i enjoy developing friendships with people who, like me, are highly sexual and open to the possibility of us having sex - whether once, semi-regularly, or regularly. One of the advantages of being in an open nonmonogamous relationship1 is not having to worry about sexual play with non-partners inherently endangering one's existing intimate/romantic relationships2.

What about the issue of sex hurting, or even destroying, the friendship between the people involved? Well, something that nonmonogamy has taught me is to be more open to letting interpersonal relationships "find their own level". Having detached the concept of "having sex with someone" from "being in an intimate/romantic relationship with someone", a universe of possibilities becomes apparent, possibilities which mononormative society tends to claim either don't exist, or aren't workable/sustainable. My lived experience is that this isn't necessarily the case. i have friends with whom i have had sex, and it hasn't altered the friendship one whit; it's just another good time we've had together. We might have sex again in the future, or we might not; either way, it's fine.

So it will come as no surprise that, increasingly, i'm seeking friendships with other nonmonogamous people who are open to sex with friends - because if there is sexual attraction, it doesn't have to be kept under wraps, or denied, thus creating a death-spiral of unresolved tension. Instead, it can be explored. If it works out, great; sexual play becomes just another thing that friends do together, like sharing a meal. If it doesn't work out, that's okay too. But what if one person is sexually attracted to the other, but the reverse isn't the case? That's also okay, at least for me; if i was sexually attracted to a friend, but the feeling wasn't mutual, i would accept it (with some disappointment!) and enjoy the friendship for what it is. And in the reverse situation, i would hope that the other person would take the same approach. Yes, it's possible that this issue might prove to be insurmountable obstacle, and cause the friendship to end. Yet friendships can end for all sorts of reasons; and of my friendships that are no longer extant, issues related to sex have only rarely been the cause.

i want to be friends with people i can relax with, people i can be myself with. i feel far more relaxed when i'm naked, and so want friends that don't mind me being naked around them. Similarly, i feel far more relaxed when issues of sexual attraction have to be avoided, or can be talked about but not acted upon. So i want to be friends with people with whom i can let the friendship "find its own level" - and if that level includes sex, that's a wonderful bonus. :-)

1. As distinct from closed nonmonogamous relationships, e.g. polyfidelity.

2. i say "inherently" because there are certainly situations where such play can, and does, negatively impact on one's intimate/romantic relationships. For example: having sex with someone in a way that breaks the safer-sex agreements one has with one's partners. In some relationships that might be something that can be apologised for and worked through; in others it might be a deal breaker. But either way, the issue isn't that someone has played with someone else, full stop; the issue is the specific person one has played with.

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2013-10-08 14:12
[ i posted the following in response to someone on FetLife seeking an 'ultrafeminine' trans woman to play with, as a sort of 'halfway house' to same-sex play. If you're on FetLife, the thread can be found here. ]
So, i'm a trans woman. That is, i was designated male at birth (DMAB), but have since transitioned to living as a woman. But i'm also genderqueer; i'm two-gendered, and live my life as - simultaneously - a woman and a man. The 'sex' listed on my passport is neither 'F' nor 'M' but 'X'. Since such an option is not available for most other 'official' documentation, i'm listed as 'F' on most things, with my birth certificate being the main exception: current Victorian law requires one to have had surgery as a prerequisite to having the 'sex' on one's birth cert changed.

i haven't had surgery to remove my cock because i don't want to[1]. (However, i *do* have body dysmorphia revolving around the fact that i lack a cunt *in addition to* my cock; an old blog post of mine on this issue can be found here.) Having been on 'female' hormones for several years means that, in addition to my cock, i do have a (small) pair of breasts (as my userpic shows). i *don't*, however, present as "ultrafeminine" - most people will tend to read me as a cisgendered[2] guy, albeit as a "crossdressing guy". i'm a woman *regardless* of how i look or how i dress; just as cisgendered woman shouldn't have to present in an 'ultrafeminine' way to 'prove' she's 'really' a woman, when she *knows* she is, i don't feel i should have to do so either. i'm a woman regardless of how i present.

Clearly, then, i don't meet all your criteria. But even if you didn't have "ultrafeminine" as a criterion, i probably still wouldn't be interested in playing with you. The issue for me is not getting terminology wrong - we're all new to it at some stage, and transgender/genderqueer language issues can be complex, as i describe in this blog post - but in the potential that:

(a) i'll not be treated as a 'real' woman. Which i know i am, after years of soul-searching and struggle.

