On stories for children and believing theirs

I doubted whether I had anything valuable to add on the Rotherham child abuse case.

Three posts @ Sometimes It’s Just A Cigar (here, here, and here) seem to me to be the very best commentary (at least, that I’ve seen) on the social, and media-reporting, aspects of the case, and I certainly have no qualification to talk about any of the rest of it. But there was one thing I did want to mention, because it’s been a thought in my mind concerning not just the most recent cases, but stories that have broken over the past 15 years or more, a common thread that links how the people who are supposed to care, somehow end up seeming not to.

One of my favourite story books as a child was “There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon” in which a kitten-sized dragon turns up one day in a boy’s bedroom. His mother insists, “There’s no such thing as a dragon”, and the dragon grows bigger, and bigger, and bigger until finally the boy asserts, “There IS a dragon. A very BIG dragon!” and mum is forced to concede that yes, there is a dragon. At which, the dragon shrinks back to the size of a kitten. “I don’t mind dragons this size,” says mum, “But why did it have to grow so big?” “Maybe it just wanted to be noticed”.

In the story, the dragon challenges mum’s comfortable, ordered perception of the world and how it works so she simply finds ways to pretend it doesn’t exist until finally the evidence is impossible to ignore and someone else has the courage to insist that actually, this thing is a problem, a real problem, and one that has already had terrible effects.

People seem to do this a lot in real life, when confronted by evidence of dreadful crimes happening in our midst. It is easier to disbelieve those reporting the crimes (which, initially at least, will be isolated victims) than to deal with the consequences of believing the report.

When people say “It’s unbelievable”, or, “I can’t believe this would happen” are more accurately saying that they don’t want to believe it, that they wish it not to be true so that they don’t have to. Many have noted that the implied message to the survivor is, “I think you’re a liar” and this disbelief is harmful.

If you read children’s stories, ranging in age group from the very young (like There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon) through to early teens, there is one common theme that comes up again and again and again: when weird, dangerous stuff starts happening, the adults are the last people to believe in it. Either they laugh it off, ignore the kids, or flat-out accuse the kids of lying – because Grownups Know Best (and, perhaps, “Children Have Such Wild Imaginations”). These themes are so prevalent because they are how children perceive the world, and grownups are big, powerful, and have hidden motives that are hard to fathom.

But what happens if you do believe it? There are two things. The first, is that you have to do something about it if you decide it’s true. Or else, be a bad person, in some way complicit with the criminal by virtue of covering it up. Doing something about it may be risky, or just require a bit of extra effort and there’s so much else to do with the humdrum of daily living.

The other thing that happens is you have to accept that the kind of evil discussed is something that happens not just in some far-off place, populated by strangers who are “Not Like Me”, but it happens to people you know, perhaps committed by people you know, and is a part of your immediate world, too. To some people, it implies “This can happen to me” or “This could have happened to me”. That’s an uncomfortable thought, and for some it is more uncomfortable than ignoring. It is easier, and less disturbing, to think, “Well, there’s no actual proof, so maybe it didn’t happen, or at least, not that way. Not so that I have to worry about it. This stuff doesn’t happen to people like me.”

I am usually worrying about something, and it takes effort for me to filter through and determine that the worry I am having today is not a serious problem, versus the worries that are about serious problems. I’m used to the idea of saying to myself, “It’s probably nothing” about things that are small, but I’m also familiar with the “Bystander Effect” and made a promise to myself to overcome the social impulse not to intervene is no one else is: if I see something that causes concern, I will take some action to determine whether it is a real issue, and if possible and necessary, to help. But I am a person whose experiences already lead me to perceive the world as a place where “these things can happen to me” so the fear is no longer a factor. It isn’t new, the only thing that changes when I believe the account, is to ask “what can I do?”

As much as I understand and sympathise with the desire to shield oneself, to plead doubt and lack of proof, to “know and yet not-know”, this instinct of people is no different from the mother in There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon. And in real life, it can be a lot more harmful. Problems grow until you notice them, and abusers in their myriad forms are the same, taking advantage of society’s and individuals’ instinct towards not-believing in order to get away with their crimes, building support systems and networks around themselves, either of unwitting people who “follow the rules” or of other abusers. Eventually, something happens to bring the proof unavoidably to light (the dragon gets too big to ignore) and people blame each other for following instincts common to most people, instead of recognising that (a) this is what people are like and (b) making the choice not to be like that in future.

As Jemima @ Sometimes It’s Just A Cigar writes, in her contribution to the posts linked at the top of this post:

We can instead though understand that all children want, need, to be loved, and some people will take that natural urge and misuse it for their own dark purposes. Once we accept that this is the world we live in we can then start to consider how we make this a world where children can speak out. We may never end child abuse, we can end a culture that turns its back on the abused.

All I add to that is that it doesn’t matter which circles, or which social world you live in, when it comes to these matters, we all live in the same world.

What I wish people would understand about my introversion

Well, there’s a lot of things that could fall into my category, but the one that really bothers me the most is the one where people assume that it’s a choice to sit in a quieter corner of the room. I’ve lost track of the times well-meaning people offer the comment, “You can’t just wait for people to come over, you have to join the group!” I’d love to, but I am never in the group, even if I “join” the group. This post is about how that works.

One social advice blogger (I forget which one) wrote that if you want people to think you’re a fun guy, you can’t have quiet conversations where everyone takes their turn, you have to have fun, high-energy conversations where people talk over each other, laugh over each other’s talking, low inhibitions. You know, party style instead of seminar style!

Maybe those conversations are “fun” for some people. They are the opposite of fun for me. They are often physically painful. And I am never a part of the conversation, in a large group. This is what every large group conversation sounds like, to me:

“mumblemumblemumble intriguing snippet mumblemumble interesting comment interesting commeANGRYBUZZANGRYBUZZANGRYBUZZ non sequitur comment mumblemumble BUZZBUZZBUZZ” There may or may not be laughter, background noise, and sudden movements.

Either, people are speaking too quietly and not in my direction, and are too far away on the group circle so I can’t make out what they are saying, or they are speaking loudly and over each other, which literally sounds to me like an angrily buzzing insect just outside my ear – and my hand gesture is instinctively one of trying to bat away the insect. Typically, someone starts to make a comment I can actually hear for once and someone cuts across it halfway through, just as I was starting to think I might learn something, and I lose completely the thread of it. If I can’t hear what people are saying, then it doesn’t matter if I m physically in the group or outside of it, I am not a part of the conversation.

I’ve wondered from time to time whether this is a hearing problem, maybe caused by the loud music I listened to since my mid-teens. But it’s been an issue since before then, or at least, hasn’t got any worse since then. And the whole experience is a factor: lights, movement, touch (if it happens).

