A couple of the fetishes on my list are things like consent, yes means yes and only yes means yes. These are big deals to me. In fact, they’re probably my only dealbreaker fetishes. I suppose that makes consent the only true fetish I’ve got. It is the one thing I absolutely must have in order to play with someone.
Because of this consent fetish, there may be a long time between expressing interest in someone and actually playing with them. Before I can do anything, I have to feel comfortable that the consent that’s given is fully informed and enthusiastic. That means talking about what consent means to us, talking about what exactly we do and do not want to do, talking about values, desires, expectations, demands. It means making sure that consent is not just an absence of “no,” but the enthusiastic presence of “yes.”
This can make things complicated. It means I won’t play with anyone who can’t or won’t have an open, direct conversation about what they want and need. It means that if someone prefers to communicate in hints and flirtations to the exclusion of directness, we’re not going to be able to do anything together.
Consent, to me, is so much more than negotiating and honoring safewords. It’s about getting to a point where I trust the negotiations are free from coercion. It’s about trusting that if consent changes or is revoked in the midst of a scene, that such will be communicated.
I see a world around me in which consent is not valued. Some people are socialized to accept that things are taken from them and others are socialized to take. Some are told to never say “No” and others are told to never take “no” for an answer. Women are often expected to, among other things, rebuff sexual advances even if they welcome them, and to welcome them even if they do not want them. We’re surrounded by a million cultural forces telling us what we should do, bending our will. Because of this, consent is a goal to reach under quite strained circumstances. If I’m going to tie you up, spank you, set you on fire, fuck you or engage in any other such delights, I need to know that the “Yes” I get from you is a yes that you mean, not one that you have given under duress, or because you’re expected to, or because you just figure you oughta. That’s what I mean by “Only yes means yes.”
It often feels to me that, despite all the focus kinksters put on consent and negotiation, there’s very little addressing how to do those things without coercion. Kinky settings can often lead to an expectation of availability. Just look at how many submissive women have to say things like “I’m a submissive, not your submissive.” There’s an expectation amongst enough folks that if you’re at a party, at a munch, on FetLife, open about being kinky, that you’re fair game because, hey, you can always say “No,” right? None of that takes into account social pressures, the conditioning that some people have to say “Yes,” the subtle ways that people can be coerced, or the effects of an expectation of availability. That’s why I like “only yes means yes” as a starting point. It’s not enough that someone can say no, that they can reject advances, that they can use their safeword if they need to. A panic button isn’t enough for me to call a situation consensual.
So I may go slow. I’ll likely ask very specific questions. I’ll assume that if we come to a consensual arrangement, that the consent is specific to that time, that place and those specified activities. Instead of saying “If you’re not comfortable tell me, and we’ll stop,” I’ll say something like “Are you comfortable with insert specific thing?” and I’ll stop unless I get a clearly affirmative answer.
Some folks think that asking for permission isn’t sexy. I think that it’s what makes what comes next sexy. You know how many times I’ve asked “Can I kiss you?” I’ve not yet had anyone who didn’t appreciate being asked. You think it’s not sexy to get a bottom’s permission before each new thing? You whisper in someone’s ear “I want to do X to you. Do you want that?” and have them repeat back to you what they want you to do and then tell me that’s not hot.
I spent most of my formative young adult years in an emotionally abusive relationship. I had to learn a lot of this shit the hard way, and I know I hurt some folks along the way in doing so. This is what it takes for me to be happy. This is what it takes for me to trust that someone’s yes is undoubtedly a yes. This is the best understanding I can get of what it means to negotiate the things we do when we live in a world infused at every turn by patriarchy, by kyriarchy. I love playing with power, but when power is so unbalanced in the world, and so abused, it takes a very serious, deep approach to consent for me to play with power in a safe, useful, respectful and feminist way.
There are a lot of terms out there to try to describe people’s relational orientations or styles. Polygamous, polyamorous, monogamous, monoromantic, polysexual, asexual, and I’m sure a few I’ve forgotten or never heard of. As I’ve made my own explorations around how I believe I am relationally inclined, I found that none of these really fit, for multiple reasons. It’s really a very nuanced thing, these labels not feeling “right” for me. I’m not really into casual sex. I’m definitely not into one night stands. I’ve found that every friend I’ve wanted to have benefits with are ones I also have and do develop romantic feelings around. I’ve tried poly in different forms, and am involved in a polyamorous relationship currently, though I myself do not identify as polyamorous. I just don’t know that it’s in me at every turn to have the ability to love more than one person… or that I’ll even want to.
