Links & Hijinks: Boners, Biting, & Rolled-Up Sleeves

• Hey. You can find meaning without monogamy. “People will accept or reject you for reasons that have nothing to do with you at all,” writes Alana Hope Levinson. “I know that sounds depressing, but it can also be liberating.”

• It’s okay if you don’t like making out! You just have to find partners who feel similarly, or are willing to compromise on this issue.

• This post is from 2013 but I only just discovered it: Sinclair Sexsmith shared tons of helpful info about biting during sex.

• Here’s the only article about Rachel Dolezal worth reading.

• My friend Caitlin wrote about her experiences with mindful masturbation and made me want to do some too!

Why do some people fake their orgasms?

• “A woman’s orgasm shouldn’t be the goal of sex,” argues Jessica Schreindl, because defining orgasm as a goal makes sex into a high-pressure, patriarchal performance for everyone involved. I agree that orgasm shouldn’t be demanded or pushed for, if the person or people involved don’t want to have one – but for me personally, orgasm is an important part of sex and I very much appreciate partners who’ll give me one when I want one!

• This article about piss play is beautifully written. I adore Katie Sly’s work!

• “I want you to consider the possibility that the more chill you seem to guys, the less likely you are to find a guy who loves you for exactly who you are right now,” suggests Heather Havrilesky in an Ask Polly column that tugged at my utterly un-chill heartstrings.

• You can help relieve a partner’s PMS symptoms by talking to them and being supportive.

• Here’s the always-charming John McDermott talking about why dating-related slang like “ghosting” and “cushioning” normalizes bad behavior. I’m not sure how I feel about his argument – I think it’s useful to name behaviors like this so we can identify them, call people out on them, and explain why they’re unacceptable – but it’s nonetheless an interesting thought experiment in how language shapes our actions.

• Katie Tandy wrote a stunning piece about using kink to heal from trauma and it made me cry a whole bunch.

• The ever-clever Alana Massey on One Direction, non-toxic masculinity, and why teen girls love boy bands as deeply as they do. “When you’re part of a fandom, you’re never really alone if you don’t want to be,” she writes, reminding me of so so so many life-affirming experiences I have had in the throes of various obsessions with bands, movies, TV shows, musicals, books, and actors.

Should boners be frowned on at nudist colonies?

• Yo, Planned Parenthood isn’t just for women. I am tired of the anti-feminist rhetoric which says any effort that only benefits women isn’t worth undertaking (women are people! women are valuable! women are a huge percentage of the population!) but it is nonetheless worth noting that Planned Parenthood helps a broad range of people.

• There are still people using Craigslist to find sexual partners, apparently.

Forearms are hot and therefore rolled-up sleeves are hot. (I have been saying this for years!)

• My friend Tynan wrote about how sex doesn’t have to be a priority in your relationship, so long as your priorities line up with your partner’s.

• Fuck “stealthing.” WHY ARE (some) MEN LIKE THIS??

Science misunderstands female desire and this contributes to our cultural idea that women are less libidinous than men. The truth is much more complicated! (In summation: “Women like having sex. They don’t like being socially punished for it.”)

• Suzannah Weiss went to a nudist resort and it helped her learn better boundary-setting skills. Amaze!

• Consensual non-monogamy has its own unique benefits that you can’t get to the same degree from monogamous relationships. Interesting!

• Here’s why some straight men have sex with other straight men.

• Alana Massey wrote about consumerism as a coping mechanism in the era of Trump. Yikes.

• “I’m sitting covered in cum on Christmas Eve in my mom’s basement with a wire hanging out of my ass; I’m a pervert.” Gotta love a good story of masturbation gone awry.

• I love writing that combines sex, gender, and fashion! Here’s a piece on the iconic imagery of a woman wearing a man’s dress shirt after sex.

• Here’s a primer on tentacle porn, incase you were wondering.

The history of artificial insemination is a long and storied one.

• Why do men like to have sex with the lights on? Gosh, I have such a crush on John McDermott: “I’ve done it in all grades of lighting… Blazing morning sun, a pitch-black cave, beneath the soft glow of a streetlamp…” (Incidentally, one time I was making out pre-sex with a Tinder hookup while my bedroom’s overhead light was on, and he said, “Is there a lamp you could turn on instead? It feels like a hospital in here.” Thanks, pal.)

