I dress like a crazy person because I don’t want to talk to people. Because I’m hoping that people will look at me and like me automatically, and I won’t have to open up my mouth and make a case for myself. I hope that my clothes do that for me. That my clothes tell you everything that there is to know about me, so that I can experience the sweet relief of not having to explain myself or defend myself or act like I know what’s going on. I don’t do it for attention. I do it so that there will be no questions. I try not to look like everyone else because I don’t want to be like everyone else, and that should be enough. We can stop there. This enough. I am shy, and I am dressed like this so that you can’t tell.
Now seems as good a time as any to divulge the gory details of what happened.
Almost a year ago, I was assaulted at gun point by someone with whom I used to have a sexual relationship. It happened late at night, in the dark. I disarmed him. And after I disarmed him and kicked him out of my house, I had a panic attack. I wound up taking the wrong medication (overdosing on muscle relaxers instead of taking valium), and wound up in the hospital.
The story of the assault is one that I can summarize neatly and wrap my head around. It sucked, I was scared, and when I got home all I wanted was to feel safe again.
However, having a sense of safety within my community was taken away from me because my community turned its back on me.
When I got out of the hospital, my then roommate was very concerned about the situation. I found this to be surprising, mostly because he knew the man who assaulted me. I know that several people had called my roommate to check up on me after I passed out and before I wound up sleepwalking through my neighborhood, but he neglected to believe their concerns. When we talked within the first few days when I got out of the hospital, he imposed several ultimatums on me, including demanding that I quit drinking and quit my job (which was in the liquor industry). He blamed my assault and my overdose on my drinking. Typical. He also told me that I had overreacted to the assault, because it’s not like my abuser had been “beating me over time.”
My reaction to his assessment of the situation was to distance myself from my roommate. I had a lot of work to do to get myself back on track. I told him calmly that I didn’t want to talk to him anymore. He did not like that I was not emotionally dependent on him after a traumatic incident – we had, in the past, had a fairly codependent relationship. But not anymore.
Apparently, after I decided to take space from that relationship, my roommate went around and told several of my friends that I was crazy and violent. He made up all sorts of stories that are still to this day coming back to me, such as one story that I had tried to slash my own throat (false), and that I was threatening violence against his girlfriend (also false). He somehow convinced several mutual acquaintances that they should block me. Word of what had happened go around to people that I don’t even know (but who apparently know me). The story that everyone else heard was vastly different from what happened – I was recuperating at my mom’s house and didn’t have the time or the energy to wage a war over my narrative of the events that happened. Someone else took that away from me. My story and my voice were stolen.
Then Ghost Ship happened.
That was horrible. We all know what happened with Ghost Ship, but it’s intimately woven into this story. I wound up losing a friend to whom I had been very close since I was 18. She wasn’t one of the ones that everyone knew, and I didn’t scream about it on the Internet because that’s not my style. However, at the time I worked for a liquor company, and had reached out to a local bar owner about making liquor donations for a Ghost Ship benefit. It’s worth noting that this bar owner is the cousin of the roommate who was slandering me behind my back while I was out of town. Which is why the bar owner never returned my text messages or phone calls – a fact that worried me only days after several of our friends died. I was unable to contact the bar owner to make the donations.
Many of my friends had lost people in the fire, and we were all in mourning. One of my closest friends worked at the bar where I had tried to make the donations, and she put me on the list to the benefit. I went with her to the benefit, and when I got there, the bar owner (and cousin of the roommate who was talking shit about me) looked me in the face and told me to get out.
It was a hurtful experience, mostly because I was already in pain from losing my friend.
Several days after that, I was talking to another mutual acquaintance about what had happened at the bar. The mutual acquaintance informed me that the reason I had not been allowed into the benefit was because the man who had assaulted me at gun point was at the benefit, and the bar owner did not want there to be any conflict between me and the man who had assaulted me. So I was denied entrance.
Like the classy bitch I am, I took to the Internet to air my grievances. Specifically, I took to a private feminist group that was dedicated to healing from sexual trauma. I wrote a short post about the bar and the fact that they protected abusers.
This is the response that I got from the [female] bar manager
Well, suffice it to say: these are all lies.
What was most concerning about this two page essay about my life was: I don’t even know this girl! But apparently she knows me.