(b) i'll be treated not as a human, but as a mere object for someone else's sexual exploration. i don't get off on this sort of objectification. When it comes to my 'transness' and 'genderqueerness', i expect to be treated as a human being, with my own needs and desires and preferences and feelings.

(c) i might have to deal with a play partner freaking out about their implied sexual orientation as a result of playing with me. As my profile says: "Since i'm two-gendered, anyone who plays with me might be implicitly queer / non-monosexual; thus, i'm not interested in playing with anyone for whom this would be an issue." i have three life partners, and occasionally lovers as well; my life is very full, and i don't want to unnecessarily add complications via possible sexual-orientation-related freakouts from sexual partners with whom i'm not in an emotional/romantic relationship.

i certainly don't represent all, or even most, trans and/or genderqueer people. Still, i know a number of other trans/genderqueer people share at least some of my perspectives on this issue. So in your search for potential play partners, it might be useful to keep what i've written here in mind.


[1] And there's no way i could afford it even if i did - prohibitive costs of surgery are an issue for many trans people.

[2] Someone is 'cisgendered' when their internal sense of their gender *exactly* matches the gender they were designated at birth.

[added as a separate comment]

(i should add, the list of potential issues for me is based not on theory, but on actual lived experiences. So my concerns aren't merely theoretical; they've been proven to be very real.)

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2013-09-08 20:05
i love marks on human flesh. Growing up, i enjoyed bruises and scars on my own skin; i didn't deliberately create such marks, but nevertheless liked them when they came about as a result of accidents, such as falling off a bike / motorbike.

For several years, i self-harmed by cutting my wrist and upper arm. A common meme claims that people do this for attention, but that certainly wasn't the case for me; i was primarily doing it to release some of the intense emotion i was experiencing. It was a way of expressing my anger and frustration without physically harming others. And although it wasn't driven by a desire to create permanent marks, i certainly wasn't complaining about the scars that resulted.

In the last year or so, i have begun identifying as a sadist. Part of that involves taking pleasure in physically hurting those who actively want me to do so. Not only do i enjoy inflicting physical pain in such situations, but i also hope to produce marks on my play partner as a result. The marks might be produced by biting; by a whip, such as a riding crop; by a sharp, such as a knife; by spanking, using my hand or a paddle; or by something else besides. Ideally i make such marks in a location where they would be visible even when my play partner is clothed, and last several days. Of course, this is sometimes not possible, for various reasons: the force required to make such marks might be too much for my play partner (either in general, or for a given play session); attitudes of family, friends or work colleagues might mean that such marks can only be made in low-visibility places on the body; my play partner might simply not want to be marked at all. But the desire to leave marks is still there in any case.

So, why do i have such a desire? i'm not entirely sure. Some of it is certainly that they're reminders of passion and lust, on the part of both myself and my play partner. i enjoy rough, animalistic sex - when my health-condition-limited body lets me! - and deep bruising can result from me biting someone's breasts or ass in the heat of the moment. But i also enjoy the idea of whipping someone until they noticeably welt, in a context where i am completely cool-headed. The scene that begins at roughly 69m45s in the 1975 movie version of The Story of O has always appealed to me; i get turned on by the look on actor Corinne Cléry's face as she abandons herself to the joy of giving someone a literal whipping. It's a look that suggests an inner joy i can identify with. But that's only about the joys of inflicting physical pain on someone. It doesn't speak to why i enjoy consensually inflicting pain that results in marks. Perhaps they serve as a reminder of the joy i experienced when inflicting such pain? Yet that doesn't explain why i enjoy inflicting pain in the first place. That's something i need to ponder on some more.

Whatever the psychological reasons, i love leaving marks on others, and am most glad that there are people who actively want me to leave my marks on them. :-)

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In my experience, one of the indicators of a potentially dangerous top is hostility toward the availability and use of safewords.

The main argument i typically observe used against safewords is that 'true' submissives 'shouldn't' require them. Supposedly, a 'true'/'real' submissive "has no limits", and will automatically and immediately 'prove' this by trusting a top utterly and without reservation.