Can a robot be a pickup artist?

• Gala wrote about why her divorce was a blessing. I’ve never been married but this reminded me lots of the final ~4 months of my last serious relationship: the crushing certainty that I needed to end things, but the absolute terror every time I contemplated doing so. In retrospect, I wish I’d bucked up and done it earlier!

• Let’s replace the dick pic with the dick code. (There’s also a vulva code. Here’s mine.)

Links & Hijinks: Tinder Troubles & Fisting Femmes

• I love this comic about how toxic masculinity fucks up your sex life. “Sex is not something you do to somebody, it’s something you do with somebody.” Amen!

• This article is about femme fisting covens and you don’t need any other reason why you should run-don’t-walk to read it.

• Apparently T-rexes may have engaged in foreplay. This article says that the T-rex was therefore “a sensitive lover,” but I don’t think prioritizing foreplay is necessarily something you do only for your partner’s sake: it makes sex better for you, too!

• After the above article came out, Tracy Moore wrote about how to fuck like a T-rex. Amazing.

• This article about bionic penises is fascinating. C. Brian Smith is one of my favorite sex journalists, and he shows why here: he went above and beyond reporting on the scientific/mechanical story of penis reconstruction and found, in addition, some conflict between his two main subjects (apparently they hate each other). What a story!

• Here’s an interesting article on why rapists rape, and how our cultural ideas about rapists’ motivations have shifted over time.

• Consistently good sex with a partner takes consistent work, practice, and conflict resolution, according to a new study. So next time you have bad sex with a new partner, don’t think of it as proof you’re not meant to be with them – maybe view it as an opportunity for growth and improvement instead!

• I found it cathartic to read women’s responses to straight-dude Tinder clichés. God, why are most straight men on dating apps so dreadfully boring?!

Is Tinder the new meet-cute?

• And while we’re talking about Tinder… Here’s why people are getting bored of it and what might come next.

• Okay, one more Tinder thing… I loved this essay about dating-app fatigue, particularly this revelation: “Just knowing that the apps exist, even if you don’t use them, creates the sense that there’s an ocean of easily-accessible singles that you can dip a ladle into whenever you want… the apps’ actual function is less important than what they signify as a totem: A pocket full of maybe that you can carry around to ward off despair.” YUUUP.

• A very sweet and smart reader of mine wrote this response to my post about the orgasm gap. It explores these issues from a (cis-het) male perspective: the frustration of not being able to get a female partner off, and some ways to center female pleasure without being overly pressure-y or goal-oriented. I wish more men had this attitude!

• The great Alana Massey wrote about how the internet never forgets anything. Here she is, mirroring my own childhood back at me: “A born adventurer and a blossoming pervert, I regularly pretended that I was a hot and bothered 19-year-old, and lured men away from group chat rooms to private chats where my digital captive and I would proceed to have cyber sex…”

• On porn sites and encryption. I’m not as savvy as I would like to be about this kind of stuff, so this article was illuminating for me.

• Many people have written about why you should watch porn with your partner; here’s the case for why you shouldn’t. This made me think long and hard (har har) about my own porn preferences and how a partner might interpret them.

• I know why men announce when they’re about to come, but this article on it was an amusing read nonetheless. “So we agree this is a very useful behavior in men and women, gay and straight. Cumming must be announced, and should be announced. Declared, even.”

• Two of my current favorite writers, Helena Fitzgerald and Alana Hope Levinson, both wrote about the “boyfriend shirt” and why we love/want/crave ’em. (I am guilty of this. And admittedly not just with boyfriends.)

Catcalling and sexual harassment are normalized in our culture and nobody knows how to “properly” react to them. Ugh. Fuck the patriarchy!

• Nicole Cliffe wrote fanfiction about what life would be like if Benedict Cumberbatch was her lover, and it’s divinely funny. “I had decided to play Irene Adler, of course.” “Such a brave choice, considering you are not particularly attractive, and have never acted nor shown any aptitude for it.”

