Waitress

IMG_8964Northern France. August. Thirty one degrees and sunny. The town square laid out like the scene for a GCSE role play – charcutier, boulangerie, tabac, pharmacie – and barely any of it open for business.

‘Role play.’ The very words make her squirm, and he knows it. He is eyeing up the sign outside the shuttered bar, a busty blonde with cartoon blusher holding a board with holiday dates crudely chalked up on it.

‘Shame,’ he says. ‘I could just fancy a beer.’

They are staying in the hotel on the town square, just for a few days, and she can tell he’s itching to cause trouble. Trouble for her, that is.

She has a friend who likes the role play thing. Who frequently plays at being strangers with her boyfriend in the bars of top London hotels, only to fuck in a huge room, with a big bed, and an equally huge bill at the end of the evening. It sounds fine, she thinks, but it lacks the possibility of humiliation. Sadists trump strangers, in her opinion.

They head back to the room, and he rifles through her luggage. He finds a pink shirt, a short skirt. He lays them out on the bed. And then, without explanation, he disappears again, the heavy door slamming loudly shut behind him.

When he returns, he’s carrying a bag from the toyshop, which, inexplicably, *is* open, and a scuffed metal tray with a white cloth, two beers and two glasses. He makes her change into the shirt and skirt, without wearing a vest underneath, as she usually would. Her tits strain against buttons unused to containing them. The bag contains a plastic, jewelled tiara, meant for a little girl. She fights the urge to giggle.

He puts her hair up himself, pulling it tight before he secures it with an elastic, a promise of good things to come. Her NARS orgasm blusher, though, serves his intentions poorly – he cannot rouge her up in quite the cartoon style he’d like, but he does his best, and when she sees herself in the mirror she is duly amused and horrified in equal measure, because she suspects this spectacle won’t be confined to their room.

He fashions a makeshift apron from the cloth on the tray, asks her to step into the highest heels she’s brought with her and says, ‘J’aimerais deux bières au square, s’il vous plaît, mademoiselle.’

His French is good, but she has to force herself not to laugh at his accent. He’s not, she reminds herself, the one who’s supposed to be being humiliated here.

She gives him enough time to get downstairs and settle himself in. To be totally honest, she needs the time to psych herself up. She goes to the window, and looks out, trying to calculate the worst case scenario. There are very few people around, and from this angle she cannot she the tables where he’ll be sitting, but she can see an old man with a little dog, who she fears will wave his stick and shout at her only to then fantasise about her for weeks.

The stairs, narrow and winding, are tricky. The combination of the tray, which means she can’t see her feet, and the heels, make her anxious. But she makes it safely down, and is rewarded with a mercifully empty bar.

In the square, it takes her a while. She is looking for a single guy, but what she finds is a man – her man – sitting with a pretty blonde. She freezes. He beckons her over. He takes the beers, puts a 10 euro note on the tray. The girl he’s with looks bemused. She glances up. The old man looks away, pained.

And she scurries back up to the room, where she will wait, alone, for almost two hours, wondering if they are still just playing.

 

 

Sex and disability – Eroticon 2016

As I said in this post, I promised a long while back that I would put my Eroticon slides up here, for the benefit of people who weren’t able to attend, as well as those who want to refer back to them for any reason.

The slides can be accessed by clicking on the link below, and the bullet points underneath summarise what I said in the session. Below that, you’ll find the reading list I handed out, a TED talk I think everyone should watch, and below that, two posts that I know were written after my session. If anyone else has written anything disability related as a result of my session, or if you choose to have a go at the exercise at the end of the presentation, please do let me know and I’ll link your piece up to this post, if you’d like me to.

Session notes and slides

Sex and disability – Eroticon 2016

  • Start by trying to identify what the author is trying to say about disabled people in each of the books/films on slide 2. The answers are on slide 3. All of these are ways in which disabled people have historically been portrayed in fiction which should now be avoided.
  • Look at the TED talks on slide 4. All, with the exception of ‘I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much,’ have the keywords inspiringfascinating, courageous, beautiful. These are the words able-bodied people tend to associate with disability – but ‘inspiration porn’ is just as damaging as any of the old-fashioned stereotypes, because it treats disabled people as examples, not as people.
  • Slide 6 shows why The Theory of Everything is a great example of how to write disability (although it’s important to be aware that some disabled people object to the use of an able-bodied actor to play Hawking). Stephen Hawking has more than one challenge in his life – the conflict in the story centres not only around his disability, but also his relationship and job. i wrote about the film in more detail here.
  • Don’t be tempted to make disability the character arc in your novel – very few disabled people do get cured, or end their lives, or completely come to terms with their body in the space of the time period covered by a novel or short story. Make disability part of their character, but not a part that necessarily has to be resolved or changed. Give them a plot other than their disability.
  • Slide 11 is the intro to a writing exercise using this amazing Girl on the Net guest post as a prompt. Look at how in the post intro, Girl on the Net doesn’t focus on the disability at all – the writer is disabled, but the focus is the lift, the snogging, the botanical gardens. Do any of these things inspire you? Can you take the post as a starting point and flesh it out to make it a full length short story or piece of flash fiction with a plot arc, rather than a vignette, as per the original post?

