My spouse Em made a big decision a few weeks ago. Coupled with insanely heavy and painful periods, and an increase in gender dysphoria tied to those periods, she agreed that it was time we look into methods to stop her menses. Em is still working through issues surrounding her gender, labels, and whatnot. But, there were two things she knew she wanted. One was that she did not want to start T (that would eventually stop her period), but didn’t want to get any more ‘girly’. The other is that she wanted her periods to stop as soon and easily as possible.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged. I miss it. I don’t know if this will be the start of me getting back into the swing of things, or just a one off. But, I wanted to talk about something – about me, really – and hopefully share a piece of writing that’ll help others.
Over the last few months I’ve started to become more comfortable with talking about my mental health. I think part of that is the bloggers and educators that I’ve surrounded myself with since moving back to the US. Folks like JoEllen Notte and Crista Anne are so open about their mental health goings-on, and how they intersect with their personal and working lives, it’s really helped me sift through the layers of shame that I’ve had. That we all work in a similar field and have the same values also helps. So I’m ready to talk about what’s going on with me.
I’ll start off this post by saying that Amazon is not the best place to get sex toys. I would much prefer it if you found yourself a retailer who you can build a relationship with, that does outreach programs, teaches sex educations classes – a company that gives you more than a sex toy. I don’t buy my sex toys on Amazon. Check out Doxy’s retailers – those are the kind of shops you want to get to know, and who I use.
But I know Amazon is someplace that people go to buy pleasure products. Amazon gift cards exist. Their wish lists are easy to use. As my Twitter friend Ian put it, “The best place to buy food is a decent specialist grocer or butcher. But sometimes you grab a burger.” There can be a lot of scare mongering when it comes to buying sex toys on Amazon. Some of it comes from lack of knowledge about how Amazon works. My hope is to take some of the most heard issues when it comes to Amazon sex toy sales, and do a bit of education myself.
It’s been about a year since I’ve moved back to the US from England, and part of the adjustment has been getting to know the convention and trade show scene here all over again. The Sexual Freedom Summit had been in my ‘hmm, this looks interesting, I should find out more’ list for a few months. Part of the direction that I’m looking to take my work into – especially when it comes to the Doxy brand – is education and activism. SFS was just that – an intermingling of not only educators and activists, but sex workers, mental health experts, doctors, lawyers, pleasure product retailers and manufacturers, bloggers, students – you get the idea. It is the “the event where everything comes together in spectacular conversations about sexual rights”, as the tagline reads. The focus this year was on sex and aging – an area that I’m eager to learn about and bring to the Doxy table, but I was growing a bit burned out of shows and travelling to teach, and though that maybe I’d add it to the 2016 list.
Then JoEllen Notte, a sex educator and mega Doxy supporter knocked on my email door asking about working together for the event. I knew that JoEllen would be a great ambassador for Doxy, and I could judge through her if the Sexual Freedom Summit would be someplace that I’d want to be a part of – but still thinking next year. While attending the ANME trade show, I got a chance to speak with Metis Black of Tantus, along with Ricci Levi, the executive director of Woodhull, my mind was made. My ‘I’m not going to do any more shows for 2015’ list had grown by one, and I’m amazingly glad it did.
It’s been a while since we took part in Sinful Sunday.
So, rather than reinventing the wheel this time around, Em decided to redo a previous post in a 4th of July theme.
See who else is being sinful on this 4th of July.
For a lot of folks, I have one of those ‘dream jobs’. One of the major income streams I have is watching porn and writing descriptions for the actions involved. I’ve watched and written about a number of different porn genres, some of which falls into the ‘taboo’ realm. I’ve worked on revenge porn (scripted and consensual porn flicks designed to look like the non-consensual and often illegal version), rape porn (again – scripted and consensual that looks otherwise), and prolapse porn. Your kink is not my usual kink, and it kind of intrigues me, but your kink is certainly something I’ll work with.
Then there are certain niches that I outright refuse to work on. I won’t do anything with children (even the computer generated child movies), dead bodies, animals, or consumption of blood, scat or urine. Luckily, they are ether illegal or difficult to get payment processing for, so I don’t get much demand for them. Your kink is not my kink, and your kink won’t ever appear on my invoices.
