Episode 25: ON CONSENT AND CUDDLING with my daughter Des

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My 17 year old daughter generously sat down with me to talk about consent — her personal experiences with it, humor of it, nonverbal versions, and how to respond to rejection. We talked about her thoughts on the Dear Boy Who Likes My Daughter episode, how she perceives my romantic relationships, what makes a good cuddle partner, and being resourceful after trauma. There’s laughing and crying and lots of proud mama.

I’ve been gradually catching up on Dr. Doe‘s Sexplanations podcast; I’m up into the 30-somethings now but my favourite so far might have been episode 25, which presents a very authentic and raw look at Lindsey and her daughter Des’s thoughts on sex, romance, and consent. Adorable.

Guess that sex act #CONTENT

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My 12th favourite and my 27th favourite YouTubers just did a collaboration and it’s brilliant. Also: I totally knew seven out of the twelve terms Dr Doe brought to the table and would have been able to guess at least one more (as well as, of course, knowing what TomSka meant by his British slang), so this video made me feel clever.

Escape Room [NSFW]

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Frame from Tailsteak's 20-page comic "Escape Room"

Regular readers will know already that I’ve been a huge fan of comic author Tailsteak, ever since Ruth, many years ago, introduced me to his work. I’m particularly enjoying Forward, his latest webcomic: so much so that in an effort to work around its lack of an RSS feed I accidentally stole unpublished work from him earlier this year (oops!).

He announced yesterday his new secondary Twitter account, @TailsteakAD (the “AD” is for “After Dark”) and was delighted from the very top tweet onwards:

TailsteakAD: For the record, just because an artist makes erotic work, or even has a dedicated adult-themed account, that in no way implies that they have any desire whatsoever to receive your unsolicited sexual messages or images. I mean, *I* want'em, but other artists might not.
That’s the spirit.

Anyway: a short while later I found a 20-page comic he’d made called The Escape Room: read it on Twitter or via Threadreader. It might be exactly the comic you’ve always been looking for, assuming that the comic you’ve always been looking for combines B/D, gay sex, and escape room puzzle mechanics. NSFW, obviously.

Suddenly I feel like the escape rooms I go to aren’t quite as good as I thought.

The Four-Handed Condom

Content warning: rape.

You’ve probably seen the news about people taking a technological look at the issue of consent, lately. One thing that’s been getting a lot of attention is the Tulipán Placer Consentido, an Argentinian condom which comes in a packet that requires the cooperation of two pairs of hands to open it.

Four hands opening a Placer Consentido packet
I’ve seen simpler escape room puzzles.

Naturally, the Internet’s been all over this shit, pointing out how actually you can probably open it with just two hands [YouTube], how it’s inaccessible [YouTube] to people with a variety of disabilities, and how it misses the point by implying that once the condom is on, consent is irrevocable. A significant number of its critics try to make their claims more-sensational by describing the Placer Consentido as “a real product”, which is a bit of an exaggeration: it was a seemingly one-off promotional giveaway by its creators: it doesn’t look to be appearing on their store pages.

Hands moving to the magic pressure points on a condom packet.
Move your fingers just a bit lower. No… up a bit. Yes! Right there! That’s the spot!

One fundamental flaw with the concept that nobody seems to have pointed out (unless perhaps in Spanish), is that – even assuming the clever packaging works perfectly – all that you can actually consent to with such a device is the use of a condom. Given that rape can be and often is committed coercively rather than physically – e.g. through fear, blackmail, or obligation rather than by force – consent to use of a condom by one of the parties shouldn’t be conflated with consent to a sexual act: it may just be preferable to it without, if that seems to be the alternative.

Indeed, all of these technical “solutions” to rape seem to focus on the wrong part of the process. Making sure that an agreement is established isn’t a hard problem, algorithmically-speaking (digital signatures with split-key cryptography has given us perhaps the strongest possible solution to the problem for forty years now)! The hard problem here is in getting people to think about what rape is and to act appropriately to one another. Y’know: it’s a people problem, not a technology problem! (Unshocker.)

"It's a no", from the advertisment.
“If it’s not a yes, it’s a no.” If you ignore the product, the ad itself is on-message.

But even though they’re perhaps functionally-useless, I’m still glad that people are making these product prototypes. As the news coverage kicked off by the #MeToo movement wanes, its valuable to keep that wave of news going: the issues faced by the victims of sexual assault and rape haven’t gone away! Products like these may well be pointless in the real world, but they’re a vehicle to keep talking about consent and its importance. Keeping the issue in the limelight is helpful, because it forces people to continually re-evaluate their position on sex and consent, which makes for a healthy and progressive society.

So I’m looking forward to whatever stupid thing we come up with next. Bring it on, innovators! Just don’t take your invention too seriously: you’re not going to “fix” rape with it, but at least you can keep us talking about it.

How Can Free Porn Be Feminist?

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If you search “free porn” on Google, you get 1,400,000,000 hits. That’s a lot of porn. From vanilla lovers to BBW aficionados, kink and BDSM enthusiasts, foot fetishists and golden shower fans, there’s something for everyone. All at your fingertips, and all for free.