I retreat into a corner because I can’t handle the bombardment and, as mentioned, sometimes it is physically painful. I simply can’t be a part of the big group for very long, even when I want to. Even when I believe I am going to be able to. (Which I mention just to refute the whole “If you believe you can, or you believe you can’t, you’re right” motivational PMA crap.)

The optimum group size for me (numbers given as me plus ‘x’ others) seems to be three. While my ideal is one-on-one long chats with comfortable pauses, this isn’t efficient when it comes to socialising. Add one or two more people to the group and you have a nice range of folks with views and news to catch up on. push it up to four others and I’m fine, often higher energy but manageable; five others is bearable but I start having to ask for people to repeat themselves more often than seems socially comfortable. Any more than five others plus myself and the sound breaks up completely.

I’m not sulking. I want you to come and talk so I can hear.

Be the best from the beginning: liking their all

Girl on the Net wrote at the weekend that the best partner is one who loves the “bad” bits of you. While there are some statements in that article that give me some significant quibbles, I’m not interested in digging into the flaws of the argument. I want to look at the strong element of value in the concept. Here’s the passages that I think sum it up:

It’s really important though, because if you can love my enthusiastic singing, you can love all the other bits of me that might be annoying or tricky or unphotogenic. The way I snore and talk in my sleep, the panicked way I run through the station to make sure we’re ten minutes early for a train, the way I come home late at night and fling my shoes across the room before lying face-down on the carpet.

The way I fuck.

If you want me to fuck you like I really really want to, I need to be comfortable that you’re going to embrace it. No ‘euurgh’s or ‘what the fuck?’s or ‘I don’t think you’re doing that right’s.

So, what’s the most important quality in a partner?

I think it’s enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for me and what I do, even when I do it wrong. Enthusiasm for trying again, and failing again, and laughing together on the sofa. Being as comfortable with someone’s quirks as you are with their successes. Let me sing in the kitchen, lie face-down on the carpet when I’m drunk, and whisper my weirdest fantasies in your ear.

As I said, there are ways I could find fault with the thesis, but there’s an underlying truth, which is that statement about enthusiasm. I once wrote an idea for a song with the title, “I want the bad things about you” which was about just this principle, the idea that someone’s bad singing, or snoring, or whatever, is as much a part of them as the other stuff and it’s not stuff you put up with to get the other stuff.

The thought that crossed my mind, and that is really the focus of this post (even if I don’t spend many actual words on it), was to think about how these ides fit into the process of meeting/finding/attracting a partner: the very start of the relationship, the first few bricks in the foundation that builds that atmosphere of acceptance and enthusiasm.

In the seduction community/PUA materials I’ve seen (I’m thinking especially of Hayley Quinn with this, but the same concept appears in various forms in different places) this is subcommunicated in the language of teasing, which they tell us is the most important part of flirting. IIRC the way Quinn says to do this is pick on something to comment on, smiling, make a mild “criticism” and conclude the remark with “I like that!” I have my doubts about my calibration to pull this off, but in the language described, “I like that” and non-verbally showing pleasure (voice, smiling, body language), communicates that what sounds like pointing out a flaw is in fact accepting the person. Dr Nerdlove counts himself outside of those communities (and is critical of them) but gives very similar advice about flirting.

I haven’t done well with trying to meet people with “cold” approaches, and am somewhat removed in most cases from a network to develop “warm” approaches. That leaves me with internet dating as my main option for approaching potential partners.

OKCupid sort of build this into their profile system with the section “What’s the most private thing you’re willing to admit?” and Charlie Nox’s “Babe Hack” ebook on how to use OKCupid emphasises that this is what you use it for. This is the point where you put the “counter-argument” to the thesis that “you should totally date me!” and then discredit it. In other words, you say, “this is my singing badly in the kitchen, what’s your reaction?” Too many people (and Nox specifically says not to do this) either don’t answer the question or put “If I told you that it wouldn’t be private” – ignoring the “willing to admit” part.

It can be hard to take the first step in showing the bad bits of you. My “most private thing” is a cop-out, but in the rest of my dating profile(s) (I use basically the same text on Plenty Of Fish and a couple of others) I mention being introverted, overuse of movie quotes, listening to bad (“ridiculous”) music and air guitar. If someone reckons I’m worth replying to in spite of, or because of, those things, then it’s got a much better chance of being a good match. Equally, I ask about unique features and a story about themselves, often talking about achievements and also embarrassing moments (again,. emphasising the “that you’re willing to share”) – it puts out (I hope) a message of enthusiasm and an opportunity for them to test my acceptance and enthusiasm based on the story. Again, acknowledging it’s hard to go first, I try to include in a message my own answers to any questions; which means telling a slightly embarrassing event from my own life to encourage the same in reply. I don’t yet know what’s the best way to compose a first email on these sites (annoyingly lots of people have different, and contradictory, advice on this matter).

Reid Mihalko put it more strongly: use your profile to scare off people you don’t want, and who don’t want you. “I sing badly while washing the dishes” should be right in there, so only those who are okay with bad dish-washing singing will bother. That’s tricky to negotiate if you aren’t getting many replies anyway, and there’s always the feeling that you can get used to stuff or introduce it gently later, after some attraction has started. It’s been a familiar discussion for at least ten years: when a kinky person puts a profile on ‘nilla websites such as POF or OKC, how soon do you introduce the “oh, by the way, I’m kinky?” Do you put it upfront, on the assumption that people who are likely to be interested will respond, and those who don’t respond never would have explored anyway; or do you leave it off, or drop subtle hints, and wait until a relationship starts to develop before talking about it, in the hope that the emotional connection inspires trust so that they are more likely to admit to their kinks? One option places “accept me” first, while the other risks rejection but opens the offer of “I accept you”. Each has its merits, but I’m inclined towards trust, then acceptance: for someone to admit to being kink-curious, or to break with a ‘nilla norm that they’re used to needs a safe environment. As Girl on the Net puts it:

Sometimes men ask me how they can find a woman who is kinky and imaginative and open to lots of new things in bed. I have a much much longer post coming on this at some point, but my initial gut reaction is to tell them this:

You may already know one, but it’s possible she doesn’t want to tell you about her passions. Maybe she wants to sing loudly in the kitchen. Maybe she wants to dance at that wedding. Maybe she wants to get naked and hump you with enthusiastic passion in the middle of the living room floor. But she’ll struggle to do any of these things if there’s an ‘ouch, please stop that’ look on your face, or if she’s heard you laugh when she’s fucked something up.

In building a relationship from the beginning, from that first point of contact (be it through friends, a cold approach, or internet dating) the exchange of trust and acceptance has to start somewhere, with little things. Then when you get to things like kinks, sex, and so on, there’s a foundation.

Thoughts on developing a cis heuristic

Title mostly because I like the word “heuristic”, but also because it’s relevant.

