Archive for the Fuckbucket
FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “my partner and I have a Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell agreement, and it’s starting to feel a little weird”
we're on "don't ask don't tell" for our sorta open relationship. I want to be more open about my feelings toward others, but he doesn't, even after suggesting it. I don't mind necessarily, but it's starting to feel a bit secretive.
This is not a question, it’s just a scribbled-down statement about how things are (or were) for someone in the Smut Slam audience, but I felt like I wanted to address it anyway, because there is a question in there: "what should I do?"
If I’m recalling correctly, there were a lot of polyamorous people in the audience that night and when I read this part, a murmur rippled through the crowd. The whole room expressed a sort of “yup, been there” and then sighed one collective sigh.
Many of us have been there. Oh my lord. DADT as a policy statement for open relationships is super common, especially for folks new to open relationships who think it’s some sort of training-wheel approach, just to get started. I know I did, with both the first and second partners I tried an actual opening-up with. I had asked about it, and my partners reluctantly agreed to it, but on terms: “I don’t want to know anything about it.”
And the thing is, that works, on a purely theoretical level, in a world where all you wanna do is scratch that itch and get laid, in and out and back to your “real life” and your “real partner.” Don’t Ask Don’t Tell works there, in that world where all you want are discrete bits of time with people who aren’t asking anything from you except some time with your particular and very discreet bits. DADT works fine, in an ongoing way, when you have a perfectly compartmentalized life and psyche.
In reality, very very few people have that kind of life and/or psyche. You may say you can do it, because good lord, that person is hot and you really wanna scratch that itch! But the reality is, life bleeds out all over everything. You develop feelings for that person who was supposed to just be a no-strings-attached fuck. Or at least you like them—hopefully—so you wind up watching a movie with them that you really love and then you go back to your primary partner and say, hey, I want to show you this movie, and they love it too and they say, “Wow, that was amazing! Where did you find out about this movie?” and you’re suddenly like, eep. Can I say?
What do you do if that happens with a sex move?
No couple magically match up their free time without discussion, sometimes a lot of discussion, depending on the couple and their already existing schedules. Carving out time for other people, without mentioning those other people, is really difficult.
And yeah, those feelings. They do happen, and if you’ve already set down a DADT policy about such basic things as “no mentioning dates with other people” and “I don’t want to know their names,” you’re suddenly going to be in an even more untenable position when the feelings come up.
This is not to say that your boyfriend doesn't have the right to say, "I don't want to hear about what you and your date did in bed last night" or "I'd rather not be the sounding board for any relationship problems you're having with your other partners." Those are pretty common boundaries; hopefully the two of you can hash those out together. But it sounds like the embargo is laid down pretty hard and pretty low, so... yeah. How much of your life/time/attention/heart is wrapped up in these other relationships, and how important is it that you can be open about that?
This person isn’t asking for advice, but for any readers who may be in the same situation, I encourage you to use the Sheelzebub principle, named after a Captain Awkward reader who had some sage advice for anyone wondering what to do in a challenging relationship situation:
Can I live with this for another month? Another year? Another five years? Ten years? The rest of my life? How long?
Maybe you’d be okay with it. What about your partners in DADT-ness? That might feel a bit shitty for them too. You’re feeling a little bit constrained now. How will that feel after five years of it? I can’t answer that question for you, but as someone who tried “don’t ask don’t tell” once, I can tell you I would never go back.
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My hottest epiphany was, in itself, not hot. It was the opposite of hot. It was the coldest that I had felt in my life up until that point, and it happened in my counselor’s office when I was rocking back and forth in a chair that was not designed for rocking, sobbing and doubled over from the psychic pain. But eventually it led to the best sex I've ever had.
Let me explain.
I had gone into counseling because I had cheated on my longtime partner, a woman, with a man. Although my awareness of my bisexuality had been sneaking up on me, to the point where I was starting to feel a little weird at office parties (I had a crush on my male editor at the newspaper), I thought I had it “under control.” When I subsequently went to a newspaper convention, drank two margaritas the size of my head, and rather aggressively pursued a male advertising sales rep from Sacramento… I realized I had nothing under control and sought out counseling.
There in the comfortably bland office, I dissected and discussed my craving for "male company," after nearly nine years of avoiding that shit like the plague. That was not the epiphany. I knew that I wanted cisgendered men back in my life, at least for the bouncy fun bits. The hard part was weighing that desire against everything else in my life.
Because I was still with my partner, and I still loved her, and I knew that pursuing my sexual desires was going to throw everything into chaos. She was already hurting, and I didn’t know how to make that stop. My new-found mantra for that period was You can’t unknow what you know, but saying it didn’t really help.
