Let’s Talk About Terminology: New Year’s Resolutions

A lot of my new year’s resolutions tend to center around language – which I guess makes sense, because I’m a writer and a very linguistically focused person.

Last year I resolved to eliminate ableist slurs like “crazy” and “lame” from my vocabulary. This year my linguistic resolutions are mostly sex-related. Here are some of them; maybe you should make the same resolutions!

Use the words “vulva” and “vagina” properly, even in situations where the audience/listener probably doesn’t know what the difference is, or has maybe never even heard the word “vulva” before. Take the opportunity to educate.

Make a point to say “women” and not “girls” to describe female adults. Again: even when it’s uncomfortable or doesn’t fit the speech patterns of other people in the vicinity.

Say “PIV,” not sex, when referring to penis-in-vagina intercourse. Specificity matters, especially when trying to avoid heterosexism!

Use the term “sex worker” in lieu of antiquated terms like “prostitute” or “whore.” It’s helpful because it describes the work as work rather than dumbing down sex workers’ entire identities to the work that they do. (Read more about this?)

Stop using “clean” to mean “STI-free”: people who have STIs are not dirty or immoral. (Read more about this?)

Be better about gender-neutral and trans-inclusive language. I got called out at a sex toy workshop months ago for fucking up on this, and it’s a shameful moment that still sticks with me now, which makes me think I really need to work on it. People with vaginas are not necessarily women, people with penises are not necessarily men, and calling someone “female-bodied” or “male-bodied” can be problematic because a trans man’s maleness makes his body male and vice versa. (So I’ve been told. I don’t claim to speak for trans and gender-variant folks! Feel free to pipe up in the comments if you have objections or caveats…)

Check on pronouns before writing about someone. I am usually good about this with people who I know to be trans and/or gender-variant, like Jiz Lee (who uses they/them) and Roger Wood (who I think uses he/him?). I start getting into trouble when I perceive someone as looking relatively gender-normative and then assume I don’t need to research their pronouns. (For example, did you know that Courtney Trouble prefers they/them?) I need to get better about checking the pronouns of every person I write about!

What are your sex-related new year’s resolutions for 2014? How do you plan to see ‘em through?

Sharing the Sexy #22

• Hey, remember when women were seen as more sex-crazed than men? What the hell happened? Damn you, cultural paradigm…

• This zine about sex with trans women is pretty fantastic. And it taught me a sexual term I’d never heard of before: muffing!

• This teacher taught her high school class about consent. We need more of this in schools, folks.

• Here’s a call for submissions for self-produced artistic renderings of the sexyparts of trans, genderqueer, intersex and gender-fluid people.

• How to teach consent to your kids. See, it’s not that hard – and everyone should be doing it!

• A sex worker weighs in: is it always rape if there’s no enthusiastic consent?

• Carlyle Jansen discusses sexual risktaking in long-term relationships.

• These “Queer Porn Star” harnesses are very limited edition and very sexy.

Obscenity, Authenticity, and Coming Out: My Day at the The Feminist Porn Conference


On Friday night, I attended the Feminist Porn Awards, an annual event held by my local sex shop Good For Her. I hadn’t planned on going, because I’ve been a little strapped for cash lately, but my friend happened to have an extra ticket and invited me along at the last minute. Obviously, I was thrilled.

The awards were really exciting and a lot of well-deserved films took home Crystal Delights butt plug trophies. I was especially pleased that Fifty Shades of Dylan Ryan (which I loved) received the prize for best kink film, and that so many oppressed groups were honored – for example, in Nica Noelle’s awesome trans-positive flick Forbidden Lovers, and Matthew Clark’s short film Krutch, which focuses on disability and sex.

Honestly, though, it was sort of hard to concentrate on the awards because I was surrounded by so many hot porn stars I could hardly breathe. Dylan Ryan was a few seats to my left, Wolf Hudson was to my right, and directly in front of me were James Darling and Jiz Lee. I have watched all of these people fuck, many times, and have gotten off doing it. I’ve met some of my favorite celebrities before, but seeing someone in person who’s actually induced an orgasm in you (however indirectly) is quite a different story. (And yes, I was way too shy to speak to any of them!)


