emanix: (restricted area)

I am not a brat.

I tend to keep my submissive streak rather quiet. Partly because it's very very rare that it comes out. I have gone most of thirty years and only been submissive for a few days of that, at most. Partly because I see the lack of respect towards submissives in certain parts of the kink scene and perhaps a bit selfishly, to avoid having to spend hours explaining myself or challenging prejudice, I have sometimes taken the easy route to avoiding that. Not by lying, but certainly by omitting to mention my switchy side when in public. I have also hidden my masochistic aspect on occasion, despite that being much larger, because it frustrates me when people automatically assume that masochist equals submissive, and submissive equals masochist (I've written about it in my livejournal before: http://emanix.livejournal.com/24585.html ). I work hard though, nowadays, to break down that false assumption and free other kinky folk from unsatisfying and confusing relationships. Most often, when I play these days, it's something along the lines of 'Masochist Dom' (“Spank me! No, harder! Mmm, that's good. More. Good boy!”)

But I do have a submissive side. There is a part of me that very occasionally wants someone else to be in charge, someone telling me what to do, or what is going to be done to me. It's small, but it runs deep, and comes out only when I'm with people I feel very very safe around, whom I respect emotionally and intellectually, and most often when I'm feeling pressured by the outside world and looking for a safe space to go to, where someone I trust is willing to take on the responsibility of making decisions for me, just for a while. And I am not a brat.

A brat is someone who misbehaves deliberately in order to be punished. An awful lot of masochists are brats, through nature or through training. The outside world teaches us that physical punishment is a response to bad behaviour. A child does something hurtful to themselves or others, and is given a smack as a swift way to create an aversion to that behaviour. Many countries in the world still use corporal punishment to control adults. More importantly, it is normal not to reward bad behaviour, for obvious reasons. If someone hurts you, or takes something of yours, you don't give them a lollipop. It is obvious to most people that giving someone a reward for undesired behaviour is going to result in more of that same behaviour. For a masochist, which I'm going to define here as 'someone who enjoys pain', a spanking is pretty much the same as that lollipop. If you give someone what they enjoy, every time they do something that's annoying or upsetting, you are setting them up to want to do those annoying or upsetting things more often. Even if they don't really want to do those things otherwise. Even if those things are actually bad for them. If you are habitually rewarding a person for bad behaviour, they will keep doing it because they want the reward. Curiously enough, outside the world of kink, this is known as a 'perverse incentive' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perverse_incentive). I've known certain masochists who were trained into behaving horribly, being genuinely rude and hurtful to people who weren't consenting to be a part of their scene, because it meant they would be 'in trouble' and get the punishment they really wanted.

I am a masochist, and sometimes I'm submissive, and I am not a brat.

It's still not an easy concept to explain in the abstract, so I'll work through an example:
A few years ago, I moved from a three bedroom house into a single room, and since I had way too much stuff in a very small space, I was struggling to keep it tidy. My primary partner at the time told me he planned to spank me every time he visited and saw that my room was messy. He thought he was being wonderfully helpful – and it would have made perfect sense, in the rest of the world. But for me, that was a stressful and hurtful position to be in, because spanking was something I enjoyed and wanted, this meant I had to choose between two situations I didn't want. If I had a tidy room, it would mean no lovely spankings, but if I left my room messy then I'd get spankings but I'd also have a room I hated to live in. Whatever I did, I lost. Eventually I burst into tears and begged him to please spank me when my room was tidy, or it would never be tidy again.

Don't get me wrong, 'bratting' works really well for some people. At times, it can be a really useful way to negotiate consent without dropping out of role in a scene. When I'm in charge I might threaten to spank someone if they poke their tongue out at me, and then I know, if they poke out their tongue it's a sign they want to get spanked. For some people it's a fun game to play, to see how much you can 'get away with' before you get punished. But (and a few people might find this rather surprising) my subbie side is not a bad girl. Submissive bunny desperately wants to please and hates the idea of doing something upsetting or wrong deliberately. If I've really done something wrong, a mere expression of disappointment is enough to devastate. Punishment of any sort is rather redundant, and physical violence when someone is genuinely angry at me just feels like abuse. I really, really don't want something I love (i.e. pain) associated with negativity and anger.

So how do you punish a masochist?

Well, for one thing, speaking for a moment from the dominant's perspective instead, and an occasional student of psychology, I would question the idea of 'punishment' at all. If you're genuinely in D/s for the purpose of behaviour modification, then there's a lot of research out there talking about how positive or negative reinforcement (i.e. rewarding good behaviour by offering something nice, or by taking away an adverse condition - "you will have to put up with this thing you don't like until you behave yourself properly") is more effective than punishment for long term change. If you're just doing it out of sadism, as an excuse to inflict some torture, then why not be more straightforward about it? “I want to see you suffer. Be a good girl and take it for me.” is, at least to me, hotter and more honest than “You're a bad girl, you need to be punished!” If that's not the way you're kinked, though, and you really, really want to punish, for correction, or just to be evil, then you have to consider what constitutes a reward or a punishment for the individual. Everyone has their own 'thing'. Some people love marmite, and would be really happy to be rewarded with a slice of marmite on toast. Other folks hate the stuff, and would see it as the worst punishment in the world. Same goes for pain, isolation, being enclosed, being paid attention to, being ignored, being humiliated... I could go on and on. For every person who likes something, there is someone who dislikes it. For every fetish there is a phobia. Yes, it requires communication, it requires paying attention. It might even lead to the terrifying possibility of intimacy. For me? Quite honestly, the thought of receiving a pedicure makes me squirm in discomfort. Try inflicting that on me if I'm not in a particularly agreeable headspace and the results will *not* be good.

