I vote in every election because …

wrote 200 letters (with hunter’s help) for the Vote Forward campaign and mailed them today to voters in Texas, Alaska, and South Carolina. pretty simple: write a letter to a voter who, by some algorithm, was found to be unlikely to vote. they provide a little template and some blank spots to sign the letter and write in a little bit about why you, the letter writer, vote.

I’ve found it to be meditative, and a positive place to put my anxiety during the lead-up to the election, but also a very curious practice connecting to 200 strangers throughout the country. what would make this particular person vote? I would wonder. what could I possibly say to them that would encourage them to vote, if they’re thinking that they won’t? and why *do* I vote, anyway? how do I narrow that down into two or three sentences?

I ended up writing things like: I believe participating in the process to choose our elected officials is an important way to ensure democracy. I want a say in who makes laws that affect all of us. I care about climate change, health care, and education, and I want to make sure those in government care about it, too. I want to ensure that the people in government know what we, the voters and citizens, care about. I believe voting is an important part of my job as a citizen.

I don’t know if this will encourage any of the folks that I wrote to, but I found myself a little surprised at the answers.

I’m so curious about *why* we vote and why we don’t, and what would inspire more of us to do so. I remember hearing that in australia, voter registration and attendance at a polling booth have been mandatory since the 1920s, and their voter turnout is around 91%; australians can be fined up to nearly $80 AU if they fail to vote. but why would voting not be mandatory? I know: politics. but. things don’t have to stay the same; change is possible.

I know there are many things this country could do to help voter turnout long before voting is made mandatory — we could, for example, not actively try to disenfranchise and prevent people from voting, for example, which seems to consistently be happening through all the elections I remember paying attention to. voting day could be a holiday. we could have more polling places so people wouldn’t have to wait in hours-long lines.

a TED talk I watched the other night talked about the joy of voting, and the question of what we, as a culture, make of voting. is it a cool thing to do? is there social pressure? there certainly is in my circles, but I am in a bubble inside of counterculture radical justice communities — I don’t think I really see the mainstream.

right now, I’m mostly just asking the questions. being curious. open.

preparing 200 letters felt useful, and I’m thrilled to be part of a campaign that sent 16.8 million letters today. between this and also seeing all the news about early voting coming in, I’m feeling hopeful, actually. haven’t felt that way in a long time, maybe not since march.

I might do some text banking next … I also filled out a form to work the polls day of, I’ve never done that, but I never heard anything so I’m unclear if I’ll do that. we’ll see.

what are y’all doing in the next 17 days before november 3 to support people voting? what’s your plan to vote yourself?

Pen Play: Online Erotica Writing Workshop Series

Quarantine and sheltering in place has been intense this year, and as we move into the fall and winter, it looks like we will be continuing to shelter.

I don’t know about you, but for me, I have struggled with both my writing practice and with my erotic life this year. At times, I haven’t had any energy for either. But as I have started actively feeding them both again, and tending to them anew, I am finding my interest in them stronger and more dedicated than ever.

Come join me and dive into writing erotica. Bring your desires, your kinks, your pleasures to the page and play around.

About Pen Play:

This is a four week class on constructing erotic stories. Part classroom, part writing group, we will explore the craft of short erotic stories, focusing on the craft of storytelling and how erotica is different than stories without erotic content. You will have something short to read and a writing assignment each week to turn in. Participants will have the opportunity to share their work with each other and give constructive feedback on it. We will meet weekly on Zoom to discuss the readings, workshop selected participant pieces, and answer your questions.

In the class, we will cover some of the fundamentals of a writing life, such as: giving and receiving feedback, techniques to strengthen your writing practice, how to get published, tools for editing your own work, and more. At the end of the class, you will have rough drafts of four short stories ready to polish and submit.

This class is made for folks who are beginners to intermediate writers and who want to hone their craft and publish more work. You do not have to have published anything. All genders, all sexual orientations, all experience levels welcome — no specifics required. Queer characters and kinky acts not required, but this will be a queer-focused and kink-positive space. It will also be kink-positive and trauma informed (to the best of my ability).

Webinars will be recorded and available to download; you do not have to attend live.
Sliding scale available, email [email protected]

Dates:

Sundays, October 18, October 25, November 1, November 8
4-6pm PT / 7-9pm ET

How to sign up:

1. Venmo $150 to $Zed-Sinclair with your email in the text (the email part is important!). (If it asks to put in the last four digits of my phone number, just click at the bottom where it says “skip this step”.)

2. If you can’t pay via Venmo, email me [email protected] and I’ll send you a different way to pay.

3. Once payment is received, I will send you an email with next steps, which include signing up for the Google Classroom and filling out an intake form.

Last day to register is October 14.

I believe stories matter. Telling our stories matter. Sharing how we as queer, kinky, gender radical people live, love, lust, and desire, helps to support others like us, to feel less alone. We still don’t have enough depictions of our truths out there in the world! And I believe we all have stories to tell. Writing isn’t the only way to share them, but it is the craft I know best, and I am excited to share what I know with you all.

Questions?

Do I have to write erotica?
Nope. You can be working on any kind of writing — poetry, plays, short stories, a novel. It could include erotic content, but it doesn’t have to. We will be talking about the things that are different about writing things with explicit sex in them, but what you turn in as your writing assignments is up to you.

Will the webinars be recorded?
Yes! Webinars will be recorded and available to you to download after they are live.

Will you have an ASL interpreter for the webinars?
Yes; please get in touch at [email protected] I will do my best to accommodate different access needs.

Do I have to publish my work?
No. There’s no requirement to publish, but this class is intended for folks who are pursuing writing with some seriousness and are interested in sharing their work more broadly. We will spend some time going over tips and procedures for publishing.

What kind of feedback will I get?
We focus on giving feedback in the Amherst Writer’s Method, which enhances what is working in the piece and gives the author feedback to encourage them to play to their strengths. The feedback will focus on what’s working, what we love about it, and what stays with us.

Do I have to share my work with the class?
No, it’s optional to share your work. Participants will be encouraged to share their reactions to each other’s work in a particular framework, using primarily positive feedback, and all participants will be able to ask for the kind of feedback that they would like to receive, which could be things like some critique, positive feedback, or just to witness with no feedback at all.

Will there be content warnings? Is this trauma-informed?
Yes, we will use content warnings in this workshop, to let everyone decide what they are equipped to read and make decisions with agency. More details about how to use content warnings will be in the class guidelines. I have studied trauma, restorative justice, and community safety in various form, and I will do my best to keep the needs of survivors forefront in the structure of the workshop.

More questions?
Email me, [email protected]

Sobriety Sestina During COVID-19

you want to get away from yourself.
you tell yourself it’s because of all this, feeling
sure you are more sensitive than the rest of the world,
so you research all the ways to transform
and you become good at them. even disciplined.
you convince yourself you are alive,

even though you’re not certain what alive
really feels like. you don’t feel like yourself
when you aren’t drinking fucking, numbing. discipline
is stopping after two, then three, then five. feelings
fall away like your nice jeans, a button down, transforming
to a pile of hope on the floor. your whole world

is pussy, is a buzz, is a sense of power. the world outside
is on fire, is danger, is a fist. you’re not alive
unless you’re in charge, looking for a way to transform
into anything else, as long as it isn’t yourself.
you used to think you were just so good at feeling
your feelings, but since more therapy, you’re undisciplined

about sitting with instead of giving in. discipline
isn’t enough to keep you motivated. the world
wants you to stuff it all down, ignore your feelings,
turn yourself inside out convincing everyone you are alive
when you’re a shell, a hollow version of yourself.
you’re desperate. the more you drift, the more you transform

into someone unrecognizable. can you ever transform
back? can you stop? do you have enough discipline
to return to some former semblance of yourself
even though the addictions and desperations of the world
are so easy to indulge? do you want to be alive,
experience the ecstasy of the range of human feelings,

or knot? there is only one answer: feeling
everything, embracing, accepting, transforming
one thing into another through practice. aliveness
requires consciousness, not numbing, and not discipline
so much as kindness, softness, looking into the world
and accepting it all. there is a way to come home to yourself

hope is not a feeling, not a date outfit, but a discipline
we practice every day. it is possible to transform the world
by transforming yourself. I dare you to be fully alive.

