My consent is not what makes his choices okay!

I’m not here to write passionate arguments defending BDSM. The socially constructed acronym used to umbrella an innumerable number of experiences doesn’t need my few words to argue on its behalf. I don’t feel the need to defend anything that I do nor do I feel the need to explain away the absolute bullshit that others claim as kink that I encounter almost daily. Those who demonise or glamourise BDSM typically lump all and everything into their explorations and conclusions and will never be persuaded by anything that I could say.

But I did try once or twice.

I’ve written a few times here that I started this as a means of adding to the conversations that we have about sex. Something that I’m passionate about. But there’s something that came before this decision. An ‘incident’ so to speak, that made me understand that there is often something missing from the way that we perceive and talk about sex.

And I guess as many other “ah ha” moments, this one began on Facebook. I’d just started connecting with the community of sex writers on social media, I was confident enough to add my 2 cents but not yet sure of my place. I’d managed to toe the party line for a few months, although I had already seen a number of things that confronted and confused me and some that really did offend me. But I’d let them go, choosing to maintain a polite silence rather than question or ask others to question their position.

This one post was on a woman’s page who is a feminist, has been writing for a number of years and has a few hundred followers. She contributes regularly to ‘sex positive’ online publications. She is articulate in her words, she not only writes about sex objectively but she candidly brings her sex life into her space with descriptions, antidotes and pictures. Nothing about her is, really noteworthy, and I’m not going to name her here. We have very different ways of using our own spaces but this is neither here nor there. It just is.

One morning she posted a meme, it was one of those artistically styled black and white ‘tumblr’ posts, with words over the top of the picture. From what I remember it was a typical male dominant, female submissive caricature. The words were simple ‘the difference between kink and abuse is consent’. There were a hundred or so comments all in gushing agreement with the statement and rephrasing it in various ways. Almost all of them were contextualising the statement in a male dominant female submissive relationship and were all assigning consent to her not him. She is the one who gives consent, this was a matter of fact statement. There was this constant theme (and it was/is not only on this one Facebook meme where this occurs, it seems to be quite typical way that consent is positioned in kink) that what she did justifies what he does.

I didn’t get it, I still don’t. How is it that what I do absolves the person I’m having sex with from their choices?

I asked just this. I asked about how intention fits into this, his intentions not mine. I asked what would happen if we began positioning intention rather than consent as the thing, well one of them because there are numerous factors that come together to distinguish my relationship from those where one half of the couple is the victim of domestic violence? I wondered what would happen if, when something goes wrong, we examine the intentions of those who do (allegedly do) harm to others. 

It’s something that I’d been thinking about for a while. And genuinely believed that this was the appropriate time and place to have asked what, for me was a pretty straight forward question.

Boy! Was I wrong!

I was shamed and ridiculed. Not one comment offered me a reason for why my question was wrong. In fact, no one actually directly answered my question or challenged my position that his intention should be more of a concern that my agreement or actions. What did happen were individuals dismissing someone who chose to cross a defined line. Consent is the all and everything. And while I am the first to position the importance of consent I am not prepared to use something that is of such legal and cultural significant to continually justify and defend the actions of those who intend to do harm.

That’s not to say that accidents don’t happen. They’ve happened here and will probably happen again. Nor am I talking about things that are directly asked for, negotiated and that are for the mutual benefit of both partners. But what does not happen here is him intending to hurt, coerce or manipulate me. His intention, going into everything that we do, is to create and facilitate mutually beneficial physical interactions.


His intentions matters. And while my consent matters, they are two very different elements of our relationship. His intention most certainly influences what I consent to and my consent frames what he intends to do. But what he ultimately does comes from his intentions not from my consent.

Positioning his actions as a direct consequence of my consent renders his decision making process and his accountability almost invisible. As if what comes after my agreement (consent) is void, inconsequential. When in fact he and he alone creates the decisions that manifest in his actions.

We can also bring this into efforts to dismantle rape culture. If, instead of centring the consent of the victim as the core element of distinguishing rape from sex, we then are able to actively interrogate the actions of the accused based solely on what they chose to do. What did they intend? What we the mental process that he went through in his mind to assess the entirety of the situation and judge his next action as being right? When he did whatever it is that he is accused of what was his aim? Did he intend to contribute to a mutually agreed upon sexual interaction, something that would create mutual satisfaction – however that plays out. Or did he intend to take what he thought was his, intestinally rejecting part or the entirely of what was agreed?

Does this give us an exceptionally objective measure enabling us to clearly differentiate between sex and rape or BDSM and abuse? No. the complexity of the crime is such that one element is not (or should not) be the crux of a prosecution. However, focusing on intention and examining the decision making process used by an accused to lead him to believe what he was doing was the right thing would dramatically shit the currency that victim blaming has in rape. If it is more about him than her blaming her can’t be so central to a defence can it?

Reflecting back on the way the idea was responded to in my social media interaction mentioned previously still doesn’t make any sense. Here I was being ‘blacklisted’ and blocked, prohibited from commenting all because I wanted to take the responsibility for someone else’s choices away from me and put it squarely on them. Because I want consent to reflect the ability for me to be able to form a sex life that works for me not as something that defends the actions of him.

So let me ask, why is it that my voluntary agreement is the only this that distinguished BDSM from intimate partner violence?


I’ve got a kinky teenager … & you sir can stay the fuck away from her!!

My kid is fucking amazing! She is the most creative, passionate, empathetic, emotionally intelligent, beautiful teenager you will ever come across (yeah, yeah mother bias). And she is kinky!

Well her assumptions about sex certainly fit into the realm of kink – trust me I’ve seen the porn she watches and seen the Fanfic she reads! She has asked every question you can imagine – “what are safe words?”, “why do people get tied up?”, “how do you know that something is okay when it looks like it’s hurting?” “how would I know I’m doing something okay?”, how would I be able to say no?” “why does some pain feel good?” You name it we’ve talked about it!

(Keep in mind I’m writing this as a parent of a teenage girl, navigating the world of sexual literacy from a very feminist orientated position)

My approach to sex with her has been simple: I know she’s going to have sex, lots of it, good and bad. And as her mother it is my “job” to give her everything I can in order to, when the time comes, empower her to make the best decisions for her!

