Money and Relationships

AKA The Adage of Never Mix Business with Pleasure: Relationship Edition

I doubt there is a person out there who has never heard the warnings against mixing business with pleasure.  Announcing plans on going into a financial partnership with your best friend will elicit gasps, dire warnings, and a whole barrage of “never do that” anecdotes.  It’s a very simple concept to grap, when finances are involved the relationship will suffer at one point or another, and very often erupt into irreconcilable differences that sever the friendship.  Ok, so we all agree that this adage is well known, and is ripe with a million and one examples?

Then how the hell are relationships supposed to survive this very thing.  Mixing sex, love, a partnership with the obvious financial merging of two people is supposed to be taboo (never sleep with a coworker as an example).  Something that we are supposed to avoid in friends but have zero choice about in long term relationships.  Does anyone else find this mind-numbingly insane?  Instead of teaching partners on any level about how to do this legally or otherwise we completely and almost universally clam up about this.  It’s almost as if society seems grateful that two people can share financial difficulties as a unit and solidly behind closed doors.  It takes the public pressure off of this glaring deficit in our societal norms.  There is no medium for dealing with these things.  Instead we completely remove finances from the public discourse, very similarly to the way we avoid talking about sex in public.  And the bottom line for me is that the subject of money is my weakest link.

I, feel great shame talking about debt.  I feel even worse feeling like a financial burden on my partner and would love to continue just avoiding the whole conversation.  And yet, there is simply no way to separate the money from the relationship for any length of time.  It’s impossible.

And it freaking sucks!  Money should not be the cause of such a high divorce rate in our culture.  And there should not be a gender gap when it comes to income earning and I could honestly just go on and on about all the crappy reasons and excuses that I can to explain why I feel so lost and helpless at this very moment.  I’m struggling to understand how two people, who are supposed to be partners can survive if there is financial disparity.  Is it up to one to be burdened by the guilt of the other?  Are the two just supposed to accept the past mistakes and help each other move forward?  Or as in my case, is my extreme stubbornness to fix my own mistakes and problems going to be the detriment of the most amazing relationship that I have ever had?

These aren’t easy questions to ask, and even harder to answer.  But ultimately that’s where you end up when things in your culture, society or even household are taboo.  You end up in what feels like a no-win scenario.  Wishing you could fix things with the snap of a finger or press the magic reset button that will allow you to move forward without having to face the music head on.  I’m talking about money and relationships because it is hard and scary, especially for me.  I am clawing my way up from debt one day at a time.  That is my mission and mandate.  And most importantly, my promise to myself.  And someday, I hope that this small step forward will lead me to be able to more openly discuss my finances, the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

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What to Tolerate as a Sex Positive Blogger?

As I went through my comment feed today (on the blog and twitter) I was struck by a strange feeling that I have become desensitized to a lot of the crappy comments I have to deal with, and I really don’t know how to feel about that. I am on a personal mission to share my experiences in non-monogamy and the communication growth that I have gained during this time. I share things about my life, my experiences, perspectives, and even the sex positive body image that I feel more often than not. I put myself out there, not to brag or gain notoriety, but instead to work through my thoughts and feelings while at the same time earnestly trying to help others going through something similar. But the thing of it is, whenever you post something online you are opening yourself up to the good, bad and the ugly.

And today, I was struck by just how unimportant the trolling has become to me. Even 6 months ago, I recall talking to @huntergash on gtfo about how much the trolls were basically ruining the online experience. I remember feeling enraged, and passionate about the subject. And now? I feel almost numb. As if, I no longer care about trying to educate or enlighten these trolling and aggressive anonymous beings. And it feels incredibly weird.

With everything going on politically right now, I guess it’s almost fitting that I feel less like my voice matters or will be heard with the correct people. As much as I try and funnel those who just want to look and not glean anything from my writing to the appropriate channels (Patreon), I still get a barrage of inappropriate comments on a seemingly daily basis. And I find myself lazily muting, or blocking them, rather that responding. Is that in part because I am much busier with life than I was 6 months ago? Or perhaps are they “winning” so speak, in that I am accepting their presence as part of publicly posting? Or is there something else that I haven’t quite thought of or just won’t admit to myself quite yet. Maybe, just maybe, it is too daunting a task to educate strangers.

