I believe you

Ghomeshi is guilty. There is literally zero chance that all of these unrelated women just happened to decide they should get together and try to ruin Jian Ghomeshi’s life. A misogynist, survivor hating court may have fucked up on every possible level, but that in no way changes the fact that Ghomeshi is guilty and his accusers are telling the truth. Lucy DeCoutere is not a liar. Reva Seth is not a liar. Neither are all of his other victims.

The reason I didn’t title this post “Ghomeshi is Guilty,” even though he fucking obviously is, is that I want to include all survivors.

I believe you. You are telling the truth. You didn’t make it up. You are not overreacting. I believe you.

I also want you to know that fractured, missing, non-linear and/or otherwise confusing memories are a normal and common reaction to assault and in no way prove that you are lying. In fact, I think having a common and normal reaction to assault is another piece of evidence that you were in fact assaulted. Trauma very often fucks up your memory. This is a normal way for the brain to react to trauma. To quote another article about trauma and memory:

Memory loss is a natural survival skill and defense mechanism humans develop to protect themselves from psychological damage. Violence, sexual abuse and other emotionally traumatic events can lead to dissociative amnesia, which helps a person cope by allowing them to temporarily forget details of the event. A person will often suppress memories of a traumatic event until they are ready to handle them, which may never occur.

If you remember some parts of an event but not others, if you remember bits and pieces and don’t know what order they go in, if you remember different pieces at different times, that’s a sign you were traumatized, not a sign that you are lying and frankly it’s incredibly embarrassing that judges don’t know such basic fucking stuff about how the brain handles traumatic experiences.

It’s also normal to “not appear upset enough.” Some assholes assume you’re lying if you’re “too freaked out”, other assholes will assume you weren’t really harmed if you appear calm. Emotional detachment and numbness is another totally normal way the brain tries to protect itself. While it’s common for trauma to fuck up your memory of the traumatic event, that doesn’t mean everyone experiences memory disturbances. If you remember every detail and can recite them all on command all that means is that your reaction to trauma is different from some other people’s reaction to trauma.

It also doesn’t mean shit about whether you were or were not traumatized if you have contact with the person who assaulted you after the assault or if you don’t describe your experience as assault until later. Taking myself as an example, I didn’t call what my douchebag ex-boyfriend did emotional abuse until years later. It took a long time for me to be ready to admit that’s what it was. It’s very often easier to believe that you’re just terrible and deserved it than that someone who said he loved you doesn’t really care about you at all.

Instantly labeling an experience abuse and acting on that knowledge is really fucking hard to do. Nobody wants to accept that someone they care about and thought they could trust doesn’t actually give a shit about their wellbeing. It takes time to come to terms with that, and in that time it’s very common to pretend as hard as you can that everything is okay. Even if you do a really good job of pretending, that does not mean you are actually okay or that what was done to you doesn’t count or that you weren’t harmed. People react to trauma in all kinds of counter-intuitive ways.

If you’ve been hurt, you deserve an expert’s help. RAINN has a long list of resources for sexual assault survivors, including a link to HotPeachPages which has a massive list of resources for people outside the US. You can also check out the PTSD Association of Canada, the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs PTSD site (just remember that your trauma and symptoms still count even if you weren’t literally in a war) and their online PTSD coach. There are also a shitton of apps on the Google Play Store that could help and presumably on the iOS App Store too but iTunes is a real dick about links so you’ll have to search for PTSD on your own. I haven’t tried those apps and freely admit I’m not any sort of expert, but I think they could be a useful first step if you’re not ready to talk to a human yet or if you’re one of the many who can’t get therapy for whatever reason. And don’t forget at least some therapists will work with you over the phone or over skype if you can’t physically get to them.

No one resource is going to be right for everyone whether it’s a website, app, actual human therapist, medication, or anything else. If you find one that’s not right for you, you are not the problem. Just keep googling until you find something that works for you.

And if you’re not ready for therapy yet, that’s okay too. This post and all those resources will be here when you are.

Anything I want? I fucking told you what I want

Or, let’s yell about supposedly submissive people who refuse to follow simple instructions.

Yep, it’s time for another round of venting about people who answer the question “What do you like?” with “whatever you want.” Like I said before, that’s a blatant fucking lie 99.99999% of the time. You don’t want to do anything I want, you just can’t understand that I’m a fucking person with my own wants and needs that have nothing to do with what makes you feel funny in your pants.

But aside from the yelling about how everyone, even the most committed slave, has limits, it’s simply disobedient and disrespectful to refuse to give a real answer to a simple question. Guys, do you want to give your dom control or not?

If you do, then where the fuck do you get off refusing to obey simple fucking orders? Do you think I asked what you wanted just to hear my own voice? I asked you for a reason and I expect a real answer, not this “anything you want” bullshit.

