Welcome! I’m Tai Scarlet Kulystin, the creatrix of Purveyor of Pleasure. I am a somatic sexuality educator, occultist, professional harlot, and gender & relationships coach. This blog is my personal exploration of gender, sexuality, spirituality, kink, and the pitfalls of an overanalytical nature.
I identify as a queer fat genderqueer polyamorous switch and my pronouns are they/them or any neutral pronouns. I spend a lot of my time studying sacred sexuality, sacred kink, relationships, the body, queer theory, depth psychology, archetypes, mythology, erotic neurobiology, sexological bodywork, and so much more. I'm in a long-term live-in relationship with my partner Onyx, and I also have a few other relationships and lovers. Read more about this site & me→
I don’t think I’ve read a better description or example of sex positivity before. It’s clear and concise and isn’t hinged upon using “positive” speech despite the sex-positive name:
Although fewer people would say that “I think anal sex is amazing” is a sex-negative statement, I consider it to be just as problematic as “I think anal sex is gross.” What makes something like this sex-negative isn’t whether one uses a positive or negative adjective. It’s that saying these sorts of things neglects the diversity of sexual experiences and pleasures.
Simply put, these sorts of things aren’t true. Anal sex is gross for some people and amazing for some people and boring for some people and exciting for some people. No matter what word you use to finish the sentence, you’re leaving out many people’s experiences and that is what makes it sex-negative.
On the other hand, when you say something like “I enjoy/dislike/fill-in-the-blank anal sex,” you’re practicing mindful speech. You’re explicitly recognizing that your experience is your own. You’re not making a sweeping statement and you’re not claiming that anyone else should have the same response that you have. It doesn’t matter whether the word you use is positive or negative in this example, either.
Sex-positivity isn’t about enjoying every possible way to have sex. Sex-positivity isn’t about only using positive words when talking about sex.
Sex-positivity is about making room for different people to have wildly different experiences. And in order to do so, we can practice using language that makes room for that. One of the best (and most difficult) ways to do that is to own our experiences and try to not make sweeping statements. It’s simultaneously quite simple and incredibly difficult, which is why so many people seem to not understand it. Well, that and the fact that there aren’t a lot of examples of mindful speech in the media- it doesn’t make for good soundbites. [emphasis mine]
Why does this matter? I’ve considered myself sex-positive for quite some time and this distinction is an important one. I’ve heard people saying that “sex-positivity” is some sort of trend word, which in some ways I think is true. There seems to be a big trend in those who write about sex and sexuality1 to adopt the term “sex-positive” even when it’s clear they know nothing about what it means.
Of course, being sex-positive and confronting your own internalized sex-negativity2 is a continual process, it’s not something you earn like a merit badge that you can then flash at people to prove that you are sex-positive. Saying you’re sex-positive only gets you so far if you don’t walk the walk. I love his point that it’s not about always saying something positive either, despite “positive” being right in the term itself. I think this is something people get hung up on and a very important point to make.
It may be some sort of trendy word to some, but for others of us it is something we strive for.
as opposed to “sex bloggers” since I don’t really like that term [↩]
Yesterday (October 11th) was National Coming Out Day. If I had been on top of things this post would have come out then, but I’m a little bit behind on just about everything at this moment. I used this day to reflect on my identities. Here are some of my thoughts.
I’ve been out for quite a while. Unless this is your first time here and/or you haven’t read the about page yet you should already know that I have a long string of labels I like to use in order to describe my identities. I am a genderqueer fat femme drag queen fagette and pomo queer intellisexual polyamorous switch. I am also an occultist, sacred whore, astrologer, and all manner of other things. Specifically NCOD refers to coming out of the proverbial closet, or LGBT(QQIA) people coming out, so I focused on my identity string.
I’ve talked about this before, but the main reason why I use so many identity words strung together like I do is so that it is nearly impossible to pigeonhole me into one identity or another. Instead, it forces people to acknowledge the way the identities blend and interchange between them, and how my identities are fluid. At least, that’s my theory.
I don’t really have a story of coming out to my parents. I remember being a teenager telling my mother I was bisexual. Her response? “Oh. I thought you were a lesbian.” And that was it. During the triad with Marla I told both of my parents about her and our relationship configuration and they both responded without judgment, just asked practical questions about the situation.
