emanix: (emanix)
Inspired by far too many posts on social media in which guys worry about the size of their genitalia. This is a slightly edited version of something I posted as a comment on facebook last week, but felt it deserved to be preserved for posterity, or future referencing:

"Aaaaaaargh!! I think I just hit my final limit for guys imagining that having a massive cock is what makes for a good lay. It just plain isn't true. It's not length, it's not girth, it's not even what you do with it that matters. What makes you decent in bed, guys, is NOT BEING ALL ABOUT YOUR COCK.

Guys, I have got to tell you, your best tools for pleasing a woman are (1) Your hands*, (2) Your mouth*, (3) your brain, (4) whatever sex toys you happen to have lying around, and maybe if she's really worked up and horny for you then your dick might be a welcome addition, and when it is... guess what? The size of it isn't going to matter, because (unless you're painfully bashing her cervix, which is so not fun) she'll only be able to feel the first three inches and your pubic bone grinding against hers anyway.

Don't get me wrong. I love fucking. I've used strap-ons with my girlfriends too, on occasion (NB. Funnily enough, it's never the first thing we go for). When it's good, it's good. But when it's good, it's because someone's paying attention to the girl-bits it's going into, not just to the size of the damn tool.

This rant brought to you by the Horny Bisexual Women's Commission For Better Sex."


*Okay, female opinion may differ on the order of these. But hey, this is my rant. And for my money, hands are WAY more versatile, flexible, sensitive and effective than mouths. I've never yet had a tongue hit my g-spot.
emanix: (emanix)
So this just happened.

Background: I'm in the process of redecorating my accidental house in Manchester, including the yard, and having spotted a roll of astroturf outside one of my local carpet shops, marked with a sign saying 'roll end sale', I measured up the space concerned and then wandered in to the carpet shop to make enquiries about size and cost.

I just happen to have my henchman with me. He's hanging back behind me as I wander in, because it's not his house and the purchase has nothing to do with him. Nothing about his body language is saying 'pay attention to me'. Apparently this doesn't matter.

We step through the door and the manager has clearly stepped out for a minute. There are two ladies there, and one asks me if I mind waiting for the boss to get back. I'm fine with that, and about ten seconds later 'the boss' walks back in. A smart-looking middle aged indian man in a suit. The lady I spoke to indicates that there is someone here to see him, pointing at me, so I step forward, expecting the salesman to say hello.

"Hello Sir!" he says peering over my shoulder, to Henchman No.1, who is standing several steps behind me, goggling.

I take a quick glance down at myself to check I haven't suddenly become invisible (nope, there I am, in full stripey-and-spotty chaosbunnific glory). I take another step towards the salesman. Perhaps he's short sighted or something.

"Hi!" I say, rather pointedly, as though he'd spoken to me in the first place.

At this point he literally steps AROUND me to ask Henchman No.1 what he's looking for.
Henchman No.1 is silently shaking his head and pointing at me, and right now I'm getting kinda pissed off, so I march back in front of the salesman and tell him "ME. You speak to ME, please."

Mr. Sexist Salesman did rather grudgingly then proceed to talk to me, but clearly wasn't actually paying any attention to what I said, because while I was asking him about the astroturf I had seen outside, marked as 'roll end sale', he then starts pointing me at carpets inside the store. Carpets that are clearly not roll ends, either.

Wow, sexist carpet salesman, this is the 21st century. Do you seriously mean to tell me that you've never had to treat a woman as a potential client before?

Eventually it turned out that the astroturf was NOT in fact in the sale, so I got the price and sizing availability from him and we left. Unless it turns out that his price is the cheapest source of astroturf in the entire country, I don't believe I will be going back, except possibly to let Sexist Carpet Saleman know how much money I spent with a competing store, and why.

If anyone else feels like calling Carpets World to explain why you also will be giving your money to other carpet stores, they can be contacted here:

Carpets World
787 Stockport Rd Manchester M19 3DL (Levenshulme)
0161 248 0420
emanix: (emanix)
Find out why we call them 'unicorns'.

Edit, 1st October 2014 (Because I realised I hadn't properly defined my terms!):

In the poly community, a 'unicorn' is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek term for a single, bisexual poly woman willing to date both members of a couple, usually in an exclusive triad.

If that's what you're looking for, you may have already heard people tell you that what you're looking for is incredibly rare, and that it's going to be a long hard journey. Most folks just shrug their shoulders at this and say 'that's okay, I'll just keep on looking til I find it.'

So I took a look at just *how* rare finding a unicorn actually is, how many you're likely to find in your own social circle, and how long it might realistically take to find someone, as a couple, to fit you both.

Full disclosure: I am technically a 'unicorn' myself. As a poly bi woman with no formal primary partnership, I am hypothetically open to dating a couple (though the 'exclusive' part isn't for me). But how many times in my 20 years of dating have I actually met and fallen for two people who were also into each other at exactly the same time? Well, I'll let you know at the end of the essay!