Jemima, of Sometimes It’s Just A Cigar, tweeted with the comment “thought provoking post” the link to an article by London Feminist called What is cis – and does it matter? It certainly is thought provoking, and for me raised a challenge.

LF starts with a principle of accepting the term: “It made perfect sense to me, then, when I learned that the opposite of ‘trans’ in the gender sense was also ‘cis.'” The difficulty starts when she starts to look more closely at what trans* covers, and whether she, herself, fits into the “cis” category.

But “trans” does not seem to mean dysphoric, or at least not exclusively. It also includes “genderqueer,” a sense of self which exists outside the gender binary of male / female. Again, perhaps, this doesn’t apply to terribly many of us. I have described myself, back in the dark ages of LiveJournal, as “gendermeh” – indifferent to gender identity. Having tried both, I discovered that I perform masculinity just as badly as I perform femininity, and so I tend to go with the path of least resistance, choosing elements of both as and when they suit me. My hobbies and my mode of dress for work are typically coded masculine; my current hairstyle and my mode of dress outside work are typically coded feminine.

LF then quotes some sources for definition of “transgender”, and that’s where it starts to get troublesome.

But according to some sources, including Practical Androgyny cited on GenderQueerID, that is enough to bring me within the “transgender umbrella.”

‘Transgender’ is an umbrella term that can potentially cover all people who transgress or transcend (go beyond the limits of) society’s rules and concepts of gender. People may be transgender due to their self expression, identity or personal history.

If that is correct, and to transcend or to transgress society’s gender expectations constitutes transgenderism, then that includes me. Yaygender defines gender as tripartite:

gender identity: one’s psychological sense of self; one’s identity; who someone is intrinsically
gender presentation or gender expression: how one presents oneself in society
gender role: the social role someone takes in society

These definitions as applied to trans*ness do not feel quite right to me, and I think it is possible for any group the edges of which are necessarily blurred, to have people defining it in various ways, and some of those ways will be problematic outliers. The question that LF raises is precisely the problem that allows TERFs and their transphobic ilk to reject the label “cis” – I really don’t have the energy to track down an example or links, but there was a whole twitter thing not long ago about someone with the initials CCP making precisely this claim: that because she, as a feminist, rejects societal norms, “don’t call me cis”.

LF’s piece restates the argument as an “outside observer” (not that anyone is an outside observer, of course) in the manner of someone trying to see where the other side is coming from, why they might hold whatever belief they have (regardless of whether it’s an accurate belief). I appreciate this kind of writing and thinking, as I try to achieve it myself from time to time.

The fact remains that the definitions are a dodgy place to start, and they give succour to the transphobic, particularly of the TERF variety, by legitimising the “TERF is a slur”, “don’t call me ‘cis'” responses. They also give weight to those (often men) who seek to police masculinity by defining as a “girl” or a “pussy” any male who does not conform perfectly to their perceptions of macho (it’s usually macho) maleness.

If the definitions are flawed, then it may make sense to have a look and see how they can be narrowed or tightened to be less flawed. As I mentioned, trans* is a category whose boundaries are necessarily blurred (it reminds me of my maths degree module on finding error margins, and discovering that in the calculation of an error margin, there is an error margin on the error margin…) You can cast a net so wide that the definition could also catch a lot of people who aren’t trans* under the same category (the issue with the quotes used by LF) or you can narrow it and risk not covering people who you think should be covered.

I am broadly in agreement with the Yaygender description of different ways of determining or defining gender – I might feel there are more ways of looking at it than just three, but in principle “identity, presentation/expression, social role” is a good starting point. But are all of these relevant to trans*ness?

Jemima last week wrote a piece inspired by a man who asked whether liking strap-on sex made him gay, and from the question of the curious coding that people put on various sex acts, discussing how performance and sexuality or gender are related:

This goes deeper however, as the kind of rad fems who say sexuality is nothing more than a performance of certain acts also say the same about gender. for them gender is a social construct with no real meaning outside of performance.

The most sexual contact I’ve had with a man is a quick snog (and it wasn’t consensual on my part, but put that to one side) – nevertheless, I find men sexually attractive (David Weston, for example, in recent promos for Pandora Blake’s Dreams of Spanking – phwoar!) as well as women, and therefore am bisexual, regardless of whether I’ve tried sex with a man (somewhere between 1 and 2 on the Kinsey scale, depending on the particular company…). That said, I’m pretty sure I would enjoy sex with a man.

A more telling question is whether drag artists and pantomime dames are typically considered to belong in the trans* category. Most people I’ve seen comment on the matter say no, and I am inclined to agree with them. While drag artists in particular may represent an accepted facet of “gender bending” (ugly term, but the best I can think of for this particular context, and the one often used in wider society), the identity of the performer typically remains cis. The performance is not relevant to the identity in these cases. But, we might say, drag is intended as a performance, or even parody, of gender, and nothing else. But if a performance of gender is not in itself enough, the point is already made. Gender cannot be purely performance and to be trans* there must be something else at work. It is also possible to be trans* without any element of performance.

Trans women who wish to undergo surgery are required by others’ (meaning, people in medical authority) conflation of performance and gender, to create a performance of gender that often is at odds with their preferences and internal desire for presentation. A cis woman can wear manly jeans and t-shirt and not have her gender questioned; a trans woman often can’t. Performance is neither a necessary nor a sufficient quality when it comes to determining trans*ness. There must be something else to go with it.

TF describes herself thus:

Personally I don’t see why I shouldn’t wear a three piece suit and brogues, wear my hair in a number 2 men’s cut and drink real ale (all things I do) whilst also being cis.

Perhaps a more important thing would be to argue that there’s no reason why a trans woman shouldn’t do all that, and still be trans (see above point re: medical authorities).

There is a distinction, and a clear one, between “dressing like a man” and “dressing as a man”, which is to say, one person dresses and acts the way TF describes just because it feels good and it’s their personal style. Another person dresses the same way in order to be perceived a certain way or to match their perception with their identity. Both those people could be trans or cis, or anywhere in the trans umbrella. But someone who dresses as a man is either a trans man or a cis man (or conceivably, genderqueer/genderfluid) whereas someone who dresses like a man can be man, woman, cis, trans, in any combination.

A similar point: trans folk tend to describe the act of dressing, and presenting themselves, as being taking off a mask rather than putting one on: they remove the disguise of their assigned-at-birth gender to reveal themselves. One person wearing the three piece suit etc thinks it’s a disguise; another thinks it’s the only time they aren’t disguised. So, again, there’s a distinction between “I dress as a man would dress” (disguise) and “As a man, I dress like this” (shedding the disguise).