See, I’ve taught sex education to 15 to 18 year olds. It was my second job out of college. I was thrown into the deep in, Independent religious and private Christian schools, with know-it-all monsters who thought the world ended at their school yard fence! I had to explain, within the boundaries of “abstinence” focused education how the hell the human species fucked! It’s no wonder I lasted less than a year before I was moved into another position!

So when I read another Fet users post questioning how we “fit” exploring teenagers into BDSM I managed to get a third of the way through the replies before I was seeing red!

If you think “teaching” kink to teenagers is something that the “community” should get involved in – step away from the children! You’ve missed the point completely about how to engage teenagers with sex in a healthy, constructive way that enables them to make the best decisions for them!

A teenagers brain is A full of all these new feel good, make me horny chemicals and B so far underdeveloped that they cannot possibly ascertain the realities and consequences of their choices!

You & I have a very adult perception of the world build from real life experiences. We can see, feel, taste, hear and smell the world as it is for us because we’ve had enough experiences to understand the context of what it is we are encountering. Teenagers, even the most mature ones, do not have this lived experience. And it is because of this that adults, no matter how well-meaning your intention may be, have to stay away from teenagers! We cannot and do not experience the world in the way that they do. We cannot possibly create empathetic, authentic and safe spaces for these teenagers to experience the world as they need to. And the reality is they need to construct their own version of kink – however that eventuates, in order to construct the relevant knowledge base about themselves in order to make informed decisions about who they are, where they are going to position themselves in the wider social sexual landscape and how they are going to formulate the structure of their affectional and sexual relationships today, tomorrow and into their sexual experiences through their life span.

Our teenagers are information saturated, and yet they are, for the most part, digitally illiterate. We just do not teach our kids (especially our girls) how to navigate internet resources; heck I didn’t even learn how to do it until I began university! The internet, for all intents and purposes, is one big advertisement; a one stop shop of domains to sell us the way that we are meant to be. Once it was the creative genius of Coke-a-cola Amital who persuaded us that our identity was connected to the product we drank. Now it’s Facebook, Youtube and Google that are convincing us of who we are. We are not taught how to navigate the myriad of crap that constitutes information and advice. If we, as adults, find it difficult to navigate the web without being drawn into charlatans. Snake oil salesmen and down and out crackpots how do you expect kids to do it! They may have the information (can we please stop referring to Wikipedia as a value source) but do they know what to do with it? Nope!

“Adults need to provide information”. No! Just because you’ve reached a point in your life where the law considers you “an adult” does not mean you have automatically earned to right to do anything! And you certainly do not have the right to go anywhere near my daughter to tell her a damn thing about sex or kink! SSC, RACK, consent, safe words – for crying out loud! We can’t even come to a consensus about what these actually mean (meaning is not definition) but you think you can provide this as “information” to the next generation?

What we can do is VALIDATE and NORMALISE these teenager’s desires. We can acknowledge that, for some, intense sensation and structured relationships are normal. We can validate that there are genuine feelings of arousal when we encounter certain images or thoughts. But that is it!

We do not, ever, apply adult concepts into teenager’s stories. The stories they are telling us, the way that they are expressing their curiosity and arousal must be created by them. We cannot put our language into their stories because our language, often, has very different context for us than it does for them!

Sex, for the most part, is entirely abstract. Most teenagers start to explore their sexuality – their conceptualisation and performative narratives, well before their clothes come off! They may have very legitimate desires to experience rope or pain while they are tucked safely in their beds with their pyjamas on, but in real lived, highly sexual experiences with another person, maybe not so enthusiastic.

That is not to say our girls are fragile little flowers that need protecting! Take your paternalistic bull shit and shove it where the sun don’t shine! I don’t want to discount what I saw as very real concerns with positive intentions. But lets get honest here! Adults, for generations, have been hand ringing about what the youngers’ of the species are up to in the sack. It’s not new, it’s not going to stop and we are just the next lot of old farts creating the next lot of “won’t someone please think about the children”. Again, I accept that the intention was well meaning, but that doesn’t change the fact that adults telling kids how to fuck is so ingrained into us that we aren’t actually doing anything radical!

Our kids know what they are doing – they are just doing it their own way! My daughter and the teenagers like her do not need you to come in and “save” them. To protect them and to guide their sexual discoveries! Think back to when you were a teenager for a second. Would you have want adults your parents and grandparents age (my kids grandparents are only in their 50’s, so yes, we are talking their grandparents generation) doing what you’ve said you want to do? I’m guessing not!

How about this.

We clean up what constitutes kink, get rid of all the messed up adults who use kink as a cover for anti-social behaviour, misogynistic attitudes, fear of genuine intimacy, vile intentions and unhealthy sexual performances. How about we (those of us who are genuinely kinky) take back the idea and recreate it into something that is a legitimate representation of who we are.

That way, when sex, however that eventually manifests for my daughter & those teenage girls like her, becomes something which they begin to experience, when she has to start making decisions regarding how she is going to formulate her relationships, she wont have to navigate the same fucked up shit that we did?

You want to create a kink for teenagers? Try fixing your own adult world first!



Negotiation; it doesn’t work when you don’t have informed consent.

I’m often perplexed by a lot of questions raised on Fetlife and more often than not frightened by some of the answers given. No more so than in the popular discussion group “Novices and Newbies”. It’s a mixed bag of know-it-all never have’s and know-it-all genuinely believe my experience is enough to tell others how it should be done. I couldn’t imagine being someone taking their fantasies into reality via Fetlife. You would think that a group created to bring in those with limited actual experience so that they can ask questions and pull apart ideas in order to make the best decisions for themselves would encourage actual engagement with the questioner and genuine empathy when offering up answers to questions and advice to situations. 

If I had to narrow down the frustration that I feel it would have to be with questions about negotiation. Here’s the context – submissive posts asking how to approach a first time interaction, they have no actual experience but are eager and absolutely certain in their decision to step into this experience.

More and more I am reading people describing their “style” of interaction with someone new. Granted, as with everything I read online I take it all with a grain of salt and try to read between the lines, but recently I saw this description given by someone I was sitting across the table from. So I sat back and listened to what he was explaining and then watching the feedback being given, by those with way more experience than me.

Essentially we are talking about the blueprint of what is going to happen, answers often fall into a few categories relating to their interpretation of what negotiation is for them. There seems to be a generalised and commonly accepted format that most see as essential to “successful” negotiation:

Check lists – downloadable spreadsheets created by a stranger which give you a list of words in which you distinguish between what you consent to and what you reject.