Does Volunteering Make You Feel Better? PS: Ready to Vote?

I’ve been really inspired by what Ethan Nichtern has been doing in his social media lately; he’s posting a lot about strategy for getting through election season. I knew him when I lived in New York City — he ran the Buddhist sangha I belonged to there. 
 
My main take-away has been that he’s saying the more you volunteer for the election, to encourage voter turn-out or just for anything, the less anxiety you’ll feel about the election. honestly, I’m not sure I believe that — but I figured, let’s try it and see. 
 
He turned me on to Vote Fwd — a letter-writing campaign encouraging people to vote. I’ve done about 100 letters so far and I’m hoping to get another 100 done before all the letters are mailed on the 17th of October. Their goal was 10 million letters, and so far they have 9.8 million, so they’re expanding the goal. Pretty incredible! According to Vote Fwd: “In a randomized controlled trial in the special election for U.S. Senate in Alabama in 2017, turnout among letter recipients was 3.9 percentage points higher than turnout in the control group. (3.4 percentage points after controlling for gender, age, and other factors). This is big! It appears to be one of the most effective known tactics to boost turnout.”
it’s easy to sign up and adopt voters, and Ethan & his crew are holding letter-writing parties on Sundays if you want to do it with some other people around. I will root you on too!
I also signed up to volunteer to be a poll worker, though I haven’t heard anything about that yet.
Are you writing letters? Are you volunteering in some other way? Ethan has been talking about switching to phone and text banking in the weeks closer to the election, and though I’ve never done that, I might see what the options are. 

PS: You’re ready to vote, right?

I like this ACLU checklist and have been working through mine. I just re-registered in a new state, so I still have to do a bit of research on the local races.

What’s Happening in September, 2020

Here are the events upcoming in September!

I’ve been kind of terrible about calendaring lately. Is this a side effect of the global pandemic and uprising for anyone else? A lot of my friends are struggling with it, even folks who are usually pros at calendaring, scheduling, keeping their priorities straight. Personally, I’ve been up and down through the last few months, which seems to be pretty normal, given the circumstances. I’ve still been writing, publishing, and teaching, and producing events, but often it’s been a struggle. Sometimes I think it’s improving, but it seems to be a pretty frequent swing back to less improvement.

At the moment, I’m just trying to be okay with that, to help take care of my close friends and family, and to go easy on myself. Hope y’all are doing well … and I hope some of our offerings are helpful for connecting in to D/s and kink community.

September 14: Nonbinary D/s Discussion Group: Roles & Responsibilities in D/s

Facebook event | Fetlife event

Anyone is welcome who wants to discuss nonbinary identity and D/s dynamics.

Come join for conversations and support about what it is to be nonbinary in the leather/kink/BDSM community, and how our nonbinary identity affects and intersects with D/s identity.

Topic: Roles & Responsibilities in D/s. What are our roles? What are the responsibilities of each role? What do we do when we can’t meet our responsibilities? How do we keep ourselves, and each other, motivated? What do we do to get ourselves back into our roles when we feel like we have slipped out of it? What can we do to support ourselves, and each other, when there are other external pressures affecting our abilities to show up in our D/s relationships?

September 20: D/s Book Group – Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism by Amber Jamilla Musser

Fetlife event

Join me to discuss the book Sensational Flesh. Here’s the description for the book: “In everyday language, masochism is usually understood as the desire to abdicate control in exchange for sensation–pleasure, pain, or a combination thereof. Yet at its core, masochism is a site where power, bodies, and society come together. Sensational Flesh uses masochism as a lens to examine how power structures race, gender, and embodiment in different contexts. Amber Jamilla Musser employs masochism as a powerful diagnostic tool for probing relationships between power and subjectivity. Engaging with a range of debates about lesbian S&M, racialization, femininity, and disability, as well as key texts such as Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs, Pauline Réage’s The Story of O, and Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Musser renders legible the complex ways that masochism has been taken up by queer, feminist, and critical race theories. Furthering queer theory’s investment in affect and materiality, she proposes “sensation” as an analytical tool for illustrating what it feels like to be embedded in structures of domination such as patriarchy, colonialism, and racism and what it means to embody femininity, blackness, and pain. Sensational Flesh is ultimately about the ways in which difference is made material through race, gender, and sexuality and how that materiality is experienced.”

If you’re not on Fetlife but you want to join this discussion, send me an email and I’ll get you the info: [email protected]

September 27: Folsom Street Fair online

The world famous event is moving online! This is definitely not to be missed. We will be part of a brief titleholder’s event, and there will be workshops, performances, and other ways to connect to kinky community. I’m looking forward to it.

Save the Dates:

Here are more upcoming events where we’re hosting, teaching, or doing workshops. Hope you can make it!

October 15 – Jesbian & Teagan – Leather Lust
October 22 — Feminist Sadism is Not an Oxymoron (And Other Things We Feel Guilty About)
November 13-15 — Leather Reign Conference online
November 19 — Mental Health & D/s Discussion
December 3 — TBD
December 17 — The Protocol Game: Set Up 52 Protocols for 2021
January 28 — Kinky Virtual Game Night
February 18 — TBD
February 19 – 21 – FLAME Conference online
February 25 — TBD
March 18 — TBD
March 25 — International M/s Step Down Party

Are Ejaculating Dildos Even A Thing? Yes!

Question:

Hey, so I just wanted a recommendation for a strap-on that ejaculated. If that is even a real thing. I don’t want it to be weird but as “natural” as I can get. My wife gets really turned on by the “cum inside me” situation so any advice you can give would be awesome. Thanks in advance! You were my go to! Thanks for all you do for the community!

Answer: Ejaculating dildos totally exist!

Ejaculating dildos totally exist! Unfortunately most of them are made out of porous materials that are not body safe, so I can’t recommend them. They’re more like “novelty” items made from plastic which off-gasses, producing an intense smell. But there are still a few options.

The Semenette was the first one that came on the market that is realistic and body safe (and made by dykes!), but it is VERY hard — it’s that old-school silicone and many folks who have tried it internally report that it’s pokey, not very comfortable. plus, the bulb that comes with it is quite small, like a teaspoon, which doesn’t necessarily work with those of us who want a lot of fluid to be involved too. Here’s an old review from 2016.

Doc Johnson has a variety of products, but I can’t vouch for the materials. They claim to be silicone and body safe, but they’re still porous. If you’re only using them with one person, they’re probably okay, but sometimes they go through that plastic off-gassing period where they have a big plastic smell, and that is such a turn-off personally. It is not particularly safe to be inside a body, so it does not make me want to use it!

