Sinful Sunday: Venus in Furs

My company was charming.

Opposite me by the massive Renaissance fireplace sat Venus; she was not a casual woman of the half-world, who under this pseudonym wages war against the enemy sex, like Mademoiselle Cleopatra, but the real, true goddess of love.

She sat in an armchair and had kindled a crackling fire, whose reflection ran in red flames over her pale face with its white eyes, and from time to time over her feet when she sought to warm them.

Her head was wonderful in spite of the dead stony eyes; it was all I could see of her. She had wrapped her marble-like body in a huge fur, and rolled herself up trembling like a cat.

Venus in Furs 1

“I don’t understand it,” I exclaimed, “It isn’t really cold any longer. For two weeks past we have had perfect spring weather. You must be nervous.”

“Much obliged for your spring,” she replied with a low stony voice, and immediately afterwards sneezed divinely, twice in succession.

Venus in Furs 2

Venus in this abstract North, in this icy Christian world, has to creep into huge black furs so as not to catch cold—

[Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs]

Even though this isn’t a classical pose, I’m stretching my definition a bit and including this in my poses of Venus series.

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Boobday: sovereignty exercises

Self-ownership (or sovereignty of the individual, individual sovereignty or individual autonomy) is the concept of property in one’s own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to have bodily integrity, and be the exclusive controller of his own body and life. (Wikipedia)

A few recent events in the news relating to women’s autonomy, or rather the systematic and not-so-systematic ways it’s undermined, have me pissed off. I started writing a few words, which turned into a tip-of-the-iceberg rant in need of more research, thought, editing and time. I may write that post, but not today.

But here’s my conclusion in a nutshell: my body and my sexuality are mine, and I’ll be the one to decide what’s right for me.

I’m exploring my sexuality, and this blog is part of that process. I post nude and semi-nude photos for my own reasons. This isn’t about the male gaze – this is for my gaze and I’m allowing folks to peer over my shoulder, as it were. If anyone wants to second-guess my choices about my sexuality and my body, they can fuck right off.

You see this? All this is mine.

Boobday all this is mine

More Boobday here.

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book porn

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ve probably got me pegged as a bookish sort, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But the majority of the books in the house belong to Wolf. He’s got seven Billy bookcases* shoehorned into the second bedroom/office. It’s a working library, and because of the limited space, anything that isn’t directly relevant to his work may be banished to boxes in the basement. So here’s one corner of the little library. It’s so jam-packed with books that, in this corner, you can’t even see the walls that are painted in my favorite shade of deep red.

books!

Swoon-worthy, right?

Ordinarily I let my camera choose ISO and shutter speed, but in the low light, that would have made for a grainy photo. For this photo, I set the ISO as low as I could (200) and used my tripod and remote. All in the name of getting the crispest photo so you can perv the spines. Click for hi-res.

My books are fewer and less photogenic. I tend to read fiction, though interestingly when it comes to sex I prefer non-fiction. Want to peruse my virtual nightstand? Check out my reading list page, where I keep a running annotated list of the books I’ve read on sexuality, relationships, BDSM, etc.

I’ve recently come to realize that most of my personal growth over the last two years or so (including but not limited to my epiphany) has been spurred by the reading I’ve done. The books about sexuality are included on the reading list page, but much of my reading has been about psychology and related topics that pique my interest. Occasionally these topics cross over into the blog, so I’ve recently created a new tag “I learned it from a book” (in reference to the Fawlty Towers bit) to keep track of the books that, although important to my understanding of my sexuality and sexual experiences, won’t appear on the reading list.

Sex and books – an excellent combination.

This is my first time participating in…

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* An Ikea Billy bookcase is now an international standard measure.

Dark Ages 20: Bad Boy, a special case

Dark Ages is a series about my dating history. I left off six months ago, saying that Bad Boy would be getting his own post “soon”. Oops. But now, finally, here it is…

My relationship with Bad Boy was seriously fucked up, but there was also a level of complexity that I was unable to understand back then. From time to time over the years I’d look back, shake my head and wonder what the hell had happened. It took years, but I think I’ve unravelled it all.