There's not merely potential for abuse of power here; many people have direct or indirect experiences of such power actually being abused. The argument tries to convince bottoms that they are a 'failure' if they have boundaries, and want those boundaries respected (or at least not pushed without explicit permission). To me, this is manifestly ridiculous. People have all sorts of boundaries for all sorts of reasons, and unilaterally invalidating them is surely a recipe for significant psychological damage - even before taking into consideration the other physical, emotional and/or psychological damage that someone might accept being inflicted upon them in order to 'prove' that they're a 'real' submissive.

A second argument against safewords that i more recently observed is that the presence of safewords supposedly create a 'moral hazard'. At the time of writing, Wikipedia defines a 'moral hazard' as "a tendency to be more willing to take a risk, knowing that the potential costs or burdens of taking such risk will be borne, in whole or in part, by others". Insofar as i understand the logic of this, the idea is that the availability of a safeword will cause the top to go further than they otherwise would, because they're constrained solely by whether or not the bottom has safeworded; and this is particularly problematic given that many subs try to avoid safewording for as long as possible, for a variety of reasons1. Supposedly, without a safeword, the top is obliged to bear full responsibility for ensuring that things don't go too far and end up causing unwanted physical, emotional and/or psychological damage to the bottom. Consequently, the top will ensure that they don't go too far.

There are a few problems with this:

  • First and foremost, the issues re. abuse of power, as described above.

  • Secondly, it assumes the top is effectively a mind-reader, or exquisitely sensitive to what the bottom is feeling. It is highly unlikely that this is the case in early stages of a top/bottom relationship, and not necessarily inevitable even after the top and bottom have played together on many occasions. Even then, there are many other factors that can confound the top's ability to accurately 'read' what's going on for the bottom: the emotional, psychological and physical states of both the top and bottom, the environment in which play is taking place (visibility, noise etc.), interruptions, and so on.

  • Thirdly, it can actually serve to reduce the possibilities of both top and bottom getting their needs met, for reasons i'll elaborate on below.

Note that i'm not prescribing that a safeword is always necessary and/or appropriate; i'm simply arguing against the notion that, in a general sense, safewords shouldn't be available and/or used.

Which brings me to why, as a domme, i love the availability and use of safewords in play.

i've recently started identifying as a sadist, acknowledging that i can, and do, derive pleasure from others' pain. But there's a critical constraint on this: i don't derive such pleasure unless i know the person on whom i'm inflicting pain actively and fundamentally desires to have that pain inflicted upon them. So if a bottom says to me, "Please, go as hard as you want, until I safeword", that's very liberating for me: i can abandon myself to my sadism, and to a certain extent set aside that part of my mind which is constantly fretting about my play partner's needs and desires and feelings. i say "to a certain extent" because i don't rely purely on hearing the safeword in order to stop or restrain myself; i know from experience that there is a part of my mind that is monitoring the bottom's responses and 'vibes', and that can (and does) reassert restraint prior to safewording, should that appear necessary. Additionally, my preference is to have a two-stage safeword system, with one word used by the bottom to convey "I need for you to stop doing that particular thing, but I'm happy for the scene overall to continue", and the other to mean "I need the scene itself to stop immediately"2.

It's important to note that, in the preceding, i referred to the bottom actively requesting that i keep going until they feel they've reached a limit/boundary, which they then signal via a safeword. There are at least a few different reasons the bottom might do this: not only a desire to make the top happy, but also because, for example, they get turned on by the idea of being pushed to their limits, or by the idea of trying to learn if they can extend their current limits. In any case, the availability of safewords can facilitate any or all of this, by the possibility of making clear the point at which things go "too far".

Having said all that, it's also true that the mere availability of safewords doesn't guarantee risk-free play3. Whilst writing this post, Dee brought my attention to Stabbity's post "Safewords: they're just words", which discusses this issue. However, although i generally agree with the post overall, i have issues with (my understanding of) a couple of points. Firstly:
some people get nonverbal when they get into subspace, and may not be capable of any kind of safeword or signal. To be clear, that's neither better nor worse than being able to safeword no matter what’s going on, but it's a good thing to tell your top ahead of time.
The problem here is: what if you, as a bottom, don't yet know that you are unable to signal/safeword in certain situations? And it's not necessarily possible to learn this purely via self-analysis; sometimes one doesn't realise it can happen until the moment it's happening. i have, on several occasions, inadvertently hit (metaphorically speaking) an emotional / psychological sore spot that the person i was playing with didn't themselves know about. Not everyone has (or can have) perfect self-knowledge prior to going in to a play session.