            Focus on the end goal “submitting” (as opposed to the means of getting there), what is it that needs to occur in order for the goal to be achieved?

            Limits and safe words

            Practicalities – toys, language, actions, the elements that create the kink.

While at a quick glance this seems to be an adequate representation of how someone wanting to engage in a successful and healthy interaction; I find it frightening. Simplistic and missing the core of what it is negotiation is trying to achieve – informed consent.

I am not trying to suggest that using a checklist or focusing on limits and practicalities is the wrong way of going about things. What I’m asking is for you to consider that informed and consent have to be core to any initial conversations that preceded the physical interaction involving kink. When you move your focus away from creating the starting platform from which decisions are made (information) in order to create (consent) mutually satisfying interaction you run the risk of causing harm not healthy kink!

 What makes me uncomfortable is that there is no consideration for the fact that one person had absolutely nothing to give their potential partner, in terms of relevant information, from which they could make informed decisions. 

When I took my first steps into kink I had no experience. I had desire and ideas but I had no knowledge about how exactly these things would feel in my body or how my body would react to particular stimuli or circumstance. This lack of experience left me in a position where I could not genuinely negotiate with my partner. I had no information to give him about me, my body, my reactions or areas of concern, so that he could make informed decisions. I had nothing but abstract ideas and desires. Not much to give a dominant who needs to make relevant decisions for himself for me and to react to issues when they arise. 

What I was able to give him was very explicit directions as to what exactly I wanted from him and our first few experiences together. I was very explicit in my intentions to him. I was not doing this for him, in anyway, I was doing this to gain the needed information in order to make future decisions. I’d had fantasies and I’d imagined how something might work, but I had nothing factual to test if those fantasies and thoughts would eventuate.

Essentially he was the facilitator in my experiment.

I needed to see everything, understand how it was going to be used, what things were made of, where they were going to be used and his intentions for using them I expressed my expectations and made it clear that it was my body and my reactions that would be guiding his actions.

Now, I understand that not everyone is able or willing to be so explicit in their experiences. I was very hesitant to take things any further and so was giving myself permission to explore but still retain all control. Not just the ability to say stop, but the ability to structure the directionality of what was happening to my body through to the point of stop. Each of us has to begin somewhere right? My way may not be the stock standard way nor would it work for everybody. But, as someone with a tad more experience and a passable and confident understanding of how some things work, I feel that the “informed” part of informed consent is being minimised. While it’s great to give a synopsis of how things worked, we really need to bring these conversations and answers back to some of the fundamental aspects of how safe, healthy relationships work – consent, informed consent.

It is only when we recognise the imbalance that exists when someone has no experience within which to provide genuine information from which the other person can make informed decisions; that we can create mutually satisfying interactions with genuine informed consent.

Do not validate my feminism.

By now we’ve all had the pleasure of reading David Hon’s piece explaining (or is that mansplaining) why he won’t date a feminist.

At first I was like most of the commenters, I read his words, laughed and thought ‘thank god men like him will never want to date me’ and reminded myself to remember that I’m supposed to hate men. But then I looked beyond his simplistic rewording, straw-man positions and an intentional rejection of women’s subjective realities and tried to (I really did) understand what his objecting to dating women who are feminists really is all about.

But I couldn’t!

He states that he couldn’t date someone who saw his genitals as giving him advantage that he doesn’t actually have, because believing in privilege takes romance from a partnership to a power struggle. Which I’m assuming creates one of the complex advantages for women that don’t exist for men – because rape culture doesn’t exist. These advantages are “deeply personal” as opposed to political issues. I think he’s trying to play the “personal is political” mantra of feminism but using in it create the illusion that, what he calls “anti-male or anti-female”, are not as we claim the complex result of social inequity and oppression, but rhetoric rooted in a previous bad experience that are also cultural opinions that reflect our own world views.

He concludes by stating that “Maybe one day, men and women will stop trying to eliminate the lines between us and realize it’s the differences between the sexes that make romance, family and love an enjoyable experience”.

And I have no idea what on earth his actual complaint against dating a feminist actually is. If we take his premise that feminism (anti-male rhetoric) is just a consequence of bad experiences, then don’t we have to apply the same to his anti-feminism (anti-female rhetoric) is just a consequence of his own bad experiences?

But the more I sat with this and stopped laughing at what I see as a pathetic argument from a man who can’t date women who are feminists because they create bad experiences for him, I realised what was a much larger issue for me.

I’m not concerned by his choice not to date feminists (although I do have an issue with him being given such a public platform to share this), there wouldn’t be many women who are feminists who would want to date men with his world view.

My problem with the way that this piece comes across is that his rejection of feminism is important.

The assumption that feminists need their feminism validated by outsiders; especially men. I can’t quite put my finger on why this one piece made me connect to this, but something in the way he positions feminism as an obstacle to authentic and functioning romantic relationships between men and women. An obstacle to be overcome or used as a means to reject women. If we are wanting to be seen as desirable/datable/fuckable then we have to accept that our feminism – however that may manifest itself must be put up to interrogation.

Here’s the thing. I don’t need my feminism and the perspectives of the world it gives me validated by any man. Be that my husband. My father. My brother. My boss. A total stranger writing a poorly thought out, click bait opinion piece.

I know that there is a wage gap. Not just because statistics tell me. But because women tell me they experience a wage gap. And I believe them. I know there is a culture in which the complexity and criminality of sexual assault is routinely minimised – on campus and elsewhere. Not just because research and anecdotal evidence tells me. But because women tell me of their own experiences of rape culture. And I believe them. I know that the systematic and structural expectations, assumptions and rules that come together; created by and for a very particular demographic – men, is real. Not because I’ve read generations of sociological theory and quantitative data that demonstrates a difference between the ways in which males and females experience and/or are punished by the world. Not because I’ve listen and responded to the experiences of other women in this system. But because I’ve experienced it myself!

My personal and my political are one in the same. My political position influences almost all of my everyday decisions. And yes, my feminism has and does influence the decisions I make in my intimate and domestic spaces which will disqualify me from a male gaze centred ideal of desirability. I understand that.

