MAY IS MASTURBATION MONTH! Hear me out for a hot sec. As part of my bodywork training I have to mindfully masturbate for at least 30 minutes everyday for 30 days. This has been one of the most selfish and indulgent experiences of my life, and FUCK has it been worth it.
I’m a busy person. I have a hard time saying no to new exciting projects, new exciting people, making other people happy, seeking out information, having sex, quality time, movies, good food, puppies. I want it all, all of the time. Which makes time a very limited resource; taking the time out of my day to do more than just rub one out seemed excessive, to say the least.
But I’m dedicated and passionate about this little big path I am on so I hunkered down with the information given to me and started mindfully masturbating. For closer to an hour everyday for almost two weeks now.
I want to be very clear about something. I knew I had to do this 30 day practice before signing up, and in my head I thought “Oh, that’ll be easy enough. I’m a masturbatin’ champ. No one can give me orgasms like I give myself. EASY PEASY PUMPKIN SQUEEZY.”
Little did I know. This post is going to be very succinct compared to the giant pile of feelings and experiences that have occurred to/within me, but here goes:
– As one of my cohorts so aptly put it, I realized that I have been “mindlessly” masturbating for… lord knows how long.
– My mind becomes engulfed in fantasy, pushing myself to peak arousal as fast as I can. This isn’t a bad thing. BUT…
– I’m not present in my body during this. Haven’t been for years. Maybe not ever.
– Mindful masturbation is comprised of multiple variations of touch, movement, sound, kegels, breathing, and basically whatever creative things your mind can come up with.
– In doing some weird, beautiful, creative things to myself, I have begun to slowly train myself and my body to feel pleasure, to seek pleasure, to acknowledge pleasure. I DIDN’T KNOW HOW MUCH I WASN’T FEELING. I anticipate that this will only increase with practice.
– I’ve had a couple really intense orgasms. These have come up in the past couple of days compared to the first week or so of this all. But the orgasms aren’t the point. You needn’t orgasm at all for this.
– Science thing: something about emotional affects on the brain during reward experiences (science doesn’t stick as well to my brain as other things, sorry). One is “interest-excitement:” this is what happens when we watch porn, or see someone hot, or think of a fantasy. It’s an INCREASE in neural firing that’s like PEW PEW PEW SEX SEX SEX and then you orgasm and it’s over (this isn’t a bad thing, btw, just usually the only thing). The other is “enjoyment-joy:” which is a DECREASE in neural firing, akin to how you feel during a head rub or after you cum, it’s that “shit I feel real good right now” feeling, very trance-statey, relaxed. The practice I’ve been engaging in is bringing in the enjoyment-joy to sexual experiences. WHY, might you ask?
– My brain feels incredible. I feel like I could do a million things more than I would ever do on a day before I started this practice. My body just like FEELS NICE, just as a neutral state of being. The fact that I’m even noticing how my body feels speaks wonders — it’s like all of a sudden I’m tapped into the rest of my personhood, not just my brain and clit. I massaged my tummy the other day and started crying it felt so good. Then I cried more because no one has ever really massaged my tummy and how sad it was that I’ve gone 27 years and just now my tummy gets to feel pleasure.
– I broke my habits and now don’t NEED to masturbate in a certain position, thinking about certain things, touching myself a certain way. More than those specific things feel nice.
– I could never really figure my body out when I was young. I knew I had bundles of sexual energy inside me. All I could think about was other people and being close to them. But alone I couldn’t figure out how to tap into this to bring it to the surface. This practice is what I wanted when I was 12.
There is so much more then these things, but I will leave it at all of this for MASTURBATION MAY.
“If you want to change your life, change the way you masturbate.”
*Presented at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Pleasure Week, February 2017
Kink has been a part of my life longer than I have understood what kink is.