I felt guilt for what I had already done, and guilt for what I hadn’t even done yet, and deep, deep shame for all of it. It took me months and months to drill down to the core of it, something leftover from growing up in a large religious family with scarce resources and scarce love and sex being a perversion anyway: I felt that I wanted too much. I wanted more than I “deserved.”
Of course this goes back to always being a little bit hungry, and never being able to ask for more because there wasn’t more. But the current-day psychological upshot was that I felt that my wants, of any sort, were excessive. I was "greedy" for wanting what I wanted, and my happiness was nowhere worth near as much as other people’s. I could feel the desire—so profound that it transcended mere tingly bits—and at the same time I could feel my horrified recoil at my own selfishness, so I had been going around and around like a gyroscope, balanced in this endless push of lust and self-loathing.
I don’t know how exactly I broke that cycle. My counselor coaxed me down the path multiple times, as I made little baby steps and then waited for God to strike me down. I had to brace myself against the sure knowledge that yes, my choices would affect my partner, and try and fail and try again to be ethical, to be caring. I had to weigh, over and over, the risks and potential outcomes. I had to be at peace with the nature of my sexual self, and with the knowledge that it shifts and changes.
This is a process more than an epiphany. I still don’t always know how to proceed with my passionate pursuits. I still definitely worry about how those pursuits affect others. But at least I know that I must pay attention to my desires. I can’t always fulfill them right away or at all, because the world is not that kind of place, but my desires are valid and important, and they are definitely not too much.
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Were you always so open about sex and sexual experiences, or was it something you became more open about over time? If it was over time, why?
Neither our ability nor our desire to communicate about sex are things that come pre-installed at the factory. As kids we may be touching ourselves all over the house, or playing doctor back behind the shed, but actually talking about it?... Nah. We tend to absorb whatever our family does, for better or for worse.
With that in mind, I would have to say that I probably was more open and exploratory about sex stuff at an earlier age than anyone had a right to expect, given my background. Despite having been raised in the Mormon church, I still managed to find plenty of books with dirty bits by the time I was 10 or 11, and went looking for ways to experience dirty bits by the age of 14 or so. (Or maybe there was every right to expect that, because of that fighting spirit of opposition, but how come none of my siblings or cousins broke free?)
For a while in junior high school, I had one friend who was willing to share with me a lot of the details about her sex life. We would stare up at the Duran Duran posters on the walls and ceiling of her room, and she would tell me what she did with her boyfriend on those nights where she told her mother she was with me. (Yeah, I was the Alibi Friend.) At the age of 13, that definitely felt like a sort of open-sharing sex-ed outlet, but then I got bigger, both in tits and body, and crossed the line into plus-sized and focused more on school and our other friends turned on me, so I lost that. I was on my own.
From that point forward, my approach seems to have been:
- fumble toward “bliss”
- fuck up, sometimes hardcore
- learn and integrate that learning OR take a huge reactionary swing in another direction
Eventually, over time, I got better with the various steps of this process. I started sitting down and thinking a little more in advance about what constitutes “bliss” for me. Additionally and where possible/necessary, I learned to think about other ways to get that bliss, some of which may be better for me and other people than just being led on a wild goose chase by my cunt.
I got better at dipping my toe in. Paradoxically, I also got better at plunging into the deep end, keeping my eyes open and committing to the dive. Sometimes that’s the thing that fucks you up.
And so, as I got better and more confident at following my (sexual) bliss, the learning curve became less harsh, less steep, considerably less fraught with explosive arguments and confused tears and occasionally lab tests and actual danger. (I should say that the curve has only really gotten shallower in the last seven years. I'm a late bloomer in so many things!) My mistakes aren’t so big now that I’ll feel the urge to run screaming in the opposite direction. And I am managing to find people who can walk and talk with me through the learning.
Now, as back when I was 13, my path seems to unfold right out in public view; I have never been very good at hiding my explorations for long. I don’t know if it’s because I’m stubborn or an exhibitionist or what, but no matter how difficult or weird it gets, wanting to be up front about sex stuff seems to be part of my personality.
Eventually, that led me to creating various shows around sex and sexuality because that’s what interests me. In performing around the world, I started to see that whatever attitude I have seems to be good for other people to witness. Authenticity in sex, especially in areas that don’t have societal support like kink or queerness or alternative relationship approaches or even as basic to me as asking for what I want… most people want more of it, but they don’t know how to get it.
I don’t know that I do either, but I’ve been trying to for a while, so it seems worthwhile to share my experiences with others. It feels like a way that I can make a difference.
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FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: how to convince myself and partners that safe oral sex is totally fun and not paranoid and uptight?
Seriously, how to convince myself and any partners that safe oral sex, i.e. using a condom or dental dam, is totally fun and not paranoid and uptight and just no fun?!