But if you hate my essay, you're welcome to spank me for it. I'll just enjoy it

emanix: (Default)
If you were watching my twitter, or my tweet-archive (http://emanix-tweets.livejournal.com/) on the 14th of October you'd have seen this series of tweets:

  • Mon, 18:29: I suspect those who ought to see this won't, but #PSA: MEN! FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK, WOMEN ON THE STREET DO NOT EXIST FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT!


  • Mon, 18:29: #PSA brought to you by several groups of assholes who demanded I 'perform' in some way on the street today, just bc I'm female. #SmileDarlin


  • Mon, 18:34: Not usually quite so angry at male entitlement, but after 1hr outdoors & a 5th demand to please a total stranger, nearly threw a punch.


  • Mon, 19:10: Actually, now I think about it, a T-shirt reading "I AM NOT HERE FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT" would be the perfect answer. @bigcalm


It was a Monday afternoon, I'd been at home looking after my partner's cat and doing some work. Y'know, hanging around the house.

And, oddly enough, despite my reputation, I'm not in the habit of hanging around the house dressed in anything provocative, or even particularly eyecatching. A T-shirt, a skirt, a fleece hoody. Not things that yell "Look at meeee!"

And then I step out for just a second, to talk with the next door neighbour, and the door slams behind me.

So, perhaps not the most auspicious start to an afternoon, but I figured it was a sunny day, I'd view it as an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine, take a walk, run some errands.

Perhaps it was the weather. Perhaps I'm just not often walking around my area on a Monday afternoon. I don't know, but it seemed like there were more men around than usual. And they all wanted something. Attention? Yeah, mostly.

I bristled as I took the shortcut down the edge of my local park, when a guy accompanied by two pals yelled 'Give us a kiss!'
I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists and checked there was a wall behind me if I needed to defend myself (since I walk with a stick, I'm always conscious that, given fight or flight, the 'flight' bit really isn't an option), and I kept on walking past. Shoulders tensed. Very, very aware that they were behind me.

Does that sound like an overreaction? Overly paranoid? As a lone woman, in a quiet, and not particularly overlooked area, being approached by three guys, one of whom is yelling at me, even if it is 'friendly', I don't think so.

The next guy? I don't remember what he said. It wasn't anything that could have got him arrested, but whatever it was he wanted me to do, I didn't feel like doing it. And I could feel the waves of disapproval coming off him as I didn't comply. As he walks past, frowning. Muttering about what a miserable bitch, or something to that effect.

The thing is, after an hour out of doors, and several of these approaches, I'm so keyed up and on my guard that I'm even ready to punch the elderly gentleman who passes me outside the rail station and cheerily shouts "Smile, Darlin'!" - but what business of his is it if I'm smiling anyway? It's not YOUR face, it's mine.

The worst bit, though? This isn't even that unusual. It's all the time. It's everywhere. women put up with this sort of behaviour every day.

Kitty Stryker posted a blog about the same thing, the very next day: "hey baby, nice tits, where you going?"

Check out the cartoon with that blog. It's the fifth panel that says it all to me: The guy yelling out of a car window, "Hey, I'm talking to you!... Fuck you then!" There's this undercurrent, you see, of aggression to a lot of these 'exchanges' (I use 'exchanges in quotes, since usually the approaches are entirely one way). There's so often this air of entitlement - and when the guy doesn't get what he wants, of anger. As though, as a female person, I owe him. And, perhaps, just possibly, if he doesn't get his way, maybe he'll resort to violence.

Yes, I've exclusively used male pronouns to refer to people who behave this way. Would I be just as pissed off at this behaviour if it was women demanding that I 'perform' in some way on the street, for complete strangers? Yes, I would. Especially if they were in groups, and bigger than me, and I were on my own. But 99.999% of the time, it's a man, or multiple men.

And even if it's just one guy, who isn't all that aggressive, it's hard to challenge this shit. We're trained, as girls, as human beings, to be polite. Even to people who aren't being polite to us. We're trained to try to help, to try to please. Maybe we'll even try to oblige, just to 'be nice'. But sometimes, it's time to make a stand, and draw a line, and say 'this is not okay', so here I am.

I really don't imagine for a minute that anyone reading this blog will be the sort of guy who demands anything on the street from a total stranger. But just in case... if you find yourself about to call out a demand, or even a request. Even "Smile!" have a think about it. You have no idea who this person is, where they came from, or where they're going to. You have no idea what the last half-dozen people they passed said to them. Maybe they got locked out. Maybe they're on their way to a funeral.

Fine, if you get eye contact, wish them a good day, but do me a favour... do us *all* a favour, and don't give orders to random women on the street. Respect people's personal sovereignty, people!