Things I wish someone would’ve told me:
That I would not become a raging, hedonistic, deviant shadow-version of myself. These were my mother’s whispers of her past partners and their ‘dark’ and ‘secret’ selves that they kept hidden in a cupboard in the basement. She would tell me she always had an inkling that those shadows were there and knew that her partners were struggling with their demons. The demons, I wish someone had told me earlier, were not because of the demons of whips and chains, or latex and knives, but the demons of guilt, shame and fear surrounding the symbolic whips and chains of whichever kinks we are drawn to.
I wish I knew sooner that ‘being kinky’ is a far reaching spectrum that can range from something as simple as the sensation of someone whispering in your ear, a hand on the back of your neck directing you as you walk, following a direction from a friend without question: Go put the kettle on, choose your tea and wait for me to get back from the store.
That kink is not only relegated to sexual relationships, but can touch into any interaction in whatever way you might like it to. That my inability to be dominant in my sexual relationships allowed for me to be dominant in my friendships with friends who are indecisive, friends who are going through a hard time and need someone to walk them through certain situations, colleagues who overwork themselves. Sometimes the only thing I crave when I want to fall into submission is for someone else to take the reins, and take my body through the motions so that I can turn off my brain for a period of time. Kink can be an excellent way of building intimacy in non-sexual relationships.
I wish someone had told me that the kinks we are drawn to do not define us as moral or immoral humans. I wish someone had told me that while it might be fun to ponder about some of the origins of my kinks, in reality it is often futile to nail it down to either nature or nurture. That while it is totally possible that my first consumption of porn may have shaped my desire to be more submissive in sexual relationships, I can point to even earlier recollections of being drawn to men in power, older men, and I have no clue where those desires came from.
At this point I’ve resigned myself to just accepting my weird brain as it is and just roll with it; it is far more fun this way.
I wish I knew earlier that if I am kinky one way with one person, it does not mean I have to be kinky in the same way with every person. And that while I am a queer woman, my submission specifically comes out only when I am around certain cis-men, and I become more dominant with partners of other genders.
I wish someone would’ve told me that kink is really just play time for grown ups. That the physical playground of childhood turns into the desires of the mind and the sensations of the body. That sexuality is dynamic and you get to choose your own limits. And when you find someone who likes to play the same games you like to play, it is super duper fun.
I wish someone had told me that I didn’t have to prove my kinkiness to anyone, to prove how sex-positive I was, how in charge of my sexuality I was, how bold I was. That I didn’t need to lay everything on the table for anyone who asked. So many countless men insisting on knowing whether or not I liked to be tied up or choked before finding out what my last name was. Not that this can’t have it’s own place in time, I just wish I knew sooner that I am the gatekeeper of my own desires and I am the only one that gets to choose who I share those desires with.
I wish someone had told me just because someone calls themselves ‘kinky’ does NOT mean that they are good at it. There are aspects of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadomasochism) that require heaps of research before you go ahead and write your paper. And while it might sound fun and dandy if someone says they want to tie you to a post, blindfold you and treat you like an object, it does not necessarily mean that they have any idea what they are doing, or if they are doing it safely.
I wish someone told me that BDSM and forms of kink play can cause trauma, in both the head and the body. I wish someone had told me that as a submissive person, I have ALL of the power, and any dom who believes otherwise is one helluva a giant red flag. BDSM without the research and prep work is nothing shy of assault. Assault covered up in kink.
I wish someone had told me how to have the conversations about my submission so I didn’t have to rely on other people shaping those experiences for me. It was not enough to say to someone older than me, someone stronger than me “I want you to be rough with me.”
I also really wish I was able to forgive myself sooner for pushing myself beyond my own boundaries and not speaking up about them. I wish I knew how empowering it was just to say ‘no’ without any excuse or reasoning; you do not need one, the no suffices.
I wish someone had told me that the best play partners are the ones who hold the most respect for you and put your needs and requirements on the highest pedestal. The ones who ask what your safe words are before any play starts. The ones who negotiate boundaries prior to getting naked and then continuously during. The ones who want to keep learning and growing and recognize when they fuck up, too, so that you know and feel comfortable in them being able to see their own strength and their own boundaries. It is one thing when someone chokes to hard and you tell them, it is another when they continue to do it without change.
