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Posts Tagged ‘things we don’t talk about’

Hello, everyone. Miss me?

It’s been…more than five years since my last confession – uh, post – and it’s been a crazy ride. I’m thrilled to see that people are still regularly visiting my blog: mostly to read about strap-on sex or see if I’m really a dominatrix offering services, which, shocker, I’m still not (anymore). But it’s nice to know that my writing is still getting around, a bit.

I decided I needed to re-open this space, as it were, because I need a place to write about kinky sex again where my Aunt Gladys can’t see it. Things have changed an awful lot in the last five years: the discourse is completely shifted, the blogosphere is all-but dead, an orange monstrousity is president, and the space for talking about these things seems to exist in a different plane than before. Not to mention that I’ve gone through some searing life changes, relationship shifts, and other things that might make a kinky lady like me bank the coals for a few years. But recently, I’ve had a bit of a reawakening.

Nonetheless, as someone who writes more publicly, works in social media, and now has extended family paying attention to what I do on the Internets, I feel the need to relegate this type of thing to a more private place. Like here, under a lovely Aughties-type blog pseudonym. So, here we are.

Which raises another question: why? Why, even now, do I feel the need to keep these types of thoughts, fantasies, stories, revelations separate from the rest of my writing life? I write honestly and openly in other places; I’ve always been out about who I am and whom I love, because doing otherwise feels disingenuous and even dangerous.

Well, in the first place: getting older has finally taught me (took long enough!) that sometimes, there are other people to protect. I may be totally comfortable with who I am and what I do, but my partner’s parents might not be – and in real life, I don’t feel any need to tell them this stuff, either. While I’ve always tried to operate from the persepctive of giving others permission to be who they are by fully and unapologetically being who I am, I also recognize that sometimes, harm can be done for which the reward isn’t high enough.

I sense a longer piece coming about being out and what that means, but not tonight.

Tonight, I just want to say I’m back. Hi.

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Saw a wonderful, sweet client today. He was terribly nervous, for all the usual reasons: not wanting to get found out, worrying that his desires were strange, not believing that he could broach the topic with his wife, constantly window-shopping pro domme websites.

It amazes me how needed the services I’m now offering seem to be. I find myself, these days, in this wonderful space of healing: of validating, of normalizing, of bringing people more into themselves.

What kills me, though, is how much I talk to people about stuff that is freely available on the Internet and in books. How little people actually research, and how much time they instead spend looking at porn, or trawling pro-domme websites for gems that only very rarely exist. They’re seeking answers for what they find hot, what keeps drawing them back, in places that are designed to draw them in commercially, take their money, keep the closet door locked and avoid self-analysis.

It’s amazing how many people come to me just because they need someone they can talk to about their fetish, or because they just want to hear someone say that what they’re into is okay.

I’m thrilled to provide this service, don’t get me wrong. And when it’s appropriate, I will still recommend some of these people to particular service providers. After all, I’m not going to get everyone to ask their wives to dress them in women’s underwear and peg them. For some people, it’s just not going to be possible.

But it continues to be my ideal. The thing I strive for: to bring people’s desires out into the light, to offer them a space where it’s even possible to explore those desires with someone they love, instead of with a stranger.

It’s a weird job, but somebody’s got to do it.

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I’ve been pretty silent here for a while. There are reasons, of course; there always are. But I would like to be saying more in this space. It’s just that the things that are happening to me in the kink realm seem increasingly private, and it’s hard to talk about them in a space where so many people know my real name.

Instead I’ll talk about the woman in the Firefox window I’ve had open for a month, Marina Abramović.

I read about her first when Cal pointed her out at the closing of her recent exhibition in New York.

For those who don’t know (because I certainly didn’t), Abramović is a performance artist who began her career in the 1970s. Her work was explicitly about the body: what it can take, and to whom it belongs. She did work that was grueling, painful, and sometimes close to lethal. In what was likely her most famous piece, Rhythm 0, she stood completely passive and silent for six hours near a table full of objects: chains, feathers, olive oil, razor blades, cameras – and a loaded gun. Audience members were invited to do whatever they liked to her, and while at first people were reluctant, by the end a spectator was holding the gun to her neck until another group of audience members stopped it.