NOBODY owes you a smile, or a kiss, or the time of day, or even a hello. No random person on the street owes you ANYTHING. And you don't owe them either.

Actually, what you can *really* do to help if you are a guy, and you see this sort of behaviour, what you can really do about it, is calling that stuff out. You don't need to make a massive fuss. Just a shake of the head and a comment along the lines of 'That's not cool' will go a very long way, especially coming from another guy. From someone who is, near enough, their peer group. If you get the opportunity to expand, see if they can empathise with the hypothetical woman who's on her way to a funeral, and really doesn't want to be yelled at. Explain why the behaviour is shitty.

And if you're a guy, and I hear you explaining to another guy why this sort of thing isn't respectful of women? I will happily owe you a beverage of your choice.

And in the meantime, to take the message to the people who actually need it, on the street, in the politest way I can, I'll be wearing this:

I am not here for your entertainment.

If you want to take the message out there too, the awesome  [livejournal.com profile] joreth (@Joreth on twitter) has made these shirts available in her Spreadshirt store here: http://polytees.spreadshirt.com/your-entertainment-A8317338
emanix: (Default)

I have come across this poem online a couple of times, attributed to a Veronica Shoffstall. However it appears that it's also a translation of an original work in Spanish, possibly by Jorge Luis Borges.

Either way, it is beautiful, and expresses a lot of how I feel about relationships, and about polyamory, and deserves to be known.

After a While

After a while you learn
The subtle difference between
Holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't always mean security.

And you begin to learn
That kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes ahead
With the grace of a woman*
Not the grief of a child*

And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight

After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers

And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
And with every day, you learn.




Click for the original language )

.

*I notice these two lines aren't present in the Spanish version. They are awfully pretty, though, and fit well into the model of the poem, so I've left them where I found them. Being a language nerd, I also fixed the last line of the translation: the version I found said 'with every goodbye you learn', whereas the spanish just says 'with every day', which I think is far more optimistic!
  
NB: I'm not keen on infringing copyright, so I'll happily take this post down or correct the attribution if I'm contacted by someone who can demonstrate ownership, but in this case it seems the ownership is fuzzy, and the likely original author is no longer alive to benefit from his work. There appears to be a longer version in Spanish here: http://elprincipito.blogia.com/2005/101102-jorge-luis-borges-aprendiendo.php
emanix: (Default)
(Cross-posted from Polytical.org - original article here)

When I first moved to London at the start of 2007 I was lucky enough that I *had* heard of polyamory. I even defined myself as polyamorous, thanks to a chance encounter with a copy of The Ethical Slut in an Ottawa bookshop. What I had no idea about was where to find other people like myself. It seems like poly people were a rare life form who only existed on the internet or in the USA.

Then, when I heard about Polyday thanks to another chance meeting, I can honestly say it was the beginning of a new chapter of my life. I discovered that not only were there other poly people in the UK, but there was a thriving community, and events I could go to, to meet people like myself. I felt like I had finally come home.

I volunteered to help run Polyday in 2009 because I think community is important. After years of feeling like a fish out of water, the poly community in london and around the UK provided a much-needed safe space where I could finally be myself amongst a bunch of awesome people, and since I’ve been organising the event I’ve had similar feedback from a lot of other folks. Not to mention some beautiful emails to say thanks for introducing people to new loved ones. Polyday is notoriously a high point in the year for new relationships in the poly community as well - though we emphasise that it is *not* a dating event, being surrounded by so many lovely non-monogamous folks a few are bound to hit it off!

There's always something for everyone, from complete beginners to seasoned ‘polyamorists’ and activists, from vanilla to kinky, and whether you're into men, women or everything in between. Plus there will be a some fun sessions and evening entertainment thrown in for good measure.
If you’ve heard of polyamory but are unsure how to put it into practice or where to find out more, polyday is a great place to start.
If you’ve been poly for years and think you have it down, consider coming to our more advanced sessions and sharing your experience with other ‘experts’, joining in the 'poly crafting' workshop, helping out with the running of the day, or perhaps even volunteering to run a workshop - there are still a couple of slots free as I write this.

Whether you’re new to poly or not, this is *your* community event. Even if you feel like you've nothing to learn there is space to chat, share stories and connect with people you may not have met before, or haven't seen since the last Polyday. Come on home.

This year’s Polyday will be on the 27th of August, in central London at Dragon hall (near Holborn). Doors open at 11:30 a.m. and workshops start from noon, with nice long breaks between sessions for coffee and chat, and a dinner break to take advantage of the huge number of excellent local eateries before evening ents until 11pm. Online booking is already open, and there are more details on the website (which will continue to be updated as the event gets closer) at www.polyday.org.uk

You can see Bobbu's round-up of his experiences as a Polyday volunteer here: http://polytical.org/2011/01/a-summary-of-polyday/

I’ll look forward to seeing you all there!

emanix: (emanix)

Copied essentially verbatim from a Fetlife conversation thread about 'service tops' - this is not quite the essay I'd been intending to write on this topic, but I've had it on my mind for a while, so I'm going to preserve the best attempt I've made at it yet for posterity.

