women will be able to make the best choices for themselves.

I’m not asking you to change your opinions about the FSOG franchise; love it, hate it, it’s your decision. But what I am asking of you is that, before advocating for a particular campaign or position, you choose to understand the realities of those women “like Anastasia”. The women like me, like dozens of friends of mine – women and men alike. To stop and listen to our voices and our stories.

Being able to write and to write well is a privilege. Being given a public platform is an entitlement. Those who are gifted this public space are entitled to their own words and their own agendas. But doesn’t someone with this privilege have a responsibility to, at least consider, their potential audience? The Sydney Morning Herald is not some niche blog or sub forum. It is a mainstream media platform, and one that has a diverse audience; an audience that includes women “like Anastasia”.

Shades of sidelining inconvenient voices

The last few weeks have had me thinking about the release of Fifty Shades Darker. I had originally decided to ignore the pseudo outrage, the paternalistic narratives and the absolute infantilising of women doing nothing more than enjoying a movie. It infuriates me, and to be brutally honest, I have internalised a lot of the shame thrown at women who actually enjoy the franchise. I have found myself questioning my connection to the storylines, my contribution to some of the conversations around the movie and whether or not I am actually eligible to call myself a submissive woman when I’m clearly crossing a boundary that is intended to reject those like me from the words submissive and woman.

But this release is a bit different for me. Not that the positions of those who intentionally choose to negate the enjoyment, the community and the permission to explore their bodies that this has given us has changed. The articles written and the boycott advocated for are still connected to vile anti woman, pro censorship, sex negative advocacy. Who reject all forms of female sexual agency and couldn’t engage with a critical interrogation of BDSM and pop culture without resorting to policing the choices women make.

But this time around, as a submissive woman, I am encountering a huge blind stop in the conversations around FSD. Maybe I just didn’t notice it in 2015. I was relatively new to my curiosity about sex outside of my own body. What I’m noticing is a deliberate move away from the voices of women who are both the intended audience and consumers of this movie.

Maybe the movie and the controversy surrounding its release isn’t enough to warrant the media saturation it held 2 years ago. And so there are less words afforded to ‘the real submissive lives’ of ordinary women. But I have to wonder where, in all of these words being written by so called women activists calling for boycotts and attention to the glamorisation of harmful behaviours are the words by women, like me. Women who are going to watch this movie. Women who enjoyed watching the first movie. And women who will go and watch and enjoy the third movie. Where are our voices?

I can warrant a guess!

We are sidelined, intentionally so, because we choose, through our consumer choices and our sexual behaviours to exist between two worlds. See, as a woman who owns the submissive space within her marriage I am expected to play by the rules. And yet I don’t. I don’t play by the rules that say I should trash a story that I actually enjoy. A character that I can recognise a lot of myself in. And I do want to add a dissenting voice beyond that which is expected of me. But at the same time I am expected to be the victim. The victim of domestic violence, of a culture that has conditioned me to believe my sexual desires are real. And of a culture that would have me believe that I am unable to make informed decisions.

Because, from what I’ve read about myself, I am all of the above. I am not a 30 something woman who can decide whether or not I want to go and see a particular move. I am not a woman who can understand that there is a difference between fiction on screen and the reality in my bedroom. I am not a woman who is able to gain genuine enjoyment from a movie and genuine pleasure from kinky fuckery.

Go see the movie.

Don’t go see the movie.

Write a piece telling your audience how awful the storyline is, how inaccurate the portrayal of dominance and submission is to you.

Write a piece telling your audience how you feel about the character development, the direction Christian and Ana’s relationship is taking or how much you hate the idea of women saving their man from themselves.

Write a piece about how dysfunctional Christian is in his relationships – no please, someone really write a piece about how Christian exhibits all the common traits of an attachment disorder associated with childhood abuse. And how his attachment to Mrs Robertson and his succession of short term relationships were no more than a consequence of his childhood. Because we need more conversations about how childhood abuse does affect our ability to form effective intimate relationships; especially in men!

Write a piece to inform women wanting to take their fiction from fantasy to their boudoir how to make the best and most informed decisions for them.

Write a piece exploring the diversity of sexual behaviours that human beings engage with, and how to ensure that these behaviours are to healthiest for your readers.

But do not, not today, not tomorrow, not ever, write a piece that actively dissuades women from seeking out pop culture or intimate relationships that they tell you they want and enjoy.

