Smutathon

Five weeks after my third half-marathon, in Manchester, I am taking on a new challenge, a writing marathon, the first Smutathon.  Now In have never written anywhere near as much smut as I would have liked and I see in this an opportunity to catch up, spending 12 hours writing filth. This will be in London in the company of other members of the Eroticon family   so it will be fun and very sociable, particularly if I take a couple of bottles of gin 🙂

This is filth with a purpose as we aim to raise money for two worthy causes, Rape Crisis and Backlash which campaigns against censorship and for sexual freedom.

This may seem to some an odd pairing. There are, after all, those who see censorship as a necessary step towards reducing the incidence of rape and sexual assault. Only recently I read Julie Bindel (who else) going on about porn culture and its role in the oppression of women as if she was unaware that women are both producers and consumers of porn, and that the often niche porn (BDSM for example) that women produce is most at risk from the puritanical urges of our politicians.

I think I can speak from all my fellow participants when I say that we reject this view. The full and free expression of human sexuality is joyful and life enhancing.  And I emphasise free. This means consent at all times. Our choices are ours and ours alone. Politicians (and Julie Bindel) need to remember this too.

I hope you are able to support us. You can sponsor us here

Oh and huge thanks to the wonderful Coffee and Kink who had the idea and the energy to bring it about. You can follow her blog here

As for me I really can’t wait until July 1st.

 

 

Lord Morrow and the Balloon Man

Last year I blogged here about a Midlands sex worker called “Katie”. I was reminded of her this week when I read about the new clause that has been added to the Northern Ireland Human Trafficking Bill. In the course of the interview my friend conducted with her she talked about clients who come to see her for things other than penetrative sex. In particular she talked about a regular client she calls “The Balloon Man.” He sees her once a month for half an hour. He blows up half a dozen balloons with which Katie rubs him down before bursting them with her long finger nails while he lies on the bed and masturbates. No penetration takes place, in fact there is not even any direct physical contact between sex worker and client. Anecdotal evidence suggests that clients like Balloon Man are not unusual.

This is a problem for the prohibitionist zealots. If you are going to enact a law prohibiting the purchase of sexual services you need to have a robust definition of sexual services. Even Lord Morrow who one imagines coming from a background where they do it in pyjamas with the lights out has realised that there was a potential gaping hole in his pet legislation and he has now, late in the day, moved to close it via Amendment Ten to Clause Fifteen which adds the following to the definition of sexual services:

“B touching B in a sexual manner for the sexual gratification of A, B being physically in A’s presence.’

With the unspoken assumption that A will manually stimulate bellend C resulting in emission D which can on occasion have a pungent smell but is, it seems, acceptable to ATVOD. But I digress.

There are obvious difficulties with this. If, as Lord Morrow seems to believe women are trafficked to touch themselves sexually on the presence of clients, can they  not also be trafficked to perform on webcam, which the amendment specifically excludes? And then we come back to the definition of touching in a sexual manner. How is that to be defined? Is it only touching the genitalia? Or anything erotic? Consider how many men must have masturbated over this since 1946.

Will Lord Morrow now be adding a further clause to stipulate how women may remove their gloves in the presence of men? Defining sexual is, it seems to me, like catching a bar of soap in the bath,  ever elusive. Attempts to define legally what eludes clear definition can only lead to bad law, and what generally follows bad law, function creep. Providers of domination services, for example, may be targeted under this clause. It was apt to start this piece with a fetish since it is in the nature of fetishes that some people find various things sexually arousing that most others don’t. Fetishes lay bare the incoherence of attempts to define in legalistic manner “sexual”. They are a manifestation of human sexuality in all its joyous anarchic diversity. If the new moralists start trying to plug every gap in the law as it appears we will soon have left sex work and trafficking behind and we will be looking at what many believe to be the real agenda: an attempt by religious fundamentalists aided and abetted by people who should know better, to bring the police back into our bedrooms. Remember that what is happening in Northern Ireland today may yet happen in England. Not that Lord Morrow had anything to fear. He always has the lights out.

Looking Forward to Eroticon

I have booked my place, booked my hotel and even told people I am going to an erotic writers convention. Cue raised eyebrows in several quarters. But why shouldn’t I tell people?  It’s not something to be ashamed of is it? I am looking forward to it as I have not looked forward to an event for ages. It was just under twelve months ago that I sat at my computer writing and following the #eroticon2013 hashtag on Twitter. I began to feel that aching sense of loss, of missing out on something I would dearly love to have been at. I resolved that I would not miss out again.

It’s not just about developing as a writer although that is important. I would like to get more of my stories published, not to make money, (erotic writing is never likely to put a Ferrari on my drive!) but because I feel I have something to say. The main attraction of the weekend is actually that I get to spend two days in a sex positive space, with people I have come to see (I have had on-line contact with some of them) as kindred spirits, share with them and learn from them, above all to celebrate sex and human sexuality in all its manifestations (its consensual manifestations that is) as something liberating and empowering. This is a message that our increasingly puritanical and censorious society needs to hear.

Fruits from the Garden

I read voraciously. Yet while I am always looking ahead to the next book I always finish the one I’m on with a hint of regret. It was hard to put the novel I was reading recently back on its shelf as I had grown to like the main protagonist and saying goodbye to her was hard. On the other hand I could not wait to finish the other book I have been reading recently. I read it in the bath, read it on the bus, read it on the exercise bike at the gym. This was not because I disliked it, quite the opposite. I was desperate to absorb it, enjoy its treasures and out it down to reflect on what it all meant. This is a book you may well be reading. It is The Garden of Desires by Emily Dubberley.

In fact it is a book written by every one of those (including me) who responded to the invitation to complete a questionnaire and shared their sexual fantasies. It is not a dry scientific study but a wonderful journey into worlds of sexual imagination I was hardly aware of.

The fantasies are grouped by the various types into which they could be categorised. Clearly some crossed boundaries but some kind of categorisation was needed and the one adopted seems reasonable. It was striking to me how many fantasies, across all categories, involved activities that are usually associated with kink or BDSM. A few hoary myths are nailed along the way too. Fantasy and reality overlap but not all women want to live out all their fantasies and no woman really wants to be raped.

I was amazed at the sheer variety of the fantasies and relieved too, that my fantasies did not seem out of place, and that I was not alone in feeling, or having felt shame. If reading the Garden of Desires has taught me anything it is that I am normal and  have nothing to be ashamed about. That is a very liberating feeling not least because one of the messages of the book is how much women’s sexuality has been constrained by societal norms, conditioning, shaming. It continues to be as we enter a neo-Puritan age where even some feminists are seeking to invoke the power of the state to control women and slut shaming is rife. I was shocked to read about the vile abuse that Emily experienced when the Cliterati website was launched in the not so Victorian era of 2001.

The final chapter is a call to arms to women to fight for their sexual freedom against the puritans. Whether you are straight, bi, lesbian, trans, sub, domme,  sex worker, or whatever, you must be free to express yourself sexually however you want. The only restraint should be the need for consent. The battle for sexual freedom is inherently political and part, but a necessary part, of a wider struggle for freedom and equality. It is a struggle that I rather think it might be fun to fight. .

Men, too, should read this book. Our freedom is also your freedom and in any case women’s sexuality is a store of delights that might be available to you too if you put your patriarchal prejudices aside and ask nicely!