FULL DISCLAIMER/DISCLOSURE: you are talking with someone who has rarely used protection when either giving or receiving oral sex. Back when I was younger and wilder, I just didn’t think about it because you can’t really think about that when you’re drunk and deep-throating; there are other, more urgent things going on. More recently, when I was being actively polyamorous, I still didn’t use protection for oral, but at least I thought about it. I weighed up the relevant risk factors and decided that it wasn’t for me.
But I'm not going to discuss whether safer sex practices for oral are paranoid or uptight. In the scope of sexual behavior, it’s a choice that everyone needs to get informed about and then make for themselves. What you are asking about is how to make that fun.
Before I pull some ideas out of the play box, I think you may need to spend a little time with yourself on the question. If you don’t believe that this is just a normal thing to do before fun oral times, then I would imagine any tips and tricks you try to pull are going to look and sound and feel a little forced. So maybe you could be asking yourself things like:
- Where have you gotten these words that you use in this mental soundtrack? “Paranoid.” “Uptight.” Where did those come from?
- Do you remember anyone ever saying those actual things to you? If yes, what was that sexual encounter like? Or did it close down? What happened there?
- What are you really worried about, if your partners think that you’re paranoid and uptight? What’s the worst that could happen, if they think that?
You can and should also have this conversation with partners, or at least question them, if they do use that judging language. This is very much a part of negotiating around sexy times, and if this is one of your hard boundaries, then you are better off without people who want to break it. I know that sucks, because yeah, that fucker was hella hot, but you know it’s true.
An important step toward keeping the stress out of using protection during any kind of sex seems to be NOT MAKING IT A BIG DEAL TO HAVE IT AVAILABLE. Keep your condom/dental dam supply well stocked and close at hand, for example, and not something you have to rummage for, or god forbid, run down to the corner store for.
And then, bring out the item(s) that you would like to be needing, BEFORE you need them, and just keeping it chill, you know, “I just want to be ready.” Then you can keep on with your making out, get back into the zone in case one of you fell out of it, and then, when you do need the protection because things are about to Go Down (see what I did there?), there’s not a big fuss.
NOW, on for some thoughts around the Safe-Sex Sexification Program! Lucky for you, people have been wrestling with this for decades, I would say, since HIV popped up its head. You can google this shit and find decent tips all over the place, things like
- take turns getting the protection in place
- try out different varieties of condoms and dams
- incorporate role play scenarios into it (wearing gloves while putting the protection in place, a la Doctor)
- learn that whole putting-it-on-with-your-mouth thing
- go to TOWN on food play, like drizzling caramel sauce on their cunt. If you’ve got enough coverage with the dental dam, you can build a whole fucking sundae down there, with all the toppings. (Don’t forget the tarp.)
- SAY HELLO BONDAGE AND BODY ENCASING, like gimp suits and plastic wrap and cock sheaths.
Yes, staying healthy is the main point, but our brains seem to resist being told to do things for our health. I think my own personal inclination would be to experiment with the safer-sex supplies as props, as toys that you can play with, rather than health supplies.
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Short answer: yes.
Long answer: strap in, we’re going for a ride.
For the sake of accuracy, I should point out that this question posits sexual orientation as being intrinsic ("nature"), by contrasting it with “lifestyle choice” (a conscious decision or choice, something that can be changed, "nurture" in the classic debate). This stance is still occasionally under discussion, both in queer culture and in society at large, though it's less fiercely debated than it used to be. I’ll tell you in a little bit why I don’t think it matters.
This question pops up a fair bit at parties or at polyamory munches or online discussion forums. I personally think that any sexual behavior has both an orientation component (“nature”) and a social/cultural component (“nurture”). You’re born with a capacity for the thing, but your upbringing and other personal/social/cultural circumstances will determine how you decide to act on it or manifest it, and even whether or not you even notice it as a possibility for yourself.
I hold my answer to be true not only for this question, but also for any other question about whether any given non-mainstream sexual behavior or activity or identity is an orientation or a lifestyle choice.
These things are complicated, and also vary from person to person. One person may believe strongly that they have always been polyamorous and never had a moment’s doubt about it, while another person may have never really thought about it until they met a potential partner who was, and then they read up about it and went to munches and talked to people about it and tried on polyamoury and found that it was a fine way to conduct relationships, if they wanted to, but it was just one thing in their relationship toolkit, not essential, just handy if they happened to fall in love with a polyamorous person.
I confess I do sometimes wonder about why this question gets asked, because I have seen what happens in socio-political movements sometimes. It’s a short little process that goes something like this:
- People in the group try to find proof or arguments that the thing they are talking about is intrinsic and “born with.” They are helped by the fact that scientific research into these identities often picks up when the identities in question are starting to make waves in the larger culture. We saw this a lot with gay and lesbian movements in the last thirty years; the trans movement has also been subjected to this. Being "born that way” is a crucial component to the next step…
- Armed with the proof that they were “born that way,” people’s pleas for tolerance can then be justified. Who would be so cruel as to deny folks their rights to just be? (Turns out lots of people.)