I’m not here to bash another woman, but, rather, to show you what happens when you speak out about abuse, even when in you’re in a safe feminist space, and even in supposedly progressive Oakland, California.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I forgot one very important detail about this entire story. Remember the bar owner who blocked my number, wouldn’t take my donations, and wouldn’t let me into the memorial? My roommate’s cousin?
That guy sexually assaulted me, too.
It had happened back in 2012, when I was 25 years old, and I don’t really want to go into the gory details, but suffice it to say that I woke up to him fucking me without a condom after a night of getting black out drunk. It didn’t last long, and it didn’t feel like much, but, ugh, it fucking sucked.
After that happened, I wound up walking home, and going into my roommate’s room to tell him that his cousin had sexually violated me. My roommate didn’t really care. At the time, I was drinking a lot and sleeping around, so, naturally, I had no credibility.
For years after that happened, my roommate would invite his cousin over to the house where we lived. Despite the fact that I paid rent there and was not comfortable with his cousin’s presence in my home, my roommate insisted that I had to deal with it because that’s family, and he wasn’t going to stop inviting his cousin over because of me.
I’d say we’ve gone full circle, but there’s more to this story. Over the years, I had learned to let go of it because I didn’t have a choice. Like I said, my relationship with my roommate was codependent and toxic. I developed some crazy coping mechanisms to deal with having my body and my boundaries violated by people I called friends.
A couple months before I wound up in the hospital after being assaulted at gun point, my roommate’s cousin got married. Before my roommate’s cousin got married, I remembered what had happened between me and my roommate’s cousin. And I talked to my roommate about it. Mostly, I wanted to talk to my roommate about how violated I had felt that he had done nothing when I told him his cousin had violated me. By that time, I was pretty over what had happened between me and the cousin, but I was still miffed by the lack of support and solidarity from my roommate. My roommate, however, took this to mean that he had to confront his cousin about being a rapist mere weeks before his cousin’s wedding. I had no part in the conversation between my roommate and his cousin, nor did I tell him it was necessary to have that conversation. But you can probably pick up on the fact that my roommate is messy and not too bright, and he tends to spread gossip just to fuck shit up.
So, now if we circle back to the bar manager’s post about me, you’ll see that there’s some confusion about the entire situation. I think that the bar manager thought that I was talking about the bar owner, and not the third party abuser who had pointed a gun in my face. In addition to the bar manager posting about me, a friend who knew both the bar manager and me texted me to tell me that the bar manager’s wife was going to make my life a living hell if I didn’t take the post down. Speaking up had gotten me to the point of legitimate threats and attacks against my reputation – by women who called themselves feminists but needed desperately to defend a man against me while I sat in my mom’s kitchen crying. I know, I know – this is all very complicated!
But, for the sake of simplification, let me state: me, too.
I’ve been assaulted multiple times by multiple people, and I dared to speak up about it, and look what the fuck happened.
So when I say I’m in a cynical mood today, now you know why. Because I have been running a sex blog for years, active in antigentrification circles, participated in feminist dialogue, vocal, outspoken, and present in this community – yet, when I dared to speak up about having been assaulted, on both occasions I was met with derision, inaction and shame.
Even writing this, I am afraid to speak the truth of what happened because I have, for the most part, been met with so much violence and threats and personal attacks and alienation that I’m fucking afraid.
But fuck my fear.
Me, too, but the worst part about being assaulted was the fact that so many people in my community wanted to use my pain as an excuse to levy some personal vendetta against me and ostracize me from the community. Fuck that.
I’m not perfect. I know that part of the reason why people turned their back on me was because I wasn’t the perfect victim. I drank too much, I fucked around. I ran my mouth, I liked to party. But that shouldn’t invalidate my pain, my experiences, or my place in the community.
What I want now more than ever is solidarity. I want this to be the worst that it has to be for any of us, and I’m okay with that. I don’t want you to have to fear that someone is going to come after you because you spoke up about your pain – they came after me, and I’m still here. I know what happens when people come after you for speaking out – I survived it, and I survived assault. I know how to bounce back. I know how to protect you. Let me protect you. Tell me how I can protect you.
Let’s end this here.
We live in troubled times, and now more than ever it’s important for us to band together in solidarity to protect the most vulnerable people among us. The queer community, specifically trans people, sex workers, immigrants and ethnic minorities are under attack.
If you are someone who has any amount of power – economic power, political power, social power, intellectual power – now is the time for you to wield your power to protect our brothers and sisters whose lives and ability to live life with dignity are at risk.
