On Being a Slut Without Being a Jerk

“Watch out for Scott*,” my new friend Amanda warned me. “He’s kind of a perv.”

I had slightly zoned out of our conversation, but at this, I snapped back to attention. “Wait, what? What do you mean?” Women warning other women about men usually know what they’re talking about, and have an excellent reason for doing so. Joining a new social group often involves revelations of this sort – finding out the behind-the-scenes secrets is a rite of passage in any new social endeavor. It would be an understatement to say I was interested.

She rolled her eyes and breathed a long sigh, trying to choose her words. “I dunno, he just tries to fuck every girl,” she explained. “We slept together when I first met him and then he got weird about it. Just be careful.”

What Amanda didn’t know was that I’d already fucked Scott. The night before, in fact. My heart skidded in my chest.

This warning tripped some old, old detritus in my psychology. See, when I was a teenager and only fucking women, I was terrified of men. They made me nervous whenever I encountered them in romantic or sexual situations, in person or on dating sites like OkCupid and thesexchatsite.com. I worried sex with them would be bad and I’d hate it, I worried I’d be awful at blowjobs and handjobs and they’d judge me, I worried penises would be scary and gross, and – most pervasively and chillingly of all – I worried men only cared about sex. If I gave my heart – and also my hetero virginity – to a man, I worried he wouldn’t give a shit and would peace out as soon as the deed was done, leaving me regretful and alone.

I see now that these fears were ridiculous, for a few reasons. First off, men’s emotional cavalierness is a gendered stereotype, and therefore isn’t universally true. Secondly, there are plenty of women who are emotionally irresponsible about sex in the same ways I feared men would be. But thirdly: what is so bad about wanting to have sex with people?

Throughout my teenage years, a hard knot formed in my stomach any time I considered that a man might only want to fuck me and not date me. It felt like a humiliating betrayal waiting to happen. I got a taste of that betrayal when my first boyfriend broke up with me after only a few weeks of dating and then fucked four girls at a party the following week, to the gossipy amusement of seemingly the entire student body. I felt cast aside in favor of girls who “put out” quicker than I did, and required less emotional investment before they’d spread their legs. My apprehension stopped OkCupid banter and in-person flirtations in their tracks, because any time I developed crush-y feelings for a man, I’d remind myself: He probably only wants sex. And that felt like a good enough reason to cut it off, rather than risk bad sex and an even worse rejection.

Indeed, I’ve endured many such rejections in the intervening years. The casual hookup who broadened my kink horizons and then disappeared from my life without warning. The long-time crush who fucked me all languid and giggly in his cozy bed, and then took me out for a Valentine’s Day dinner a few weeks later to tell me he didn’t think we should date. The fuckbuddy who I spent over a year wishing would ask me to be his girlfriend instead. Of course, he never did, because that was never what he wanted – as he had been telling me all along.

These searing letdowns hurt much more than I could have predicted, but I learned key lessons from them about sex and love and the ways in which those things do and don’t intersect. I learned that sex can be good even if one or both parties have no interest in anything more. I learned that the euphoric highs and romantic cravings for “more” I experience after hookups are mostly illusory, and will pass. I learned that only wanting sex from someone doesn’t have to entail being a dick to them: you can be an emotionally responsible, conscientious slut, by checking in on your partners, making sure they’re okay, talking about any feelings that come up, and being straightforward about your intentions.

There were many times when those old, sexist, scary voices crept back into my head. He only wants you because you have wet holes he can fuck, I’d think, or, No one wants to date you because sex is all you’re good for. These are evil fictions murmured into the hearts of women to make us feel worthless and desperate. Patriarchy and capitalism are in partnership, colluding to destabilize women’s sense of agency and self-determination, so we’ll keep trying and trying to impress men in any way we can. We’re told that if we just work hard enough at being “cool” and “pretty” and “sexy” (but not too sexy!), we’ll be able to interest a man with qualities other than just our sexuality.