Coming out, ultimately, is an ongoing process both for me and, really, for everyone. While there are people who fit into the stereotypical way that a certain identity or another looks there are just as many if not more people who are not so easy to categorize with a look. For those of us who are not blatantly obvious we have to come out over and over again, to just about everyone we choose. This is compounded by the fact that I present femme most of the time and have a cisgendered male partner so we are often mistaken for a straight couple even though neither of us is straight.
This isn’t to say I walk up to new people and give them the string of identity words I used above, but it does mean that there are times I have to come out, sometimes coming out multiple times to the same person.
It can be exhausting, but I appreciate the ability to live stealth as well, so I can be privy to those possibly bigoted conversations and attempt to put in my own two cents, and as a result maybe change some minds.
One thing that continues to amaze me is the ability someone has to be an inspiration for others simply by being themselves. By doing what is right and good for you others can be inspired to do the same for themselves, and I love this. Every time you come out is an act of courage. Feel free to come out in the comments.
I have a secret (or not so secret?) love of old 50s and 60s movies with Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, and so on. As much as I adore genderfucky practice there is something so lovely about watching Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire sing and dance in fabulous clothing (which happens to be what is on the television as I write this), or any of the various other very hetero very gender normative pairings that are mainstream movies from that era.
Why are some of my ‘comfort movies’ classics like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? With winning exchanges like “I can be smart when I want to, but most men don’t like it, except Gus.” “No, that much of a fool he isn’t.”
Granted, there are a few gender bending movies like Some Like It Hot and strong female characters in other movies as well, though inevitably they always end up wrong somehow and the men end up right. In Some Like It Hot there are some wonderfully amusing and genderfucking moments, though they happen on the part of Daphne/Gerald who is willing to dress up as a woman from the beginning, unlike Joe/sephine who only agrees to it after they witness a mob mass-murder.
Though I didn’t used to when I was younger, I now recognize the inherent sexism within most of these films, and instead of being upset about it I shrug and think “that’s the way it was.” I think that is necessary in some ways, however, since there’s no use getting mad over something that happened 50 years ago, and if the same themes or lines were in movies today I would definitely be upset about it. However, my complacency about the sexism and stereotypes portrayed is a little disturbing to me all the same.
Is my recognizing the inherent sexism the most important part of the equation? I can’t help but love movies from that era, partially because they have been my comfort movies for over ten years. It’s always nice to watch a movie with a happy ending, and these usually have them. While as I mentioned above there are usually some strong characters in the movies they are often somehow wrong or proved wrong throughout the course of the movie or they are not seen as sexual or love objects, such as the magazine owner in Funny Face who is obsessed with her career and says that she has no room for love.
I think part of my love of these movies, aside from the happy endings, is the fabulous clothes, hair, and make-up all the female leads always have. Even when they are “broke” as in How to Marry a Millionare or Some Like It Hot they are still femmed up to the nines with elegant dresses, furs, sequens, gorgeous shoes, perfect hair, etc. The men, as well, are elegantly dressed: suits and ties, fedoras, sleek and gorgeous clothing. The femme in me revels in the wonderful hair and makeup.
I’ve always loved the style of these movies, the classicly glamorous look that the starlets represent, the pin-up look that never seems to go completely out of style. I love that the women in the films are actually women-sized, as opposed to the stick figures we mostly see today. Lately I have been wanting to cut my hair, get some rollers, and start wearing it like a redheaded Marilyn Monroe.
In the end, I think what is really important is that we recobnize the sexism in these films when we watch them now, since they were made in times that were trying to portray heterosexist and gender normative ideas as the norm (not to say we don’t still have that now). We all know that the 50s and 60s were trying to portray an image of perfection and normalcy that is basically unattainable, and wasn’t attained even then, although people strived for it. The movies of that era are equally unattainable, like fairy tales or romance novels (minus the smut), but they sure are fun to watch.
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Though I did write about the election, I have been meaning to talk about Proposition 8 in California. I attended the rally to protest the LDS church’s involvement in Prop 8 here in Salt Lake City last Friday, we met up by the LDS Temple and marched around it. I do believe that this has been a great catalyst for the queer rights movement lately, and I also think that marriage is just one small aspect of what we need to be focusing on, but having one goal to rally around does help organize a movement.
I saw this last night, as I have become an avid watcher of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow (conveniently on right after another) in the last few months, originally because of the election but now I seem to have become a bit of a liberal political media junkie (not hugely, but a little). This has been popping up all over today, and it’s something that touched me strongly enough that I would like to share with you. He makes some of the best, strongest, and most organized points against Prop 8 that I’ve seen on TV, because it is a personal rights issue and a love issue not a religious issue.
Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.
