Links & Hijinks: Nudes, Hooters, & Wet Dreams

• The ever-wonderful Alana Massey wrote an etiquette guide to receiving nudes and it should be required reading for sexters the world over.

• Melissa Broder wonders: why are we still having sex? “Many times, following a mediocre sexual experience with a partner, I’ve thought, Why didn’t I just stay home, masturbate, and eat snacks?

• Some accomplished journalists reveal the best reporting advice they ever received.

• OkCupid banned a white supremacist. Nice.

• Suzannah Weiss tried the new Satisfyer and isn’t sure she wants the plentiful, intense orgasms it gives her.

• Taylor has some suggestions for impact play implements you can get at the dollar store. (I love pervertibles! One of my all-time fave impact toys is a thick wooden cutting board I bought at a fancy culinary shop in Rome.)

• Important reminder: safer sex is more than just condoms!

• On Lady Gaga, fibromyalgia, and the stigma of invisible pain.

• Speaking of pain: BDSM can help with it, sometimes.

• I’ve never been to Hooters but this article makes me want to go.

• The hilarious Merritt K wrote about smelly dicks and why you should wash your junk. Fair warning: this article is disgusting, but highly amusing.

• Helena Fitzgerald on the allure of leather jackets. Yes, yes, yes.

• Suz has some great advice for how to feel less shook up when you get stood up.

• On the gender politics of sex robots.

• Why would someone want to get their dick rated?

• If you’re part of a couple seeking a “unicorn” for a threesome, read this post of Suz’s about how to message a potential third.

• Fascinating: you can take a BDSM vacation!

• The beautiful, wonderful Caitlin K. Roberts made a video about her experiences with mindful masturbation. (She’s offering masturbation coaching now, too!)

• Here’s a succinct write-up on why wet dreams happen, incase you’ve ever wondered about that.

• Fuck ScreamingO. They did a real bad thing. (More info + posts in this Twitter thread, if you’re interested.)

• Here’s a history of the cock ring!

• The dick, the myth, the legend: here’s some writeups on famous dicks and what became of them.

A lesbian sex party for straight women?! Yep, totally a thing.

5 Things I Learned From Getting an Erotic Massage

I recently had the blissful good fortune of getting a four-hand erotic massage from my friend Caitlin and her partner-in-crime Cosmo. Both of them have trained in the therapeutic touch modality known as Sexological Bodywork, a client-centered approach to erotic education that can help combat all sorts of sexual difficulties.

You can read more about my massage in an article I wrote for Kinkly about it. However, even once I chronicled the whole story in that piece, I still had more Thoughts and Feelings about the massage and what it meant to me. Here are five things I learned from my experience…

Asking for what you want usually works quite well. As someone who deals with sexual anxiety and a frequent fear of “not deserving” pleasure, I struggle a lot with asking for what I want. This is especially true for preferences that are specific and unusual – e.g. “Fingerfuck me deeper,” “Only touch my clit through the hood,” or “I like being spanked but not during sex.”

The night before I was to get my ~sexxxy~ massage, I was talking to Bex about it, and wondered aloud if I’d have an orgasm. “Probably not, right?” Bex hypothesized, “because don’t you need pretty specific things to get off?” This is true. It usually takes new partners several tries before they can make me come – particularly clitorally, since my clit is a princess: it knows what it likes, and it’s loath to respond to anything less.

But during the massage, once I was already super turned on and aching to come, Caitlin asked me, “Kate, how do you like your clitoris touched?” and I found myself motivated to explain in enough detail that I’d actually get what I wanted. “Only through the hood, ’cause it’s super sensitive,” I breathed. “In small circles. A little more pressure. A little more. Yeah, like that.”

It was that easy. So easy, in fact, that I had an orgasm just a few minutes later – which surprised me so much that I almost burst out laughing. “Why don’t I always do this?!” I wondered. “Why do I let partners muddle around down there, instead of telling them what would actually work?!” I think, in most cases, partners would be excited to learn the keys to my kingdom, so to speak. So I’m gonna try to get better at handing those keys over.

Accepting feedback gracefully is an art. Each and every time I gave Caitlin or Cosmo an instruction or a request, whether they’d solicited it or I’d just blurted it out, they responded: “Thank you.”

“I love having my hips squeezed.” “Thank you!” “I think I want something inside me.” “Thank you!” “Can you do that a little harder?” “Thank you!”

In my “IRL” sex life, making this type of request gives me hella anxiety. It makes me wince, sweat, and blush. I’m always expecting a grimace, an eye-roll, a resigned “…Okay.” So to receive a “Thank you” instead was, to say the least, revelatory.

