Saturday, 19 October 2013

SPAnswers- queer identity , coming out as poly & swinging as a bi man

Q. Im a queer/trans* man in a long term relationship, my partner used to define as bi but now defines as straight, she's a woman so its doesn't effect our attraction but I feel like she expects me to do the same. How can I explain that I'm not willing to compromise my queer identity but not cheat?

A. I'd remind her that queer can mean many different things - anything other than straight.  It doesn't have to imply that you're gay and aren't attracted to women, nor does it imply that you need to have other partners.  And I'd reassure her that your attachment to your queer identity doesn't mean you're interested in having other partners by reminding her that an identity is just that, an identity, and is often essential to the way a person views themself, so it can be important for reasons far more personal than a desire to make connections with others.

Q. I'm poly, and have several partners all of whom are very I'mportant to me. My family are only aware of my relationship with one of them - as far as they're concerned, I'm monogamous. They met another of my partners last month, but they only know hir as my friend, not as my partner.
Now I'm moving in with hir, again my family think this is just as friends (which is possible because we're all having separate rooms), but given that this means ze'll inevitably be spending more time round my family I'd really like to be open with them about the nature of our relationship.
The thing is, the reason I didn'ter introduce hir initially as my partn is that when I brought up the *concept* of polyamory a few months ago with some of them, I reckon they managed to fill the whole bingo card of mononormative tropes.
Mainly "you can't reeeeeeeally love someone and be comfortable with sharing them with someone else". Any advice on how to deal with the situation would be greatly appreciated.

A. Firstly you're very brave and definitely not alone in your experience of this situation. A lot of poly people have to negotiate the balance of telling/not telling bio family, work mates, employers, friends, therapists, doctors etc. 
The reactions from your family sound like anyone's reaction on first hearing about polyamory. That's doesn't excuse mononormativity in individuals, at all! Each person is responsible for holding non-discriminatory opinions, but the way society is structured towards the heterosexual, and the monogamous, means that these people are just voicing the values they have been socialised into.

My advice is that you think carefully about who you tell and how you tell them. Remember that no one has the right to know the intimate details of your life, be it family or friends. When you have thoroughly considered the situation personally, then speak to your partner(s) that this will effect. If you just plan on telling them about the partner you're moving in with discuss this with hir and ensure that you're both happy for this information to be available to your family.

If you've communicated with yourself and your partner(s) and you decide you're going to tell your family then I've put some tips below.

1. Consider the location. I personally tend to use a public space (e.g. coffee shop) as I feel that this allows me (and the person I'm telling) the freedom to walk away if and when I/we need to. If you want to do it in the comfort of your own surroundings that's understandable but do consider the location.

2. People. Do you want your partner(s) with you? Do you want to tell family one person at a time? (I advise this as it will limit the mononormative concersation).

3. Attitude. My personal approach is; 'Hey, this is something about me. You can find information on it here. I'm telling you because I feel like you are involved in my life and I'd like to be open with you. I'm not seeking your approval but I'd prefer you kept disapproval to a minimum around me. This is a non-negotiable part of my life, and I expect you to respect both this aspect of me and my life generally. Do you have any questions?'
I feel that this format sets out my expectations and provides them with space to go away and feel their feelings but depending on how close you are to family it may be abrupt or cold. Decide how you want to explain polyamory and if necessary practise in front of a mirror or with a partner.

Above remember that this is your life and you are the one who lives it. Your decisions are valid and nobody can negate how you experience attraction and in what capacity you love or define boundaries of relationships, they can deal with it or not. Your relationship structure has been negotiated and established and you're simply informing your family. Brace yourself for mononoramtive sentiments and ridiculous questions but remember that you don't owe anyone answers. Then allow family their own time to process this information.

I personally keep relationships and family completely separate so instead of telling you my coming out story, have these-

Good luck!x

Q. I'm interested in swinging but as a single, bi man I'm scared of being rejected by the swinging community, is there any point in me bothering?

A. So the answer to this question depends on what you mean by the swinging community. If you mean going to swingers clubs then by all means there is point in you bothering. Single men go to swingers clubs all the time. Occasionally some clubs will hold couples only nights, so if there are couples who are put off by single men being there then they will attend these nights instead. Usually there are plenty of single men at clubs and you won’t be made to feel like the odd one out, so don’t worry. As for your bisexuality, unfortunately I have to admit that the swinging community isn’t always the most accepting of the LGBT community, especially if you wish to sleep with couples (some men worry that you’ll try something with them when they only want you to have fun with their partner). Obviously plenty of people will be accepting but there is still stigma attached to bisexual men within the community.
Secondly there’s the online swingers community. Now it can be worth a try, but there are so many single men on the typical swingers sites that it can be very hard to get a meet, especially without a few verifications. Most couples turn off notifications from single men simply because they can’t handle the volume within which they get messages and requests from them. I would try using a free site in case it doesn't work out, such as fabswingers On these sites though, it might be easier too be open about your sexuality as people who are put off by your sexuality most likely just won’t respond too your messages, and there’s also sites aimed specifically at men who want to play with men.