I'm not knocking "red" as a convenient shorthand for "something is badly wrong and I need the scene to end right now this instant", but in general saying what you mean is clearer than using a code word.
i feel there's a false dichotomy being set up here, as though one either solely uses the safeword or explains specifically what's wrong. Whereas to me, a safeword can be used to immediately stop what's currently problematic and gives them a chance to compose themselves a bit and get their head together - after which they can elaborate to the top on what was going wrong.

In any case, what all the above suggests to me is that, at the very least, tops and bottoms should, prior to play, try to ensure that they have something of a shared understanding about safewords as a concept. That is: what assumptions/expectations do they both have regarding their use and/or non-use, and the effects their availability / non-availability might have on all parties' responsibilities? There's probably not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach to safewords, and recognising this might help to avoid, or at least minimise, some safeword-related problems.

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1. For example: desire to please and/or not disappoint the top; life experiences which have taught the bottom that quiet compliance regardless of personal cost is 'appropriate' or 'proper' (an issue affecting many women); a sense that safewording represents personal 'failure'.

2. An oft-used version of this is 'traffic lights', with the safeword for the first stage being 'yellow' or 'orange', and the safeword for the second being 'red'.

3. Indeed, for some people, the notion of risk-free bdsm/kink play is an active turnoff.

i call myself a "Judeo-Satanist witch".

Overall i'm a panentheist, which means that i believe that the Divine both permeates the universe (multiverse?) and also exists outside of it. i've also recently become aware of process theism, which "feels right" to me; in process theism, our actions can change the Divine itself, which stands in contrast to much traditional Western theism, in which 'God' is seen as unchanging in such a way that our actions don't change any aspect of God's nature.

i don't believe in 'magick' in the Harry-Potter-like sense of being able to create e.g. fireballs out of thin air, turning people into an physiological animal etc. To me, 'magick' - which many people spell thus in order to distinguish it from stage magic, which is the art of illusion - is about believing that we influence, and are influenced by, the world in much more subtle ways than we commonly consider; and that our psychologies, our "mind maps" of the universe, play a role in this. An example of "working magick" in this sense is sports psychology, which seeks to maximise athletes' performance by trying to reduce mental blocks that affect performance negatively.

So 'magick' can thus be performed by trying to work with psychological associations, our subconscious and/or subconscious to focus our energies on certain things, block other things etc., with the idea that this will flow through to our more subtle behaviours and interactions with the world. 'Magick' in this sense doesn't require one to be anything other than an atheist materialist - 'materialist' not in the lay sense of "being overly concerned with possessions", but in the philosophical sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materialism.

However, i personally believe - but would make no claim at all that this is in any way scientific, just that it doesn't contradict current scientific knowledge - that there probably are energies in the universe that we currently have no direct way to access and measure. (Unlike, for example, the way we can directly access, measure and control electricity.) To me, these energies form a sort of 'field' in which certain types of energies are clustered together in greater or lesser amounts; and these clusters form the basis of various notions of 'Divinity'.

In particular, i believe there's an energy cluster associated with the idea of independent thought, resistance to the idea of automatic obedience to authority, and enjoying sensual pleasures; and this energy cluster gives us concepts like 'Pan', 'Satan', 'Lilith', 'Lucifer', and 'Baphomet', who to a first approximation i regard somewhat like my personal 'angel' (to use that word).

Which finally brings me to the 'Judeo-Satanist' aspect of my spirituality. In Judaism, 'HaSatan' - literally, "the adversary" - is not an angel who has been cast of out of heaven, and who is pure evil and the source of all evil. Instead, HaSatan is like "God's Chief Prosecutor"; someone who challenges us to look at ourselves and examine whether we're living a good life. And although i'm not technically Jewish myself - i was raised in a nominally Anglican but basically secular household - Jewish spiritual thought strongly resonates with me, and i do a lot of reading regularly of Jewish spiritual sources. (Including about Jewish Kabbalah, which is a whole 'nother topic in itself!)

