Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Staying In

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  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Emma Hart,

    if you google

    my name ... oh god how did that video get to the top of google! Don't get me wrong I'm kinda proud of being allowed to say those geeky things on video I just figured it would be buried in the depths of teh intertubes.

    And no it had not occurred to me to google my own name.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Lilith __,

    it used to really piss me off sometimes the things he shared

    It's part of the deal you have with your partner. I understand why sometimes it's easier to write something down than actually say it to the person you are having a relationship with ... but easy isn't always right.

    To be honest there are times when I read some of Emma's posts and think "has she talked this through with her beloved(s)?" and then find in the next paragraph that she has.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Max Rose,

    reverse cowgirl

    No I'm NOT going to google that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Just popping in briefly to say, without having read any of the previous comments, that after driving to and from Wellington today, and being sans internet, when I got home and quickly scrolled through the list of posts on my RSS reader, the only one I clicked on to read straight away was this one, because what you have to say, Emma, is always interesting and integrity-ful.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Max Rose,

    whether BDSM was an aspect of my life that counted as "coming out".

    Blatantly ignoring the way this conversation is threatening to become deeply ironic, I'll take a moment to talk about using the concept of "coming out" for something like BDSM.

    I think coming out is a useful concept when you're dealing with something where if you don't tell people, they don't assume they don't know, they assume you're something you're not. So if we've never talked about sport, you'd be okay with the fact that you don't know my sporting preferences. But if you don't know someone's "orientation", most people (outside the Bubble) will unconsciously assume that they're straight, cis, monogamous, and vanilla. And I have other signifiers in my life (suburban mortgage, kids) which make people even more inclined to think that.

    Coming Out is about correcting those assumptions. The more people who come out, the more people become aware of those assumptions and how flawed they can be.

    ETA: For me, BDSM is an orientation. It's more than what I do, it's part of who I am. I totally accept that it's not like that for everyone.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Coming Out is about correcting those assumptions.

    But assumptions allow people to deal with the inability to observe every single person as an individual. And before you leap up and say everyone should be treated as an individual consider that there are 6-7 billion of us on the planet and your brain cannot ... simply cannot deal with that.

    So you make assumptions. And as you get older you get better at getting those right and hence it is much harder when those assumptions are demonstrated to be false.

    What reading Emma's blog teaches us is that even when those assumptions are rudely dismissed some things remains true. She still loves her children and cares about her kitchen and garden. It's enough to make you think ... isn't that fun :).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Max Rose,

    It can also avoid some dangerous misunderstandings among vanilla people, as another of Emma's posts (not sure whether it's here or on TLG) demonstrated.

    The post Max is referring to is this one at The Lady Garden, which is coincidentally the same post I referred to in the column as having caused a Bit of a Thing. An actual horrible bit of a thing which badly damaged a 20 year friendship. Turns out the secret hadn't been that badly-kept after all.

    Writing posts like those at TLG instead of here is one of the precautions I take. I feel safer simply because of the smaller and more focused audience. Likewise I'll say things in the comments here I wouldn't in comments, because it feels safer and more intimate.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Emma Hart,

    It’s more than what I do, it’s part of who I am. I totally accept that it’s not like that for everyone.

    Asd most regulars posters here know, I'm an asexual. We're about 2% of the human population, and we have no obvious distinguishing physical characteristics.

    We just dont feel any kind of sexual attractiuon to other human beings, other beings, other things...

    Which is most definitely part of who I am, how I am, what I am...

    and is rather difficult to explain to well-meaning family & friends.

    "Dont worry dear - one of these days you'll meet Mr Right."
    "Um, dont you think I know myself rather well by now? I mean, I'll be 66 next birthday?"
    Blank incomprehension....

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose, in reply to Emma Hart,

    For me, BDSM is an orientation. It's more than what I do, it's part of who I am. I totally accept that it's not like that for everyone.

    For me ... the jury's out at the moment. It feels like a vital part of me, and the more I think about it, the further back the roots seem to go. But it doesn't seem as defining a part of me. Or at least, not yet.

    I think coming out is a useful concept when you're dealing with something where if you don't tell people, they don't assume they don't know, they assume you're something you're not.

    That's an interesting distinction, and I probably need to think on it further. There's certainly value in challenging erasure and correcting assumptions, especially for something that is undoubtedly a hidden yet defining part of many people's lives.

    But if you don't know someone's "orientation", most people (outside the Bubble) will unconsciously assume that they're straight, cis, monogamous, and vanilla.