There are many times where I wish someone had stopped after starting something I was no longer comfortable with but believed I had to sit through it because I had already consented.
The best play partners are the ones who create containers that allow you to feel safe to communicate. The ones who, after getting your permission, will slap you across the face and then ask you “Where was that from 1-10?” and wait for your answer and then ask again “How hard are you okay with me going?” And if you say “don’t go harder than a 3” they hear that, respect that, and don’t go harder than 3.
The partners who check in, read your body language and ask “Would you like to use a colour?”
The colours, respectively, are Green, Yellow and Red.
Green, as you might guess, means All Systems Go, Keep Going, Don’t Stop, I’m Really, Really Enjoying This even if it looks like I’m in a great deal of pain or distress. Green is the ever joyful: I’m on board with this, whatever ‘this’ is.
Asking for a colour is a moment of stepping back into reality to ensure that everything you are doing continues to be consensual.
Sometimes, when in sub-space, you don’t even know where you’re at or how you’re doing unless someone comes and pulls you out for a moment to bring you back into the present: how is your body? how is your head? Sometimes this doesn’t even work…
“During the scene, the intense experiences of both pain and pleasure trigger a sympathetic nervous system response, [… a] part of the fight or flight response, produc[ing] the same effect as a morphine-like drug, increasing the pain tolerance of the submissive as the scene becomes more intense. Since the increase of hormones and chemicals produces a sort of trance-like state, the submissive starts to feel out-of-body, detached from reality, and as the high comes down, and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, a deep exhaustion, as well as incoherence. Many submissives, upon reaching a height of subspace, will lose all sensation of pain, as any stimulus causes the period to prolong.” – http://www.submissiveguide.com/encyclopedia/subspace/
Yellow hits pause. Yellow is the beautiful space of taking a moment to check in with each other. Yellow can mean various things to various people so always requires a conversation, no matter how small. Yellow might mean ‘less pain’ or ‘loosen your grip’ or ‘slow down’ or ‘we need to move onto something else’ or ‘I’m done with the paddle, but I’d be really into the whip’ or ‘let’s do you now.’
Attention to someone’s yellow is when kink play benefits both people. Attention to someones ‘yellow’ is attention to the details of their reactions, their bodies, their mental state. Whoever is momentarily in charge (the person acting as ‘dom’) is held to paying a great deal of mindfulness to a situation that might take you away.
Red is the immediate STOP. This is it, this is all. Release your hold, cut your ropes, stop your movement. Do not do ~one more spank~. Do not ever continue whatever it is you are doing. BDSM play can only function enjoyably if your partner KNOWS that their hard lines will be respected. Red is a good safe word. “Safe word” is also a good safe word. My partner and I made up our own safe word because it was romantic. I was supposed to say ‘dust bunnies’ but in a moment of panic, not able to breath properly, unable to recollect what stupid word we had romantically settled on, all I could say was “safe word.”
Safe words are also good for many other things. Like being tickled. This has been a good way to practice with my partner.
I wish someone had told me it isn’t always quite as simple as you might hope it would be. Just when you’ve become comfortable with exploring a certain area or realm of kink, something new sparks interest in your brain that confuses you just as much as the first one did. I wish someone had told me that this is totally normal and completely fine.
Only a couple of years ago did I finally feel safe and welcome entering into the kink community: I am a bold personality, I am assertive, I am probably a little too confident. I did not feel that I was allowed to call myself “submissive,” because I am not and did not want to be known as such. I had to hear from another, powerful and impressive woman, that she held her submission in her own way, just as her soft-spoken and kind partner held his domination in his own way. There is room for me in this community; no one will define your role or what you want and how you want it, but you. I can be stubborn and assertive and confident, and still want to be pushed into submission. There is room for you if you want it.