But if you’re game to try out something from them, they are usually not too expensive (because the materials are not very high quality).

There’s a growing market of strap-ons that are hyper realistic and geared toward trans men, so I suspect something with squirting capacity will come on the market soon. But as far as I know that’s the best we have right now — for realistic cocks, anyway. There are some by the company Bad Dragon that squirt and are very well designed, but they’re made to be, well, dragon-like, not human.

If you find anything else, I would love to know about it!

The Impact of M/s Language: Voices from the Community

rife and I are starting to compile different statements and quotes from people in the leather, kink, and M/s communities about the use and impact of the terms “master” and “slave,” particularly for Black people.

This is part one of probably many; I hope to continue to compile these stories and talk about the impact of the language. The images at the beginning are pull quotes; the full statement is after.


From the perspective of someone who isn’t in the BDSM community but who wants to learn more about everything that the practices can offer- the terminology behind Master and Slave is entirely a turn off and stops me from even being able to open up to bdsm. As a black person, seeing those titles and seeing the bdsm community defend them so fiercely makes it feel like they’re the gatekeepers keeping me out for being uncomfortable. I recognize that it’s a deeply institutionalized phrase that means more to those who are already so ingrained in the community. But when I’m invited to m/s events, it makes me uncomfortable because I can’t get past the name.

It’s exactly the same feeling as when a friend is super into NASCAR, but there are confederate flags everywhere. They’re not intentionally there to hurt anyone. It’s ingrained in the experience to have the flags there. People who aren’t affected by those symbols don’t even see them anymore, they’re just in it for the fun. But I can’t walk into a stadium full of confederate flags and be expected to not feel minimized or unvalued the entire time.

The concept behind modern m/s relationships is intriguing, but I’ll never get to be into it without the constant reminder of our very recent history/ daily life as a society. I hope that people will be open to my perspective, because it’s entirely hurtful to be shut out.

— Aubrey

When I first joined the leather community, every chance I got I pulled aside any black person to bend their ear. I asked them how they dealt with white people using words like Master and slave. A lot of them looked at me with sadness because no one had a real answer. It hurt but they got used to it. When trying to encourage black people to explore the leather community and come in to these spaces, they have asked me how I could stand hearing words like that. The truth is, I don’t. I cringe. The first time a white man introduce himself as Master so-and-so, I was shocked that someone would look me in the eye and ask me to call them Master. The thought running thru my mind was that I will NOT call you Massa. Since then I have learned to grow a hard shell against this language because a part of me has lost hope that it will ever change.

— Anonymous

Your post made me feel… at ease. I have had conversations with those in the past about how the title of Master and Slave can be so hurtful. There is a whole community of people who I may not ever meet because of those two words. Not because I don’t think they are good people. Just clueless and prideful. When I walk into a ‘kink’ dungeon or event and someone asks me if I top or bottom, there is a level of safety implied. If someone were to ask me if I was a Master or Slave, it would scare me. The terms Master and slave to me brings about visions of slavery, shackles, abuse and death. If in that moment I say slave, it brings down hundreds of years of oppression onto my shoulders. The term immediately turns the askers face into a twisted confusion of misunderstanding and a lifetime in the death grip of systemic racism. It is confirmation, for some. Confirmation of where they think people who look like me belong. In shackles, collared, and beneath their boots. When Y/you both posted that statement, it was relief I felt. There is a level of wariness I have always had around you both. I have spent some great times and created awesome memories with you. It doesn’t dismiss the feeling of concern I have as a black person aspiring to an M/s type relationship talking to two white queers who don the label and embody the values of those words in their everyday lives. I often wondered if you would/could understand the immensely heartbreaking swim through the weighted mud of identifying with those terms. If you as white queers could ever understand what it feels like to bare the brunt of the mountains of hatred those two words hold for me. The weight of two words that would see me relive the destruction of my ancestors souls every time it left my lips. You made that post and I sat back in my chair and exhaled. My shoulders relaxed. My jaw unclenched. And I knew then that you understood. Even just a little bit… and some of the mountain crumbled away… and I exhaled. I hope you don’t lose the title. If you did it would mean that people are more attached to the words than the actual traditions and rituals it represents. It would mean the death of the M/s community for me. I am currently looking at those who are responding negatively to your post with an eye of possible danger. Making notes on whom to stay away from.

— Anonymous

There are more over in the “Voices From the Community” album on Facebook. We’re still compiling statements, and if you have opinions about using the terms, we would love to hear from you; please email [email protected]

On Representing the M/s Title

There’s been a lot of conversation around our statement about our choice to not use Master/slave language for ourselves. Many are wondering how we can fulfill the obligations of our title without those words. Some even ask if we’re breaking up or (gasp) transitioning to a vanilla relationship (spoiler alert: we aren’t!). So, in the interest of transparency, we want to put your mind at ease about a few things:

1. Of course, we affirm you can identify yourself however you like, it’s your identity. We are sharing our relationship journey,not kink shaming anyone.

2. We can not and do not speak for Black folks on this matter, and recognize a great diversity in opinions on this. We are sharing our own relationship journey. As queers and dykes, we understand the beautiful important work of reclaiming words.

3. We know what we do is not trying to replicate or look to chattel slavery, it is a beautiful deep calling that for us is spiritual and profound. The words happen to be the same.

4.We have learned that despite our good intentions, these words can cause hurt, and we care about that hurt.

5. We decided to drop the Master and slave from our titles (you can just call us Mx. Rook and little, hunter, boy, or just rook). We’re also going to be way more careful about using those words in general leather spaces. This doesn’t mean we will stop our education or visibility in those spaces, our classes will just be rephrased to talk about “Ownership dynamics” instead of “M/s dynamics.”

6. We take our titleholding commitment seriously. We feel it would be dishonorable to step down before the year is complete since we have committed to serving. Part of that commitment is to sharing our personal authority exchange relationship journey.

7. We have been in conversation with the South Plains producers since before making any announcements, and they have been incredibly supportive of our personal journey around this. We appreciate their insight as folks who have been in the M/s community for many years.

8. We love our lineage and our community. We are passionate about hierarchical relationships and have deep respect for the title system. Nothing about our relationship has changed except the words we call each other.

9. We want to continue this conversation and apologise for any hurt feelings, shock, or discomfort you felt watching our initial brief statement. We are learning and growing all the time. We wish we could be having these conversations in person, we wish we could have told you individually first. Thanks for being understanding of our strange and unprecedented times that push everything so social media.

10. We appreciate that this community values respect, integrity, and inclusion. Thank you for respecting our way of practicing our ownership relationship though it may look different from yours.

So, how will we represent the title?

According to the IM/s Judges Handbook, the International M/s pair is chosen to be visible as one individual healthy M/s or O/p relationship. We were proud to be chosen as International Master/slave 2020 by a panel of judges whom we admire. We are committed to sharing what is happening behind the scenes in our dynamic, not just on the surface. Sharing our thoughts about the impact of using the words “master” and “slave” has been a way to be transparent about what is really happening in our relationship right now. We don’t know what the answer is; we don’t yet know what other words we’re going to use in the long run. There aren’t great, easy answers here or the community would have found them already. But we are asking the questions, and curious and open about what everyone has to say.

We are proud to be in an authority exchange relationship. We are not embarrassed or ashamed. We are oriented this way, and living better lives because we are in this partnership.