Throughout her career, she has demanded that the audience engage with the art directly – and she has demanded endurance and discipline of herself which, reading about her, made me think of the most extreme forms of submission and service. In this latest exhibition, she sits in a chair, completely silent, and stares into the eyes of whomever cares to sit across from her and look. She did not speak for three months. In older works, besides the extremity of Rhythm 0, she played the point of a knife between her splayed fingers as fast as she could, sometimes missing and cutting herself. When she would complete a cycle, she would attempt to repeat it exactly – including the cuts. With her long-term partner, Ulay, she did a piece where he held the string of a bow, with an arrow pointed at her heart; she held the bow itself, and the two of them leaned back, balancing each other. (A video of this and other pieces is here.) She did a piece in which she lay in the midst of a burning five-pointed star, and one in which she lived on platforms raised high above the gallery floor for twelve days without eating or speaking. The only way down was via ladders, the rungs of which were upturned butcher knives.

The dedication and grace with which this great artist has put herself through privation, suffering and humiliation are admirable in a stark way, that moves me as a person interested in the extremes of human experience. It offers, to me, another window into why we do what we do. Sometimes – often, in fact – it is about sex. But not always. Sometimes, it feels to me, we are reaching for something more: a spiritual cleansing, a direct encounter with our own limits, the kind of fear that allows one to walk the line between life and death without falling in, because the guide, your partner, is there. Watch this to get a sense of that peculiar terror, the predicament that you’ve entered into willingly.

She performed these pieces to say a number of things: about the body, about limits, about Communism and the terror under which she grew up. But it still strikes me, the way we still do these things ourselves: the way we subject ourselves to suffering in order to learn something about ourselves and what we can take. To show ourselves that suffering has meaning.

Because we all suffer, each in our particular way, from the most abject to the most privileged among us. Not many of us can claim the kind of suffering Abramović endured under Tito – but perhaps that’s exactly why we put ourselves through what we do.

I don’t believe, as some do, that kinky inclinations are the result of a diseased mind. But I do imagine that most kinky people are in semi-privileged positions – and for those of us who have never known what it’s like to starve, live in war or occupation, or really hurt people for a living, it can be very intriguing to get close to violence, to put yourself through the kind of challenge that humans who live indoors and have TiVo are rarely called to anymore.

Sure, kink is sexy. Sure, power play is hot. But for me, at least, there’s something more to it. It’s about overcoming fear – or about seeing that fear in someone else’s eyes. It’s about seeing how much pain I can take before I break. It’s about finding my limits. It’s about knowing myself – and stretching the definition.

More of Marina here.

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After a great deal of work by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has agreed to change its criteria for its Paraphilias section, which up until this moment has listed Exhibitionism, Fetishism, Sexual Sadism, Sexual Masochism, Frotteurism, Pedophilia, Transvestic Fetishism, and Voyeurism as mental disorders in and of themselves. The proposed revisions would finally differentiate between these desires, which can be experienced healthily (pedophilia being possibly an exception), and the unhealthy expression of these desires, i.e. examples in which these desires inhibit day to day functioning, are exercised on non-consenting parties, or otherwise cause harm to self and/or others.

The manual will now include such things as Exhibitionistic Disorder, Sexual Masochism Disorder, and so on, and would require not just that the person exhibit the desires, but that said desires adversely affect the patient’s functioning or that they cause harm to others, such as unsuspecting strangers to which the exhibitionist exposes himself.

I will admit that I am a little concerned that pedophilia is included among these other so-called disorders: I believe that a person can have a fetish for shoes, for example, without it impinging upon his or her life or harming self or others. It’s difficult to imagine, however, someone having a strong sexual attraction to kids without it eventually becoming problematic – or even without it initially seeming sick in some way. It makes me wonder where and how we draw the line between just kinky and really actually kinda sick. Is there a way to have sexual attraction to kids and have that not be sick?