Recommended reading

10 Things Fiction Writers Need to Remember About Disability (1-5) http://blobolobolob.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/10-things-fiction-writers-need-to.html

10 Things Fiction Writers Need to Remember About Disability (6-10) http://blobolobolob.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/10-things-fiction-writers-need-to_10.html

Dear able-bodied partner…
http://www.autostraddle.com/dear-able-bodied-partner-331837/

Disabled gentleman
http://rebelsnotes.com/2015/06/disabled-gentleman/

Every body: glamour, dateability, sexuality & disability | Dr. Danielle Sheypuk | TEDxBarnardCollege
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PwvGfs6Pok&feature=youtu.be

Getting it wrong – writing disability in fiction
http://visibilityfiction.com/getting-it-wrong-writing-about-disability-in-fiction/

I am not here to inspire you
http://starsandspirals.co.uk/not-your-inspiration/

Kaufman, M, Silverberg, C, and Odette, F. The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain, and Illness, Cleis, 2007

Kink praxis
https://xanwest.wordpress.com

Know me where it hurts: sex, kink, and cerebral palsy
http://www.autostraddle.com/know-me-where-it-hurts-kink-cerebral-palsy-226077/

Leandra Vane – disability & sex stigma
http://www.hotoctopuss.com/guest-blog-leandra-vane-on-disability-and-sex-stigma/

Moving beyond the stereotypes
https://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/moving-beyond-the-stereotypes/

Silent stares and rude questions: the disability minefield
https://ninachildish.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/silent-stares-and-rude-questions-the-disability-minefield/

Why we have to create more disabled characters in children’s fiction (yes, it’s about children’s fiction, but the advice at the end applies more widely)
http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/dec/08/why-we-have-to-create-more-disabled-characters-in-childrens-fiction

Writing the Other
http://meloukhia.net/2012/06/writing_the_other/

Stella Young: I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much


Posts inspired by the session

Unusual Liaison – Rachel Kincaid
http://rachelkincaid4.blogspot.fr/2016/05/unusual-liaison.html 

Disability and sexuality – writers we love: Hot Octopuss
https://www.hotoctopuss.com/disability-and-sexuality-writers-we-love

On the paralympics and inspiration porn

A month or so a go, I noticed that Sainsbury’s was stocking mini eggs again. ‘Oh good,’ I thought (even though I bloody love a mini egg), ‘We’ve finally lost it completely. Easter now starts in July.’

It doesn’t. Instead, Cadbury have launched the dubiously named Wini eggs in honour of the Paralympic Games, which, if it wasn’t for chocolate, might pretty much have passed me by.

Except they wouldn’t, obviously, because even though I have no interest in sport, I fully expect that in September, bullshit like this:

and this:

will be replaced by bullshit like this (also, why is the ‘F’ in ‘firmly’ and ‘B’ in ‘believe’ capitalised? You can’t emphasise something just by capitalising the first letter of random words!):

disability

Being part of a body- and sex-positive community is great. It means that most of the stuff above gets called out, retweeted, mocked, and generally shown to be not okay. I can’t help but feel that the same is not true when it comes ableism, which, believe me, you will see in spades once the paralympics start.

In May, after Eroticon, I promised that I would put my slides up here if people wanted to see them. Several people said they did, but I completely forgot, and so now I want to do a deal. I will put the slides up here, along with a brief summary of what I said, a video everybody should watch and a couple of great posts written by people who came to my session. In return, whether you’re able-bodied or not, please don’t mindlessly retweet inspiration porn during the games. It is perfectly okay to be inspired by disabled athletes, and it would be perfectly fine to tweet something like the below about an athlete whether they were disabled or not.