But – there is a grey area for me. Where your kink is not my kink, I’m actively turned off by your kink, but I will still work on that material. I’m not talking just a dislike for the material. I’m talking about working with these niches gives me a physical reaction that is not only unpleasant, but constantly makes me question if I’m charging enough money for my time. There are three that hit the top of that list that seem to come into my inbox on a somewhat regular basis.
Before I started writing this, I picked up the closest book to where I’m sitting. For me, it happens to be “Star Wars – Tales from Jabba’s Palace” that toddler brought me from my bookshelf. This book has a number of features that helps classify the writing inside.
There’s the title in the characteristic Star Wars font across the top. If I didn’t like Star Wars, I probably wouldn’t have read this book. That title on the cover page in no way disallows me from reading it. I would simply choose not to.
There’s an editor name – Kevin J Anderson. If I didn’t like Kevin’s work, I probably wouldn’t have read this collection of stories. His name on the cover in no way disallows me from reading it. I would simply choose not to.
There’s a price on the back – £4.99. If I didn’t agree with that price, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. That price listing on the cover in no way disallows me from reading it. I would simply choose not to.
While this collection of short sci fi stories does not contain a trigger warning, just like the other descriptors listed above, it would not disallow me from reading it. I would simply choose not to.
Even if I did choose not to, those descriptors wouldn’t prevent you from reading it, either.
Listing a title, author’s name or book price is not censorship. Listing a trigger warning isn’t censorship either. It’s simply a way to classify the text inside. For some, this ‘controversial’ descriptor is more necessary than for others.
A lot of what I’ve said above is echoed in this post from “Sometimes, it’s just a cigar”, where jemima2013 goes on to say that “The idea suggested by the Guardian that trigger warnings are censorship is just laughable…” I’d take it a step further – to say that it’s insulting to those dealing with actual censorship (the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts) issues.
I think that’s what’s upset me the most about the ‘anti-trigger-warning’ posse. You’ll keep your WordPress blogs and Facebook accounts and post your videos to YouTube, but heaven forbid if someone wants to get a warning that there’s a rape scene in the text they’re about to read.
But there’s another argument that I’ve seen echoed in some circles – the ‘slippery slope’ of trigger warnings as a future method of censorship. Adding that descriptor as possibly triggering to rape victims, military veterans, child abuse survivors, or any other group which may have an adverse reaction to the material could be used to suppress the material from the general public.
Sure, that could happen. So could book burnings based on a title, or author name, or price range. Why do we not call for the removal of those descriptors, as well? It’s because those descriptions serve a valuable function, just as trigger warnings do.
I also worry that the specific issue highlighted in the Guardian & New York Times piece is getting blown way out of proportion. (I’ve called it the Chicken Little Syndrome in the past.) Groups of students at some American universities are asking that trigger warnings be placed on the course syllabus.
They are not asking for these books to be removed from the course or from the university itself.
They are not calling for publishers to have mandatory trigger warnings on all texts.
They are not asking for these books to have ‘ratings’ which prevents the sale of these books to certain age groups, demographics or locations.
They are requesting additional information so they can make informed decisions about their reading.
For those who are saying “well surely no one needs trigger warnings on the classics / well known authors / usual college standard fare (because everyone already knows what’s going on with those books)” – check your privilege.
For those who think that trigger warnings aren’t necessary because “life is traumatic” – check it again.
Trigger warnings have a valid place in written material, just as the title, author name, and price listing do. I do find it rather strange that those who want to banish trigger warnings from existence are doing so on the basis of those warnings censoring the works. The ones making the fuss are in fact suppressing what they have deemed ‘unacceptable parts’ themselves.
Since so many have asked how this image was taken, I’m updating this post. Mrs has a Canon Rebel T2i and used a basic 55m lens using manual focus to zero in on my chin. She lowered the camera right to the same level as the water – the base of the camera was as close to the bathwater as possible. The reflection in the water naturally occurred but by adjusting the brightness, contrast, and saturation in the photo I was able to bring it out more. I also wore rather dark lipstick so that my features didn’t completely wash out with the contrast changes. Hope that helps!
See who else is being sinful this week.