But what I do not understand is this need for men to be seen as some kind of  gatekeepers of our feminism. That if they accept and respect what it is that creates our feminist worldview then we are more valid and valued than others – especially when it comes to sex.

Are you someone new to this thing we call submission? Four things I wish I’d read.

Have you found something, doesn’t matter where, that has piped your interest? Turned you on? Inspired a masturbation fantasy that blew your mind? Make you jump onto Goggle to see what you could find?

WELCOME. You are officially submissive and have all the permission you need to jump in and have fun exploring some new and wild ways to spice up, begin, rework, build up or redo your sex life.

I was so lost when I took my first, hesitant, step into all of this. There was just so much information, so many ideas and depictions of what it is that people did or how they configure this submissive thing that I quickly lost sight of who I was and what I wanted. I became fixated on fitting into an ideal that someone else, or a group of someone else’s created around submission. I forgot the reasons I wanted this. I stopped being me and starting being this weird mishmash of other people’s ideas.

Submission is complicated. There is no doubting that navigating a new-found sexual need can bring about some tricky questions, situations and some pretty deep self-reflection. While there is some commonality in submission the shared presentation as this monolithic idea and expression, in which everyone who is doing it is the same. And yet the reality is so far from that.

Finding these new desire can be confusing, confronting and even scary! I remember when I first starting thinking about them I was so overwhelmed that I was initially put off entirely! I was so shocked that I could want what I was fantasising about that I thought there had to have been something seriously wrong with me.

Feeling overwhelmed and, yes, even frightened, is okay!

You can feel whatever you feel. You can work through those feeling in whatever, healthy ways you need to. Some of the behaviours and assumptions, the language and the overall vibe that some give off, commonly associated with kink can seem down and out strange! It’s tough trying to navigate your own mind/body shift at the same time as bringing in new ideas and things that others do.

So I wanted to share with you four things that I wish I’d known at the beginning. Would I have listened to and reminded myself of them during the beginning of all of this? Probably not. But I still wish I’d had a few really core things at hand to add some kind of context to what I was doing, and to remind me to breathe and be human.

Forget everything.

Except your body your desires your life and your boundaries. These and these alone are both the catalyst and the driving force behind your next step

Deciding on your next step is where fantasy and reality collide in a catastrophic pile of unknown. Taking what it is you think you want and turning that into something that is really happening isn’t always easy. Sure I guess there are some out there who are perfection personified. Who can snap their fingers, get on their knees and this whole submissive gig just falls before them, with no speed bump or stop sign in sight.

But I wasn’t one of them! I’m still not one of them.

So while you read and listen don’t let what we say lead you. You are the one who is doing this. You are the one who needs to make the decisions that need to be made. You are the one who has to weigh up the pros and cons of each of your needs and desires. You alone are the submissive that you are.

Who you are, what you need and how all of this will play out for you is going to look nothing like it did for me. We may form community around a common word “submissive” but the nuance and individuality of how this one word manifests itself in each of our lives is immeasurable.

Let you lead you into this. Now and always.

What you see is the end result.

Photos and stories – especially on social media are nothing more than what happens once the hard work is done. And trust me it’s the hard work that takes up most of your time and energy. Those photos don’t tell you that the woman with the seriously bruised ass has been doing the same thing over and over again for 10 years and it’s only because she’s been doing it for 10 years that she is able to get her body to do that. That story where he was able to push his mind aside and do a really hot scene with his mistress, doesn’t tell you all about the intense emotional and romantic bond they have as a couple or the fact that they have been married for 15 years and she knows everything there is to know about her, including that she won’t ever go past the limit that they agreed to.

Please, do not compare whatever it is you are fantasising about to the things that others are doing. They are not in the same universe of kink. Where you are right now, that is exactly where you need to be. And if you never get to where they are, that is perfectly fine. They are just representations of what SOME people do. Yes, there are some people who use their bodies in a way that they end up with bruises, cuts and with blood smeared over them. But you do not have to like nor want to ever have to do what they do.

I’m not a masochist I do not desire to use my body in the way that will create those picture you’ve seen. The ones that I saw the first time I logged onto Fetlife and freaked out over! I don’t need to go there, and maybe you don’t either. That doesn’t lessen to validity or intensity of desire or anything in the future you may choose to do.

Approach what you see with a huge grain of salt. But please don’t compare yourself to what others are doing and despair because you think you or your desires are not good enough. It doesn’t help. It hurts. It hurts you and it hurts the person you are with. I did it. I did it for a long time. It made what we were trying to create near on impossible. The day I stopped (literally) and realised that what others were doing, how others existed within their relationships has absolutely nothing to do with me and what I need as the submissive half of a d/s relationship was the first day our relationship truly grew.

Life is inevitable.

You cannot, no matter how submissive you are, remove yourself entirely from the rest of the world. Many times I have read that d/s hates the real world. Or that you have to abdicate a significant part of yourself or your life in order to get the most out of this.

Submission doesn’t need to become the centre of your world in order for it to be fulfilling. Even within a so-called 24/7 dynamic as ours is, I have the space to be a whole woman. With a life that extends beyond him. My sense of submission doesn’t diminish when what it is we are doing doesn’t look like your quintessential dominant and submissive relationship.

Life happens. Accept it. Allow your sense of submission and the construction of your relationship fall around who you are as a whole person. Include all of your obligations and those things that are important to you when making all of your decisions. Look towards and factor in the consequences of them. Let your idea of submissive fall in around who you are, and I can promise you that this will become a hell of a lot easier for you today and into the future.


And let yourself be human.

Finding submission, being turned on by it., and wanting to bring it into your relationship or create a brand new relationship around it doesn’t mean you stop being human.

You are allowed to make mistakes.

You don’t have to get it right the first go.

You can’t possibly know everything about your body and your boundaries the first time you take your clothes off.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t feel is right for you.

You are allowed to slow down and stop. You can say ‘meh I tried it, it’s just not my thing’ and walk away.

You are allowed to be you.

Just remember that you are human and human beings really do need to stop and breath – even us submissive ones.


Sex advice is abhorrent and why it’s not okay.

It doesn’t take much for me to find fault with a lot of what is considered sex education/advice these days. There is still a lot of retrograde male bodied entitlement and rejection of female autonomy and pleasure underlying our common understandings of sex. This is so common, so expected that, even in something as left of centre and progressive as The Guardian it can still be found.