I’ve written about being an ally before, and while being an ally is incredibly important right now, there is something I would like to say to the allies about how to most effectively be an ally.
I have noticed that often times, allies treat their alliance as a social contract of indebtedness, a benevolent quid pro quo of some sort. For the record: as an ally, you are an ally for the sake of being an ally because it is the right thing to do, and not because you will get something out of it in the long run. What you get out of being an ally is a stronger community that will in turn support you should you be put on society’s chopping block. No one owes you anything because you support a good cause – they don’t owe you loyalty, they don’t owe you money, they don’t owe you inclusion in their social circles. That last one being something I’d like to focus on.
One thing that I’ve noticed about queer allies is that they tend to encroach on queer spaces. As a straight, cis woman who tries to be a queer ally, I admit that this makes me uncomfortable. I see that the queer community has created safe spaces for itself, and straight allies support queer rights and the queer community. However, just because you support the queer community does not give you a free pass to enter into the community and move through it as you see fit. If anything, by being a queer ally, we are, at times, invited to participate in queer events and in queer spaces. That invitation does not translate into implicit inclusion across the board within the queer community.
This is also something that I see happening with allies of the Black Lives Matter movement. Allies speak up against police brutality, and then they show up at black events without really participating in the culture but feeling like they belong there because they have earned a free pass because of the quid pro quo exchange of alliance.
This is not how alliance works. If anything, using your ally status to encroach on safe spaces for groups to which you do not belong without an invitation dilutes that very culture.
As allies, we should understand that by being an ally we are helping promote the interests of a group to which we do not belong and from which we can be excluded. We must understand that these groups have the right to decide whether or not they want to assimilate or separate, and if they choose to separate then we must be allies by respecting their decision to separate. If they want to assimilate, it is our job to welcome them into the power structures to which we have unique access. We do not ask to assimilate into their groups. Those are their groups. We must respect that.
We should take it upon ourselves to understand that as allies we do not have a free pass into their communities. And we should understand the position we are putting these communities in when we encroach upon them: if we leverage our alliance and our power to gain access to groups to which we do not belong, we are continuing the dynamic of power based oppression. These groups are not likely to tell us we do not belong if they are benefiting from our alliance – to ask us to leave would be to risk the fundamentals of the alliance.
It’s frustrating to not belong. As an ally, it can be frustrating to know that we do not belong to the communities to which we offer our alliance because often times in offering our alliance to communities to which we do not belong, we alienate ourselves from the communities from which we came. However, it is not up to these communities to accept us just because that is the position in which we put ourselves. If anything, we also need to focus on building a new community for ourselves which departs from the old values of the communities we left but does not encroach on communities to which we do not belong. This can be a lonely fight. But it is a fight worth fighting.
We do not want to risk being the next Rachel Dolezal. We do not want to risk losing sight of our own identities and stealing someone else’s identity because familiarity through alliance breeds a false sense of belonging or even coming from that other identity. The acceptance that we find from the groups with which we work does not translate into coming from that group or belonging to that group. We have to accept that there might not be any prizes or rewards for being an ally. We have to accept that it can, at times, be lonely.
But if we are to be good allies, if we are to be true allies, then that doesn’t matter. This isn’t why we are allies – we do not support other groups in order to quell our own sense of emotional displacement. We do it because it is right.
He holds me while he’s sleeping, and I drift away from this world and into the next. Away from the broken promises of right now or who I thought I would be today and into dreams, where things are strange and I can romp through elysian fields dressed up as someone else.
This world is not what I thought it would be. Which is why sleep comes easy these days – I would rather be there, in an imagination of something similar but also so different. In a realm of slight adjustments to the daily news cycle and tweaks to the functioning of our modern economic system. In dreams, we are happy together. When I wake up, we are still here.
I make long lists in my mind of what is wrong with the world and how that stops us from being happy together. I jot down notes about the stresses of paying rent and showing up to work on time and remembering to bring your ID with you everywhere you go. I write short stories about a world where we come and go as we choose, where we are not fenced in by local politics and overpopulation and pollution. These are tomes of simplicity not regression. I seek ideals of the best us that we could be – not the struggle against reality that we embody now.
He draws me in closer, and this is the best that we could possibly be in a world like this. We have done everything we can to survive together in this place. There are no improvements between us without the world drastically and fundamentally changing. This is who we are. This is who we will always be. We cannot change us. I doubt we will change the world.