The next day, I got up bright and early for the Feminist Porn Conference, put together by Tristan Taormino to coincide with the recent release of the Feminist Porn Book (a great read which I highly recommend). My boyfriend, whose career and hobbies have nothing to do with sex, had nonetheless enthusiastically agreed to come with me, so we went together.

The first session we attended was Lesbo Retro: A Dyke Porn Retrospective, hosted by Shar Rednour and Nan Kinney, two totally captivating dykes associated with iconic lesbian porn companies like Fatale Media and On Our Backs. It was an hour of lezzie porn from the ‘60s up through the ’00s. A lot of it was silly and strange – voluminous hair (both on performers’ heads and in their pubic regions), stilted dialogue, “dyke drama” screaming matches – but I walked out of it with damp panties anyhow. (What can I say? I love a good cunnilingus scene.)

Shar and Nan recalled when they couldn’t ship media to certain zip codes because of the obscenity laws that existed there. Sexual acts like fisting and female ejaculation were considered too extreme to be legal. They would have been risking jail time by distributing those materials to some areas, mostly in the south. I said a little prayer of gratitude for the internet and its magical powers of distribution, as well as for the trailblazers (like Shar and Nan!) who ushered us into our more sex-positive time.


The second session we attended was To Be Real: Authenticity in Queer & Feminist Porn. It featured Jiz Lee (swoon), Dylan Ryan (also swoon), Shar Rednour again, and Dr. Jill Bakehorn, a sociologist whose research has focused on feminist porn.

The discussion was lively and thought-provoking. Many questions were raised: what is authenticity? How do we know if something is authentic? How can something as performative as porn ever really be authentic? Are we using the word “authentic” when we really mean something else, like sincerity or relatability? And if it gets us off, does it really matter whether or not it’s authentic?

This conversation really hit home for me, because although I’ve often told myself and others that I like “authentic” porn best, sometimes I watch porn that’s probably as genuine as any but just doesn’t do a damn thing for me – like porn where a performer isn’t making any noise, or is making noise but in a way that’s gratingly repetitive and monotonous. Who am I to say that that’s not how those people genuinely react to sexual stimulation? It would be more accurate to say that I simply like porn that suits my tastes, regardless of how genuine it may or may not be.


Next up was a panel called Being Out Now: How Performers Navigate Sexual Morality and Media Representation. It featured Tina Horn and James Darling (both favorites of mine, both pictured above) as well as Arabelle Raphael, Bianca Stone, Jiz Lee, and Quinn Cassidy.

This panel’s contributors were amazingly diverse in experience and identity. All of them do porn, all of them have at least dabbled in other kinds of sex work (most still do it), two identify as genderqueer, one as trans. All come from different sorts of families with different tolerance levels for what they do and who they are.

There was much discussion about whether one is obligated to come out, and how to remain true to oneself even in situations where one chooses not to come out (a choice usually made out of a desire to maintain safety for oneself and/or the people one is close to). For example, Arabelle suggested that sex workers who don’t want to come out can still vocally support sex workers’ rights when talking to people they’re not out to.

It was interesting to hear the perspective of a white cis male, Quinn Cassidy, in this feminist discourse. He pointed out that the parameters of a person’s “closet” can change depending on what environments that person exists in – meaning, for example, that he often has to “come out” as a cis male in queer communities that may assume he is genderqueer.

Moderator Tina Horn asked the audience to participate in an exercise: we were told to raise our hands if we are “out” about our involvement in the sex world, first to parents, then to siblings, extended family, the world at large, and our employers. It was interesting that so many people (including several of the panelists) said they are out to the internet and the world, but not to their aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

The panel concluded with a discussion on how to be a good ally to sex workers, which included advice like “Listen to them” and “Don’t call yourself a sex worker if you’ve only shot one queer porn scene” and “Start a chapter of SWOP in your area.”