    There may be an aspect that the first three assumptions have in common, but that is usually different for vanilla/kink, and that's the degree to which their Otherness has legal and social implications. If someone has a same-sex partner, or has to change the "sex" field on their passport, or wants to bring their boyfriend and his girlfriend to a work dinner, then their orientation or identity is public and requires public awareness and/or legal instruments. Yet BDSM seems (with some exceptions) largely an aspect of activity that is usually considered private, whether kinky or vanilla.

    There definitely are some irruptions of one's sex life into the public realm, such as whether your choice of porn is legal, and whether counsellors, sex columnists and doctors can understand the particular dynamics and, um, physical effects of a BDSM relationship. But in most circumstances, I wouldn't feel the need to tell an acquaintance, colleague or family member whether a particular relationship was a vanilla or D/s one. Your mileage very much varies, of course, but for me and most co-workers etc, it would seem like oversharing. At the moment.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Writing posts like those at TLG instead of here is one of the precautions I take. I feel safer simply because of the smaller and more focused audience.

    Um, whoops! I hope I haven't ... outed you.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Max Rose,

    But in most circumstances, I wouldn't feel the need to tell an acquaintance, colleague or family member whether a particular relationship was a vanilla or D/s one.

    Neither would I, but that's very different from whether I am vanilla or kinky.

    I think it's probably a bigger thing for me because, y'know, nobody's ever bailed me up at a party and spent an hour telling me I can't possibly consent to being bisexual. Nobody's ever told me my bi-ness is false consciousness, or that it means I'm contributing to the abuse of women.

    Um, whoops! I hope I haven't ... outed you.

    Ow. Turns out beer can't be nasally ingested.

    But no, I do both columns under the same name, they're materially attached to each other. It's just a matter of my instinctive feel for who's listening.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    Actually, one amusing flip side is people who really don't want to meet anyone who reads their blog, because of the personal disclosure in it. How do you deal with someone you've only just met in the flesh when they're familiar with your ongoing struggle with sex, or your primary relationship. One minute it's all "my husband can't do cunnilingus worth a damn" to the internet at large, the next it's "and this is my husband Bob". Meeting authors or singer/songwriters in the flesh can be just as weird, you feel you know them in some ways, but not at all in others.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Islander,

    “Dont worry dear – one of these days you’ll meet Mr Right.”
    “Um, dont you think I know myself rather well by now? I mean, I’ll be 66 next birthday?”
    Blank incomprehension….

    That's even worse than my lesbian aunt, who gets the same from her 80 year old mother every time she breaks up with a girlfriend. "Oh, now you can meet a nice man and settle down..."

    Understanding other people is hard work for most of us a lot of the time, but it seems as though some people don't want to understand others at all.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I’m really conscious here of not wanting to sound like I’m dissing people who do write under pseudonyms.

    You come across as quite magnanimous. I never cease to be amazed at your candour in publicly expressing the kinds of sexually intimate details that so many are sadly still unable to share with even their nearest and dearest.

    The name discussion is an interesting one in terms of the transgender community where the name is very often a contributor to the internal identity conflict. Being torn between an imposed and often gendered given name (and its associations) and the liberating (and again often gendered) chosen name, is not a position easily resolved, a name being a difficult mark to shake. The empowerment you kindle is awesomeness Emma.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    but it seems as though some people don’t want to understand others at all

    -or simply, dont have the empathy/imagination to understand people who are rather different than themselves-

    I come from the basic belief - We are all human beings-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Max Rose,

    I'm pretty much nodding along to everything you're saying here. Some of it may be about my not discovering my kinky side until my late 30s, so I may find it a more "defining" thing in future. Being queer - which I've known about for 26 years now - is definitely part of my identity.

    I'm selective about who I'm out to in a professional context in the varying ways. I mean, I look like a butch dyke, but if you don't say anything, there seems to be this "plausible deniability" clause that kicks in. Which I use the heck out of in situations (i.e. working in foreign countries, even those as "close" culturally as Oz, or around religious people) where I don't feel very secure.

    One job, I was out about the poly thing, but not officially queer. This job, they know about me and my partner, but not about the poly thing. Kink, I don't discuss at all outside of my safe communities - i.e. the queer one (and not all queers - old skool lez-fems are not going to hear about my kink life, and there are untold lesbians who have real disdain for the poly thing) and the kinky one (everything goes there). Certainly not my family, and in fact, quite a number of my older friends haven't heard the kink news.