We are proud to be rooted in the M/s community, and we love being part of the traditions, leather values, and embracing of change that happens in radical communities. We would not have such a strong dynamic if it weren’t for the support from and knowledge in the M/s community, and we are extremely grateful for all that we’ve learned and continue to learn. We are in this for the long haul and plan to continue our title journey with you.

We are excited to continue teaching workshops on authority exchange dynamics. We are gearing up to visit more MAsT chapters too; it is exciting that online meetings make visits more accessible. Our class “The Art of Ownership” is about the wide range of authority exchange relationships, from Victorian to Leather, from something you do on the weekends to 24/7 long-term ownership. It is designed for general leather events and folks new to authority exchange, but is full of theories and charts that are fun for experienced folks, too.

So how will we serve this title system without those words? We will continue to share our journey on Facebook and Fetlife, just with other language to describe ourselves. That’s the only thing that’s changed. We will continue teaching classes and creating support groups and fun activities online.

Our schedule for the next few months is:

August 3 – Unlearning White Fragility through BUTCH Voices (rescheduling for September)
August 16 – Unlearning White Fragility for Leatherfolks through Portland Bad Girls
August 20 – Kinky Virtual Game Night
August 27 – Leather Couch: Topic TBA
September 10 – Leather Couch: Jack Thompson – IML AMA
September 24 — Roles & Responsibilities webinar
October 15 – Leather Couch: Jesbian & Teagan – Leather Lust
October 22 — Feminist Sadism is not an Oxymoron webinar
November 12 – Leather Couch: Raven & Joshua – Polyamory & Power Dynamics
November 13-15 – teaching for Leather Reign – Ownership as a Spiritual Path
November 19 — The Protocol Game
December 3 – Navigating Family & Authority Exchange Relationships
December 17 – Goal Setting For D-types
January 21 – Leather Couch: Tomo – Navigating the M/s Relationship Plateau
January 28 – Kinky Virtual Game Night
February 19-21 – FLAME Conference (we will apply to teach again)
February 25 – The Satisfied Submissive webinar
February 2021 – Leather Couch: Master Jim, slave marsha, Sir Cougar, Topic TBA
March 2021 – Leather Couch: TBA
Monthly Nonbinary D/s Discussion group – dates TBD

We are still available for workshops, panels, and discussions; please email us both at [email protected] if you’d like to invite us to your event or group.

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Sheltering 1: Things I Have Learned

1. More than twelve years of working from home as a freelancer / solopreneur / writer has prepared me quite well. I already have a home office set up, I already know how to divide my time and focus and still get things done, even though I’m at home. But this isn’t the same as “working from home,” of course. This is “working during a pandemic.”

2. Why do I wear so many things that are so uncomfortable? It’s hard to justify even “getting dressed,” so why bother wearing things that don’t improve my life? I actually like jeans, though I know not everyone does; I tend to buy the stretchy ones so they are very comfortable and don’t restrict movement. I’m still pretty much every day in a black tee shirt. I hope we can all wear more of what we want to going forward, and less of what doesn’t feel good.

3. Amazing all of the things that we thought we needed to get outside of the home, that we thought we needed to spend a lot of money on, that for me are actually just fine at home. Examples: Haircuts. Eating out at restaurants. Going to the movie theater.

4. I miss the gym. Road trips. Fruit picking at U-pick farms. Body work of all kinds, from massage and acupuncture to pedicures and facials. There’s a lot of overlap between beauty and health. But there’s a lot that I don’t miss.

5. I don’t miss driving everywhere. Being in traffic for hours. All the time between tasks, going from the gym to the grocery store to the cafe to the practitioner’s office.

6. I don’t miss all the time with friends. I miss my friends, sure, but I think I have a lot more socializing than I need or even want, in part because my partner needs it, and in part because I say yes when people ask. Noticing that I don’t really miss it and I’d rather be by myself most of the time is very interesting, very good information.

7. I have been remaking the plans that I made six months ago. It’s all different now. I can’t rely on what was true in November and December. Things I thought I’d do this year are no longer — so what am I going to do? I’m doing a lot of online work, that’s for sure, but that’s not it exactly either.

8. I’m struck by how different this experience is for folks in different situations. I’m sheltering with a partner and cat and dog — not with kids who are usually in school and can’t see friends and are somehow expected to get school work done. Not with roommates I don’t get along with. Not solo, starving for touch. Not working outside of my home at all, not on the front lines, not at a grocery store, not policing the public and whether they are following physical distancing or wearing a mask. I am very privileged in this and I’m aware of that, and I’m grateful for what I have.

9. But I’m also assessing what I have. For me it’s been a huge pause, a vast time of going inward and listening. Quieting. I love it. The opportunity for focus, for clarity. There’s also vast amounts of numbness and confusion, anxiety and stress and fear, of course. But in the moments I can rest in the safety I do have, I can go to another level of assessment about my life and the trajectory of my family and my capital-W Work in the world. Things were already starting to change, but the timeline was longer than it is now. Now, the timeline is different. In some ways, everything is different.

10. I hope we can keep the learnings we are getting from this. The pleasure from cooking at home. How little we actually need to shop or buy things. How much it matters that we have time in our gardens and with our puzzles and crafts. How lovely it is to connect with people long distance. How great our sweatpants are. I hope we can keep that, as we mourn and grieve the over 100,000 who have died in the US, as we work to protect ourselves from the news and the kleptocratic government, as we figure out how to go forward.

Rest Is Important, You’re Right It Isn’t Fair, and Other Things I Need To Hear Right Now

Things I need to hear:

It doesn’t matter if you’re not being productive, and also, it does. It is okay to take a break, to focus on resting, to lay in shock on the sofa eating cookies and drinking wine for a week. It is okay to be in pajamas that have been worn for just a few too many days such that you would feel guilty shoving your lover’s face down into them. But also, it’s good to keep going. It maybe even feels better to fold the laundry and put it away, to put on not only fresh pants, but pants at all. It maybe even feels good to do up your hair and wear a nice shirt, put something fancy together just because it’s Tuesday.

You have spent time focusing on feeling good, but you need to mix in some things that are good for you. Wine and cookies and lamenting is not particularly good for you. (You have learned these lessons so many times in so many ways. Yes. Here it is again.) It is extremely hard to go after the things that are the best for you, because you have to actively break some patterns, and breaking patterns is one of the hardest things of all to do, even though they are psychic and not physical. Maybe especially because they are psychic and not physical. Do it anyway.

And then rest. Rest rest rest. It’s okay to do that, too.

Old ways are crumbling, have been crumbling, and we don’t even know what these new ways are yet. What color they’ll be. What flavor. We don’t have any sense of how deep the change will be, how big the loss.

Log off of the social media, even Instagram, the one you say is the better one because people are actually sharing their lives on there and not just parroting headlines. Too much input is too much input. It feels better to write and create, even though it doesn’t seem like it. Even though it feels impossible to put pen to paper and you end up writing “I don’t like this pen” a dozen times before you write any other words.

It’s okay not to write, but it’s also good to write. It’s good to step up and do the hard thing, to practice discipline. To identify that which you are actively avoiding doing and do it. Do it.

Holding the line – long-term discipline – feels better than going after the short-term comfort. Maybe that doesn’t feel true right now, but try it for a little while and see. Does it feel true? If not, then stop. But when you’ve done this before, you remember how good it feels to hold the line.

