The Other Side of Expectation

I found myself in the middle of a wonderful moment the other night. It was simple enough, I was eating dinner with a couple friends in my bedroom. I was dressed comfortably for the cool weather, and relaxed on my bed as we ate. We were in my bedroom because I have just moved to a new apartment and don’t have any furniture for the living room yet, and our kitchen is too small for a table… One of my friends was collared with a dog collar around their neck and topless, wearing only a rope harness I had tied onto their body earlier. They were eating out of a dog dish with no hands at the foot of my bed and grinning ear to ear while chatting about this and that between mouthfuls… This charming pup/boy had cooked dinner and served my guest and I: a wonderful and tasty vegan dinner paired with wine. They were collared and harnessed because they are my pup/boy, and it was the least I could do in appreciation of their service and care for the evening. (Well, I suppose I also beat them up a bit as well — just enough to get them giggling and smiling and merrily on their way to the kitchen…)

My other guest was stripped completely naked and kneeling properly on a blanket on the floor by my side. Beautiful posture, quiet demeanor, and holding a small tea saucer and chopsticks in his hands. His eyes were big practically unblinking saucers throughout our meal, experiencing the moment he was in wholly, and taking small bites of the food I placed on his dish from my own plate. His attention was studied and careful, eating when I ate, drinking when I drank, and gracefully taking the whole experience in. This guest of mine had just cleaned my bathroom while dinner was being made. Earlier in the evening I had brought him to his first proper sex positive/kinky/queer/feminist sex store… If his eyes were dark saucers of pupil now during this meal, you can imagine how the soft brown of his irises had disappeared in that environment earlier. Under my instruction he had bought a new toy he was curious about trying out. I am holding the gift in my home until he has learned enough about pleasing me to earn his reward…

In the middle of our simple dinner I thought to myself, “Oh this, this is my life — this is my life and I am so very happy and grateful for it”.

Is this blog meant to brag about my situation? No, but I do want to talk about that feeling. I experience this particular shade of gratefulness not infrequently in the midst of nontraditional happenings. It creeps up on me during sex and fetish parties while trussed up in bizarre predicaments, or watching a room full of people vulnerable, raw, and connecting deeply. I get it performing onstage with talented politically adept fellow actors who are telling their stories and raising fists against the ghosts and injuries of their pasts. This feeling washes over me on perfectly temperate days sitting in the sun deep in nature away from other humans, and it comes to me when I’m lost in writing or my art making process. This feeling tastes like contentment infused with excitement, there are hints of sensuous power at the edges of it’s balanced and grounded finish. The feeling is a restful animal, turned on, full, knowing all is right with the world.

How did I find myself here in this beautiful moment surrounded by good food, a happy pup, and turned on houseboy? In short, I got here because I made it happen. The more detailed answer is through years of hard work examining my own issues and trying out different paths towards pleasure. I got here by fighting for my own identity to be acknowledged — first by myself, and then by others around me. I got here by studying sexuality and human behavior, by making mistakes along the way, and acknowledging the depths to which I self-repress. Like most people I sometimes release my needs sideways, which is a problem I’ve consciously kept examining and challenging, and committed to work towards a more and more direct path to pleasure — my own and others’. I’ve zig-zagged through relationships which did not suit me finding a million reasons to better learn “no”, I’ve learned to stand my ground about gender, sexual identity, non-monogamous heart longings, kink-over-sex limitations (my healthy preferences)… I’ve had to accept myself first against deep fears that I will be abandoned or slandered by those who don’t understand my wants and needs in effort to be happy. I’ve battled guilt about advocating for my desires, and I’ve come to the other side stronger and more fully realized after each ending.

Along the way I’ve met more and more friends who understand me layers down deeply. Friends who see me and who value my voice as I celebrate and thrill at the creatures they are too. I’ve met people who have given me permission to be wholly myself, who’ve demanded I say what I mean rather than what I think anyone listening expects to hear. I have learned to better love from these imps and faeries as they’ve allowed me. I’ve started to dare showing up in spaces I was afraid were not mine to inhabit (though I’ve fantasized for decades about being welcomed in them), and I’ve felt my jaw drop in awe at the beauty there which I’ve spent years missing out on, by way of fear, self worth traps, and denial.