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Friday, 18 October 2013

National Anti-Slavery Day 2013

Sunday, 13 October 2013

SPAnswers- gender(queer), fatphobia, abstinence & polyamory.

Q.How do I explain to feminists that I respect that it's oppressive to deny that fatphobia/thin privilege is a thing?

A.The problem here is that feminists come in all different shapes and sizes, and by that I don’t mean they are varying in weight (although they are), but rather that they hold very different values.

The one thing I think most self-defined feminists have in common is their belief in equality and that all people should be treated equally. In detail that means that regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion and ethnicity all people should be treated equally economically, socially and legally. And if it extends to all that, then it should extend to weight & size.

With that in mind a feminist should, in theory, want someone who is ‘fat’ to be equal to someone who is ‘thin’. In our society that unfortunately isn’t true. If I, as a self-defined fat person, could walk into a high street shop and know they had my size, or if I could not worry about fitting into the rides at Alton Towers, or if I could go to the doctors for a flu jab and not come out with a leaflet about weight loss then yeah, sure, I’d agree that people are equal regardless of weight. Anyone who can do all that has thin privilege: the luxury of going a day without thinking about their weight and size.

Fatphobia is the reason I can’t do that stuff – it is the constantly reinforced idea that fat people are lazy, unhealthy slobs and as such clothes manufacturers don’t need to produce clothes in their size and doctors don’t need to understand underlying issues because after all, they’ve brought it on themselves haven’t they? It’s the treatment of overweight people as too stupid to understand ‘move more, eat less’ (even though it’s not always that simple). It’s the treatment of overweight people as sub-human.

No one likes to admit they have privilege, or that privilege even exists. It makes most of us feel a bit dirty. So I would reassure whomever you’re trying to talk to about this issue that it’s okay to feel like that, and that we all have some privilege. I would then try to open a dialogue about why they deny fatphobia and thin privilege, or why they think it’s not oppressive to do that. Perhaps ask them what they think the reason they don’t stock a size 18 in every shop is. Because there’s not enough shelf space to have all those sizes? Because there’s not enough demand for size 18s? Because size 18 people *want* their own shop where they can pay twice the price for specialist clothes? If they can see there is no reason for this except to make certain people feel unequal then the next step is to accept the inequality exists and accept that denying it, as denying any inequality, is oppressive.

Q. I've never felt especially attached to my gender identity (outside of the ascriptive shit that I get from most of society); I'm wondering what does it feel like to be gender queer (or how did you know you were GQ)?

A. I’d like to preface this by saying there is no one, common genderqueer experience, nor is there a “right” way to be genderqueer. That being said, this is my experience of it:

I'm AFAB (assigned female at birth) and still identify fairly closely with that; I use female pronouns, I identify as a woman - though a genderqueer one - and my presentation is decidedly femme (gender identity and gender presentation are different things, of course, but for me they are linked).

I started exploring my gender identity when I was around 17, after I discovered feminism and queer theory and began to question the gender binary. I went through a range of identities, trying to find where I fit – bigender, agender, genderfluid… but none of them felt right. I eventually found that what I feel most comfortable with is the broadness and freedom that I feel ‘genderqueer’ gives me. For me, being genderqueer is part of my radical and political queerness, and it affords me absolute freedom in my self-expression and identity.

Q. pip- how can you do abstinence and polyamoury, surely those are two conflicting lifestyles

A. Although I practised abstinence at a time in my life i didn't self define as polyamorous, I don't feel like they're conflicting. Abstinence was a decision (seperate from my experience of asexuality) to take some time away from erotic behaviour so that I could rebuild and reaccess my relationship to my sex. This allowed me to develop a healthier relationship with sex.
Polyamory as a relationship orientation doesn't mean sex with many people (although it doesn't rule that out) it means multiple relationships (relationships can be formed on sex, kink, romantic attraction or a mixture).
My ability to be a 'good' sexual partner (e.g. understanding, patient, relaxed, unexpectant) comes from my ability to maintain a healthy personal relationship with sex which I personally used abstinence as a tool to allow myself room to develop.
I'm certain that should I decide to become abstinent for a period of time (to allow myself space to learn to be understanding, patient, relaxed and unexpectant with myself) now, anyone I'm sexually involved in would support my decision to do so.

