The Unladylike Project, Part 1: Severe Beauty

img_4063I have poured too many hours of my life into worrying about what men think of me. I try not to think too hard about this. Because if I really knew how many hours I’ve spent, how many tears and how much sweat I’ve shed, wanting men to think I’m pretty and fun and attractive… If I really knew how much of my energy has gone into that one singular, reductive, arguably unimportant goal… I think I’d probably have some kind of breakdown.

Look, I love men. Many of my favorite people are men, and many of my favorite days or hours or moments in my life have been spent with men. But the fact is, for all my pontificating about self-love and being happy on your own, I put an awful lot of stock into what men think of me. Our shallow, patriarchal culture is adamant that women’s value hinges on our ability to attract a man, and I’ve bought into that myth hook, line and sinker.

So in an effort to shake myself loose of those chauvinistic shackles, I’m starting a series called The Unladylike Project. In each instalment, I’ll challenge one of the dogmatic beliefs I hold about needing to seem “ladylike” and attractive to men. ‘Cause fuck dogma. I’ll live how I want to, regardless of what men think.

img_4064First up: “severe” beauty. I started thinking about this when my friend Sarah coined the term #SpookyFemme to describe her aesthetic: intense eyebrows, dark-colored clothes, and (most notably) dark lipstick. It’s a style I admire enormously, for its unapologetic boldness and – yes – severity. But on my own face and in my own life, I struggle to rock that spooky-stern look. It just feels like… too much. Too much of a statement, too attention-grabbing, too cyborg-like and not “feminine” enough. So for the most part, I stick to my safe pinks and reds.

When trying to pull apart my actual preferences from the patriarchal culture that shaped them, I find it helpful to ask myself: how would I do this differently if I was alone? Would I still attire myself like this, do my face like this? And in the case of makeup, I know that what I like and what I actually do are not always a perfect match. When I’m spending the whole day alone and experience an urge to play with makeup, most often I do some kind of wild, over-the-top look, with colorful eyeshadow and strange lipstick. It makes me feel powerful – but only in the absence of men who would drain the certainty of that power from me.

16692855009_06fa26a1e0_oLast year, a friend invited me to her spring equinox party. Having hung out with that friend’s crew of pals before, I knew it would be a group of mostly or exclusively LGBTQ women. Queer babes celebrating a witchy holiday with a bonfire, guided meditation, and intention-setting: it was a blast. But getting dressed for the event was almost as fun for me as the event itself, because I had a sense of sartorial freedom that I rarely experience anymore.

Because there were no cis men in attendance, I felt weirdly free to dress how I actually wanted to dress, instead of putting on a “cool girl” costume of sorts. I decided my aesthetic for the evening would be “lesbian witch” with an element of the extraterrestrial, and I chose my ensemble accordingly. A drapey purple cardigan topped off a plain white T-shirt and some obnoxiously bright floral-print leggings. I slipped on my chunky biker boots and hung a rose quartz point on a chain around my neck. As the finishing touch, I clipped two poufs of tulle into my hair, one green and one purple, one on each side of my head, like alien antennae.

I felt powerful in this outfit. My usually-soft femininity felt laser-sharp, aggressively focused, unapologetically intense. And I got compliments on my ensemble all night long.

I’m not a soft, delicate person inside; there’s no reason I should have to attire myself that way. A man who is intimidated by bold beauty will never be able to handle the deeper boldness lurking under my skin. Realistically, any partner who sticks around in my life will need to not only accept my assertiveness but adore it. So maybe I should start dressing more often in a way that shows off my inner dynamo.

It’s okay if some people think I look “weird” or “scary.” Those folks aren’t my key demographic, anyhow.

Monthly Faves: Pink Dildos, Pink Lips, & Pink Butts

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This was my sluttiest month to date, if you use “number of different sexual partners” as your metric for sluttiness, and I’m having a lot of complicated feelz about that. Cultural messages tell us promiscuity is the domain of the love-starved, fucked-up, and emotionally empty. Vindictive slut-shamers tell us promiscuity is unethical, hurtful, and harmful. It’s hard not to take those messages to heart.

