I don’t know where to even start
by getting permission
Anonymous said: (1/3) Hey Cliff! I've been a fan of your blog for a long time- it's had a very positive impact on the way I think about sex and sexuality. Anyway... I started dating a new guy a few weeks ago. We were both super into each other and eager to have sex. I'm on the bc pill, but as we've both had previous partners we agreed that we should use condoms until we had STD tests. However, he has had difficulty maintaining an erection, in general and particularly with a condom (cont.)
(2/3) Which is something he brought up before we got sexual, and he has assured me it has nothing to do with me personally. Anyway, here is the issue: we were fooling around and having PIV intercourse with a condom when he went soft. A little later he has hard again and rubbing against me (and I was grinding back), and for a moment he pushed in and penetrated me. When he pulled out I looked and saw he wasn’t wearing a condom anymore, and I got upset. He apologized (cont.)
(3/3) and said he thought I had seen him take it off, asked if I was okay, and left when I asked him too. I was very mad for a while, but asked to talk to him that night. He apologized and totally understood why I was upset- he had even called his mom to ask her what he should do. He didn’t trivialize my feelings or tell me I was overreacting… he even acknowledged that I could call it rape. But was it?
Ugh. I really try not to give “just dump the jerk” advice; I know that’s always easier said than done when it’s someone else’s relationship and there are positives I can’t see.
But this sounds just awful. It sounds really like… like he’s saying all the right words too easily. Like he’s managing your emotions really well and the actual fact of what he did not at all. I’m kind of reading between the lines here, but I’m sensing that he’s giving you a lot of warm sensitive understanding words without much actual remorse. Like the way you’d comfort a partner who tripped and hurt their ankle. Not the way you’d have to deal with apologizing and explaining yourself to a partner you tripped yourself. Even his “you could call it rape” strikes me weird, like a reverse-psychology way to push you into saying “oh honey I don’t want to get that extreme about a misunderstanding.”
Maybe what’s really bothering me is this: if you hadn’t caught him, if you hadn’t noticed or thought the condom came off as he was pulling out, do you think he would’ve apologized?
I don’t like to make the “was it rape” call. That’s for you to do. (I feel like making that call can imply that if it wasn’t rape then it was okay and you have to keep dating, or that if it was rape that you have to fit into some particular sort of survivor role now.) But I’ll definitely make the call that it was awful, that I am far more creeped out than impressed by his Sensitive Guy response, and that you should stay very very far away from this jerk.
Anonymous said: How do you train yourself to care about other people's feelings, when you've spent most of your life not caring how your actions affect others? Also, how can you develop respect for others when you've spent most of your life having some degree of contempt for literally everyone around you?
I’m not sure how serious this ask is, but just in case, I’ll tell you my secret:
You don’t have to care.
What you think and feel about others is totally irrelevant. Think what you please. What happens inside your head is private and your own business, and neither you nor anyone else needs to police or censor it. Worry instead about what you do. (Including what you say/type/etc. Communicating counts as doing.)
Don’t worry about whether you have contempt for someone. Worry about whether you’re rolling your eyes at them or talking down to them or not giving serious responses to what they say.
Is this “fake it until you make it?” Sort of. I think if you work on acting like a caring person, you’re likely to develop real caring in the process. But it doesn’t matter. If you act like a good person all the time, you actually are a good person, even if you feel rotten contemptuous things on the inside the whole time. So work on not hurting other people’s feelings; don’t worry about whether you actually care about them.
Bear in mind, also, that caring is not the same as being sensitive or sappy. If someone tells you they’re in pain, you don’t have to make yourself go “oohhh sweetie you poor thing there there” in your gooiest voice; just say “is there something I can do to help, or would you rather be left alone?” in a totally matter-of-fact voice.
Finally, if you do want to change how you think, get over the idea of people having a “worth” or “value” that’s determined by their intelligence or achievements or likeability or anything. There’s no such thing, it’s got no objective existence at all, and you can really wreck yourself (as well as others) if you try to live in a world where only the worthiest are taken seriously and you have to fight super hard to be more worthy than everyone around you. Give it up and just… live. And realize the other people around you are all just living too.
Thus, the logic of the feminist argument to “Teach men not to rape” is revealed.
Yes because it’s such a radical notion to expect rapists to control themselves.
Uh, we do tell thieves not to rob, though. We actually spend a lot of energy teaching kids that stealing is wrong. We keep trying to teach them it’s wrong through their teens and adult years.
