Self-summary

I rarely have to force myself to edit down my words online. I’m verbose in reality, but less so on paper, and more often than not I find myself struggling to meet minimum word counts than to come in under the maximum.

Here, I know who I am, because I’m honest, but honest in the moment: what I say is true today, but it might be less so tomorrow. That said, the blog isn’t everything I am, either: it’s love, anger, disability, MH and food – all things that matter, but make up a fraction of the ‘real me.’

Of all the things I hate about internet dating, the self-summary is high on the list. Is it easier to be able to say as much as you want, OK Cupid style, or to be confined to 500 characters, à la Tinder?

So, how would I summarise myself? There’s the stuff that’s true every day: that I won’t have seen that film you’re talking about, that I live on chocolate and wine, that I’m Charlie almost as much as I am RL me, that I have a disability, that I sometimes struggle with anxiety, that I chat, a lot, that I love books, bath oil, and words, that I want children, and hugs, and long walks in the rain.

But there’s also the stuff that shifts. And, as this excellent piece by Jilly Boyd proves, the little details of someone’s life are often far more fascinating than the bigger picture. Some days, I’m a Dairy Milk girl, other days Galaxy. My signature scent is Dior Pure Poison but at the moment I flirt with YSL Opium every time I go in John Lewis, because it matches the way I feel right now. I’m the book on my nightstand, the recipe I return to again and again this month, the track on permanent repeat on my phone, the short story floating around in my head.

I’m all of that, but on Tinder I’m a ‘sometimes scary-seeming, but actually super-soft feminist, working in publishing, baking, writing, and learning to run (badly!) in my spare time.’

It’s not the best thing I’ve ever written.

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The Fallen Woman

‘I push open the door and stumble through, tripping over my own feet and falling head first into the office.

Double crap – me and my two left feet! I am on my hands and knees in the doorway to Mr Grey’s office, and gentle hands are around me helping me stand. I am so embarrassed, damn my clumsiness. I have to steel myself to glance up. Holy cow – he’s so young.’

– E L James, Fifty Shades of Grey

I didn’t get that worked up when Ana fell at the start of FSoG. According to a friend, that was as it should be.

‘Bella is clumsy in Twilight. That’s the whole point.’

Maybe it is the whole point of Twilight. I don’t know. I haven’t read/seen it. What I do know, though, is that Ana’s clumsiness is completely fucking irrelevant to Fifty Shades.

I’m not sure that E L James thinks it is, however. I think E L James thinks it might be how Christian spots that Ana would make a good sub. After all, there’s lots about BDSM that confuses E L James – the fact that it’s not born out of a disturbed childhood, the fact that the love of a good woman can’t ‘cure’ somebody of it, and the way no fucking helicopter can make up for the fact that nowhere in the book does Ana suggest she might have submissive leanings.

Anyway. I wasn’t that bothered at the time because it was just a book. Not a book that had sold millions of copies. Not a book that had changed the landscape of erotica. Just a book. And then this happened:

He sank into an elegant crouch in front of me. Hit with all that exquisite masculinity at eye level, I could only stare. Stunned.

Then something shifted in the air between us.

As he stared back, he altered … as if a shield slid away from his eye, revealing a scorching force of will that sucked the air from my lungs. The intense magnetism he exuded grew in strength, becoming a near-tangible impression of vibrant and unrelenting power.

Reacting purely on instinct, I shifted backward. And sprawled flat on my ass.

– Sylvia Day, Bared to You

I’m a big believer in the power of chemistry. But I can honestly say I’ve never sprawled on my ass due to a guy’s ‘elegant crouch.’

I did a bit of Google research earlier this year, when I first started thinking about this. Surely, I reasoned, women falling must be an established trope in romantic literature. I couldn’t find anything. And then it occurred to me that maybe falling/injury is a modern update of this:

“MY DEAREST LIZZY,—

“I find myself very unwell this morning, which, I suppose, is to be imputed to my getting wet through yesterday. My kind friends will not hear of my returning till I am better. They insist also on my seeing Mr. Jones—therefore do not be alarmed if you should hear of his having been to me—and, excepting a sore throat and headache, there is not much the matter with me.—Yours, etc.”