*This post was inspired by Jessica Valenti’s ‘Sex Object’
I lie in bed with my partner one morning and we scroll through tumblr together… Thin, make-up drenched girls covered in cum. Their bodies filled with cocks. Bodiless penises with girls. Women that are acting like girls. Girls that are paid to act.
Peggy Orenstein writes “I used to say, when speaking publicly on college campuses or to groups of parents, that one could disentangle sexualization from sexuality by simply remembering that the first is foisted on girls from the outside, the other cultivated from within. I’m no longer sure it’s so simple.”
I watch nature documentaries with my partner, lying across his lap as he delicately and patiently paints images on my back with Non-Toxic markers he insisted I use instead of regular crayola’s. The male species on-screen is always trying to convince a female to mate with them. Later he will be loving and empathetic when I get pouty that he’s not in the mood for sex, a weird result of my vaguely anxious attachment style: If we don’t have sex then you don’t find me desirable, if I’m not desirable then I have no worth, and who would want to be with a partner that has no worth. I know it is illogical. It does not mean it isn’t there.
“[…] girls begun responding ‘to questions about how their bodies feel – questions about sexuality or arousal – by describing how they think they look. I have to remind them that looking good is not a feeling.’ Self-objectification has been associated with depression, reduced cognitive function, lower GPA, distorted body image, body monitoring, eating disorders, risky sexual behaviour, and reduced sexual pleasure.
In one study of eighth-graders, self-objectification accounted for half the differential in girls’ reports of depression and more than two-thirds of the variance in their self-esteem. Another study linked girls’ focus on appearance to heightened shame and anxiety about their bodies. A study of twelfth-graders connected self-objectification to more negative attitudes about sexuality, discomfort in talking about sex, and higher rates of sexual regret.
Self-objectification has also been correlated with lower political efficacy: the idea that you can have an impact in the public forum, that you can bring about change.”
His hands on the back of my neck make me melt into a pile of comfort, “you are mine” they say. And I wonder what part of me is turned on by his ownership; what is genuine and what is derived from cultural messages shoved down my throat ever since the first utterance of “you’ll never find a boyfriend if” – my entire personality and demeanour and habits based around my acquiring a heterosexual mate who finds me appealing.
We’re non-monogamous to a degree that doesn’t take up much extra energy. I see messages from other girls pop up on his phone about how they want to fuck him. I beat down the feelings that him wanting to fuck other people isn’t a commentary on how much he loves me or how good our sex is; I want to fuck other people, too, sometimes. I want to be able to fall in love with other people, too, sometimes.
Recalling one time years ago, when I was jealous and upset that a boy I was interested in wasn’t responding to my texts or giving me the attention I desired, I went to Guelph to consume too much alcohol with friends from high school.
“So she distracts herself with challenges. No longer any fun to kiss boys in bars, but boys behind bars; a sense of the unobtainable obtained.”
My finger gave the ‘come-hither’ signal to one of the cooks behind the burrito bar at 1 or 2 AM and I grabbed him by the collar, pulling our faces together for a soppy and tonguey kiss. “You made him all flustered.” As if this sexual assault did either of us any good.
A few days ago, a good friend and I are talking on a bench. It is rainy and dreary. She is wearing last nights makeup and I haven’t brushed my teeth yet. We are talking about men and how we are stuck in this loop of wanting their approval yet hating when it is given to us. We are cut from a similar fabric in that neither of us could go to a party and feel like it was a good party unless we hooked up with someone by the end of the night. The only way we could have a good time was if someone with a dick had validated us with their sloppy, drunk erections. I became so good at performing this character to be validated, I had numerous men whisper to me in shadows, alleyways and basements: You are magical. Their eyes heavy from drinking and their brains fire-working as their hands cup my tits. They have not exchanged a word with me beyond this.
I was a cheerleader in high school; the reaction men have to this is far more exciting than it’s reality: I practiced throwing other humans into the air and then worried about catching them. But they also choreographed us spanking ourselves into our dance routine, just in case we thought for a second that we might be anything but objects to be consumed.