As many folks who read my blog know, it is mostly used as a repository for essays on topics that I encounter repeatedly. I've been writing this essay over about three years, adding a tiny little bit every time I see some new person ask the same question, and if you scroll down you'll see it's a pretty long essay. Stick with me. It's worth it.

Everywhere poly and interested folk gather, I hear the refrain “Why is it so hard for us to find the perfect woman to date us both?” often followed up with some sort of comment to the effect of “There's two of us, so that should make it easier, right?”

Sorry, folks! The computer says no!

Finding one single woman (or man*) to date as a couple is many many many times harder than finding a different partner for each of you. And if we look at the finding-a-date process step by step, the numbers will tell you why.

Let's begin our step by step starting with the straight male member of a male/female couple (just for example), and throw some numbers in for illustrative purposes.

So, wannabe poly triad-building guy, let's say that most of your dating experience has been as a single person. That's great! You know how that works. You go out, go online, mingle with folks, you check women out and you see who you find attractive. Let's assume that's about one in ten, or ten percent of the women out there. Hey, you've got some taste, right? But you've already knocked out 90% of the dating population as possibilities. But let's carry on. Ten percent of the available dating population just happens to be your personal version of 'hot'.

Now, you already know how if you are single only a certain percent of the hot women in your dating pool are going to be interested in you. So let's say that maybe ten percent of those women that you find attractive are willing to consider dating you (obviously your mileage may vary, but 10% is a nice easy number to use to demonstrate). Seems like you're off to a great start, right? Right. One in 100 isn't bad odds. You've still got a pretty good chance of finding a date for yourself here. But you're already down to 1% of the total dating pool (that's ten percent of ten percent), and you haven't asked any of the difficult questions yet.

Chance of finding a partner if you're single: 10% of 10% = 1% or 1 in 100

Now, if you are *not* single, you are limiting yourself to only the people within your dating pool who are open to nonmonogamy. Since the vast majority of the population are still not open to poly, we'll take a guess at that again being about ten percent, so now you're looking at ten percent of ten percent of ten percent, that's only 0.1% of everyone who's available for dating. You have already cut your chances of finding compatible people down to one in 1000, simply by being poly. So if you're dating as an individual, your chances of finding someone who's interested in just you are roughly one in every thousand women you check out. If you're surfing dating sites as an individual, or going out and meeting people in public, that's not too bad. Your female partner will probably have about the same odds if she wants to date other guys.

Chance of finding a poly-friendly partner for just one of you: 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.1% or 1 in 1000

But then you want a partner who will also date your female partner. So it gets more complicated.

Assuming you are an m/f couple both looking for a partner in common, you are also looking for a woman who is bisexual. But don't forget, you're still limiting yourself to being inside that group of 'people who are open to nonmonogamy AND attracted to you'.
Across the board of sexuality studies, the highest estimated percentage of the population who are interested in same sex relationships is approximately ten percent (usually it's less, but we're rounding it up to make things look more hopeful here!). If your female partner is looking independently for another female partner who doesn't need to be attracted to you, her odds will be about here: ten percent of ten percent of ten percent of ten percent, or in other words, about one in 10,000. Out of the general population, only one woman in 10,000 is likely to be hot, poly and as attracted to your female parter as she is to them.

Chance of finding a poly-friendly same sex partner for just one of you: 10% of 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.01% or 1 in 10,000

BUT you're still looking for a partner who will date BOTH of you, not just one of you, so it gets more complicated again.

Specifically bisexual people account for probably about half of that 'interested in same sex relationships' population (maybe a bit less). So again, you're cutting your odds down, this time to about 5% of your already limited group of 'hot women who are open to nonmonogamy AND already attracted to you'.
So that's five percent of ten percent of ten percent of ten percent. You're down to 0.005% of the dating population... That's one in 20,000, and we haven't even accounted for whether or not those women are attracted to your female partner yet – after all, we were so far just looking at women who were attracted to *you*.
So assuming your female partner is about as attractive as you are, and sexily compatible with about ten percent of the people she meets, that adds another zero in front of your chances.

(I'm also assuming here that you and your partner have *exactly* the same tastes, and exactly the same definition of what is 'hot' in a potential partner. If your tastes differ, that's going to reduce your options still further, but lets not, because that's just going to get depressing!).

Still following the maths? Right now, the percentage of hot bisexual women in the dating pool who are open to nonmonogamy AND likely to be interested in dating you AND interested in dating your partner as well is ten percent of five percent of ten percent of ten percent of ten percent. Out of all the potential women in the dating pool, you're now down to 0.0005%, or roughly one in 200,000 women. At this point you have probably run out of women in your dating pool. Hell, you've probably run out of women in your entire state, but hey, if you cast your net wide enough...