This is what it’s like to live outside the comfort of dominant society. There are gifts glittering in the trees and campfires of our queer Elders who reside on the outer edges of normativity. I’ve found new breath in dirty drafty bars smelling of stale tobacco, leather, cheap beer, and human musk. There are concrete rooms draped in cloth and furnished with benches, wooden rigs, and outfitted with toys of every imagined use, which hold onto the sweaty stench of lust while nightly showcasing mad desires and the everyday stunt people who conquer knives, needles, whip lashings, feather ticklers, gruff melting words to the ear, bootprint bruises, chains for hitting or bondage, seduction via a potent mix of jealousy/shame/compersion/voyeurism released during a bull’s intentional thrusts, and in dark corners you can find instances of heartbreaking love coursing through the body of a kneeling silent creature holding onto the well known leg of their Master…

From the years of puberty on we are taught to see some “thing” that we want, and conquer it with a quick fuck, a ring, relational rules tempered by selfishness and leading frequently to lies. I am grateful to be sitting in a room with people who make my heart sing. I am thankful to have scattered across the country playmates of varied genders and relationship styles who are as happy to have me in their bed as they are to simply take tea and catch up, or choreograph an evening of humiliation and pain, or submit to my will, or mold me, putty that I am, between their own fingers for a night… I like this adult life of eyes which sparkle, pupils that dilate wide in awe and anticipation of what comes next in our scene, of building trust through clear and open communication of our fantasies, our desire, boundaries, always ruled within the constitution of presentness, consent, respect, and earned trust.

We are a tradition of animals who have told ourselves “no” enough times to understand what we are capable of, and not starting in until we are ready to jump. We are improv performers gifted at exiting gracefully from our scenes when we are ready for an end. We are bodies full of scars and pleasure points hidden sometimes from even ourselves, scouring each other’s maps for adventurous answers to common problems. We are simple. We are ridiculous. We are educated in the dangers we employ, and oathed to take responsibility for inevitable downfalls, for our mistakes and unforeseen consequences. We find happiness in silly places — and goddamn if that in itself isn’t some kind of satisfyingly sexy win.

If  you didn’t know it, this is a love letter. Thank you to the scores of friends who have guided and helped shape my journey, to the hands pleasuring my way on each new adventurous day, and to the future teachers and students of my body, my heart, and my mind. That I can experience and articulate my joy is in service to every single one of you. May my findings be permission for others to wonder what might be if they seeked out a new kind of happiness, one that looks like a private fantasy but exists somewhere safely and consensually close by, a fantasy shared by other architects and creators of desire.

Play On My Friends,
~ Creature

Please support my work on Patreon. For one time donations click here: Support the Artist 
~Thank you.

Safe Space isn’t about Consent

“Danger Do Not Cross”, a performance of mine from a few years back. Photo by Sarah Paterson

If we intend on creating safe spaces (especially for women and minority people) to explore our sexualities openly, we have a lot of work to do. When I say “we” I mean everyone, but I especially mean all men, people who aren’t minorities, and those who have more privilege within their minority communities than the people they are sharing space with.

Everyone loves sex and kink and parties, right? It feels so good! A room full of oxytocin, adrenaline, and dopamine gets only more intoxicating the more people are added to the mix! And of course you have thought ahead, of course you have considered who to invite and not invite, you’ve written your party rules and sent them out for all to see. Consensual play is one of them, in fact you have it BOLDED in the email sent out to everyone: CONSENT IS SEXY — CONSENT OR GO HOME — CONSENT OR BANISHMENT FROM THE FOLD!!!

But do you mean it?

Do you? Are you willing to put your body and this idea between predators — especially those predators who are people you know well — and the victims and/or survivors who they have harmed?

As mastermind of this environment, as host/co-host/producer/involved friend/moderator/Dungeon Master/partygoer… are you willing to involve yourself (maybe painfully) in the processes of teaching friends, keeping in check, mediating, cutting ties, working towards remediating those people who fuck up, being supportive and attentive to those who’ve been harmed in your space, and choosing between close friends who you’ll completely and unequivocally support? Are you willing to put the notion out there that your group/party/event stands up for and gives resources first and foremost to people who deserved to maintain their autonomy, and consider a violation of that tantamount to violation of the event itself and your own reputation? Are you ready to not only kick out, but detain and question those who have abused your open space and vulnerable friends? Are you willing to be vocal about your commitment to survivors of assault and their needs over the reputation of your event or a perpetrator’s privacy? These questions are ones you should not just kneejerk say “of course” to.