I was talking to one of my male friends, and he told me that he had recently had a sexual encounter where the woman wouldn’t fuck him unless he engaged in BDSM with her. She was on the younger side, and as he was telling me this story, it struck me: I have heard this story before. Actually, I have lived this story before.
What struck me about his story were the small details: her age, which, at the stake of being stereotypical, belies a point in a young woman’s life when she is gaining sexual experience and being sexually explorative. The nature of the hook up was casual, but the demands were concrete and communicated solely during the sexual encounter rather than before. This speaks to a sexual exploration that isn’t necessarily in sync with romantic or emotional exploration, either.
The reason I was interested in my friend’s story wasn’t because it was a curious case, but, rather, because it was so familiar. That was, at one point, me. Granted, I’ve evolved considerably since then, but looking back on my former behavior through a mature lens made me realize: this is the mode of sexual exploration for women these days. Which has nothing to do with age and more to do with gaining useful bedroom experience.
Everyone explores sexuality differently. My sexual exploration was influenced heavily by two things: on the one hand, the presence of pornography and living in a geographic region that is known for easy access to kink culture skewed my perspective of sexuality to be a bit more extreme than it might actually be in real life. Granted, I love kink and porn and the LGBTQ community, but going from young and virginal straight to kink community gave me no foundation of the sexual basics. If anything, it taught me that if I want to be good in bed I have to be able to take ten inches in the ass while getting choked and humiliated – while enjoying the whole thing. It’s something I got good at over the years, and something I enjoy doing from time to time, but the fact of the matter is: if your partner doesn’t think that’s hot, then using that as your go to move can be a turn off. It doesn’t automatically qualify you as good in bed – what it does do is widen your sexual repertoire and vocabulary to be flexible and creative in a myriad of sexual situations. That way if your partner thinks it’s hot, then the sex can be amazing.
What the kink community didn’t teach me is that the basis of good sex is both an animal and an emotional connection with the people you fuck. Which brings me to the second, negative influencer on my sexuality: Catholicism. Ah, yes. I’m a fucking weirdo – it had to come from somewhere, right?
For me, the second influencer was Catholicism, although for you it might be religion, or a strict household, or reception of media images that preached shame around sexuality. The problem with preaching shame around sexuality is that it necessarily stunts the emotional response to sexuality – when sexuality is approached with an initial emotional state of shame, reaching emotional levels of vulnerability, intimacy, animalism, connection and pleasure can be entirely inhibited by the demon of shame. Which is why when confronted with conflicting influencers of emotional shame and high brow kink, I found myself willing to debase myself sexually in the name of figuring this shit out without being willing to engage emotionally with anyone I fucked.
Hence the numerous occasions on which I wanted a guy to choke me, but shamed him because he couldn’t or wouldn’t – I wanted to be sexually superior and capable of doing all those things that I had seen that would make me undeniably sexually attractive without having to actually take the time to communicate with my partners what they wanted or what turned them on or what was the best way for us to fuck each other.
This also speaks to a fairly limited perspective on my sexual partners, which are mostly men. Men have earned a bad rap for themselves, but over the years I have learned that not all men want the weirdest, kinkiest, freakiest shit in the bedroom. This has been a disappointing revelation for me personally – turns out men are not a one size fits all, be as freaky as you can be sexual beings. Good for them. (But, if I may speak to toxic masculinity here, it would be great to see men who don’t secretly want to be Hugh Hefner speak up on it publicly, to create that positive image of male sexuality as antithetical to all of that without being portrayed as a bitch or non-masculine in the face of toxic masculinity. That one’s on y’all.)
At this point in my piece, I would like to state: none of this is meant to kink shame or sexually shame people who are into kink or who have gone through this mode of sexual exploration. Rather, this is about a psychological self examination of how we can do things better. This is about talking about how we have embarked on our sexual journeys, and what we have learned along the way. This is about increasing our sexual intelligence in order to have better sex and in order to make better decisions. I know that as someone who took this path of sexual exploration, I have come out relatively unscathed. But that’s not true for everyone who walks down this path.
Reconciling a high kink sexuality and a non emotional relationship approach is harrowing. My particular path of sexual exploration meant discarding a lot of people who didn’t want to be discarded. I hurt a lot of people because I was (for whatever reason) in pain, and that level of pain seemed normal and manageable. It didn’t feel unnatural or wrong to have other people at my level of pain because of what I did to them.