The truth is, when a partner gives you this type of direction during sex, you should thank them. They are trusting you with their vulnerability, their bravery, their authentic desires. That is a big responsibility, and a gift. Even if you don’t actually utter the words “Thank you,” that attitude should come through in however you respond to their request. You should prove to them that you want to please them, and that you’re thrilled by any opportunity to do so.

I’ve been pondering how to bring this attitude into my sex life, both in terms of giving and receiving. I think it is going to make big changes for me, and for my partners.

From relaxation, pleasure comes. I learned from the books Becoming Cliterate and Come As You Are that day-to-day stress actually physiologically inhibits orgasm in women. (I would imagine this is true for some people who aren’t women, too!) If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, angry or sad in your everyday life, it will affect the extent to which you’re able to experience and enjoy pleasure.

I have a high libido and pretty much never say no to sex with pre-established partners unless I’m debilitatingly ill, physically injured, or too depressed to move (and even sometimes then, I pursue sex, because I believe – often correctly – that it’ll make me feel better). But even if my mouth says “Yes please,” my body might not respond with such enthusiasm if I’m stressed. I don’t get as turned on, I don’t get as psychologically immersed in what’s happening, and I’m not as sensitive or as orgasmic. It’s a real disappointment, particularly since sex could be such wonderful stress relief if I could relax into it a bit more!

The first several minutes of my erotic massage were just regular (albeit naked) massage: a combination of gentle and firm touches all over my body, designed to release my tension and get me into a pleasure-receptive headspace. And it worked. By the time we got to the more explicitly erotic touch, I felt I had melted into a pool of hot, sticky bliss. Being so relaxed and receptive made it much easier (and quicker!) for me to get turned on, feel okay about accepting pleasure, and build toward an orgasm. This is useful knowledge for me to keep in mind going forward!

Sometimes practitioners get turned on. I interviewed Caitlin and Cosmo after my massage, and one thing I asked them was – shyly, tentatively, uncertain if I was being rude – “Do you ever get turned on doing this work? I’m sorry if that’s a personal question…”

“Erotic energy is erotic energy,” Caitlin told me. “It’s a beautiful thing. We’re participating with your erotic energy, but we’re not requesting it back.”

“I think anyone who says they don’t feel arousal from playing with erotic energy… I would be surprised. I would be like, ‘You’re lying,'” Cosmo mused.

“And I would question how good they are at their job!” Caitlin added.

Obviously, there are lots of therapeutic modalities where the practitioner getting aroused would be inappropriate, unwanted, and even harmful. But for me, in receiving a Sexological Bodywork massage, I found it reassuring that I could feel the practitioners getting into it. I could hear their breath, smell their sweat, feel their energy intermingling with mine, and all of it was focused on me.

I think if I hadn’t felt those signs of engagement, I would have worried they were getting tired, or bored, or resentful – the same way I worry about exhausting my sexual partners when we’re bonin’ down. That type of anxiety takes me right out of the moment and decimates my capacity for pleasure, so it felt not only acceptable but great for my practitioners to wade into the wilds of erotic energy with me.

Fantasy is an important part of sexual enjoyment. In my post-massage chat with Caitlin and Cosmo, they both mentioned having fantasized sometimes when they were practicing receiving touch in their trainings. At first I bristled, because it’s been so ingrained in me that you’re not “supposed” to fantasize when you’ve got a real live person in front of you, doing stuff to you – but then I realized I had fantasized during my massage too!

Toward the end, when I was starting to get close to coming, I asked if one or both of them could put a hand on my upper chest and press down. This is something I often enjoy with dominant partners: it makes me feel like they’re holding me still, keeping me in place, so I have to take whatever sensations they’re administering to me. There’s no escape. And since there’s no escape, there’s also no room for me to get anxious about “taking too long” to come or being too sexually “needy.” Every moment that they’re holding me down, in my mind, is a moment they want to unfold exactly as it’s unfolding. If they didn’t want this, they wouldn’t be demanding it of me.

I thought about this while Caitlin and Cosmo held me down and fingerbanged me to orgasm. I thought about a partner pinning me in place with one hand while fucking me with the other hand, because my pleasure is paramount to them and they insist I’m not going anywhere until I’ve come at least once. I thought about how delicious it is to be pleasured for someone else’s amusement and not just my own.