Chance of finding a poly-friendly partner interested in both of you: 10% of 5% of 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.005% or 1 in 200,000

And that isn't even taking into account whether or not those women are open to being in a *closed* triad with you, just whether they might be interested in dating you in the first place. The number of poly women who will be open to creating a closed triad with you will be even smaller. Oh what? About ten percent, we figure? That's one in two million women, folks.

Chance of finding a poly-friendly partner interested in both of you AND in exclusivity: 10% of 10% of 5% of 10% of 10% of 10% = 0.0005% or 1 in 2,000,000

You probably call your existing partner 'one in a million', but to actually find ONE woman interested in setting up a FIRST date with both of you, are you really prepared to make contact with two million women?

And folks wonder why they're still looking years later...

*These numbers work equally well if you're an m/f couple looking for a male 'unicorn', just flip the gender of the 'partner' bits of the workings out, I just went with the most common scenario I see for illustration purposes. It's a little different, numerically speaking, if you're already a same sex couple, but not very.

So how long would it take you to sift through two million women, anyway?

How about I throw in some more numbers in for you?

Let's say you're trying to do most of your dating organically, in person or through forums, poly groups and other social mingling. Let's also wildly exaggerate and say that you can meet one woman every minute of your day. If you could do that non-stop without eating, sleeping, going to work or anything else, that alone adds up to nearly four years.

More realistically, you'll probably only be able to devote an hour a day to meeting brand new people. After all, you have lives to lead. At one hour a day, that initial sift alone will take you something like ninety years (actually, I make it 91.32 years ).

Now let's say you spend ten minutes chatting to all the women you find attractive (another 91.32 years), and another ten minutes chatting with the women who seem to be attracted to you. That's only an extra nine years at this point.

Oh hey, you've found out some these women are poly! And bi! You've got to chat with them a little longer, maybe research their background a bit. You're going to have to introduce them to your female partner, see if they get on. You've made great progress though! That's such a short list of women it's not even going to take you a month to sift through and figure out who's into who. You're so nearly there, after a mere 192.74 years of searching, why it's enough to make you drop your walking stick and click your heels together. It's time to actually go on some dates!

So let's say you and your partner finally have a shortlist of women who are hot, bisexual, poly, and even better, attracted to the both of you. Let's say out of your initial two million women, you've managed to narrow it down to ten. You take each one of those women out on a couple of dates to see how you get along, and then you pop the question: “Would you like to be in a closed triad with the two of us?” It's only going to take you twenty days or so. Barely even three weeks worth of dating. Of course, most of the hot bi babes say no. Perhaps they can't see themselves cutting off their options that way. Perhaps they already have existing partners they don't want to dump just for the privilege of being with you. Perhaps it's just not their style (It's not you, it's them). It doesn't matter though. Out of those ten women you spent nearly three weeks dating, miracle of miracles, one of them has said YES!

And it only took you 192.79 years to find someone who wants to start to date both of you. Assuming you're still alive, you'll all be over two hundred years old by now, so I figure you'll all have the maturity to build a successful relationship from this point, plus be too tired to look for anyone else if it doesn't work out. Congratulations! You've found your unicorn! Well done!

...in other words, unicorn hunting is the relationship equivalent of spending every day sitting at home imagining what you will do 'when you win the lottery', rather than going out to work and building yourself a viable business.

That doesn't mean you need to stop buying lottery tickets, but in the meantime why not go out, build solid relationships, build friendships, build family even, with people who fit *you*, and maybe in doing so you'll happen across people who also fit your other partner or partners.

Yes, it sounds like more work and less 'romantic', but on the other hand it's a whole lot more reliable.

Check my maths!

You can see my workings as a spreadsheet here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sm5YD8WASdDDs3RcIKUzaLaqF2yMuJe9TBE8tW8tl9U/edit?usp=sharing

Some further reading for couples who are seeking to date a 'unicorn', or for bisexual folks considering dating both or part of a couple:

About bisexuality:
Bisexuality & Statistics: Twice as many dates? (2010-07-16)


More about unicorn hunting, and some advice from experienced poly folk:




About dating a couple:

So, as a 'unicorn', how many times have I actually met and fallen for two people who were also into each other at exactly the same time? --- 0.

That would be big fat zero. I have, however, been dating a wonderful couple for the last several years.
Because they were confident and independent enough to date separately, I was dating him for at least a year when a surprise 'spark' developed with her too. If I'd had to choose between both or neither right at the start though? I'd have had to choose neither, and that would have been a sad loss for all of us.
emanix: (emanix)
Dear Stranger,

Read the damn profile. Pick something that might be a mutual interest. Start a conversation about it. It's really not hard. If I wanted generalised spam messages with no connection to my own personality I'd go look in my trash email.

No love,

Someone who's very bored of getting form letters from people who clearly don't give a shit about who I am other than 'female'.

*Yes, this happens often enough that it is worth having a form response that I can copy and paste. Now, finally, here it is.
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: (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.