I am a rugby player in high school; this only gets a chuckle. I never really played in games anyways.
I wrote, at the age of 17, all about how sometimes we needed to give ourselves superpowers:
“They felt simultaneously that they actively chose a sexualized image- which was nobody’s damned business but their own- and that they had no choice.”
I go camping with my partner and don’t shower the entire 3 days. I leave my makeup bag at home and don’t look in a mirror at all. He reaches for me and holds me, we talk about our future together; he builds us a home in his mind and asks me questions about environmentally-friendly architecture every half hour. It is hard for me to articulate to him this part of myself that is object objecting to objectification yet demanding of it. It is difficult for me to swallow his gutteral reactions to beautiful women on the street because I am that woman and I hate it and I also hate that he is not giving that reaction to me.
“If, as bell hooks suggested, pop culture portrayals of women beg the question ‘Who has access to the female body?'”
I wasn’t given access to my body. I had to go looking for access to my body and I am still learning how to interact with it.
I’m interviewed for a Montreal CBC show and they ask me what’s the difference between mainstream porn and feminist porn. I thought about this after they left my apartment in a flurry of French. The difference is in my reaction. The difference is that one makes me feel nauseous, anxious and panicked; that I am not them, and that even though I have been dragged through the process of objectification to it’s entirety, I will never be them. I cannot act that long and remain whole.
The other makes me feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“If you are sick and want to be well, you need to relay the details of your symptoms: glossing over them ensures a lifetime of illness.” – Jessica Valenti, ‘Sex Object’
[This is a post about my experience with Sex Educator training… Unlike my other very story-like posts, this might only interest you if you are looking into pursuing educational pursuits revolving around sex, health & well-being, therapy, etc.]
Over 3 years ago, I desperately searched the internet for some form of Sex Educator schooling program. I had dropped out of university three times at this point; I didn’t understand the relevance of the subjects I needed to take, I was infuriated at how much of my time and money was wasted on courses I ended up despising, I hated the ‘professor/student’ dynamic in which my face and ability disappeared into the crowd of other mediocre students. The only solace I found was in my small creative courses, where there were 10-20 of us, everyone spoke, the professor knew and remembered everyones names and my work was pulled out and given the attention I needed to push myself further.
I researched my options and discovered AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counsellors and Therapists), a prestigious credential that would land me into the pool of the best in my field. The certification process is intense and lengthy, and would require me to go back to university for something totally different, and they require 90 hours of Core Knowledge coursework around very specific topics. This was when I found the Institute for Sexuality Education & Enlightenment (ISEE).
And while I didn’t forsee myself going for AASECT certification anytime soon, I clung to the idea of ISEE. I would walk away a Certified Sex Educator – a title I had been scouring the internet for to give myself some sort of credentials.
After three years of typical life things happening, I finally was able to go down to do the in-person coursework in Northampton, MA, in April and July of this year (3 weeks total).
I left Toronto in a flurry; my sister, my partner and my downstairs porn biz partner (aka, basement son) were all variously organizing and cleaning my AirBnB ventures and walking my dog. The planning for the thousands-of-dollars event I was running was put on hold, my hair was green because I hadn’t had time to re-dye it after misusing some Manic Panic, and I had booked the cheapest mode of transportation: the night bus. I had an 18 hour bus ride ahead of me that started at 11:55 PM.
The bus was not ideal, but it turns out that you can kill a lot of time by trying to sleep. In a haze of half-dreaming & kind-of-eating, I made it to Northampton by 6 PM the next day.
I had not given this experience any forethought whatsoever except for doing the required bookings of beds & transportation, and in my mind, it was this thing to get done because then I am one step closer to having a certification for this odd little career choice I made 5 years ago. It seemed like one more thing to cross off of my never-ending To Do list, and I was mentally prepared to hold onto all of the stress of event-planning and multiple business running to achieve yet another goal.
