An Honest Confession

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A girl in a group I belong to recently told me that I should be the one to organize the next event because “I don’t have trouble dealing with people.”

I am really glad that I come off that way, but it is not something that happened without a TON of work.

I just needed to confess somewhere that I have social anxiety, and that I always have, because the way she said “you don’t have trouble dealing with people” really got to me, and I needed to deal with that somewhere.

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My parents met at a First Edition Dungeons and Dragons quest at Berkley. My mom was the Dungeon Master, and she killed my dad every game. He always had to roll up a new character before they played again. I guess that was her version of flirting.

They were extremely awkward people.

My mom never wore makeup, high-heels, or skirts. She said it was because she was a feminist, but I suspect that it was because she didn’t understand all that stuff, and she didn’t care to learn.

My dad was an engineer. I know they aren’t all obtuse and awkward, but the stereotype that engineers ARE socially awkward comes from people like my dad. He had this laugh like a donkey that always made everyone stare, and he never even noticed that they were staring.

Seriously, it sounded just like a donkey.

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Growing up with parents who bought an isolated farm on purpose to raise us on, and who had no friends, did not help me learn to socialize.

Having a younger sister who was a sociopath as basically my only playmate didn’t help either. She was really frightening. I remember one time when she squeezed a baby chicken until its head came off, and then tossed it aside as if she had done nothing worthy of concern. I was so upset I cried hours in one of my secret hiding places.

In my teens, my parents kicked me out of their house.

I lived on the streets for years, and awful shit happened to me. I was a naive and pretty girl from a small town, so you can take some guesses as to how that worked out for me. If I hadn’t had social anxiety before, the PTSD from being homeless and all that came with that would have ensured that I developed it.

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All the while, I had Grave’s disease, so my body was attacking my thyroid gland. This caused my thyroid to overproduce hormones, and made me live in a constant state of fight-or-flight.

I couldn’t afford healthcare, and anyway, I thought it was all in my head when my heart started racing if I had to deal with a person. It felt like my heart would rise up in my throat and I would sweat and feel light-headed.

I just thought everyone always felt that way, you know? People all talk like they struggle with social stuff, so I always assumed they all had the same panic that I did. When I read the definition of a panic attack in one of my Psych textbooks, I remember being confused and thinking “that’s not normal?!?”

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The thing is; I am fucking stubborn.

So because I am fucking stubborn, I worked in a dungeon called Madam Tracy’s and taught myself to act confident and be a Dominatrix. I went to events and talked to strangers. I joined organizations and groups and made friends.

And because my husband is in the military, I have to keep making new friends, because we move away from the old ones. I have been making new friends constantly my entire life, and sometimes the fear of rejection is just crushing.

It has never gotten easier for me.

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Just a few weeks ago I was hanging out with a new friend that I met through a hiking group I started. She is cute, and smart, and interesting. So naturally I  feel big and dumb and awkward around her. And I remember thinking “I am so glad she can’t tell how freaked out I am. I hope I am not acting weird.” And I always feel that way. All the time, my entire life, for 35 years.

It didn’t stop me from having a promotions company and throwing events, owning an art gallery on the First Friday Art Walk in Phoenix, or being the managing editor of S.L.A.M. Magazine. It didn’t stop me from planning fetish proms, play parties, and camping trips. It didn’t stop me from speaking at conventions in front of rooms full of people.

As I said, I am stubborn.

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But no matter how stubborn I am, I still have social anxiety.

It’s not easy for me. And I know after all these years of practice that it never will be easy, because it’s exactly as bad as it always was.

The moral of the story is: Don’t assume that other people are more confident or more comfortable around people than you are. Just because they don’t talk about how they feel, doesn’t mean that they don’t have feelings.

I am pretty fucked up inside and my nightmares are worse than any horror movie I have ever seen. There are places in my head that I can’t look because I will cry for days. I am glad that I come off as together, friendly, and good at planning. I am glad that people feel like asking me to take charge of events because I am “so good at it.” I am glad that I inspire confidence and motivation in others.