Sometime around then, I came – loud, long, and spectacular. It made me think about all the other times I’ve fantasized while receiving sensation from partners. Mostly, it’s not malicious, in the way we often think of it being: “You were thinking about some other dude while I was fucking you?!” For me, I’m often thinking about the person I’m with – just in a slightly different situation. Maybe they’re being a little more aggressive with me; maybe they’re saying filthy shit that this person wouldn’t know to say; maybe I’m even replaying something they did to me a previous time we slept together! It’s all just a mental game that keeps me more engaged, more excited, more interested in my partner, not less.

Now that I’ve pondered this, I think I’m going to feel less guilty about fantasizing during sex in the future. I’ve even been tiptoeing into telling partners what I was fantasizing about after sex – “I was thinking about how hot it would be if you did/said [XYZ]…” – and that’s super fun too, if you can do it in a way that doesn’t feel like a criticism!

Have you ever received an erotic massage? What did you learn from the experience?

Monthly Faves: Hearts, Wands, & Tears

It’s been a tough month, but I feel very loved. Here were some of my fave things in August…

Sex toys

• Swoooon: this month I was gifted a red glittery Doxy Die Cast wand vibrator. Beyond just being stunning to look at, it’s also a remarkable wand. The vibrations are rumbly and shockingly strong, and I just love the way this sexy aluminum wand feels in my hands. Full review to come!

• My other exciting acquisition this month was an Njoy Pure Plug 2.0. It’s massive, and I haven’t been able to get it inside me yet, but I’m holding out hope that someday I will!

Fantasy fodder

• I received a four-hand erotic massage from some local sexological bodywork pros this month and it was fucking divine. This type of massage pings a lot of my kinks about sexual service and partners having intimate knowledge of my preferences, so I found it super hot at the time and continued to find it super hot when I revisited it in subsequent fantasies. (Side note: a hookup asked me how the massage went, and when I said it was so good that I wished I could get one every week, he replied, “Play your cards right and you just might…”!)

• Since I went through a pretty traumatic break-up this month, I’ve had to recalibrate my fantasy life a bit so it doesn’t just constantly make me cry (*sad trombone*). This has meant seeking out new porn, dirty fanfiction, and erotica, as well as cultivating crushes on new people (both celebrities and IRL folks) to ponder in private moments. Masturbation is no longer an emotionally painful process for me, so that’s something!

Sexcetera

• Some of my work elsewhere this month: For Kinkly, I wrote about how an erotic massage helped me get over my break-up. I investigated the new at-home HPV test for Glamour. I wrote a Letter to the Editor about female orgasms for the Walrus. I identified some killer sex toy combinations and common “taboo” fantasies for Ignite. Peepshow asked me to chronicle some weird things people have put in their butts. I was interviewed by Coffee & Kink. I hosted Sex City Radio, interviewing sex toy reviewer Epiphora, break-up coach Natalia Juarez, and asexual sex blogger Taryn. On our podcast, Bex and I interviewed our friends Suz and Claire, and talked about conferences, Woodhull, and dominance.

• Orgasm stats: This month I had 27 orgasms, 7 of which (25.9%) were from partners. I’m surprised I still managed to have so many, despite terrible depression wracking me lately!

• Like I said, I went through a devastating break-up a few weeks ago, and while my heart is broken and life has felt very difficult this month, this experience has reminded me that I have lots of people in my corner and my friends are always there for me. I’m very, very lucky.

Femme stuff

• As per usual, I’m experimenting with various perfume samples lately. Though I’ve mostly been sticking with my perennial favorite, John Varvatos, this month I’ve also been enjoying the Tom of Finland fragrance from Etat Libre d’Orange. It’s supposed to be masculine but on me it’s just femmey, warm and comforting. Good stuff!

• My new hot pink Tarina Tarantino heart necklace is giving me life. It’s HUGE and VERY SPARKLY. God bless Tarina and her magpie proclivities!

• I am looooving my new “Submissive” T-shirt from Pen & Kink. I ordered one in the tri-blend material, so it’s suuuper soft and comfy – truly the ideal garment for a lazy babygirl to lounge around in!

Little things

Bex sending me a selfie of them and their Sir. My new Seven-Year PenThe Bold Type. Emotionally cathartic kink with a trusted partner. Doing a live Dildorks recording in front of a crowd at Woodhull! Readers of my blog coming up to me to tell me how much they love my work. Spanking Suz with a bible. Hanging with my blogger babes. Deep sleeps in big comfy hotel beds. Cadence making me a gin and tonic and gently domming me into finishing my work when I was practically too depressed to move. Watching Friends on Netflix with Max for hours on end. Being comforted/supported by my FWB, who then attempted to fuck the sads out of me. A random guy offering me a no-strings-attached footrub at a sex club. Max bringing me Haagen Dazs. Swimming while stoned. Journaling on public transit. Crimson Wave Comedy. Pinegrove’s wonderful album Cardinal. Improv crushes. Making out in an alley with someone who makes me howl with laughter.