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.
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
emanix: (restricted area)
I have just been reminded by a post of Joreth's, that this tab has been open in my browser for a couple of weeks now: Reuters article on incidence of STIs in prostitutes, swingers and 'straight' population.

Possibly the most poorly titled piece of science journalism EVER.

Take a look at the statistics quoted in the article: "Overall, combined rates of Chlamydia and gonorrhea were just over 10 percent among straight people, 14 percent among gay men, just under 5 percent in female prostitutes, and 10.4 percent among swingers, they found. And female swingers had higher infection rates than male swingers."

What Reuters managed to read from that: Shock, horror! Swingers have TWICE the infection rate of prostitutes!

With a more sex-positive eye, however, let's re-read that. Swingers overall had an infection rate of 10.4% over the period of the study. that's just 0.4% more than 'straight' (I assume this means heterosexual, serially monogamous - it's never actually defined in the article) people. So the straight folk and swingers had very similar infection rates, which were both DOUBLE the infection rate of the prostitutes.

What does this tell us?

First it tells us that Reuters journalists are so biased against sex-positive folk that they have to ignore an amazing statistic to twist their headline into something with enough shock value to please their readers.

Second, it tells us that monogamous people don't have all the answers on safety... who would have thought?

[livejournal.com profile] joreth hits the nail on the head: "The number of sexual partners is not the most important factor in a person's health risk profile. Using proper safety procedures, and exchanging accurate medical information between partners and with medical practitioners are more likely to keep you safe than just reducing the number of partners."

The take-home piece of information from this study is NOT that being a swinger is inherently unsafe, but that being 'straight' does not keep you safe.

Clearly the prostitutes in this study, working in a legal profession (bless the Netherlands for being open-minded enough for that) by being aware of risk and observing safer sex methods managed to reduce their risk to a level far below the general population. What might they be doing to reduce their risk? Getting checked regularly and using barrier protection are the most obvious. Being aware of how, for example, different lubricants can alter your risk of infection is another. Another less obvious one is this: not automatically assuming that your partner is clear of infection.

Assuming that your partner is clear of infection because they have slept only with one person at a time is a mistake made by so many of the straight, monogamous community – I mean come on guys, you're in the majority (for now). If it actually kept you safe, these diseases wouldn't exist! You don't have to assume that your partner is cheating on you for them (and you) to be at risk of having an STI – they may well have contracted something before you met. Sexual health clinics in the UK generally won't offer certification, but are you certain that every one of your partners had the all-clear before you played together? If you're monogamous and haven't done testing, are you certain that your partners exes had the all-clear before THEY slept together? Or if not, what precautions did/do you take? Crossing your fingers, closing your eyes and singing 'la la la' is not a precaution, by the way. Nor is a wedding ring.

Out of interest, I've visited one swing club in the netherlands, and would go so far as to hazard a guess that the reason why the infection rate was so similar between 'straight' folk and swingers would be because generally the swingers are using barrier methods with randoms they play with at clubs, but where it comes to their usual partner, make pretty much the same assumptions about safety that the general 'straight' population do – “well he/she uses barriers with everyone else, so we don't need to get tested”.

I'd love to see a study like this comparing mono and poly folk. My hunch is that the poly community in general has a % that's even lower, since there is a high level of safety-consciousness combined with a relatively small number of partners, at least as compared to Dutch prostitutes.

Now there's a line I never thought I'd use!
emanix: (Default)
Dear OKCupid,

We've known each other a long time. I've seen you go through a lot of changes. I remember when we met, way back when you were still The Spark, the special connection I felt between us. We had so much in common! I really felt that you were a site that cared about me as a person. I felt like who I was mattered to you. I fell for your charming wit, and the quizzes. Oh, those quizzes!
We spent many a happy hour together. So, when you became a dating site, I stuck by you.  I gave you the benefit of the doubt, and it paid off. After all, you still seemed to have the same values, and of course, you still had the quizzes. I even kept my profile alive, despite reaching polysaturation point a long time ago, because you helped me reach out to new members of the poly community, and to people who enjoyed my artwork. Your matching algorithms kept on linking me to people I already knew and liked - it seemed like such a good sign. You helped me make new friends, some of whom became lovers. I introduced you to everyone I knew. You were almost part of the family.

We've had a lot of happy times together, you and I, but now I just feel betrayed.

A couple of days ago you sent me this email (highlighted exactly how it appeared in my inbox):


We are very pleased to report that you are in the top half of OkCupid's most attractive users. The scales recently tipped in your favor, and we thought you'd like to know.
How can we say this with confidence? We've tracked click-thrus on your photo and analyzed other people's reactions to you in QuickMatch and Quiver.
. . .
Your new elite status comes with one important privilege:
You will now see more attractive people in your match results.
This new status won't affect your actual match percentages, which are still based purely on your answers and desired match's answers. But the people we recommend will be more attractive. Also! You'll be shown to more attractive people in their match results.
. . .
Suddenly, the world is your oyster. Login now and reap the rewards. And, no, we didn't just send this email to everyone on OkCupid. Go ask an ugly friend and see.