Here is the truth, though: some people are only interested in sex – whether that priority, for them, is temporary or lifelong. They may be shaken out of that pattern at some point when they meet someone whose brain and heart clicks with theirs in a beyond-just-sex way, but that type of connection is not something you can force with charm and willpower. It happens, or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, that’s not a reflection on you, or your desirability, or your value as a person.

I know this because, in my journeys as a sex-nerdy and usually-conscientious slut, I’ve encountered my greatest fear from the other side of the coin: I’ve occasionally been the person who only wanted sex. There have been friendly hookups and torrid one-night stands who made perfectly good company for a night, but who I would never, ever want to date. Our interests were incompatible, our senses of humor didn’t jive, we didn’t “click” – or maybe, at those particular times in my life, my priorities were just not romantic. And that’s okay.

I truly don’t think there is anything wrong with being the person who “just wants sex” – as long as you’re not an asshole about it. Pursuing someone with false compliments and thickly laid-on charm, just to get into their pants, is a gross behavior regardless of the genders involved. Pretending to want something you don’t, or lying to someone about your intentions, is emotional fraud and cannot be condoned.

It used to cause me a lot of pain that I couldn’t “read” when men were interested in just sex or something more. But now, years in, I know what to look for. Casual hookups and would-be fuckbuddies will often drop phrases like “hang out,” “low-key,” “just for fun,” as they ask me out for drinks at a dim bar, or even straight-up invite me to their apartment. Folks with more romantic intentions will typically pile on the compliments, pointing out my intelligence or humor instead of just my physical qualities, and will invite me on more date-like dates: dinner, comedy shows, fancy cocktails. They often don’t push for sex as quickly, and I can feel that difference of pace somewhere deep in my brain even if it’s not always consciously evident to me. My “gut feelings” about what men want from me are right more often than they’re wrong, these days.

I’ve also learned how to recognize in myself whether I want to date someone or just fuck them. My favorite litmus test at the moment is to ask myself: am I more interested in making this person laugh, or making them come? True, humor is vital to my attractions, including sexual ones, but this question is always at least a good starting point for me to decipher my feelings. Patriarchal scripts still make me feel like I “should” want to date someone I’ve banged, so sometimes I need to step back and ask myself whether that is actually what I want, or if it’s an illusion I cooked up to justify my own “bad,” “slutty” cravings.

There is nothing inherently wrong with sex – wanting it, pursuing it, having it. There is nothing inherently wrong with no-strings-attached, unromantic sex. These things only become problematic when you go about them in a problematic way.

If you’re gonna be a slut, be a kind, conscientious, empathetic slut. Be upfront about what kind of slut you are, and what that means for your partners. Let them decide for themselves whether they want to enter your orbit.

You might still end up the butt of warnings like “Be careful of that guy; he only wants to fuck you” – but hopefully, if you’ve spelled out your particular brand of sluttiness clearly enough in advance, those warnings will simply be met with, “I know. And that’s fine.”

 

 

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

Heads up: this post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own.

12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 2 Fears Defeated

After I chickened out on going down on a girl during a threesome this year, my male fuckbuddy – the other participant in said threesome – commented, “I wish I could hack your brain and cut your anxiety out of it.”

I could’ve been offended. I could’ve interpreted this as him wanting to circumvent my resistance and artificially coerce me into doing something I didn’t want to do. But I know him well, so I knew what he meant. He wanted to rid me of my sexual anxieties, not only because it would be more fun for him, but because it would be more fun for me.

I can’t argue with that. There are, no doubt, a lot of fun activities I could enjoy if I didn’t psych myself out of doing them. But we can’t control the mental illnesses we’re saddled with, and we can only do what we can do. So I try not to beat myself up for the hurdles I’m not yet strong enough to jump – and I try, instead, to celebrate the hurdles I have leapt over with flying colors. Here are two such hurdles I cleared in 2016.

