Identity

This post arises from the happy coincidence of two books I have been reading recently, books which, at first sight, don’t seem to have much in common. The first is Maya Angelou’s “See How The Caged Bird Sings.” We discussed it this morning at the monthly Birmingham Feminist Book Club. Part of a wide-ranging discussion revolved around literature as a means of self understanding, this arising from Angelou’s won discussion in her book of what reading the classics of English literature, and especially, Shakespeare, meant to her, and how she was able, by engaging with the texts, to make sense of her own experience.

This was a concept that was made real for me a couple of years ago when I was a volunteer buddy for a Community Interest Company that worked with adults experiencing mental health difficulties, in particular by encouraging them to read literature and sharing their experiences. To get a flavour of what they did I was invited to attend one of the meetings. We were reading Rose Tremain’s novel The Road Home. The group consisted of people of varying ages, many of whom lived in considerable isolation, an isolation made worse by anxiety and phobias. Some of them only left the house for the weekly meeting in a local library. Most of them had little experience of serious reading. From the discussion, however, it became clear that the book was opening doors for them and all of them were able to use the text to make sense of their own lives, at the same times bringing their won experiences to bear in interpreting the text. As they talked they gave me new insights into the book. This experience was both illuminating and humbling.

These experiences and thoughts are particularly relevant to the other book I have been reading. This is an anthology called Identity, whose contributors all attended the recent Eroticon conference. I have to declare an interest. I was one of the contributors. But that is now why I am writing about it. The content is pretty eclectic, some of it personal reminiscence, and painful reminiscence at that, some of it fantasy, some of it opinion, some of it seriously hot, you know, the stuff you read one handed.  And then there was Meg-John Barker’s piece on erotic fiction as means of self understanding which got me reflecting again on my own identity, or in this case my sexual identity and what it means to me. This short essay was in my head as I read the other pieces and enriched my reading experience.  This really is as a wonderful anthology and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Erotic fiction has changed my life. I really don’t know why, one day in 2012, I felt the urge tio write a story about a carer in a elderly person’s home who has a relationship with a gay man whose carer he is. Other stories followed. I went online, I set up a Twitter account, I read voraciously, I discovered Eroticon and became part of a community. And a new Eve emerged, an Eve who is kinky, bisexual, who is proud to know sex workers she can call friends, an Eve committed to the freeest possible expression of human sexuality (subject to consent). In short an Eve I could not have imagined even existed only 6 years ago. It is through erotic literature that I have discovered what was previously latent, and been able to articulate it.

The main protagonist of my first story was Eric, an Oxford graduate who had been jailed for “gross indecency” in the dark days before 1967 and who experienced late sexual joy with a younger man. I killed him off at the end as the younger man had to move on and make his own way as a gay man in a different age, but acutely aware of the debt gay men, indeed all of us who are in some way not heteronormative, owe to those who suffered for daring to be different. I made sure, however, that Eric died happy, at peace with himself. I knew then that I owed him that. I know now that I owe him much more.

Every Girl’s Guide to Being Awesome

There we were in a cocktail bar on a Friday night, nine women enjoying ourselves,  the drink flowing along with the conversation. Some of the ladies I had never met before, the others I couldn’t claim to know particularly well.  And yet. We all felt a connection. And the connection was that we are different and proud of it. Visually we stood out, in our frocks, (quite a bit of leopard on view!) dyed hair, tattoos and so on. We were probably quite loud as well. I may have imagines disapproving glances coming our way but maybe not…..  The point is we were not typical customers.

One of our group summed it up succinctly…”Everyone else here is so boring!”

What she meant was that everyone else was normal, dressed not to stand out, seemingly not obviously enjoying themselves particularly. Young people, well younger than us mainly,  just being, well, respectable.

“Why be normal” I said, “when you can  be awesome?”

The others agreed.

Being into vintage is making a statement, of being different and loving it. It is a way of finding friends who are, in a sense, soulmates. People who get it, get you. I am not talking necessarily about our little coven but in the vintage world you get to meet ladies who have had their struggles with anxiety, low self-esteem, and so on and have come through it and have learned that there is strength in embracing their difference.  I have been on the vintage scene for under two years but have met so many lovely people. Well actually I have met a lot of awesome people, all of whom have a story to tell. People who have embraced their difference and understand that going with the crowd is not worth it.  People who get it.