And then I stepped off the bus and nearly cried. Maybe I did. I can’t remember. It sure felt like I had. The weather was 20 degrees celsius (there would be a blizzard later in the week, but whatever) and everything little friggin’ thing about this stupidly adorable little town made my heart sing. The main street consisted of local, healthy restaurants, coffee shops, crystal stores, used bookshops, antique furniture shops, and small salons. It was as if I had walked onto the set of Gilmore Girls (hysterically, Stars Hollow is anecdotally just outside Hartford, which is not far from Northampton… I just googled it).
I breathed deeply and finished my trek of dragging my belongings half an hour up hill to get to my AirBnB. And when I finally reached my destination, I cried some more. A) Because it was so friggin’ adorable, B) It reminded me of the house in Sabrina the Teenage Witch (one of my favourite shows, to this day) and C) All of a sudden, I had absolutely zero responsibilities. I showered, sat on my bed and thought of all the things I didn’t have to do and realized that this was a surprise enforced vacation. Even if the courses during the next two weeks happened to be dry and tedious, I had the full-fledged excuse to not do a single thing and it felt gloooorious.
I drank a glass of wine and passed out.
For the next two weeks, I would be immersed in sex learning… My schedule looked as such:
Week 1-2 (April 2016)
Day 1-3: Sexual Awareness Reassessment
Day 4: Body Enrichment
Day 5: The Joy of Intimacy
Day 6: Female Sexual Dysfunction
Day 7: Sexual Development: Young Adulthood through Middle Age
Day 8: Silver Sex; Sex Later in Life
Day 9: Sex & Culture
Day 10: Frank Talk About Men
Day 11: Orientation As Living Entity
Day 12: Professional Communication & Ethics
Day 13: Non-Monogamy
Day 14: Pleasure
Week 3(July 2016):
Day 1: SexAbility
Day 2-3: Presentation Skills
Day 4: BDSM: A Working Introduction
Day 5: Advanced SAR
Day 6: The Deep Yes: The Lost Art of True Receiving
Day 7: Introduction to Tantra
As a sex educator, these types of courses are my bread and butter. There are so few opportunities for us to learn and grow and gain and become better at what we do, and I was so hungry for these topics I don’t think I could’ve been bored even if the World’s Most Monotone person was teaching us. But the moment I entered that small, floral-themed conference room in a corner of the Hotel Northampton, I was swept off my feet.
I had met Rosalyn Dischiavo (Roz, for short) through Betty Dodson in June 2013. She had briefly mentioned the Institute for Sexuality that she founded and that little snippet of information stuck to my brain like a fleck of glitter. A few months after meeting her, I made a phone call to Connecticut to talk about the process of enrolling in her program.
Roz teaches a hefty amount of the courses at the Institute. Her teaching style is personable, holistic and professional. As someone who has dropped out of University 3 or 4 times (…who’s counting, really), I find it extremely important to talk about the word ‘holistic’ for a second, because it kind of sounds like the hokey pokey language we associate with people who are living somewhere up in the clouds.
Holistic is “characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.” And to expand on that: everyday that I left class, I felt as though someone had reached down my throat and into my gut, fiddled around with some pieces that weren’t fitting quite right, shuffled some stuff out, re-arranged the furniture and then when they were fine and happy with the job they had done, extracted their arm from my esophagus and kissed me on my cheek.
For the person who despises metaphors: it is one thing to take a course on the Joy of Intimacy so that you can bring back exercises and activities to your clients, it is another to recognize where you have trouble with intimacy. Where do your walls begin? Are they pliable? What scares you? Who are you? What do you want? One risk-taking activity after another, each person in the room was called on to do what they could to push their comfort levels and take a risk and see what happened. And you know what happened? You fell into a pile of warm hugs and empathetic eyes. Right now I am trying to recall the specifics of each individuals own life and struggle, and while I know the details of all of their lives (who they live with, what they do, etc.), the trials and tribulations each of us have gone through seem to have merged into a collective, vibrating pillow of… love. (I started crying writing that sentence, recalling the feeling I left the program with, and I so badly wanted to come up with something less common, but alas, this is the word we have.)