What’s not okay is the following:

a) Isn’t that person amazing for someone with a disability? (No, they’re amazing full stop)

b) Wow, if that person can do that even though they have a disability, I can definitely make a sandwich/go to the gym/ask that guy out/do couch to 5k (No, this is not about you and your life, it’s about them and their achievements)

In fact, go one better than not retweeting it. Flag it up. Make it known it’s ableist as fuck. The disabled community does this all the time. It’s exhausting and emotionally draining, and it takes a lot out of people. Like it or not, the able-bodied community is bigger and better able to make itself heard. So support us, and respond to this just as you would homophobia or sexism.

Please.

I’ll put the Eroticon stuff here.

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e[lust] 85

Elust 85 header
Photo courtesy of Cheeky Minx

Welcome to Elust 85

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 #86 Start with the rules, come back September 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

Use
Hot
The Case of the Purloined Panties

 

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

The Inspection Zone
Date with prey

 

~Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

Voyeur

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*
All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

 

Erotic Fiction

Alleyway
After Dark
Night World Flash Fiction
THE PUNISHMENT ROOMS
HELPLESS, BOUND AND SUBJECT – Part 1
Temper temper
How to Start Super Sex
Nobody Comes Looking For Me
it was time to play

Erotic Non-Fiction

Cunnilingus. The Most Special Intimate Kiss
Nastya is nasty
“Do you want to cum in my mouth?” A Memoir
Humiliation: Raylene’s caning 2

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

Come as you are…
A Case for Good Men
Changing Labels
10 Commandments of Courteous Casual Sex
The Aftermath
I miss you

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

Formative Kink: “Tanya, the Lotus Eater”
At his feet
Consent In Gorean Culture

Body Talk and Sexual Health

Manicured

 

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I don’t want to talk to strangers

It’s 3:30am and I’m staring at the Samaritans number on my phone screen and willing myself to call it. I have a friend who volunteers for the Samaritans in another part of the country and I to tell myself that I could talk to her about this, that the person who’ll pick up the phone will be no different.

I can’t do it. I can’t talk to a stranger. Everybody already feels like a stranger; I don’t want to confide in another. Last night, my therapist tried to push past the stuff I always talk about when my back’s against the wall – Why didn’t he love me? Why did he have to choose someone slim and ablebodied who runs marathons, who’s everything I’m not? WHY DOES NO ONE LOVE ME? WHY DO I FEEL SO ALONE? – to get to what’s behind it.

‘When you were younger,’ she says, ‘your mother…’

‘Stop it!’ I can’t bear this. ‘Stop blaming my parents. They tried so hard for me and I’m still broken , still so, so unhappy. This isn’t their fault.’

This is no one’s fault but mine. I made my dad cry last week, and I didn’t even say anything. I just couldn’t, when we spoke, inject any enthusiasm for life into my voice, and he heard that. He heard that, without being told, and then he cried, because he couldn’t help. I don’t want to hurt my family anymore.

Men too, seem to pick up on the fact I’m toxic without ever having met me. Chance perhaps, but two guys I’ve send initial messages to, on different apps, have blocked me, with no explanation. Then a guy I’m having a really good Whatsapp chat with says, after a few hours, that he thinks we’re looking for different things and he blocks me, too. Am I that bad?

I feel like I’ve been pretending to be normal for 32 years, and people are seeing through it. I reread the online information pages about my disability and I’m torn between wanting to know if the things I fear are true are true – that I’m on the autistic spectrum, that I can’t connect because of my disability – and knowing that it’s pointless. Even if I could get a diagnosis, and I think that would be a struggle – it’s certainly a struggle for much younger women than myself – would it help? If you’re lonely and in pain, will labelling the cause of that pain make it go away? I don’t think so. I can’t see the difference between ‘I’m lonely,’ and ‘I’m autistic and lonely,’ other than that the latter is another disability, or aspect of the disability, to come to terms with. And let’s be honest, I haven’t done a superb job of coming to terms with the aspects of the disability I *know* are there.

I cannot face antidepressants again. Antidepressants make me more palatable to the rest of the world, but to me, they feel like a sticking plaster over the huge chasm where my self esteem should be. They make me sleepy, they make me fat. No. Not again.

I don’t want to be ‘better.’ I want to stop hurting. I wish I could slip out of real life as easily as I can slip away from Twitter.

Temper temper

I am not a bratty sub, and he is not a chocolatier. I am bored and anxious, cooped up in those empty days between Christmas and New Year, and he is on a mission to learn something new. He is always on a mission to learn something new.