The last session we attended was a Q&A with Shine Louise Houston, the creator of Crash Pad Series, a huge presence in today’s feminist queer porn world. I’ve reviewed a few Crash Pad scenes before (here, here, and here) and I’m a huge fan of the site.

Shine screened a video she made in which she “interviews herself” via the magic of post-production. The interview was funny and honest, like Shine herself. One thing she mentioned which struck me as particularly interesting is that she almost never jerks off to her own porn, even though the whole Crash Pad Series is based around her personal fantasies of voyeurism. She also pointed out that porn is “about more than getting off” – when done well, it can be a medium for pushing boundaries, for exercising one’s right to free speech, and for normalizing certain sex acts so people feel they have permission to explore. Hear hear!

The Q&A session after the video ended up being mostly a discussion about coming out as a pornographer, after Shine confessed that she isn’t out to her kids and doesn’t plan on changing that in the foreseeable future. While I appreciated that some of the audience members felt strongly about coming out as a form of political activism (“being militantly out,” as Quinn Cassidy had phrased it earlier in the day), I didn’t like that some of them seemed to be shaming Shine for her choices. I think everyone gets to choose whether or not they want to come out, and to whom, and it isn’t helpful to shame someone for staying in the closet if that’s what they want to do.

It was also interesting to hear that people frequently complain to Shine about her site not being diverse enough, but that she also receives complaints when she puts a cis male on the site (some past examples include Ned Mayhem and Mickey Mod). How sad that the queer community, known for diversity and acceptance, would revolt against cis guys even if they’re having sex in deliciously transgressive ways.

Just before leaving, I bought a copy of Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Pegging (which had nabbed Tristan the Smutty Schoolteacher award the night before, yay!). Then I headed home, smiling and feeling wonderfully enlightened.

Photo credits: the Feminist Porn Awards, Wikipedia, Crash Pad Series, and Queer Porn Review.

Sharing the Sexy #1

I’m going to start doing a round-up of links to articles, threads, photos, etc. that are relevant to the interests of this blog. It will be sporadic and periodic, but hopefully you’ll still enjoy it! Here’s what I’m diggin’ on this week:

This guy on Sexxit was all in a tizzy because his potential girlfriend masturbates every other day (GASP! The horror!). We set him straight.

• Also on Sexxit: would you date a pre-op trans* person of your preferred gender? The answers are largely offensive and ignorant (as you can generally expect when a mostly cis group has a discussion about trans issues), but there are a few good ones. I liked Afro_Samurai’s comment: “Really not certain how I would feel in terms of physical attractiveness. I’m certain I would be paranoid about saying something insensitive, screwing up with gendered language or something.”

• Misty writes about trans-friendly and genderqueer-friendly parenting. “What your (our!) job is, as a parent, is to give him the strength and confidence to be himself and to face those who will question him and give him crap because he doesn’t conform to their ideas of who he should be. Giving him yourself as support and the tools of confidence is what will ‘protect’ him in the long run.”

• Rosie describes her experience at a Body Pride workshop. I was at the same workshop, and will be putting up my article about it just as soon as I get my hands on the naked photos that were taken of me there!

• The SexIs Social writing contest applicants are being put to a vote. I would really appreciate if you could vote for one of my articles, whichever one you like best – I wrote Menstrual Sex: It’s Not Just For Vampires, The 5 Hallmarks of Feminist Porn, and Why You Should Buy Your Mom a Sex Toy. Thanks, lovelies!

• My new article came out on Sex Toys Canada: How to Improve Your Genital Flavour. It’s a rundown on dietary adjustments and tasty products you can use to sweeten yourself up, if you’re into that. I also wrote an article about the anterior fornix (or A-spot) for SexIs.

This period-tracking app looks perfect! (I use MonthlyInfo.com – do you use a period tracker?)