It is hard for me to summarize the effects of the program… I know that it was an educational and professional experience, because I paid for it, learned a whole bunch of things and will eventually come out with a certificate and a slew of connections across North America. But damn. None of my higher learning experiences even come close to this one. So here’s an excerpt from my diary instead…
“This program was invaluable. It will be the best thing I have ever done for myself and so deeply life-changing. Thinking about it brings me immediate sadness, joy and gratitude to my eyes. The intensity of all these feelings is insurmountable. I had no clue what I was in for but it wound up being such a transformative experience. These people are my tribe and will forever be a part of my heart.”
It irritates me to no end that our current cultural expectations of educational experiences are so removed from the body. If your head isn’t spinning from reading dense texts from dawn to dusk, if you aren’t breaking your body by consuming gigantic quantities of coffee and not sleeping, if you’re bored out of your skull than you’re doing it right and then once Friday hits you work-work-work and play-play-play so hard that for me, my body and my mind were sapped of any energy to absorb information that might be useful. [Of course, this style does actually work for some people… I am not one of them.]
One of the many things I learnt in my program were the 5 researched methods that actually work to learning something: movement, frank & open discussion, graduated risk, touch and facilitating commitments. My University experiences offered me, at best, 20% of those, on a good day. Within this program, there was barely an hour that passed that we hadn’t actively engaged in almost all of those things.
I am so eternally grateful for this experience Roz created for all of us that attended the ISEE program this year. Roz, you have shaken me and given me so much to work with. Thank you <3.
And here are a bunch of pictures:
If you are at all curious about this program, feel free to get in touch with me to ask me more about my experience!
I once dated someone who called me a “Sex Superhero” on our first date (stroking my ego with his beautiful genuine wonder) and on our second date wanted to know my “origin story.” The writer in me melted inside because what a wonderful way to view life; drenched in meaning and metaphor… “And the stars aligned to give me a high interest in sex and the stubborn gumption to start my own porn company”… But really one day someone just asked me if I wanted to start creating porn and because I am a project-addict, I said yes.
Thus, Spit was born. A series of circumstantial events that eventually lead to me running a porn business; aka, the stars aligning.
There is no school for “How To Start Your Own Porn Company.” It is NOT an easy pile of responsibility to carry. Unlike many projects, it doesn’t end. The site continues to accept subscriptions, and members continue to expect more content. It took nearly a year to get our baby to start functioning as a proper e-Commerce website, and after the first month of billing I had a very real moment of “Oh fuck… I can’t stop this…” And that’s how I became “Porn Mom.”
What has also happened during the past three years since starting Spit is a very high-level intensity of interaction with the community. What do you mean, Caitlin?
Well. We create queer, feminist, ethical, alternative porn. Our porn is not mainstream. Our porn is diverse in it’s bodies and people with no intention to fetishize anyone. Our porn is unscripted and based solely on what our performers want to do. We don’t push past anyone’s comfort zone and we want to make sure everyone feels safe and happy. These were my goals. And because we were surrounded by beautiful perverts, many of our friends graciously offered their bodies up voluntarily to partake in creating content for our empty website.
For the first year, every porn set was done for free. Our photographers shot for free, our performers banged for free. It was truly a really lovely, chaotic, moment in Spit’s history. As soon as Spit start generating income, we started to slowly and happily pay people for their time and energy.
But remember, there is no porn school.
When I was running Spit during this time, I was also working 40 hours a week. There was only so much time I could dedicate to upkeeping, only so much energy I could commit to pushing the company forward.
