12 Days of Girly Juice 2017: 8 Classic Tweets

Once again this year, Twitter‘s been my favorite medium for jokes, puns, and short-form rants. It has its problems, certainly – like lacking a good system for dealing with harassment, and adding unasked-for features like extra characters when what people really want is an “edit” button – but I love my community there so I’m stayin’.

Here are 8 of my fave things I tweeted this year. Aww, memories.

This joke has everything. Chocolate. Allusions to spanking. One of my very favorite emojis. 10/10, would make again.

More times than I can count, I’ve heard friends and acquaintances say that diagrams of the internal clitoris “look like a Pokémon.” Most couldn’t specify which one they meant, but I knew it was clearly Lapras, so I made this handy shareable comparison…

Love a good sexual portmanteau. They’re so useful. (See also: cunstructive cliticism, cumblebrag, Peenex.)

The ethical misandry is so real.

Several people replied to say it would be ideal if you could say all three things on the same occasion. I look forward to the day when I can.

I tend to only play video games when I have very little going on in my life, so, y’know, this makes sense. (Also: two separate Pokémon references in one blog post?! Damn, I have outdone myself.)

When my then-boyfriend said this, I laughed so hard and for so long that I thought I was going to die of asphyxiation. He had such genuine confusion in his eyes when he said it. I love good-hearted kinksters so much.

One more portmanteau for the road. You’re welcome.

12 Days of Girly Juice 2017: 10 Perfect Sex Songs

Here are 10 songs that gave me sexxxy feelings in 2017… What were your faves this year? (Pro tip: you can listen to all 10 of these, plus all the songs I’ve profiled in previous years of 12 Days of Girly Juice, in my Spotify playlist!)

Shady Elders – The Night Air

I made a note way back in February to include this song in this list; I’ve loved it for that long. It’s a sultry, spacey unfolding of sound. I especially love jerking off to it when I’m stoned off my ass. Marijuana makes the slick beats and smooth vocals coalesce so it feels like someone is playing my vulva like a jazzy old Fender. I can’t listen to this without wanting to roll my hips, close my eyes, and sink into sin.

Betti – Ordinary

In the tradition of Amy Winehouse and Adele, Betti’s hearkening back to the ’60s with this mellow and melodramatic love song. And like many mid-century hits, this one describes a relationship that borders on toxic and abusive, but is painted as quixotically romantic. “We argue til midnight, and make love til daylight,” Betti sings; “Fold your clothes out the dryer; one wrong move, and I’ll light them on fire.” I’ve never been in a relationship this mercurial, and I’d like to keep it that way.

Sometimes I like to imagine this song is about a consensual D/s relationship – or a relationship between two kinksters so closeted, they don’t even realize the capricious game they’re playing is a function of their kinks. It makes me feel a little less conflicted about lyrics like, “We break up just so we can make up… We’re so perfectly fucked up, one step short of crazy.”

Hippo Campus – Boyish (Acoustic)

There’s no way I could omit Hippo Campus from this list. Their music isn’t “sexy,” per se, but it’s most of what I’ve listened to all year. This jazzy acoustic rendition of “Boyish” is the closest thing they have to an anthem of lust – and in classic Hippo Campus fashion, it’s difficult to entirely parse what the song is trying to express. But it sounds sexy, anyway.

There are lyrical elements that remind me of various kink scenarios: “Daddy’s coming home but mama’s looking guilty,” for example, or “Wolf-child’s heavy with the weight of the world, storing all his love in an adolescent girl.” Then there are lines that allude to the tropes of toxic masculinity, like, “I never really knew if I did something wrong; all I ever heard was it wasn’t my fault.” I can never quite decide if I think this song is about a complicated, conflicted man, or a literal werewolf, or the latter as a metaphor for the former. In any case, this version is beautiful. (And I have a hell of a crush on Hippo Campus’ graceful, goofy guitarist, Nathan Stocker. Hnnng.)