But when I get real quiet and listen to my own feelings, I get a glimpse of the truth. Sure, sometimes my sluttiness is a ruse to bolster my self-esteem and fill my oft-depressed days… but mostly, it’s not. Mostly, my pursuit of sex is a joyful one, rooted in self-love, excitement, and freedom. I’m always safe, I’m not reckless, and I maintain my emotional integrity in sexual encounters as much as I can – so it’s a happy part of my life, generally. It’s easy to forget that, but writing my Monthly Faves post at the end of each month is a way of reminding myself just how much delight is brought into my life by sex, in all its many forms. Gratitude rewires your brain and I think it’s good for your sex life, too. So here are some of the sexy things I treasured most in August…

Sex toys

Eroscillator sent me their Top Deluxe model and my clit is smitten. (“Clitten,” you might say.) I’ve loved my standard-model Eroscillator for over four years (!!) so it feels good and right to have finally upgraded to the fancier, more powerful version. I’m going to review it soon, but suffice it to say: holy hot damn, this thing makes me come like a mofo.

• I special-ordered Godemiche‘s new Ambit dildo in glittery pink silicone, and it makes me deliriously happy. It’s my dream femme cock. I can’t wait for the day I get to slide it through the O-ring of my pink leather harness and fuck someone cute with my sparkly dick.

• All of us bloggers got plenty of freebies at Woodhull. One of the treats I went home with is a little bottle of Sliquid Soul, a natural lube that’s primarily made of coconut oil. It’ll never be a go-to lube for my partnered encounters because I usually use latex barriers (and oil breaks down latex), but for solo fun or non-penetrative pleasures, it’s soooo sensuous and lovely. I love oiling up a glass or steel dildo so it’ll slide into me frictionlessly, and I love how moisturized and happy my vulva feels afterward!

Fantasy fodder

• I am an all-purpose spanking enthusiast. Whether I’m topping or bottoming, there is just something electrically hot and exciting to me about the impact of hands or implements on gorgeous butts. Sometimes there’s not even a particularly sexual element; I can spank or be spanked by totally platonic friends and I still get some kind of emotional satisfaction out of it. I try not to question it too much – who can tell why we like what we like? Spanking’s just something I enjoy, for whatever reason, and I’m glad I get so many opportunities to participate in it. (Check out the bruises I gave Suz. Yeesh. That lady is a champ.)

• You know, I don’t think of myself as much of an exhibitionist or sexual thrill-seeker, but I had two different sexual encounters in public places this month and enjoyed ’em both a lot. On one occasion, I got kissed, held down, and slapped around by a dom-y partner in an alley after a drinks date. Just a couple days later, I was out with another partner at night, and we walked through a deserted parkette and got a little handsy… and then a little more-than-handsy, naw’m sayin’? I’m not into involving spectators nonconsensually in my sexytimes, so I would only ever do this if I was pretty certain no one would see – but with that caveat, public fucktimes can be a rare treat!

• My kinks have shifted and changed a lot over the years, but one of the things that consistently and abundantly turns me on is when a partner knows my body really well. Maybe it’s my sex-as-a-service kink, but fuck, I love it when someone knows exactly how to get me off. My current longest-running sexual relationship is with an FWB who I’ve known for a year, and his expert grasp of my body’s erogenous zones and rhythms is so hot in and of itself.

Sexcetera

• It was so much fun attending my first Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit this year! I got to commune with several of my blogger pals, soak up sex-nerdy knowledge from smart folks galore, and feel like a renowned and respected maven. It feels so, so good to have a community of fellow sex bloggers to rely on for emotional support, professional advice, and commiseration. I’m so grateful that the internet has enabled me to connect with like-minded folks and build these friendships that matter so much to me. 💖

• I got to do a lot of sex-related writing on other websites this month! I wrote about introducing sex toys to a partner, alternative uses for sex toys, and buzzy vs. rumbly vibrations for Ignite, and I expounded on A-spot toys for Peepshow. (Did you know I’m always available for writing projects? Click here for more info!)

• I bit the bullet and launched a Patreon! Now you can support my work financially if you want to. Each reward level comes with perks – for example, for $1/month, you get to read regular behind-the-scenes journal entries about what’s going on in my life; for $5/month, you get to read each new blog post a day before it launches; and for $10/month, you get access to my Snapchat. Patreon is a lovely way for fans to support creators directly, so if my work is meaningful to you and you’ve got some money to chip in, I’d love for you to come join my crew!