Of course, “As a man, I dress like this” can be taken as permanent or temporary – either “I am a man. I dress like this,” or, “When I am a man, I dress like this” (i.e. at other times I dress differently) but both those cases fall under various trans* identities, whereas “I dress as a man would dress” would generally not. And that goes for the male friend I have who wears skirts (and sometimes a kilt) just as much: “I am a man. I wear a skirt” is still a statement of his cis masculinity (and if a trans man made the same statement, it would be a statement of his trans masculinity).

Jemima, again (from the same “Does it make me gay?” post):

Other cis women have performed the same thought experiment I did, to imagine having a penis, being male, in detail, and reported the same feelings of distress and even nausea. This is not to say that everyone who identifies as cis needs to have such a strong, almost dysphoric reaction, gender is no doubt a spectrum rather than a zero sum game.

I’m genderfluid, always never quite one or the other, outside the binary. I’ve tried the thought experiment. Sometimes I have fantasised about having a cunt, and even from my mid-teens have always said that if I was a woman, I would want to have het, PiV sex (I’d also want to have lots of lesbian sex too), and tried to imagine how that feels. Suffice to say, I don’t get the dysphoric reaction that Jemima reports. Or, rather, sometimes the reason I have these fantasies is because I sometimes feel dysphoric about my male genitalia, but not consistently (and certainly not consistently enough to make surgery an attractive option) – and sometimes I fantasise about having both a cunt and a cock at the same time. I’ve written before about some of the ways I would like my body to be different and more ambiguous – less hairy, slightly bigger boobs, etc.

While a sense of body-wrongness isn’t necessary as a part of the trans* umbrella terms (for instance, genderqueer/genderfluidity need not include any strong sense of dysphoria; there are also many trans men and women who feel no need to have genital surgery) it is a strong indicator.

When you’re at home, alone or with a (long-term) lover, who are you? When whatever you wore out into the world comes off (whether masculine work clothes or feminine relaxation clothes, to use LF’s example) what is left? When you put them on again, what do they mean to you about identity? How much do you have to do in order to feel like you?

These questions, I think, are where trans*ness occurs (at least, where there’s no dysphoria – and I think they would show up dysphoria where it occurs as well), and therefore where cisness occurs. Whatever the biological realities (and that’s a lot more complicated than people like to admit) and the doctor’s declaration at birth, how you relate to that is at the core of cisness. If you’re FAAB, and when you’re at home with your lover, you’re a woman; when you shed whatever clothes you wore out into the world and put on your joggers and t-shirt, or pyjamas, or whatever you wear when it doesn’t matter what you wear, and you’re a woman; when you put the outside clothes on again (regardless of what those clothes are) and you’re still a woman; when in order to feel like you, you don’t need to adjust anything (or you make your FAAB body more feminine, not less); then you’re a cis woman.

But me, MAAB, when I’m home alone or with a lover, I’m somewhere in between; when I shed my clothes and put on my joggers and t-shirt, I’m most often a tomboy-ish girl; when I put on my costumes for the world I can be (in my mind anyway; passing so others see me as female seems a long way off, and may be impossible, in the actual outside world) a woman or a man; in order to feel like me, I have to shave my body hair (and I still can’t reach all of it by myself) and sometimes wear a corset to get the right body shape, and it’s still not quite enough to feel like me.

Maybe this approach, this definition, this heuristic, will leave out people whom we might want to include under the trans* umbrella. Maybe some people we want to call cis can also belong under the trans* umbrella through some form of identity that is “cis-ish”, or have concerns that are related to those of trans* and genderqueer/fluid folks such that we have common cause, even if they are not trans* themselves. (As, for instance, the whole LGBT conflation.) I don’t know about that. As best I can manage, these questions seem to me to capture the elements any of which are sufficient to identifying trans*ness in various forms.

Thoughts/improvements/additions welcome.

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Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

Anorgasmia in women
One Week On
chatterbox
Safe Craigslist Hookups
Online Dating: How to Talk to People
Stealth Sex Toys-Stash Management
Last Longer In Bed For Men Naturally

Erotic Non-Fiction

Spicing Up Sex Life
Gasp, Shake, Thank You
Again and Again
Fapping to My Photos and Stories
Did you miss me?
Desire….What happens when you can’t succumb?
Off Balance
On the Sofa
The Solace of My Body
Self Given
Orgasms & Ice Cream
Skid Marks

Sex News,Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor

Nasty
Jacky au royaume des filles
What makes a sex writer?
Dubrovnik whore as metaphor 4 Balkan politics
Am I Pretty or Ugly?

Erotic Fiction

Lonely observations
Fucking and Being Fucked
The Churning Black, Part 4
A Return to Purpose
Bang on Target!
Polished
Please
My Night With Lilith

Writing About Writing

Words That Shouldn’t Be In Erotica
Transhumanist Erotica: Jacked In

Blogging

Just One Look

Thoughts and Advice on Kink and Fetish

The Hotness Of Cockteasing A Guy In Chastity
My eyes are over here
Submissive Men 101 Facts
Emotional Masochism
The time I made him make me safeword

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Frame Game – A Lusty Limerick

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Diana J Torres- Vagaculation Workshop

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Watching Sexy Beasts

I’ve mentioned before my interest in television dating shows. The BBC has a new format and I’ve been watching the first couple of episodes to get an idea of how it works.

The title is “Sexy Beasts” and the gimmick is that they use the prosthetics and make-up department to disguise the hopefuls as aliens, monsters or creatures so as to take looks out of the equation when the people meet in person: as Susan Calman (narrating the the show) says in the introduction: “Will true love blossom when what you see is definitely not what you get?”

The format: one person meets three of their desired gender (so far that’s been het couples – boy meets three girls, girl meets three boys – but I’m hopeful later episodes might be gay/lesbian based) for a cross-table chat, then selects one to dump; the two remaining hopefuls go on “activity dates” and finally the chooser picks one to “go home with”. Although the actual conclusion is that they have a “champagne moment” set up: if, after seeing each other’s real faces, the successful pair both want to meet again, they turn up – if not, they stay away. So far, it’s been a “only one turned up” and a “both turned up”.

They say they take looks out of the equation, but the first thing I notice is that at least some of the hopefuls’ disguises are based on their self-descriptions. Matt “the dog” (choosing on show 1) introduced himself as “quite loyal”; Matty on show 2 called himself “a nice guy but a bit of a demon” and so they gave him a “devil” face (although he’s from Liverpool, and I thought the “Red Devils” were Manchester United?) So it’s possible to infer something about what they told the casting crew about themselves from the faces they’ve been given.