During the relationship

We met, had a bit of a romp that night (but no sex), and started dating immediately. I vaguely recall that it seemed good at the beginning. I don’t know when it started to go bad — within a couple of months I suppose. Things soured gradually.

I had low self-esteem to begin with and it got lower while I was with him. I had gone from feeling like I needed to be in a relationship to feeling like I needed to be in a relationship with him, even though I wouldn’t have said that being with him made me happy — if I’d even thought to ask myself that question. (I don’t think I knew what happiness looked like. Either that or I didn’t think my happiness in a relationship was particularly relevant to anything.)

Once when I was feeling down on myself, I asked him if he thought I was pretty; he couldn’t answer the question without first referencing his own appearance and getting affirmation that I thought he was good looking. He pressured me for sex constantly, and, not allowing myself to be aware that I didn’t want it, I just gave it to him.

I’ve always been quiet, low-key, and low drama. This relationship turned me into a “half-dressed, shouting at each other in the middle of the street” crazy person. I didn’t recognize myself. There were times when I’d get upset about who knows what, he’d do or say something in response, and I’d end up vibrating with tension and frustration, ready to scream, wail, punch the wall, or all of the above.

The immediate aftermath

It wasn’t until I was well out of the relationship that I started being able to see what had happened. I’ve always been very honest, so it never occurred to me that he would lie to me, repeatedly, about trivial things. And I was naïve.

Here’s an example: his dad owned a small business (true); his dad went on a business trip to LA (maybe); he accompanied with his dad on that trip (probably not); he got driven around in a limo (ridiculous lie); he saw a major band at a concert (lie). At the time, I was a bit envious that he’d seen the band, since it was one that I quite liked.

And another: he had seen a modestly famous singer perform (probably a lie); he met and danced with her (ridiculous lie). But it made me jealous, which I suppose was his intention.

His lies taught me to be skeptical, cautious and closed off. Or rather, they reinforced my natural tendency to keep myself closed off. I had been badly hurt and I concluded that it was safer to keep my distance.

Much later

Over the years, I’d look him up the odd time in the phone book, and later on Facebook. I was very happy to have nothing to do with him, but I hadn’t been able to heal all the hurts and I was still wary. I kept an eye on him the way I’d keep an eye on a spider on the basement floor that was getting too close while I tended to the laundry.

Then out of nowhere, he tried to friend me on Facebook. I saw that he was still living in our hometown, while I had moved to another city. I ignored him. He pestered me, asking why I didn’t friend him. I explained that my friends list was small, I only connect with people I want to stay in touch with, and we hadn’t been in touch. He eventually huffed off, but not until he took a dig at me for “not being over him yet”. Whatever.

About a year later, he got in touch again and now wanted to meet up. Fuck. Wolf and I had just moved back to our hometown so I no longer had the convenient excuse of living in a different city to avoid a meetup. I suppose I could have lied or blown him off in some way, but my sense of integrity wouldn’t allow me to do anything but face the issue. So I messaged him; I successfully resisted the urge to tell him it was the worst goddamned relationship I’d ever had, and instead said simply that I didn’t understand why he wanted to meet up because “our relationship was not good”. Major litotes right there. Even so he completely flipped out. It was just bizarre. And his overreaction rattled me.

He wouldn’t let it go, but he did regain some composure. If I capitulated now, it might save further unpleasantness in the long run. I rarely find myself worried about my personal safety, but we lived in the same city now: if I thwarted him at this point, would he escalate and try to stalk me? [To my male readers: you may not be aware of it, but it’s a commonplace for a woman to perform a cost-benefit safety analysis regarding a personal interaction with a man. It’s most definitely A Thing. The options are often stroke the guy’s ego versus risk being harassed or attacked. A woman sacrificing her pride and authenticity on the altar of safety is nothing new.]