Femme stuff

• Hot pink lipstick is a signature of sorts for me, and I’m always looking for that next life-changing pink. I recently bought Bourjois liquid lipstick in the shade “Pink Pong” (ugh, quelle terrible pun!) and it’s the exact type of cool-toned bright pink that gives me femme heart-eyes. Plus it smells good (sort of like pink grapefruit?) and the texture is smooth. Just don’t expect to be able to make out with someone or give a blowjob in this lipstick; whenever I try, I inevitably leave a pink residue all over my beau. (Luckily, I mostly date the kind of person who just finds this cute.)

• The beautiful Hedonish gave me an orangey-red Bobbi Brown lip pencil at Woodhull and I wore it obsessively for the rest of the trip (and then the rest of the month). I don’t normally like orangey lip shades on myself, but this one is weirdly flattering.

• My main femme obsession this month was my new tattoos! They make me so freakin’ happy every time I see them. At the time of writing, they’re still healing and a little itchy and sore, but I can tell they’re going to look incredible once the skin’s done regenerating. I used to be insecure about my chubby thighs, but it’s really hard for me to hate a part of my body that’s emblazoned with adorable pink bows and my favorite kinky term of endearment!

Little things

Lifestyles Tuxedo condoms, “the dressiest condoms on the market.” Woodhull inside jokes, like “Damn, he’s got a dick!” and #Dildough. Smoking weed in the parking lot like a bunch of teenage degenerates. Everything Joanna Thangiah makes. Meeting Nina Hartley. A smart, handsome boy calling me “a cool cute cinnamon roll.” The Adventure Zone, always. Coffee shop work-dates with friends. The feeling of accomplishment when I successfully navigate an airport by myself. Blogging on a plane. Stranger Things. My wonderfully kink-positive and poly-positive new therapist. Beer Doms. “I want to go somewhere quiet with you and just talk for hours.” Allison Moon’s inspirational talk on “self-publishing for radicals.” Tough-but-kind romantic advice from Epiphora and Lilly. Dungeons & Dragons. Carly Rae Jepsen. Goldilocks spankings. Mango smoothies. “Don’t take this the wrong way, because it’s a very good thing: your boobs are the boob equivalent of Mario in Mario Kart. They’re middle-of-the-road; they offer something for everyone.”

12 Days of Girly Juice: 12 Femme Essentials

12 Days of Girly Juice is a year-end celebration of all things girly, sexy, pleasurable and fun. Y’all know the kind of stuff I write about: sex, relationships, beauty, fashion, self-improvement. That’s the stuff I’ll be highlighting on this here blog, in big juicy year-end lists, for all of December. Today, we begin with femme goodness. Enjoy!

 

I have the type of personality where I get obsessed with things for short periods of time and then move on. That’s especially true when it comes to objects designed to be used up, upgraded and replaced, like beauty and fashion items. (Oh, dat consumerist escalator. It never stops!!)

That said, there are some femme obsessions that endured through most or all of my 2015. Here are some of them…

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Lip Products

If I ever stop thinking Bite lipstick in “Violet” is the most beautiful hot pink I’ve ever seen, you have my permission to check my pulse to make sure I’m not dead. Because I have a feeling I’ll be in love with this babe for a very long time.

Creamy, pigmented, and long-lasting, its formula is so gloriously on-point that I can throw it on and not worry about it for the rest of the night. And the shade – somewhere between fuchsia, purple, and Jem-and-the-Holograms neon pink – lights up my whole face and just makes me feel like me.

Another favorite lip hue this year was NARS Audacious lipstick in “Charlotte.” I stalked it on swatch sites, ogled it at Sephora, mercilessly Googled it, trawled its Instagram tag. I was a girl possessed. When I finally got my hands on it, it wasn’t quite all I had hoped – it gets crumbly and patchy if I dare to drink a coffee while wearing it, let alone eat an actual meal – but that color. Oh, that color. It is the sexy cranberry of my most glamorous Christmasy dreams. I dutifully reapply as needed, even if that’s 3 or 4 times a night, because it makes me feel like a starlet in a climactic, snowy love-confession scene.

My lipstick list would not be complete without MAC’s “Fashion Revival.” It came out in MAC’s limited-edition Matte Lip collection and I SNAPPED THAT SHIT UP because it is the most, most, most perfect fall/winter color. Described as a “deep raspberry,” it’s somehow a pink with all the drama and glamor of a great red. Fuck. Yes.