What goes for vintage goes for other areas of life too, areas of my life in fact. If you’re reading this and thinking you don’t fit in,  know that you have soulmates out there that you haven’t yet met. Learn to accept yourself, learn to love yourself and then share the love. When you do, you will be well on the way to being awesome.

And a final word for my vintage sisters. Thank you for being in my life. You have enriched it more than you probably know. I look foreword to drinking cocktails with you again. You are awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meeting the Girl

My first ever client left, shutting the hotel bedroom door quietly behind him. I was now a whore, a proper whore! I held the sheaf of banknotes in my hand, smelt it, fanned myself with it, enjoying the soft breeze it made on a sultry summer evening. I wrote WHORE in lipstick on the dressing table mirror and took up position before it so that the word appeared to be on my forehead. I took a selfie with my phone. It had to be. It was. I WAS a whore.

I had never intended to have sex for money, it just sort of happened that way. I was a writer of smut who started blogging and was dragged into the various debates on sex workers’ rights. I started blogging on the issues and began to hear, not least from friends, the question:

‘What do you know about it?’

What did I know? Mainly what my online friends told me, that’s what. But, in reality, I knew nothing. I was accused of glamourising the exploitation of women, told I was on an ego trip at the expense of the vulnerable. Finally someone I had thought of as a friend fixed me with a look of almost hatred and hissed,

‘How would you like a stranger’s prick up you?’

Well, I had now had one and, if the Earth didn’t exactly move for me, it hadn’t been unpleasant either and I didn’t feel violated as apparently I should. More to the point I had £200 I could find a good use for.

My twitter friends had been generous with advice and help, particularly a woman called Delilah who was particularly prominent in defence of sex workers. I quickly set up an internet profile booked a hotel room and soon had three clients. The first had gone. The second was due in just over half an hour. I showered, redid my make-up and was ready when there was a knock on the door.

I opened it and was amazed to see a woman in a black coat and boots walk in. She let it drop to the floor and I beheld a stunning brunette of I guess 35 in a leopard print negligee.

‘I’m Delilah’ she said. ‘I’ve been dying to meet you. I thought you could maybe use a bit of mentoring.’ She smiled.

I stood there speechless. For six months I had chatted with Delilah every day, safe behind the cloak of anonymity. We had talked about sex until I positively salivated at the idea of sex with her even though I had never thought of myself as bi. She had given me advice about doing it for money, she had been my best friend even though we had never met and I had never imagined that we ever would. Now she stood in front of me. I stood speechless for a few moments then blurted out

‘But I was expecting Derek..’

‘My husband made the call. I wasn’t sure how you would react.’

She smiled again and said

‘You have to be prepared the initiative you know. Lots of clients are vert nerbou. Like me for example.’

She laughed a loud throaty laugh and waited as I continued to stand there looking gormless. Then I went up to her and grabbed her, pulling her close and pushing my tongue deep into her mouth. She made no attempt to resist as I gripped the back of her head and forced my tongue in deeper and deeper.

‘I’ve been in love with your mind for ages,’ I said, ‘Now let me love your body.’

She let the negligee float gently to the floor and stood there, and all I could see were the gleaming boots and the shaven cunt which I fell to my knees to smell and lick. She was clean, smelt of bath oils and lavender, but a powerful note of arousal was coming through, a wondrous meshing of aromas like that of the fine wines I treated myself to at Christmas. My Christmas had come early, a feast of sex with a woman I had never before met, but worshipped and adored.

We rolled onto the bed and I began to kiss her breast, taking the nipples between my lips to squeeze just as she began to moan. My hand moved quickly down to explore the cunt that was open wide enough for me to get three, then four, fingers in. She was wet, wetter than I had ever known a woman before, a fountain spilling arousal into a lake of desire.

I moved my four fingers in and out, slowly at first but then with increasing vigour, as she began to moan. I played with the other nipple, twisted it to hurt her, to give her the searing pain that magnifies the pleasure. I buried my face in the soft heaving mounds of delight. She was soft, pliant and beautiful. I wanted to say something silly and totally unsuitable but before I could I felt a finger home on in my clit. No fumbling, no inept searching, suddenly she was there and began to rub me, slowly, taking the pace out of the encounter, easing the frenzy.