Although free porn is an accessible way for us to explore and embrace our sexuality, it relies on a business model that exploits sex workers and filmmakers. So while viewers are getting off, creators are the ones getting screwed. We boycott fast fashion brands for exploiting factory workers, we go vegan in the name of animal rights, we ban plastic straws to save the ocean, so where’s that same energy when it comes to protecting sex workers?

Free porn sites operate on pirated and unregulated user-generated content. Users can upload clips even though they’re infringing copyright, and stolen content goes up faster than studios can issue demands for it to be taken down. Award-winning feminist adult filmmaker Erika Lust tells Refinery29 that at the time of writing her team had been fruitlessly chasing Pornhub, asking them to take down some of her XConfessions films. “[Free porn sites] steal from studios, while at the same time profit from unregulated amateur production. This adds to the capacity for exploitation towards the performers, and the illusion that porn is free leads to the assumption that sex work is not work,” says Lust. “Most of the performers involved in these videos did not give their consent for their film to be pirated and hosted on a free porn site.” And they’re not making a penny, either.

Pay for your porn, folks!

It’s time to winterize your vagina

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Daily Mirror tweet claiming that "winter vagina" is a thing, and how to deal with it.

Breakout your plug-in vibrator and don’t forget the snow stud sheath. No battery-powered device can plow through vaginal snow pack. You need alternating current to warm that shit up after a long day of sitting naked outside filling your vagina with snow and ice. Don’t get clitoral anti freeze though, that crap stings like a motherfucker.

I don’t know whether I should describe this as being hilarious despite not having a vagina, or because of not having a vagina, but honestly it was side-splitting however you look at it. Gynaecologist/author/blogger/educator/blogger Dr. Jen Gunter points and laughs at a Daily Mirror tweet discussing “winter vagina”, and provides her own tips for dealing with the phenomenon. Warm up the mulled wine, ladies!

SHE BON : Sensing the Sensual

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I don’t know if this is genius or insanity, but either way it’s pretty remarkable. Lost my shit at “pop girl”. Lost it again at “I can poke the nipple”.

It takes a true engineer to think to themselves, “Hey, I wonder if I could use technology to tell me when I’m feeling aroused? That sounds like a useful project.” I love it.

Does anyone have the right to sex?

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Amia Srinivasan · Does anyone have the right to sex? (London Review of Books)

When we see consent as the sole constraint on OK sex, we are pushed towards a naturalisation of sexual preference in which the rape fantasy becomes a primordial rather than a political fact.

On 23 May 2014, Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old college dropout, became the world’s most famous ‘incel’ – involuntary celibate. The term can, in theory, be applied to both men and women, but in practice it picks out not sexless men in general, but a certain kind of sexless man: the kind who is convinced he is owed sex, and is enraged by the women who deprive him of it. Rodger stabbed to death his two housemates, Weihan Wang and Cheng Hong, and a friend, George Chen, as they entered his apartment on Seville Road in Isla Vista, California. Three hours later he drove to the Alpha Phi sorority house near the campus of UC Santa Barbara. He shot three women on the lawn, killing two of them, Katherine Cooper and Veronika Weiss. Rodger then went on a drive-by shooting spree through Isla Vista, killing Christopher Michaels-Martinez, also a student at UCSB, with a single bullet to the chest inside a Deli Mart, and wounding 14 others. He eventually crashed his BMW coupé at an intersection. He was found dead by the police, having shot himself in the head.

In the hours between murdering three men in his apartment and driving to Alpha Phi, Rodger went to Starbucks, ordered coffee, and uploaded a video, ‘Elliot Rodger’s Retribution’, to his YouTube channel. He also emailed a 107,000-word memoir-manifesto, ‘My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger’, to a group of people including his parents, his therapist, former schoolteachers and childhood friends. Together these two documents detail the massacre to come and Rodger’s motivation. ‘All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life,’ he explains at the beginning of ‘My Twisted World’, ‘but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.’

Poundland Nooky

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500 Internal Server Error (minxylydia.com)

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There aren’t many great things to write about Hounslow, other than me being in it isn’t the sort of place that brings in visitors. There’s a tired shopping centre, an Asda (whose car park has just been closed), lots of planes going over and Hounslow Heath, which frankly is just a large bit of scrubland whatever their website tells you about it being a “Local Nature Reserve and Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (of Metropolitan Importance)” I really wouldn’t make the effort to see it.

​What Hounslow does boast is three, yes THREE Poundlands. I have no idea why we need three Poundlands, especially as the high street also boasts a brand new PoundWorld, a 99p shop and a 97p shop. Seriously, the three Poundlands are literally five minute walks away from each other. You may have seen the press this week about Poundland’s new sex toy range. Sex toys, in Poundland, for a quid?! Yes, indeedy!

​Actually, they first released their pound bullet vibe a few years back (how did I miss this?!) but now they have extended their range further. It’s called Nooky. Of course it is.

OMGYes

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Oh Joy Sex Toy: OMGYes

Wow, I was really blown away by OMGYes. The concept sounded novel but I wasn’t prepared for how completely engrossed listening to the interviews, watching the examples, and getting to practice the different techniques on the interactive vuvlas would be. This is genuinely an invaluable resource for folks looking to learn about touchin’ twats. OMGYes…