While TokyoMilk Salted Caramel Lip Elixir doesn’t lend any color to my lips, I had to include it in this list because it’s been my go-to “gonna-get-kissed-tonight” product since I got it. It’s thick and moisturizing without being sticky or gross, and of course, it tastes like caramel. I’ve known a lot of boys who refuse to kiss lipsticked ladies, but it’s hard to turn down kisses from someone who tastes this good.

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Other Makeup

Laura Mercier translucent loose setting powder was a recommendation from Jaclyn Hill and I’m sure glad I listened to her. I dust this on top of my foundation with a brush, or pat it on with a makeup sponge, and it keeps my face oil-free for… well, until I next wash my face, whenever that might be. As someone whose T-zone would ordinarily make a fantastic Slip ‘n’ Slide for tiny people, I have to say this is pretty damn impressive.

MAC Liquidlast eyeliner is the real deal. Cry, walk through a rainstorm, sweat, rub your eyes, get fucked with your face buried in a pillow, and the rest of your makeup may smear but your eyeliner will still look fresh as hell. It’s gloopy and hard to apply and the brush is weird, but it’s still the only eyeliner I’ll wear if I think I might be crying, sweating, and/or having sex. Which, let’s face it, is most days.

I used to be terrified of blush, because I blush a lot as is. Tarte Amazonian Clay blush in “Natural Beauty” converted me, though. It’s super pigmented and easy to blend, and the color really does look natural. It also straddles the line between pink and red, so I can pair it with just about any lipstick. Perrrrrf.

I would be remiss to leave Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade off this list. It’s such a daily staple for me, such a given and a must-have and a “duh!” part of my beauty routine, that I almost forgot it. But it is vital to my look. My eyebrows are like Samson’s hair: without ’em, I’m nothing. Thanks, Dipbrow, for another year of power brows.

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Clothing

I’m cheating a little by lumping all my polka-dot dresses into one item on this list. OH WELL. When I look back at what clothing made me feel reeeeal femme ‘n’ fabulous in 2015, these dresses take the cake. I bought blue and black ones at Loveless Boutique, a goldmine of rockabilly gorgeousness I serendipitously discovered next door to my hairdresser’s salon one day. The green one was a thrift-store score, and makes me feel like a Scooby Doo character. Too lovely!

I’ve been obsessed with thigh-high socks for a long time, but this was the year when I started wearing them on a regular basis. Whether rainbow-striped or sporty, from American Apparel or Sock Dreams or anywhere else, I just love them. And as a bonus: in my experience, wearing thigh-highs gets you a lot of sexual attention…!

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Jewelry

If you’ve seen me in person at a sex-related event in the past few months, I’ve probably forced you to look at my vulva ring. It’s a custom job from Catstache Accessories and I’m obsessed with it. There is nothing quite like the reaction I get from people when they realize it’s a vulva… and then when I tell them it’s my vulva, specifically.

My other fave accoutrement this year was my eyeball necklace. I spotted the pendant in a display case at the Lincoln City glass studio where we made our own glass dildos, and it was so strange that I just had to have it. I threaded it onto some white suede string and now it often holds a place of honor between my breasts, staring creepily back at anyone who dares to ogle me.

 

What were your favorite beauty-and-fashion items in 2015, my loves?

What’s In My Bag: Fall 2015

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Do you ever look through the contents of your bag and just think, “This really sums up my entire personality/life”? I do that on the regular, but today was a particularly great example.

I recently bought this Zatchels shoulder bag, and while it doesn’t fit the zillions of items I would like it to, it can still hold a good amount of mostly-flat stuff. And it’s so damn cute that I don’t mind its low capacity too much.

