Buzzfeed for Valentine’s Day

Thanks to my fab publishers, Routledge, I’m included on a Buzzfeed for a second time, this time for Valentine’s Day. I’m loving the fact that they’ve put my suggestion about not privileging romantic relationships at the very top (I sent out cards to close friends this year and it felt really good).

10 Ways To Revamp Your Relationship

The only downside for me is that it wasn’t my tip that got illustrated with this awesome Troy and Abed gif (my favourite characters on a TV show ever!) I’m going to steal it and put it here anyway. Happy Valentine’s day everyone :-)

TroyAbed

BDSM 101: Consent, consent, consent

This week I’m blogging about kink up to the film release of Fifty Shades of Grey. In the previous three days I’ve covered mythbusting, finding out more, and figuring out what you’re into. Today – to finish – I’m focusing on the most important issue of consent.

Consent, consent, consent

Despite what you might think from Fifty Shades, consent is not just a matter of having a safeword! In fact we can see from Fifty Shades itself that safewords are not enough. The first time that Christian spanks Ana she’s really not sure if she likes it. Her feelings about it change from when it happens to later when she reflects on it. She has similar ambivalence on other occasions but clearly doesn’t feel that she can use her safeword to express that uncertainty.

There are huge cultural pressures around sex. We often feel – as Ana seems to – that we must have certain kinds of sex a certain amount in order not to lose a relationship. We feel that we should ‘perform’ certain kinds of sex in order to be a ‘real’ man/woman, or a ‘proper’ straight or queer person. We feel like if we’ve had a kind of sex before we’re obligated to have it again. We feel too embarrassed or awkward to say we’re not enjoying something. We feel that because we’ve done one thing we should automatically do others. All of these are deeply problematic ways of thinking about sex which hurt us badly, but they are also really hard to completely step away from because they’re so engrained in our culture.

So, when it comes to consent, we can’t just rely on partners to say ‘no’ or safeword if they’ve stopped enjoying it. Instead, consent should be about trying to minimise the pressures that they – and we – are under, so that we can be as confident as possible that what we’re doing is consensual. How can we do this? Well it is definitely worth talking about the messages we’ve received about sex and reassuring the other person that we really wouldn’t want them doing something they don’t enjoy. We can also deliberately avoid making any suggestion that kink or sex should involve certain things (e.g. genitals, pain, orgasms, or fancy outfits) or that certain things are more or less normal.

power

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BDSM 101: Figuring out, and communicating, what you’re into

This week I’m blogging about kink up to the film release of Fifty Shades of Grey. Yesterday focused on finding out more. Today I’m covering how to figure out, and communicate, what you’re into.

Figuring out what you’re into

There’s a sense in Fifty Shades that the kind of ‘kinky fuckery’ that Ana finds herself enjoying is fine, but that the kind of ‘real’ BDSM that Christian is after is not okay. Please put these kinds of distinctions from your mind! People are always trying to draw lines between what kinds of play are okay and what kinds aren’t. For ages it was that missionary penis-in-vagina man/woman sex was fine and nothing else was. Then it expanded a bit to any kind of sex involving genitals was okay, but other stuff wasn’t. Now, after Fifty Shades, we’re told that a bit of light spanking and fluffy handcuffs is okay but anything ‘more than that’ isn’t. All this focus on what counts as normal, right, proper sex (and what doesn’t) takes us aware from far more important questions such as what the people involved actually enjoy, and how to do it ethically.

Fifty-Shades-Grey-Trailer

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BDSM 101: Finding out more about kink

This week I’m blogging about kink up to the film release of Fifty Shades of Grey. Yesterday was an introduction. Today I’m focusing on how to find out more about kink.

Finding out more about kink

In Fifty Shades Christian swears Ana to secrecy about their kink relationship so that she can’t talk to anybody else in her life about it. This is a terrible idea! It’s a huge warning sign in a relationship if there are areas you’re forced to keep secret. Given how common kink is there may well be people already in your life who you can chat openly about your ideas with. However there is still stigma around kink, so you might prefer to talk with people who’re already involved in BDSM.

If you’re new to kink, there is a huge wealth of information available to help you get started. It’s definitely worth checking this out and learning from people who have been there and got the Tshirt.

Tshirt

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BDSM 101 (or what to do and what not to do from Fifty Shades of Grey)

The film of Fifty Shades of Grey is out this week to much excitement and media attention. As somebody who has researched with BDSM communities for over a decade, and written about the Fifty Shades books, I thought it’d be useful to give my suggestions for people who are thinking about getting into kink for the first time having watched the movie.

So, over the next four days, I’m going to cover the following topics, including where I think Fifty Shades gets it right, and where it has a lot of room for improvement:

Before we go on it’s important to say that pretty much everything covered here is also true for any kind of sex – not just kink. It’s sad that people often don’t think about tuning into what they enjoy, or ensuring consent, until they’re considering BDSM. So you might well find it useful to read on even if kink isn’t something you’re particularly interested in.

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Why be normal?

This Valentine’s day I’ll be taking a break from my usual topics of this time of year and I’ll be blogging about the Fifty Shades of Grey movie which is released for Valentine’s weekend.

Meanwhile here’s a link to a blog post which I did about normal sex for the Sick! Festival which I’ll be taking part in up in Manchester in March.

Why be normal?

Buzzfeed new year tips

Wow I made it onto one of those Buzzfeed lists with a couple of my (anti) new year resolution tips!

It was part of a selection of Routledge authors providing their thoughts on new year changes. I don’t necessarily share all of their ideas, but it is nice to see several in there about kindness and openness.

Also I really like that one of my tips is illustrated with this lovely creature :-)

sloth

Self-help on the radio!

Yesterday I was included in the Radio 4 programme talking about self-help in general and Rewriting the Rules in particular. You can catch the episode on the Thinking Allowed website here.

Such a great way to end 2014.

ThinkingAllowed

 

New Year Resolutions

It’s that time again! As people who have read this blog before will know, I’m not a huge fan of New Year resolutions. First because I’m not convinced that times like New Year or big birthdays are the best time for making changes, and secondly because the resolutions that we make at these times are often enforced in an unkind way. This exacerbates our tendency to be too hard on ourselves as well as often setting ourselves up for failure.

Here are a few more thoughts on the matter, as well as some tips if you are keen to make some resolutions, but in a kinder way.

This may not be the best time of year to make promises to ourselves

There are certain times of year, and times of life, when people often feel pressured to make promises to themselves and to change their lives in various ways. Generally these aren’t great times to do these things because of all the pressure surrounding them. At times like that we often try to force changes, rather than making them kindly. Also we often try to make lots of changes all at once. We can end up feeling a huge sense of failure if we don’t succeed because of all the pressure on the situation.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 55,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 20 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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