Eventually, I agreed to the meet, at a new restaurant where we had no history. I guess I was hoping for some kind of closure, and I admit I was a little curious. I had dressed up: I was going for devastatingly beautiful ice queen and it wasn’t hard to feel remote and emotionally distant. He had unintentionally taught me to be on my guard, and demonstrated how well I’d learned that lesson. I leaned back in my chair, creating physical distance. My responses were polite and never overly enthusiastic. I’ve had job interviews that were more warm and cuddly.

He looked different: he had gotten into body-building (quelle surprise) and had bulked up. His face looked a little different too, in a vaguely Mickey Rourke-ish way. Had he gotten into boxing? Botoxed his lips? I suppose it was just the years, and we had been so young. He managed to make himself reasonably pleasant, smiling and joking. He asked me if I was nervous, and then he admitted that he was. Except for some superficial changes in appearance, he seemed like the exact same person he had been ages ago; it was disconcerting.

And as we sat shooting the shit, the lies began again. What had I been up to in the intervening years? One interesting thing I’d done was to visit Thailand. Oh, he had been to Thailand too. Well, maybe; I could see him wanting to hang out at tourist beaches. I also spent a year in Japan. What a coincidence, he had ridden a motorcycle through Japan. Whereabouts? Ah, he couldn’t remember the names of the places. Like hell he’s been to Japan. I left it. We went our separate ways and thankfully I haven’t heard from him since.

I dub thee “Narcissist”

Soon after this meeting, a book* about narcissists caught my eye at the library. I didn’t really know anything about narcissism, but it piqued my interest and I wondered if it might describe him. I took out the book.

High but brittle self-esteem? Check. When didn’t get his way about the Facebook friend request, his “flipping out” looked a lot like a narcissistic rage, a sort of grown-up temper tantrum. When we were dating, he had wanted to feel good about himself and used the narcissist’s strategy of putting me down so he could feel that he was better than me. For the narcissist, facts are malleable: they exist to serve goals like looking impressive, hence his lies past and present about trivialities. Narcissists want you to think highly of them and be impressed. There’s a shallowness: they lack self-awareness and thus they don’t grow.

Narcissists have deep hurts from childhood, and as a result empathetic people want to help them. Beware: it’s a trap! A kind person will want to give a narcissist a hand up. The narcissist will take that hand and use it to pull you into the pit with them, then trample you down, stand on top of you and gloat.

Even though I hadn’t yet learned about narcissism when I met up with Bad Boy, my intuition guided me well. I had already figured out that he had lied to impress me and otherwise manipulate me, so when he began lying I took everything with a grain of salt and offered only polite reactions. No gushing. Like smothering a fire with a blanket so it can’t get oxygen, I deprived his ego of fuel and he simply fizzled out. Our meeting was civil and I haven’t heard from him since.

I was over him a long time ago, and now that I understand his narcissism, I’ve finally healed from the harm he caused me.


* Wendy T. Behary, Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2008).

Because I didn’t make note of the title at the time, I went back to the library to track the book down so I could footnote it here. While flipping through it, I found information about the sorts of people who tend to fall prey to narcissists. I suppose this spoke to me at least a little when I first read it, but now that I know myself so much better, I can see that young me would have been a narcissist’s favorite snack.

F4TF: communication

This week, the F4TF team asks:

Are you comfortable discussing sex with your partner? Do you have the confidence to ask for what you like/want?

I can now, but it wasn’t always so.

For me, good communication is a hard-won skill. I don’t remember ever seeing my parents (before they split) discussing difficult issues, though I did witness the occasional blow-up. As for me, if I did something wrong, my mom’s disapproval was silently icy, while my dad would bite his tongue until he couldn’t anymore, then shout at me.

Since I started having relationships, there have been many times when I wanted to say something (for instance, about a difficulty I was having with the relationship) but suffered a sudden, paralyzing attack of muteness.