Neither monogamous or polyamorous as a label really seem to find a way to settle as a good way of explaining how I view my relationships. I have known for a while that I am not a person made for strict monogamy. I like to flirt and flounce, and don’t want any person I care for to be offended or hurt by that action. I can honestly say that many times I enjoy flirting without it going any further into a relationship of any nature- be that sexual, romantic, or any combination of the two. I do enjoy the ability, though, of knowing that if I wanted to develop another relationship with another person, I have that ability- including it being a sexual relationship. I’ll be the first person to tell you that I have, more often than not, a tremendous sex drive and doubt that one person can fill that drive under most circumstances (and if they can, then I’m good with that too!). I don’t want to put that type of pressure on a single person, either. “Hi. I know you love me, and want you to know that I have an amazingly high need for sex and expect you to be the only person who ever fucks me in a way that fills that need for sex, whether or not you have the ability to meet that need.” I recognize that my sex drive is higher than a lot of other people’s, and no matter how much they may *want* to fill it, they may not have a sex drive that is as ample as mine to be able to fill it. I like knowing that I can, with the blessing of my partner, find someone else to have a friendship with that can help decrease the pressure I may put on the one partner.
So where do I fit on the big mono-poly scale? Well… I do think that… given the right people, at the right time, in the right situation… I could be content loving and having relationships with two people. I don’t think I could do more than two. Calling myself “biamorous” would just make people think of bisexual, and it would be a pain in my ass to explain the difference between my sexual orientation and my relational one. So the term I’ve been using for myself has been monoflexible. As it stands right now, I am a mono component of a mono-poly-mono “v” family.
Now, does this mean that I really just want to be polysexual? Well, no, not really. I recognize that little factual statement I gave earlier: The people I am interested in sexually often move into romantic interest as well. So I recognize that any relationship I may enter into sexually has the potential to turn into a romantic encounter for me, and that must be treated carefully on all sides to ensure it is something that would work for all involved. I would rather *not* get involved in a sexual relationship that cannot progressively evolve into more for the other person, because that ends with *me* getting hurt. I know it takes a lot to get me to the romantic relationship point of being, and I carefully guard that so as to not hurt myself beyond repair getting into a situation that is truly a dead-end of heartbreak for me.
Actually, if we get down to it… since shortly before Gabe and I decided to move into “dating” territory, I have been monogamous to Gabe. We have had sex together as a trio (Gabe, Eliz, and I), but I have not had sex with anyone outside of that in over a year, almost 2 now. Do I still have the amazingly high sex drive? Yes. And Gabe and I do everything we can to fulfill those needs and desires. But I don’t have a desire to bring anyone else in right now, either. There are a few people in my life who I fawn over and have *amazingly* large crushes on. Given the chance with those specific people, I would probably take it into consideration and open up the discussions towards having another sexual partner, knowing it could lead to more. I cannot and will not say that monogamy doesn’t fulfill me, because it does. Not “on it’s own merits”, not “while waiting for a second person”, or any other qualifier. I am content in my current situation. But I can see myself getting into, functionally and happily, at least 2 romantic relationships. I want a label that shows that I am content and fulfilled with where I am and that I recognize the potential scope of what could happen in the future with my relationships. I didn’t find anything in most media that I could happily identify with, so I chose my own and created a space for me to feel comfortable in that label.
Posted by TheShorty | Filed under Relationships
Hi! I’m Kristi. I’m Gabe’s girlfriend.
No, the other one.
To the left.
A little more…
Yeah, that one right there. That’s me.
