"By the time you get it explained, the odds of actual compatibility are minuscule. And then it just starts over." - Graydancer
I am tired of explaining myself.
This afternoon I came across a piece from adult fetish performer Casey Calvert's blog detailing, line by line, what Hustler magazine got wrong in their interview with her.
"I appreciate you doing a feature on me," she writes. "But really, I don’t appreciate being made to sound like a stupid whore. I understand your readers might prefer that type of fare, but I prefer to be a little bit more real."
I'd like to pull more quotes from the piece here but I'd be pulling the entire thing. Let's just say that Hustler, for some reason, decided it would be more interesting to paint Casey as a "bad girl" troubled college drop-out who rock climbs to "stay limber" (for teh secks, of course!) than to accurately depict her as the magna cum laude college graduate nationally ranked competitive athlete she is, who also happens to be into kink, and who chose to make a career in fetish porn so that she could get her needs met safely.
They even got her hometown wrong. (And implied that she was disappointed that her parents didn't spank her, which... ugh, that's so gross I feel weird typing it.)
I don't know Casey personally. I don't know what it was like for her to do that interview, for her to invite a journalist along to watch her rock climb, and then into her own home to watch her do a bondage and impact scene with a rigger. I am guessing that Casey doesn't have nearly as much trauma associated with her kink as I do -- only because I generally guess that nobody has as much trauma associated with their kink as I do -- so maybe this wasn't nearly as heavy an event for her as it would have been for me. But still. She opened up to Hustler, answered their questions, and invited them into her own home to watch her play, and in return they decided to turn her entire kink narrative into something that was not hers. I know if that were me, I'd feel even more violated than I would if someone assaulted me. (I've been both sexually assaulted and misquoted in the press and the latter felt worse. It lasted longer and there were more witnesses.)
It is hard enough as it is for human beings to talk about their sexualities. It is hard because we as a society stigmatize it. And yet, some brave souls do it anyway, despite knowing how much shit they're going to take for it, because it is important work to let people know that they are not alone in feeling the things they feel, and because for some of us, it doesn't much feel like a choice.
I gave a talk at InsTED yesterday (go watch it online, I only had five days' notice to prep it and I was super proud of myself for pulling it off), and afterward, one of the other speakers approached me in a very friendly manner to talk about some of the things I'd mentioned. As we talked, he mentioned that he is writing a book on hypocrisy, and that he is in favor of it, that he thinks as human beings we are hard-wired to be dishonest about who we are. I looked at him deadpan and said, "It would be infinitely easier for me if I were able to be dishonest about who I am. But I can't." Then I got up and left, because I didn't have the patience for a "friendly debate" that was likely to trigger my sexual shame.
For whatever reason, people like me and Casey have decided to be transparent about our sexualities, and that is not an easy thing to do, but it is an important thing to do, because there are many people in the world who suffer in silence because they feel alone, different, and shameful because of their desires. And instead of having her story honored for her bravery, Casey instead had hers twisted and warped to make it look like she was a fucked-up, damaged individual just looking for a trite time with some "whips" (the word Hustler chose to give to every single BDSM impact toy regardless of its actual name).
THIS IS WHY IT IS SO HARD FOR US TO TALK ABOUT OUR KINK. Because even when we sit there with you and tell you the truth as hard we as can -- and believe me, explaining ourselves gets fucking old after awhile -- you still blatantly refuse to fucking get it.
It's an epidemic that goes further than journalism. It's about people being human beings. Journalists are people, and those people write articles that other people read, and then those other people sit across from us at a dinner table and try to get to know us, or worse, they somehow manage to get into bed with us, and they think they have us figured out because of the shit they read somewhere. I touched on this in this post about the kinds of guys who look at my kink as a shortcut to a good time without needing to, you know, actually get to know why I'm like this, and again in the intro I wrote to the new edition of my late mentor Flagg's book The Forked Tongue about how people's reduction of my sexuality into silly tropes actually makes me feel far more unsafe than their judgments.
It is hard enough that my sexuality led to events such as my watching my then-boyfriend/Dominant led away from me in handcuffs, being outed in the New York Post (there isn't a photo in that link but ohhh there was at the time, and in the print edition it took up nearly a full page), losing all my money to his legal defense, having my pro-domme career ended through an email hack, being ostracized (to put it lightly) from the public BDSM scene, and being embroiled in a Dominant/submissive relationship that turned abusive WITHOUT you fuckers adding to the shame and confusion that goes into that mix.
It is hard enough inviting a person into the sacred space that is my sexuality, a space that is now so loaded with heaviness and trauma, and having to explain what I like and why I'm wired this way and asking them to see it and hold it WITHOUT all of it being twisted into a public narrative that has nothing to do with me.
It is hard enough for me to accept myself, to feel like I am going to be okay and maybe one day accepted and loved for who I am without having to hide anything out of shame, WITHOUT the media constantly punching me in the fucking face with their fucking lame-ass kink puns and trivialization of what I assure you is the most difficult thing I have had to fucking live with and that's coming from someone who grew up with an abusive dad.
Fuck you. Fuck you all.
How do you expect me to feel anything but despair when my greatest (and sometimes only) source of peace and satisfaction is the punchline of a fucking joke to you?
Let me point out a discrepancy in Casey's Hustler article that is a rather all-encompassing metaphor for something you get deeply wrong about us:
What Casey prefers on a date is to be tied up, hands and feet bound tightly behind her like a farm animal about to be branded. Then she likes a butt plug stuck in her ass. Then she likes to be whipped. Hard. With a bare hand, paddle or leather belt.
1. No bondage on a first date. Not unless they’ve been seriously vetted.
2. I actually don’t really like butt plugs, and I HATE having anything in my ass while being spanked.
3. Yes, I enjoy being whipped. With a whip. I also enjoy being spanked with a hand, paddled with a paddle, and slapped with a leather belt. Verbs, people.
Hustler, your portrayal of Casey as someone who likes to be tied up and buttplugged on the first date is exactly the stigma kinky people face that make us terrified of first dates. Because we're afraid that we're going to tell our dates that we like being tied up, and they're going to assume that means we like being tied up on first dates, that because we like being tied up we also like other things like buttplugs (which we may or may not, but clearly in this case you either didn't ask Casey or you just didn't listen to her answer), and that paddles and leather belts are called whips.
I'm exhausted. I'm tired of explaining myself. I am going to write this memoir -- which, by the way, feels like being hit by a truck every time I make progress on it -- and hope that it heals some of the wounds around my experiences so that my sex life won't feel like such a fucking heavy thing to have to hand over to any potential partners. I am praying that I can write myself out of this fucking despair and that somewhere at the end of this draft there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, or at the very least, that I can just give it to people to read before they involve themselves with me so I don't have to fucking explain myself all over again.
Do better, world. If you think you might ever want to fuck someone like Casey or me you're going to have to do a much better job of understanding us, making us feel safe, and treating us like we're people.