Social Media Versus Reality: Gender

I saw a tweet on Father’s Day, that basically asked you not to wish dad’s a happy father’s day if you are not sure of their preferred pronoun.  And well, this got me thinking…

Every time I take a social media break and get out into the real world I am stunned by the dichotomy of the two worlds.  And specifically I am talking about gender.  While I will not claim to be any sort of expert when it comes to all the gender diversity, I am certainly one who likes to have an open mind and always learn more.  I try to write with a less male/female vernacular, and I do attempt to employ the “softer” tones of they or them when it makes the words flow a little more naturally.  I do this, mostly because I want my writing to be relatable.  I want people to seamlessly put themselves in my shoes or gauge a new perspective free of the gender limits.  And while I cannot promise to always get it correct, I am happy to have a broader voice that appeals to more people.

With that in mind, I sometimes forget just how staggeringly different the real world is.  Social media is this idealized bubble of how society should be, mixed with trolls and outliers for a strange balance.  It works in a weird way.  I feel secure in my views and fairly happy that I am surrounded by so many sex positive and open minded individuals, even though I have no clue what many of them look like, (thanks social media).  We get along on a level that is interesting and often educational for me.  And that is in stark contrast to the realities of the offline world.

Take for example washrooms.  The online world makes it seem like genderless washrooms are becoming more and more common place and are an inclusive, amazing steps for businesses, schools and events to start incorporating.  And in the social media bubble, I am all for it.  No one should ever feel shamed for using the restroom.  But then, I get out into the real world and remember that going to the bathroom in front of people is absolutely awful!  I do not like peeing in front of women, so how in the hell could I comfortably do that with all genders in the same space?  Oh, wait… I do.  In many swing clubs, they have a bathroom where both men and women can go together to ensure that partners do not unnecessarily get separated from each other.  So, the reality is I have been doing this for years.  And yet, in the normal day to day setting, it feels uncomfortable and just plain wrong to do.  Especially in the workplace or in educational facilities. But a swing club is like a little invite only bubble, just as social media is.  Maybe in some future reality bodily functions won’t be such a big deal.  But today, in the here and now, I do not enjoy public washrooms!

So, let’s look at another example.  Using social media, I again try to use an inclusive voice.  I work hard to be mindful of my diverse network of people.  And in doing so, I try and catch myself when I call out men or women for bad behaviour.  I make many attempts to broaden my finger pointing and use words like people, or humans or really anything that removes gender.  But, the real world is a stark contrast from this online community.   I won’t lie, it’s so refreshing to sit down with a girlfriend and bitch about all the ways men and women are different.  To talk about gender in the workplace and just how lopsided even something as benign as dress code is.  For you see, the workplace is not an open and genderless environment.  Perhaps someday it will be, but right now, we are not even close to that.  It is polarized.  Men do this, wear this, talk like this, and women have their own rules for behaviour, dress and acceptable language they can use.

Gender exists all around us.  We see men who hold open doors, believe in being chivalrous, and always pay on a first date.  We see women getting dolled up, wearing high beautiful heels, and acting in a way that opens the door for me to take care of them.  If you go to a bar, you see men talking crash and crude, objectifying women.  And you see women gossiping and bitching for hours on end over a few bottles of wine.  Men work the physically challenging roles, and drink beer to unwind.  And the ladies, well, they are the nurses, the teachers and the caregivers.  Will this change?  Of course it will.  We are constantly evolving.  But when you talk on social media forums, it feels like men and women are being shamed for doing things that feel natural to their specific genders.  And we must remember that that is not healthy either.  It takes time to undo decades of gender roles and our socialization.  And truly, I don’t see a problem with maintaining a certain level of division, so long as there is a place to include those who want to break free of their moulds.

We are living in a polarized real world society, with the online community providing us an ideologized space.  There are going to be clashes as we figure this all out.  But if I can offer one peace of advice, just be open, understanding and inclusive wherever possible.  Don’t get too stressed out about calling people him/her/they/them.  Just be kind and respectful if you are ever corrected.  This is going to take time to figure out a system that works for as many people as possible.  We cannot expect language or gender norms like this to change overnight.