Much musing about kink, logic, diversity, and all of the gorgeous colours of the rainbow.

Something that drives me crazy about kink communities, which I suspect is the cause of LOT of unsatisfying relationships is this: The assumption that (bottom=submissive=masochist) and on the flip side, of course, that (top=dominant=sadist) - and anything else is not the One True Way. Hey look! A recipe for a lot of dissatisfied kinky folk!

In my time I've come across masochist doms (Hit me, slave! Harder!), subbie sadists, dominant sensation play bottoms who hated pain, brats, service tops, service submissives, maids and footmen, slaves, rope bunnies, do-me queens, dollies, nurturing daddies and mommies of both the dom and sub persuasion, emperors, goddesses, virtuoso performers and a whole bunch of others... to me they're all different, and while it might not be obvious to the community at large, it seems obvious to me that there's something missing from the traditional D/s=S/m scale.

Over time I've come up with my own way of observing these relationships, which I find makes it a lot easier to figure out who I want to scene with, or have a relationship with, and how. From my perspective as a switchier than switch 'universal adaptor' I see several different indices people vary on in kink terms, not one single spectrum, and I try to get away from using D or s in my name scheme, because I think that's a label for a combination of characteristics, not a single scale.

The categories I use are:

Leader or follower (i.e. who is guiding the path of the scene, and who is following),
Active or passive (who is doing the physical action),
Giver or receiver (who is receiving sensation - clearly this can vary within a scene for many people, but not everyone.)
Sadist or masochist or neither

These all spring out to me as all being different and unrelated scales of variance. I'm not going to draw a graph since I have no idea how to build a four dimensional matrix, but I hope it's fairly self-explanatory.

To illustrate, the traditional stereotype Dominant is expected to be an active sadistic leader who 'gives' submissives what he/she knows they need - "I feel like giving you a good beating and then fucking in the ass, clearly because this is what I want you want it too, so I'm going to give it to you", and the 'classic' submissive is a passive receiving follower & likely a masochist too - whereas a different Dominant might prefer to receive tribute from willing service submissives, and would be a passive receiving leader. But a bratty bottom, who knows exactly which way to misbehave to guarantee a spanking - well s/he's a leader too.

To my mind then, a service top = actively giving follower: "Tell me what you want, and I'll do it to you", and is well paired with an active or passive receiver who is willing to lead.

And yeah, I've noticed a lot of pairings over time that just don't work - our dominant who wants to be worshipped isn't going to get on well with the classic submissive I described above, or a passive rope bunny or dolly, but they might not realise why because the stories we're told, and the categories we're given are just so darned limited. A service sub paired with a sadist could end up feeling abused. A service top and a service submissive are just not going to know what to do with each other (though I've seen a couple of these relationship drag miserably on for years)... there are a lot of combinations in there.

And of course, nobody need be stuck in one category. I've been most of them at one point or other. My longest standing partner swings between classic Dom and service top depending on his mood. I've had submissive partners who wanted to be ordered to beat other slaves and then be 'punished' for it. I've seen die-hard tops turn to mush when given the right sort of stroking. It's amazing just how big and beautiful the rainbow can get when we're not stuck in black and white. We're multifarious, complicated and beautiful.


...Opinions, comments and questions if you will, below.

emanix: (Default)
In all seriousness, sometimes I quite enjoy flicking through FHM. I have a partner who buys it for the pretty pictures, and whilst we've still discussions to have about that regarding objectification and gender politics, sometimes it bears an ironic reading as an insight into the ridiculousness of male popular culture (plus as nasty body image messages go, I find it less offensive than eg. Cosmopolitan). Today though, I noticed this little gem:

50 Greatest Mistakes You've Made With Women

No. 27: Being too much of a pest on the dance floor


Lesson Learned: "At what point did we think that thrusting a stiffy up and down her thigh would be acceptable? We're lucky most of us didn't get arrested."


So, hang on a minute... The only problem here is being 'too much' of a sex pest? Being 'a bit' of a sex pest is okay? I note that the article conveniently doesn't go into any further detail about where exactly the line is drawn. So... it's perfectly fine to ignore a woman's (or anyone else's) boundaries for the benefit of your own kicks up to what point exactly? Apparently rubbing an erection on an unconsenting thigh is Not Okay (which I suppose is something to be thankful for), but what is okay by FHM, exactly? Pressing said erection against an unconsenting young lady without moving it around? 'Accidental' groping? General invasion of personal space?
Oh, and apparently it's only being a sex pest on the dancefloor that's a problem. In private, it's okay to be a sex pest, perhaps?

No. Just no.

Guys, let's try something. Let's get this clear, it's a really simple concept.

Being a 'sex pest' is not okay ever.

Only 'YES' means yes.
emanix: (emanix)
Ever put up a blog post and then realise only days later you've left out the most important part?

So I posted yesterday about the concept of Self-Evident Epiphanies, but forgot what the burning reason I wanted to talk about it actually was.

Last week I had another Self-Evident Epiphany that I found both utterly banal, and yet deeply inspiring, and it goes as follows:

Every person I have ever admired, every person in power, and every famous person who ever existed was, or is, a human being.