But at the same time. Don’t choose to ridicule, minimise or ignore voices like mine. Women’s voices that are discussing their interactions with the franchise. Discussing how the franchise has allowed them to open up their sexual selves in ways they never would have dreamed of doing. Discussing how they experience the culture around the franchise; good and bad.

The spectrum of desire amongst women is as vast as it is diverse. The spectrum of voices amongst women is just as vast and just as diverse. Our sexual behaviours and our choice of movie, should not be used as ‘clickbait’ to prop up a worrying political and social agenda, carried out by those who are repulsed by the idea of genuine female sexual autonomy. Nor should not be used by those who seek to contain the idioms and cultural norms of BDSM to one that, effectively removes any hint of active sexual desire and safety for submissive women.

But more importantly, or voices and our sexual behaviours should not be sidelined because they are inconvenient, or because they are not conforming to your rules.

Because when you sideline women’s voices, even those of us who are inconvenient, dissenting, angry, and laden with shame, you are choosing to engage with pseudo outrage, paternalistic narratives and the absolute infantilising of women – all because some of us are going to go and watch a 118-minute chick flick!



Pleasure and not practice.

There seems to be a growing trend, or maybe I’ve just not noticed it before, which revolves around the idea of sex being something that needs to be practiced. It’s like there is this objective goal – squirting, multiple orgasm, larger toys, longer penetration, in which the sole focus of our sexual experiences revolve around perfecting their objectives.

While I’m all for goal setting and navigating our relationships in particular directions. I’m finding it really hard to get my head around this idea of practicing. We practice the piano. We practice baking macarons. We practice parallel parking. We just don’t need to practice sex. Gaining a better understanding of our bodies and those of our partners and figuring out what comes next for us in the bedroom, is one thing. But using our erotic spaces; masturbation or sex, as a space within which we practice until we obtain an imagined sexual perfection – I can’t wrap my head around the idea. Or where the motivation for this come from.

Sex is not an experience measured in results. Now, I’m sorry if this dints some male ego (okay not really sorry). Sex is, well should be, about us creating physical intimacy that allows us to form connection and explore sensations and pleasure. PLEASURE NOT BLOODY PRACTICE!

What exactly are we supposed to be practicing? And where are women getting their ideas of what to practice? I’m asking because I had an interestingly frustrating conversation with a couple of women who, while telling me that practice is necessary, became, seemingly mortified when I suggested that they grab a printout of what a vagina looks like, a mirror, and for them to start exploring their own bodies. How is it uncomfortable for a woman to explore her own body but it’s assumed normal to use your body to practice until sexually perfect?

And what happens when this perfect doesn’t eventuate? What happens to her self-esteem and her confidence in herself as a capable sexual being? What happens when a woman practices and practices – let’s say masturbating so that she can squirt, and this never happens? Where does she take her body next, if she has failed? If her body just can’t do it.

There is a lot about the common narratives weaved about the female body and sex that needs to be changed. Positioning the male body as the sexual normal and seeing the female body as deviating from that norm, has to be number one. But maybe number two has to be destroying this idea that perfection, be it some sexual behaviour or body experience, as being the reason we have sex or masturbate.

Why can women not fuck for pleasure! Why must our cultural obsession with perfection and achieving the next best thing infest our sex lives? Is this what sexual liberation for us really is? Practicing sex until our bodies perform on command, recite the perfected recital to the applause of our sexual partners?


Remember why I started this journey.

I’m going to update and rename my “about” page  with this piece.

I started the other normal because I was frustrated. Frustrated and fed up of the ways in which we were allocated space to talk about sex. More specifically the ways in which we talk about female sexuality.

The other normal intends to build a space for positive and passionate representation and exploration of female sexuality, desire, pleasure, experience and need. I wanted to create a new platform to talk about sex. One that centres the female body, pleasure and needs. To explore and understand the complexity of female sexuality. Not only to better understand the needs and experiences of female sexuality but to encourage new, more radical approaches to female sexuality it order to create meaningful change.

I want to create a space within which we can come to a better understanding of our sexual behaviours. Behaviours that are a complex interplay of internal and external factors. I am not a biological essentialist. While I understand that genetics, biology, hormones and drives are key to all of our behaviours, I see human sexuality as infinitely plastic, centred in our emotions, behaviours, desires and relationships, rather than eternally fixed, biologically determined and unchangeable. I see our sexual selves created within relationship but best understood in the complex social and cultural forms and organisations.