I double-checked the date. Had I managed to get my months mixed up and it was somehow April 1st again?

Apparently not.

I actually felt sick.

OKCupid, what are you telling me? I've stuck by you for so many years, yet secretly you only ever really valued me because of the way I look, and up until now, i just wasn't 'attractive' enough for you? Because I have a picture that people like to click on, I am suddenly an 'elite' member of society, and I deserve to be matched with other people who are in the same 'elite' group?

All this time, you've been secretly filtering what I got to see, based on some arbitrary measure of 'attractiveness'?

This is not a function I subscribed to, I was not asked if I wanted to be moved into this 'exclusive' group.  I can see no way to disable this new level of filtering, and that makes me really rather angry. If I was actively looking for partners or friends through you I would be more than just rather angry, I would be LIVID. I'm tempted to go pointy breastplate shopping as it is.

I don't WANT 'more attractive' people in my match results. If I'm going to be matched at all, I want to be matched only on what I have in common with people. That's it.

Honestly, OKCupid, I thought you were above this sort of thing. I though you valued people, because of who they are, and not what they look like. I thought you, like me, considered moral fibre more important than muscle fibre. I thought we didn't believe in that eyes-across-a-crowded-room crap. Now suddenly I find out that you're not who I always thought you were, and I'm supposed to be glad that I've made the grade?

I'm gutted. Seriously, OKCupid, how long has this been going on? Is this a new policy? Have you been screwing around behind my back the whole time I've known you? What other elitist and exclusive crap have you been pulling that I don't know about? I feel that you've betrayed the trust in you that I had built up over years.

Most of all, I want to ask what the hell you were smoking when you added that final line: "Go ask an ugly friend". Really? You're telling me that suddenly I'm more special to you because other people have told you I'm pretty (and this based on click-thrus to my photo, which for all you know could be based on 'Hey! Look at that freak!'), and now you want me to go and choose one of my own friends to pick on, and tell them that they're not a part of the club? Just how insensitive can you get? I don't care if it was meant to be a joke, in the context of the whole betrayal thing, it just wasn't funny.

I'm not quite sure where we go from here. I may never find a dating site quite as cool, or as poly friendly as you. We have too many mutual friends for me to just leave without thinking it over. Maybe we can still be friends. I can tell you though, I will find it hard to trust you again.

Your old friend,



Jun. 10th, 2010 12:35 am
emanix: (Default)
This is a little out of the blue, as it started as a forum post up until I realised I was proselytizing. Then I decided to put it here instead, since what else is a blog for?

Now I've mentioned this topic before, and referenced this relevant post by [livejournal.com profile] tacit, but having bumped into the forum thread about whether or not to be open about poly relationships on Modern Poly, I wanted to go into more detail about my views on this, as it is something I've experienced both sides of, and I have pretty strong views on this topic.

An academic article I came across recently had this to say about secrecy in relationships:

“greater secrecy was associated with reduced commitment to one’s relationship, lower self-esteem, and more reported health symptoms ...poses a threat to partners’ personal health as a result of generating negative affect (e.g., nervousness and fear)“

(from http://psp.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/35/11/1452 )

In other words, being secretive about your relationships not only sucks as an experience, but it can also make you ill.

And now I'll tell you a story:

My own experience stems from when I was still quite new to poly (or at least to the idea that it was actually okay to be the way I had always been anyway) and still hadn't found a support network, online or in person.

I moved to a small and isolated community with a partner, let's call him P. It wasn't a highly religious place, but it was VERY old-fashioned in attitude. From having been very open about everything with our UK community, suddenly P was terrified we were going to be shunned by our new social group if either of us put a foot wrong, and he felt his job was at risk if this happened, so he demanded that I conduct my other relationships with the utmost secrecy.

I was not happy about this, but I put up with it because I loved him, we lived really well together, and thought we were in for the long haul. I went back into the closet both about being poly, and about my bisexuality as well, after one incident of platonic late night film-watching at a male friends house sparked a nasty whispering campaign that got back to P's ears and he felt very uncomfortable about it. If I couldn't be 'safe' around the men of the neighbourhood, I sure as hell wasn't going to give them more rumour fodder by coming out as bi. This was the sort of place where upright chaps stood around and talked about 'the gays' as though they were from a different (and highly contagious) planet. Being different was WRONG. It was like having walked onto the set of the Stepford Wives.

So I snuck around for several months, loathing the place more by the day, loathing myself also, and feeling like I was being watched, and whispered about everywhere I went. I know this wasn't entirely paranoia either, because certain rumours came back to my (and P's) ears from trusted sources. It was not a comfortable place to be. Being secretive about a relationship in such a tiny community is frankly, near impossible, and I literally worried myself sick at times.