Talking about sex involved a foundation of general muteness topped with a thick layer of sexual shame. The inherent reticence remained a problem, but before I could even try to speak I had to know what I wanted, which meant I had to be aware of and acknowledge my wants. So I first had to allow myself to have wants. The net effect was that I didn’t have much, if anything, to say.

Things have improved a great deal for me, but it’s not always easy. My communication style still leans towards delicacy rather than bluntness. Wolf and I started really discussing things while he was still out of the country, so everything was mediated by the distance of Skype, or email, or curated Tumblr images. I’ve gotten over my reticence with him and I experience only occasional mild embarrassment, which is typically paired with a slight hesitation to speak. But do I still get a bit hung up at the stage of actually knowing what I want and allowing myself to want. That’s something I’m working on. Once I know what I want, I don’t find it overly difficult to ask for it.

Gawan and I have more to discuss, and this is the first time I’ve gone through the early phases of a relationship without being stuck on mute. In his frankness, he sets a good example for me. And given how we met, talking about sex was definitely going to be on the table! Things are complicated by the fact that this is long-distance, and we’re also discussing BDSM. If I’m unable to articulate an answer while we’re talking on Skype – whether from shyness or just not knowing – I’ll take some time afterwards to have a bit of a think and then write an email. I always find writing easier than saying it out loud.

In communication needs and wants, my exploration of the dark and hidden corners of myself is as big a part of the process as being able to give voice to what I find.

e[lust] #80

Did you know that last month’s e[lust] digest contains a clue to a little mystery? If you think you know the answer, leave me a comment back on e[lust] #79. First one to solve the mystery gets a shiny gold star. Actually no, you get me being impressed, which is much more rare.

In the meantime, enjoy some smut!

Elust 80 Penny's Dirty Thoughts
Photo courtesy of Penny’s Dirty Thoughts

Welcome to Elust #80

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #81? Start with the rules, come back April 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

Something Meaningful
The debate goes on
Trim

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

No Take Backsies: Sexual “Politeness”
THE Process

~Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

He’s not a Tumblr Dom

Erotic Non-Fiction

She Strips The Boundaries Away The Black Bra
He enjoyed Playing with My Shoes
One… two… ménage à trois!
Doing Mt. Shasta
What’s Behind that First Strike…
Memories
How To Top Off Valentine Weekend Lovemaking
Watching Cunnilingus
Scened All Night
Spoiled in the Sun
The Tennent
01/14 Session With Mistress Claire & Others
THREESOME HEAVEN – extreme sensations
The neighbours don’t learn my name
home

Sex News, Opinion, Interviews, Politics & Humor

I Don’t Date on the First Sex
Meat market

Erotic Fiction

Lines
Who’s the Boss? (She is)
A Little Distraction
Let Me Share
Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies…
a bit of filth
Original Sin
Watching

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

My Day of Punishments Part 1
Filthy girl
Kink Without Sex: What Happens After Orgasms
Dominant roots
Using Our D/s to Get Through Stress

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

First Times
The number of the beast…
Sometimes Love is Not a Pie
Bareback
Looking deep through reflection
Pussy Pics
So I Was Thinking

Events

A Night with Zombies – Cinema l’Amour
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KOTW: needle play? no way!

When it comes to kink, they say you should never say “never”, and I get that. After all, the only constant in life is change, and I’ve got first-hand knowledge of that: my own sexuality changed radically less than two years ago, and I couldn’t be more pleased about it. I’m still just starting out in my explorations and there are things I’d like to try that, until fairly recently, could have fairly been called hard limits.

Needle play is most assuredly not one of those things I’d like to try. It is and will remain a hard limit. I’ve always disliked needles. No shock there, and I’m in good company. But a collection of experiences leads me to believe that for me at least it goes well beyond simple dislike.

When I was 19, after wearing a fake nose ring for months, I took the plunge and decided to get it properly pierced. I felt kind of spacey afterwards but put that down to the fact that I hadn’t eaten much that day.