Sleeping At Last – Venus

This is a song about finally finding a planet you’ve been sleuthing out in your telescope for ages, but it seems intentionally written like a love song. It’s a metaphor for that moment when you spot someone from across a room and instantly realize they’re going to matter to you. “After a while, I thought I’d never find you; I convinced myself that I would never find you… and suddenly I saw you,” Sleeping At Last mastermind Ryan O’Neal murmurs romantically as the first verse resolves. I’ve listened to this song dozens of times and it gives me chills every. fucking. time because I know that feeling so damn well.

“Venus” reminds me, too, of the electric exploration of a new partner’s body the first time you get them naked: the constellations of freckles and hairs, the sparks of sensation when you discover an erogenous zone, the effervescent present moment that extinguishes all external distractions. You are entirely focused on this beautiful person’s beautiful body – like you’ve got a telescope trained on them and nothing else fucking matters.

Oliver Nelson – Stolen Moments

This track was the theme song for a late-night show I used to listen to on a local jazz radio station when I was in high school. When insomnia loomed over me, and I felt too scared or sad to lie in the dark by my lonesome, I would turn the radio on – and there would always be someone at the station, growling in a rough baritone between meticulously-chosen jazz tracks. This was one of my faves, and still is.

Fucking to jazz feels inherently classy, like you’re doing it under a streetlight’s smoky beams in a gritty 1970s movie. Jazz is also a safer choice than some others on this list (see: Nick Jonas) if you’re wary of sexual partners judging you for your taste. I can’t imagine anyone complaining if you wanted to fuck to this sultry, stunning tune – and if they did, surely you wouldn’t want to fuck them anyway.

DVSN – Sept. 5th

I had a boyfriend this year who told me he wished every band sounded like DVSN. He used to blast their music while we had sex (along with Alina Baraz; see below) so I deeply associate their pulsating R&B jams with deliciously slow-paced kink trysts in a basement apartment that smelled of sandalwood and marijuana.

“I could make it better, if I could have sex with you,” the singer of this track warbles in the chorus. This notion resonates with me. Sometimes sex is like medicine. But medicine that goes down smooth.

Paul Cook & the Chronicles – Ships Pass

Has there ever been a sadder song about one-night stands? I’m no expert, but I don’t think so. This one hits the nail on the head, perfectly capturing that empty feeling that follows an ill-advised hookup with a stranger when what you really want is something more substantial. “It’s cold outside your window, but warm between your thighs,” Paul Cook croons. “We both know what’s happening, but we leave it aside.”

I spent a lot of time this year contemplating what kinds of sex I want to have, and why. I’ve come to the conclusion, again and again, that one-off hookups are not my heart’s desire or my genitals’ jam. For me, they’re like throwing back a few McDonald’s fries when you’re aching for a steak and a heap of roasted veggies. But sometimes you’re starving and there is nothing else available, and that is both dissatisfying and sad. “I will find someone who stays with me all night… Yeah, I will find somebody just right,” Cook promises himself, but it rings hollow. You never know how long it’ll be until the next special person crests over the horizon of your life.

Nick Jonas – Teacher

This year I went to a Body Pride workshop, at the end of which we were encouraged to choose a song that made us feel sexy and dance around doing a naked photoshoot. This is the song I picked. It’s impossibly slick and sexy, overflowing with funk, like a modern-day “Short Skirt, Long Jacket.” If you listen to this while you walk down the street, you will end up strutting like a supermodel. There’s no way around it.

As you might infer from the title of the song, “Teacher” also pings a lot of my subby kinks. With lyrics like “It’s like your mama never taught you how to love – so let me teach you” and “This game we’re playing makes me wanna break the rules,” my boy Nick fuels the fire of my staunch belief that he’s a big ol’ kinkster. You can pry my Daddy Dom Nick Jonas headcanons from my cold, dead, submissive-babygirl hands.

Dirty Projects – Little Bubble

This song does things to my vagina. I don’t know what else to tell ya.