• I showed my boyfriend this foreskin-fingering technique and asked him if he’d ever tried it. He has a very very sensitive penis, so this was his answer: “AAAAAH WAAAAAT NOOOOO!”

Have a good weekend, y’all! I’ll see you Monday for more chattin’ about porn, sex toys, and all that other good stuff.

Porn Review: Crash Pad Series #100

Crash Pad Series is a staple of the feminist porn scene. If you ask a hip-and-happenin’ queer gal about what kind of porn she likes to watch, she’ll probably mention the Crash Pad. The website currently has well over a hundred extremely hot queer sex scenes available for members to watch, and more clips get filmed on a regular basis.

Still, though, despite all the hotties and heartthrobs to be found all over Crash Pad, the main reason I wanted a membership was so I could see Jiz Lee and Nina Hartley’s scene. I’d just finished reviewing their first fuck and I wanted more.

Crash Pad chose to feature Jiz and Nina’s scene as their special 100th episode, and with good reason: these are two titans of porn. Nina’s background is more mainstream, whereas most of Jiz’s work has been feminist and queer (i.e. not mainstream), so this is an interesting and unexpected pairing in many ways.

The scene starts with Nina admonishing Jiz for being late and wearing a hat indoors. This immediately sets up the dom/sub dynamic that will continue through the rest of the scene. Jiz will call Nina “Sir” for the entire duration of their fuck, a nice touch of strange but sexy queerness that’s lovably typical for feminist queer porn. Both performers seem very comfortable in their roles, and it makes for some very convincing domination and submission.

Whereas their encounter in Live Sex Show was frank and matter-of-fact, Jiz and Nina’s Crash Pad scene feels much more sensual and sexually charged. There’s some sweet, slow kissing, and the scene is rife with impact play – Nina squeezes, slaps, punches, spanks, and bites Jiz at different times. Not once does Jiz seem to react in pain to this treatment; instead, they make pleasure sounds every time they’re hit.

I’d never seen Nina Hartley wear a strap-on before this scene, and she’s wearing a great one – it’s the meaty Maverick. She keeps her jeans and boots on the entire time, and combined with her huge dick, this adds immensely to her aura of authority.

Nina is a fantastic pussy-eater, and Jiz’s reactions definitely reflect that. Someone must have briefed Nina on Jiz’s genderqueer identity since their last meeting, when Nina kept using female pronouns instead of Jiz’s preferred “they/them,” because this time she uses terms like “front-hole” and calls Jiz “boy” a couple of times. It’s nice to see queer identities not only being respected, but being made into something sexy and natural.

There’s fisting in this scene, of course. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a Jiz Lee scene that didn’t involve them being fisted. And as usual, it’s intoxicatingly dirty. Nina must have wicked strong arm muscles.

One of the sweetest and hottest parts of this scene is when Jiz is using the Hitachi on themself while being fisted by Nina. Jiz asks permission to come, and when Nina grants it, Jiz has a thunderous orgasm and says “Thank you, sir” while they are coming. In the behind-the-scenes portion of this clip, Jiz admits that they worried about their ability to act and improvise as the sub character, but you’d never know it from watching them: they totally sell their sub-ness.

After some fucking with Maverick, this scene has maybe the best ending of any I’ve ever seen: during some additional fisting, Jiz says, “Sir, will you punch my hole?” and Nina literally punches Jiz’s junk with her fist. This causes Jiz to immediately squirt all over everything. It’s honestly one of the most epic things I’ve ever seen in porn – and best of all, it’s real, unlike a lot of the squirting in mainstream porn.

The only bad thing I can say about this scene is that the audio quality isn’t as good as it could be – there are occasional weird bumping and banging noises in the background, and sometimes I can’t understand what the performers are saying.

Aside from that, though, it is fucking sexy and I’ll definitely be watching it many more times. If you don’t have a Crash Pad membership already, this scene should be great motivation for you to get on it!