“Well, my dear,” said Mr. Bennet, when Elizabeth had read the note aloud, “if your daughter should have a dangerous fit of illness—if she should die, it would be a comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley, and under your orders.”

– Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Romance relies on a weak heroine almost as much as it does an alpha hero. In the past, illness was enough to create a situation in which the hero and heroine are thrown together. These days, it’s harder to convince the average reader that a woman ‘needs’ a man, and so romance does everything in its power to recreate that situation of old. There are various approaches – the heroine can be pregnant, sick, young, poor or just plain clumsy. Because if she doesn’t need rescuing, the author is (ostensibly) breaking the pact they have with the reader.

I’m a cynic, but I was a sucker for Mills & Boon in the past. I loved these women who needed saving so much, I didn’t just read them; I made some shoddy attempts at writing them, too:

He knelt beside her and kissed her gently. She opened her eyes and gave him a sleepy smile. “Bedtime?” he asked.

She nodded, but made no attempt to move. He stood up and gathered her into his arms. She kicked off her stilettos and snuggled up against his chest. He handed her the warm mug, and headed for the stairs.

In their bedroom, he sat down on the edge of the bed and set about undressing her. He slid the straps of her satin dress down and placed her briefly on her feet so that she could step out of it. He unsnapped her suspender belt, removed her stockings and unclipped her bra. As he pulled her white cotton nightdress over her head, she gave a contented sigh, still half asleep. He pulled back the duvet and laid her down.

I think I excelled myself with that particular piece (in my defence, I was eighteen when I wrote it). The FMC has a minor case of being a bit tired, but it affects her so badly that she gets carried upstairs by the hero, undressed by him, and even ‘laid down.’ She couldn’t be more passive if she tried.

Looking back, it wasn’t the passivity that attracted me to writing these kind of women. It was the bodies that they’d need for these kind of scenes even to work. Women who get carried up to bed must naturally be willowy and feather-like. Not only that, I think I thought they were also easy women – if you could simply scoop a woman up and literally put her exactly where you wanted her to be, she wasn’t exactly going to cause you many other problems. And god, I wanted to be that kind of girl.

Luckily, I’ve grown out of that. A bit, anyway. But I’m still writing women who fall.

Falling is seriously grim. I know that not only from my own extensive experience, but also because I’m hyper-alert to other people falling. When I did the Moonwalk back in May, I witnessed a horrific one – an elderly lady tripped over a tree root and gained momentum as she attempted to right herself. Just as I thought she’d regained her balance, she went absolutely flying. And the smack of body hitting concrete, of other people’s gasps, they bring back every fall I’ve ever suffered. I hate seeing it almost as much as I hate doing it.

So we have to stop writing falls as though they’re romantic. They’re not. They’re painful, humiliating, scary. But those things can all be sexy. There’s one particular scene that’s stuck with me from Unfaithful with Richard Gere and Diane Lane, where she falls and we see the aftermath as a series of vignettes designed to foreshadow the risks and pain inherent in the affair she’s embarking on. She eases her tights away from an oozing graze. There’s a flashback to a boiling kettle hissing as she does. It’s all a bit predictable, perhaps, but it turned me on.

I’m fascinated by cuts, grazes, bruises. And not just the ones caused by kink, either. Watching skin knit back together, or blood bead, waiting to spill. The stickiness of it as it clots. The metallic, iron-rich taste of it. I completely accept that these things won’t work for everyone, though. They’re fairly dark, I guess.

Essentially I feel much the same about falling as I do about disability. We need to write it, to see it in the media, to acknowledge that it’s part of many people’s reality. It’s not kooky, or adorable, or cute. What it could be though, if we wrote it well, is really, really fucking hot.

Wicked Wednesday: First Time

The stories of my first times are scattered round the internet. Girlonthenet has the story of my actual first time. My first real wake up call to kink is this post. First kiss is here.

That leaves two, by my reckoning.

‘Write about your “other virginity”‘ suggested someone on Twitter who’s not usually so coy. Anal, I presume she means.

I could. In truth, I’m a little surprised that I never have written about it. I’m not ashamed of having done it, nor of the fact that I like it, much to the surprise of some of my RL friends, who have only ever had bad experiences of anal. The secret to good anal is quite possibly doing it with a guy who is a) not anti being on the receiving end of it and b) knows his way round a bottle of lube, although I didn’t know that either of those things was the case when he first said ‘I really want to fuck your arse.’