Alina Baraz – Buzzin’

I’ve put a song of Alina’s on this list every year this list has existed. What can I say: girl knows how to make a sexy track. I don’t have much to say about this one except that I can’t listen to it without wanting to make out with someone, grind against a cute person’s thigh while they press against me, and/or party down on a great vibe. Alina nailed it again.

What sexy music did you love this year?

3 Times Working Sex Toy Retail Made Me Feel All Warm and Fuzzy

It’s a commonly-spouted truism that working retail sucks, and I can’t argue with that. But some types of retail establishment suck less than others. As far as retail goes, if I get a choice, I’ll choose sex toy retail every time.

Sex shops are truly a weird universe unto themselves. You’re expected not only to sell customers the perfect products for their needs, but also to give them makeshift therapy of sorts. Folks come in not only with questions but with heart-rending monologues, long and storied histories, and years of baggage to pick apart. I would wager sex toy retail requires more emotional labor than practically any other category of retail.

But with great investments come great rewards, and I have indeed found sex toy retail to be some of the most fulfilling service-industry work I’ve done. I’ve often come away feeling like I’ve genuinely helped people and made their lives brighter.

On top of all that, I’ve had some of the raddest coworkers ever while working in sex shops. As you might imagine, these establishments are hubs for cool, offbeat, open-minded people. I’ve made some connections that are very dear to me in those environments.

Here are three of my favorite stories from working sex toy retail…

1. A young, straight-seeming couple came into the shop once, looking for a realistic dildo. I helped them choose one to fit their specifications: a particular shape and size they wanted, and a color that matched the guy’s skin tone. I didn’t think much of it – maybe he was having erectile issues, I thought, or couldn’t last as long as his partner wanted, or maybe they both just thought it would be hot to incorporate a dildo into sex. It didn’t seem relevant for me to know the details, so I didn’t ask.

It wasn’t until they inquired about harnesses that I began to suspect the guy might be trans, but I wasn’t sure, and again, it didn’t really matter for my purposes. I led him to the fitting rooms to try on a couple different harnesses, and his girlfriend waited outside the door to provide opinions as needed.

Leaving them to it, I wandered off to help another customer. But a few minutes later, as this couple walked toward the cash register with harness and dildo in hand, they caught my eye and approached me. “I just wanted to say thank you for being so helpful,” the guy said. “Some shops make me feel really awkward about being trans, and I didn’t feel that here.”

I immediately burst into tears, because I’m a sap. I’ve had multiple close trans and nonbinary friends over the years and it’s always so infuriating when they get misgendered and/or mistreated in public (or at all); it makes me want to punch people in their throats, which, y’know, isn’t exactly socially sanctioned. “That makes me so happy,” I gasped. “Thank you.” I hoped my manager couldn’t see me openly weeping on the sales floor, but ultimately I didn’t really care. The couple bought their stuff and left, and it was all I could do to compose myself for another few hours on the clock.

2. Another straight-seeming couple came into the store, all shifty and giggly. She beelined for the back, where one of my coworkers started helping her out. He, meanwhile, came to me.

“Me and my girlfriend are each shopping for something to surprise the other with,” he explained. “Oh, cute!” I chirped, and asked him for more details about his lady’s toy preferences. #RelationshipGoals, I thought.

In the end, we arrived at two possible options. She’d mentioned wanting to try a clit pump, but she also liked clitoral vibration, so he was torn between a pump and a strong bullet vibe I’d recommended. Offhandedly, he disclosed, “She already has a Magic Wand, and she loves it.”

My eyes went wide. “Oh, if she’s got a Magic Wand already, she probably doesn’t need this,” I told him, tapping the bullet. “Go with the clit pump. That’s gonna be a totally new sensation for her.”

At that moment, his girlfriend came striding toward us, and we both instinctively ducked, hiding the toys before she saw. “Shit,” he said, and we giggled.

“Also,” I whispered conspiratorially, “if you put the clit pump on her and hold the Magic Wand on it, the pump will vibrate, which feels really cool.”