From the headline alone of this advice column one could assume that the realm of sex is dictated to us by our male counterparts and, us poor female folk are relegated to the world of fantasy and unrequited romance. Which is bad enough. Until you get to the actual advice that is being dished out.

Our 20 something protagonist is dissatisfied with her boyfriend. She doesn’t enjoy sex with her boyfriend at all and can mealy fantasie about intimacy and romance because he “doesn’t like vanilla sex”. The only other piece of information we are offered is her medical diagnosis of vaginismus now classified as genito-pelvic pain/penetration disorder (DSM5) which is characterised as significant distress (75 to 100% of the time and for a period of time exceeding 6 moths) due to the “difficulty in vaginal penetration, marked vulvovaginal or pelvic pain during penetration or attempt at penetration, fear or anxiety about pain in anticipation of, during, or after penetration, and tightening or tensing of pelvic floor muscles during attempted penetration.”[1].I’m not going to broach the issue of female sexual dysfunction. It’s something that deserves a piece all of its own.

We all have our own unique sexual peculiarities and idiosyncrasies. That’s what makes us unique in the ways that we humans experience sex. It is an act for pleasure more so than one for procreation. The spectrum and diversity of the array of desires and behaviours that come together to form the umbrella of sex is, as far as I’m concerned, immeasurable. Chances are if you have thought of it someone, somewhere has or is doing it.

The irregularity is the distribution of sexual pleasure within heterosexual intimate relationships is just another way in which ingrained sexism manifests in the lives of women in 2016. And Pamela Stephenson Connolly; our in resident sex guru at The Guardian has given a fantastic example of just this.

She writes “female notions of intimacy and romance are commonly alien and mysterious to men. One should never expect a man to automatically know what those fantasies of yours are, or even to consider them important” Now we don’t actually know what these particular fantasies are of the woman posing the question here, beyond that they are centered in romance and intimacy.

Are the ideas of romance and intimacy truly alien to men? Are we women who desire romance and intimacy truly that mysterious to those who we (as heterosexual women) actively desire and seek out as sexual partners?

Connolly makes reference to two specific actions that she considers to be romance/intimacy – holding hands and kissing at the cinema and (supposedly the more challenging notion) looking into the eyes of the person you are with while having sex. Physical touch and eye contact – alien and mysterious!

A woman writes in asking for help, a woman who cannot enjoy the sex that her boyfriend is expecting of her, and the only advice that is available to her is to, essentially beg, for him to kiss her, outside of the bedroom and to look at her when having sex. I just cannot imagine how “help me bring intimacy into my sex life” became “hold hands at the cinema”.

This has really frustrated me, and going by the comments that have been left on the piece itself and the conversations about the piece I’ve seen on social media I am not the only one frustrated for what has been considered appropriate sex/relationship advice here!

My first frustration is this continuation myth that being into kink is an automatic aversion to romance or intimacy. We’re not talking Hollywood or viral marriage proposal so called romance here. We are talking about affection and intimacy. You can be in a mutually satisfying romantic relationship in which kinky sex happens.

Kink – which is what I am assuming is being referred to as non-vanilla/rough sex, is not synonymous with not being able or willing to satisfy your sexual partner. It just isn’t! Kink is a means to mutual sexual satisfaction between two people who both want what is occurring. Ignoring the way that your partner is experiencing sex with you isn’t kink, it’s being a selfish prat who is choosing to not satisfy the person you are in a sexual relationship with.

What kink is NOT is heterosexual men using the ideas and behaviours commonly associated with it as a means of justifying their adversity or inability to satisfy their sexual partners.

The first time I read through the advice given here I was instantly hit with this idea that there is something inherently wrong with the “female” need for intimacy. That expecting intimacy is so far out of the realm of normal within heterosexual relationships that A, we cannot expect it without explicitly educating the other person as to how romance is to be and B, that “when he gets it right, reward him with something he especially likes”. Now I do agree that we do need to fill or sexual partners in when it comes to the more peculiarities of what we do in our boudoir. Communication is the only way that we can ensure that we are able to get what it is we want from our intimate lives. And maybe I’ve just gotten lucky when it comes to my sexual partners that sex and intimacy just have always gone hand in hand. But I really cannot accept that in 2016 I would have to tell my boyfriend (not a random one-night stand) that looking me in the eyes when having sex with me would be a good thing and rewarding him for it when he does.

Which brings me to my biggest problem with this advice. It treats sex as transactional – that in order to get what I want (intimacy) I have to do what you want – even though it is clearly stated that there is no sexual pleasure for her.

Giving of sexual pleasure to our partner without the expectation of something in return can be a really healthy act. If, and only if, it is not the constant way of having sex. Same goes with expecting a reward for the giving of sexual pleasure. We have sex with our partners to have sex with them, the whole of them. Be it a quick fuck in the shower before work in the morning or a romantic weekend away with lots of sex happening. Sex is something we do with another person, that’s why it’s not masturbation.

There is zero mutuality in either the relationship in the original question or within the advice given. That is there is no empathy for her sexual needs nor any attempt to understand let alone meet her needs. Clearly it is assumed that women are not only the gatekeepers of sex but also carry the entire burden of adjusting our sexual behaviours and expectations to align with men.

“I do not enjoy sex at all and my boyfriend is quite rough with me as he doesn’t like “vanilla sex”. I fantasise about intimacy and romance every day, but it always stays as a fantasy” (emphasis mine) says our letter writer. And all she can do is consider her fantasies so alien that she must reward her sexual partner for his effort in trying to understand them.

When did sex become all about one partner taking what they want while ignoring the entirety of their partner’s sexual pleasure? And when did “non-vanilla” sex become another term for not being able to satisfy your girlfriend?

[1]IsHak, W. W., & Tobia, G. (2013). DSM-5 changes in diagnostic criteria of sexual dysfunctions. Reproductive System & Sexual Disorders, 2013.



I’m submissive and I say no.

There is this common trope within BDSM that, while worded in various ways, conveys the message that “no” is a down and out no-go for any submissive. That to be submissive – or obtain some kind of deeper level of submission, one must yield completely and without hesitation. And while for some this may express a genuine carte blanche statement for others, like myself it does not, in anyway represent me or my experiences of or need for submission. The word “no” nor the message it conveys to him has no power in our relationship. It is not something that is outlawed or rejected. It is, purely and simply a word. So I wanted to spend some time writing, what I guess you’d call the opposite statement and to show how the word no can become just another communication tool within a relationship.

