Archive | October 2015

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Purple RibbonI knew 16 days ago we began National Domestic Violence Awareness month. I have experienced physical and emotional abuse in my past. I read some things today that compelled me to speak out on the topic. There were some folks using the term gaslighting incorrectly and others were throwing shadow on claims of gaslighting as possibly being a matter of, “…I got confused, and emotional, and now I feel bad.”

I came across this journal entry in FetLife about 1 ½ years ago. I had never heard of the term “gaslighting” before I read that journal entry. The term is best known from a 1944 classic movie starring Ingrid Bergman, titled Gaslight. This past September it was being shown at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) Cinema and I went to go see it.

What is gaslighting? A psychological definition of gaslighting is “an increasing frequency of systematically withholding factual information from, and/or providing false information to, the victim – having the gradual effect of making them anxious, confused, and less able to trust their own memory and perception.”

So yes, we are dealing with perceptions.

I was in a very destructive relationship in my past were I was physically and emotionally abused. The physical was easy for me to forgive, the emotional has been far from easy. Fairly early on, after I left my abuser, I realized I could not get past this problem. I had to work through it and that I needed professional help to do that. Some of the emotional abuse definitely fell under the term gaslighting. It can still be traumatic for me to relive those experiences. I was subjected to behavior that resulted in psychological trauma, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s an invisible scar I wear.

I want people to pause before they speak and automatically disregard someone, who speaks up about emotional abuse, because that is what gaslighting is, emotional abuse. I want to ask you to pause and listen to people who have the courage to ask for help. Please don’t turn your back and write them off as people who want to avoid being responsible for their own actions. Please I beg you to resist the urge to tell yourself, it’s discontent/sour grapes, because their relationship ended. I implore you to consider that it might have taken that person the last bit of strength they had to hold that hand out and ask for help. I beg you to realize that if you don’t error on the side of caution when that person reaches their hand out and grab that hand, you may lose that person forever. Emotional abuse can be that destructive. Grab that hand, pull them up, keep them safe, and find them help. Question later.

It took me a long time to find the courage to speak to one person I thought I could trust to talk to. Even then I made her swear to not say anything to anyone and amazingly she didn’t; she held all my dark secrets. She is a much better friend that I am. Even after I talked to that one person it took me another 6 months before I finally left. I’m a rare statistic, once I left I never went back to my abuser. Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind to try to ask to come back. It did. I want to say I was lucky, but it’s not that at all. It’s that I did the work and continue to do the work to heal with a professional(s).

Do some people misuse this term? Yes. Do you really want to take the risk of turning your back on the many that don’t? No one deserves to be abused. I didn’t deserve what happened to me and I did not want it. Do I have accountability? Yes. I stayed. No one forced me to stay. I have to live with that. The abuse I suffered nearly killed me. I don’t say that lightly. There is a lot of shame in admitting that out loud, but choose to let go of pride and instead say my truth out loud, because… If you are suffering abuse I want you to know I have known the shame & fear you live under. There are women and men all over who understand the shoes you walk in.

And look at me today…

I am not broken.

I am not a victim.

I am not a survivor.

I am a beautiful strong leather woman.

I am here in the today, the now, and embracing life.

Show Yourself To Me

ShowYourselftoMeCover

Queer Kink Erotic author Xan West’s has invited me to join in on a month long virtual book tour. Before I get into my thoughts on this book a little about the author and the book:

A little about our author:

Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, a recent transplant to Oakland from Brooklyn, who has been doing community kink education for over ten years. Xan has been published in over 35 erotica anthologies, including the Best S/M Erotica seriesthe Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “First Time Since,” won honorable mention for the 2008 National Leather Association John Preston Short Fiction Award. Xan’s work has been described by reviewers as “offering the erotica equivalent of happy ever after” and as “some of the best transgressive erotic fiction to come along in recent years.”

Xan refuses pronouns, twists barbed wire together with yearning, and tilts pain in many directions to catch the light. Xan adores vulnerable tops; strong, supportive bottoms; red meat; long winding conversations about power, privilege, and community; showtunes; and cool, dark, quiet rooms with comfortable beds. Find Xan’s thoughts about the praxis of sex, kink, queerness, power, and writing at xanwest.wordpress.com.

A little about the Book:

In Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica, Xan West introduces us to pretty boys and nervous boys, vulnerable tops and dominant sadists, good girls and fierce girls and scared little girls, mean Daddies and loving Daddies and Daddies that are terrifying in delicious ways.