Doing porn. I don’t even like my partners to look at me during sex. I don’t know why I thought I could handle porn, where the eyes on me would total not only my partner’s but also the cameraperson’s, any other crew members’, and those of the eventual viewing audience. But it sounded fun, to some deeply buried and uncharacteristically brave part of me, so I gave it a shot. It helped that I have a lot of friends who are involved in porn – most notably Caitlin of Spit and Taylor of Feisty Fox Films – so I knew I’d be safe and supported.

I kicked off 2016 by shooting a scene for Spit with the devastatingly handsome Dane Joe, who bent me over a coffee table in Caitlin’s cozy downtown apartment and spanked an epic bruise onto me with a paddle while I stared at a bowl of oranges artistically placed in front of me. And then I got to eat a cupcake for having been such a good girl. (This scene was later screened at Smut in the 6ix in front of dozens of people, to my blushy glee.)

A few days later, I got naked in the Glad Day Bookshop for Taylor’s camera, posing with goofy props gathered from around the store. The manager pumped Justin Bieber tunes through the stereo at my request and I wore an unshakeable smile as I sidled around the shop in my skivvies, still bruised from my last shoot.

Photo via Spit.

In February I performed in one of Spit’s live porn shoots at Oasis Aqualounge: Dane Joe bossed me around and fucked me with various toys for the crowd’s amusement, until I had a surprise orgasm while she pounded me with my Eleven.

In May, I skipped over to Taylor’s house with a tote bag full of sex toys and masochistic implements. He and his photographer pal Caroline Fox trained their video cameras on me, and I didn’t feel nervous at all – instead, I came alive, perked up, put on a show. I smacked myself silly with my stone crop, then fucked myself with toys until my body burst into climax.

In June, I showed up at Riverdale Park in full rockabilly garb. Caroline, shooting for CherryStems this time, helped me sleuth out a relatively secluded area in the middle of the park, and I saucily stripped off my clothes while she snapped away. Then she handed me an ice cream cone and I fellated it with the juicy joy of someone who loves sugary treats as much as she loves blowjobs. (A lot.) Being photographed for CherryStems felt like the fulfilment of a very old wish: I’d longed to do pinup modeling since I was a wee lass poring over SuicideGirls.com before I was legally allowed to view such materials.

Mid-year, I complained on Twitter that I’d never shot blowjob porn and wanted to – and to my surprise, I got a DM from the owner of one of my favorite dicks, volunteering his gorgeous cock for me to suck on camera. I contacted my friends at Spit and managed to organize things so both Bex and I could shoot scenes for them while Bex was visiting Toronto that month. Bathed in soft light and the giggly glow of a happy little princess, I knelt on the floor between my fuckbuddy’s knees and Spit’s artistic director John Bee shot us in a stunning POV BJ scene. Weeks later, me and my co-star huddled together in my bedroom with boozy ciders and watched the scene on my little laptop. “Do I look pretty?” I asked him, and he replied, “You look very pretty. And sexy. And determined.”

Porn has never been a career ambition for me, never something I took very seriously – I’ve always done it for the fun and thrill of it, more than for money or glory (both of which there is little of, in Canada’s small porn scene). So I don’t know if I’ll do much more of it, now that I’ve basically achieved what I wanted to achieve by gettin’ sexy on camera. Maybe in 2017 I’ll shoot a solo scene for MakeLoveNotPorn.TV, or spank a pretty girl for Taylor’s camera, or co-blow a handsome person for Spit. Only time will tell…!

One-night stands. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate fear from regular ol’ dislike. Prior to this year, I’d always theorized that one-night stands would not be my jam (peep this old post where I wrote, “I’m soooo not interested in sex where the partner and I know nothing about one another… Boring!”), but this year I finally delved into them a little bit. I had one in Minneapolis and a couple more back home in Toronto.