He grinned. “Sold.” I watched them purchase their selections, backs to each other – “No peeking!” – and walk out arm-in-arm holding their plastic shopping bags. I hoped she would like the pump, and I wondered what she’d picked out for him.

3. I was blessed enough, at one point, to have coworkers who would consensually flog me with various products from the shop on slow nights. It certainly livened things up.

Once, I saw my tallest, buffest, domliest coworker perusing the impact play section of the store. I was bent over the glass dildo display case at the time, my chin cupped in one hand in a gesture of repose that said, Why the fuck aren’t there any customers tonight?! I watched coolly as Domly-Dom Coworker picked up the heaviest flogger we carried and weighed it in his big, broad hands.

He happened to glance my way. Wordlessly, I bent slightly further over the display case in a mildly suggestive pose. Wordlessly, he quirked an eyebrow at me and gestured with the flogger. Wordlessly, I nodded. Wordlessly, he strode over to me and cocked the flogger in both hands. I nodded again. He brought the falls down with a satisfying crack. I squealed. He smirked. We went back to work.

He and other coworkers took to hitting me with other things on occasion. A sex-ed hardcover in a dust jacket (“This one’s real thick; it should be good”). A heavy clotheshanger from the lingerie section (“I’m not sure this is strictly safe”). A giant PVC dildo the length of an arm (“This probably isn’t what people mean when they say they ‘play with double ended dildos‘”).

One day, a couple came in and inquired about the studded rubber paddle we carried. “Oh, it’s actually really cool!” I enthused. “Look, my manager just hit me with it a few hours ago and I still have these red marks on my arm! See?!” They were not as excited as I was, and did not buy that paddle. Oh well. Their loss.

 

This post was graciously sponsored by the folks at DearLady (who also supplied all the product photos in this post)! As always, all writing and opinions are my own.

On Taking Men’s Money

Wednesday night, I get on a Skype call with a man who’s paid me for my time tonight. A few minutes in, he confesses, “I looked at your tweets earlier to see what kind of mood you were in, and I saw you’re not too pleased with men today, so I was worried.”

I laugh out loud. “Oh, no. Those tweets were about men who weren’t paying me to put up with them. That’s completely different,” I tell him, and I mean it.

See, the thing is, cis men are frequently exhausting. They’re not socialized to notice and take care of others’ feelings in the way that folks raised as women are, and what results is – not in all men, but in most of them, from my experience – a habitual trampling on others’ emotional boundaries, talking too much and not listening enough, prioritizing their own opinions and experiences over others’, and lacking appropriate empathy for others’ struggles. These qualities often exist even in men I would otherwise consider good people, so even my deep, fond friendships with cis men usually take more out of me than my connections to women, femmes, and anyone who was raised as female.

There’s been a lot of discourse around “emotional labor” these past few years, and it’s well-known that men tend to demand more of it and be comparatively unskilled at providing it in return. I’ve seen this over and over again: on Tinder dates with dudes who monologued at me about their career ambitions without asking me one thing about myself; in long conversations with male friends who unpacked their latest romantic drama until providing support exhausted me so much that I had to leave early; even while fielding endless questions from male customers while working retail (who usually didn’t end up buying anything, mind you). I’m sometimes willing to put in this type of work – that’s what intimate connections require, after all – but only for certain people, only some of the time, and ideally in exchange for something in return.

That “something in return” might be reciprocal friendship and support. It might be a favor done for me, like bringing me coffee, helping me with web design, or (in the case of some of my tiresome Tinder dates and loquacious FWBs) giving me a killer orgasm. Or it might be money. And that’s fine.

In her essay “The Monetized Man,” culture writer Alana Massey explains that she’s titled her checking account “Male Tears” because so much of her income comes from writing about “how the unrestrained, unaccountable emotional lives of men wreak havoc on women.” In a similar spirit, I have never really felt guilty about accepting money from men, because I regard it as reparations of a sort. They still earn substantially more than women and are taken more seriously in professional environments. Why shouldn’t I accept money from the men who want to give it to me, as a way of levelling the playing field so my life more closely resembles what it would look like in a gender-egalitarian world? (This is also why you should give your money to people of color, queers and trans folks, disabled folks, and other marginalized people when and if you can.)