Got a question about this post or about gender, sexuality or relationships? Ask it anonymously at- and have it reviewed and answered by a team of fabulous people.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

5 problems with sex positivity

Although I am a sex positive activist, I don't believe subscribing to any tradition, political perspective or community, uncritically, is a good idea. The problems outlined below are things I've encountered in spaces that aren't explicitly feminist. But they are important, and they do matter.

1. Men dominating conversations on women's sexuality and bodies
I've found that in a spaces that aren't feminist the oppressive power dynamics found in any other place are reitterated and validated in discussions. The discussion is usually male centered, binarist, cissexist, heteronormative, etc. Some men use sex positivity and the discourse of 'preference' as a cloak to excuse their patriarchal generalisations. E.g. 'body hair (on women) is revolting'. Sex positivity should be about challenging patriarchal notions and normative, oppressive ideas about sexuality, and it saddens me that some men are accessing sex positive spaces to do the opposite.

Benjamin Rush, Carl Von Linné, Julien Offray de la Mettrie, Sylvester Graham, Richard Von Kraft-Ebing, John H Kellog, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Kinsey, Claudius Galerius, Samuel Tissoflt- the discourse on human sexuality has been dictated by white men, some making progressive arguments, some scientific and some oppressive, but all men. Most people in the world are not white men. And our sex positive spaces should endevour to not silence those who aren't, otherwise it's just the same old shit, under a different name.

2. Shallow analysis of the roots of sex negativity
Sex is political, just like anything else. Sexual behaviour has been policed, villianised, or encouraged thoughout history depending on the political climate. There's definitely positives in addressing the symptom (the experience of sexual shame and repression) but the discussuon of the cause is important for true progression. Sex positivity in relation to capitalism, sex positivity in relation to disability, to patriarchy, to the nuclear family? These  dialogues are missing. Sex positivity cannot simply be a tool for self validation alone, but for ensuring we can break the the cycle of sexual repression.

3. Pressumptions
I believe a sex positive space should be one in which people aren't subjected to others making tired presumptions about gender, sexuality, or experience of sexual desire. When writing about sex positivity leads to relative strangers (all men) contacting me pressuming that I want to have sex with them, this reinforces the idea that a woman discussing the politics of sex is a 'cert'. No, I don't want a photograph of your sex organs. Thank you. No, talking about sex doesn't automatically mean I experience a high sex drive, or that I want to answer questions about my sexual behaviour. Thank you. No, talking about sex doesn't mean that I'm heterosexual. This dialogue is not another tool to service male pleasure, it's a tool to challenge the assumptions, not reinforce them.

4. Slighlty missing the point
Sex positivity is not about uncritically claiming that all sex is great.
a)Sex is not always positive
b)and it's not essential for everyone.
Many people have a strained relationship with sex, and their own body, they may have sexual triggers or have survived sexual abuse or rape. The sex positive movement cannot make progression if we simply plaster over the fact that sex can be a negative experience and a tool of oppression. We are failing at communicating the true purpose of sex positivity if we exclude people with sexual triggers. It's not about saying 'woohoo, sex is always fabulous' it's about recognising that human sexuality is diverse, complicated and often an emotive topic. It's about saying that there is no 'wrong' way for a person to express their sexuality, or asexuality. We shouldn't be silencing survivors of sexual abuse, we should be shaming institutions that normalise it, we should be discussing consent.

People may choose not to engage in erotic behaviour and still lead rich, fulfilling lives. Sex positivity should not be about interveining to educate people who choose not to have sex, to tell them what they're missing. Sex positivity should not be about forcing people to discuss their own sexual behaviour if they don't want to, or pressuming that those who don't are victims of sexual shame.

5. Body negativity
I cannot count the number of times I've seen or partaken in discussions that transcend into body negativity. Why? Because although it's essential that sex positivity and body positivity are linked, someone forgot to put that on the group email, or the general memo. Fatshaming, thinshaming, disability shaming, normative beauty standards, body policing= not sex positive. Body positivity absolutely has to be a part of this movement because if not, then we're saying 'you only deserve sex positivity if you fit these narrow critera'. Expressions of sexuality are not hierarchical, hopefully most people realise that penetrative sex is not the Golden Chalice of erotic acts? Body types and appearences should also be discussed in a non-judgemental, non-heirarchical manner, too. Otherwise we are  shaming the tool used for the expression of human sexuality, and therefore we are encouraging sexual shame.

Conclusion? My sex positivity will be feminist, intersectional, self-critical, LGBTQ inclusive, disability positive, and radical, or it will be bullshit.