• Ever wonder how the concept of a fetish came into being? Here’s a psychological history of the fetish. Particularly interesting to me: sexually progressive physician Havelock Ellis was apparently an impotent virgin until the age of 60, when he saw a woman peeing and realized he had urolagnia (a urine fetish). Brains are so cool!

What should you do with a condom after sex? “You can also tie the condom off before tossing it to work on your career as a balloon animal artist,” Tracy Moore reports. (God, I love her.)

• The science is in: what makes a relationship last is good talkin’ and good fuckin’. This does not surprise me, but it sure is affirming!

• Timely: last month I got fucked with a penis extender and this month there’s an article on MEL about them. I, for one, always celebrate there being more options in the “toys for penises” category. I can also vouch for the fact that you don’t have to be insecure or have a small penis to derive some enjoyment from using these; the partner of mine who wanted to try an extender with me is quite well-endowed as is, and just wanted to explore a fantasy and try something new. Yay, sexual freedom!

Links & Hijinks: Blowjobs, Dopamine, & Carmen Miranda

• Girl on the Net wrote about rediscovering the real joy of sex after stressing yourself out thinking that sex “should” be joyful. I love pieces like this which acknowledge the sometimes unglamorous realities of sex, which many people feel broken for experiencing.

• Here’s some men talking about their sex toys. There’s lots to like about this article, but I particularly lost my shit over this line: “Men can orgasm at the drop of a hat, generally speaking (at least if it’s a particularly sexy hat — I’m thinking a Carmen Miranda fruit hat, that big wide-brimmed one Beyonce wears in the Formation video, one of those ones that has a beer can on either side).”

• Is mocking a man’s small dick on par with the body-shaming experienced by women? To me, the answer is “obviously yes,” but this article is still worth a read, if just for the absurd story therein about two Instagram models whose post-breakup drama played out online in the form of passive-aggressive dick snipes.

• “I can’t stop thinking about penetration” is one of the best opening sentences I’ve read in a while. Here, the Establishment’s Katie Tandy writes beautifully about penis envy and power dynamics.

• The great Alana Hope Levinson’s thoughts on “the cuckboi” made me shriek with laughter. “The cuckboi understands that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, unless you’re eating pussy.” TOO GOOD.

• On the loquacious raving and “intrusive thinking” that happens when you have a new crush: “When the object of your desire isn’t around, and therefore you lack that dopamine rush in your brain, you might feel like you’re in withdrawal. So, you may try to achieve small dopamine rushes from talking about your crush to your friends.” Gawd, I am so guilty of this. Sorry, friends.

• My bestie wrote about why they love blowjobs*sigh* Why am I not blowing anyone right now?! (Well… this post was prewritten and queued up in advance, so I guess it’s possible I am blowing someone right now, as you read this. Who can say?)

• Bex also wrote about sex ed, sex-positivity, and meeting people where they’re at. I love this. I’ve only been working in sex toy retail for two months but I already feel like I’ve learned so much about these concepts from working on the “front lines.”

• This piece on anxiety and productivity is haunting and important. Read this if the current state of the world makes you anxious and so do thoughts of resisting, standing up for what matters, making change.

Trans kink porn is important! God, this article reeeeeally made me want to watch The Training of Poe…

• Depression may actually have a positive evolutionary purpose. Certainly puts things in perspective! “This framing of depression as a space for reflection is empowering, and lends a degree of agency to the person being pressed down,” Drake Baer writes. “Like anxiety, depression might be trying to tell you something.”

• A “boyfriend dick” is the kind of dick you could see yourself settling down with. I must say, though, I prefer the more gender-inclusive phrase “good dick,” which really says it all! (Incase it wasn’t obvious: the concept of a “good dick” is very subjective. Please don’t worry about whether your dick is good or not. If you keep it clean and use it respectfully, there are lots of people who would consider it a “good dick,” I promise.)

• What happens when best friends control each other’s vibrators?! (I think me and Bex should try this sometime.)

• Maybe we need to reject body-positivity and embrace body-neutrality. I love this idea! “Neutrality is the freedom to go about your day without such a strong focus on your body,” says one of the people quoted in this article.

• JoEllen wrote some spot-on guidelines for having good, ethical casual sex.

• This piece about Trump and BDSM argues that consent education, and the communication skills one can learn through practicing kink, are more critical than ever in our current political climate. Interesting stuff.