But I want to make two points before I do.

First, keeping my ability to say no is a very personal and very political choice, that has nothing to do with him.

There are just under 50 countries throughout the world where a woman does not have the right not be raped by her husband.

20 countries do not have laws protecting women from domestic violence.

Dozens of women every year are murdered in an archaic attempt at restoring family honour.

1 in 6 women in my country will encounter some form of sexualised violence in her lifetime.

To me, giving up something that is so often rejected or just non-existent in so many women’s lives feels wrong. That’s not to say that other women are wrong when they make the choice to do so, it just means that for me, doing so would feel so wrong.

Second, let me make something very clear. Nothing, and I mean nothing, happens here that has not been asked for or agreed to. Our sex life, no matter how kinky, is absolutely something that is mutually beneficial and satisfying. I want this. Not is some obscure ‘she asked for it’ kind of way. But in a genuine, this relationship is sexually satisfying for me.

When I say no to him, there is something going on for me. Something that he didn’t notice or forgot about. Usually it is a response to uncertainty – I’m confused about what he is asking of me, or it is a reaction caused through fear. Not of him, but of the process or consequence of what he is planning on doing. Sometimes for me the only response I can give him is no. Anything else would be a lie and me lying to him, hiding the truth or ignoring the reactions going on within me is going to, eventually hurts me in a way that saying no doesn’t.

Because let me be completely honest here. Saying no to him hurts. I don’t want to say it. I want to surrender – that’s why I asked for a relationship founded in dominance and submission. That’s why I agreed to the way things are here. Sometimes no to him is an obvious reaction to what he is saying or doing. He may be my master but he is one heck of a human being, and sometimes he misses something that is relevant to his choice or he just doesn’t see what I do. Other times just saying those two little letters can be an excruciating experience for me. I go through this ridiculous inner negotiation with myself, where I will try and bargain with myself to try and get out of saying the word. Even though I know I need to say it. Even though I know I am going to say it and that saying it is the right things to do, I still try and get out of it. Why? No idea! I wish I could figure it out because that conversation I have with myself has, once or twice, lead me down that negative self-talk spiral and, as I’m sure some of you know, that never ends well.

No, here, is the beginning of a conversation, one that is more often than not a very long and ongoing one. Never once has no meant yes – and if anyone ever tries to tell you otherwise give them a miss. Getting me from a no to a yes is not manipulation or coercion. It is a process that we work through, together. He has an idea and it’s up to the both of us to get me, or us, to that place. Sometimes it’s a simple as him walking through things with me so I understand what it is exactly that he wants of me. Sometimes it’s been one step, stop, talk about my reaction or what I need to get to the next one. Other times it’s taken me several, sometimes very difficult conversations, to get me to even think about giving what he wants a try.

And sometimes the no remains a no. No matter how many steps forward and backwards we take, no matter how much we talk through things, no matter how much I might want to surrender; what he wants just doesn’t happen.

And that is okay.

No doesn’t have to be the end, as it is with us, it can be the beginning of something that, more often than not, turns into something amazing. But even when it doesn’t end that way, when whatever it is he wants is and stays a no, the fact that no is my response is still okay without justification.




Pity sex with hubby shouldn’t be something that goes viral…

But it seems that in 2016 it is something that we should all be reading about.

I want to preface this by saying that I started this piece before Mel released her YouTube video. What Mel has read about herself is horrifying and such a vivid picture of the current reality of being a woman online in 2016. I don’t know of one woman; myself included who has not had to deal with the deluge of comments that come with occupying any space online. The first time it happened to me I was devastated, consumed by this overwhelming grief- like cloud. It was isolating – everyone I tried to talk about it with told me to get over it, it’s only online. Confronting – those words are in your face and not things you hear in your normal day to day. Humiliating – other people are reading these things about me and I’ve got nothing that can stop them from believing every single one of them.

When I watched Mel’s video this morning I seriously considered deleting this piece, not because I think there is anything wrong with what I’ve written. I was just concerned that it would come across as another piece attacking Mel and her post. I’ve sat with this for a few hours weighing up my choices and decided that, while sticking to the overall premise of my piece, I will change the tone of it.

Mel more than likely will not read what I’ve written, and that’s okay. But someone who has something that she wants to say will. Someone who thinks, at best, that what she has to say couldn’t be important or at worst, who is afraid that the words she uses will become the next play thing for trolls. Please write it! Write the things that come to you, the things that you want said and heard. It’s tough and there is nothing you can do to stop those who choose to troll from doing what they do. But there will be someone, somewhere who will read what you have to say and it will be exactly what they needed to hear – just as so many women connected with what Mel had originally written.

I don’t usually pay attention to what goes viral. Sure some of it is funny and my teenager is always showing me the next must watch video. But when the post by Mel Watts; blogger at The Modern Mumma titled “Did we just have a quickie?” popped up for the fourth time in my Facebook feed I stopped and read it. I got a laugh and could sympathise with Mel about the perils of balancing motherhood with some sort of intimate relationship with your partner/spouse. I filed it the “remember to write something about motherhood and sex” and got on with everything else I needed to do for the day. But there was something that just kept coming back to me about her piece, specifically her line

“I’m not normally your day time quickie kinda person but today I thought the amount of effort he has put into every sexual advance it would just be plain mean of me.”

I was struck by this image of a woman who, after what seemed like days, of badgering and passive aggressive attempts at seduction, was motivated by obligation, guilt and the thought of being able to sleep “without dick jabbed in my back” was having, well pity sex with her husband.

We often think of pity sex as something that happens to younger men and teenagers. Those who are deemed of little sexual currency but who, for some reason outside of genuine sexual motivation, deserve to be fucked.

I’m not saying that this is the case with Mel, she writes her experience as something very different from what I’ve imagined. But it’s very hard for me to see this and not think about some of my first steps into sex as a teenager and young woman. Where I believed that if he (whoever he was) played this flirtation game or put time into me then I was somehow (I still don’t know why) I was obligated to have sex otherwise I’d be mean. I now see it for what it really was – sexual harassment and manipulation, but as a 19-year-old who thought she was in love for the first time, it seemed funny, cute, sexy even romantic!