When you start paying people, you become their employer. A lot of things happen to a dynamic when you become an employer, most things I did not anticipate at all. Suddenly we went from making porn for “shits & giggles” to taking up a space in the sex industry in Toronto. I need to own the fact that I did not create adequate changes to implement the direction Spit was taking. I also need to own the fact that I mentally, physically, financially, emotionally absolutely did not have the energy to do those things during those couple of years. And this is one of the issues of entrepreneurship: the business keeps going without you. You know it’s there and can see all the bumps and bruises it’s getting along the way. And it is one of the hardest things to watch from the sidelines, completely aware you can currently do nothing about it due to a series of circumstantial events that caused the stars to align and present you with your quarter-life crisis. (Oh yes, I had one of those. It was a doozy).
Things I realized I also hadn’t gone to school for: Public Relations, Web Development, Business Management, Accounting, or Intersectional Feminism Level 12.
Spit has fucked up a few times in a couple of places. And when I say Spit, although there were often other people involved, I mean me. I fucked up a few times in a couple of places and I had no other option but to be okay with that because life was not affording me the energy and time to do otherwise. And that is okay. And even if I didn’t have the time and energy now to turn those things around, it STILL would’ve been okay. Because I’m a frickin’ human and not a Feminist Porn Business Robot. My intention was always good will and I’ve worked super hard to pick myself up and get to a place where I get to ensure that that good will is seen… I am grateful for the space to mend my mistakes. I know not everyone gets that opportunity. It is directly because of this space that feminist porn has allowed me to become a better person.
So, recognizing all of the places we could be better, Spit is undergoing a makeover. Along with a shiny new website that will be launching before May 14th, 2016, we are implementing new streamlined and regulated systems, and making some new and exciting changes, some of which are:
We’ve hired Jassie Justice to be Spit’s Culture and Diversity Coordinator
Our new site will have Pay Per View videos, allowing performer-made content to be uploaded. Giving our performers have the opportunity to make more money
This also gives a stage for more voices: we’re not gonna know how to make the best stuff for everyone. Democratizing it makes our content better
We have also created a production system to make this opportunity as accessible to as many people as possible
We will still have an application process, but it will be much more accessible and streamlined
I’m creating a Porn Welcome Wagon document that I’m having way too much fun with, but will also give as much information as possible to the folks that we begin working with
We are going to have Porn Feedback Forms for optimal porn productions and so we have a space to hear folks & learn where we can continue to do better
On that note, I’d like to send a giant warm sexy pervy hug to Jesse Rae West who is no longer with Spit as our Porn Cupid. Jesse gave a whole bunch of time and energy to moving Spit forward and we have all the love for her. In her absence, I will be picking up where she left off. Please stay tuned for application updates and shooting cupidery!
Spit is now myself and my queer porn son, John Bee, who is our magical videographer and the equivalent of a lazy feline with a beard.
Creating porn is often thankless work. I can’t really imagine large production companies getting thank you notes from their viewers about how that one cumshot has changed their life, but people are weird and surprising so who knows. Luckily, I do get some thanks every now and then that come with “the work you’re doing is super important.” And god damn do I know that. The work feminist porn is doing is SUPER important. The more there is out there, the more people know there is an alternative option to mainstream porn. In the very least, it starts and continues the conversation.
There are so many people in Toronto who are doing such incredible work in feminist porn and these people need to be recognized because fuck me, this work is not easy work. These folks know the value of the work we do because they also notice that we need to create space for authentic and diverse experiences. We need to create the narrative for sexualities and bodies that go unseen or undervalued because we don’t exist in a vacuum; there are so many other people out there who WANT TO SEE THEMSELVES reflected in the porn they are consuming.
To celebrate these people we are hosting a giant porn gala at the end of the day-time panels. The gala will feature a video-screening curated by Taylor J. Mace and Rebecca Deveaux. There will be an hour long stage performance hosted by the dreamy Dane Joe, with burlesque from Ferrera Rose and Spencer Munny, songs from Kate Sloan, belly dancing from Raishma Tigress, and spoken word from Malcolm Lovejoy. All followed by a dance party with Toronto’s porn heart throbs.
You should come. Come celebrate this important work we do ALL OVER MY FACE.