You cannot solve capitalism by thinking thinking thinking. It isn’t fair. There are people working to make it better. How can you deeply accept the world, even in this state? How can you deeply love the world, even in this state? Keep going. You will make things that will help — yourself if no one else. You will find your feet again, find your grounding again, feel forward into the future again. It makes sense that this is hard, this is the hardest, this is so unusual, this is so unknown. So you get to make it up.

What is your best day? Let’s make that day tomorrow. What is your favorite way to spend an hour? Spend it on this next one. You have more control than you act like you do, and less. You have more power than you act like you do. Spend it. Coax it. Create it. Let’s go.

Some Notes That May Turn Into A Sex Manifesto

Because the boy & I have been together for 9 years, and because we are also adults with jobs and families and obligations and bodies that aren’t always in the mood for sex, and because even the most compatible people have phases of being mis-matched in their desires and drives.

Because it is of incredibly high priority to me to have a rich erotic life.

Because I crave sex frequently. Because I struggle to feel close without the addition of pheromones and the alchemy of fluids. Because I want the physical closeness of losing ourselves in each other, of getting skin-drunk, of the intoxication that comes from tasting you. Because I use it to let my guard down. Because I let my guard down to have it. Because I want my guard down but I don’t always know how to take it down. Because my guard goes up so intensively automatically that I don’t always even notice it’s there. Because I still think about the boner preservation society and what would be on my list.

Because sex is the best way I know how to pray. Because sex is the best way I know how to see god. Because I need the release of orgasm like some people need a workout, to wring things out of my body, to shake and release. Because I have no better way to experience the holiness of my body. Because I start feeling floaty when I don’t have someone on top of me for a little while. Because I crave the feeling of all my senses activated, and you feeling every one.

Sex Manifesto (first draft)

1. The boy should assume that all sexual and erotic play is intended to have some pleasure in it for him. If it is not pleasurable, he is not only invited but expected to speak up about that and let that be clearly known.

2. It is possible that the Dominant will want to engage in erotic play that is not pleasurable to the boy, and the boy should do his best to accept that. However, this play should be intentional and with full knowledge that it is not pleasurable.

3. The boy can expect to have basic needs met before engaging in erotic play, including: hunger, using the bathroom to relieve himself, temperature (especially being too cold), and tiredness. If those needs are not met, he is expected to speak up and let them be clearly known.

4. We have long engaged in erotic play without a safeword, but we do have certain code words and phrases that can and should be used. a) “Mercy” is an accepted code word, and the Dominant will always consider mercy when the boy asks for such. b) “If it pleases you,” can be used to mean “I don’t particularly want to do this, but I will do it because you want me to.” c) “Only if it pleases you,” can be used to mean, “I do not want to do this, but I will because you want me to.” d) “I am a tool for your pleasure,” can be used to mean, “I am focused on servicing you,” meaning, “this is not about my pleasure right now.”

5. Masturbation is encouraged, orgasms are not restricted, and there are no particular requirements for how either should be done. Asking permission to come pleases the Dominant, but is not required at this time.

6. Fantasies are encouraged, porn is encouraged, and other erotic explorations are not just allowed but encouraged.

7. Having sex with other people during dreams is allowed. (Let’s just make this explicit, since the boy’s dream-self sometimes feels guilty.)

Take My Whip: Fantasy Date Night, Guest Post by rife

It’s Friday night and we keep this night blocked off on the calendar. 5:30 rolls around and you send me around the block to walk the dog once I wrap up my work for the day. When I come back, you’re sitting on the porch in your jeans with the leather crotch, a tight new black t shirt and the chest harness. All the deck furniture has been pushed off to the side and your Bluetooth speaker is playing a mixture of jazz and romantic pop music. You are wearing your heavy harness boots and you let your goatee grow out a little.

I giggle, suddenly feeling underdressed in my daytime pajamas and sneakers. I prance over and get up on my toes to kiss you. You let me. “Hi, Daddy! What’s all this?”

“I’m taking you dancing, boy. Go get dressed.”

“Mmmhm. I mean, yes, Sir.” I say softly and pad inside to feed the dog and put on that slinky grey dress you like and my combat boots with the soles that have worn down to slick nothing and the chain wrist cuffs that match my collar that you like to see on me. I wash the work day off my face and scrub dry until I’m pink.

You raise an eyebrow at my outfit choice but you’re smiling underneath it.

We dance for days and days on the porch as night falls and the bats come out to play. Sometimes the tempo is slow and our feet barely remember to shuffle while we kiss with lots of tongue and you run your fingers through my fresh soft buzz cut. The smell of wisteria finds its way to us across the breeze and if our neighbors see us, they pretend not to.

Sometimes the tempo is faster and you throw me across the boards in controlled chaos. It takes every ounce of concentration to just follow, to listen for the cues in your palm on my back, to remind myself of the rock step-triple-step beat, to give over to the music and your direction. There are moments when it is effortless and we are just flying, one creature.

Finally it is fully dark and you press me back against the one oak tree, breathless and sweaty on the warm summer night. Ed Sheeran or some other sensitive white guy is still crooning on but all I can feel is your dick hard against the fly of your jeans against me.

You press me hard enough that I’m sure the rough bark will leave marks, pinning my hands over my head, looping the chains around my wrists into that hook that usually holds the wind chime. I’m impressed by your forethought but the nation is quickly swept away my your hands doubled up on either side of my rib cage, stroking the length of me up and down from exposed armpits to the bottom curve of each hip. I shiver and swoon under your firm big hands that make me feel so small. You inch the bottom of the dress up teasingly slowly. I really hope the neighbors aren’t watching now.

Just when I can feel myself start to squirm and rub my thighs together anxious of the wetness I can feel coming on… you pull back. I whimper a little and sigh involuntarily, which of course is what you want.

“Not now, pet. You’re going to wait.”

“Mmmrf. I mean, yes, Sir.”

Inside, we make pizzas — yours pesto and salami with a cauliflower crust, mine sourdough and jalapeños and onion. They are delicious, but I am distracted thinking of the packer still between your legs. After dinner you tell me to ignore the kitchen mess and follow you, so I do.

You strip my dress off like someone who has done it a hundred times before and nod approvingly at what is revealed: just mounds of tight exposed flesh with no underwear. I feel you press up against me from behind and your arm wraps around my throat.

“You’re going to take my whip, boy, and then you’re going to take my dick.”

“Mmmmmm… ! I mean, yes, Sir.”

The wood of the coffee table is shockingly cold at first and my nipples flinch against it, but I relax into it as you layer gentle strokes with your big fat deerskin flogger all across my back. I moan despite myself as you ramp up in intensity and land a few solid strikes across the curve where ass meets thighs. You always were a leg person.

You pause to lean over me and grow into my ear. “Mmm, beautiful. Good boy. Ten more. Count for me.”

This time, I do not hesitate. “Yes, Sir.”

You step back but your fingers trail across my reddening back like it pains you to be separated. I can still feel the energy of you reach out to me across the room.

Until it is concentrated into a fiery pinprick of the kiss of your single tail.

“One, Sir.”

I try to remind myself it is just sensation. I try to erase pain from my vocabulary and just feel it. Easier said than done.

“Two, Sir. Three, Sir. Oh…! Four, Sir.”

Now we are both flying, drunk on your power. You push me harder to see if you can draw blood and break in this whip. Make it bound to me like i am to you.

The lash falls hot across my shoulder and i squirm hard, but the trickle raised is just sweat.

“Five, Sir..!”