I believe wholeheartedly that by combining who (we are as individuals) with what (the environments we live within) we can gain a better understanding of why of our sex lives. And I believe it is the why rather than the who or how of our sexual experiences that are crucial to any gaining any genuine and significant change to the way we, as females, experience sex.

In particular, I wanted to explore the ways in which the concept of submission within women’s sexual identity is thought of and discussed. I am a sexually submissive woman in a satisfying relationship with my husband. More and more I was encountering the same messages: that submissive as a sexual identity of women can be one of two things perfection or dysfunction. Neither of which is representative of me or my experiences. And I soon came to realise that, at least for me, these narrow and black and while assumptions are limiting and dangerous.

I started the other normal as a project to add another voice to the social conversations about sex, kink and feminism. The other normal is all about challenging the dominant understanding of what it is to be a woman who identifies as submissive while respecting the diversity of human sexual identity and performance. While I make no apologies for my words and approach to sex, I am, at least I generally strive to be, mindful and respective of the nuances within our sexual experiences.

With the mainstreaming and increasing fashionableness of all things out of the ordinary and kinky we have been given an opportunity to have very some real and needed conversations about women’s sexuality. To really understand the complexity and diversity of need and experience and yet, once again, it seems as if we are still stuck in the same perfection/dysfunction good/bad/ right/wrong for/against dichotomy and going nowhere anytime soon; and this is nowhere more obvious that in conversation about submission and domination.

There are many questions about the authenticity and the permissibility of the submissive sexual identity. These questions and assumptions are valid but, in my opinion, lack the answers necessary to add something constructive to the wider conversation about sex and sexual identity. Women who are coming into submission are doing so from varying life circumstances and are doing so for many reasons. Submissive women are not a homogenised group that are clearly identifiable; nor is the concept of submission one that is easy to provide objective and critical analysis of. The dominant representations of submissive women are more often than not imagined through what is now being called the ‘male gaze’; that is a representation that is obtained through the perspective of the heterosexual male. Even in porn (erotica) written for women by women the objectification of the submissive woman by her creator is still that which is written by the heteronormative assumptions of what a woman needs to be to be sexually pleasing for men; not her man, but heterosexual men in general.

The other normal wants to move away from this dominant representation and look deeper into this idea that; within the context of her sexual/intimate relationship women can and do see themselves as submissive to their partners dominance in a way that is not oppressive or damaging – to herself or the wider concept of women’s sexuality. To focus on the importance of normalisation and validation of sexual behaviours by actively removing the pathology of genuine and mutually satisfying kink and replacing it with expectation. The expectation of great sex. Isn’t that why we have sex

The other normal is just as it says; things that may be considered ‘the other’ but is merely a drop in the ocean that is the fluidity of sexual identity and performance. Different but normal.

But beyond this I needed a place to explore how consent fits into the idea of kink. I am a passionate advocate for consent and make no apologies for this. I will not acknowledge ‘grey areas’ or concede that consent isn’t necessary at the core of all sexual encounters; even the most kinky of them.





Social media, power, influence and consequence.

I’m not at all sadden by the arrest of a 41-year-old Sydney man on multiple aggravated sexual assault charges. This man and those like him, embody everything that I despise and everything that frightens me about kink. His attitudes to consent and mutuality make me nauseous and his recounts and fantasies makes my clitoris want to flee my body. (His constant and maybe even deliberate misrepresentation of a “rape fantasy” to sell what it is that gets his dick hard infuriates me. Fortunately, there is some fantastic research out about what exactly a rape fantasy is and how women use the imagery and language associated with the fantasy to create deeply satisfying sexual encounters.) I’m not afraid of men like this but I am afraid of the culture that men like this create for women like me. Women for whom submission lies at the heart of our sexuality. Women who need intense physical stimuli to become aroused. Women who use emotionally and socially laden language to communicate with our intimate partners. Women like me who are forced to create a choreographed dance around illusion and innuendo created by men like this. Women who are the ones who are hurt.

But the thing that frightens me the most about this culture, from which these social media platform “Fetlebrity” are created and are catapulted into extraordinary reputation and influence within the kink community, isn’t that it exists. But that they exist within absolute assent of us all. Yes, this includes myself. Blind obedience. It’s something I lived with in my decades of existing within the Catholic Church. It is something that is instilled into us through fear of being ostracised from community and identity that has meaning for us. It is something that exists because we are conditioned to accept the way that is because it always has been. Blind obedience exists because we are so desperate for connection and belonging that we feel entitled to gloss over that which is uncomfortable.