Got a question about this post or about gender, sexuality or relationships? Ask it anonymously at- and have it reviewed and answered by a team of fabulous people.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Sexy Politics answers your questions

What is SPAnswers?
Sexy Politics Answers is a new project I'm launching to offer people the opportunity to ask questions of people with a range of experiences, opinions, ideas and solutions. From 'how do I tell my partner about my sexual health status?' to 'how does class interact with sexual dynamic?' and everything inbetween and beyond.
Did you ever have a question that you felt you couldn't ask friends, family or partners? Ever wonder if everybody does that thing or how you can find people who enjoy it? The time for those questions, dear friends, is now.

How can I ask a question?
You can ask a question here-
We'll answer questions on a regular basis by publishing them in posts on this blog and then linking the post to you on By doing this we are able to educate and support others who may be experiencing similar concerns or interests as you, whilst ensuring your anonymity.

What can I ask about?
The focus of this project is to answer questions on sexuality, sex, gender & relationships. Some topics are suggested in the profiles of the advisors below. We will endevour to answer any questions you ask us, but where we aren't qualified to answer (e.g. medical/legal advice) we may signpost you to a resource or person who is better equipped to answer.
We're happy to take questions on identy in relation to sex(uality), gender and relationships e.g. 'How can I navigate impaired mobility within a ablenormative BDSM setting?' But for accounts of experiencing structural oppression on a day to day basis is an excellent resource.

Who will answer my questions?
I'm glad you asked! A spectacular range of amazing individuals will answer your questions! This group will grow as/when your interests and the rate at which you ask questions changes.
If you would prefer a certain advisor answers your question, feel free to stipulate this on*

Hi, I’m K. I’m a polysexual genderqueer girl in a 24/7 power exchange relationship, in which I’m submissive. I’m strongly committed to intersectional feminism and love comics. Topics I’m especially happy to answer questions on include BDSM/kink, trans*- and/or queer-ness, feminism, and allyship - but I’ll also answer things that fall outside of those categories if I feel capable!

Hello, I'm Susuana, I am a heterosexual, demi-ace, cis-woman. I'll answer all reasonable questions the way best I can, no really personal stuff though.

I describe myself as a pseudopansexual genderqueer. My mother has Multiple Sclerosis, and my father has been absent since I was aged 9. I have Asperger's Syndrome and have always, in some way, expressed myself as queer. I am about to begin studying an MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience at Birkbeck College, University of London. I am a kinky (switch), slutty, poly, Christian queer, and an unpaid, indefatigable 24/7 feminist biatch.

Hi, I'm Alex. I'm 20, and I identify primarily as a Queer Guy, with a splash of grey asexuality. I'm a student, and I love to be busy. When considering a question I will always adopt an open minded, sex positive approach. I'm a fan of solution-based thinking, considering what is going right and projecting about how it can get better, that way specific answers will play to the individuals strengths and what they excel at, rather than what I am good at!

Hello, I’m Lucy. I’m a pansexual cis-woman currently in a long-term monogamous heterosexual relationship. I work in the travel industry and in my spare time I like to bake, play board games, and practise hairstyles that minimise my double-chin. I have two pet rats, a growing collection of dictionaries and I am a connoisseur of tea and biscuits. I’m happy to answer questions on relationships, including monogamy and cheating; sexuality; sex, including different methods and styles but also about communicating about sex with partners and others; sexual health, body image and body confidence, including fatphobia; feminism; drugs and alcohol; and most other reasonable questions. My approach to answering questions will come from a non-judgmental, honest and confidential position based on my own personal experiences and knowledge, and I’ll provide references to further information where I can. Looking forward to responding to questions!

Hello! I'm Anna. I'm a submissive queer poly trans woman with somewhat limited experience in "the kink scene", but will answer any questions I feel confident to answer to the best of my ability :)

Hi, I'm Pip. I'm a cis woman (and femme with tendancies to wear fake moustaches). I have experience with- lesbianism, bi*sexuality, heterosexuality, asexuality, polyamory, BDSM/kink, abstinence, sluthood and stone...ness. I'm happy to take questions on the above as well as liberation politics, feminism, fatphobia, masturbation, method, consent, sex positivity, body positivity, gender, (dis)ability and class. I like fruit tea, feminist porn, writing, collecting sex toys and my cuddling method can be defined as- cat.

Hi, I'm Ellie, I'm a genderqueer, pansexual, polyamorous, psychology student from Wales. I work at a swingers club, run sexual health campaigns and enjoy some BDSM/kink. I'm happy to take questions on these as best I can.

* Purposely offensive/oppressive questions or questions used to bully or intimidate individuals will not be published. They will not pass the moderation process and as such the advisors will not see them.