Two years later, I got my bellybutton pierced. The clamp went on – hard! – and it hurt a lot. “How bad could the piercing be then?” I rationalized. Very bad, as it turns out. It hurt like hell, worse than the clamp, but mostly what I remember was the distinct sensation of nausea. I didn’t throw up, but I’d come quite close.

A friend of mine had gotten her nose pierced, and after losing the ring or otherwise having it out for too long, she got it re-pierced twice, for a total of three times. Ugh! I vowed that if any piercing grew over for any reason, that would be that, and I’d content myself with not being pierced. And I wasn’t getting any new ones either.

A number of years later I was at a small, alternative bar that had live music. My belly dance group was performing with the opening act, a local death metal band. Despite being tired after dancing, I stuck around to see the headliner (a theatrical sort of punk group), and freak show performances interspersed among the songs: I’d never been to a freak show and was curious.

I was far from the stage and couldn’t really make out what was going on, but this particular routine involved two people and seemed fiddly. It took me a moment but I worked it out: one woman was sticking needles into another. Not threading through, in and then out, so the needle would lie flat, but rather straight in like a pincushion. Lots of needles. Bristling.

The unusual circumstances controlled for so many variables that it was effectively an experiment. I found my reaction to the scene interesting, mostly because of what it wasn’t, and what I wasn’t experiencing. It wasn’t about pain or even discomfort because I wasn’t feeling anything. It wasn’t about empathy for the pain or distress of the person getting stuck because it was voluntary and she didn’t seem distressed or in pain. It wasn’t about blood because there wasn’t any. It wasn’t a medical procedure. It wasn’t about how it looked because I couldn’t see details. The sole element was needles.

And yet despite all of the things the experience wasn’t, my vision started to cloud and go dark, and the sound seemed to be coming from a great distance. I was standing and began to feel unsteady on my feet. I had to look away; at first I kept looking vaguely in the direction of the stage and just unfocused my eyes because I didn’t want to be seen to be having difficulty, but then I turned away completely and focused on my companion. It took a while to pull myself together and I left the bar as soon as I could. It took me a while to realize that I had almost fainted, something that’s never happened before or since.

Since then, I’ve had to have IVs twice. The first one was unsuccessful because I got nauseous and couldn’t handle it anymore; they gave up and fortunately I didn’t need it after all. The second (when I had my wisdom teeth removed) worked, but only after I had nitrous oxide and was off my head: they had wanted to insert it before the nitrous kicked in, and I flat-out refused.

Looking back, I can recall only one needle that didn’t bother me. I had gone to emergency because of a mysterious, excruciating pain in my abdomen, and was finally feeling the effects of some blessed Tylenol 3. Between the pain and the medication I was exhausted. Someone came to draw blood, and though I looked away when the needle was inserted, I watched calmly while the blood filled the vial. But again, I was high.

I have needle phobia. It’s not a classic phobia resulting from a bad experience in my childhood, which could be overcome with therapy. What I have is a vasovagal reaction (hence the pronounced dizziness), which is entirely out of my control. It’s not about being weak or overly sensitive. It’s just a physiological fact. I’m not aware of any treatment that can overcome a vasocagal reaction, and so for me, needle play will always be “no way”.

Top 100 Sex Bloggers for 2015

I’m slow off the mark, but nonetheless I’m chuffed to announce that Molly of Molly’s Daily Kiss has named me as one of her Top 100 Sex Bloggers for 2015! Thanks, Molly, for all your hard work on this massive project (assisted by Michael, aka @DomSigns).

When I was first considering starting a blog, I spent a good while trying to justify it to myself. What would be the point, other than listening to myself talk? I had hoped that sharing my escape from sexual shame would be a worthwhile story to tell, and that my subsequent adventures (such as they are) might be of some interest.

It’s lovely to get feedback that people enjoy and find some value in my writing and photography, especially considering that 2015 was my very first year of blogging. I’m proud to call myself a member of the sex-blogging community.

To my current readers, thank you; and to my new readers, welcome!

Top 100 Sex Bloggers 2015

Click on the badge above to see the complete list of blogs.