It is this obedience to what is, this fear of being ostracised and this desperate need for connection and belonging that is destroying what is for so many of us genuine and safe experiences within our intimate relationships.

If blind obedience didn’t exist in kink men like Mr M wouldn’t be able to attain so much power and influence.

The unchecked power of toxic social media fame is becoming more and more of a problem. Most Aussies would remember the infamous Belle Gibson, the so called wellness blogger who was able to spin such elaborate stories around herself that she was afforded immense power over some of the most vulnerable people and to create business relationships with some of the biggest names. Belle built up her reputation over years, as it seems Mr M did. Belle created her online self in a way that provided references and reputation, as it seems Mr M did. Social media fame seems to cause this impenetrable bubble that protects celebrities from question and accountability; until there is considerable harm. Considerable enough to be believed that is. Those who do question and offer up the other side of the story are routinely shamed and shunned. Sidelined for the hype, glamour and inclusiveness. See, these social media stars are fantastic marketers! They understand their target audiences better than most of us understand ourselves. They create self brands and platforms from their authentic voice, but they grow it through their audiences. Ohhh they know how to use disclaimers and “I’m not an expert” tags like the best of us. They sell themselves the way that the latest, must have, beauty products are sold. Always with the fine print written in a way that is intentionally obscured by the glitz and promises of what is being sold.

Social media personalities; of which this man certainly falls, are influential. They use the intimacy that their social media voice enables them to create, what is, for their unsuspecting audience, real relationships. And maybe they are. Maybe I just too cynical to believe that one man can form and maintain genuinely authentic and consensual sexual relationships with women based on his social media fame. Or that one woman can create genuine connections with those suffering deliberating illnesses like Belle Gibson did. These relationships seem to be based on the conventional formats of communication. I speak you listen, and maybe they are just as real as the conversations I have with those off the computer screen.

Maybe the stories and antidotes that Mr M posted on Fetlife were enough for some women to engage in genuinely healthy intimate relationships. Hey, for all I know his writings were all the information necessary for some to have made an informed choice? Who am I to declare their relationships invalid?

I want to dismiss him and the one like him that will come next, and then the one after that, then the next and the next one, as simply narcissistic, power hungry psychopaths who manipulated the power of the social media celebrity to his advantage. It would make things so simple to cast him off as “evil” and “bad”. And in a way he is. He and he alone is responsible for the choices he made on the night of the 21st of August 2015 because he chose to do something that is deemed “bad”.

But can we just, simplistically, assign him a label; say that of narcissist and move on? Is it really that simple to label his behaviour as clinically pathological?

I don’t think so. Have I seen evidence of narcissistic tendencies within his writings and interactions? Yes. But I am not, nor are most of us, in possession of the skill necessary to clinically analyse and diagnose his behaviour, using the DSM. It would be easy, and in all honesty it would be so much more comforting to be able to sit here with confidence and dismiss him as just another sick, pathological perpetrator of male violence against women! Rendering his choices as the consequence of a pathological personality disorder would enable me to “tut-tut” and “see I told you so” while sitting on my feminist high-horse. Without ever having to spend a second in reflective thought about what this means for me. Label him, crediting his choices to narcissism really would let me and you off the hook.

Narcissism is a word that I’ve found creeping more and more into kink online spaces, it seems to be the go to defence of behaviour – ‘ohhh he’s a narcissist what do you expect”? Except to categorise and minimise his behaviour as mere narcissism removes a whole other variable in, not so much this one case specifically (keeping in mind that the full extent of his actions that are being interrogate by the law are still not known) but the overall culture within which this occurred

But that wouldn’t bring us anywhere near identifying let alone understanding the root cause. Let me make this clear, understanding this in the context of the environment it occurred in does not, in any way, diminish the severity of his choices. Nor does it try to create any distance between him and the consequences of his choices. This man chose to act in the way that he did on the 21st of August 2015. No one but he holds any responsibility for what he did. But understanding the social and cultural context within which he was allowed to become to guy now outed in the media as an accused rapist can, potentially, enlighten us to what comes next. Not for him, fuck him, he can do the maximum sentence and then some for all I care. But for the rest of us. He has been, forever, connected to our community, to this website and the Sydney scene. We are, thanks to his choices, connected to him, to this, as long as we associate ourselves with the site and the scene.