Case and point. Have you ever known someone who has been overly aggressive or sexual in person, only to find that on social media they brag about how they have never been that guy and are disgusted by the men who belittle women? And did you feel helpless to call them out? Or a gut wrenching conflict to out their behaviour thereby stooping to a level they may understand? Or did you just ignore and reconsider if your memory of past behaviour was even accurate? I ask these questions publicly because I am struggling to define my role right now. I feel like my voice is falling on deaf ears. There is no educating new readers, rather, people skim and agree with the parts they like and ignore the parts they don’t. No one wants to question themselves or ask the tough questions. Have I in the past behaved inappropriately and am I willing to admit that and grow, change or even just asking questions?

I love blogging, and being public. But the reality is that it feels less important than it did in the past. It feels like the conversation is over, and people read what they like and dismiss the rest. There is no challenge of opinions or desire to better ourselves. Should I go back to scolding strangers who violate my trust and sex positive outlook? Or do I continue my latest trend of just ignoring? Honestly, it feels so challenging right now to continue the dialogue of a sex positive nature and balance the outright stupid comments with those of my incredible resources, fellow sex positive bloggers and fans.

Sharing My Opinions and the Current Radio Silence

The first few years of non-monogamy, I felt unsure.  I had zero clue what I was doing, wanted, and therefor no voice.  I made mistakes, and when I would try and write about them, it just came out fuzzy and convoluted.  I wrote as a girl experiencing something new for the first time, but with a fragile and timid voice.  Sitting here now, writing the “big” story for the first time, I realize, with complete humility, that I found my voice.  The writing style has progressed and that scared and timid girl is no longer a part of me.  It is so crazy looking back and seeing the complete change in identity and voice that I have found.  It almost feels like I was searching for my strength and identity through my blog for so many years that I barely noticed when I switched from it being my safety net, to a real part of my identity.  And this goes beyond my writing, because in the past few months, I have actively shared my opinions and views that I did not first test out in writing.  And I was doing it without even realizing it.  I have gained a voice beyond my blog, and it is as exhilarating as it is a little strange.

Why though does this matter?  Why am I writing about finding my voice?  Well, simply put, there has arisen an interesting reaction or rather, a radio silence.  Some people in my life, are extremely off put by me having opinions.  It was one thing for me to just write about my journey, and question the things going on around me.  As it turns out, it is quite another for me to voice my opinions about societal changes, or my views on relationships.  I’m accepted if I am just a wanderer questioning and exploring, but hot damn, coming to conclusions of my own is polarizing for my readers.  It’s a pill that cannot easily be swallowed.  And rather than just talking to me about things, asking questions or even engaging in a little discourse, it’s much easier to just run away or ignore me.

When did our society get so scared of conflict or a difference of opinions?  If you don’t like a particular subject or opinion of someone, do you just block and ignore them altogether?  Can we not reconcile a way to engage with a person who thinks a little differently than us?  It seems we are so afraid of offending others that we are losing the ability to actually communicate.  Yes, it is easier to just close a tab when you read something you don’t like, but guess what?  There is nothing gained, or learned by just walking away.  There is everything to learn by asking yourself why are you offended or uncomfortable.  Is it due to your preconceptions, biases, or perhaps even a word just sets you off?

I don’t love the feeling of being scoffed or shamed, but it feels much worse, when I am ignored and cut out because I share an opinion.  It’s not a very inspiring feeling.  But, unfortunately that is a part of our social climate right now, that I have to come to terms with.  If someone disagrees, the chances of me hearing about it are sitting at about 2 percent.  Whereas when I began my blog over 7 years ago, I was sitting at about 20 percent of people who were willing to have a conversation with me or engage and share a different perspective.  And as a writer it is little lonely having all this radio silence.

I move forward, knowing that I have earned my opinions, of which I know I have many.  And when I share them, I am not looking for validation or even really like minded souls to engage with, but I do very much appreciate the brave souls who are willing to at the very least think about what I have said.  But this is merely an assumption that I make based on the readership and clicks, because beyond that, I hear crickets on my end.  Perhaps this is something that I will just have to mentally prepare myself for when my book comes out.  I no longer believe that no news is good news, because as I am learning, no news often means that people just don’t have the capacity to disagree or engage.  We are afraid of offending and it is paralyzing our ability to communicate.

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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!