I mean, honestly, take away the crowns, the robes, the uniforms, the bodyguards, the sound technicians, special effects artists, hyperbole and magical thinking, and what have you got? Just people. Making the best decisions they know how.

I mean, think about it. George Bush... is a person. Margaret Thatcher... is a person, Winston Churchill... was a person. Che Guevara, now a near-meaningless T-shirt icon... was a person. Queen Boadicea was a person. Martin Luther King was a person. Emmeline Pankhurst was a person. Lucy Stone was a person. Einstein was a person. Stan Lee, creator of so many superheroes, is a person. Joan of Arc was a person. Buddha. Was a person. Mohammed. Was a person. Jesus Christ. Was a fricking person. Every hollywood actor you know about... is a person. Every musician you've heard of, is a person. Britney Spears, love her or hate her, is a person. Pretty much everyone you've ever heard of, with the exception of fictional characters (and even including some of those - I mean, for example, Saint Nicholas, before he was Santa Claus, he was a person), everyone who had a part in building the world we live in is or was a person. Some of them started out with advantages, others didn't, but every single one of them is or was a person, making the best decisions they know how.

Clearly I'm not the first person to have this sort of thought - After all, it's Self-Evident. Here's Richard Feynman talking about having a 'Healthy Disrespect For Authority'
(Ed. 6/1/2012 - Oops, link broke! A new one can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhD0MxacnIE )

But why is this important? Because sometimes I catch myself making excuses, telling myself it's okay to not even try to change the world, even when it hurts me, because it's a big world, and I'm just one person. Sometimes I make decisions that are a bit feeble, and I tell myself it's okay, because I'm only human.

But everyone I've ever admired, every person in power, and every famous person who ever existed was, or is, a human being.

And so are you.

SEE?
emanix: (Default)
I was introduced to the concept of the Self-Evident Epiphany by a friend of [livejournal.com profile] seinneann_ceoil over a large pot of tea one afternoon. The example she gave was the realisation, several weeks before, that on days when she went out wearing a sweater, she felt warmer. Astonishing!
I introduced her to another on the spot: that the phrase 'Self-Evident Epiphanies' not only has a poetic elegance to it, but also has the most perfectly apt abbreviation: SEE!

Every one of us put our heads to one side, and let out a sigh of delight at the beauty of this newly formed acronym. Ah, the sweetness that is the love of geeks for wordplay.

So the Self-Evident Epiphany, or SEE, is a thought, or a realisation that is perfectly obvious in hindsight, but somehow your brain had failed to register it until just now. A favourite one of mine, which despite its obviousness often fails to stick in my mind: if I keep my room tidy, I don't have to spend so much time Looking For Stuff. I realise this on a fairly regular basis, and it surprises me every time!

What Self-Evident Epiphanies have you had, or heard about?
emanix: (Default)
I have lots of other things to catch up with, but it seems I'm most productive when I'm angry - and this idiotic article (and a swathe of similar ones) makes me EXTREMELY angry.

So what's wrong with it?

Here's the headline: "Failure of contraceptive implants sets back battle against teen pregnancies"
and the subtitle: "Bad press surrounding 584 cases in which women trusting in Implanon implants fell pregnant is a blow to family-planning advisers"

Terrifying - 584 failures - that's got to be bad, right? Well, no.

Why not?

Because statistically, that number of 584 failures makes Implanon an AMAZINGLY EFFECTIVE contraceptive.

Let's take a look at a table of statistics about contraception - I've taken my stats from here

Type of contraception
Implanon Hormone Implant: 0.05% failure rate.
Condom: 2-15% failure rate.
Crossed Fingers (no contraception): 85% failure rate.
Number of women expected to become pregnant during one year
(out of 100)
0.05
2 to 15
Around 85
Number of women expected to become pregnant during one year
(out of 82,000)
41
1640 to 12,300
Around 69,700
Number of women likely to become pregnant over 11 years (out of estimated 1,000,000)
584*
20,000 to 150,000**
Around 850,000**
-
*actual statistic
**this is a low estimate - stats are based on only one year of use.


Contraception failure rates are measured by the number of women out of 100 who would get pregnant over a year using that contraceptive. So as you can see above, using no contraception at all, 85% of women WOULD get pregnant. Condoms have between a 2 and 15% failure rate. That means between two and 15 women will pregnant over a year whilst relying on condoms for contraception. So if 82,000 women were using condoms for contraceptive protection for a year, between 1640 and 12300 of those women would get pregnant.

So let's just compare those condom statistics back to the headline: We are told in the article that 82,000 women per year are fitted with an Implanon implant. Compared to condoms, 584 failures out of 82,000 women is very low - far less than 1%.

But that's not the end of the story.

It's not the end of the story because the 584 pregnancies they're talking about in this article weren't over one year. They were over ELEVEN YEARS. We're talking about barely one twentieth of a percent, 0.06%.
If all of these women had used condoms instead, we'd be looking at an extra 11,716 women who would likely be pregnant due to contraceptive failure - not just once either, that's every year.
That's ELEVEN THOUSAND WOMEN! Eleven thousand lives that *haven't* been disrupted by unwanted pregnancy, because they were relying on a more effective form of contraception. If they hadn't used any contraception at all? 69700 unwanted foetuses PER YEAR. This is what happens when you put people off using safe contraceptives with idiotic scare tactics.