As luck had it, shortly after I started seeing A (and for unrelated reasons), P and I hit a dealbreaker, and decided to call it a day. A had a somewhat different view about how to act in public – in short, if you act as though you are doing nothing wrong, people will respond accordingly. So we did. And it worked. We acted as though we were doing nothing wrong, and sure we raised a few eyebrows – I was still living pretty happily with P, and we were winding our relationship up slowly and amicably, but at the same time I was openly dating A, and the three of us were spending time together as friends. - but we were accepted at face value. Suddenly the goldfish bowl community seemed a much friendlier place, and I was genuinely sad when I left to move back to the UK (and y'know what, I managed to challenge some of the homophobic attitudes while I was there, too).

The curious thing here is that A and P were in exactly the same line of work – in fact, they were colleagues, yet P fretted about losing his job by being 'outed' (even about his partner's behaviour), whereas A felt the best way to safeguard his job was in fact to be open about things from the start.

In a way, they were both right. Essentially, P created the danger - and it was a real danger - of being blackmailed and exposed, entirely out of his own fears and discomforts. A, by being open and up-front, blew any possibility of blackmail or rumour out of the water, and created a safe space for us to exist right there in the public eye.

From my own experience, and judging by the careers of plenty of notable politicians (pick some examples local to you!), I'm tempted to say that the latter 'open' policy being better in the long run is obvious.

(A little note here: being 'open' does not have to mean yelling loudly to everyone in town 'I am dating X, Y and Z!' - it can just mean not lying or changing the subject it if someone asks you 'are you dating y?'. It doesn't need to mean snogging in public, but it does mean smiling and nodding when people see you together in town, rather than ducking your head down and hiding. It means walking with pride, as long as you're doing something that *you* feel is right.)

How the story 'ends' – I'm still in contact with P, but only occasionally. He went back to monogamy, and doesn't appear to have looked back. On the other hand, several years on, A is still very much a partner of mine, as well as seeing several other women, and he's still working for the same employer, who is well aware of our situation, and fine with it. So far, it's happily ever after.

Now everyone who finds themselves in a situation where they feel a need to be secretive has their reasons, and some of them are perfectly valid – there is no legal protection (yet) against discrimination towards poly people, and it takes a lot of balls to stand up and say 'this is who I am and I am proud of it'. Like [livejournal.com profile] joreth, I have chosen a line of work (as an artist) that means I am free to be just as open as I please knowing that it might lose me a client or two, but it will never lose me my job. - but what I keep on seeing time and again, in my own life and those of other people, is that it is quite astounding what even closed-minded folk will accept if you present it to them with pride and pleasure, rather than fear. Even more astounding is the difference it will make to your life, just knowing that you can stop looking over your shoulder to see who's watching.

Honestly, I think secrecy should be a last resort for people who are absolutely certain that their lives and/or families are directly at risk if they open up, and even then it makes me want to put my pointy breastplate on to charge down and rescue whoever is stuck in that situation*.

If it's only fear of public opinion stopping you, I would recommend every time, go open, march out with your head held high and smile. It's a leap of faith, but it's well worth taking.

*Sadly I don't actually have a pointy breastplate, or a charger, but I totally would if I did!
emanix: (Default)
Or 'I can't be arsed to wade through all the crap'

I have to confess, I hate Facebook. I hate Twitter. I hate Livejournal too, though not quite so much. I disabled Google Buzz without even looking at it. I utterly detest every networking site out there designed to keep us all up to the minute on the minutiae of other people's lives. I've been hating them for a long time, with an almost unreasoning passion, and yet the light bulb as to exactly why I do only went on last night after I was in bed.

I was lying awake the other night, feeling utterly worn out, suffering from information overload. Ironically from nothing to do with social networking, but the thought was in my head 'I want all this information weeded out and only the important points left, preferably in a digestible format' – and 'bing!' suddenly the light went on about exactly why it is I am so attracted to, yet frustrated by all of the above sites. There is no system in place to weed out the crap and only see the important details – and there could be.

A lot of my friends insist that the only way to inform the rest of us about new additions to their family, house moves, impending marriages, starts and ends of relationships, new jobs etc. is by posting details on one networking site or another, and I guess that's okay. That's pretty much what these sites are for, after all. If I care about my friends then, I'm supposed to read these – and I *want* to read them.
The trouble is that to get to the important updates, I also have to wade through dozens of posts about 'I just had a really nice cup of tea', or 'I just gained/lost a random animal in this online game I'm playing', or chatty responses to other users (or whatever), and that is bloody hard work. It makes me feel deathly tired just thinking about it.*

This is the bit that drives me utterly crazy, though: I go offline for a few days because I have work to do and then there's no way to find out what I missed because there's way too much information to struggle through – but my friends have posted it, therefore they expect me to know.

What I want is an 'importance' rating on posts, and the ability to filter by it.