‘Let’s take our time’ said Delilah. ‘I’m booked in, we’ve got all night.’

‘God I’ve wanted this so much. I’ve been sort of in love with you. It’s silly isn’t it?’

‘Why? What’s not to love about me?’

She smiled and increased the tempo of her rubbing.

As I began to moan she asked,

‘How was it the first time for money?’

‘So so. The man was quite pleasant, on the small side, uncircumcised, but well, it’s not the size of the wand is it? It was Ok. I didn’t come but that’s not the point is it?’

‘Client number two will make you come.’

She rolled over, rummaged in her bag and took out a harness and dildo.

‘Ever seen one of these?’

‘I’ve heard about them but..’

Delilah put the harness on and strapped on the long fat dildo.

‘And now you filthy little slut I’m going to give you the best fuck of your life.’

She came towards me, kneeled over me and looked suddenly serious.

‘You’re a dirty little slut, playing the whore. Who do you think you are?’

I froze. This wasn’t part of the scenario I had had in mind.

‘Answer me!’ she demanded and slapped me across the face.

‘I’m a whore, a filthy dirty whore’ I said slowly thinking that this was what she wanted to hear.

Then she spat in my face and as I tried to wipe it off she grabbed my wrists and held them down and came down on me, sliding the dildo in. She smiled,

‘I can dominate too, some of the men love that.’

I smiled back and she said

‘Open your mouth.’

As I held my mouth wide open I saw a thin string of spittle form in her lips which hung and stretched, finally broke and dropped into my mouth.

‘Swallow’ she ordered.

She began to pump, slowly at first. She made me hook my knees over her shoulders and I felt the dildo go entirely in, a deep deep penetration. She pumped faster and I began to work against her and she used her strength to subdue me and conquer me. I began to see bright colours exploding over her shoulder, the tattoo on her left shoulder fractured into kaleidoscopes of colour. She pumped and pumped. I came with a scream and she carried on, forcing me down, breaking me with her animal need to make me submit. Everything became a whirl of her wild long hair, her tattoos, the hot slightly stale breath, all of which expressed her animality. For all my silly talk this wasn’t love, this was lust, sex for the sake of sex and fuck the moralists and their beauty of sex. Sex isn’t beautiful this way, it’s raw and ugly, it smells, it hurts and I know now I can never get enough of it. She was thrusting away like someone demented, I pushed back against her, pushed back hard and my cunt was now so wide open and so wet that the dildo started to slide out. The sheet was soaked. She grabbed my wrists again with sudden violence and pushed me down with a look of a woman about to explode with hatred of me who was trying to deny her conquest. She wanted to hurt me even as I came and orgasms ripped through my body, orgasm after orgasm as she pumped and pumped, seemingly inexhaustible. I had had enough. I begged her to stop. I cried big tears. She slapped my face and said coldly,

‘Shut up whore. You’re only here to be fucked.’

I was at breaking point and Delilah must have sensed that because she withdrew and we lay together panting on the soaked bed.

‘I knew you were filthy as soon as we started tweeting. And you’ve not disappointed.’

She smiled and ran her fingers through my hair before reaching for her phone to tweet,

‘Tweetup in Birmingham with Elizabeth. She is nicer than even I imagined’

Delilah carefully removed the condom from the dildo and wiped it with a tissue. She leaned over came down and kissed me. I said nothing. I thought I was sexually experienced but this had blown me away. This, surely, was part of my whoring education. Learning from a Mistress of her craft.

‘There’s one thing you forgot to do’ she said. ‘Always take the money at the start and count it.’

‘Well ‘I said ‘that will be two hundred pounds.’

‘I haven’t actually got any money with me but I am booked into the hotel for tonight, Room 314.’

She flashed the key card at me.

‘I’ve got a couple of bottles of wine in, we’ve got all night. This was just a taster. An amuse-bouche as the French say. The banquet begins as soon as your last client leaves. This is a night you will never forget.’

The Well of Loneliness

Before you read this post have a look at this which I found powerful and moving.

http://onedamesthoughts.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/the-legacy-of-domestic-abuse/

It is not my intention to discuss the post here but use it as a starting point for some reflections on loneliness. It was loneliness that led the author into the abusive relationship she describes and loneliness that led her to stay in it. This sparked a discussion on Twitter of the nature of loneliness and I want to share my story.  .