Yes, these women "thought they were 99% safe" - based on the number of women who have actually had Implanon fitted, they were actually 99.94% safe (equivalent to one in about 2000, vs. one in 100). I'm sure it's not much of a comfort to the women who have experienced a failure (after all, on an individual level it's no longer a statistic - you're either pregnant or you're not), and of course it would have been wonderful if they could have been 100% 'safe', but compared to around 70,000 of those same women each year who would have been pregnant if they had no contraception, that's a vanishingly small number.

It's not perfect. No method of contraception is perfect, and not everyone gets on with hormone based contraception, but it's by far the best out there. And it makes me sick with anger that scare tactics like these stupid headlines are being used to trash what is clearly the most reliable means we have of preventing unwanted pregnancy.

What's the real agenda here? I have no idea. Maybe some crazy idea that that declaring contraception 'unsafe' will put teenage girls off from having sex? Maybe a complete lack of understanding of statistics. Perhaps a misunderstanding of how contraception really works - and a belief that there's a better method out there? Currently, there isn't a better option - unless you combine several at once, eg. condoms *and* an implant, or a coil, or or whatever (and of course, implants and coils don't protect from STIs, so that's an excellent idea anyway). Sadly real science doesn't give us perfect answers, it just gives us better ones. And they're getting better all the time - or they would be, if only journalists would actually understand the information they're presented with.

- - - - -
Additional information:

If you have an implant and you're worried if it might be incorrectly fitted:


What to do if you are worried?
If you are already using the Contraceptive Implant and are not experiencing any problems you probably don’t need to worry. However if this coverage has concerned you then you can speak to your GP, Reproductive Health Clinic or call the Family Planning Association (in the UK) on 0845 122 8690.

Remember this form of contraception is more than 99% effective and for the majority of women who opt to use it they experience no problems and are happy with it as their contraceptive choice.
--from Dr. Petra Boynton's blog entry, Contraceptive Implants and Media Panics – what you need to know (click for more details)

- - - - -

Update two:

There's some more decent information at these sites (though many of them still fail to compare with failure rates for other contraceptives):

http://bishuk.com/2011/01/06/contraceptive-implant/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/journalism/blog/2011/01/contraceptive-failure-figures.shtml
http://dianthus.co.uk/implanon-and-contraceptive-failures
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2011/01January/Pages/info-implanon-contraceptive-implant.aspx
emanix: (Default)
.

Emanix (noun, fem.): 1. one who emanates. An originator and creator of things. 2. One who puts out.
(The latter not 100% accurate, at least, not to just anybody, but I couldn't resist the pun!)

Polyamorist (n): one whose life is characterised by a set of complex overlapping calendars and scheduling conflicts and, to a lesser extent, multiple loving relationships. (from [livejournal.com profile] bminstrel link)

The latter seems particularly apt for me (apart from a general feeling that the word 'polyamorist' makes something that I feel is an innate part of my identity sound like a career choice - I prefer 'polyamorous person'). Back from a week in Thailand which I left for straight after helping out with Polyday, now recovering from jetlag and looking in despair at a to-do list that stretches on into infinity. Posts will happen though. When I can fit them in between my other scheduling conflicts, that is!

In the meantime, how would you define the meaning of your name or username, if it was up to you?
emanix: (restricted area)
.

Extended Title: Collateral Damage - How certain members of society are disadvantaged and/or criminalised by laws intended to protect. - Part 1. How being assaulted can make you a criminal.

I had been planning to present an essay on this topic later on, after I'd put up OpenCon follow-ups (they're coming!) and I still intend to. At the rate I am coming up with new examples, it may turn out to be several, possibly even a book, chaos save us. However, an article on the BBC News site was brought to my attention this afternoon that literally made me feel nauseous.

Long, ranty and potentially triggering for some (for reasons that should be clear from the above title). )

I'm not a lawyer. I don't have the legal language to name whatever system we should be using, but this isn't it. Victims of any kind of assault need to be able to choose, at any point in the process, to back out without fear of censure. To demand otherwise is inhumane. If we want to take crimes against the person seriously, then lets do that, but not at the expense of criminalising the very people who need the protection of the law.




Edit:
Another similar article here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/nov/09/woman-jailed-dropping-rape-charges
emanix: (Default)
I've been thinking a lot about the impermanence of things lately, and there will be a more abstract post about this at some point, but this has been annoying me specifically this week.

I usually keep my nose out of politics, but I've noticed an odd blind spot lately, particularly in opinion articles about the benefits system in the UK. The blind spot is the assumption that things will continue to be as they are in perpetuity. That is, families who are unemployed and living off benefits will continue to be unemployed and living off benefits, and families who are high-earners and paying taxes will continue to do so, thereby subsidising the 'lazy layabouts'. Or conversely that virtuous families who are on low incomes and struggling are kept there by the system of privilege and can never escape. Now, perhaps for a certain proportion of the people in this system, each of these might be the truth, but they both miss the point of the entire benefits system.