Close your eyes and imagine throwing your best friend out of your house and having to mediate clearly and firmly their ban on your events because they molested someone at the party — someone, perhaps, you don’t even know, or someone who you don’t personally like that much, someone who you think is loud and obnoxious, or overly sensitive in general. Now try again, this time run through your mind what it will be like having to do these things with someone who is very useful to you, someone who is a good client, who has given your community many resources, who owns the property you’re using, who pays your rent, who has some type of power over you in the non-party world. Are you sure you have the stomach to act steadfast in honor of a victim in your safe space still?

Safe space isn’t about consent, it’s about the shape and resilience of the container itself.

It is unfortunate that to experience our sexualities and sensualities we often need protection and safeguards in place to allow us, for just a moment, to let go of the walls we’ve built up over the years and past abuses. It is only honest to acknowledge that at the moment we do let go we are vulnerable. We are vulnerable to people without boundaries, without socialization surrounding sexual boundaries, without clear thinking, and without respect. Vulnerable to people who drink too much, who are on drugs, who have decided to drug someone else. We are vulnerable to peer pressure, to bullying, to force, to surprise attack. We are vulnerable to grabbing, staring, and invasion of personal space by people who don’t think casual touch is worth asking about. We are vulnerable to a slew of things we haven’t considered possible, much less the ones we knowingly brace ourselves against. If you want to create safe space for this vulnerable and fragile process of letting go, you must also be actively involved in the aftermath when molestation (unfortunately too frequently) occurs.

How do we do this?

Let’s talk about that.

Safe space is about listening. Let’s look at that from the ground up for a minute. It is because we do not listen to our victims that we become predators. Perhaps we have not been listened to ourselves, and so that practice has become a habit we perpetrate on others. Perhaps we aren’t listening because we have blocked our sensibilities with the unbalancing reality of inebriants. Perhaps a million other reasons, it doesn’t matter what they are in the end. It is because there is a dearth of listening that we have gotten to this place of frequent abuse to begin with.

The perpetrator of an assault is not listening to their victim. We, as community and responders to the situation, must first and foremost be willing to listen to victims and survivors. This, of course, means we need to listen to women. We need to listen to black and brown people and others who aren’t white skinned. We must listen to queers, transgender folk, and to sex workers. We must listen to people who are in shock, angry, tearful, overtly emotional, quiet, afraid, reactionary, and confused. We must to listen to them about what they’ve experienced and their needs, and we must learn to action around their words first.

This means we must be quiet. We must be willing to sit in a corner and hear what is being said, and we must learn to untangle our own fears, personal triggers, “yeah, buts”, and agendas from what we’re being told is needed in any given moment. We must not decide that because we’ve been through this before that we know what to do. We can let those experiences inform us, but we must listen to the people in the moment that is happening right now in order to be present enough for responsible action and actual help.

This scratches the surface about how to create a safe space for open sexuality, but it’s the most important tool we can learn to use I think. Also:

  • Have an experienced sober Dungeon Master or two committed to being present where there is play.
  • Have Moderators or Party Officials who are introduced at the beginning of the party and available to be pulled aside at any point to be talked to if someone is feeling uncomfortable or if something that needs to be dealt with happens.
  • Have an opening circle where participants introduce themselves quickly, or at least have the host address everyone and lay out the rules and expectations of the event.
  • Consider having a cut-off time for arrivals. This works great if you have an opening circle as everyone can be expected to participate. Even if you don’t though, closing the door and sealing the space from outsiders, intruders, or people who are coming late and possibly inebriated helps control the space itself.
  • Make your parties sober and commit to throwing out anyone suspected of being under the influence, or have a “If you’re too inebriated to drive, you’re too inebriated to consent” rule.
  • Have “no play” zones where no play is happening (the kitchen or wherever food is is great for this) so that people who are feeling uncomfortable or triggered or needing a time out or to escape someone’s attention in a play space can comfortably exist without question about why they aren’t playing.
  • Have a plan clearly in place about what to do if something happens. Know how the situation will be dealt with, and who is commited to deal with it.
  • Have a buddy system in place where everyone at the party comes with another person, with the understanding that if your buddy gets thrown out you do too no matter what is going on. This helps create accountability in terms of people only inviting people they think will be responsible, but it also ensures that if someone is kicked out for being drunk hopefully their buddy isn’t. Ask that people check in with their buddies throughout the night…
  • Have a committed designated driver or sober crew at the party who can bring people home or to safety or simply be more aware when they see odd behavior.
  • Have people at the party who are trained in how to deal with an assault when one occurs.
  • Have a follow-up plan for victims and perpetrators already in place.