I’m pretty constantly in random states of flux, so giving a good description of myself is pretty difficult. I’m an pansexual, possibly queer, label-loving, label-fucking, monoflexible, flirtatious, brainiac, Christian-but-not-THAT-kind-of-Christian, snark machine who doesn’t quite hit 5 feet on the height scale. I’m extroverted, shy, loud but not because I mean to be, not extremely crafty but learning, power player, dog lover, random thinker, ADD… wait… what was I talking about? Oh yeah… I’m a pain slut, a fighter, a lover, a smart ass, recovering anorexic with longstanding issues about my body, and sometimes submissive if you do it right. I’m sex positive and body positive when I do it right, and I’m always trying to do it right. I don’t fit into many, if any, molds that people create with their labels, yet I use them because they are useful. I find pleasure in figuring out how I can twist your label to its limits, so that it can still apply to me even if it doesn’t mean the same thing as you want it to. I enjoy pushing boundaries, thinking logically, and ignoring “emotions” as much as I can- which trust me, isn’t much at all. I believe that age doesn’t mean wisdom, it just means your parents had unprotected sex before mine did. I believe that happy things are awesome, and bad things are “emotions”, and try to avoid them at all costs. I believe God doesn’t make a lick of sense to humans because he is bigger than anything our minds can comprehend, yet I think he gets great pleasure in watching us love and enjoy what he’s given us as a species. I have one friend whom I have maintained frequent contact with from high school. I have my best friend whom I met in my sophomore year of college. I have Gabe and Elizabeth, and a handful of friends I am building on here in town. I’m the most popular unpopular kid you will ever meet- everyone knows me, most like me, not many like to admit they know and possibly like me. I’ve created my own little family of people who love me for me, and I’m finding contentment in that. I’m not used to contentment, so it’s an ongoing journey to identify what that feels like for me.
I own my own home, and am finding an amazing amount of satisfaction in learning to do things to care for it. It’s a hard responsibility, yes… but one I’m finding I enjoy more and more as I do things. I love figuring out how I, and soon we, can change things to fit what we want or need from this space, and make it the most welcoming and comforting place for us to be. That will play into the next post I write, so I figured I’d introduce it here.
Okay… so that’s my version of the “introduce yourself in 5 sentences or less” game. I won, right?
Also, this is the first time I’ve been publishing anything on a blog like this… so if it ends up all wonky, bear with me, k? I’ve worked all night long, and my brain might be a little fried.
Please check this out and pass on the information.
There were some tears in the house, just from reading it.
We are mid-move. A lot of my worldly stuff, and Gabe’s, is here in this house where my bed currently is. But a considerable portion of it has moved to its new home, the house that my metamour Kristi owns. The house that will soon be our home, all of us.
And there’s processes to figure out, and things to decide. Where do we put the furniture? What do we move next? What kind of move is it – do we just want to get it done, or do we have time to sort and get those elusive piles of junk winnowed down? What new items do we need? And where, in the blossoming shopping lists, is the room for our varying commitments to simple living, or DIY, or whatever each of us calls these things? What decisions do we make together? What decisions can be made unilaterally? How many what-ifs are a productive part of planning, and how many what-ifs really, REALLY need to go die in a fire? How do we bring our varying coping mechanisms together, so we live authentically and nourishingly through good days and bad days?
Part of the silence of this blog over the last year has been a lack of words, and a lack of answers, through a lot of change. I certainly don’t have any more of the latter now. But maybe it’s time to take a gamble on a few more of the former. Our family is getting much more complex. And naming things, even if the words are hasty and/or inaccurate, will become more and more important. I hear echoes of the challenges that friends have when they have kids. We are now an intimate family of more than two, and that’s a whole different world than coupled intimacy. I will not say that polyamory is the “grad school” of relationships, because that’s a load of horseshit. But I will call polyamory the “director’s cut” of the film. You get MORE of it all… a lot more. More need for scheduling. More support. More sound. More need for conversations. More intentionality. More spontaneity. More changes in plans. And that’s just what I know of so far.
My brain’s already feeling the short-circuiting of a learning curve shooting up like a rocket. As an old mentor would say, “Time for another fucking learning experience!” It’s time for more Big Scary Wonderful. And I won’t always have the time for the thrice-reflected on, nearly sermon-type writing that I’ve done before in this venue. Perhaps this place will resemble more of an unfinished journal than it already did. But it is my hope that we will all have more energy, and more camerapersons, available for this space. It’s important to me.