    For kink, I think of it as like discussing my sex life in a specific kind of way- with most people, it's not a topic. I don't think I'd ever talk about the cute bottom I have my monthly play date with (not quite like bridge club). With being queer and polyamorous, some of that can come into general conversation when talking about partners. If I need to be in a position of trusting someone in an intimate way, then the full disclosure has to happen. I am not sure yet if I would require a kinky component in any sexual relationship I have (this is really evolving right now), but partners would have to know about it and accept it, because I go to play parties.And won't be stopping for the foreseeable.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    That’s even worse than my lesbian aunt, who gets the same from her 80 year old mother every time she breaks up with a girlfriend. “Oh, now you can meet a nice man and settle down…”

    Well, at least she doesn’t have an uber-creepy billionaire father basically issuing an open invitation (and a cash reward) for guys to cyber-stalk and publicly harass her. I’m squicked out every time I see this presented as some adorably quirky “human interest” story instead of the disturbing arsebaggery it is.

    Some of it may be about my not discovering my kinky side until my late 30s

    Yeah, but what’s “kinky” anyway? I don’t think most people would bat an eye-lid if they found hanging from the ceiling in a rubber gimp-suit, with a live chicken stuck up my arse. But drop the factoid I’ve never, ever had sexual intercourse with a woman? Well, then the conversation get… interestingly awkward and I’ll be damned if I can figure out why.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I think it’s probably a bigger thing for me because, y’know, nobody’s ever bailed me up at a party and spent an hour telling me I can’t possibly consent to being bisexual. Nobody’s ever told me my bi-ness is false consciousness, or that it means I’m contributing to the abuse of women.

    That makes it clearer to me. I've never had the equivalent of that, for several reasons.

    One is because I've only discovered (or expressed) my kinkiness in the last few years, and it seems a lot more openly discussed since ... perhaps since Secretary? When I was younger, the only MSM mentions of kink tended to be of a particular sort of Femdom (Peter Plumley-Walker, Ken Russell's film "Whore", a one-woman show in Wellington about a Dominatrix), involving a somewhat Pythonesque cliché of the upper-class male authority figure who pays to be humiliated. I don't remember many representations of female submission, or if I did, they were entangled with nastier misogynistic aspects of mainstream porn rather than shown as consensual and mutually pleasurable D/s, so I avoided them. Nowadays, at least in the circles I move in, kink seems to be (at least slightly) better understood.

    Secondly, I adjust how I refer to my kinky side depending upon context. Some people I wouldn't tell at all (in the same way I wouldn't tell them any details of my sex life). There are others, such as certain acquaintances or colleagues, with whom I might share some drunken confidences, but while I might say that I was into kink or that I'm a Dom, I'm unlikely to go into details about what that actually means. They might be okay with that, but if I said "Oh yes, I took my beautiful lover home last night, chained her up and whipped her until she cried, and she loved every minute", I expect the reaction would be very different. Some would be horrified and never speak to me again, some might give me their number, but I expect most would just say "Dude, I didn't need to know that". Just writing that now, anonymously, made me feel uncomfortable.

    Thirdly, while I can imagine many feminists of a certain faction attacking me in the way they attacked you, but by calling me an abuser or misogynist, that wouldn't apply to most of the active feminists I know. The feminist circles I move in are very sex-positive, and most of the individuals range from kink-friendly to kinky as fuck.

    The first and third points, which are mostly about the privilege of timing and context, are aspects where you haven't been so lucky, but it's through your writing that I can get some insight into both the need for and the difficulty of coming out. The second point is more about the degree to which one sees one's kinkiness as an orientation - something that defines one's social attitudes, self-image and way of seeing the world - rather than as a private bedroom predilection.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Paul Williams,

    one of the near unique features of this blog/community is the uniformly high quality of contributions making it worthwhile reading every comment, your’s included.

    Thanks Paul tho I am still overawed by the wit, strength and intelligence shown by contributors and commenters.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Yeah, but what’s “kinky” anyway?

    Having sex with the light on!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Max Rose,

    “Dude, I didn’t need to know that”

    And really that is simply true many times. Heck I feel that way sometimes when my workmates feel the need to discuss their baby's latest excretions.

    Some things simply have no impact on my relationship with a person. Their orientation or kink does not impact on how well we work together, so do I need to know? But if they are a friend they may need me to know, which is a different thing.

    So "why are you telling me this?"

    Actually I guess that's perhaps a reason I'm not keen on anonymity. If you won't tell me your name then what kind of relationship do we have? How much do I care? To some degree there is value for me in knowing the diversity of peoples feelings and behaviours. But beyond that ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Lilith __,

    it used to really piss me off sometimes the things he shared about our relationship

    Totally agree with you on this. There was a high profile blogger a few years back whose MO consisted of finding 'material' to fuck. Not cool.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

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