Those experiences were okay, but they also confirmed for me what I’d already suspected: that one-night stands are not my preferred type of sex, not at all. I didn’t have an orgasm during any of those three encounters, and it wasn’t a coincidence: sex with a brand-new partner who’s a near-stranger is rough on my anxiety, making it hard for me to relax into pleasure, plus my genitals’ preferences are so specific that someone really needs to bang me a few times before they’ll learn how to get me off. With one exception (a porn shoot at a sex club, using amazing toys), all the orgasms I had during partnered sex this year were with steady romantic partners or consistent fuckpals – people who knew my body, and who I felt comfortable bossing around til they learned what worked.

Another factor that makes one-night stands not-so-great for me: there’s often alcohol involved! It isn’t necessary for us to drink before boning, of course, but it just shook out that way a lot of the time: either we went on a Tinder-borne pre-bang drinks-date, or we met at a bar or party where there was some boozin’. Alcohol numbs sexual sensation, which – for me, during one-night stands – just compounded my already-extant orgasm troubles in those situations.

It’s interesting how sometimes conquering a fear introduces you to your new favorite thing (that’s what happened for me with improv!), but other times, it just shows you how much you dislike the thing you once feared. It’s still always better to know than to suspect, though, so I’m glad I did the legwork and learned one-night stands aren’t for me. Sexual empowerment is a process, and part of that process is learning what you like and what you dislike.

I think in 2017, I’ll avoid one-night stands. (To the best of my ability, anyway. Sometimes you can’t predict when a sexual encounter will be a one-off.) The only reasonable exception I can imagine is if I’m desperately craving a dick in my mouth – in which case, I won’t be especially concerned with getting off, so it won’t matter if the non-BJ parts of the experience are subpar. I’m hoping my sexual situation in 2017 will involve some more consistent, longer-term sexual partnerships – but if not, I think I’d rather just double down on masturbation than risk terrible sex with a stranger!

What fears did you conquer in 2016?

No Moment is Unendurable, & Other Life Lessons I Learned From Getting Spanked

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Gaining life experience makes me better at having sex, but also, gaining sex experience makes me better at living life. It’s a two-way street.

I’ve talked to you before about the similarities between sex and improv, and one of those similarities is that they’ve both informed my life philosophy. Massively.

Recently I was trying to describe to a friend how I feel when I’m getting spanked – the times when I’m really in the mood for it, braced for it, craving it. I reach a point where the painful rhythm no longer feels like a series of individual impacts: it becomes a wave I’m riding. I feel in control of the ups and downs of my experience, even though I’m bottoming and therefore have given up my power in the context of the scene. I feel how I do when I’ve been running for a while, or gotten into the swing of an intense badminton game, or been kissing someone for so long that my mind goes blissfully blank.

That’s an endorphin high. And it feels like a meditative zen high, too – something like what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow.” It’s part of what keeps me coming back to the act of spanking, especially when I’m stressed and need a release. Like Jillian Keenan says, yes, spanking feels painful, and difficult, and in some ways unpleasant, but it also feels necessary.

When I first began experimenting with spanking, I would wimp out as soon as it started to actually hurt. I’d tell my partner to stop, feeling like I’d reached my limit, and we’d move on to other things. Over the past few months, I’ve explored this kink more and I can now handle vastly longer, meaner spanking sessions than I could when I started. But it’s not so much that my pain tolerance has increased; I just understand now that pain is okay. My world will not unravel if I experience pain. Some moments will be difficult, sure, but those moments will end. And I will still be okay when they do.

This is also a lesson I’ve had to learn in relation to my anxiety. A favorite mantra of mine (courtesy of author Susan Jeffers) is “feel the fear and do it anyway.” This is one of the simplest, scariest, hugest messages I’ve had to drill into my brain: that most of my fears aren’t based in reality and exist only in my own head. My amygdala might tell me that talking to a cute stranger at a bar or walking into a big party full of strangers is a lion-stampede-level hazard, but it is absolutely no such thing. In the vast majority of cases, I can safely ignore my fear. It’s tricky as hell, and my body and brain will fight me the whole time I’m doing it, but the exhilaration of going through with it is worth the risk, and it’s never, ever as bad as I think it’s going to be.