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Sex Censorship: The Modern Book Burning and The War on Women

Make no mistake, the internet is experiencing a very scary purging of sex content in the form of sexual censorship.  With the closure of Backpage, and Craigslist personals (US only, Canada still seems to be available) sex workers are being put at risk.  And by risk, I mean pushing them out of the safety of the internet and directly onto the streets.  This is terrifying.  And this doesn’t just stop at sex workers.  For example, YouTube is now removing entire channels dedicated to sex education and the cloud has been deleting entire profiles, videos and images specifically targeting escorts and sex workers.  We are moving into the dark ages where we are again running and hiding from the word sex.  We are reaching a critical climax with the technological information purge, or what I feel is the modern book burning.  And if you are thinking you are not affected, please don’t stop reading as there is more!

With SESTA-FOSTA in effect, third party websites are now liable for the content that is written, shared and promoted on them.  While the guise of child endangerment and trafficking pushed it forward, the real victims are sex workers.  They cannot use platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Switter etc to promote and screen their businesses and clients, putting them at extreme risk of extortion, their very physical safety, and their means of income as sights like Paypal are liable under this new law as well.  Which ultimately will push these workers back onto the streets or worse.  And yes, pushing out sex workers has a negative effect on all of us.  It’s called the oldest profession for a reason.  History has shown us time and time again that humans will find a way to have their sexual needs and desires met, one way or the other.  To fight this, is futile and recently we were reminded just how dangerous it is which I will touch on shortly.  And with the legal threat of third party liability, sex workers will move to the next safe place to advertise, and that will most likely be on dating apps.  That’s right, dating apps like OK Cupid, and Tinder will be the next targets.  So, do you still think this doesn’t affect you?

This censorship is so far reaching that even taking pictures of sex toys may/will result in discretionary removal, blocking and/or just banned.  And as of today, Twitter will start to remove all nudity that elicits arousal.  Are you freaking kidding me?  This is censorship at its worst because it is subjective.  Is there some big review board somewhere that will review nudity to see if it gets someone hard or wet?  Internet freedom is not under attack, it is no longer a thing.  Again, if you think this doesn’t affect you, you’re just not listening.  If you cannot even take a picture of a sex toy, where does that line end?  Can you not take a picture of condom to promote and educate safe sex?  And honestly, there is no end in sight, and no clear picture of who makes these determinations.

So what’s next?  Where is the internet headed?  Where are we as a society going to end up if we cannot embrace healthy sexual discussion and acceptance.  Oh that’s where it’s headed, straight into fear and outright hatred of sex and women.  Are you ready to read about the real world ramifications of the breakdown of sex positive speech, availability, education and just general knowledge?  Well, ready or not, Toronto women were just attacked by a 25 year old man, on the street, by a van of all things.  And why? Because he was part of a group called the Incel Rebellion, which is short for “involuntary celibate”.  This is a group of violent men, who have slurped up the Kool-aid that women are the enemy.  That we should not have autonomy over our sexual rights and body, and that men have every right to get laid, by whatever means necessary, including rape.  Yes, you read that right.  I will be honest, I have a lot of difficulty researching this group of men, and my stomach turns just thinking that these predators are a part of our society.  It’s bone chilling and I cannot go into more detail without tearing up.  So research this subject with caution.

How can women be feared this much?  Why are we losing our autonomy at such an alarming rate?  How as a society can we attack sex workers, and allow organizations that promote bodily harm to women to continue?  Where is the poison that started this all?  And how the fuck do we fix this?  I want to say that with education and compassion the next generation will be better than us.  But, I don’t think we can, as an equal society wait that long.  Women are dying.  Sex workers, have reached the point of desperation and are taking their own lives.  Men, believing they have “rights” to us as objects has resulted in death, all over North America, and honestly I couldn’t research beyond that.

This has to STOP!  And it has to stop now.   The war on women must end.  And the book burning of sexual content, information and education has to be eliminated.  And RIGHT NOW!  This is a human crisis.  It’s not men versus women.  It’s a poison that is infiltrating our very ethics and morality, and we need to find the antidote.  Being shocked, silent or dismissive is over.  For my part, I will continue to post nudity on my blog and on my Patreon page, and proudly!  I will continue to blog about sex, relationships, sexuality and non-monogamy.  I will continue to support sex workers and my community of sex positive individuals.  I will not be silent.  And neither should you!  As I tweeted today “Things are not looking good right now for freedom of expression, from the female perspective.  We need to do better.  I hate being right about it getting worse before it gets better… how much more can society fear sex and women?”  Join the conversation on social media.  Talk to your friends and loved ones.  We cannot silently watch women die as our freedoms are ripped from us!