Submissive queers go to alleys to suck cock, get bent over the bathroom sink by a handsome stranger, choose to face their fears, have their Daddy orchestrate a gang bang in the park, and get their dream gender-play scene—tied to a sling in an accessible dungeon.

Dominants find hope and take risks, fall hard and push edges, get fucked and devour the fear and tears that their sadist hearts desire.

Within these 24 stories, you will meet queers who build community together, who are careful about how they play with power, who care deeply about consent. You will meet trans and genderqueer folks who are hot for each other, who mentor each other, who do the kind of gender play that is only possible with other trans and genderqueer folks.

This is Show Yourself to Me. Get ready for a very wild ride.

I like to read porn, smut, and erotica. Call it what you will, but I like things dark, dirty, taboo and Show Yourself To Me is filled with it all. There are some things that stood out to me instantaneously about this book in context to styling and wordsmithing. There is a layout here in content that I am familiar with that still somehow pleasantly and most unexpectedly managed to surprise me to find it in a book. What I refer to as wordsmithing starts on the cover with the title. From the cover to each of the following pages this book was constantly bringing forward unexpected feelings, emotions, and thoughts for me. This book, at the same time, is and isn’t made to make us feel comfortable.

The first thing I should notice is the cover and book title and I do, but it happens in more of a passing glance and it’s lost on me until later. I am too greedy wanting to dig into the meaty pieces inside and I missed something that would come to me later about this title. Instead of being the first thing I absorbed, the title is the last and final thoughts I have before I sit to write today. Since last night I have been pondering the words Show Yourself To Me. I have been thinking of how loaded these words are. What is it we do when we allow ourselves to be seen? There is so much risk and so much possibility of reward. We allow ourselves the possibility to be and to feel, vulnerability, fear, excitement, dread, pain, longing and more. What a litany of feelings and emotions we open ourselves up to. When I first read the title I assume the author is looking for us to open ourselves up and I believe Xan West does want us to do that, but even more I believe what is done here is we are being shown our author. There is a strong metallic taste pouring into these pages from tears. We are reminded life is not neat, things get messy, and Xan turns the wet messy and often ugly pain here into something beautiful. When you read through the stories in this book you get to see raw reconstruction of self, along with a proclivity for knives, tears, rough trade, and leather. This wasn’t the erotica I was expecting and I am glad. It’s the first time in years I have had erotica make me pause and think about what I show of myself to others.

What I noticed right away was the contents page and the warnings listings. Between each Story and its page is a detail of warning content. I read stories on alt.sex repository and I am accustomed to lingo for content warning in online porn, but for some reason I never expected it here. I feel compelled to talk about the warnings ad content listing. It’s so great and I wonder why it’s not more standard. Not only does it do the obvious of helping people divert themselves from stories that have content they need to turn away from, but it helps you steer to content that makes us hot! Seriously, at each of our Smut Club meeting here in NYC our little group always seems to have one or more women (it’s a women’s group) who will say they had to stop reading and couldn’t finish because of certain content they were triggered by. This book’s erotica touches on real and very sensitive areas of our lives and sexualities. Content information, so simple, but so brilliant. I’m excited to go talk about this book with my friends at our local Smut Club.

One last thing I wanted to comment on is something I read on Heather Elizabeth’s blog Kinkopedia. During her tour stop of this book wrote about a reaction she had to Xan West commenting that…

The secret truth of it is this: many of us that moved to the other side of the whip did it to approximate what we had longed for and rarely received… No one tells those stories.

I think of all the virtual book stops on the tour this one observation stopped me in my tracks, because its part of my story.  She is right that people probably don’t speak this type of truth often, but I believe people are hungry for this queer erotic and are ready to hear these stories.

Show Yourself To Me can be purchased at:

Go Deeper Press and Amazon

Going to the place that’s the best…

This is my best friend jade. I can’t think of a better friend than her to have. I love her. Here is a little piece of her to share…

The Chrysanthemum and The Sword

Unlike what most people imagine, my experience with the Biker gang wasn’t fundamentally different from my gender rigid role childhood.  While i most fervently hope that there is one single Club House in the Sky, where all of our fallen brothers and sisters went before us and are waiting for another reason to have a cook-out.  i hope heaven has miles of clean ocean and rows of Harley’s.

My biological father is a biker.  The very best memory i have of him is wrapping my arms around him and sitting so close on the bike.  i didn’t have to let go.  i couldn’t stop smiling and swallowed a bug.  He called me Angel.  He smelled like leather, sweat, and a bit sweet from his pipe.  i wanted that bike ride to never end.

My mother said the only time she was happy during her pregnancy was on the back of…

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