And when someone gets robbed? Cops don’t ask them if their front door was locked. They don’t ask them if they invited the thief into their house and maybe said the thief was free to take things before changing their mind the next day. And this is true even though sometimes people do get robbed by folks they invite in under false pretenses.
Cops and lawyers and judges don’t work together to make people who get robbed feel like shit for not installing extra security systems or putting bars on their windows. They don’t use people’s former history of inviting neighbors in and letting them borrow stuff to argue that they had no right to expect someone to respect their property. The media doesn’t talk about how the thief’s promising life was ruined by their victim’s decision to prosecute.
Your metaphor is bad and you should feel bad.
All this, but also:
What exactly is “locking your door?” When you’re locking the door to your house, that’s a single, quick, well-defined action that is definitely effective and has little impact on your overall lifestyle. If you know of anything that women can do to prevent rape that’s as low-impact and reliable as remembering to turn a key a couple times a day, please, tell me about it! Tell everyone! This could be some revolutionary shit!
But if what you really mean is something more like “don’t go into the cartoonishly obvious dark alleys that no doubt litter your city, and don’t dress in a way that suggests you have a corporeal body, and don’t associate with dangerous men (shouldn’t be hard to identify them, all dangerous men have prominent “DANGEROUS MAN” facial tattoos), and don’t go outdoors alone at night, and don’t go to parties or at least for God’s sake don’t ever drink at parties, and I saw this one email saying you shouldn’t wear ponytails and hey did you hear about this magical fingernail polish?”…
Well, there’s a lot I can say about all that, but all I’m going to say right now is that’s a bit more than turning a key.
Anonymous said: hi cliff. i'm in a relationship with another woman. we're both pretty into bdsm (i'm a sub, she's a domme), and i'm incredibly happy with the sex we have, but i can kinda slowly feel the domme/sub power dynamic creeping into the actual relationship, which i really don't want to happen. what can i do to stop it?
Talk to her about it! Don’t let this be an unspoken thing between you. Bring it out into the open and say “I’m incredibly happy with our sex and BDSM play, but I’m worried it’s creeping into our ‘real-life’ relationship dynamic in ways that I don’t want. Can we make an effort to avoid that?”
And after you’ve had this talk, try to call it out as it happens. If she asks you to do something for her that’s not an appropriate request between equals, point it out. If you find yourself rushing to accommodate her in ways that you wouldn’t for an equal, try to notice it and stop yourself.
It may also help to have a tangible symbol of when you’re in scene-space, like a collar or jewelry or some other item that you put on for a scene, and afterwards take off to signify that the scene is over and your relationship is no longer in that space.
I don’t know if anything else has these hangups, but I do, so:
• You are allowed to do school and work projects about things that interest you personally. As long as it fits the project requirements, there is no rule that it only counts if you choose something you don’t enjoy.
• You are allowed to use references when you make art. There is no rule that it only counts if you start with a blank page and nothing else.
• You are allowed to practice skills before you perform them in public. There is no rule that it only counts if you can do it the first time you ever tried.
• You are allowed to plan skills before you perform them in public. There is no rule that it only counts if you can do it 100% spontaneously.
Anonymous said: So, story time: I am a transman. I got set up on a blind date with a lady. Nervous at first, but we really hit it off. She is gorgeous and sweet and we're both having the time of our lives, and long story short, we end up back at my place. Around the time things get going, I realize she doesn't know: virtually no one does (the friend who set me up on the date sure didn't). So I start to panic a little, because while I am totally into this girl, I've been turned down before when people (c)
get past the pants. So I’m suddenly freaking out, and as much as I love that this is happening, I’m trying to defuse the moment a little. I REALLY like this girl, I really don’t want to blow this. So she seems concerned, and asks what’s wrong, and she looks really freaked out that she’s hurt me or something (or so i assumed). At this point, we’re both nearing panic attack territory, and attempt to stop. While we’re trying to detangle from each other, I realize why she’s freaking out:
she’s gotten hard. Turns out, she’s trans as well, and was scared my panic was because I had realized, and was trying to bail on her for it. I explain, and she cracks the fuck up, and so do I, and long story short: we’ve been married for three years now. I figured you might enjoy, as you’re one of my favorite blogs for relationship/sexuality things, and I thought I should share. :D
Awww. <3 Thank you so much for sharing, and congrats to you and your wife!