My anxiety looks like anger. It often does. I have not yet learnt to differentiate one from the other. Nor can I say why I am anxious. It could be the prospect of returning to work, to a job I am tired of; it could be that there has been too much socialising lately; it could be the prospect of New Year. I thought when I met him that my dislike of New Year might ease, that I might cease to fear the future. Now I understand that love cannot solve these problems, it can only distract from them.

He is good at distraction.

There is something about the chocolate that irritates me, though. It’s the contrast, I think, between the rich, glossy hedonism of it, thick and liquid, and the slow precision with which he has to work it – heat it to 46ºC, pour it on to the cool granite work top, spread it thin. Take its temperature again, in several places, make sure it’s at 27ºC all over. When it is, scrape it up, put it back in the bowl. Melt it again. Bring it up to 31ºC, keep it there. Use it as you wish.

I wouldn’t have the patience.

He needs 450g of chopped chocolate. I am eating it as fast as he can chop it. I am trying to rile him. I am turned on by the swift movements of the knife, by the sound of steel on granite.

The first temperature, he gets bang on, but when he pours the molten liquid and moves to spread it, I am fascinated by how fast the consistency of it changes, and I push at the edge of it with my fingernail, watching it flake away from the granite at my touch.

He grabs my wrist. ‘Stop it,’ he says. ‘Keep your fingers off, dirty bitch.’

‘No,’ I say, and push harder at the wrinkling chocolate. I am ruining his handiwork.

The knife he is using to scrape it up with clatters against the worktop as he drops it. He points at the opposite counter. ‘Take your clothes off.’

‘You’re not done.’

‘No, but you are. Done with pushing your fucking luck.’

We’ve been here before.

He will slide his fingers inside me and warm me until I’m halfway to boiling. He  will make me lie star-shaped on the cold stone floor and take my temperature, with his cock, in several places – my mouth, my cunt, my arse. And when all the heat has been drained out of me, he will warm me again until I am calm and, well, just that – warm. In every sense of the word.

At the end of the evening, there will be no perfectly dipped truffles, no glossy caramels. There will just be me, heated, cooled, and heated again – a sub with just the right amount of snap – ready to be used as he wishes.

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Burn

She has been coming here – quite literally: she’s been fucking the landlord for as many summers as she’s been renting the apartment – for thirteen years now. This summer, it’s changed – the kitchen is brand new and the old, unreliable TV has been replaced with a 40″ widescreen model.

He teases her, as usual, about the colour of her skin – her legs poke out like two milk bottles from the bottom of her dress and they’ll stay that way for the rest of August – she never tans, no matter how hard she tries. He always said that was what made him notice her, that first summer – the way she looked like a stick of chalk in the middle of all those tanned bodies.

She asks when he’s free, anticipating with every word the first thrust of his cock – could they go for dinner one night this week, perhaps? Or drinks? They never fuck on the day she arrives and it makes the anticipation ever sweeter.

Sure, he says – Thursday? – and she has to force a smile. The wait makes the anticipation sweeter, but it’s only Saturday and four days of waiting is, well, bittersweet, at best.

On Tuesday, passing one of the cafés on the seafront, she sees him with someone else. Someone who is, at a guess, five years younger than her. He’s nuzzling the girl’s neck, his hands grazing her tight, pert breasts and while she watches, trying to reconcile the sudden ache in her stomach with the fact that until now she hasn’t thought about this man from one summer to another, her pistachio ice-cream starts to melt, flowing stickily down the cone and landing in a messy pale green dollop at her feet.

She should cancel Thursday but she doesn’t, the pull of the anticipation too strong now to back out. But whereas once she would have basked in the promise of seeing him – repainting her toenails, curling her hair – today she couldn’t give a fuck about either of those things. What good will it do now if she looks hot? It’s not like it’ll make a difference. And so her body goes un-preened, hair unwashed, sunscreen shoddily applied, and by the end of the day  the skin on her shoulders and cleavage is pink and raw.

In the shower, after she’s recoiled at the sight of it, she allows herself to fantasise that he’ll be equally horrified – that when he sees the state of her he’ll kiss her hot flesh tenderly and ask what the hell she was thinking. That he’ll peel her bra straps carefully from her tight and glowing shoulders and fuck her slowly while heat radiates from her, as unwelcome and painful as her feelings.

But he is late and he is horny, and he doesn’t undress her at all. Instead, after they’ve shared a bottle of rosé he bends her over the arm of the sofa (also new), pulls her knickers to one side and shunts into her from behind, until she has come from the way her clit grinds against the furniture and he has pumped her full of semen. Then he folds her skirt back down, pats her arse affectionately, and says he has to go.