12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 4 Fun Events

This year I was officially diagnosed with social anxiety disorder – a pronouncement so obvious to me and anyone who knows me that it was hardly necessary at all. My friends have seen me hyperventilate on the stoop outside a party, walk around the block six times before feeling ready to enter a gallery opening, smoke weed on my way to a networking event to make my presence possible, and break down crying in a busy Starbucks because I physically couldn’t walk into the newsroom at my school. Suffice it to say, events can be hard for me.

While social anxiety is moreso a curse than a blessing, it does make me extra grateful for events where I actually feel comfortable. It helps to have friends accompanying me who understand the anxieties I deal with, and I’m fortunate that wonderful friends accompany me to events more often than not these days. All my favorite events this year were favorites because of the fun, kind, welcoming people I got to hang out with – some of whom may not even know how much I appreciated having them there. Here are those events…

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#HaveDildosWillTravel is the official name and hashtag Taylor, Caitlin, Bex and I gave to our cross-country road trip in the springtime, after rejecting other options like #CarOfQueers, #RoadTripOfBabes, and #HitTheRoadJackOff.

Planned meticulously in Google Drive documents (mostly by Bex, my hero) over the course of several weeks, our trip began in New York, then meandered through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, until we reached our destination, Minneapolis. Along the way, we attended a sex conference, bought kink implements at a toy store, oohed and aahed at the Leather Archives, introverted at queer cafés, ate artisanal donuts for breakfast every day, shopped at the Mall of America, ogled Colin‘s sex toy studio, and visited multiple queer-owned sex shops. On the morning of my 24th birthday, I woke up in Bex’s sister’s femme-as-hell bed in a Pennsylvania farmhouse; that night, I went to bed in a swanky hotel in Chicago.

The cast of characters on our wacky trip included, among others: a diner owner’s mother who didn’t understand our collars, an enthusiastic leather archivist who complimented my vulva ring, a helpful moustachioed hotel clerk, a hot domly dude who owned a kink-themed coffee shop, a beardy Tinder boy who owned far too many nerdy snapbacks, a self-identified radical fairy named Dragon who had once made “consent-based vegetable porn” on a commune, a friendly Tinder stranger nicknamed Face Tattoo, and a lifelong hero who kissed me on a sunny side street.

Although I’m 24 and have therefore theoretically been an “adult” for quite some time, it’s only within the past year and a half that traveling without my parents has become a frequent and normal thing for me. This feels like a rite of passage, a bastion of grownupdom, a milestone in my journey toward self-sufficiency. But though it makes me feel independent, I don’t have to do it all alone. Traveling with friends is so damn much fun. We laughed practically all day every day during #HaveDildosWillTravel, about everything from sex to scenery to selfies, and it’s a trip I will always remember fondly.

Photo from Smut in the 6ix’s Facebook page.

Smut in the 6ix sounded like a literal dream come true when I first heard of it. A collaboration between Playground and Spit, Smut was a day-long celebration of the burgeoning indie porn scene in my hometown of Toronto. During the day, porn nerds gathered for panel discussions about the technical, social, artistic, and political facets of porn creation. At night, there was a big gala with live performances, porn scene screenings, and lotsa dancing. Told you: a dream come true.

I was lucky enough to be asked to moderate a panel at Smut, and was also invited to perform some music at the gala. It was a terrific honor to be involved. I’m so grateful to Caitlin K. Roberts, Samantha Fraser, and Claire AH for organizing the whole shebang; as always, it was a delight to convene with my fellow sex-positive weirdos and get nerdy together!

In 2015, it made me super sad to see my favorite sex bloggers social-media’ing about all the fun they were having at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. I resolved to do my very best to make it to the Summit in 2016 – and I managed to save enough money to make it happen. Hooray!

I flew to Washington by myself without having an anxiety meltdown (success!) and checked into the hotel, where I was sharing a room with Sarah and Artemisia. I hadn’t met either of them in person before, but they were so delightful, and totally ideal roomies for me!

Sex-positive events are where I feel most able to be myself. My anxiety mostly melts away and I throw caution to the wind: I dress weird, speak my mind, laugh loudly, and go on adventures. It helps that people actually know who I am at these events, making me feel like a powerful little starlet! Woodhull had also thoughtfully set up a “bloggers’ lounge,” perfectly appointed with coffee galore and sex toys to fondle. I felt truly in my element.