One of the central tenets of Judaism is 'Shema Yisrael', from Deuteronomy 6:4; the verse can roughly be translated as "Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one". For me, the "energy field" i wrote of above, together with our universe, "is one" - it has different aspects, in the form of various "energy clusters", but they're all part of the same thing.

So my Satanism isn't, of course, the Satanism of either the mass media, or of what theistic Satanist Diane Vera calls "brat brigades" ("I'm such a rebel, I'm a Satanist!"), which usually don't involve much beyond a sort of "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me!" It's about finding my own path; constantly challenging myself to confront my issues and grow from them; not simply accepting "common knowledge", "received wisdom", "what everyone knows"; and not automatically genuflecting before authority figures / celebrities / etc., instead expecting them to have to earn any respect i give them beyond the basic respect i give to all people.

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Issue 4 of @ArielleLoren's "Corset" magazine is out, with an article by written by me: "Owned: One polyamorist's relationship with BDSM".
The second piece in my "poly 101" series for Gonzo Times is now up: "Poly logistics: The times of our lives".
NB. As this is a "reference post", created in response to experiences and interactions i have had with others, i will change its content as needs dictate.

If you follow, or want to follow, me on Twitter, here are some things you should know:

  • What i'm seeking to do with Twitter is connect with like-minded people who accept me and where i'm coming from. i usually don't have this experience either online or offline - with the exception of my partners - and haven't for most of my life. So i hope that my tweets will resonate with people who feel that what i write, and where i'm coming from, strongly resonates with them. i thus seek to build a network of people more likely to be generally supportive of me, rather than constantly criticising / critiquing me, as is often the case. i also use Twitter as my ventspace: i often use it to vent my feelings and thoughts. When i'm venting, please consider that i'm even less likely to at that moment be in a space to be 'helped' by critique / disagreement.

  • i'm a highly sexual person, and my tweets can be very sexually explicit and/or link to very sexually explicit things. No, i'm not going to change that. My Twitter account is a space to be me, and that includes expressing my sexuality. i will not, ever, mark tweets with a '#nsfw' tag1, because what is "safe for work" varies from work environment to work environment. However, i do try to use tags to describe the content of what i link to: for example, "Here's a #cunnilingus pic i just adore".

  • Empathy is really important to me. If you can't or won't show empathy for me at least occasionally, or only ever do so in a qualified way, our interaction styles are not compatible. As someone with a limited amount of spoons due to chronic health issues, i simply cannot afford to give some of my energies to people who merely drain my energies in return.

  • There are many issues i feel strongly about, but for my own mental health, i tend to focus on tweets about a small selection of those issues: most commonly, trans issues, fatphobia and sex work. Still, i am not here to be your personal educator about these issues - particularly not in the case of the latter two, as i have thin privilege, and am not a sex worker. But i do happen to count fat people and sex workers amongst my partners and close friends.

  • i tend not to tweet about things i haven't given lots of thought to. So when i tweet about feminism, be aware that it's in the context of me having been involved with feminist politics and activism for over two decades2; when i tweet anti-statist politics, be aware that it's in the context of me having formerly spent many years as a pro-state activist pushing for extensive government management of society; when i tweet about computing, be aware it's in the context of me having been using / programming computers since the early 80s3; when i tweet about sex work and porn, be aware that it's in the context of me having been involved in debates around these issues for as long as i've been involved with feminist politics; when i tweet about matters spiritual, be aware that it's in the context of me having formerly been an actively militant atheist for over a decade and a half. Additionally, my views on various issues are often relatively complex; keep in mind that the format of Twitter doesn't allow much space for subtlety and nuance.

  • Some things i'd expect you to have read and be familiar with before i even consider entering a discussion with you on certain topics:

So if you're willing to keep all that in mind - follow away! :-)

1. i've written a critique of the 'NSFW' tag.

2. So that, for example, yes, i am aware that there's a multitude of strands of feminist thought: anarchafeminism, black feminism, cultural feminism, ecofeminism, first-wave feminism, individualist feminism, intersectional feminism, Islamic feminism, lesbian feminism, liberal feminism, libertarian feminism, Marxist feminism, queer feminism, radical feminism, second-wave feminism, separatist feminism, sex-positive feminism, socialist feminism, third-wave feminism, and so on. And i'm sure there are many varieties of feminism i've missed.