Alexandra Franzen said it better than I could: “Are you willing to feel temporarily uncomfortable so that you can accomplish something that is permanently amazing?”

When I push through my pain aversion during spankings, I reach that endorphin high – that top-of-the-mountain, good-kink buzz that quiets my mind and pleases my body. I impress my dom, and I get to rest easy knowing I’ve earned it when he tells me I’m a good girl.

When I push through my day-to-day anxieties, I get what Alex Franzen calls “glitter-bombs exploding through my veins.” I feel infallible, badass and brave. I gain a new fear reference, a confidence power-up, and whatever rewards await me at the other end of that courageous thing I did. (A date with a hot new acquaintance? A radio show hosting gig to put on my resumé? A hilarious story to tell at the next TMSG?)

Being brave is the hardest thing I ever do, and it’s also the thing that pays off the most. It’s terrifying, but it’s worth it. It feels impossible, but it’s worth it. It’s painful and awful and risky and reckless, but it’s worth it.

Now, what brave things are you gonna do this year?

12 Days of Girly Juice: 2 Fears Defeated

I wanted to write about fears, because anxiety is a big part of my life. It affects me when I’m writing a difficult exam or performing music in front of a crowd, so of course, it affects me when I’m gettin’ sexy, too.

But this was an interesting year of forcing myself out of comfort and into discovery. I try to do that every year, but 2015 was a year where I really felt like I succeeded. Here are two fears I confronted headfirst in 2015…

 

1. Being watched during blowjobs

Oh, I know. I’ve talked your ear off about this before. But it really was major.

In 2011–2012, I went from “crying and hyperventilating at the very thought of giving a BJ” to “enthusiastically going down as long as the recipient had their eyes closed or a blindfold on.” And it was only in 2015 that I finally felt able to give a BJ without caring if the recipient was looking.

Of the five (!!) men to whom I gave blowjobs in 2015, only two received my spiel about “hey, I have a weird thing where I don’t like to be looked at during BJs; would you mind turning the light out/closing your eyes/looking the other way?” And both of those times were first times with the partners in question, so it was normal for me to be nervous.

I even caught myself slyly looking up at a partner while his dick was in my mouth recently, and as basic as that is, I can’t recall ever doing that before. The thought of it always previously gave me sooooo much anxiety about how I looked while giving head (slutty, silly, whatever). It felt like a massive step forward to even be able to exchange those two seconds of eye contact.

And hey, guess what? 2015 also brought the first time I ever gave a blowjob with spectators. Our cuddle-pile and emergency threesome at Playground involved me blowing someone while 1–2 other people looked on. And honestly, it didn’t freak me out at all. I barely even thought about it. I was just excited to have a cute boy’s cock in my mouth.

 

2. Threesomes

I had two threesomes in 2015, which is apparently enough that I now warrant the nickname “Threesome Girl.” (Seriously, someone called me this. People are strange.)

Recently I got into a discussion with some coworkers about threesomes, and one of them said, “I don’t think I’d ever have one. It doesn’t seem like it’d be fun.” This amused me because that’s what I used to think, too. Sex with more than two participants just didn’t seem up my alley. I thought it’d feel less intimate, more scattered, and that one person would inevitably feel left out of the action.

I also questioned whether I’d ever find two people who I was actively attracted to, who were also both attracted to each other. It seemed like a longshot at best.

Both of my threesomes thus far were very impromptu, each happening within a couple hours of being suggested, and I think that’s the only way they would’ve worked for me. Given advance notice, I would have panicked and talked myself out of it. “There are too many ways this could go wrong,” I would have thought. But everything went blissfully right.

There was none of the detachment or awkwardness I had feared. Both experiences felt shockingly intimate – sometimes even moreso than sex with only one person. I felt close to the action even at times when I wasn’t directly involved in it.