In other words, this question so often seems to be a prelude to “don’t deny me my rights, I was born like this.”
Do you see what a bullshit construct this is. We know that things that absolutely, incontrovertibly are intrinsic parts of a person—skin color, where someone was born, etc—are easily used against individuals. And we also know that in some places, there are lifestyle choices—religion, having children, even (in the US) owning guns—that are fiercely protected as inviolable. What aspects of a person’s identity are important enough to be defended in court are simply subject to the winds of politics and public opinion.
So I hold to the radical option of IT DOESN’T MATTER how you got to be you, as long as you’re not hurting anyone nor trying to use your views to change anyone else’s behavior. Doesn’t matter if you were sneaking kisses with multiple other kids in kindergarten, or you took the workshop last week and are giving it a go because you like the conferences.
Whether it’s intrinsic or a lifestyle choice, IT’S ALL FINE, and should not be the basis for stigma, prejudice, or discrimination.
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FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: Do I have to identify as bisexual if I enjoy sex with men, but am otherwise totally a lesbian?
How do I get my wife to embrace her innate, wonderful, amazing ability to squirt? (Every time. it's amazing. but she's embarrassed.)
There are some things that I do during sex. I don’t even deliberately do them, they are just part of my array of physical reactions, like sweating or my pussy lubing up or my chest flushing like a polluted-sky sunset when I orgasm. I have no control over them, they just happen.
If my partner went on about any of these, I would get really annoyed, really quickly.
The way that you write about this feels just a touch fetishizing, is my point. Your wife didn’t learn to squirt; it’s just the way her bits are set up. She’s probably tired of soaking through towels or having to buy puppy pads or whatever she has figured out to do to accommodate this aspect of her sex response. Do you praise her for squirting every time? Stop. Take a break from that while you figure out other strategies, because if she’s embarrassed and having other emotions, your lavish enjoyment is pretty likely to kick up some push-back.
The whole situation is complicated by, well, how complicated societal response is to manifestations of women’s sexuality. On the one hand, women are told in mainstream sex media (Cosmo and other “advice” purveyors) that they should be able to squirt, and there are ways of learning to do this, and what kind of uptight prude are you if you can’t? On the other (sticky) hand, and in the broader media, women are shamed for natural bodily traits or functions like discharge spots on knickers or floppy labia or gushy orgasms. (This is very much slut-shaming, by the way, in which neutral physical traits have become symbols for "loose woman.")
Your wife may have internalized that dichotomy—sexually liberated woman vs soaked-sheets whore, all for a quality that she doesn’t actually control—and so this whole topic is going to be a fucking mess. But you can’t “get” your wife to do anything with her own attitudes about her own body; you can only be supportive. What does that look like?
I would definitely focus for the foreseeable future on mixing up your praise repertoire: make sure you are TALKING ABOUT THINGS OTHER THAN HER SQUIRTING FUNCTIONALITY. What other things about her body do you like? What are things she actually does sexually that you like? Is she a champion deep-throater? Are her nipples unbearably nommable? Make sure you tell her about those things!
Check your own behavior around her squirting: don’t sniff the towels, don’t gleefully dance off to the washing machine with the soaked sheets. And don’t try to hide your love of her squirt in euphemisms like, “I love how juicy you are.” She knows what you’re talking about, and she’s heard it before. I know this may feel like you are repressing your own sexual enjoyment, but if you know she doesn't like to hear it and you keep talking about it, you're kinda being an asshole. If you sincerely want to be present for your wife around this, you have to turn off the spotlight of your attention and leave room for her complicated feelings.
After you’ve dialed back on the squirty love for a little while, maybe consider asking your wife what’s going on when she gets embarrassed. Don’t have this convo right after she gushes; maybe leave it for the post-coital cool-down period, when everyone’s got their favorite hot beverage and you’re basking but you've got your verbal skills back. Ask her something like, “I’ve been wondering, sweetie, you often seem to have strong emotions about your squirt, and I don’t understand. Can you tell me a little more about that? What is going on in your head during that time?”
(I should mention that in general I would prefer to have this sort of conversation about sexual issues outside the bedroom and not immediately following sex, but I’m not recommending that here because if you aren’t regularly checking in with your wife in this way, this will not be the best time to start.)
Just keep your questions gentle and open-ended. If you want to be supportive, you need to get a better idea of what is actually happening for her emotionally. At the same time, be prepared to drop it, if she’s not down with talking about it yet. Just let her know that you’re ready to listen, and then go back to gushing about things other than her squirt.
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