Further, if you're the sort of person who requires formal qualifications, i have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women's Studies. This doesn't, of course, mean that my word must be taken as gospel; it merely suggests i'm not a noob when it comes to feminism.

3. An initial list of computing environments i've worked on or programmed in would include (amongst others i've probably forgotten): the TRS-80, the Apple IIe, the BBC B micro, the C64, CP/M, MS-DOS 3.2 through 6.0, Windows 3.1 through Win 7, Red Hat Linux 5.2 up to Fedora, various versions of Mandriva Linux, various versions of Ubuntu Linux, Linux Mint Debian Edition, Debian Linux, pre-OSX Macs, the Acorn Archimedes, SunOS, Solaris, OpenBSD, and various versions of Android. (No OS/2, sadly!) Programming-wise, i have various levels of experience with (again amongst others i've probably forgotten) Perl, Emacs Lisp, JavaScript, Scheme, Haskell, Common Lisp, various BASICs (including Visual Basic for Applications), Clojure, Factor, C, x86 assembler, Python, Java, PHP, BASH, Ruby, Ada and Io.

The first piece in my "poly 101" series for Gonzo Times is now up: "Polyamory: Ethical consensual nonmonogamy".
i've been involved in a lot of online discussions, debates and arguments over the years. As a result, for my own mental health, i've developed a set of criteria which i use to determine the extent to which someone is likely to be debating me "in good faith":

  • Does this person refer to the documentation i have provided in support of my position? They don't need to necessarily do so in detail; merely saying, for example, "I have read that document, and I still disagree" would suffice.

  • Does this person respond to the questions i ask of them, or do they ignore them? This is particularly important when i'm asking clarification questions, e.g. "Can you explain what the word 'queer' means to you personally?"

  • Does this person also suggest documents which support their own position, or do they just expect me to take their personal explanations as gospel? The documentation need not be e.g. experimental data; it might simply be a line of reasoning.

Note that "agreeing with me" is not listed above. Of course i am genuinely trying to convince people of my position; i only rarely debate for debate's sake1, and instead debate because i actually personally care about the issue under discussion.

So i am invested in the outcome. But the outcome i'm looking for is arriving at the position which is "most correct" (for some definition of 'correct', depending on context). There is, of course, a chance that my position entering a debate is either "less correct" or "completely wrong" (or perhaps "not even wrong"2) in comparison to the position of the person i'm debating. In that sense, i actively want to be shown to be wrong.

However, when i feel strongly about an issue, i've usually done a lot of reading about it and given it much thought. So i've probably already considered initial arguments against my position on the issue and found them wanting. Consequently, i seek what i consider to be strong arguments why i'm wrong - 'arguments' of the strength of "Genesis talks about Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!!1!" will not suffice.

i can really enjoy grappling with the complexities of an issue, and being challenged to think about it differently. But through experience, i've learnt that's most likely to happen in the context of the above provisos.

So if it seems to me that a person is failing to meet the criteria i've described, i do one or more of the following:

  • Repeat my point or question, in case they've inadvertently missed it.

  • Ask them to please respond to the questions i've asked, to help me gain a better understanding of where they're coming from, so that the discussion can move forward productively.

  • Note that i am feeling they are not debating "in good faith" in terms of my criteria for this, and that without counterevidence to the contrary, i am unlikely to want to continue the discussion further.

How they respond will help me determine whether to bother engaging with them further, and hopefully sort the debate wheat from the chaff. :-)

1. And when i do so, i try to be explicit about that fact.

2. A phrase popularly attributed to physicist Wolfgang Pauli.

Those around me for any substantial period of time eventually get to hear me complain about the "feminine energy / masculine energy" concepts beloved of so many religious / magickal / spiritual systems. As a feminist dual-gendered transgenderqueer, i feel my lived experiences make this notion problematic at best, particularly given the more general issues around defining 'sex' and 'gender'.

It recently occurred to me, however, that maybe the problem here is one of people confusing a map with the terrain. i can easily imagine individuals who have had spiritual revelations / insights trying to convey a feeling of connection with the Divine, and reaching for a metaphor that is likely to resonate with the majority of people: sexual union between a cis woman and a cis man. But then people infer this to mean that 'female' and 'male' are the underlying, fundamental concepts involved.