I could say that I wish I had learned that lesson sooner or differently, but the fact of the matter is that I was going to learn that lesson regardless, and it was going to be painful anyways I learned it. I happened to learn it through sexuality.
I’m still learning. After a certain point, I realized that my pain was allowing me to put myself in increasingly more painful situations when it came to sex and romance. However, after coming to terms with my pain, I didn’t want to ratchet up the amount of pain that I was experiencing and creating. At a certain point, I realized that I wanted to be loved and to love. It’s a cheesy sentiment when I look at it in a sentence, but, then again, love has been coopted by our capitalist society as a mechanism of selling shit. But that conversation is for another time.
Love, much like sex, is something that you have to practice in order to be good at. Some people are lucky and just automatically know. The rest of us have to suffer through trial and error in order to figure out how this shit really works.
Which brings us back to the title of this piece: sexual intelligence. Hopefully, as we continue our journey through life, we get better at fucking and loving. Ideally, we are learning positive lessons (even in negative situations) about how to be better lovers in every sense of the word. It’s easier said than done. Being the best at sex and love can take years to learn – and sometimes it starts out with asking random hook ups to choke you out and then dipping if it’s unsatisfactory. That’s fine. That’s fair. Maybe that’s how forever goes sexually, or maybe that’s something we’re just doing for now.
Here’s to having better sex and better love as time goes on.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve been avoiding telling you all (and by you all I mean: my four loyal readers) that I turned thirty a month and a half ago.
I thought that I would be less anxious about it and more at peace with it, but, I’ll be honest – my 20’s we’re pretty hardcore (yes, in that sense), and meandering into my 30’s without much of a plan or a goal feels a bit feckless – especially on a sexual level.
Having left my 20’s in a blaze of glory, I find that I have arrived in my 30’s as a bit of a wet blanket. I pretty much did everything I set out to do in my 20’s (I mean this in a sexual sense), and now that I’m 30 there’s not much left on the table that is taboo or undone. The bucket list has been checked off. I have no more sexual goals.
This means that on the one hand, there’s a bit of sexual ennui. But I have always struggled with sexual ennui (and its wonderful counterpart, sexual mania) – that’s not the problem.
The problem with being 30 and sexually seasoned is the problem of having a sexual history. When I was still in my 20’s, there was always more to see and more to do. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I’ve done everything that I’ve ever wanted to do, and now – well, now dating is a pretty onerous task.
A lot of my peers who are single in their 30s go about dating in a very anxiety-driven manner. Single people in their 30’s are in a weird episode of their sexual journey. Often times, their early long term relationships have failed, or maybe they’re just shitty people. I don’t know – there are a lot of reasons for this.
Or maybe I’m just being judgmental and self conscious. Because, the fact of the matter is: now that we’re all in our 30’s, we’ve all been through the shit by now. We’ve all done some fucked up shit, seen some crazy shit, been different people, had wild experiences. Those experiences have shaped who we are, but we’re also alone.
It’s hard to meet new people and to try to explain why you are the way that you are. It’s hard to start from the beginning and retell all the cringeworthy stories and relive the heart break and put it all on the table. It’s hard to go over thirty years’ worth of misery and/or joy. We all have a sexual history now. And it’s always going to be relevant. It will always be brought up. It will always be a piece of us.
I didn’t think about that when I was in my 20’s. I didn’t think about that when I started this blog. That I’d have to sit down and meet new people and say, “Well, if you read this one thing I wrote about the guy who tried to kill me, then you’d understand why I’m acting so psycho.” (Or, whatever.)
Society hasn’t taught us how to be single for this long. If you’re like me, then society taught you that you had to take the first best person you could find and hope it worked out for the next fifty to sixty years. Nowadays, we can meander from person to person and hope for the best. However, in the interim: the single life.
So maybe we don’t know how to deal with trying to find a life partner later in life. Or, not even a life partner, but at least a partner that will work for right now. Because it’s hard to talk about the past and not feel shame – we have been trained to feel shame about our past lives.
This is my celebration of my ever evolving sexuality, even when I’m 30 in the midst of the fucking Trump era. This shit is definitely evolving, or, perhaps, in some ways: devolving. But it’s still there! And I’m not ashamed.