I mean, I suppose if you don’t act on it, it never actually causes harm. But I’m still not crazy about it being included with the other paraphilias, as I think that there are ways to enact the other paraphilias without causing anyone harm. I guess you could dress up someone of age as a kid. But…ugh. Seriously. Somebody help me out here. I really think that a line should be drawn between someone who gets off on hurting people – because they consent to it and like it – and someone who gets off on having sex with kids, who by definition are unable to consent. There are sadists who are truly sick, who want to hurt people who don’t want to be hurt. But are there pedophiles who aren’t truly sick? Somehow I can’t see it.

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I was listening to my local NPR station in the car the other day and was overcome with sadness when I heard this short news story: Ray Gosling, a longtime BBC presenter, confessed on-air to killing his lover more than 20 years ago – smothering him with a pillow when the pain from AIDS had become too much. The lovers had an agreement, and the assisted suicide was a total success – until now. Gosling has been arrested and is undergoing questioning.

What killed me was the audio NPR took from this video, of Gosling’s confession:

I found myself deeply touched by his confession, and I’m deeply sad both that our current society does not allow for this kind of mercy killing, and that he confessed it this way, on air – and at a time when there’s no way to prove what really happened. I’m terribly afraid that this will wind up with him going to jail for a long, long time.

In media news surrounding the issue, I’m not at all surprised that that homophobes and conservative Christians are jumping all over this. But I’m more disappointed that Vanity Fair is treating it like a light gossip piece with all the cynicism that implies.

Here’s a somewhat longer piece in which Gosling talks about it afterwards.

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Sorry for the long hiatus; holidays, Martian death flu, and all manner of other drama have kept me from this page. Hoping to remedy that and crank out more regular material.

Ages ago, a friend asked me how I manage privacy online. See, I have a few online identities. Some things I write are public, some aren’t. Some are under my real name, and some under this one. Some I write in a place where anyone can see it, unless I lock the post so only friends can see it. But what made this question interesting for my questioner was the fact that sometimes, I write under my real name about the same topics I cover here.

So what’s the deal? How do I decide which parts of me are public and which aren’t?

It’s probably telling that I received this question in October and still haven’t answered it.

Recently, I kind of figured out the short answer to this: as my real name, I write about topics pertaining to sexuality and relationships; as Delilah, I write about topics pertaining to my sexuality and relationships. There’s a third problem, too: there are aspects of my relationships that I consider so private and precious that I don’t even write about them here – particularly because I know that so many of my readers know me in real life. I’ve therefore published erotica under still another name, and blog in total secrecy (nobody knows the username but me) about the deepest stuff.

It’s probably also telling that I feel the need to have all of this material out there, even if nobody ever reads it or knows that it’s me writing it. What can I say: I’ve been a journaler and a maker of stories for as long as I can remember, and when I don’t write down what’s happened to me, the intensity of my experiences (which often, surprise surprise, are in the sexual realm) slip from my consciousness quickly. It’s long been important to me to have a narrative of my life, something to look back on so I can see where I’ve been and remember what’s happened to me.

My friend asked whether it ever gets weird when worlds collide: like if people I know socially start buying videos from my site, or people who have seen my writing assume things about me before meeting me. The answer to this is “sort of.” This has actually occurred a couple of times just in the past weeks. Someone who knows me socially contacted me in my capacity as Delilah for some kink consultation in person. And someone who found my writing under my real identity contacted me and seems to be assuming, because I’m poly, that I would want to meet him.

Neither of these things is “weird,” per se, but it has been and continues to be a kind of tightrope walk, figuring out what I want the whole damn world to know and what I really would rather only my friends know and what I need to write about so that someone will read it, but nobody needs to know that it’s me writing it.

I’m a great admirer of Maymay in this regard (as in many other regards), in that he has the flaming gonads to be completely out online and in every other area of his life. But even he remarks that he doesn’t write very much about the literal ins and outs of his own sex life. He’s about half a generation behind me in age, and I’m sincerely hoping that his bravery and forthrightness is a sign of things to come. For my part, though, I still can’t deal with the idea of my family finding out that I was a sex worker. I’m not sure what that says about me.