Some parameters, as preface. This isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really just about Prop-8. And I don’t have a personal investment in this: I’m not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.
And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.
If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.
Only now you are saying to them—no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble. You’ll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?
I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.
The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.
You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.
And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.
How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?
What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.
It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.
And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?
With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.
You don’t have to help it, you don’t have it applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out. Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe you don’t even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.
This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.
But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:
“I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam,” he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love.
Just 75 days and some odd hours until the current administration and the last eight years become a memory, and Barack Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States. I am overwhelmed.
I’m saddened that Proposition 8 does not seem to be doing too well in California. While not all of the results are in yet there is quite a gap. The good news is we know that they’ll end up doing something else in CA to legalize same sex marriages at some point in the near-to-distant future, another loophole to jump through, etc.
I’ve heard a few people who opposed Prop 8 say that they think it wasn’t right for the courts to overrule something the people had put in place, to which I replied that is the job of the courts and our leaders to look out for the minority that the majority is oppressing. If they weren’t looking out for the minority we would probably not have as many civil rights . The most extreme and obvious examples are slavery and segregation. If we had let the people decide those may never have ended (and probably wouldn’t have).
On a lighter note, from my election party tonight (for those of you who didn’t already see them on twitter):
Obama cupcakes (from scratch, yes, I made them myself including the icing. It was all vegan and sugar-free, though you wouldn’t know it if I didn’t tell you).
Red, white, and blue martini – Mango or Pomegranate Vodka (we had both, it called for cranberry but the only cranberry vodka at the liquor store was smirnoff), blue curacao, and red pop rocks on the rim of the glass (like fireworks!). The vodka and curacao were layered, the vodka on top of the curacao, though it’s kinda hard to tell in the photo.
For those of you in the United States, the 4th is a huge day for us, not only because we are going to get the change we need (I hope), but also it may be the largest voter turnout in history they say, assuming people will actually wait in lines as long as they’re going to be. Lucky for me, I vote absentee in Alaska, so I have no lines to wait through.
Be sure you know where you’re voting and who and what you’re voting for.
Personally, Onyx and I are throwing an election day party at our house, complete with red, white, and blue martinis called Boston Pops Martini (heavy on the blue), I’m highly considering making Obama cupcakes tomorrow as well (vegan, most likely), and I also bought champagne for the event hoping that the outcome is good!
In addition to the national presidential election, the other two I’ll be watching closely are the two mentioned above, though there are many other ballot measures in other states that are just as important. See Sinclair’s list over here.
I remember reading my mom’s copies Bitch magazine years ago while I was still living at home. I began reading it at a point in my life where my feminist nature was already deeply ingrained in me, although I wasn’t consciously aware of it. I don’t remember the year, but I do remember reading issue after issue, each one wonderful and eye-opening. I have never been subscribed to Bitch, although I don’t really know why, but there is usually an issue or two lying around mom’s house when I go back to visit (which I shall be doing this time next week).
Bitch needs to raise $40,000 by October 15th in order to produce the next issue of Bitch. As I’m sure many of you know, the economy is dramatically declining, and print magazines are no longer as popular as they once were anyway, so the combination is not a good one. They are a “nonprofit, reader-funded media organization” so they heavily rely on donations to produce the magazine.
I haven’t posted too much that’s out-and-out politics on this site, though I do get political it is in a very specific way. The previous videos have been related to sexism in Hillary Clinton’s campaign or the way Obama and McCain view queer issues and this time the video is again about the gender politics re-emerging in the presidential race, highlighting the hypocrisy of the GOP in their treatment of Sarah Palin.
I thought this was worth sharing because not only do I love Jon Stewart but while this hypocrisy is easy to witness it’s much more powerful when you see the clips back-to-back like they are. Also, Wasilla is tiny and so not the second largest city in Alaska. I should know, I grew up in the third largest city in Alaska, and Wasilla at 9,000 does not have a higher population than Juneau. Not that it’s really important, but come on! Alaska is small population-wise, but it’s not that small!
Alaska soapbox aside, I hope you are as amused by this video as I am.
I’m going to add my definitions of femmeinist and fucktoy to the masthead shortly, and I pondering adding “femmeinist” to the Urban Dictionary, so, of course, I took a look at how feminist is defined in there.
At this point in my life I really should not have been surprised at the definitions which were posted, which basically call all feminists sexist, hypocritical, mean, man-haters, etc. all those wonderful negative stereotypes. I really should not have been saddened or surprised, or have thought that it might be any different.