These are only a few suggestions.

Consent can only happen once someone has deigned to ask for it and decided to listen. Consent is a popular word and an important practice which feels like a row of shining stars: THIS PERSON IS SUPER CONSENSUAL, A+++! It is not, however, what creates safe space alone. Of course, we must get positive enthusiastic consent to play. But first we have to ask questions, we have to listen, we have to be willing to accept responsibility for what is happening around us. We must listen to people we aren’t used to listening to. We must learn.

Play On My Friends,
~ Creature

Please support my work on Patreon. For one time donations click here: Support the Artist 
~Thank you.

Public Service Announcement

Photo by RADskillZ Photography 2013

You do not have the right to:

  • You do not have the right to anybody else’s body but your own. Ever. Period.

Because this principle so frequently seems to need a list of reminders about what it means, here goes.

You do not have the right to:

  • Grab my ass without my consent.
  • Grab my pussy, tits, or any other body part you haven’t asked to grab and been given the go ahead about.
  • Stick your fingers, genitals, sex toys, or any other object in any of my orifices without my explicit consent.
  • Tell me your fantasies about me unless I ask you to, or I consent when you ask for my permission to share them.
  • Tell me your sexual/sensual/kink fantasies which don’t include me unless I ask you to, or I consent when you ask my permission to share them.
  • Threaten me, act passively aggressive, act plain ‘ol aggressive, bully me, peer pressure me, or any other form of not accepting what I’m telling you when I turn you down or let you know I am disinterested in your advances.
  • Drug me without my knowledge.
  • Take advantage of me when I’m not capable of consent due to any form of drug, alcohol, or emotionally/psychologically dissociative condition.
  • Restrict my ability to leave a situation if and when I chose to.
  • Ignore me or continue on when I tell you to stop.
  • Restrain me in any way so that you may continue on when I have told you to stop.
  • Remove a condom or other barrier method without my knowledge, exposing myself or yourself to any number of health risks including pregnancy. This takes my autonomy and my choice away from me, and it is a form of rape.
  • Make sexual advances on people who are underage if you are an adult.
  • Shame me for the choices I make for and about my own body.
  • Shame me for the sexual and sensual partners I choose to engage with consensually.
  • Shame me for the sexual and sensual activities I engage in with consenting adult partners.

No, this list is not exhaustive.

No, I don’t care if it’s an orgy or sex party or there are multiple people within arms reach who are also getting sexy. All of the above realities still apply.

You do have permission (not a right) to:

  • Touch the person who invited you to join the orgy/sex party/multiple-people-getting-sexy-space, BUT only in the ways you’ve negotiated, and continue to negotiate permissions with them. You must ask before you touch anyone else involved in the scene or nearby. If you want to touch, you must negotiate first.
  • Do the things we’ve negotiated doing in the way we’ve negotiated doing them.

You do have the right to:

  • Ask me if I want to know about your fantasies which include me.
  • Ask me if I want to know about your fantasies which do not include me.
  • Ask me how much I’ve had to drink or how inebriated I am before negotiating with me, touching, or playing with me.
  • Check in frequently about whether what we’re doing is ok, still ok, enjoyable, if I’d like something different, etc.
  • Ask me for what you would like.
  • Ask me whatever questions you have about how I feel and what I need (unless I’ve asked you not to).
  • Let me know that you respect me and my wishes and you don’t want to coerce me (if that is indeed the truth).

Did you notice how most of these things involve asking?!

Yes, there are a lot of ways to verbally and non-verbally negotiate. HOWEVER, if you non-verbally communicate about what you’re doing, and later on someone let’s you know you fucked up, that’s totally on YOU for not gaining the enthusiastic “yes” consent before moving on.

If someone says yes to a thing and then part way through they change their mind and say no, it’s on YOU to stop and listen and check in and make sure you’re giving that change of consent the space it needs to be respected, acknowledged, and appropriately acted on.

This has been your daily reminder that asking for consent, pre-negotiations, and talking about sex frequently (and hopefully eventually more and more fluently) is the way to a happier, sexier, more empowered, and less fucking stressed out and abusive nation.

These guidelines also help you not be a rapist. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Don’t be coercive. Don’t be a rapist.

Play On My Friends,
~ Creature

Please support my work on Patreon. For one time donations click here: Support the Artist 
~Thank you.

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