I imagine it working like newspaper headlines. Posts rated with high importance sit on the front page in bold type, and the chatty little editorials about how much you love digestive biscuits take a little more finding, for those who have the time. Alternatively they display in chronological order, and the reader just gets to filter out the less important posts.

Just imagine, it's the end of a hard day, you have ten minutes to spare, and you want to see if anything important's been going on – so you click on the 'show me the headlines' button, and there they are! All of the things that your friends really want you to know – without any of the nonsense. Got half an hour? Set the importance rating to 'Medium' and check the things your friends think you might find useful. Wouldn't that be wonderful? No need to be connected all day every day. No panicky feeling that you're missing something when you go offline, or guilty feeling when you don't go back to check what you've missed after a holiday – you know you can catch up on the important things at any time!

In database terms it's stunningly easy to code - I can do it myself (and I'm no great expert), which makes me wonder why it hasn't already been implemented. Can it really be that, like me, nobody quite thought of it before? Perhaps the owners of these sites feel that the knowledge that somewhere in amongst all that wittering there are some things you really ought to know is what forces us reluctant users to keep coming back? I for one would be a whole lot less reluctant if there was an easier way just to dip one's toe in, rather than total immersion being the only option.

So to my friends – I love you, I really do, but there are a lot of people I care about, and I just don't have the time or energy to read everything you write. Until this happens, do me a favour, and when you see me, assume I don't know, and *tell* me what's going on in your life.

Dreaming of the day when I don't have to sweat the small stuff.


*Update for clarity, and to highlight [livejournal.com profile] just_becky's comment:

"Having said all that though, sometimes I do like to read the posts about the minutiae of my friend's lives. Sharing in the daily trivia can make me feel less isolated and more a part of their lives than geography currently allows."

(Me) Totally. That's why I want the importance rating system, not a cutting out of all the minutiae entirely. Sometimes I really *do* want to hear about that sandwich (ooh, sausage and gherkin! sounds yummy, actually ;-)), and I do want to feel included - without the worry of missing something vital.

In other words, I have no problem with the general gossip and silliness being there, I just want to have the option to skip it and get to the 'meat' when I'm pushed for time.
emanix: (Default)
Note: The following post is NOT likely to be triggering, at least any more so than a toiletry bag, but may offend/upset a few people. It is not, however, a personal attack on anyone, and the blog I am referring to is not on LJ.

I just came across yet another blog in which someone uses the term 'triggered' to mean 'somewhat upset/annoyed me'. I'm not going to link to it, as it's just one example amongst dozens that I've noticed lately. This is not what 'triggered' means, people.

Triggering is what happens in PTSD and similar anxiety disorders. It refers to an event or object, not always predictable* that causes the person to experience a flood of feelings and/or flashbacks that are incapacitating in nature, and in themselves intensely stressful. Misusing this term to mean 'anything that upsets you a bit' is intensely invalidating towards people who genuinely have experienced this.

I don't like to play the victim card, because I don't see myself as a victim. I went through a bunch of crap**, it left a few scars, physical and mental, I was incapacitated to the point of being unable to leave the house for several months, and I still have the odd recurrent symptom. I learned from it, was changed by it, in some ways for the better, took responsibility for my recovery, working through a long slow process of desensitisation in safe environment with safe people, and then moved on. I'm not interested in sympathy for what I went through. I don't think post traumatic stress is a club to beat people over the head with either, but I want to make it clear that I am coming at this from a position of knowing what I'm talking about. This is my lived experience, and I'm telling some of you - I really hope you know who you are - that your use of this term seriously trivializes my experience, and REALLY PISSES ME OFF.

By all means mark your posts about sensitive topics 'potentially triggering', but be damned sure you know what it means before you claim, yourself, to be 'triggered' by anything. In your parlance, it 'triggers' my urge*** to beat you until you understand both that PTSD (&c.) isn't a political tool, and that comparing your feeling of being a bit shocked/cross/angry (possibly the most intense feeling you've experienced in your sheltered life, but still a manageable sensation) to another person's being completely incapacitated by terror and despair is inconsiderate at best, downright offensive at worst.

*I was at one point triggered into an unexpected flashback by the sight of a friend's toiletry bag (ironically said friend is a trained psychotherapist, but of course he had no idea that his bag of shampoo etc. looked like the one belonging to my abusive ex-partner, or that hanging it on the door of a hotel bathroom would remind me of a situation in which I nearly died - then again, who better to have a flashback around than a friend who also happens to be a therapist?)

**Referenced lightly in my introductory post

***I am not a violent person, and merely having an urge does not mean I'm going to act on it, but boy have I had to grit my teeth.
emanix: (emanix)
I was planning on making my first post in 2010 a bit of a retrospective, inspired by the 'new decade' posts on my friends list, and maybe add in a couple of new year's resolutions. Perhaps I'll still do that, but this piece of idiocy has got me annoyed enough to make my first post this year a rant instead.