The burn goes unnoticed.

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Him before me: my thoughts on ‘Me Before You’

*contains spoilers*

It could be a coincidence. It could be merely fluke that three weeks ago I walked into a cinema showing Me Before You relatively relaxed, calm and at ease with myself and left it shattered and tearful; descending within days into a depression so sudden and severe I’m still struggling to drag myself out of bed in the morning; my desire to live completely sapped.

I should clarify: I don’t blame Jojo Moyes’ now world-famous story for my recent mental health crisis. I do blame it for forcing me to confront hard truths about how I see disability and love, in a way that I’m not wholly comfortable with a book about disability written by an able-bodied author doing.

When I spoke at Eroticon back in May, I said that I didn’t think writing disability should be the preserve of the disabled, and I think I still agree with that. I also read out this quote, from Susie Day: “If yours is the first time a reader has met a fictional someone “like them”, it’s almost inevitable that you will disappoint.” And oh my, how Me Before You  has disappointed the disabled community.

The conversation around the book has been too lengthy and too nuanced for me to replicate all of the arguments here. At the risk of massively oversimplifying, most of the backlash has come from the fact that Will, the book’s protagonist, tells his carer, Lou, to ‘Live Boldly,’ just before he travels to Dignitas to end his own life. The implication? That ‘living boldly’ is something only the able-bodied are entitled to. If you are interested in the various commentary from the disabled community, Kim Sauder has an excellent round-up post here.

I recognise why the book is problematic based on the above, and yet, at my lowest, I fall very much into the ‘some people actually feel that way,’ camp, which, you know what? Makes me feel guilty as fuck.

I’m a firm believer that the relationship between how you feel about your body and your level of (dis)ability is not linear. That is to say: there will be some people who are para- or quadriplegic and feel every day that life is worth living, just as there will be some of us who, in comparison, look essentially ablebodied, but struggle hugely to accept our bodies the way they are.

So going in to Me Before You, knowing in advance how it ended (thanks, mum!), I thought I’d be able to handle it. I thought I was personally far more able to deal with the reaction to disability that I share than I would be with a plot line that essentially saw a man whose condition left him suicidal saved by the love of a good woman.

Oh, how wrong was I?

Books are funny things. Stories are strange. In real life, we want to believe we’re rational, sophisticated creatures who won’t be satisfied with a trite, neat little ending that goes against how we see things play out in the real world (or I do, anyway). And yet, when it comes down to it, a book which doesn’t follow the conventions laid down over centuries of literature can be strangely unsettling. When I said I was planning on ending my own novel, which is about a relationship between two people who are clearly terrible for each other, with the woman leaving and realising that she’s just fine on her own, someone in my writing group warned (rightly, I think): ‘People are going to be disappointed, you know. They’re going to expect a happily ever after.’

I scorn the happily ever after. Or, more accurately, it makes me uneasy. Do I think #liveboldly should be confined to the ablebodied? No, but that’s easy for me to say, when I’m fundamentally independent despite my disability: I live alone, I travel, I drive, I work. Do I think #happilyeverafter, in a romantic sense, is the preserve of the able? I’m afraid I do, yes. I don’t expect to find someone who’ll love me in spite of the disability.

So I needed Me Before You to tell me otherwise. I needed it, there in that popcorn-scented, slightly grubby Vue, to promise that I could find love, and not only that I could find it, but that it would be enough for me to forgive myself, to find peace. And it let me down.

Will finds love. He falls in love with Lou. Lou falls in love with him. But for Will, it’s not quite enough: it’s not the powerful, executive, highly-sexed, action-sport-heavy life he led before the accident that caused his quadriplegia, and he picks the assisted-suicide route anyway. It broke my heart.

What did I want Me Before You to be, on a personal level? Did I want it to represent me, and the way I see the world? I don’t know. Maybe. But I think more than that, I wanted it to lie to me. I wanted it to tell me that love could save me. Because unless he’s out there, and he can love me first, how the hell am I supposed to do the same?

 

2008-2016

Darkally.jpg

2008-2010: Snicket
It’s his idea, the first time. It’s a shortcut she takes every day on the way to and from the office, but usually she’s in low heels and a suit, always in a rush. It’s never occurred to her before what it might feel like to be made to kiss the bricks, to feel her bare knees graze against them. She’s never dreamt of stopping on a double yellow to fall to her knees and suck cock, never imagined what it might feel like to have water from the hanging baskets and semen mix on her upturned face. He – David – teaches her to want all those things.