• I loved this short piece about pain, mindfulness, and transcendence. It spins a whole world out of a few moments of intense (consensual) pain, which is indeed what those experiences feel like to me sometimes.

Links & Hijinks: Sex Robots, Moneyshots, & Bart Simpson

a chair, a table, and a latte

Me: “Why did I start doing link round-up posts again?! I don’t even read that much!”

Also me: *reads a ZILLION articles, wants to share and talk about ALL OF THEM*

The Establishment posts so much good stuff – although I will say, I am extremely biased, because they’ve published my writing on multiple occasions! I just discovered this old piece on there called Online Dating in 7 Vignettes which gave me so much poignant food for thought. It’s one of the more thoroughly philosophical pieces I’ve ever read about dating.

• Soon, sex robots will have personalities. Hilariously, one of the 12 personality traits you can choose from is “sexual,” which makes me wonder about the kind of person who would buy a sex robot and not want her to be sexual. The always-whipsmart Tracy Moore writes: “I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure ‘sexual’ counted as a personality type in a woman, so I asked the man standing nearest to me in the MEL offices if men think it is, and he said ‘Sexual?’ and thought about it for a second. ‘Yeah,’ he said. ‘Horny.'”

• Social psychology is fascinating. Here are some science-tested tips on making friends faster. The “misattribution of arousal” is one of my favorite social-psych phenomena; one day I’ll write a post about it…

Don’t say “but” when you apologize to someone. It undermines the sincerity of what you’re trying to say. Cari Romm reports, “According to one 2014 study on the subject, a well-executed apology requires the offender to make it clear that they understand what they did wrong, take full responsibility, offer a plan to fix things, and promise to improve in the future.” So simple and yet sometimes so difficult!

• Some sex-magic practitioners weighed in on how to cast spells with your orgasms. (Years ago, I wrote a piece about this for the Numinous, if you’re interested. It is some truly crunchy/hippie/witchy stuff; you have been warned!)

• An old friend of mine started a sex blog recently and she’s been writing some fabulous, smart pieces. Her and her boyfriend tried a bunch of wacky sex positions; the ensuing post makes me want to work on my sexual acrobatics!

• The evolution of porn tropes is so interesting to me. Here’s an oral history of the moneyshot. Personally, I’m not really a fan; it turns me on most in porn when a dude’s orgasm happens inside his partner’s mouth or other various orifices, not on their face. The palette of human sexual desire is so wide and diverse!

• Ever wondered why “shrinkage” happens?

• Here’s a piece on people whose kink is giving and/or getting tattoos. I thought about this a lot while getting my kinky thigh tattoos last year. I don’t think I could ever get a tattoo that was mentally tied to a specific partner; I’ve never liked anyone enough to want to be with them for-literally-ever! But maybe someday I will…

• S. Bear Bergman has been one of my favorite writers for many years, and after the 2016 U.S. election, he wrote an advice column answering the question, “What do we do now?” He touches on political action, self-care, and countering social isolation in tough times, and he calls Trump “Pumpkin Spice Mussolini.” It’s a much-needed half-laughing pep talk for this weird and worrisome era we’re in.

• The ever-articulate Andrew Gurza wrote about his recent experiences with disability and masturbation. I admire Drew’s candidness and thoughtfulness so much!

• This article is old but I only just discovered it: a Playboy reporter interviewed the founder of the Orgasmic Meditation movement about how she gives blowjobs for her own pleasure. I am always wary of narratives which frame blowjobs as an endeavor of empowered women (including when I myself write that kind of narrative!) because they feel dangerously close to patriarchal tropes repackaged as female empowerment. But if Joanna Van Vleck genuinely gets direct pleasure from giving head (a feeling I know well), I say, more power to her.

• Here’s two of my favorite women writers in conversation: Tina Horn interviewed Alana Massey about the latter’s new book, as well as sex work, internalized misogyny, and gold glitter.

• C. Brian Smith – one of my fave writers over at MEL – hired a masturbation coach for an afternoon and wrote about his experience.

• More excellent pieces from MEL this month: why “performing partnership” on social media complicates relationships, the potential queerness of Bart Simpson, how men feel about hookup culture, saving exes’ nudes after a break-up, and saving exes’ Clone-a-Willy dicks after a break-up.