Social benefits exist because whatever situation you are in now is temporary. Work is temporary. Health is temporary. Your current age is most definitely temporary. Being out of work, or ill, or old tends to be temporary also. The entire point of jobseekers benefits, and health related benefits, and pensions is not to encourage people to rely on the state, but because these things could happen to anyone. (They also exist because people who are out of work, ill and desperate are more likely to commit crime if they can't afford food, shelter, heat. So the taxpayer benefits from people having a safety net in that way too. Just sayin'.)

I find it bizarre that the bigots complaining about paying taxes can't imagine a situation in which they themselves might be ill, or homeless, or old, and in need of help. The lack of imagination astounds me. Banks collapse, families break up, companies go bust unexpectedly. Illness is unpredictable. You simply can't insure for everything.

Enlightened self interest, people?

Just like the national lottery... it could be you.

Happy Bunny

Oct. 4th, 2010 12:11 am
emanix: (Default)
I just moved over to a different journal style which shows my tags as a cloud format, rather than a list. I'm rather pleased to see that 'happy bunny' is the biggest of these. :)

I shall have a cup of tea in celebration!
emanix: (Default)
I was walking down the road this afternoon and this idea just popped into my head. Wouldn't it be interesting to take one of the most traditional statements of faith in the christian church (which, being the faith that was vaguely foisted on me as a child, is the main religion that I push against, culturally-speaking) kick out the rubbish, and write what I really believe?

For those who aren't aware of it, this is the Nicene Creed

So here, with somewhat tortured language because of trying to fit it vaguely into the same pattern, is my set of beliefs about the world.


The Emanixine Creed:
(probably a first draft)

I believe in a reality external to myself, some of which is observable with my own senses, some of which is not.

I believe in myself as a conscious being, as a person, and in other conscious beings, other people. I believe that continued existence and pleasure in that existence is a good thing, and a valid goal to strive for. I believe that every conscious being has a right to that goal, and any others that do not conflict with my goal to exist in comfort.

I believe that there will be no judgement after life, but if we are to strive collectively to apply the right to exist in comfort to every conscious being, we must judge within ourselves and within our communities, and hold ourselves to the highest standards we are capable of. I believe that the highest glory is in the sharing of happiness and increasing of knowledge, as well as the peaceful coexistence of every conscious being.

I believe in empirical science, not as a fixed body of knowledge, but as a process through which to understand the world, and the external reality in which I exist.

I believe in the universe as the giver of life, which proceeds from the laws of physics as we know them. I acknowledge that my understanding of the world is incomplete, and hope for forgiveness of any misunderstandings. I look for the continuation of this life, and the world to come.



If you were to write a creed for yourself, how would yours read?
emanix: (Activist)
Hi folks!

I've had no chance to catch up with livejournal for several weeks now, so apologies to everyone I've been failing to read. With a bit of luck I might get chance to catch up at some point!

At any rate, last weekend was BiCon and there are a few topics that came up which I wanted to follow up of which this is the first.

Poly 201

Photos and transcripts of the whiteboards from the Polyamory 201 session at BiCon )

I plan to add to these lists and put them up on www.pollyamorous.com when I have a little time to catch up.
emanix: (tea)
Following the discussion in the lovely [livejournal.com profile] seinneann_ceoil 's workshop on sex ed, I hunted down and found this recipe for water-based lube from natural ingredients. This was originally posted on [livejournal.com profile] fd_midori 's livejournal

Safe for work, but long recipe details! )
emanix: (restricted area)
Cut as scary topic with dire warnings, and definitely NSFW - you have been warned.  )

Play safe, folks.

[Additional update, July 2015: In case anyone has stumbled across this post whilst looking for tips on how to safely experiment with solo breath play (otherwise known as auto-erotic asphyxiation), the answer is quite honestly "you can't." Sorry. If you don't have a romantic partner and are determined to engage in any sort of breath play, even including the things I have listed as 'safer' in this post, you might want to consider finding a friend who is willing to 'spot' for you, who will be present in the room to provide first aid or call an ambulance in case things go wrong. Even with something as simple as unassisted breath-holding or tantric breathing, the risk of things going badly wrong goes up exponentially without at least a 'spotter' present. My personal position on solo breath play is PLEASE DON'T. There is no way to experiment safely with erotic asphyxiation on your own.]
emanix: (Default)
Hi, I'm a polyamorous woman, and I don't exist. In fact, I don't believe that polyamorous people exist.

“Huh?” I hear you say. “But you just declared yourself polyamorous. Up there! It says so!”

I did, and I do. I call myself polyamorous because I see this as an important part of how I relate to other people in my life. So I call myself poly in the same way I call myself an agnostic, or a Londoner, or a wearer of polka-dotted shirts. I get sick and tired, though, of hearing about poly people vs. monogamous people as though we're different species. Worse, the constant bickering about whether it's 'natural' for human beings in general to be monogamous or not. Good grief! Are we animals? It seems like a lot of people are deeply invested in perpetuating the split, but it's a false dichotomy that drives me up the wall. This may be an unpopular position but here I go:

There is no such thing as a polyamorous person.

There is no such thing as a monogamous person either.