2011-2015: Jitty
Adam. Adam is the only one who uses a word for it she’s never heard before. Adam is not sure he’s up for fucking in a backstreet at all. Adam is not an exhibitionist – he prefers the feathery softness of the duvet, the soft glow of a bedside lamp. She convinces him by waking him early one morning, when the sky is awash with purple, the milk still icy cold on the doorsteps. Adam makes her come so hard that morning, lifted against the wall, legs around his waist (he’s a big guy, in more ways than one), that she swings from the lampposts as they make their way home.

2015-2016: Ginnel
Paul calls it a ginnel, and fucks her in it in broad daylight, his thrusts as harsh as the word sounds in his flat, mancunian accent. They duck into the doorways, listening for the sound of footsteps or voices approaching. It’s different in the sunshine – dirtier, somehow – and they go back there day after day, until this road, this dank, unfrequented backstreet, feels more like home to her than her neat, clean little flat. When Paul calls time on their relationship, she doesn’t cut through to work that way for three whole months.

2016-: Alleyway
She’s single now, and the shortcut has regained the bland, regionless name she  gave it before them – alleyway. It’s always been part of the appeal of fucking men with regional accents, the fact she doesn’t have one. Three men have fucked her here, and each one had his own name for it. Those words – snicket, jittyginnel – they feel as intimate, as personal to her now as pussy or cunt, as unique to each man as the taste of his come, the shape of his cock. She’s single now, but from time to time, in the dead of night, she’s there, alone, kissing the brick. Remembering.

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On human suits (or let’s just leave it out, shall we?)

‘The first man was small and quick, dark of face, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Every part of him was defined: small, strong hands, slender arms, a thin and bony nose. Behind him walked his opposite, a huge man, shapeless of face, with large, pale eyes, and wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily, dragging his feet a little, the way a bear drags his paws. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely.’

John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

When you have a sex blog, even a sort of sex blog, there are some things you should probably never write about. Politics is one of them. And yet, somehow, here I am writing about Michael Gove, and it’s not even the first time.

Ever since last Thursday’s referendum, and more so since yesterday when he announced he was planning to run for leader of the Conservative party, Twitter is, mainly rightly, I think, out to ridicule him.

And that’s fine. Ridicule him for having no charisma. Ridicule him twice as hard for *admitting* that he has no charisma. Wonder why the fuck someone who has repeatedly said that he has no desire, and none of the necessary qualities, to be Prime Minister, has now entered the contest to be just that. Hate what he did when he was Secretary of State for Education. Hate what he did in Justice. Laugh at the fact his wife implied that sex with him was no less of a chore than putting out the bins.

But poking fun at the way he claps or the way he drinks a glass of water? Can we just not?

The joke, most often, is that his ‘human suit is slipping.’

So far, so not so terrible. This man is awful, it says, this man is not a person, he’s an animal, or a monster, or something else entirely. But you know what? I think that maybe, just maybe, liberal Twitter is just looking for a socially acceptable way of saying ‘Doesn’t he look, y’know, a bit … special?’

Because personally, I think that when you mock the way a person does something physical – the way they walk, clap, drink, sit – you’re straying dangerously close to ableist territory. I don’t know why Michael Gove claps the way he does, and I’ll agree that yes, it looks pretty silly, but it also looks like the kind of thing I’d do either in a desperate attempt to stay awake, if I was drifting off in a boring meeting, or because I couldn’t clap like a ‘normal’ person (I can’t, as it happens).

The women among us especially hate when the media does this to female politicians. When their looks, dress sense etc. etc. are criticised. Not fair, we say, not fucking relevant. Because it’s not.

In Of Mice and Men, the book Gove tried to have removed from the GCSE English syllabus during his time as education secretary, Steinbeck paints his characters in a way that allows you to make judgements about them as people based on their physical characteristics. But it’s a story. In real life, not everyone good is gorgeous, and not everyone bad is physically unattractive with odd mannerisms.

Most of us are appalled at the surge in attacks on vulnerable people following last Thursday’s vote, a surge which seems at least partly the fault of narcissistic idiots like Mr Gove himself. But as a disabled person, the mockery around the video above made me supremely uncomfortable.

Tear into his policies, his beliefs all you like. It’s fair game. But let the weird physical stuff go. Because believe me, it’s probably the least of your worries.