Boobs – Fake or Real?

All of you readers have been such great sports over the past few weeks reading, commenting and engaging in some pretty heavy topics that I have put forth.  So I wanted to lighten it up a bit for all of us, and tell you a little tale about me.  And this tale is all about my boobs!

I was a late bloomer, so late in fact that I had pretty much given up.  I was rail thin, with glasses and no curves anywhere.  And I stayed this way right up until the end of high school.  My self esteem was based solely on my personality and I was lucky enough to have the same social circle to take me from the high school transition right on into university.  I was surrounded by friends who were infinitely smarter than me, so being a flat chested tomboy, really didn’t seem to matter much.  Looking back, it feels so surreal that I was fortunate enough to have gone to a high school which focused on academics and not popularity.  My friends and I still laugh about how strange it was the the smarter you were, the more popular you became.  Bizzaro land for sure.

So, by now you may have figured out that my social skills may not have been quite like other people my age.  Surrounded by the smartie pants and absolutely no reason to talk to the opposite sex for anything other than friendship, because let’s face it, I was not the hot one, I entered into the summer before university completely unaware that something big was about to happen to me.

So let me take you back to that summer and share with you one of the most memorable conversations of my life.  I had noticed that my breasts had grown a little bit, but being summer I was often in tube tops, spaghetti strapped shirts and bikini tops so I tell you honestly, it didn’t dawn on me just how drastic my body was changing.  And keep in mind, all my female friends reached puberty between 11 and 14, so I was resigned to just being a skinny rail like my mom.

So here I am, riding a power lawn mower at our acreage (the one chore I actually enjoyed doing) soaking up all the sunshine, in a tube top, while listening to my diskman (yes we are going way back).  Oblivious and happy at the sweet naive age of 17.  On the front porch sat about 10 of my male family friends, ranging in age from 30 – 40 ish, all drinking beer, laughing and doing what guys do on a Saturday afternoon, shooting the shit.

Suddenly there is a commotion.  There is yelling, then laughter, then a few heated remarks and finally an eerie silence.  I hop off my lawn mower to go investigate what the dumb asses were up to now, and that’s when I noticed they were all staring straight at me.  Well, all except my step dad who was red in the face and looking anywhere but at me.  Then the guy closest to me (I will not name names to protect anonymity) mumbles something about my boobs.  My face goes bright red!  “What?” I ask.  He asks again, but a little louder this time.  “We have a bet going, are your boobs fake or real?”

And that’s when it dawned on me.  My boobs didn’t just grow a little bit, they were freaking insane, especially for my size.  I had gone from a small, shall we say barely B cup, to a DD in what actually felt like over night.  So thank you genetics for the very late surprise!  And I hope this picture will finally lay to rest the debate that I have been dealing with for just about 17 years now.

So if you’ve ever asked yourself if they are real or not… they are.  And you are not the first to ask, nor will you be the last.


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Next Generation Swingers

Question Everything: Breaking Away From Relationship norms began in July of 2011, and was created with the sole purpose of helping me navigate my way through non monogamy.  I wrote a few posts, as a personal diary of sorts and a week later decided to share it with my family and friends as a way circumventing the challenge of explaining to them a lifestyle that I knew may shock or scandalize them.  I wanted my loved ones to hear the struggles, see the humanity behind the relationship and show all the hard work it took to maintain a world outside of the sexual norms of my Catholic school girl upbringing.  I figured if I was honest, laid it all bare for them to see, the judgement and criticism would be more difficult for those in my life to express to me.  This would allow me some breathing room to really explore everything I needed to experience.  I was not instantly keen on the idea of an open relationship, but I fell in love with the man who of course would become more than a boyfriend, but an actual partner in my life.  So I read, wrote and lived a life less than ordinary and oh the amazing adventure it has been.