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However, it’s not easy.

I guess if I were to give this story a moral, the moral would be this: Just do the things you are terrified of. Push through the panic attacks and the sweat. Push through the sheer terror and don’t let yourself give up.

It never gets easier on the inside. That much is true. On the inside I am still the little girl hiding in a cupboard from my little sister because she was so scary. I am still the homeless teenager who was hurt too much to feel anything for a long time. And I am still the person who panics and says stupid stuff at inopportune moments in my head. 

However, on the outside, years of public speaking classes and practice have paid off. Outside my own head, I actually manage to convince people that I am cool and confident. Outside my head, I am the girl who stitched up my friends’ head after he got beat up by a gang. I am the girl who kept my calm when they pushed me out on stage in front of thousands of people to do a count down to Midnight at one of my shows on New Year’s. Outside my head I manage to speak at funerals, make friends, and plan events.

So I am living proof that someone who grew up with social anxiety and geeks for parents can still have friends and do stuff. And if I live as much as I possibly can outside of my head, I can even enjoy some of that stuff. And so can you.

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Shopping Suggestions

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Obviously I always suggest that you think globally but shop locally. However, that’s not something you can do often with kink (to my dismay.) Of course sometimes you know a great leather guy who does custom work, or something of the sort. But mostly, we have to order our toys online.

The question then becomes: Where to shop?

Of course you can always go to amazon.com, and hilariously, sometimes you’ll find a good deal.

However, let’s talk about some more targeted shopping.

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I have always had a soft spot for stockroom.com because they were willing to ship to me when I lived in South Korea.

Sex shops in Korea are very overpriced and have almost no selection.

Therefore, Stockroom.com saved me, and I will always be grateful.

Their stuff is definitely more targeted towards man-on-man action, but there are some awesome toys on there.

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My friend suggests Ethical Kink as a good resource.

They have synthetic leather and synthetic hair options, for those who don’t want to use animal products.

I admit that I can’t give up the smell of real leather.

However, I am totally happy to use fake hair on my tail butt plugs, since it lasts longer and doesn’t absorb bacteria.

So, check them out.

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For rope, you can’t do better than Twisted Monk.

These guys are awesome, and even include helpful videos on how to do various ties.

You could absolutely have an entire workshop based around everyone buying some rope from Twisted Monk and then following along with their videos.

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For crazy-classy collars, Eternity Locking Metal Collars is the most elegant thing you can find.

They are gorgeous, and having owned one, they are also easy to use and very functional. I highly recommend them.

They are not for play, of course. But for everyday kink wear that fits into a vanilla world, these collars are a beautiful option.

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There are also all kinds of suggestions online for where to shop, and I think that is a wise way to go.

Always go through someone who is recommended to you instead of a random website; just to be safe.

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I Am Not Sneaky

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Recently I made a new friend who I liked enough to have over at my house. However, I didn’t want her husband and my husband to sit there feeling weird while we talked, so I invited some of my other friends to make it more of a party, and less of a high-pressure situation.

This new friend of mine is vanilla, but she knew that my husband and I are kinky, and that we have other kinky friends. (That will be important in just a second.)

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So she came to the party and hung out. After a few drinks she asked me to go for a walk with her, and I agreed. And that’s when she dropped this little bomb on me. She said:

“I was worried it was going to be some kind of orgy because you are kinky. My husband and I didn’t know what we might be walking into.”

Now, I know you kinky people probably felt offended when you read that. I admit, I was a little taken aback myself.

However after some thought, I decided that I can see why a vanilla person might think that. I mean, these are people who hook up with strangers without trading STD tests, doing a scene negotiation, or any other preliminaries. They just haul off and have sex with people they don’t know without even talking about it beforehand. Vanilla folks really are just down with surprises. When you come from a group where things are surprises or not discussed, I guess I can see how you might think that other groups would be like that too.

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Those of us in the kink community are decidedly the opposite.

I mean, I have been in the kink community for 21 years, and no one has ever invited me to a surprise sex party. Everyone has always made it clear exactly what will be going on before the party starts.