What made me think about this part of my sexual history was the assumption that Mel’s husband brought into their sex life. That his arousal, his charm, his dad sex jokes were the only things necessary to have sex. There was nothing about her arousal, her sexual charm nor did she use any words – jokes or otherwise, to communicate her desire or intentions. In fact, she’s just the vessel that accepts all of this, addresses his sexual need and then goes on with her day grateful that his hardon won’t be pressed into her back that night.

Don’t get me wrong I love spontaneous sex with my husband. We both look for any excuse to connect on that sexual level, heck we’ve given our teenage daughter money to go clothes shopping just so we can have the house to ourselves. But it’s something that we both desire. Those quick found moments are something that satisfies the both of us equally.

But there are times where sex is the last thing that I have wanted, and sure, he will ask (we don’t do passive hinting here) but no is just as much an acceptable answer as yes please. Sex, regardless of our dynamic, is not for him, and I have no obligation to have sex with him in order to fend off cheesy dad jokes and his hardon. I won’t have pity sex with my husband!

Rape culture is rape culture. Please do not for a second think I am accusing this man of raping his wife. While the narrative created around this has got me thinking, this is nothing more than consensual sex. Those cultural messages of female availability rather than agency exist within our own intimate relationships, even in marriage.

Mutuality is not a constant and this has to change! Women, yes even us married ones, are entitled to genuine body and sexual autonomy and sexual pleasure free from obligation and coercion.

Wouldn’t it be great if one day soon, while I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed, drinking my morning coffee and I come across a viral post about a woman having a mutually desired and pleasurable quickie with her husband while to kids were sleeping and with the neighbours?



You can slut shame me all you like …

But your slut shaming tells me more about you and the culture you exist in than you could ever imagine!

Before today I hadn’t directly experienced slut shaming. I’ve encountered it through traditional and social media (I doubt there is a woman who hasn’t), but to have a man explicitly shame my sexuality wasn’t something I’d had to process before today.

This man not only chose to outwardly reject my position and shame me for it but he mansplain me into tomorrow. I’m not going to lie, it was confronting to read. I’ve received abusive messages which have been quite confronting, but this was something else. I’m not even sure I can adequately describe it. One of the things we know is that we don’t passively engage with our online spaces; they can be just as real as our face to face experiences. We are often in a very relaxed mental state – In bed drinking coffee, lazy Sunday morning and we aren’t physiologically prepared for a confrontation; so it can become quite overwhelming. As this was for me.

His words were not threatening, quite laughable actually. Chest thumping ‘me dom, you sub’ quintessential kinky mansplaining. It’s not as if I hadn’t read it (or heard it) before, you can’t get far on Fetlife without meeting it. But this time it was a direct attack on me and mine. I’m quite confident in my sexuality, it took me a long time and a lot of hard work to get to a space where I can own my self as a sexual being without hesitation or the need to defend it.

But I didn’t realise there was this point of vulnerability, this fragile edge to me self. Until today.

I don’t usually respond to these people. I usually don’t extend any more emotional or mental energy than what it takes to delete and block. It’s one of the consequences of being a female bodied human being who engages with and puts forward positions and opinions online. But today I had this, what I can only describe as niggling feeling that just wouldn’t go away. I’d walked away from the computer, made the decision not to engage (my positive coping strategies) and yet I couldn’t remove myself from this. Why?

So I sat down and got thinking.

And boy, was I surprised where that took me!

I began to question why something that is presented as alternative or ‘other’ is founded in this absolute appropriation of heteronormative femininity. How can “submissive” be queered if the essence of the identity is a performative, constructed armour worn to conform to a culturally constructed and prescribed set of normative behaviours? I began wondering what on earth motivates a man (a total stranger) to reject outright the proposition that centring the physical sexual pleasure from all of this is legitimate. And what made him think he has the right to demand justification and apology.

And that’s when I realised this was nothing more than slut shaming!

This man, so encased in heteronormative assumptions about female sexuality, so finite in his assumptions about acceptable and punishable female/feminie sexuality, believes he has the right to govern my sexual choices and expressions.

I get overwhelming sexual pleasure out of submitting. Dominance for me is first and foremost a kink. Bossy pants make my ladybits all hot and tingly and my orgasm wave after wave of explosive pleasure. I own this, unapologetically. I love my body and am committed to ensuring that I keep it functioning in a way that works for me and my sexual partner. I am his slave, but a slave who is a sexual being.

Since I began exploring this side of my sexuality I’ve encountered so many self and culturally imposed road blocks. I grew up being constantly conditioned that “good girls” should never expect attention, never expect too much of a man, should submit passively to her biological fate and to never ever feel sexual desire. I can’t remember how many times I’d encountered the idea of a woman’s “lot” and lectured about subjugating pleasure for permanence.  Then there is this ever existing tension between owning my autonomy and serving the greater good of women. The toing and froing between embracing choice and dismantling the oppressive patriarchal structures that police every move I make; including the ones in my bedroom.

I read a quote once (I have a feeling it could have been a Cosmo or Cleo article) that said “there is a fine line between sexy and slutty”. I can’t tell you what came next, I think it was another one of their how to please a man pieces, but this one line has stuck with me for years. This idea that there is obvious permitted relationship between women and sex; it’s so normalised and idolised (dare I say it, even a fetishised) line we women walk just as easy as we breath. It’s innate, maybe biological, and always present. It is always our fault when we cross the line and when we do we must accept punishment – slut shamming.

Dominance and submission are characterised by these oversimplified caricatures, which are often grotesque, stereotypical, common and harmful! Sure, we may laugh off ‘one true wayism”, we snark it and ridicule the ideas. But that’s just not enough anymore! We need to stand up and start challenging them, the language and the assumptions! – I mean isn’t this what feminism is all about?

But first we need to better understand where they come from.

The dominant paradigm of dominance (male) and submission (female) is sold to us as the legitimate representation. It’s ascribes performative ethics to the roles – dominant = active, submissive = passive. Please don’t dictionary definition me! Using the dictionary to present and argument is immature, it rejects the nuance and complexity of humanness. I’m not interested in definition, I’m interested in the way one experiences themselves as a submissive women.

I’m going to make some big claims here, but here goes.