But with anal, although I was undeniably nervous that it would hurt, I liked the fact that it felt like something he was entirely in control of. I can understand why that’s the very aspect of it that might terrify some people, but I like it when the responsibility for something physical is taken entirely out of my hands.

So let’s talk about something where it’s not.

I don’t think about my hard limits all that often anymore, but for a long time, oral, both given and received, was my hardest of limits.

Giving head is a skill, undoubtedly. I still think I’m really shit at it. I still worry about grazing him with my teeth, about gagging, about the fact that I can’t make him come that way.

But I used to think you gave oral in order to get oral.

When did that change? The first time he fucked my mouth so hard that my face was a liquified mess of tears, mascara, saliva and pre-come.

It felt like more of a milestone than anal.

Cock: isn’t it hilarious?

So this post has been saved on my phone for months now, under the provisional title ‘Hen nights.’ Which is unfair, really: I’ve been on *bad* hen nights, most memorably the one where the Maid of Honour told the bride not to book anywhere for dinner that cost more than £20 a head for dinner because she couldn’t afford it and then proceeded to sneak off during the daytime events and buy herself a Marc Jacobs handbag. But luckily, I’ve not been on any where everything – from the straws to the ice cubes to the shot glasses to the chocolates – has been in the shape of cock.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t hen nights like that out there though. How do I know? Because I’m the girl who ‘likes cock.’ Which means, at the height of wedding season, I’ve come back to my desk to find everything from a little wind-up plastic cock with feet to a crumpled party napkin containing three ‘chocolate’ (I use that term loosely) dicks, with little smiley faces, filled with mint ‘cream’ (geddit?). It’s almost as disappointing as when you’re a kid and you get home from a birthday party to discover that you accidentally sat on your slice of birthday cake in the car, and now it’s all squashed and unappetising.

I was reminded that I wanted to write this post earlier this evening, when I saw this:

I don’t think it’s true any longer to say that women are only allowed to talk about/look at/like cock when it’s presented in a comedy setting. I think it’s now ok to admit that, when you see a guy naked you fancy all of him – not just his arse, his legs or his broad shoulders, but his cock, too, whether it’s hard or not. Personally, I have a weakness for both hard and soft: I love when he’s rock solid before he even gets his jeans off and you can pull his boxers away and watch him spring free, swollen and ready for action, but I’m equally as fond of those moments after sex when he’s soft again, and his cock is damp and mollusc-like. Those moments when he thinks I’m not watching and he cups himself gently in his hand. I think his cock is beautiful.

For all their faults, men don’t seem to try to turn cunts into comedy props. Yes, stag nights are equally guilty of tasteless themes: men squeezed into their girlfriends’ dresses, men with a fake ball and chain around their ankle – but the ‘humour,’ although pretty bloody predictable and childish if you ask me, is not based on how hilarious the female anatomy is. You may well disagree, and feel free to in the comments, but I think we’ve moved on since the 90s and Men Behaving Badly ‘aren’t-tits-hilarious’ style humour.

I fear this post makes me sound like a spoilsport, now I’m nearing the end of it. That wasn’t my intention at all. The point I was trying to make, albeit badly, is that I hate hen night props for two reasons. Firstly, because I think it’s really, really important that we celebrate people’s bodies, whatever their shape and whatever their gender and I think selling plastic, disembodied body parts with little faces for laughs detracts from that, and secondly because I think it reduces women’s conversations about men, their bodies and sex to a superficial and often dishonest, level. I think we need to stop playing sex for laughs, essentially – at least until we can all agree that it’s a happy, healthy thing for adults, both male and female, to be doing.

 

PS I noticed when I was writing this that Horny Geekgirl has also written about cock this evening. You can find her post here.

Time is a feminist issue

I’ll begin this by saying that I think a lot of people may disagree with what I’m about to say. Certainly the friend I mentioned it to this evening did. Please do add your thoughts in the comments, whether you agree or not – I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts.