The above link is about a supposedly scientific study about a part of the female body that has been politicised and argued over for several decades - The G-Spot (1). Academics and doctors are still arguing about whether or not this particular body-part even exists, while the more experimental of us are busily testing it out for ourselves in the bedroom (My own report from a small, but not insubstantial sample: Yes, it exists, as does female ejaculation).
So how do the researchers test the reality of this myth? Do they conduct a physiological study, and *look* at the female anatomy to determine whether, perhaps, there might be genuine physiological backing, as some studies (2) have done? Do they try stimulating the area, as one classic study (3) did?

No, they designed a questionnaire.

In a society where the average heterosexual male still has trouble finding the clitoris - a perfectly visible, external organ that nobody is debating the existence of, and when public knowledge of human biology is pathetically inadequate, apparently these researchers are claiming that asking women where their G-spot is located and getting inconsistent responses is evidence enough that it doesn't exist.
Whether the women are twins are not makes no real different to the idiocy in the design of the study. I mean, Hello? Is anyone even being taught the existence of the G-spot in schools? I think not. And certainly not when the participants of the study were at school. So all the average woman has to go on is hear-say, and if she's lucky enough to have had a GGG partner or two, maybe some small amount of exploration (I've been lucky enough to have some extremely open-minded and giving male partners, and it's been tough to get more than a brief exploration out of them - I hate to imagine what it's like for other girls.).

I wonder what would have happened if the same study had been done on males, asking them the location and function of their prostate gland? I imagine the results would have been much the same.

This study proves nothing at all except just how poorly educated women (and men) in the UK still are about their own bodies.

Me, I've come from a scientific background. I do understand about the issues with designing studies. The problems of medical ethics are many, and funding towards examining something like this is rare, especially since our attitude to sexual pleasure is still tinted by the victorian attitudes of our past, perhaps even more now than in the 50's when the original work began. Sexology is a field where most of the researchers hands are tied, and they risk being discredited at the slightest whiff of personal experience being included in their conclusions. But jeez... a randomly selected questionnaire to decide on whether a much beloved part of my sexual anatomy exists or not? I'm not amused.

I am, however amused by the turnabout from Freud up to now - Where in Freud's time the clitoris was deemed the 'incorrect' way for a woman to orgasm, and the vaginal orgasm was the only 'proper' way for a mature adult woman to climax, thus leading to decades of strife for women who could only orgasm through stimulation of the clitoris. Now we are being told that the vaginal orgasm does not, in fact, exist, and that the clitoris is the only 'real' way for a woman to receive pleasure.
Wait, actually, I'm not amused. I'm incensed.

Are we still in an age where researchers really think there is a 'right' and a 'wrong' way to stimulate the female body? Or anyone's body?

Considering Andrea Burri's claim that she is "anxious to remove feelings of “inadequacy or underachievement” that might affect women who feared they lacked a G-spot." What about the women out there who have already found theirs and are now being told it doesn't exist? So I've been having imaginary orgasms all this time? What?

I really wish that some of these self-appointed protectors of truth would simply shut up and stop telling me how to enjoy my own body.

Maybe some women don't have G-spots, and some do. Maybe some women don't have sensitive G-spots (and hell, I've met guys who don't have sensitive dicks), I'm sure some women have just never looked, and maybe some more of them have been cursed to a lifetime of miserable sex because their partners read the wrong news article.

Meanwhile I've had partners (male and female) who can come from having their ears sucked, their lower back stroked, their necks nibbled, their nipples clamped, only from being fondled through thick denim fabric, or from merely a word in the right tone of voice. Other partners have struggled to orgasm even with powerful vibrators and hours of work (we got there in the end, though!). Let's face it, we're a diverse species, with a myriad of differences, and that includes sexual function just as much as everything else.

People, if it works for you, use it. If you're with a partner, don't play the odds or go with what worked for previous partners. *Find out* what works for them, and use it. Treat sex manuals (and scientific studies) as suggestions for things you might like to try, not as the damned Holy Bible of Sex.

Can we please get the researchers out of the bedroom, now?


*Last minute update: a voice of sanity, Doctor Petra Boynton says much that I have, and has more detail on the original study. Apparently lesbian and bisexual women were excluded because manual stimulation might 'skew the results' (i.e. women who actually knew what they were doing might incorrectly demonstrate the existence of this 'mythical' spot). Read More

Also a good (if depressingly close to the bone) piss-take article: MEN WHO CARE ABOUT THE G-SPOT ARE A MYTH, SAY EXPERTS

References: (I don't usually bother with references, but this one pissed me off enough to actually put some work in)

(1) Link to Grafenberg's original article on 'The Role of Urethra in Female Orgasm'.
(2) BBC article about an Italian study.
(3) Time Magazine archive - classic study involving Beverley Whipple.
(4) Deborah Sundahl's book on how to stimulate the G-spot, and the phenomenon of female ejaculation.

July 2015



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