Five common assumption caused by this active/passive dichotomy and why they are grotesque and harmful:

  1. It is an absolute double standard!

When a dominant steps out of the assumptions of heteronormative masculinity he is hero-worshiped! If he brings in emotions, if he is reactive and empathetically responsive to his partner or if he conceded weakness then he is respected. When I as a submissive step outside of the assumptions of heteronormative femininity I am judged and compelled to apologies! If I am displaying desire as opposed to being desirable I am shamed.

  1. It rejects women’s creative power and denigrates our sexual labour!

When one is cast as passive she is without real and present personhood. She is an object within her own sexuality rather than an autonomous being who is eligible for recompense for the physical and emotional labour she exerts

  1. She must be chaste.

To be chaste is not simply to be without sex. It is the rejection of any form of sexual nature and intention. To be passive is to be without intention and meaning. Why do have to be meaningless to be submissive?

Further it positions my sexuality as absolutely symmetrical with his; allowing no deviation. It positions his sexuality – needs and performance as the image that I need to be reactively mirroring if I want my sexuality legitimised.

  1. It rejects a “whole body” approach to sexuality.

When I am compelled to accept that the mental is of more importance that the physical I am being asked to accept a version of me that limits, if not destroys, the intimate and social essence and expression of my self as a sexual being and instead, conform to a prescribed set of normative behaviours. You cannot disconnect the mind from the body and the emotional fulfilment I get from submission is satisfying. But it does not come at the expense of the physical pleasure I receive.

  1. The notion of a coherent submissive self rejects the fabrication of any identification of submissive woman that exists within an in-between space, outside of heteronormative assumptions.

Which brings me back to me question: How can “submissive” be queered if the essence of the identity is a performative, constructed armour worn to conform to a culturally constructed and prescribed set of normative behaviours?

When my behaviours and the core of my identity as a submissive woman are not functionally feminine must I subjugate myself to the approved cultural and linguistic codes? Present myself not as a creation of desires, physiological capacities and emotional needs but as an imitation of harmful and dominant heteronormative norms?

We cannot create identity without the culture around us. There is a deep interrelationship between the self and culture. But we must reject this oversimplified and externally ratified cultural caricature and codification of our experiences as submissive women if we are to ever be free to express ourselves as sexual beings when we do not toe this fine line between sexy and slut.

So you can slut shame me all you like – it’s not going to challenge or change anything that I know about myself. But it will cement my focus on rebelling against the status quo and my feminism every time you do.

Needs and Wants

Needs and wants. Or should that be needs V wants? We are told constantly that wants are disposable, unimportant and even selfish. But what if this thinking is wrong? What if needs and wants coexist? What if we can’t intentionally dissect one from the other? What if our wants are just as important to our decision making as needs?

What if we started thinking a bit like this …


NEEDS – human

WANTS – individual.

Let me explain.

When people think of needs they think of Maslow, and while his hierarchy is a well establish idea Maslow’s hierarchy is not about creating identifiable needs in order to distinguish them from wants. Maslow’s theory is all about what motivates us as human beings. Maslow define motivation as people seeking fulfilment and change through growth. His five (now seen as eight) stages of needs are what it is we need in order to fulfil our potential as human beings. That is if we want to achieve a state of feeling contentment or dare I say it, happiness, one must be able to meet certain needs. In order to be the best person one can be then we need the means to meet certain psychological, biological, safety, belonging, love, esteem and self-actualisation needs.

Most assume that this is somewhat of a ladder type endeavour. That we all start down the bottom and move through each stage with a forward only momentum. That is, only when the fist is meet can we move to the second and when the second is meet can we move to the third and so on. There are many arguments against this ridged structure and I’m in agreeance. I believe it’s entirely possible to move through the hierarchy in more of a jump on jump off rather than a forward only momentum.

I’m going to use shelter here, but I’m pretty sure this would apply to other areas of our lives too. Shelter is one of our primary biological needs. So a house satisfies that biological need (the most basic of our needs). But it satisfies more than just that one need. It gives us a sense of physical safety – fences, locks on doors, guard dogs in our yard, all of which make us feel more than just existing within shelter. We turn houses into homes. We make them ours and they make us feel like we belong somewhere. Our shelter is satisfying our need to feel as if we belong.

But this isn’t what I wanted to write today. What I want to talk about it how wants are directly connected to our needs in a way that, I believe, makes it all most impossible to detach one from the other.

Shelter, it’s defined as one of the most important needs we have. As a human being I have a need to live within a shelter. But as a human being I could live within a shelter in many varied environments. I could live in a base camp on Mount Everest. I could live within the research centre in Antarctica. I could live within a refugee camp in Syria. Human being live in these environments in simple hut style shelters, in very clinical, industrial style accommodations and in primitive thrown together tent cities make from what can be found and scavenged.

But I don’t want too!

I want to live in Australia. I want to benefits and the lifestyle that come with being an Australian citizen. I want to live in the area that we live in because it’s central to things that are important to us; jobs, schools, sports, friends, family. I want to live in a home where I can access clean running water when I turn on a tap. Where I can have a hot shower and turn on the TV. I don’t need indoor plumbing – human beings throughout the world live in shelters that don’t have access to running water and manage. I don’t need electricity – again so many people live without it, but I want to be able to turn on a switch and have light and power. I want heating in winter and cooling in summer. How many people have no air conditioning? It’s not a need so much as a want.

My wants make me who I am beyond just being human. My wants are important to the way I live my life as me. What most of us think of wants are really just the means of meeting our needs. You can’t meet your needs without taking what you want.

And wants aren’t dreams, they aren’t the things and realities we lay awake thinking about at night. Wants are what is obtainable. What it is we have at hand in order to satisfy our needs.

Maslow created his hierarchy of needs as a means to understand motivation not to subjugate wants. He wanted to identify the things that motivate us to be the best person we can be, it was never about taking something In order to get something that was assumed more important.

Needs and wants aren’t interchangeable, because they are two different things. It can’t be one against or one over the other if they are not the same thing.

Wants are the means to satisfying your needs. You. As in you the individual. Its how we create our sense of individuality, of self and of creating the comfortable that comes with being me.

So next time someone tries to tell you wanting that ice cream isn’t the way to satisfy your need for food just laugh. Eat the damn thing and remember you’re you. Always. Even when you’re eating ice cream.