I have never been to a play party where I was not told in advance what kind of play was okay/not allowed. I never been to a swinger’s party where the rules where not made VERY clear prior to showing up. I have never been to a dungeon where the orientation wasn’t a rule-heavy disclosure with a 5-page waiver to sign at the end.

We kink people really love our paperwork, discussion, and negotiations. We are not into surprises.

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When you think about it, it makes sense. If you are dating someone who has toys like a 15 inch dildo and a single-tail leather whip, you know damn well that you want to make your limits known up front before anything with ropes or handcuffs gets going.

Upon reflection, I realize that the kink community taught me to dislike surprise. When I was a kid I was fine with it. However, years of scene negotiations and consent forms later, I have become more open-minded and less inhibited than before, but also really not into surprises.

And you know what? I am cool with that. I will take the way I am over a vanilla person any day. No offense you lovely vanilla folks. You’re good people. But I will always be way more cautious and into full disclosure up front than a vanilla person will ever be.

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Alien Fetish?

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There is a site called Primal Hardware which sells mostly your usual sex toy fodder. However, a new edition made me laugh, and I wanted to share it with you.

It is a dildo-like device which allows you to deposit “alien eggs” made of gelatin into the orifice of your choice. I am not sure if the excitement is in having the eggs go in, or in having the eggs come out. It seems like gelatin would melt at body temperature though, which seems like it would make quite a mess.

Then again, I suppose if you already have plastic sheets, you could consider the gelatin to be tube and give that a shot? The device is named “G’lorp,” which I think is probably the perfect name.

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Dating Woes

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I sometimes use this blog to vent, and this is one of those times. I know first dates are difficult, and kink first dates are more complicated than most. And yet, even in a complicated subculture, I expect better than my recent meeting.

Recently I was talking with a guy off fetlife.com, and he seemed like a pretty decent human. I agreed to meet him because I hate wasting time chatting with someone for weeks on end only to find out that they are gross in person.

(In my opinion, this is an attitude that most people in their 30’s have. It’s a huge waste of time to message back and forth like teenagers while being nervous about meeting up. I just want to look people in the eyes and see if they are cool or not first thing.)

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We met in a park by my house (it’s a public place so I know I am safe, but not a place where I am obligated to buy anything because I am cheap), and that was when I realized that this guy was clueless.

I mean straight-up without a damn clue.

He had only ever watched kink porn, and it was obvious that he was conflicted about actually doing a kinky thing. It was also obvious that he didn’t look at people in the scene as people; but rather as nothing more than vehicles to fulfill a fantasy that he is ashamed of.

Not only that, but he confessed after some nervous pacing that he is married, and his wife doesn’t know that he’s even into kink.

Best part: I was supposed to just be chill with all those issues.

Like I said: Clueless.

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I didn’t even know where to begin in terms of saying “This really isn’t cool.” I knew it had to wait until he was not in the same place as me because his pacing made me think he could become violent.

So, I waited until we parted ways and then I sent him a message.

It would have been a public service for me to explain to him all the various things that he did wrong. On the other hand, I didn’t feel like getting into a long conversation about why you shouldn’t spend the first date only talking about what you want while pacing like a psycho.

In the message, I just told him that I wasn’t okay with the fact that he lies to his wife. (Which is true. If my husband lied to me I wouldn’t be happy at all.)

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BDSM requires trust, and honesty. That definitely means that you shouldn’t lie to your wife.

However, women who are kinky are also people. No really, we are people. So we aren’t really keen to hear all about your fantasies and all your selfish wants, rather than having you ask us what we are interested in.

You know what else: noobs suck. Be a decent human being and read up on the kink community first before you waste someone’s time on a date. Learn. Read. Get a clue. Don’t go out with someone from the community when you have never been to a single kink event, don’t know anything about it, and have a bunch of issues in your head about kink because you haven’t accepted yourself yet.

And finally, don’t act like a psycho. Pacing like crazy and being unable to talk like a normal person is weird. Don’t be weird.

Gods I hate dating.