In Kabbalah's Etz Chaim, "Tree of Life", the first sephirah above Malkuth, "Kingdom" - typically associated with the material universe and/or the "Schechinah", the immanent Divine - is Yesod, "Foundation". Yesod is often considered the "Sphere of Illusion", in that neophytes at the beginning of their magickal / spiritual journey can erroneously believe that the images they're discovering and working with are 'things-in-themselves', as it were, rather than simply a 'best representation' created by the human mind as it tries to interpret what it's perceiving.

So while the "feminine energy / masculine energy" metaphor might well work for most people, it's not a map that works for me. On the contrary, its attempted symbolism creates sign(post)s that don't make sense to me given the personal understandings i've developed on my life journey. But that doesn't mean the terrain isn't nevertheless there for me to explore; it just means i need to create my own guidebook as i go.
Several times recently i've encountered commentary in which anarchists1 are accused of being self-centred jerks who are unconcerned with others' welfare and/or wellbeing. More specifically, i've read it argued that whilst anarchists may go on about how we could have a society where people are supported by something other than the state, anarchists don't put their money where their mouths are, and rather than providing practical support to other people now, have a "Somebody Else's Problem" attitude towards doing so.

Well, i'm an anarchist. Moreover, my anarchist politics are partially rooted in those of individualist anarchists such as e.g. Benjamin Tucker. And as we all know, individualism can only ever be egotistical and uncaring, right?2

i am a homemaker for two households. i do (at a minimum) several hours worth of volunteer work per week for an organisation supporting the SGD communities. i regularly provide at least a few hours' worth of emotional support each week to close friends. And i do all this as someone in semi-remission from CFS.

If we're going to engage in political caricatures, it could equally be said that leftist statists' position is: "People should be looked after, but I personally don't want to do it, so how about confiscating part of people's income under threat of physical retribution, and then using that money to pay someone else to do it?"

i recently wrote a comment in which i said:

It depends on what you mean by 'anarchist'.

i now identify as an anarchist, having for many years identified as a Marxist. i do so because i've come to distinguish what i call "political anarchism" from what i call (with a nod to Diane Vera's writings on theistic Satanism) "brat brigade anarchism".

"Brat brigade anarchism" is basically "You're not the boss of me now / I should be free to do whatever the fuck I want". There's no real serious political analysis involved. And this is the 'anarchism' that the mass media likes to promote as all anarchism 'really' is.

In contrast, political anarchism is simply the position that there should not be an institution - "the state" - that claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical violence within a particular graphical [sic - should be 'geographical'] area, which one cannot consent to not be a part of. Beyond that, political anarchists take many different positions; but i feel it's a straw man to assert that political anarchists think that everyone would simply be nice to each other and not try to harm one another. Instead, anarchists tend to argue for things like community self-defence organisations which people voluntarily join, and which are directly accountable to the communities they serve, rather than current Western systems in which policing is often done to less privileged community [sic] rather than for them.

i can assure you that i have only begun to take on anarchist political positions after decades of political activism and thinking about the tendencies i've observed in human behaviour. :-)

i would suggest that analysing anarchist politics on the basis of the loudest and most obnoxious anarchists is like trying to analyse Christian theology via the Westboro Baptist Church. Just as there are literally millions of self-identified Christians quietly working every day against social and economic injustice, rather than devoting their time and resources to spreading hateful propaganda, i'm sure there are anarchists apart from myself also working to build grassroots community organisations for the purposes of mutual aid. Beware the possibility of biased samples.

1 And 'libertarians' too, although i've noticed a failure to distinguish between right-libertarianism - which is often what people associate with 'libertarians' - and left-libertarians, which is a distinction that needs to be made.

2. Although 'defences' of individualist anarchism such as this don't do much to reduce that perception. i found the linked-to piece started off promisingly, but then descended into such a morass of fail that i gave up on it.
Although i have a profile on AdultMatchMaker, i rarely get any bites. Particularly not since i updated my profile to state that i tend to prefer to converse with people a bit in order to determine whether or not i'm sexually attracted to them.