At least the #2 entry reads:
someone who believes the radical notion that women are people.
if you believe that women and men should have equal rights, you are a feminist. there’s nothing “extreme” about it.
That’s something, right? I urge you all to go to the definition of feminist in the Urban Dictionary and vote for that entry and vote down all the other entries which perpetuate negative stereotypes. While, yes, there are those feminists out there, they are not the majority (at least, not in my experience), they are just the ones which get the most coverage.
*Sigh* So, look for my definitions of femmeinist and fucktoy on the new masthead, should be coming within the hour. Also, I may add femmeinist to the Urban Dictionary, but I wonder if people would bash it as well? I definitely will add my definition of fucktoy (on UD as both fucktoy and fuck toy) however, since the definitions there are all degrading. I’m definitely not using it in a degrading manner.
Also, as a note since I’m mentioning site changes as well, I recently added a weekly poll to the top left sidebar, as well as links to my various wishlists (Amazon, VibeReview, Eden Fantasys, JT’s Stockroom, and Extreme Restraints) on the right sidebar under the buttons to my various profiles on other sites. I also added a list of affiliate links on the left sidebar (such as VibeReview, Eden Fantasys, Babeland, JT’s Stockroom, Extreme Restraints, and Amazon) which look rather similar to the wishlist links, of course, as these are the sites I often frequent and also highly recommend. I will shortly add a paypal donate link, just in case anyone feels generous.
As you may have noticed, I’ve changed the title yet again, though this time a minor change from “feminist” to “femmeinist.” Now, the difference is subtle, but I believe there is a big difference. Traditionally feminism has tried to lead women to more androgynous looks, and has really frowned upon femininity as just something which the patriarchy has thought up, a male fantasy, and not something that we should buy into.
As Julia Serano said in Whipping Girl “Even many feminists buy into traditionally sexist notions about femininity–that it is artificial, contrived, and frivolous; that it is a ruse that only serves the purpose of attracting and appeasing the desires of men… After all, as a concept, feminism is much like the ideas of “democracy” or “Christianity.” Each has a major tenet at its core, yet there are a seemingly infinite number of ways in which those beliefs are practiced. And just as some forms of democracy and Christianity are corrupt and hypocritical while others are more just and righteous we… must… forge a new type of feminism, one that understands that the only way for us to achieve true gender equity is to abolish both oppositional sexism* and traditional sexism.**”
Femmeinist thought, however, embraces femininity and femmeininity, and is working toward that new type of feminism (or, femmeinism). While currently gender politics is still working on abolishing oppositional sexism*, traditional sexism** still abounds. It is in the fact that in order to be “gender neutral” one must look masculine, there is nearly no way to be gender neutral while really taking on feminine characteristics. Femininity must be strong, otherwise it wouldn’t be that if someone is wearing make up or a skirt that seems to automatically negate any other masculine gendered performance.
Something I came across here via The Femme Show was a definition of what femme is, or can be: “[the femme is] a betrayer of legibility itself. Seemingly “normal,” she responds to “normal” expectations with a sucker punch– she occupies normality abnormally.” – Lisa Duan and Kathleen McHugh from “A Fem(me)inist Manifesto” This is why part of my idea of who can be femme or not does not have to do only with sexuality. Femme is not about who you sleep with, though it can be, but there are plenty of feminine lesbians who are not femme. Femme is about consciousness: a conscious genderfuck in the rouse of traditional femininity. Anyone who consciously takes on the role of femininity as a deviant identity can be femme. Though, I believe it is easier for those who are already outside of social norms, such as lesbians and bisexual women, to come to a queer femininity and embrace it.
Femme is not something that sneaks up on you (though, it can sneak up on you in some ways, but there must be a conscious awareness to it as well), there is a definite change that happens from feminine to femme, or butch to femme or butch to genderqueer to femme (as was, in some ways, my transition). There is a transition, as with any trans identity: female to femme, perhaps. There is a wonderful movie which I am dying to see (I’ve only seen the trailer for it) which is called FtF: Female to Femme (you can view the trailer here). It seems like a step in the right direction.
I have so much more to say about femme, so many more ideas, and I will have more posts on it in the near future. This is kind of a rough-draft. Expect more and deeper investigation.
* oppositional sexism – “The belief that female and male are rigid, mutually exclusive categories, each posessing a unique and nonoverlapping set of attributes, aptitudes, abilities, and desires.”
** traditional sexism – “The belief that maleness and masculinity are superior to femaleness and femininity.”