In some ways, some hopefuls adopted personas to match their new looks – Matt the dog most notably (although I’m sure the producers encouraged some of the behaviours). Others seemed more nonplussed by it, and it’s curious that it wasn’t always the ones who identified their looks as their best asset in dating. In fact, it seems to be the ones who were a little more shy in the “revealed face” clips tend to be stiffer (no, NOT like that! you lot have dirty minds…) when in costume, almost as though the anonymity weighed more heavily, whereas the more confident or outgoing ones seemed to feel the mask gave them a little extra freedom or licence to play up. The better-calibrated ones spotted when this did or didn’t go down well (Matt’s dog behaviour seemed to down well, for instance).

A common theme at the “reveal” where the masks/disguises came off, is that participants remark, “You don’t look like I thought you would.” Often this is followed by a specific observation, usually to do with the hair. I find this intriguing in that it implies that the participants have tried to imagine each others’ appearances and there are clear hints that interest/decisions are formed based on these (invariably flawed) assumptions. The show is supposed to be all about removing looks from the equation, but instead it highlights more clearly that people associate looks and personality as correlating to one another (it may also be that they make guesses about facial shape and hairstyle based on the costume and/or the physical build and height of the person they meet).

Unusually, there is no “follow-up” segment at the end of the show: for the viewer, the “success” or “failure” of the pairing is whether or not they both show up for the champagne date. If a relationship of any sort develops after that scene, or they actually end up deleting each other’s numbers from their phones and never speaking again, we don’t find out.

I would not have picked Calman as the voice of a new dating show, although she is one of my favourite comedians at the moment. However, it turns out that her delivery and wit (although who knows how much of that is scripted) is perfect for this format. It makes me want to see a revival of Streetmate with Calman doing Davina McCall’s job of running around doing cold approaches on behalf of some random person she’s picked. (It’s probably a good thing I’m not in any way shape or form responsible for any commissioning decisions made by any TV company anywhere. But I would love that job!)

I wanted to use reviewing the show to make some clever observation or point about dating, gender, feminism or whatever. Turns out I haven’t really found that key insightful conclusion. Some intriguing observations and remarks: how the disguises affected behaviour, and how appearance still plays some part in the process after all. But nothing I would point to and say, “That illuminates so much about the dating world/experience.” But then, maybe I don’t need that for every dating show.

Trusting, topping, sharing

Content Note: as per trigger warning mentioned in opening paragraph

The University of Abject Submission blog has a guest post by Dr. Slut called Top Trust (which comes with a trigger warning by Yingtai for “Rape role-play, pushing boundaries, hardcore knives”; this warning should also be assumed to apply to this post, which quotes some of those passages). The post describes something that I have often reflected upon with respect to my own Dominant identity and experience, and the complications that I have felt surrounding it.

Dr. Slut sums it up neatly in a single phrase:

But something we don’t hear nearly as much about is the trust tops place in bottoms. What do tops trust their bottoms to do? It’s pretty simple: communicate with them honestly and forgive them if they (the tops) the fuck up.

In short, I’m in total agreement with everything – at least, the bits that I have lived experience to relate to in the post.

I was very pleased when my ex told me that I had handled her so well by not giving in to her desire to go flat-out from the word go but pace her introduction to real-life BDSM play. It was tempting to just say, “She says yes, so it must be okay – Risk-Aware Consensual Kink, right?” But of course, in that state of mind, as with the type of subspace Dr. Slut describes, the sub may not be risk-aware, may be completely willing to throw all such caution to the four winds:

That crazy fucker will literally beg and plead in subspace for things that will injure him, and it’s all up to me as the top to tell him “no.”

(That exact thing didn’t happen, she just wanted it all at once when I was still figuring out what her responses were really like and what I could safely do)

One passage in Dr. Slut’s post intrigues me particularly. I’m currently writing the first threesome sex/BDSM play scene in my novel: Thomas (the “Master”) has agreed to let Jo (his “Slave”) find a “sister Sub” to explore her bi-curiousness with; he has made it clear that he “doesn’t want to share”, and therefore in their first threesome session Jo is co-topping their new partner under his direction.

Dr. Slut describes:

Fortunately, it went beautifully—better than I could have dreamed, really, but part of the reason I felt so comfortable was because I was just working as my husband’s accomplice, and I didn’t have to take as much responsibility for dominant decisions.

I borrowed a line from The West Wing during the set-up for the scene. “There’s nothing you can do that won’t make me proud.” Leo McGarry says it to the President just before he’s due to go on the election debate in (I think) season 3. I have Thomas say it to Jo just before the play starts. He emphasises that he is there to watch over her, and he will be guiding her as she tops for the first time. Writing the scene is a challenge, because I’ve never done threesome, co-topping or any “poly” play before; it’s also the first scene where I have to explain safety precautions and negotiation (Thomas and Jo are an established M/s couple so it’s more spontaneous; they are also fluid-bonded as husband and wife). So there’s a whole bunch of different layers of trust and uncertainty floating around (Jo’s experimenting both with her sexual identity and with her D/s identity, for example).

One thing neither Dr. Slut nor my current novel scene seems to cover is the trust of the toppermost top in a co-topping scene. The example she uses shows more spontaneity, and therefore perhaps less hierarchical structure than my novel’s scene. But it occurs to me that there is a double trust there. It’s implied with the set-up, the “Nothing you can do that won’t make me proud”, “I’m there to see you don’t go wrong” elements I used. The toppermost top needs to trust not only the bottomest bottom to communicate, but also their co-top to listen and respond to direction, or at least, to have the skill to top well independently. Dr. Slut’s example:

And yet the hottest moment for me occurred when he told me to put my knife to her nipples, and instead of doing that, I looked straight into her eyes and said, “I’d rather put it in her pussy,” held it against her clit, and watched her pupils almost completely dilate as she came in terror.

Now, I don’t generally do knife play. I can use them for fear play (which is what’s going on here) and have a few shiny, scary-looking blades that would come in handy for that sort of “game”. But if I’m “he” in the anecdote above, and saw that happen, in that moment where the knife moves to rest against the bottom’s clit, I would probably experience almost as much terror as the bottom did (and for me, that’s not going to make me come). I believe I would get a huge pay-off in the form of an adrenaline high shortly afterwards, as I realise that of course (of COURSE!) nothing bad is really going to happen.

It’s probably why co-topping is something I would be reluctant to do.

My novel doesn’t cover it because the scene is told from Jo’s perspective: it’s her reaction to how the session plays out that drives the plot forwards, and it’s also a scene in which I get to describe how I feel about topping (as opposed to how Thomas would feel about it; also, Jo is the main protagonist so mostly I tell her bottoming to Thomas rather than Thomas topping her).

To top for someone, I feel like I need to have some kind of baseline for their reactions, so I can trust their body (non-verbal reactions); I need to have some kind of communication, so I can trust their words, and I need some kind of basis for their mind, so I can trust their response afterwards. That is, a reason to trust them to “communicate with [me] honestly and forgive [me] if [I] fuck up.”