To be clear, “I don’t know” is a real answer. So is “I like the idea of spanking but I haven’t tried it yet and don’t know for sure that I like it in real life.” So is “What’s most important to me is knowing my top is having a good time. I’ve done a and b before and liked it, I’m freaked out by x and y but willing to at least talk about anything else.” It’s about honestly, not about being able to list your favourite kinks and your hard limits off the top of your head in excruciating detail. Pretending you don’t have preferences is a lie, and not a good one. If you’re going to lie to your dom, at least do a good job of it.

And no, it’s not respectful to be that worried about accidentally topping from the bottom. We’re just mutually deciding what’s on the menu, you’re not placing an order. If you don’t trust me to refuse to do stuff I’m not interested in, then why the fuck are we even trying to negotiate a scene? If you seriously think that suggesting a type of play will force me to do it even if I don’t enjoy it, you can fuck right off. Even with the least experienced dom, refusing to follow simple orders is a terrible way to start a d/s relationship. If you want to do what she tells you, do what she fucking tells you.

If you’re trying to negotiate a scene with an inexperienced dom, she may feel a lot more comfortable starting with stuff she knows you like. That is a totally normal place to start and in no way means that she will never expand her own boundaries past what she knows you like. Or she may be experienced and clever enough to know that things she wasn’t super into before can suddenly become hot if she tries them with someone she really likes and clicks with. Being the dom does not mean she’s never allowed to try things that she doesn’t know if she likes yet. Or maybe she just doesn’t fucking like feeling like she’s stumbling around in a dark room with some asshole who refuses to turn on the lights.

When I start playing with a new person, I really need to learn how they react when they like what I’m doing and how they react when they don’t. I do that by both checking in frequently at first and doing things that I know they like and that I know they don’t like. I can’t read minds, I have to learn to read my bottom’s body. As I learn to read them better, I can scale back the checkins and we can play harder without having to pause and check in.

If you want me to have control then give me control and do what I fucking tell you. If you won’t do that, then don’t pretend you actually want me to run the scene.

Is it cheating if…?

I know I’ve talked about this already, but why not keep beating a dead horse? And honestly, some people need to be beaten over the head a bit for any sense to get in. This time, instead of looking for a “discreet” (read, cheating piece of shit) relationship, today’s bad example is looking for a strictly online relationship. Sadly that discussion got deleted between drafting this post and actually publishing it, but if you’ve been on the internet for more than ten minutes you’ve probably seen some sad bastard looking for an online dom to cheat with, so I don’t think reading the original discussion is necessary for this post to make sense.

If you feel like you have to hide things from your partner, something is very wrong. If you are hiding a relationship (even just an online one) from your partner, something is very wrong. Now, to be fair, sometimes the very wrong part is on your partner’s end. It’s normal to have close friendships with people who aren’t your partner. It’s normal to talk with close friends when something happens in a romantic relationship that bothers you. It’s normal to need a little space sometimes. It’s normal to not have to tell your partner every single thought that floats through your mind. If your partner makes you feel like you can’t even talk with a friend without somehow betraying them, you’re not the asshole here.

However, if your partner isn’t systematically isolating you from all of your support systems, hiding things from them is a sign that you are doing something wrong. I sincerely don’t fucking care if you never intend to meet your online dom in person, if you’re hiding that from your poor innocent vanilla girlfriend then you are cheating. Cheating is not about actually getting your dick wet or even about getting your kink on in person. Breaking an agreement with your partner is what makes an action cheating. As a bit of an aside, this is why the idea that you can’t cheat on a poly person is total bullshit. You damned will still have agreements with your partners when you have more than one, even if that agreement is as low key as “let me know if you’ve had sex with someone else before we have sex again and share as many juicy details as the other participant(s) is comfortable with.”

Because poly relationships tend to involve so much more negotiation than monogamous relationships I assume it’s easier to know for certain if the thing you want to do is technically cheating. However, that in no way means you’re not a complete asshole if you try to use “but wait, you never said having an intense emotional relationship with someone else was cheating!” as an excuse. You fucking knew it was cheating or you never would have hidden it from your partner. If a really great new person started at work and you got along with them really well, you’d tell your partner all about it. If you went to a meetup and you met someone really cool and had a great conversation, you’d share that with your partner. If you randomly met up with an old friend and talked all afternoon, the first thing you’d say when you came home would be “Guess who I ran into today!”

When you’re doing something totally above board, you would never even think to hide it from your partner. It’s not exactly rocket science to make the connection between hiding things from your partner and doing something shady. It doesn’t matter if you never meet your online dom, it doesn’t matter if you never even learn their real name, if you do something that intimate with someone who isn’t your partner and without your partner’s enthusiastic consent then you’re cheating.