Most years, I have chosen a spiritual theme to focus on for Lent; it’s typically something like a goal, but with room for change and growth and clarification along the way. My Lenten plans this year had to do with the home I share with Gabe. He and I had plans to remove clutter, prepare a space for our new pet rats, and generally nest and bond with the space. I wanted to make it even more our own, and not just an impersonal living space: shape our stuff to it better, examine what our needs are and how we want our home space to support them, and be more intentional about how we interact with the space, and how we make a home.
Three weeks into Lent, a swarm of termites entered the house. I won’t go into all the boring details. The TL;DR summary is, the place is livable in the short term, and our very apathetic landlord doesn’t appear to be putting himself out too much to fix the problem long-term. On the first day of invasion, when we weren’t sure whether the house would be usable at all, Gabe said that if the landlord couldn’t stop the swarm, we’d just go move in with Kristi, his other partner who owns her home, until something changed. We all agreed that was sensible.
By the end of the night, we were all looking at each other, saying, “Um, why don’t we do that anyway?”
Being analytical people, we asked every question we could think to ask, and pondered every need – personal and collective – we could scrounge up to ponder. We asked ourselves if this would really work, and if this was really what we wanted to do. We examined. We did. But in between those moments, we were also immediately rearranging furniture in our heads. We’ve talked about our various organizational and living styles, and what changes Kristi has wanted to make to her house. Gabe and I have fantasized about a bathtub we’d actually want to sit down in, and I’ve salivated over a dedicated massage room. We’ve begun to fathom how three people with diets like ours can share one kitchen! We’ve discussed how we want to share the space together. We’ve discussed how to make it a home for all of us.
So, we’re doing it. This weekend, the two of them tore old carpet up out of her house while I packed boxes and brought a carload of our stuff over. We have several months before our lease is out. We have Frolicon to prepare for too. So we’re in no rush. We don’t have a “move-in” date. But, I’m also so excited. I’m thrilled we have the opportunity to do this. I’m so proud of us that we will be able to do this so well. I’m excited about what I’ll learn, and how we can support each other.
So, Lent, as per usual, has explored my anticipated themes in completely surprising ways. This year’s blessings are bringing me great joy.
So, we were participating in 30 Days of Kink, and we got as far as this question:
Day 11: What are your views on the ethics of kink?
Our participation then came to a screeching halt for a while!
We searched a lot for a way to address this question in a single post. Our kink ethics are integrated into our sexual ethics, and exploring sexual ethics is kind of our mission statement as a household. It’s perhaps the issue closest to our hearts.
On one hand, there’s several central tenets of our beliefs that we are passionate and eager to talk about. We continuously explore what it means to be truly body-positive and sex-positive, as we believe they are critical to right relationship. Active, passionate consent is also critical to us, though we both find it problematic to make consent the end-all, be-all of healthy kink or of sexual ethics. Understanding gender, sexual orientation, relational orientation and personal identity as rich, complex, growing entities is at the core of what we do as well.
We are always aware of the effects that a classist, racist, sexist, heterosexist, ableist culture has on our lives. While we make a practice of creating nurturing, life-giving space outside and apart from that poisonous culture, we also realize that our sacred sexualities have been created within that culture. We value the unique ways humans find to unpack these ill effects within ourselves in compassionate, risk-aware ways. And these strategies intrigue us.
And, of course, being analytical and frequently loquacious, we seek out and enjoy most any opportunity to talk about those things.
On the other hand, this is all just way too big for one post among 30. Much of it is too big and embodied for words. This entire website is our answer to the question of kinky and sexual ethics. We are both Christians, as is the third member of our family, and Gabe and I have committed our lives to exploring Christ’s love and God’s will in our sex lives. We spend a lot of time living this issue in a variety of ways (in fact, I’ve just committed to a multi-month reading and creative project on this very issue, that will be documented here). Pornocracy is here to indulge our exhibitionist streaks, and to feed others’ voyeurism, yes. That folds into the education, witnessing, sharing and storytelling that we place at the heart of our overall ethic. We are of the belief that the great gift of healthy community is that we all hear each other into being every day. We hope to give and receive glimpses of such a gift here.
So, for Day 11 of 30 Days of Kink, this whole website is our answer. We plan to be answering for the rest of our lives.