Just to emphasise: genderfluid

Is the person who looks like this:

My current favourite, and first ever, dress

Sexy, no?

And this:

Just need someone to tie me into it...

Mmm, tight!

The same gender as the person who looks like this:

But it makes me happy.

She said it was “a good size”!

Of course, all three are me, all three taken this summer. The top two are essentially to do with wanting to look more like I feel myself to be, or at least, more in the middle, or more accessible to “femme” interpretation. They’re trimmed the way they are to avoid the inescapably male facial hair (still obvious despite a good shave) and male hair loss on the top. They are also since I started regularly shaving the bits I can reach, whereas the bottom one is clearly before then.

If this was just about clothing, I would be cis, despite the female clothes (a cis male friend of mine wears skirts regularly, and draws a distinction between them and the kilts he also sometimes wears). But the clothes are, for me, avenues of accessing my internal sense of self and gender, which does not stay in one place but drifts around the gender spectrum/space over time. My ideal body would change genitalia to be appropriate to whatever I was feeling like at the time; absent such magical powers, the corset, and shaving, and so on, are ways of getting my body to be a little bit closer to where it “should” be.

Short Story: Please … Obey Me V3.2

So after I finished Version 3 of the “Please … Obey Me” prompt with “Next time, it’s your turn”, I felt I wanted to write what happens “next time”. And what impact it has on their liberal equality-based relationship. Having read, and to some extent experienced, the conflict between the principle of equality and the trangressive subversion of power in kink, I wanted to take Jade and Ochre to the point of choosing… well, you’ll see.

Please … Obey Me 3.2

Jade loosened his tie and signed out of the office. A week ago, he had assaulted his lover, albeit at her insistence, and entirely for her pleasure. Another Date Night had arrived. He had checked the cinema timetable and there was a movie he planned to suggest, but he remembered Ochre’s remark to him at the end of the Dirty Secret evening.

He drove home, only half his mind on the road. The other half was on what he had done to her, and wondering if she really meant to do the same back to him. He was scared of feeling the pain, but the thoughts stirred tight sensations between his thighs and beneath his belly. It wasn’t the acts that aroused him, but the position. He remembered how she had been spread under him, like sex but not, their bodies hot and close to one another, her body responding to his. Now he pictured himself in her position, their roles reversed.

He pulled over for a moment to mop his brow and focus. “She’s probably forgotten,” he muttered.

* * *

“Have you forgotten?” Ochre raised her eyebrow.

Jade shook his head.

“Do you want me to do it?”

Jade stood and stared out the lounge window. He thought about the fear. He thought about the guilt. He thought about his arousal on the way home. He thought about Ochre’s naked body. She was fresh from the shower, wrapped in a dressing gown and nothing else, but in his mind’s eye even that was absent. He bit his lip.

Ochre studied his face, and said, “I only want to do it if you’re happy. I don’t want you to do it just for me.”

“Will you be gentle?”

“Gentler than you, you mean? No still means no, so you can make me be as gentle as you want.” Ochre crossed her wrists in front of her stomach, “Even if that means I don’t hurt you at all.”

“I want, I think, to let you. But I don’t want to be hurt.”

“Okay. We can do something else.”

“No, I mean, I want you to hurt me. But I don’t want to be hurt.”

Ochre’s arms dropped limply to her sides.

Jade beckoned her to him. He stood toe-to-toe with her and said, “Kiss me.”

She blinked, gazed into his eyes, and did.

“You can do whatever you want, as long as no means no, right?” he murmured, “Last week, you told me to obey you, so now I am. That’s how much I love you.”

Ochre hugged him and pressed her head to his breast. “Very well, then. If you’re sure. I’m going to hurt you tonight.”

Jade nodded, “I know.”

Ochre teased his tie loose and eased it over his ears. She draped it over the back of the settee. Jade lifted his chin and pushed his shoulders back to spread his chest and present his shirt buttons. Ochre mimed tearing it open. Jade flinched. Ochre kissed the tip of his nose and fiddled with the collar button. Jade helped her with it, and Ochre moved on to the rest of the buttons the backs of her wrists brushed Jade’s nipples through the cotton. He tightened and straightened. She pushed the fabric open and kissed them.

She moved to his belt while he struggled out of his sleeves. Her hands ran over his hips and butt, slipping the leather loose from the chinos. She put the belt next to the tie, and knelt in front of Jade to undo the trouser button. She pulled them down and cocked an eye at her lover.

“Commando, dear?”

Jade blushed.

“I could stop right here,” Ochre licked her lips and smiled.

Jade smiled back, but shivered, “I don’t want you to hurt me there, please.”

Ochre grinned, and rolled the trousers down Jade’s legs. Jade lifted one foot, then the other, for Ochre to strip him completely bare. She obliged, peeling his socks off and tossing them under the coffee table. She stood, kissing his body on the way up, lingering over his bosom. Their lips met, and she pulled Jade to her. He returned her passion and redoubled it.

When they broke, she asked, “Ready? Cos you look ready…”

Jade gave a vigorous nod. Ochre stood back and opened her dressing gown. She bit her lip and started to pull the sash free of the loops.

She parted her lips and breathed, “I’d like to tie you up.”

Jade was never sure, later, whether he’d said “yes”, but he raised his arms and crossed his wrists in front of him. He licked his lips and stared into Ochre’s eyes while she stroked the silk sash across his arm, looped it under, wrapped it around both wrists. She met his gaze throughout, barely a glance at her work as she looped two more passes, and pushed the end between his arms. She wrapped the sash around itself between his hands and what had been a soft caress tightened to clear restraint. Jade still could not break free of their stare but the compulsion to test the bonds swept over him. The silk seemed to slither over his skin, but his wrists were locked together by Ochre’s knot. Every nerve seemed on edge, every sense alive and present. Ochre wrapped her arm around his shoulder, placed a hand on his chest.

“Okay?” she checked. He nodded.

“Trust me?” she asked.

“Yes, sweetheart,” he whispered. She guided him backwards, he felt the arm of the settee against the backs of his knees. Ochre pushed gently on his chest and he felt himself falling. She caught his weight but the loss of control made him yelp and struggle in his bonds. He landed heavily amidst the cushions. He panted deep and fast.

“Safe?” Ochre asked. Jade blinked. Ochre repeated herself. Jade nodded, “Yes, I’m safe.” He stretched himself out, wriggled his butt and his shoulders to find the most comfortable position, his head resting in the nook between the seat and the arm, his legs dangled over the other arm.

Ochre took his tie and slipped it over his bare feet.

“No!” yelped Jade. Ochre nodded, and placed the tie on the sofa back again. Jade took a deep breath.

“I’m sorry, that was just instinctive. You can do it, if you want.”

“Not if you don’t want me to.”