And while I’m at it, guys, can you please stop acting like it’s a surprise that dominant women usually don’t like being treated like a dirty little secret? If you can’t tell your partner that you promised your dom you’d be online at a certain time, then I get stood up if she spontaneously asks you to go to the movies with her or something. Why would I want to involve myself with some douchebag who treats me like dirt when I could be alone and not treated like dirt?

It’s also pretty hard for me to have any kind of power exchange with someone if I can’t trust them. Guys, if you’re cheating on your partner, you are definitely not trustworthy. I am simply not deluded enough to think that somebody who is already cheating on his partner won’t also cheat on me or lie to me or just jerk me around. Totally separate from the ethics of getting involved with a cheater, that’s a hassle I’m just not going to sign myself up for.

Once again, if you hide it from your partner, it’s cheating. Don’t kid yourself that it’s not cheating just because it’s only online.

How do you tell if it’s abuse or d/s?

A little while ago someone asked a really interesting question on Fetlife. If you enjoy being pushed beyond your comfort zone, how do you tell the difference between abuse and d/s?

I’m honestly not sure but I’ll ramble for a bit and invite readers to add their advice in the comments.

In vanilla relationships it’s simpler to tell if it’s abuse. The usual “is it abuse?” advice focuses on whether your partner makes you feel safe and loved or like dirt, but things get a lot more complicated if you’re into hardcore humiliation scenes or really heavy masochism.

Particularly if you’re personally conflicted about what kind of scenes and/or relationship you have that can make it really hard to pick apart feeling weird about it because “I’m a freak for liking this” or “I like parts of this but not all of it and I don’t feel like I can say no” from “I’ve been waiting years for a relationship like this! This is exactly what I wanted for so long! I like this, right? It’s good, isn’t it? Oh god what if this is as good as it gets?” are really easy to confuse with each other.

Here’s where I punt the question: if you feel bad for liking what you like, I strongly recommend finding a kink-aware professional and talking things out. What I mean by this is that your problems matter and you deserve a real professional’s help sorting them out. Just like I would tell you to get a real professional to fix your plumbing and not your friend’s-cousin’s-dogsitter, I would tell you to get a real professional with training any everything to help you sort out your feelings about your kink instead of listening to some asshole on the internet. You deserve better than someone with no training, no knowledge about your particular situation, and quite frankly no idea what they’re doing.

That said, I realise there are some serious taboos against actually seeing a professional (god knows I freaked the fuck out for the entire walk to see my therapist for the first time) and even if you can get over that you’ve still got the additional hurdle of paying said professional and finding time to see them and in general shit’s not easy. Given all of those issues I’m going to try to help, but if my advice doesn’t work for you, you need to blame me and not you.

Caveats out of the way, I think it’s a good idea in general to ask yourself how you feel after a scene. Do you feel broken, triumphant, looking forward to the next time, like you failed and you’re a bad sub? Don’t forget, sub drop is a thing. Give yourself a few days to get over your drop before you make a firm decision about how you feel about what you did. It is totally okay to feel weird about stuff when you’re in the middle of drop. The question is how your top/dom supports you through that time and how you feel once you’re back on an even keel.

I’m personally pretty cautious, but there is no shortage of people who enjoy pushing boundaries. That is a completely valid way to run your life, you just need to keep in mind that the things you like freak some people out and for that reason you might not always get useful advice out of them. Using myself as an example, I’m pretty squeamish about blood and serious bruising. If the results of your play freaks me out, that means absolutely nothing about whether it was good and healthy for you.

Basically, you need to have a very strong sense of self if you’re going to play hard. Not everyone is going to understand the things that work for you, but that doesn’t make you wrong. If you possibly can, find people who like the stuff you do. It can only help to talk with people who play as hard as you do.

Another thing that’s a good idea to ask yourself in general is how do you usually feel in the relationship? Do you feel valued, respected, and safe outside of scenes where you deliberately want to feel humiliated and degraded and vulnerable? It’s totally okay to want to go dark and deep in a scene, but even if that play partner relationship is entirely about going deep, you need to have people in your life who remind you that your are worth something. I’d question even getting involved with someone as a play partner who you aren’t also friends with, but I do understand that some people like to compartmentalize.

It’s also important to think about how your dom would react if something went wrong, if you don’t already know. A person worth submitting to you will make sure you’re okay or at least with people who will help get you there. Let’s be honest, things are going to wrong sooner or later. If you’re going to do anything risky, you need to do it with someone who will take responsibility for getting you back to okay. If they aren’t willing to do that, what else could they decide they can’t be bothered to do?

Liking intense things doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, it just means you need to be extra careful about who you do those things with.