Now I find myself in a position of not only humble exploration, but one of potential influence.  A voice for those who have experienced a few non-monogamous encounters, but don’t seem to fit into the current labels or boxes so to speak.  The lines of swingers, polyamory, open relationships, triads, and I could go on, and on, are very clear and separate for many, but in my circle they are blurry.  We don’t know where we fit in or what to call ourselves.  The not quite swingers, the not fully poly, and the open relationships that sometimes have more, or less to them depending on the partner or partners have no name or place.  It’s a world that is quite colourful when you go in without expectations and an earnest desire to get to know individuals and partners in a more natural, less prescribed or hierarchical way but with that comes the exhaustive explanations of who you are and what you want.

So, knowing that I don’t fit into any current relationship norm within non-monogamy, you may be asking, why did I call this post Next Generation Swingers?  As you may have guessed, I love the term swingers.  Not the current norm, but what I believe the community represents, the parties, the sexual energy in a group of free spirited individuals, and the amazing events with nudity, costumes and of course a cocktail here and there.  These parties are fun!  And, as much as I think the no drama rule has been overextended outside of its intended purpose, its function in social gatherings is positive.  You need to be in a good solid place to really enjoy what’s going on around you.  And I cannot emphasize that enough.  The only time my partner and I have struggled is a direct result of assumptions that were made, and by not having the necessary clear communication beforehand.

And thus I want the name swingers to broaden to include ethical non-monogamy as it’s foundation and to be a name that can be embraced by all us outsiders.  It’s an excellent candidate for an overhaul and new identity because of the influx of the youth.  Those, who don’t need labels to have fun, but want a sense of community or at the very least places to gather and find like minded individuals and partners.

I feel that the community of swingers is going through an identity crisis whether they want to admit it or not.  There are so many who are dissatisfied with the way things have been and the way people perceive them.  It currently is a community with rules that do not make sense for the new members.  It is riddled with people who perceive racism, bigotry and fat shaming to be the norm, and they are getting tired of it.  And with a little nudge in the right direction, and some positive re-enforcement I think this new generation of 20 somethings and early 30’s will breath enough new energy that we can crush all the shortcomings of the group before and embrace all the amazing things already in place to create swingers of the next generations.

Reactions to My Open Relationship Over the Years

Last week I wrote a little rant about Ethical Non-Monogamy and how it is a major part of my life in response to an internet stranger.  So this week I will bring it in a little closer to home.  One of the most common questions I get asked in person is how do my friends and family react to me being in an open relationship?  Well, with my immediate family, we typically do not discuss it.  I don’t ask my parents about their sex life, and they don’t ask about mine.  Many support me from a healthy distance.  However, there are moments that my nearest and dearest have made comments that either shocked or made me really question things.  I have been jotting these moments down for quite a few years, so here are a few of them.

When I first told my family that E and I were in an Open Relationship, prior to my blogging days, my immediate family was not impressed.  I was told that I was doing this for him, and that this was not who I was.  I was told that “this was a novelty and it would wear off, and then what?  Where would I be?”  And the one that got me blogging and cease talking to them about it was that “this is a phase you are going through, not a lifestyle.  How could you possible raise a family and settle down living the way you do?”.

My friends have been a little less judgemental or at least a little broader in their reactions.  One friend talked at length to me, about his experiences and warned me that “this a novelty that would wear off.  That the thrill seeking is all well and good, but [wondered] if I thought what I would feel like when I was alone again.”  I have been asked point blank “so what? Are you guys just full blown swingers now?”  Or on the more inquisitive side of the spectrum, “I have always been really curious about that sort of lifestyle, but I would have no idea how to bring it up or even ask about it. Personally I know it is not for me.  Still though, there are questions that I wish I could ask.“  And then my dear friend who remarked one evening “I am so jealous that you guys are able to do that.  I could never ever open up like that, I am way to jealous.”

And last but not least, here is one of my friends responses when I told her we were starting to date couples.  “This sounds really cool because it is a couple you found together, get to know together and become friends with together.  It is a shared experience of friendship.  Real dating but multiplied and done together.”

With this vast range of reactions and being face to face, I have learned to just let people speak.  To listen, and do my best to keep my poker face on.  When I was first starting out, I would get defensive and or to boast about how amazing this really was.  Now I have a quiet confidence.  I understand this lifestyle is not for everyone, and I have no reason to talk about my lifestyle endlessly or bring it up every chance I get.  If someone wants to brings it up, they are free to talk.  And as long as no one is cruel or rude, I let them react the way they see fit. Whether you like it or not, my friends and family, we are all in this journey together… kidding! Sort of…