Every day, I receive at least a handful of DMs on Twitter and Instagram from men I don’t know. Most of them lack any creativity or charm whatsoever: “Hey,” they might say, or, “Hi sexy lady.” On a tip from my friend Bex, I’ve started replying to these messages thusly: “What can I help you with?”

This immediately sets a tone for our conversation. I am not willing to idly small-talk with random men, especially those who lack even the basic courtesy to introduce themselves or explain why they are messaging me. What with my blog, podcast, freelance writing, and two “dayjobs,” plus a social life, I literally do not have the time to engage in the banal banter these men are hoping for – unless they pay me.

Sometimes – not often, but sometimes – these interactions parlay into an actual financial transaction. They might buy nudes, a cam show, or a few minutes of sexting. Some of these guys have even become regular customers of mine, paying for my media or services every few weeks. The “sex work” column of my finance spreadsheet makes up 7% of my total income this year: not a lot, but nothing to sneeze at, certainly.

What’s better, still, is the men who reach out to me already knowing full well that money will be exchanged if we are to interact. These classy customers do not attempt to haggle my prices down, wrangle free nudes out of me, or waste my time with endless chatter; they just want my PayPal address and a list of upcoming evenings when I might be available to chat. Bless their hearts.

When I publicly express my opinion that Random Men of the Internet should pay me if they want to interact with me, I’m often met with accusations that I make men pay for everything in my life and that I’m a spoiled, entitled princess. While I am definitely a princess, the rest of it is false: I always insist on paying my fair share on dates, I’m not conventionally attractive enough to get offered free drinks at bars the way some women do, and at this point my living expenses are all covered by money I earn by working for it.

I don’t believe these men should pay me just because I exist and I’m great (although I am), but because what they are asking me for is labor and labor deserves payment. Titillating random men, supporting them emotionally, entertaining them – these forms of emotional labor are skilled, valuable labor, worthy of compensation.

A Casual Love Letter to My Casual Lovers

I don’t love you, I’m certainly not in love with you, but we approach our time together with fondness, care, and – yes – love.

When I ask you to touch me a certain way, you do it – which is no small thing. When I want you to touch me a certain way, I feel comfortable asking for it – which is no small thing.

When someone else breaks my heart, it isn’t your responsibility to put it back together. But sometimes you do, a little bit. Maybe without even knowing that’s what you’re doing. Sometimes your touch heals me and it’s always a surprise, because it’s never something I expect to want or expect to get.

When my body feels broken and ugly and wrong, you remind me that it isn’t. You play me like a xylophone until we both can hear my nerve endings sing. I feel whole and gorgeous under your hands.

Beaten down by love’s little twists, I sink into the fiction that maybe no one will ever want me again and maybe I’ll deserve that. You break the spell and show me what I always know is the real truth: that I am wanted and wantable, loved and loveable.

You are both training ground and sacred soil. I try out new tricks without shame because the stakes are low and the payoff is high. I find my footing in your company. When I fuck up, you laugh, but with mirth and not malice.

Without the tangles of dashed hopes and unmet expectations hanging like cobwebs, I’m free to enjoy pleasure without heartache. I pull you closer without fearing I’ll scare you away. I hold on tight while we’re together, softening my heart and soaking you up, and when we’re apart I let you go. No effort, no struggle. It’s practically Zen.

For days or weeks, we forget each other, wrapped up in our respective adventures. And then a text or two. “I saw something that reminded me of you…” “Remember that time when we…” “I hope to see you again soon.”

You’re like a lucid dream within my waking world. A quiet burst of glee untethered to anything else I know. We show up, make each other laugh, make each other come, and part ways. An equable bargain, a cloudless reverie.

On the streetcar ride home from the sex club, I sit all chlorine-damp and fuck-drunk, smiling like the luckiest girl in the world. Because every time I see you, I am.