I find it bizarre how often discussions about poly versus mono the arguments seem to fall back to biology. Folk are either claiming that we are ALL supposed to be one or the other, or they're claiming that there's a hard-wired difference between the two. Really? It's like claiming there is a biological reason for being a liberal versus a conservative, or a vegetarian versus a carnivore . The difference between these people is simple, obvious and nobody's arguing it: belief. When the issue is how to run a country or what to eat for dinner we're all happy to stick with arguing that this or that is the more rational option – x or y is better because it benefits people (or animals) in this or that way. So why on earth, when the issue is how to organise relationships, does everyone start insisting that nature has all of the answers?

Seriously, why on earth is anyone asking which is the 'natural' way to be? The natural way for us to be, running along some of these lines of thinking, is naked, eating raw foods and huddling in natural caves for warmth. Except that's not true either – the natural thing for us to be doing, as creatures of logic and imagination is *thinking* and basing our behaviours on the result of conscious thought, whatever internal system of logic we happen to be using.

What does nature want us to be doing? You know... it really doesn't matter. We started ignoring what nature wanted from us the minute we started adapting our environments to suit ourselves instead of vice versa. What matters is what we THINK. In other words, the difference between the mind of a monogamous person and that of a polyamorous person is the thoughts and beliefs inside it – and these are mutable things. On a daily basis people make the decision to stop, or start eating meat, choose which party to vote for, make decisions about moral and cultural issues based on their experiences and understanding of the world around them. If we are rational adults – and I think we are all aspiring to be rational adults here, no? - then we base our decisions on what our logic circuits tell us, not our bodies.

I'm Emanix. I'm a carnivore. Not because I believe it's the only right way to be. Not because I believe it's more natural, or more 'evolved', or because there is a fundamental difference between my brain chemistry and that of my vegetarian friends. I'm carnivorous because to me it's what makes sense on a daily basis.

Oh, and I happen to be polyamorous too.

I've had a few comments on the carnivore thing. Yes I know what carnivore actualy means, yes it's hyperbole for the sake of humour. My artistic license can be viewed here: [link to Artistic License'] it states 'Licensed to bend the truth in the name of comedy'. Can we get back to the point now please?
emanix: (Activist)
I've seen it in all sorts of places, the assumption that bisexuality has to mean that a person is equally attracted to both sexes, not notice the difference between, and so forth... Marcus Morgan has a lovely rebuttal to that one in this article: Bisexuals: putting the B back in LGBT and I also love The Bisexual Index's FAQ: Bisexuals don't have to be equally attracted to men and women.

This isn't the logic fail I'm going to address today though.

The logic fail that bugs me, and keeps on bugging me is this: the idea that if I am exactly equally attracted to both sexes, I will have had exactly the same numbers of male and female partners. Why does it bug me so? It fails to take into account the huge % of population that *aren't* bisexual.

So let's get this erm... 'straight':
even if I am EXACTLY equally attracted to men and women, I have NINE TIMES more chance of finding a compatible opposite-sex partner than a same-sex one*

Let's go through the workings:

I'm not going to hunt down stats and references right now, since the important bit here is the logic, which is flexible to whatever the exact statistics are, but of the research I have seen, the *highest* statistic for members of the general population who are interested in relationships with the same sex is roughly 10%

So working with that maximum statistic let's follow this through to work out my chances of getting a girlfriend, versus the chance of getting a boyfriend as a bisexual woman.

Now, we've been told that 10% of the male population is open to same-sex relationships. With a bit of give and take for bisexual guys, and for those not interested in relationships at all, we can assume that roughly 90% of the male population is interested in relationships with women. So my dating pool of guys is potentially 90% of the entire population of males.

On the other hand, the proportion of females interested in same sex relationships is only 10%, so oh look! -

% of males potentially interested in me: 90%
% of females potentially interested in me: 10%

Assuming roughly equal populations of men and women, and that roughly the same number of men and women share compatible views and interests with me, this means my dating pool for men is nine times larger than my dating pool of women.

So if I really want to date the same number of women as men, looks like I'd have to put nine times the effort into chasing them down - oh wait, wouldn't that necessitate being nine times *more* into women, if I was really willing to put that effort in? Well gee, I think that it would.

(Of course the same logic works perfectly well for bi guys, it was just easier to focus on one person to use as an example, so I picked on me)

This also handily refutes the all too common hypothesis that being bi 'doubles' ones chances of getting a date. Sure, it might increase a little bit - my pool of possible dates goes from 45% of the population overall to oh, about 50% - assuming that nobody is being bigoted or biphobic, of course. But since I have had both straight men and gay women tell me that they wouldn't date me because I'm bi, I suspect that any actual increase in number is cancelled out by the increase in prejudice.

Still, on the positive side of things, while being bi doesn't double my chances of getting a date, it *does* double the number of people I get to appreciate aesthetically - gay guys and straight women included. Since enjoying the eye-candy doesn't require mutual attraction, I guess I can check out twice as many people on the street, as long as it's look but don't touch.

Hey, you monosexuals?

Here's lookin' at you! ;)


___
*yes, yes, I know, this is referring to binary genders in order to keep the statistical workings simple - for the purpose of being inclusive, please assume that when I am talking about same-sex and opposite-sex I mean 'exactly like me' and 'not exactly like me', respectively

July 2015

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