I wish I could’ve gotten to know everyone at Woodhull, but like many bloggers, I’m an anxious introverted weirdo and could only do what I could do. Luckily, though, I did make several new friends. April offered to let me borrow her lipstick for blowjob purposes; Mandi‘s laugh lit up my life; Lorax‘s dark sass slayed me; Sarah was so adorable and clever I wanted to high-five her constantly; I quaffed wine with Mary and Harry; I cooed over Crista‘s killer eye makeup and bought an Ethical Misandrist sticker from her; Polly‘s sex stories kept me on the edge of my seat; I finally got to ogle (part of) Lunabelle‘s epic dildo collection in person; I delighted in Girl on the Net‘s hilarious sexy poems; and Sugarcunt frequently made me laugh so hard I thought I might choke to death. Plus I got to spend time with several treasured blogger friends I’d met before: Suz, Piph, Lilly, CaitlinHedonish, JoEllen, and of course, my bestie Bex.

I spanked a beautiful butt, learned about sex ed and sexual freedom, attended a fancy gala, and snapped selfies with femme friends. It was truly – to steal a phrase from Lilly – “like sex-blogger Christmas.” I’m already daydreamin’ about Woodhull 2017, and it can’t come soon enough.

Photo via Taylor J Mace.

Bex wanted a spanking party for their 25th birthday, and so, #BirthdayBruises was born. It was lovely to celebrate this milestone with sex-savvy friends both local and far-away. I put on a ridiculous outfit and pranced around our cozy Airbnb playing hostess – a role which involved everything from serving drinks to administrating the livestream to spanking the birthday bean. When Bex had taken all they could take, they were accosted by cuddles on the couch and I brought them some refrigerated mint-chocolate truffles. Sex bloggers really know how to party, y’all.

I’m so glad that this experience was affirming and uplifting for Bex. It was for me, too, even though I barely got hit at all. It’s always comforting to marry my sex blogger life with my IRL/offline life, to blend those two friend groups together, to embody all my favorite parts of myself without needing to compromise or hide any of them. This party also demonstrated my friends’ immense generosity: guests helped us with tech troubles, took over hosting duties when Bex and I were otherwise occupied, and (of course) harnessed their brawn to make Bex’s birthday-spanking fantasies come true. Gosh, I love my friends.

What were your favorite sex-positive or sex-adjacent events in 2016?

Beating the Stigma: Whipsmart Thoughts on Kink and Mental Health

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It’s funny to me that many people think of kink as dark, dangerous, and edgy. It can be all of those things, of course. But for me, it’s not scary or mysterious. It’s a key part of how my brain works and how I relate to other people. It’s a sexual interest and also a non-sexual paradigm. And sometimes, it’s a boon for my mental health.

Earlier this year, I entered the last semester of my four-year journalism degree, and found myself unable to cope with the challenges it brought. Newsrooms are an anxiety-provoking place to begin with, and I was also experiencing one of the worst anxious and depressive episodes of my life – so, as much as I wanted to be up to the task, I just wasn’t. Two days in the newsroom were enough to convince me of that: the real work hadn’t even begun yet, and already my heart pounded, my mind shouted self-hating epithets at me, and I found myself thinking everything would just be easier if I walked out in front of a speeding truck.

I spoke to one of my instructors, and she – blessedly – was sympathetic to my cause. We discussed possible accommodations and arrived at the idea that I’d get my final credit by creating a journalistic audio series on a topic of my choice.

Over the preceding months, I’d found that my bad mental health days could sometimes be turned around by an intense spanking, a service-submission BJ, or various other acts of kink. Giving up control to a partner made me feel, ultimately, more in control of my life. So the intersection between kink and mental health was front-and-centre in my mind at that time, and I pitched that as a topic for my audio series. My prof loved it, and so I began.

I spent the next six weeks producing Beating the Stigma. Several local sweethearts volunteered for interviews, and generously lent me their time and energy to discuss this topic on tape. Our conversations ranged from intense to funny to mindblowing, and were often all three. I’m so so grateful to my interviewees for being candid and clever every step of the way.

You can listen to the whole series by clicking here, or you can skip to specific chapters below:

Chapter 1: Introductions

Chapter 2: Pain

Chapter 3: DD/lg

Chapter 4: Dominance

Chapter 5: Safe, Sane and Consensual

Chapter 6: Trauma and Recovery

Chapter 7: Sex 2.0

Chapter 8: Aftercare

I hope this series sparks some thoughts and feelings for you! The process of producing it certainly brought a lot to the surface for me.