You love me but you quiet that part of yourself with reserve to get what you want. No, it’s not want. You will be nice later. You need blood.

“Fuck! Six, Sir. Seven! Ah!”

I squeak out with difficulty eight and nine. You tell me a hundred times i am a good boy for taking it so nice and it lands every time.

Finally the warm droplets are pooling for you and you can feel your dick hard and straining in your jeans. You laugh aloud as i flinch hard out of habit while you barely tease me with number ten.

“Ten, Sir. Thank you, Sir.”

You run the tails and your fingertips over my back and ass, drawing in the red, savoring my flinching as you pass over the already raised welts. My breath is heaving and so is yours, in time, I think.

In a moment your fly is open and you are crammed against me, sliding in easily to the hilt of your open jeans. You pull my hips back into you with both hands and groan as you start thrusting slow and deep the length of you. You wrap your hands around my face and shove your fingers hard against my tongue. You are growling a steady stream of filthy words but my brain isn’t even processing it anymore. I am overwhelmed by you.

“Fuck, that’s so nice. That’s right. You just take it for me, you little whore. That’s Daddy’s slut. Unh, you feel so good. So tight baby. Daddy’s going to give it to you. Fuck…!!!”

I guess I came too, because the next thing I remember: I am in a puddle, dripping into the carpet and high and there is no pain anymore.

You scoop me up and guide me into the shower, lather down my dully aching back with peppermint soap and wrap me in your big soft Daddy robe.

We eat Girl Scout cookies and watch Steven Universe until I fall asleep on your shoulder.

“There Are Others Like You:” Interview with Rowdy, rife’s Puppy

Recently, Betty Butch was doing some research for an article, and did a small interview with me about my puppy persona.

How shall I refer to you?

my pup name is rowdy and pup pronouns are he/him, but if you’re referring to me as the human, you can call me rife, property of Mx. Sexsmith, pronouns he or they.

Tell me about yourself

My pup is a husky-corgi mix named Rowdy. He is super friendly and loves wrestling and human attention. He enjoys the outdoors and– OMG BALL!!

When did you first hear about puppy play, and how did you come to participate?

I probably saw it first at Folsom street fair about ten years ago, and thought, cute! that looks fun. But was much more on the giving scritches side than getting them for a long time. I played one time with a pup who did a whole sled dog team and that was pretty inspiring.

What does puppy play mean to you? What does your experience of puppy play look like?

For me, it is a playful, nonsexual way to be extroverted in kink spaces without the anxiety of having to be verbal. It can look like wrestling or cuddling or playing fetch.

Can you tell me about a scene or moment that encapsulates your love of play / pup headspace?

I like to be told I’m a good boy, so training with my dominant/handler can be fun… but the most memorable was after my cis-pup died in a kind of tragic way, I happened to be at a kink event at the time and couldn’t bear people asking me how i was doing because i was devastated. So that was the first time I was in full pup mode in public, and it was healing… it felt like a way to be closer to my dog who had just passed, remembering her body language and enacting it. And after, we did a piercing ritual still in pup space.

Would people be surprised to know you engage in puppy play? Why or why not?

Depends on where they know me from. ;) We don’t talk about it much on the blog or as titleholders, but my pervert friends would not be surprised. I love animals and am a dog walker part time as one of my vanilla jobs.

If you could give advice to someone curious about puppy play (whether private play, or going to events/moshes), what would that advice be?

You don’t need any gear, just have fun. Practice nonverbal consent a lot and have a plan in place if your boundaries are pushed (standing up or saying “no” works). Pups come in all shapes, sizes, ability levels, and genders, so don’t sweat it if you’re the only one not on your knees or with your particular plumbing. I paw-mise, there are others like you!

I’m Still Not Tired of Your Company, aka A Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! To all of you: beloved friends, community acquaintances, readers, family, old friends, and new.

I appreciate you and I’m grateful we have this weird, modern medium to use to keep us connected. Valentine’s day is weird and can be isolating and too full of Hallmark for comfort, but I still think excuses to celebrate love, tell people we love them, and spend quality time together (well, that’s my love language anyway), are all generally positive and I gratefully accept an excuse to focus on it, and let you know that I am glad to know you all.

and:

To this incredible person, my partner, my spouse, my boy of almost 9 years, rife: I love you.

I’m grateful for our intense, beautiful, swoon-worthy courtship, grateful for our years of struggle to figure out how we fit together and what we are really going to do together and how we, two flawed humans, are going to make a life together, and grateful that we are looking forward into the future again with a vision for our partnership that stretches long beyond the horizon that I can see. I adore you. I never get tired of your company — ?? Which still confuses me, because I get tired of almost everybody else, massive introvert that I am. But I love you next to me on the couch, in the woods, crafting and listening to podcasts, or watching another episode of the Great British Baking Show when we should be sleeping. I love the way you take care of your chillest dog and my grouchy old lady cat, and how determined you are to make the world a better place by tending the earth, and how you are so patient and kind, and how you make art out of everything, even the flaws and things I used to label as decay or destruction. that you are in my life inspires me to be better, motivates me to step up and dream bigger, and makes me want to impress you.

I love you — today, & all the days we get to will have together, and the 3,072 days we’ve been together already.

Feeling Yourself: Getting Acquainted With Your New Strap On

So you bought a strap on harness and dildo — great! Exciting! Congratulations on choosing from the dozens of excellent products that are out there, and I hope it’s everything you wanted and more.

Ready to use it?

Sometimes, the distance between bringing the new toy home and actually using it with another person be a lot. Some of that might just be scheduling, and carving out the time for you and someone else to get sexy and lube up.

But some of it is fear, anxiety, or nervousness — and that can be harder to correct for. Sometimes our minds create barriers when there is none, even if — or perhaps especially if — it’s something we really want. If we don’t try, we don’t fail. We remain safer. But, in kink, and in sex toys and pleasure, taking a risk is very often where the pleasure is.

So perhaps it’s good to root out what kind of fear is happening. Actually listen to those voices in your head the next time they show up and rage at you: What if I screw up? What if I look ridiculous? What if I don’t know what I’m doing? What if I freeze? What if it slips out and I keep going and don’t notice because I can’t feel it? What if I like it, like, really a lot?

Just listen, and see what they’re saying. If it works to reason with yourself, you might be able to counter some of the concerns with facts or likelihood, but often, those kinds of voices don’t really run on fact-based logic, so it might not help.

And ya know, the fears might be founded. Some of those things might turn out to be true — but with time, and more confidence, and more experience, not only will there be less fear, but there will be more ability to shake off whatever potentially embarrassing things happen.

So. Let’s go.

Experiment with some of these things and see what feels best for you. These aren’t in any order, and they might not all work for you. That’s cool — just take what helps, & leave the rest.

And please — add your own ideas, if you have suggestions, in the comments.

1. Set It Up

First things first: Get it out of the packaging. Wash it thoroughly with mild soap and water. Sanitize it, if you like, by wiping it down with 10% bleach and 90% water, or running it through the dishwasher in the top shelf with no soap, or by boiling for a couple minutes.

Follow the directions about the harness that you bought and do a quick once-over clean of it. You don’t need to wash it in the washing machine, if it is machine-washable, or do a whole leather-safe soap and coat of oil, but you might want to wipe it down with a damp cloth.

It’s not so much because they are “dirty” and you should be worried about how they’ve been packaged so much as it’s about getting to know it’s care and feeding.