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Today the bag contained (clockwise from top-centre):

  • My journal, without which I rarely leave the house. I always bring this with me when I go to work (for epic emotional unpacking on my break-time) or when I’m going to be sitting and waiting anywhere for a while (like on the streetcar or at the doctor’s office). Writing about my life helps me process its events, figure shit out and decide what I want to do next.
  • My iPad mini. This was one of those purchases that I thought I “didn’t really need,” but then I’ve ended up using it for soooo many different things. I often bring it with me when I interview folks for articles I’m writing, so as to record our conversations; I also listen to music on it all day at work, take notes in Evernote on it at school, watch movies on it when I’m bored, and so much more. It’s my constant companion and my surrogate brain!
  • My iPhone earbuds. Crucial. What would life be without music and podcasts?! I love that these earbuds have a little remote on them, so I don’t have to take my phone out of my pocket to pause the audio or adjust the volume. Brilliant.
  • My wallet, which is by Danier Leather. It’s so simple and classic and sexy. You’ve gotta carry a wallet so it might as well be one you like the look of!
  • Maybelline Creamy Matte lipstick in “Rich Ruby.” This isn’t even available in Canada yet so I had to order it online, but it was worth it. It is such a perfect red, and the formula really stays put on my lips without being too drying. Best!
  • My beloved We-Vibe Tango. Normally this would be by my bedside, but I packed it in here a few days ago because I thought I might be having sex that night and wanted to be prepared. The sex didn’t pan out after all, but it’s still nice to have a good vibrator on hand for all eventualities…
  • Lifestyles Tuxedo condoms. I find these hilarious because they’re black and supposedly for “formal occasions.” They also get pretty good reviews, sensation-wise, from both internet commentators and my ex-boyfriend.
  • Junior Mints. I practically fell asleep multiple times at my desk today while at work, and bought these to pep me up. They worked, but they also made my stomach hurt. Sad trombone.
  • Extra pen + pencil. A writer is always prepared!

What do you keep in your bag on the regular?

Monthly Favorites: Grey Glass & Fingerfucking

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You guys, August was such a weird/exciting month for me sexually. It was a bit of a whirlwind. Let’s identify some highlights…

Toys

• Surprise, surprise: my most-used toy of the month was the Fucking Sculptures G-Spoon. Or, as Luthvian aptly calls it, the “G-Swoon.” Nothing else feels quite like it, except maybe the fingers of a partner who knows exactly where my A-spot is and how to stimulate it. Holy fuck.

Peepshow Toys sent me the Jimmyjane Iconic Wand this month and I have been diggin’ it. It has its problems (hang tight for my review) but it feels Hitachi-esque without the Hitachi’s excess bulk or noise. A surprise smash!

• The Eroscillator could be on this list for literally any month of my sex toy reviewing career, because I got it when I started my blog and it’s been my right-hand man ever since. But I felt a renewed appreciation for it this month, when I used it in a partnered-sex situation for the first time in a long while. It still works really well in that context. (And, to the immense credit of the dude I was using it with: he already knew what it was, and was interested to feel how oscillations differ from vibrations. ♥)

 

Fantasy fodder

• In mid-August, I got finger-fucked so excellently that the memory proceeded to make me blush and giggle daily for the rest of the month. I had never really thought of finger-fucking as a particularly nuanced skill before, but hooooly shit, some people are ridiculously, brain-warpingly good at it.

• This Jake Peralta/Nick Miller crossover fanfic hasn’t even gotten sexy yet, but the very idea of that pairing entertained me in my carnal moments after reading it. (Let the record show that Bisexual Jake Peralta is canon, now and forever, amen.)

• I experimented this month with jerking off to non-sexual recordings of people who have attractive voices. (Mostly Benedict Cumberbatch reading poetry.) It didn’t really work. My mind got too wrapped up in the subject matter and I couldn’t focus enough to get off. Does this mean I don’t have a voice kink?

 

Sexcetera

• hahahaaaa I got laid for the first time in ~16 months. It was both a totally big deal and not a big deal at all, if you know what I mean, which is nice. (Just in time for my breakupiversary, too!)

• I attempted Tinder this month. It is kind of awful (for me, anyway). I have feelings about it. You will get to read ’em soon.

 

Femme stuff

• I am in talks with an Etsy seller to order a piece of vulva art-jewelry custom-made to look like my actual vulva. Obviously I am going to write all about it when the deal is done and the vulva-ring is on my finger!

• My new signature scent is Elizabeth & James Nirvana White. It is summery, feminine, and a little bit sexy (much like my previous, much-beloved, tragically-discontinued signature scent, Kate by Kate Moss). My bestie says it smells a bit like white wine, which might explain why I’m drawn to it…

NARS Audacious lipstick in “Charlotte” is the ideal cranberry red and you can’t convince me otherwise.

 

What were you obsessed with over the past month, my loves?