“I’m scared. But I’m already scared, and I want you to carry on. I trust you, sweetheart.” He nodded. Ochre smiled, and stroked his thigh.

“Thank you.”

He watched her every movement when she took the tie again, looped it around Jade’s ankles, and eased the knot tighter. She glanced up at him, “Tell me when it’s comfortable.” He nodded. He fidgeted his feet, hooking one heel over the other ankle, so the tie had a little more give. Ochre took up the slack. Jade flexed his knees to test his movement. Only a few millimetres remained.

“Stop there, please,” he said. Ochre nodded, and let the ends of the tie droop either side of his feet. She knelt beside his head and kissed him.

“Happy?”

“Terrified. But, yes. What now?”

“Now, I hurt you.”

Jade moaned as Ochre stood.

* * *

She circled him, viewing the sofa, and her captive, from every angle. He watched her watching him, twisting his neck to keep her in sight. When at last she patted his cheek, he flinched. She stroked his sides. Jade squirmed where it tickled, his muscles twitching beyond his control, his bound wrists preventing him from stopping her. He twisted his waist, setting the cushions askew and exposing his buttock. Ochre pounced with a slap on the proffered target. Jade yelped a note that made them both wince.

Ochre waited until he settled. She put a finger each in the crooks of Jade’s elbows. Jade stared at the ceiling, and let her pressure push his arms apart and to his side, making his arms bend and twist so his wrists rode up his belly and under his breasts. Ochre nodded, and smiled at him. Jade could feel his arousal stirring in his sex when their eyes met.

He knew she liked his chest. She knelt beside him, both hands on his upper arm, leaning over. He felt her warm breath on his cold skin. She would kiss, caress, or place her head there at every chance. But this was different. Her lips, yes, but now her teeth as well. Jade closed his eyes as Ochre closed her jaw, he felt the bite as a searing ring. His breath caught, a whimper in his throat. Ochre paused, held him between her teeth. Licked the tortured flesh caught in her mouth. The trapped whimper escaped, starved of all volume. Ochre parted her jaw like a tease. She used to broad blade of her tongue to soothe the bruises. Then she sucked Jade’s nipple into her mouth. Jade swallowed. Ochre squeezed with her teeth and Jade held his breath to keep from crying out. Ochre applied a little more pressure.

“No,” Jade whimpered. Ochre said nothing, just lifted her head and licked her fingers before stroking his nipples. He watched her fingers as a mouse might watch a sleeping cat. Ochre dug her nails into Jade’s chest and when he gasped, locked her lips over his and stroked the roof of his mouth with her tongue. He felt his senses drift, the lounge suddenly remote and the universe, with Jade at its centre, alarmingly close.

He didn’t even know he was saying the words until they were out and Jade was whispering her answer: “Fuck me.” “Of course.”

He let her roll him onto his belly, his bound wrists now stretched along the sofa and his butt supported by the arm. He crossed his ankles bound by his own tie, to flex and spread his knees. He heard the swish as she pulled his leather belt from the back of the settee and a soft slap that must have been her folding it in half in her hands. But the sharp, blazing sting of the lash as she brought the belt to smack on his buttocks still surprised him and he cried out. His chest heaved, his fingers clenched an unclenched, and he shook his head, pressing it against his raised shoulders. He braced himself for the second stroke, but it never came. Ochre had already moved on.

Her cock’s hard tip brushed his thigh.

“Yes!” he breathed.

* * *

Jade lay on his back again, his head resting in Ochre’s lap. She stroked his hair and cheeks and he stroked hers, his hands free again of the dressing gown sash. His breath shook as he inhaled and exhaled. The raw ecstasy still lingered, and with it the memory of having been equals.

“We can never go back,” he murmured, “Can we?”

Jade smiled down at him, “Do you want to?”

“I feel like I should want to.”

“And yet you don’t.”

“No.”

“No, what?”

Jade hesitated to put it into words, to close the door on their ideal and put voice to reality. But she stroked him again and all resistance melted.

“No, Mistress.”

Doing it for free

So I’ve written about deciding to sell adult IM roleplay/cybersex sessions, and how that’s gone so far.

I have, in the process, rediscovered my love of online textual cybersex in general. I knew I had a talent for it from previous forays into IRC and from some great sessions with my (now former) partners. Memories of those IRC adventures and the reawakening inspired by the few potential clients through my doors so far led me to think about going out and revisiting my old online stomping grounds, or finding some new ones.

My main venue used to be the bondage.com IRC servers. Sadly, Alt.com bought up bondage.com, and because bondage was better on all points than Alt, Alt eventually closed down bondage – including the IRC servers. Collarme used to have a webchat service, but after a dispute between the partners, Collarme has changed its URL and the owner of the original domain name is raising funds to start a rival, “kinkunity“, that looks like it will take some time to get off the ground (but might be exactly what’s needed in the market if it does). I never really liked the atmosphere in the Collarme chat that much, anyway, so that meant I needed to find out if there were other BDSM IRC or webchat services out there. I found one that seems okay, in kinksterschat.com (via the petition pages on Fetlife, where people would like Fetlife to offer a chat service).

One thing that has struck me all over again since re-engaging with Collarme, and playing around on KinkstersChat, is how conservative BDSMers can be. It was very noticable on the old bondage.com IRC, and it hasn’t changed, that gender and roles are heavily policed. The rooms I liked best on the old IRC were those in which asking a/s/l (Age/Sex/Location) and opening private chats without asking in-channel first, were frowned upon. But people still wanted to know these things, and weren’t shy about it even if they had to go a slightly longer way around getting there.

On AdultWork, I’m not happy to advertise as “TS/TV”, which means the closest fit is simply “male”. That’s fine, I’m selling a service, and male/female is the most common search term.

But when I’m off-duty, and looking for fun on my own terms, then I am assuredly going to use the wonder of the internet to strip away the meatware and enable the virtual body to take over. In short, I fully embrace and celebrate my genderfluidity. I choose a username that is not obviously gendered, and those who ask A/S/L get a quick education in nonbinary identification.

The next question is always some variation on, “Yes, but what were you born with?”

It shouldn’t matter in the slightest. It’s make-believe. Nothing I type really happens. Some, of course, are after webcam scenes but since I’m not, the answer to that is always “no”. It certainly doesn’t matter unless we’re actually going to have a scene, but to get a scene with me takes more than any of these people care to offer before they ask. And even then, it doesn’t really matter. Some guys assume I’m a cis woman and if we have a scene they’re utterly clueless that my cunt is imaginary (I suspect a lesbian might guess, but that hasn’t been an issue yet). I love being a virtual woman for online sex, and if someone, knowing my gender fluidity, asks me to be in a female headspace for their scene, I’m happy to join in with that role. Equally, if they ask me to be a crossdressed person or male, as long as they make me feel sexy, I’m willing.