Anyway. In comparison with a lot of women, there are very few claims on my time. I work full-time, sure, and there are a couple of hobby-related regular commitments in the evening, but I’m not raising children, working hours and hours of overtime or caring for someone who’s sick or elderly. I’m a single woman, a free agent, and my diary is relatively uncluttered.

None of that means that my time isn’t valuable. There are lots of things I need/like to do when I have free time – meet friends for drinks, laundry, food shopping, blogging, writing. And I like to know in advance where those things are going to slot into my week. That makes me neither a better nor a worse person than someone who likes to fly a bit more by the seat of their pants.

I should also, in the interests of full disclosure, remind you that time keeping is not one of my strengths. I’m regularly 15-30 minutes late. I’m occasionally guilty of doing that thing where you send a ‘Just leaving now!’ text when you still have wet hair and are wearing only your knickers.

But I don’t bail. Last night I went to someone’s birthday drinks. She’d invited somewhere between 15-20 people. Most had replied to say that they’d be there, but when I turned up, halfway through, the majority had texted some excuse as to why they had to cancel at short notice. This kind of shit drives me crazy. As she said herself, if people had said no in the first place, or the week before, she could have made the decision to cancel. The way it actually worked out, as the night wore on the pub kept moving us to smaller and smaller tables as it became obvious people weren’t going to show. I doubt it ruined her birthday, but it can’t exactly have made it, either.

So yes, both men and women can be lame. But in my experience it’s far more often men who are guilty of suggesting plans, promising to confirm by a certain time/day, and then not bothering, so the woman has to chase, which makes her feel needy, naggy and generally pretty damn unattractive. Once or twice I’ll forgive this, but if it becomes a pattern, not so much. If it becomes a pattern I will nag you, I will become shrill and needy, and I will pick a fight, even though it won’t help.

Why a feminist issue, though? Well. You could (and I’m going to) argue that men call the shots much more in dating than women do, especially in the early days. I see tweets every day from women about men who’ve arranged dates only to cancel at the last minute. And, something which I’ve had more experience of myself, and which I hate even more: men who initiate conversations via dating websites, who want to flirt, who want to sext, who want you to give up a good chunk of your time to interact with them online but who have no intention of meeting up in person, Men who can’t even be bothered to take the time to draft something new when they message you via said sites. Men who clearly haven’t even taken the time to read your profile. Men who, essentially, think their time is *much* more important than yours.

That’s the impression it gives too when, a bit further down the line, a guy suggests meeting up on a Sunday and says he’ll confirm by, let’s say, Friday evening. I generally like to have my weekend plans firmly in place by Friday, but I like him, so, ok, I can wait till Friday. Friday comes and goes. Nothing. Saturday evening comes. Still no word. I text, and ok, by now I probably sound a bit stroppy. I say something like ‘I guess tomorrow’s not happening, then? And the reply, of course, says ‘Sorry! No, couldn’t make tomorrow in the end.’

There are of course other explanations here. That he’s generally flaky. That he just doesn’t give a fuck about me. There’s probably some truth in both of those statements. But I do think it’s partly because he’s a man, and because he’s been socialised to believe that his time, his wants and his needs, take precedence. And even if he doesn’t believe those things, he has *no idea* how often women’s time is at the mercy of the decisions men make. So boys, if you really want to be feminist, start by texting when you say you will.

How nice is too nice?

Twitter is having a moment. It feels like *everyone* is talking about bitchiness, or trolling. Not just the sex/relationship bloggers either, but more widely than that – beauty bloggers, lifestyle columnists…

I’ve witnessed a bit of it, but nothing like on the scale it’s apparently happening. I don’t really get nasty tweets, or cruel emails, but other bloggers clearly do – Laurie at MyPOTL wrote this this week on the subject.

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My inner teenager

Yesterday was a busy day. I got up, went to a writing workshop at a literature festival, caught the bus to London, went to an exhibition at Somerset House, for drinks in a fancy hotel, and then to see McBusted.

*pauses to lose followers*

I’m comfortable with what I like to do in my spare time, just as I’m comfortable with who I like to do it with. I did most of that stuff with a good friend, but I’d have been equally happy to do it by myself. And, if you ignore my terrible taste in music (the last gig I went to was Gary Barlow), a lot of what I do I do to indulge my inner teenager.

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