Tomorrow (or on a similar day!), we will address Day 12, humor in kink.
The questions for “30 Days of Kink” can be found here. Play along at home! We’d love to see your answers here or on your own blog.
For today’s Wanton Wednesday post, I am naked in the cold. In the COLD, I tell you! Please don’t let me sacrifice in vain!
Gabe and I recently stole around a nearby college campus and took some pictures I really love. This is a subset from the top of an outside staircase. We were a bit bolder up above the heads of passersby!
These words feel too small and not entirely accurate, but they’re the best I can find for something really important.
When Gabe and I started dating, in the fall of 2007, I had some decisions to make about personal, psychological tools and strategies. We had a lot of work to do quickly. Neither one of us had been in a polyamorous relationship before, and I had just recently become convinced that they could actually be healthy. We had 3 1/2 years of friendship and longing for one another driving us forward. And we had stressful triggery situations we were each emerging from. We had work to do.
I made a decision at the time that I am grateful for. I pushed myself out to my limits and stayed there. Every day, I stayed out at the perimeter and pushed it a little further out… or a LOT further out. I deferred to Gabe for a lot of the timing; it was his relational orientation that was the newest and most foreign, and the sooner he figured it out, the sooner I would know too. So, he set the pace and I determined that I would keep up until I just couldn’t move anymore (then I’d collapse, rest a while and push myself past the edge again). After we had decided to date but before we’d ever had sex with each other, he called to ask me how far he could go sexually with a friend. Before our long-distance romance was 4 months old, he was on a date with somebody I hadn’t met. In retrospect, with my experience of poly now, I can see how very quickly we were moving and adapting. I didn’t have the perspective to know that my feelings of rocketing forward at full throttle were fairly accurate.
And I’m glad we did that. If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are now, and I think Us would be poorer for it. I may have deferred to him in a lot of choices, but that was still a choice of mine and I’m pleased with it. We have built a fantastic foundation, and learned so much so fast. The speed burned away extraneous obstacles and zeroed us in on what was most important. We have thrived.
I’ve been out at that periphery since… well, up until last week some time, lol! The daily demand to actually push, or to actively be pulled past my previous limits to find new ones, has faded each day for quite some time. There’s been rare need for it, especially the last six months or so. But I’ve been there, in place, waiting. I’ve been gauging daily life by whether I was pushed past my limit yet. When I named something in particular, it was usually because Gabe had presented an idea and I couldn’t conceive of managing it, so my observations were couched in the negative. It was difficult to bring my imagination to bear on planning of my own, it felt impossible to find balance, and I had growing resentment I couldn’t name… all because of this choice of location that had once been a survival skill allowing us to thrive. There were growing extra burdens on Gabe from what I was still deferring, and tension seemingly from several different places actually all originated from this strategy. It now fit more and more poorly each passing day. We’re not by ourselves forging an Us anymore. Us is established, as is another committed relationship of Gabe’s, and we’re a family of three.
So, I’ve focused a lot on my center now, the last five or six days since figuring this out. I have a great deal of experience and skill out on my growing edges; because of my family of origin and therapeutic history, I’ve spent a LOT of time there. And in most of my experience of my center, I’ve probably mistaken it as a passive, static place. It was usually where I rested for the briefest time possible before heading back out. It’s only now that I’m understanding how much space I have for movement at the center of me… how much imagination I have to pull from and build with… how very much I’m likely capable of with this better physical stance of balance. I’m certainly not starting from scratch, even if it does feel quite foreign here.
We did a scene Monday night that from the outside probably looked very characteristic of what we’ve often done before. But it felt so completely different from this inside place of centeredness that I’m still looking for words. I can’t name them yet, but there’s a lot of positive results, a lot of ease and a lot of freedom emanating from this one change.
(The title is an adaption of a phrase by Robin Morgan.)
Over on FetLife I declared this to be cock shot week. Elizabeth found this delightful and suggested that I post over here as well. I’m taking it one step further, and inviting anyone with a cock to join me. If you’d like some of your own cock shots posted, email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org along with how you’d like them attributed and I’ll post them here.
For now, I’m heading balls-first into cock shot week with this picture taken by TheShorty just before she pounced on me.