Some have suggested that part of the reason for this - apart from the fact that i'm a dual-gendered transgenderqueer1 :-) - might be because i'm not part of a couple. i do, of course, note in my profile that i have three partners, with whom i'm in open, honest, polyamorous relationships; and there's no issue with me playing with other people without any of them being involved. Many couples, however, prefer to play with other couples, so unless someone is willing to make the extra effort to ask whether one or more of my partners would be willing to play alongside me, i'm not an option.

However, it recently occurred me that this might very well be a good thing. In my experience, couples that don't want to play separately often - but of course not always! - have underlying unresolved issues around insecurity, jealousy and envy. i first started swinging in 2000, and have been in poly relationships since 2003; during that time, i've had to work through a lot of my own difficulties around those issues, often only with much effort. Consequently, i now deeply wish to avoid getting myself embroiled in others' relationship dramas, or becoming the effective cause of such dramas. i've done the hard work - now it's time for me to just enjoy the fruits of my labours. :-)

1. Something i've learnt since transitioning is that when people say they're looking to play with women, they often actually mean they're looking to play with pussy. Oh for the day when people feel comfortable saying so directly rather than using "[cis] woman" as a circumlocution!
i've written a guest post on Dee's blog about my experience of 'topspace' (similar to what some call 'domspace').
Whilst chatting with Dee recently about her latest Gay Express column, the issue of definitions for 'sex' and 'gender' arose.

i often see what seem to be well-meaning attempts to define 'sex' as "biological" and 'gender' as "socially constructed". i find this to be highly problematic.

Firstly, it would be more accurate to say that 'sex' is a social construct based on biology. There are several biological factors that can influence the development of what are often referred to as "sexual characteristics": not only genetics (including chromosomes), but also epigenetics, exposure to internally-produced and externally-produced hormones, and environmental substances more generally. Out of all this, it's common to select the 'X' and 'Y' chromosomes as indicators of 'sex'. Even then, however, there can be issues, because not everyone is either 'XX' or 'XY'. For example, some people are 'XXY'1. In some countries, having two XX chromosomes makes one 'female'; in other countries, having a Y chromosome makes one 'male'. So the same person could be classed as either 'female' or 'male' depending on what country they're in.

Thus, the privileging not only two particular chromosomes, but specific configurations of those chromosomes, over other biological factors is why i refer to 'sex' as "a social construct based on biology".

Secondly, as a dual-gendered trans woman, i can assure you that 'gender' is even trickier to define. Part of the problem is that people frequently conflate the concept of 'gender' with the concept of '[expected] gender roles'. So some (C)AFAB people say "Well, i'm not a 'girly girl', into frilly pink dresses and playing with dolls, so i must be transgendered!" No, it means they don't fit the expected gender roles for their assigned gender (i.e. 'female'). Similarly, many people assume that when i say i'm dual-gendered, i mean i've 'embraced'2 my "feminine, doll-loving side" together with my "masculine, truck-loving side". Again, no: i'm a woman and a man simultaneously, all the time, regardless of what i'm doing; and enjoying "chick-flicks" is part of me being a 'man', and enjoying programming is part of me being a 'woman'.

Why, then, do i call myself a 'woman', if it's not on the basis of identifying that category as being the one that gets to stick pictures of unicorns and rainbows on exercise books? It's because on some level, my mind fundamentally identifies with people labelled as being of 'female' gender as being "like me". It also fundamentally identifies with people labelled as being of 'male' gender as being "like me" (though to a noticeably lesser extent than 'female' people are). So the question then becomes: Well, how did this sense of identification come about?

In short: i don't know. i strongly suspect it's a mixture of biology, and physical environment, and social environment, and cultural environment, and political environment, and the influence of these four environments on the development of my biology, in which my mind is (i believe) based.

And 'gender'? i would call it something like "a psychosocial construct based on some combination of biology, physical environment, society, culture and politics". Still problematic, i'm sure, but at least more accurately reflective of what Western society has only recently started to learn: that sex and gender are a lot more complicated than we typically like to imagine.

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1. This particular combination is known as Klinefelter's syndrome. People are also born XYY, XX-male, XY-female, amongst other things. For more information, visit the Wikipedia entry on 'Intersex'.

2. For some reason some form of the word 'embrace' seems to be obligatory in this context.

i've written a guest post on Curvaceous Dee's blog about the kink dynamic that's developed in our relationship, "Lease-to-own".


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