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I was moved by the letter I got this week, and though it’s not topical in terms of kink, it’s a complex question about alternative relationships that might as well be discussed here as anywhere.

I welcome your questions, not only about kink, but about polyamory, bisexuality, and any other relational issues you think I can speak to. I can’t promise to know a ton about specifically gay, lesbian or trans issues, as it’s not the life I lead. But then again, Dan Savage answers straight people’s questions all the time, and most of the time I don’t really think that the issues of gay and lesbian folk in relationship are much different from anyone else’s. (Actually, I bet I have more in common with gays and lesbians in poly relationships than I have with straight or bisexual people in monogamous ones.)

To make a long story short: if you feel, whoever you are, like honoring me with your difficult questions, I’ll do my best to answer them well. And if it comes down to it, I’ll call in a guest expert, just like Dan would do. (Because ya know. Dan’s my hero.)

Dear Deliah:

I enjoy reading your column, and when I stumbled into an alternative relationship dilemma of my own, you were were the person I most wanted to consult.

I have been romantically involved with both members of a legally married couple for nearly four years. Although the husband and wife were together before I entered the arrangement, we let our own situations progress organically (I was never brought in as the hot bi babe, for instance) and consider all four relationships to be “on the same level.” There have been ups and downs, and I have been very concerned about matters like the possibilities of moving in and of having children with my partners.

I recently learned that my female partner miscarried after being pregnant for nearly two months. Although I have been doing my best to be supportive, I still feel hurt and rejected: I didn’t even know they were actively trying to get pregnant, nor that she had conceived. I know it’s good practice to wait a reasonable amount of time before informing others about a pregnancy, but I am supposed to be a part of their family.

I guess it goes without saying that I will need to address my feelings at an appropriate time. Do you have any suggestions for how to approach this topic with my partners? When should I go about bringing it up?

First of all, I’m sorry this happened to you, and very sorry that this happened to your partners. Miscarriages can be devastating, and above all it is important that you not make this too much about you: I have no doubt that they’re already going through a lot of pain.

With that said, it sounds like the three of you do have a deeply intertwined relationship – the fact that you reference “four relationships” shows that you know how many dynamics are at play here – and if it really is as you say it is, it’s probable that you had a right to know, and a right to be upset about it.

There are a few possibilities at play here in terms of what has already occurred. One is that she became pregnant by accident; it happens. Once that happened, she might have felt it best to keep it under wraps until the traditional first-trimester mark; as she miscarried, this was probably a good plan in terms of causing the least amount of pain for others.

The other possibility is more sad, but needs to be taken seriously. You say they were together before you, but that you are all considered equals in the relationship. It is entirely possible that this isn’t really as true as you think it is. Even in triads where the third person is brought into the home, involved in a commitment ceremony, etc. – it takes some time and effort for that person to reach the same level of intimacy and equal-partner status as the married couple already had together. If you aren’t living with them, and the relationship is, as you say, up and down, it’s not likely that you really are an equal partner, not in the way they are to each other. They’ve been together for longer, have chosen to live together, chosen to get married, and finally, chose to get pregnant – without consulting you.

What this may be is a sign that you are not in the relationship(s) you think you are in.

I want to tell you to address your concerns with them directly, but I also want to be extremely sensitive to what they’ve just been through. They have a right to that, regardless of how they handled the information.

Just as they probably would have allowed three months before revealing the information to others, I recommend giving them three months before you bring it up. If one of them brings it up before then, great. But I think it’s going to be really rough to address this question while they’re still in the midst of early grieving.

When you do bring it up, gently is the best way. Have dinner with them both one night. Remind them how much you love them, and how you’ve long wanted to make a family with them. And finally, just ask, in a spirit of curiosity and concern. “Why didn’t you tell me you were pregnant?”

I warn you that the answer you get is going to be pivotal for how your relationship looks going forward. But as you’ve already surmised, it’s something you have to do.

Sorry to give such a downer answer. Let me know how it goes.

I’m out of questions again. Email me your questions, or comment!

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