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Fodder for Your Imagination

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Sometimes it can be hard to come up with ideas for scenes/kink nights. When that happens, I like to go look for things that inspire my imagination.

A great example I came across is this blog. The “40 Bondage Positions” are great because you can look at each picture, and imagine the things that you could do to someone when they were in that position.

From floggers and whips to butt plugs and dildos, and even a little teasing with feathers or other toys…

So if you were looking for ideas, that’s my suggestion of the moment, because it gave me a lot to think about.

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Box Tie

 

Free Speech in the Digital World

This seems like a really odd place to be writing about free speech. It’s a kink blog. What could kink possibly have to do with free speech, right?

Well, there have been some controversies involving Fetlife.com and free speech over the years. This is something that I have given a lot of thought to. I used to be a journalist, and so the first amendment has always held a special place in my heart, right next to dark chocolate and my favorite flogger.

The first controversy about free speech on fetlife came up after a girl was raped, and she wanted to out her rapist on her own page.

I get all the conflicting issues there. I realize that if the guy was not guilty then it could be considered defamation. I get that social media isn’t like sitting around a table getting coffee, because a third party (the platform) could be held responsible. I took enough law classes in college to see all the conflicts.

However, I was shocked at how unapologetic fetlife was about banning her without even finding out if charges had been filed or if her rapist had been convicted. They (the men running the site) were very quick to punish the victim without even a second thought.

The second free speech controversy that came up was when fetlife started deleting groups. For example, they decided that adult baby play was simply too risky for the site. Of course they cited reasons like legal risk and financial risk, but there is certainly a question as to how anything consenting adults agree to could be illegal.

Again, I know that people have said that it doesn’t matter because the groups can just use codes and only trade pictures/ideas/etc in person. I know people will say that we should all be terrified of the government and therefore censor ourselves before anyone tells us to. And, I know what everyone chants “better safe than sorry” because I remember what the community was like before we had the Internet and it sucked. I don’t want to go back to fliers in some scummy shop and walks down random alleys looking for secret clubs.

So I guess this brings me to the central question: How much freedom of speech do you ever really have right now as kinky people?

To be honest, it seems like we don’t have much.

And, if we want to protect ourselves in an environment where our browser history can now be sold and the President tried to find the address of people who mock him on Twitter, do we even want to speak freely?

My professor in Media Law was extremely insistent that no one should ever write anything down. As soon as you write it down, there is proof that you wrote it. It could be misconstrued and come back to haunt you, and so you shouldn’t do it.

The government is always watching, he said. And, you never know when they are going to decide that whatever you are into is no longer acceptable.

On the other hand, when I was in college, everyone I knew had a LiveJournal account where they poured out their hearts to no one every night when they went home. Friends posted pictures of their children doing embarrassing things with no thought to how those children would feel with those pictures online forever. And, sites like Myspace and Facebook were luring everyone into putting their entire lives online. Some people argue that when everyone’s entire life is online, it takes a whole lot to stand out.

An old woman once told me that society swings from conservative to liberal, and back again. The 1950’s were conservative and rigid, so the 1960’s were wild, she said.

So, I guess I have to wonder if data and freedom of speech online will be the same. Perhaps we were in our 1960’s just now with data, having virtual orgies in a time when the Internet was still the wild west and the government couldn’t track everything you did to an IP address and then arrest you.

Perhaps things are swinging back around to conservative now, and it really is a good time to be careful until we all get better at encrypting our computers.

The obvious solution is to push harder for mainstream acceptance of kink. We all deserve the right to talk about this stuff openly as part of our lives, just like someone would talk about any other aspect of their personality. We shouldn’t have to worry that it will be criminalized, or that someone will put people with a certain fetish on a watchlist.

I would encourage you to write to your Congressional Representatives advocating for protection of Internet browsing, freedom on Internet forums, and laws protecting our community. You don’t have to sign the letter or use your own return address. I understand the desire to be careful. But, put the request out into the universe even if it is anonymous. And if you are in a position to do so, maybe use your real name and address.

When censorship pushes, we should do our best to push back.