The quickest way to rule out a scene is to insist on knowing my r/l genitalia.

It isn’t only in A/S/L terms that gender policing is rife. I am very happy that there should be “no men allowed” chatrooms for kinky lesbians to get it on for their own amusement. I am less happy that these tend to be trans-exclusionary in their ethos, or at least, they were when bondage.com was in its heyday, and the language they use on the collarme service looks similar (typically, trans* and non-binary folks get their own room, lumped in together). It doesn’t affect me directly, since I rarely identify as “woman” any more than I identify as “man”, always somewhere in the middle. So it’s not my fight. But it bothers me to see the same language and attitudes used in kink circles as by TERFs and their ilk.

I recently had the pleasure (read, “misfortune”) to go along with a developing scene with a guy who assumed I was a cis woman. Since I’m off-duty, I was keen to take what I wanted and not merely be his wank-fodder. He, on the other hand, seemed to equate “female” with “submissive”. Eventually, I revealed my plan to put my strap-on up his arse, to which he objected and then disappeared.

That kind of role-policing linked with gender is not frequent in interactions, but on the old IRC servers, and on the collarme service, room names and descriptions that equated femininity with submission were commonplace – and there are some still on collarme. The kinksterschat service has so far not gone along that route but the potential seems to be there. It is more often that clear delineation is spelled out between Doms and subs. Switching is either frowned upon, or relegated to specific rooms. On the collarme chat service, the custom of using “voice” as a marker for submissive role is so widespread that I feel nervous about attempting to adopt a sub role, since it seems likely that the change of role will be recorded across all channels, instead of allowing me to be sub for just one scene.

Heteronormativity rules: being bi, I am happy to play with men or women (guess who most often approaches…) but (again, linked to the genitals police) there seems to be a strong whiff of homophobia about the attitudes of many I encounter, and above all, no one (whether they ask A/S/L or just assume my gender) bothers to ask what my orientation is. If they assume, then it must be I am a het, cis woman (who wants them).

I hope that there are sex-positive, gender-liberated kinky webchat spaces out there. I haven’t found them yet, but maybe they exist and I can have tons of the best internet textual sex possible if/when I find them. In the meantime, I have to make do with what I can find.

At first, when I started having a few scenes, I worried that by giving it away for free like this, I was devaluing the service that I waant to earn money for. I’m putting the same effort and art into the scenes I do for free as I would for a paid scene. Why, then, would someone pay, if they can get it for free?

But then I thought, “Imagine I’m a full-service sexworker, who loves sex. Imagine I do not have a long-term relationship, and in fact, the sex I want on my day off is hot, filthy, no-strings fucking. Imagine I go to bars and pick up guys to get what I want. Imagine I use all the skills I have to get what I want from him and, though I like it when he’s happy too, his happiness is incidental to whether I am getting what I want. Am I then devaluing the service I sell?”

I reasoned that, no. A sexworker in any branch of sex work has the right to seek whatever kind of sex zie wants, when zie’s off-duty, for whatever reasons and with whomever zie chooses, and certainly does not devalue hirself, or hir services, by doing so. Hir clients are not going to get what they want for free, even if they happened to turn up at the same venues where the sexworker is looking for hir pleasure. At the bottom line, sex work is work providing a service, the client chooses what (within the limits set by the sexworker, and subject to the sexworker’s veto, of course) and for how long, and pays to have their desires fulfilled. Satisfying those desires may well be a satisfying or enjoyable experience, but it is not there to satisfy the desires of the sexworker, it’s done to satisfy the desires of hir bank balance. But when that sexworker goes seeking, zie sets the tone, zie knows what zie doesn’t do (or doesn’t get to do) when working, knows what zie wants to receive in exchange for hir participation in sexual activities. Zie isn’t going to go into a sexual encounter (of whatever sort) without expectations, and if it seems the other person isn’t willing to put in the effort to meet those expectations, then zie will have none of it. After all, you don’t give away for free what you normally charge for.

This, at least, is that attitude I take into these webchat venues these days. If you want to scene with me, you have to put in more, enough to make me feel like I’m getting my urges satisfied. If you want someone to feed you wank fodder – here’s AdultWork.com, buy a session from someone there (maybe me, most often a cis woman to match their fantasy).

There is an art to IM cybersex, and it’s closely related to writing in general. When all you have is the text on the screen, if you don’t describe it, it might as well be invisible. Obviously, the mantra, “show, don’t tell”, is useful here, although feedback (telling) is useful too. You need to use words to paint a picture for your partner, and I want them to paint me a picture in equally vivid detail so that I can add my next layer to it and vice versa. One sweet fellow managed to perform a striptease without saying anything. One moment his pants were on, the next he was naked! I expressed my displeasure and said, “watch and learn”. Yes, he go a freebie, but I had fun performing a sultry (and admittedly quite stereotypical) tease, detailing each move and finishing with “hands on my hips – ‘well?'” I recommended he buy services at AdultWork…

Some guys, with a little coaching, are able to get the hang of it. One or two get it straight away. A good cybersex partner, it seems, is hard to find. And as I said, if you aren’t able to give me that rich descriptive scene that I crave, then I won’t be staying.

The trouble with the “Submissive” role is that too often, that’s taken as permission not to put the effort in, not to be creative. Assuming it’s a male person trying to scene with me, it’s permission to resort to “pounding” his “throbbing member” a few times, with no greater imagination or description than that (tell me how it feels to you, tell me where your hands are, what they’re doing, describe your breathing, where your face is, what’s happening in your body… just describe stuff!) This is not acceptable. So I typically start to impose a more Dominant role, more intending to fuck than be fucked (which, let’s face it, is my natural inclination anyway). To be in-role as a female intending to use a male in her own way is very satisfying. It means I can demand more of what I want (description, as well as types of activity) and gain satisfaction that way.

Only one guy has won me over. He was accepting of my genderfluidity and proceeded to seduce me. I let him, and thus accepted a more submissive (small ‘s’) part in the scene. This was entirely down to (a) his acceptance of genderfluid without further questioning, and (b) his willingness to invest the descriptions that enabled me to picture myself in the role, and how he was wooing me.

You know what? Sure, if you’re willing to put in the work, equal to or greater, than I put in, to create an awesome hardcore BDSM torture & fuck cybersex scene with me, then yes: you can have that as a “freebie”. Show me your literary as well as sexual skill, give me something to read that will have me distracted for the rest of the day and night with the mental images it produced. That’s what I’m aiming for, whether you’re paying for it or not, every time, because I take pride in what I do and create, and I really want you, whether you’re a paying client or just some random person I met in a chatroom, to have an awesome time with me. So if you want it for free, you kind of owe me some effort. Right?