Depending on the harness you purchased, and what kind of body you have, you might also want to trim some of the excess off of your leg straps. Some of them come extra-long so to accommodate all kinds of body shapes, but if your body has been about the same size for a while, it’s probably safe for you to customize it to you, and trim it to fit. Assuming you’re not going to share it, of course.

2. Put It On

Yep, just put it on. Take some time for yourself and put it all the way on. Wear it around the house. Do the dishes. Answer some email.

You don’t have to stay in it too long — though it is useful to figure out where the harness might chafe, where the weight of the dildo pulls the harness, and how easily the straps slip. Plus, it’s excellent practice for putting it on and taking it off, for figuring out the fastest way to get the buckle and straps all in the right places, and for how to beat get it off.

Experiment with some different things to see what works best.

That means: put it on and wear it around a few times, not just once!

3. Get to Know It – aka, Masturbate, Masturbate, Masturbate

Jerk off with it! Read erotica, watch porn, or just let your mind wander. Thinking about the use of your strap on will help it be realistic, feel more like a part of you, and maybe even give you some insight about the kind of fantasies you might enjoy.

Take it in your hand and explore it. Imagine yourself feeling down into every inch of it, down all the way to the tip. When you touch it with your fingers, feel it where your fingertips meet it, but also try to feel it from the inside. Try a little harder. Strain for the feeling. You might find it more sensate than you expected.

Belladonna has a porn series called Strapped Dykes that could be inspiring, and of course there’s the Crash Pad series. Say Please and Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 have some of my favorite strap on stories in them. Give those a try.

4. Expand Your Proprioception

“Proprioception” is the felt sense of the edges of your body, and it’s changeable, possible to incorporate inanimate objects into your sense of yourself.

For example, consider when you’re wearing a big backpack. For a little while, for most of us, we will knock into things somewhat awkwardly when we first put it on. But if we wear it for a while, we can develop an expanded awareness and start to sense how far out behind us and to the side that it extends.

Same thing happened with driving a new car, or a bicycle.

This can happen with a strap on — or a whip, a flogger, a paddle — too.

Keep feeling into it. Keep trying it on and playing with it, feeling it in your body. It can take time, but it’s possible.

Add your own ideas, if you have suggestions, in the comments.

Thanks!

Which D/s Webinars Should rife + I Produce in 2020?

I didn’t expect the launch of the D/s webinars in 2018 to be such a big deal. The monthly webinars have become the primary way rife and I teach online, and I’m very excited to continue to have that platform to explore D/s topics, connect with other folks who are in D/s relationships, and talk about queer, nonbinary D/s.

This year, we did so many amazing topics:

  • Art of Ownership
  • Ask Us Anything
  • The Protocol Game
  • Fundamentals of Dominance
  • Self-Growth Through Dominance
  • Doctor D/s: Troubleshooting the Hard Stuff
  • … and more!

And, of course, we produced D/s Playground!

We turned our 8-week course Submissive Playground into an on demand ecourse for all kinds D/s orientations. It’s now online & live at dsplayground.com and you can sign up now! (Patrons get access to the course for as long as they are a patron.)

Now, it’s time to plan 2020

I took a poll over on Patreon early in December, and I have narrowed it down to some topics. My ideal is to do four webinars about D/s dynamics in general, four on submission, and four on dominance.

On Submission:

  • Actually I’m not sure yet. I didn’t break out many topics in the poll I did on Patreon, and rife & I haven’t sat down to talk about what topics for submissives would be best
  • Got any ideas?

On D/s dynamics in General

  • D/s as a Spiritual Path
  • Top/bottom vs Dominant/submissive
  • Nonbinary D/s
  • Feminist Sadism is not an oxymoron (and other things we feel guilty about)

Though, to be honest, I want to continue to do the Protocol Game in December as a way to prepare for the new year — it’s such a good time to do it! Maybe that’ll be a special bonus webinar? Hmm.

On Dominance

  • The Vulnerable Dominant
  • Self-Growth Through Dominance
  • Decision Fatigue & Other Responsibilities (receiving as a dom, giving orders, commanding presence, dominant aftercare – things like that)
  • ??

Secret Plan: Dominant Fireside Chats

I mentioned “dominant fireside chats” in the poll on Patreon, and it got quite a bit of votes! I love love love this idea, I’ve been thinking about it for years. So, I added it as a goal on Patreon — at a certain level of $, I’ll host one fireside chat a month (or maybe every other month? Is once a month too much? I’ll consider) and sit down to talk about dominance with another dominant, and take questions. That would be so much fun. There really aren’t enough dominant resources out there, I’d love to contribute to that conversation.

Support me on Patreon if you want to help me meet this goal and make this happen!

So, what do you think?

Got any other requests for 2020 webinars? What topics are you itching to explore? What are the kinks (hah) that come up in your D/s dynamic frequently? What kind of topics do you find yourself discussing with your friends all the time? I’d love to know.

Cartography of Control: A Map For Areas of Dominance & Submission

When it comes to control in D/s dynamics, there are a lot of questions to ponder and theorize about.

How do you give over even more to your dominant? How do you take more from your submissive?

How do you work out what your limits are?

How do you take or give more control?

How do I start making rules and protocols outside of the bedroom?

Or maybe you’re just in a D/s dynamic that is excellent, but you both want a little … more? So perhaps the question is simply, How do you step up your D/s dynamic?

This theory can help address all of these.

The Cartography of Control is a Map

The cartography of control maps out areas of someone’s (generally the s-type) life, and codes them into categories to share which areas they would like to have under someone else’s control and which areas they would like to keep for themself.

The first step is to brainstorm different life areas. These are probably endless, but there are some broad umbrella categories that applies to most folks. Here are some areas to start with:

Kink/BDSM activities
Orgasms/sex
Partners
Friends
Community
Family
Pets
Tidiness
Money
Spirituality
Gender
Emotions
Sleep
Speech
Stuff/possessions
Medical
Goals
Time Management
Media
Opinions
Education
Work/profession
Body modifications
Posture
Grooming
Dress
Politics
Hobbies
Fitness
Drugs
Therapy
Food
Alcohol

It’s always possible to think of more things, or to get a lot more specific about things within the categories — grooming, for example, could be divided into how someone keeps their hair, shaving, what products they use in the shower, makeup, their skincare routine — all sorts of things. But for now, we’ll keep the categories broad and divide it into specifics later.

Sort the Categories Into Yes, No, or Maybe

Now that you have a somewhat robust list — it doesn’t have to be exhaustive, but at least is a complete enough list for you to start — sort them into three different categories:

  1. Areas the submissive would like the dominant to have control over
  2. Areas that the dominant could possibly have control over, depending on [certain] circumstances
  3. Areas the submissive would like to retain their own control and final decisions over

One of the things rife often says is that he can’t give over any area where he himself does not have control. For example, if he was a smoker, he couldn’t give his nicotine addiction over to me, because he isn’t in control of it. I could help him with a plan to stop smoking, but I couldn’t just say, “You are no longer addicted,” and exercise control.
This is quite simplified; you could develop more categories to sort things in to, like “areas I will give over after the permanent collar is on,” or “areas you can control

For now, don’t worry about whether or not the dominant wants to control these categories. That’s a separate step. Just think about the submissive’s part in it, and whether they could or are willing to give up control.

One way to sort these is to write all your categories out on paper, then use different colors to denote which ones are which. Red could mean “no, I will keep control,” yellow/orange could mean, “maybe, depending on circumstances,” and green could mean, “yes, I would like my dominant to have control over these.”