• Queer tarot wiz Carly wrote a column about how to date/flirt/socialize if you’re shy. So much useful and affirming stuff in here!

What did you love reading on the internet this month?

Links & Hijinks: Selfies, Scents, & a Bag of Dicks

a dildo, a vibrator, and some red panties

Need some new media with which to populate your brain this weekend? Here’s some of my favorite stuff from around the internet as of late…

• I love to read about interesting kinks. Here’s a piece on a man with a smoking fetish and what appeal the act holds for him. “I’m also into specific rituals and mannerisms. For instance, I love when a woman is dangling a cigarette from her mouth while fishing through her purse for a lighter,” he says. “I love lighting women’s cigarettes, too; it’s an intimate moment that’s all about eye contact.” (My friend Caitlin also likes this moment.)

• The folks at xoVain wrote about how they take selfies and it’s fascinating (plus useful info for rabid selfie-takers comme moi).

• If you’re looking to shake up your music collection, I can’t recommend Said the Gramophone’s annual Best Songs of the Year list highly enough. Sean writes beautifully about each and every song on his list. I’ve already discovered a few new gems to obsess over.

• My friend Sarah wrote about the unpaid work sex bloggers are asked to do, although pretty much all creative types are asked to work for free all the damn time. “Paying people for their labor shouldn’t have to be a revolutionary thing,” she writes. “If you think bloggers’ work is good enough for you to want to partner with us, pay us. It’s truly that simple.” Yes girl yes!

• Even if you’re not all that interested in perfume, you might enjoy The Dry Down, a perfume-focused newsletter written by Rachel Syme and Helena Fitzgerald. The one sent in early January was a beautifully written treatise on how perfume interacts with gender and economic privilege, and what perfume can be when it’s not about “inaccessible, monied femininity.” Fragrances, Helena writes, are “a way to invite both other people and yourself to play, to explore whatever gender or expression thereof interests you, whatever memories you want to crawl into the warm burrow of and sleep pressed against through the winter, whatever dormant stories you want to unlock from your own closed archives.”

• Caitlin wrote about the difference between a vulva and a vagina. Messing up this distinction is the quickest way to piss off a sex blogger, FYI…

• After reading my piece about feeling addicted to love, a friend sent me this article about “the shadow side of alternative sexuality,” and how kink and polyamory can “[paint you] into a corner of identity politics that nobody will be able to rescue you from because it feels too much like sex-shaming.” It’s heavy stuff, and I don’t think it’s a perfect match with my own experiences by any means, but it’s definitely some food for thought.

Brandon Taylor – who is fantastic – wrote a Twitter thread about lessons he’s learned. Some faves of mine:  “47. If you want to suck a dick, then suck one. Don’t take your sexual frustration and confusion out on others with oppressive legislation.” ✨”52. There is no making it. There is no line. There is no point at which you’ve achieved all your goals. Always be scheming and dreaming.”✨ “27. Gay men, LOL. Yikes.”

• This piece about the origins of the phrase “eat a bag of dicks” made me cry with laughter. “They say necessity is the mother of invention; at some point, it’s obvious that we as a society simply realized that telling someone to suck or eat one dick was no longer an adequate insult,” Tracy Moore writes. “We needed to go bigger.”

• Shon Faye’s “guide to everything you need to know about your twenties” is so, so good. Read it.

• “I have a depression and I always will,” writes my pal Sarah in this poignant, painful, but ultimately hopeful blog post.

• I’ve been swoonin’ over this Paul Cook song, “A Real Thunderbolt.” It’s such a lovely crystallization of what it feels like to be suddenly, profoundly attracted to someone. 🎵Someone who makes your heart jolt. Not some “okay” girl. A real thunderbolt.🎵

Queer femmes’ online communities are super important, flying in the face of misogyny (both the sociocultural and internalized kinds), homophobia, femmephobia, and millennial-shaming. “Having queer femme friendships is essential. It’s non-negotiable,” says one interviewee in this article, and I am wont to agree.

• This poem on “how to make love to a trans person” is gorgeous.

What were your favorite things you read/wrote/listened to this month?