And though I had long denounced any threesomes where all three participants weren’t scaldingly attracted to each other, that part was actually fine too. Me and Bex don’t have sex with each other or even kiss, and that was perfectly okay because we were both so into the guy we were boning. Me and Georgia don’t have a particularly sexual connection either, but she nonetheless went down on me like a champ, and we both enjoyed it. I’m learning that there are a lot of complicated factors involved in making a sexual experience feel fun, and white-hot attraction isn’t necessarily mandatory (at least, not for me).

 

What sexual fears did you face in 2015?

Yes Yes Yes And: Fear is Your Friend

Sometimes I feel like this blog is ultimately just a slow reveal of all my nerdy quirks. Like a striptease, except instead of my naked body, you get to see more and more dorky facts about me. Like how I love Sherlock fanfiction, keep statistics on my sleep cycles, and think speculums are cool.

One of my more impassioned nerdy interests is improv. I studied it for years in high school, played on a competitive team, and even coached a troupe for a year. I don’t do much ‘prov these days, though I do still go to shows and fangirl in the improvisors’ general direction.

Lately I’ve been listening to the Backline podcast and it has reignited my improv obsession in full force. And as I listen, I’m increasingly aware that my improv training has actually helped me out sexually, in more ways than one. So I’m launching a little blog series called Yes Yes Yes And, to dissect the parallels between improv and sex. (If you’re wondering why the hell this feature is titled that: it’s a dumb improv joke that makes me smile. “Yes, and” is the guiding principle of improv, and “Yes yes yes!” is, uh, you could say, a guiding principle of good sex.)

Sexprov lesson #1: fear is your friend.

If you improvise, you will be scared. There’s no way around it. My coach used to tell me, “Jump into the fear.” Rob Norman says, “The fear never goes away; you just start to like it.”

Not only do you start to like it; you also learn how to improvise through your fear, instead of panicking or freezing up. You get better at being in the moment and staying present, so that even if adrenaline is flooding your system, you can still string sentences together, follow a narrative, listen to your scene partner, and generate new ideas as you go along.

Fear helps you grow. It pushes you. It keeps you on your toes. It shines a spotlight on your struggles so you know what areas to try to improve upon. It’s not inherently a bad thing; it’s just a signal, a tool. Frank Sinatra once said he probably wouldn’t want to keep performing if he no longer experienced stage fright, because what would be the point?

When it comes to sex, obviously, there are situations where fear is bad. You should never have sex that genuinely scares you, because that wouldn’t be consensual. Sex should feel positive and exciting.

But sometimes, fear is just excitement with the brakes on. You can feel the difference between “good fear” and “bad fear.” If it’s bad, your whole body and your deepest intuition all scream “NO” – but if it’s good, some part of you feels exhilarated and intrigued. Your apprehensive adrenaline rush is accompanied by breathless what-ifs and desperate wishes. The needle on your internal meter trembles a little closer to “Fuck yeah!” than it does to “Hell no!”

I know from firsthand experience that getting over sexual fear is worth doing. There was a time when even the thought of touching a penis made me want to vomit from anxiety. But when I actually started to do it, I realized it was lots of fun. And from there, I came to recognize that if I could get over that fear – a terror that had, at various times, made me cry, panic, and consider a life of celibacy – then I could truly do anything.

Doing scary shit gives you a “fear reference” for tackling bigger and bigger challenges. Any time you encounter a scary new situation, in or out of the bedroom, you can remind yourself, “Hey, I did [that terrifying thing], and it turned out great. I can do this, too!”

You will often be surprised at how delicious it feels to do shit that makes you nervous. Once you buck up and do it, you feel like a goddamn superhero. And you’ll probably have a hell of a lot of fun in the process.

Have you ever overcome a sexual fear? Have you embraced fear as a positive motivator in your life, sexually or otherwise?