First of all loneliness is not the same thing as being alone. Being able to spend time alone is necessary for mental well being and essential for creativity. I enjoy my own company but do so knowing that I have a loving partner and a circle of friends and that when I am alone it is through choice. Loneliness is not having the choice. Loneliness can strike anyone. You can be clever, attractive  witty, whatever, it makes no difference. It happened to Cat. It happened to me.

After university most of my friends moved to London. I started work in a small town in the Midlands. For a few months weekends involved either having university friends to stay or going to visit them. I hardly noticed how they were building new lives, lives that did not include me. In the Midlands I had little opportunity to make new friends and after a year or so as university friendships that I had thought were for life began to wither, I found myself on my own.  . .

It is a horrible thing when you dread Fridays and look forward to Mondays simply because you will have someone to talk to. I began to think I was strange. I felt unclean and took to washing obsessively. Then I met Jill. Jill too was new in town, and without friends. It seemed natural that we should get together. For the first time in ages I went out on a Friday evening. We went to the pub, drank. smoked. laughed and afterwards got a take away curry and took it back to my flat. I found her funny and sharp as a tack. Our Friday girls night out became a regular thing. Then things changed and I saw a darker side to Jill. She insisted on meeting up more often, phoned me nearly every day for long chats that swallowed up my evenings, on occasion turned up announced at my flat. I found this emotionally draining, as if she was colonising my life. So I told her gently, I thought, that I needed a break from her. She stormed out of my flat in tears and as it turned out, I never saw her again. I felt relief. I had by now met a man. My new boyfriend had a wide circle of friends we socialised with and I was lifted out of my personal well of loneliness. Jill evidently was plunged deeper into hers.

The next thing I heard of her was six months later in the newspapers. She had apparently developed an obsession with police women and taken to following them around on the beat. She had been arrested a couple of times and warned but eventually came before the court again and was sent to prison. This is a shocking example of the harshness with which society treats those who struggle to cope. Jill had mental health issues. She needed help. What she got was a prison cell.

I still wonder what I could have done. Giving her the constant reassurance she craved was, though, a burden I was simply unable to bear. I needed space, time away from her. I sometimes think that I could have ended up like her had I not been given a way our of my loneliness. I too could have devreloped a deep seated sense of worthlessness and ended up clinging to people and driving them away.

Society is still uncomfortable with people who are on their own and this must reinforce their lack of self worth. These days I often work away from home and three or four times a week eat in restaurants on my own. It is not unusual to be seated in an obscure  corner or even offered a table in the back room as if I had a disease. A middle aged woman out on her own? Clearly a social misfit or maybe worse, a raddled and desperate call girl in search of business. That seems to be the thought.

If you are reading this and are lonely please remember that many others were once in your position and whilst I have no magic remedy please believe me when I say that it will end. There is someone out there who will love you and cherish you. For now you can start by loving yourself. Eat well, dress well, go to the gym. Treat yourself regularly. Start on Friday evening. Another night in on your own? Look forward to it, cook yourself a favourite dish, buy a bottle of wine (drink the rest on Saturday if you don’t want to get trashed!) dress up, light a candle. You are worth it. You are lovely. Love yourself and sooner rather than later you will meet someone to join you in that love.

A Tale of John and Linda

A lot has been written about transsexuals and whether they are welcome in feminist circles, whether they are ‘proper’ women and so on. I don’t know any stats but have a probably superficial impression that  that most transgender people are biological males wanting to live as women. We seem to hear little about biological women who identify as male.

I met Linda some years ago through a shared interest in poetry and we became friends. We lost touch for a few years before re-establishing contact via social media. Linda is no longer Linda. Linda is now John. John is a stylish man in his early thirties, still at the start of the long and difficult process  that will end in gender reassignment surgery. He jokes that he already has a prick, several in fact and keeps them in a draw.  He is now, just as he was years ago, sensitive and intelligent with a love for poetry. We have the same things in common as we did when we first became friends. That a girl friend has become a platonic male friend has really changed nothing in our friendship. And I will support John in his journey. The essential worth of a human being is surely something that transcends gender