Brene Brown wrote that:

“Labelling the problem in a way that makes it all about who people are rather than the choices they’re making let’s all of us off the hook. Too bad. That’s who I am.  I’m a huge believer in the holding of people accountable for their behaviours, so I’m not talking about ‘blaming the system’ here. I’m talking about understanding the root cause so we can address the problems”. (p.22)

                   Brene Brown. Daring greatly: how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.

Brene is known for her Ted talk on the Power of vulnerability, and it is amazing! But in her book Daring greatly she takes the idea of vulnerability and moves it into the realm of our behaviours within our environments. Like she says in the above quote it’s not about blaming the system (although as a feminist I cannot extract our subjective lived experiences from the totality of patriarchal power) but it’s about exploring our environments in a way that allows us to go beyond simplistic diagnoses. Like narcissism.

Brene goes on to talk about our fear of ordinary. That we always need to be looking for the next best thing. She writes about how we are all so vulnerable to the messages that sell us the drive to be extraordinary. And what could be more extraordinary that not having consensual sex? What could distance us from those mere muggles of the world than playing hard and to the edge? We don’t want to feel small, ordinary, inadequate right? Especially in our sex lives! We don’t want to be seen as kink light! That would be embarrassing wouldn’t it? I know I feel the need to justify myself and my unwavering commitment to just doing what I need as opposed to flying on the edge of kink. I can’t be the only one?  We need to feel like we are more than just keeping up with the Jones’s, we need to feel like we are surpassing them and living the most extraordinary that we can.

He sold us the lie that he is extraordinary and will bring those worthy into that realm.  That he didn’t need to meet the same relationship standards as the rest of us because he is something unlike the rest of us because he is not like us. He can take one look at you and know exactly what it is that you want. He could make you beg to be a part of his pack and belong to him so that alone becomes the only focus of your choices and reactions. Simply because he is something that you cannot get anywhere else. It, the stepping outside of your own moral compass and disregarding that “gut feeling” becomes your new normal. Simply because you belong to something the rest of us never could. You, out of the hundreds of women who like, love, gush and fawn all over his words, fantasies and his exposes of his sexual adventures, you are the one he is paying attention to right now. You are worth it so what you ignore, put up with and condone is worth it.

I understand how.

His idealised narratives spun around the position and importance of consent aren’t that new. They aren’t actually that different from most of the commentary and advice I’ve seen across most of the PUA crowd.

The idea that “the alpha” embodies the full spectrum of sexual prowess and is able to, with little effort seduce his prey into debaucherously James Bond style, glorious masculine fucking. He recreated it, we brought it.

I understand how.

What girl hasn’t dreamed of the prince upon the white horse, galloping in and just knowing that his true loves kiss will eradicate the spell and lead us to living happily ever after? We are spoon fed this fantasy, this dream of the perfect prince coming into our lives and just knowing everything about us and knowing what to do with us.

Again he recreated it, we brought it.

I understand how.

So where to now?

How can we reposition the social media celebrity, their influence and power in our space?

How can we use what has happened to this victim and to any other to try and minimise it from occurring again? Because to disconnect the power of the social media celebrity from this would be disingenuous. He sold us his snake oil and we offered him up the platform to do so! Ohhh we mocked him and his pathetic prose and grandiose sense of self. But most of us, including myself, didn’t have the balls to stand up and do any more. Ohhh I went to the police with what I knew, but I chose to come back into his space, knowing how he used it. Watching the next part unfold, concluding in this last instalment of “the wolf files”.

We are a product of our culture. We’ve all liked and commented on, watched, read and written ourselves products like his. I have. I’m guilty of participating in this culture that enabled him to believe that his choices were right.

So don’t we all now have a responsibility to challenge our own conceptualisations of kink? To question the messages that K&P, porn, erotica and our own social media usage, are selling us. New and old alike.

I don’t know the answer. I don’t know what to do next. I don’t know how to reconcile the need for social media with the overwhelming influence and personality it creates. Maybe there isn’t an answer. Maybe the way that social media catapults ordinary into these positions of power and influence is just something that we are going to have to learn to live with. That people are going to get hurt, women are going to get raped.

But I have to believe that there is something to do next.