Yes, you can change your mind — fine tune it, think through it, do thought experiments and make educated guesses about how future you would feel if certain areas were under someone else’s control.

Like this:

After you have the areas sorted, it’s time for the dominant’s part.

Next, make a separate chart of areas the dominant would like to have control over, could maybe take control over depending on circumstances, and would not like control over.

Now you should have two sets of lists. Time to compare them

Start with the yeses — those are the low-hanging fruit, the control that is easily on the table! Find the areas where you are both a yes — that’s your sweet spot. There are probably months of explorations inside just those areas alone!

But if you want to keep digging in, find the areas where one of you is a yes and one of you is a maybe, and discuss. Maybe you’ll discover some places where you want to grow more trust, or some parameters for the relationship that you hadn’t previously discussed.

When you’re ready to start exploring a particular area, brainstorm all kinds of things within that category that you could control, and start experimenting with protocol.

But first, a quick word about protocol:

Remember — only add one or two protocols at a time into a dynamic. It sets up the submissive to actually succeed at remembering what the protocols are, and doing them. Plus, it helps the dominant to remember and recognize when the protocol is or isn’t being done, and to act if it does not happen — which is another key piece of managing protocol.

You’re also perfectly set up to start playing with the Protocol Game, if that appeals to you! The cartography of control is a perfect way to figure out some of your training areas, and build the game from there.

Hopefully, figuring out your cartography of control will help identify areas where you can dive deeper into your dominance and submission.

Five Essential Apps for Sex Bloggers

Over the 13 and a half years of blogging about sex (that’s right — since April 2006!), many folks ask me about the tools that I use. Here are some of my favorite tools, the ones I’m in almost every day, the ones that are now the core of the work I do here at Sugarbutch.

All of these include affiliate links! If you sign up through one of them — first of all, thank you! Second, if you want me to help you set it up or walk you through how I use it, I’m glad to share some of my best practices as appreciation for using my links.

1. You must have a mailing list. Try Convertkit

You have a mailing list, right? You gotta set up a mailing list. The free services are great — don’t pay for something until you use the free service and outgrow it.

When you start noticing you want more features — like segments, or drip campaigns, or tags, or landing pages — take a look at Convertkit. It starts at $29 a month, and it does all the fancy email tricks that you can imagine, plus it’s beautifully designed, intuitive, and plugs in to all the major web apps. 

Sign up here (with my affiliate link — thank you!). 

2. And you want to promote your blog posts on social media. So, Coschedule, obviously

In 2019, it’s not a blog if there isn’t all kinds of social media attached to it.

Coschedule is a social media manager — like Buffer or MeetEdgar — plus an editorial calendar. You can have multiple users all working on the same blog and create to-do lists and other assignments. I love their “Requeue” feature, which will automatically recycle certain content on social media based on criteria. For example, I have about 25 tweets in a Requeue folder called “holidays,” and set it to be active around Thanksgiving and let it run through the New Year. It automatically rotates through the tweets, publishing one a day at the “best time” (as determined by Coschedule — but I could set specific times, if I want).

I use it to push all my WordPress posts out to social media after one is made. 

Starts at $40/month, but there is a referral and benefits program that cuts that in half if you write a blog post about it, and can get the price even less with more referrals.

Sign up here.

3.Once you grow, you might want to offer webinars! Crowdcast is the best

There are many platforms for this. Zoom is a common one, which is great for discussions and meetings where you want to see everyone on the call. But if you want to do more of a lecture type webinar, look at Crowdcast. It includes a chat, a place to ask questions and then mark if you are currently answering that question, polls, and the ability to bring someone on screen with video or audio to talk to you. Plus, replays at the exact same link. 

Starts at $49 a month. Worth it. Sign up here.

4. You gotta make everything pretty — Canva is better than Photoshop

Maybe don’t tell Photoshop I said that. I’ve been a photoshop user for e v e r  and I love that program, but honestly? I have barely opened it up since I started using Canva. It’s so much simpler and all of it is right there. 

It includes all sorts of design templates for just about any image you can imagine — book covers, instagram posts, facebook event covers, featured images, business cards, resumes, brochures, flyers. On and on. And they’re adding more all the time. Now there’s a Pexels integration, too (which is still one of my favorite photo stock sites). 

Check it out over here.

5. Once you’re ready, launch a Patreon

The only one on the list that gives you money, rather than costing you money.

You know what this is by now — Patreon has been making a splash in the blog world for years, and it seems to only be growing. I really hope they will get themselves sustainable, the creator world needs this service so desperately! It has seriously changed what Sugarbutch is for me the past five years. I’ll ever be grateful for the structure it offered, and all the people who support me through it. (Here’s my own Patreon, if you’d like to become a patron. Like a patron of the arts! Thank you!)

Sign up over here through my affiliate link, & I’ll help you launch yours.

 

5. Last, but not least: WordPress.org, not .com

First of all, watch out for the adult content rules on .com. Make sure you know what the guidelines are, whether or not you decide to adhere to them.

And while we’re talking about it …

It’s not a resource, but you gotta brush up on the kinds of content that are allowed on every platform. Guy New York has collected a round-up on the various content platforms and what is allowed and not allowed. 

WordPress.org is different, and gives you more control than the .com. Your mileage may vary here, and you should consult your web designer to figure what is really best for you. Even though there are small differences, sometimes they can mean everything. 
 

Those are the essentials, in my opinion!

What am I missing? Leave your very favorite, top five web apps for blogging in the comments.

 

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Kintsugi

She fingered the teacup at the sink. Hands wet, dishes stacked waiting, overhead light off but the light under the cabinets on which made for dramatic shadows and underbelly.

The teacup was her grandmother’s. Used to be. She didn’t put it in the sink anymore because of the porcelain on porcelain danger. The sliver of gold around the rim and edge of the saucer were still the ring she loved most, even since the one on her finger. Her lips touched it and she was kissing like King Midas was touching, she was drinking like the sorceress at the waterfall. The way it balanced in between her fingers felt like a fine Japanese knife, like a feather compared to a cairn of rocks, like the sacrum loose in the pelvis.

The rest of it was white. It still held it’s gleam, though it could use a deep polish by one of those harsher chemicals. The glass of the glaze was still diligently strong, protecting everything after all these years, protecting hot sweet poured flow like a mountain cradles the lava.

She used to beg her grandmother to get it down from the high glass shelf of the cabinet and let her hold it. Gently, gently, with two hands, only when she was sitting on her bottom, only when her hands were clean and steady. She learned to keep her hands clean and steady. Learned to ask the way her grandmother wanted to hear. Learned to remember the settled feeling in her belly even when it wasn’t in her hand.

The hairline crack was still visible. He fixed the break, the fracture that separated it into half-moons, splitting into duality, no longer whole. He was as precise as she was. He researched how to repair fine porcelain on youtube. He had tears in his eyes as he mixed the chemicals to make the sealant, and again when he smoothed the outside until she couldn’t even feel it with her fingertips. He presented it to her again. He gave it back to her. He as much as raised it in both hands on bended knee.

There was nothing to do but go forward. She cradled it in both hands, careful not to have too much soap. It was reparable, she told herself. The sealant was made from gold, too. A fine river-shape down the side where her thumb sat. It was stronger than it had ever been before. But she knew the line was there. She will always know it is there. And someday it will be more beautiful than it was before.

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