On rejection

7 02 2011


Swiftly and graciously accepting rejection is a cornerstone of radical consent. It hurts, but if you really believe in sexual autonomy, you just have to suck it up — without pleading or wheedling or demanding answers. You need a reason to be with someone, not to reject them.

Of course, rejection can be based on prejudice. It can be cissexist or racist or fatphobic or biphobic or ageist or ableist or anti-virgin or whatever else. And if someone voices those sentiments, you’re right to call them up on it. But nobody owes you an explanation on why they don’t want to fuck you or date you. I’ve been hearing people assume prejudice in situations where no reason was given, and I tend to think it’s likely no reason was given because no one wants to say “I’m just not that into you”.

In an existing relationship, pressing for a reason can be used to get someone to stay with you under the promise that you will change. But though it’s widely acknowledged that rape and sexual assault occur within established relationships, conversations about consent can tend to focus on the beginnings of things. Even when consent education explicitly resists the idea of perpetual consent, or conclusive negotiations (eg in this questionnaire), people can assume that certain ideas or questions aren’t applicable to their situation. The communication style and power dynamic of an established relationship can complicate negotiations, as much as it can facilitate them.

But coercion can come from a place of disempowerment — eg using your body image or mental health issues to manipulate someone into having sex with you — as much as it can come from the abuse of power. When you feel utterly powerless, it can be hard to imagine that you’re exercising coercion, but that’s exactly what’s happening when you try to beg and trade in the face of rejection.

One of our Basic Rules of Flagging is that we need to be open to suggestion and open to rejection. Consent depends on both — if you are too polite to proposition, too precious to be propositioned, too evasive to reject and too insecure to be rejected, how are you negotiating consent?


Want Milk?

11 01 2011

[lc]: I was talking with a friend about female ejaculation (blue/white gingham) flag, which has been: left, “into female ejaculation (yours)” and right, “make me female ejaculate”.  My friend pointed out that blue/white gingham reverses all the other flags about bodily fluids – like yellow, pale yellow or cream – where left is the giving of the fluid and the right is receiving.

[max]: The idea was that blue & white gingham was a replacement for the milking (holstein) flag, where left is “milker” (bringing someone to ejaculate) and right is “milkee” (ejaculator).

[gauche]: I think originally we decided against holstein for milking/female ejaculation flag because the implied body is male (*mimes pulling action*) — or the sex act you would infer from “milking” for female bodies is not necessarily jerking off to ejaculation. And we didn’t like that association of female bodies with cows, either.

But the left/right orientation should still be the same (as other fluid flags), where left is ejaculating and right is receiving ejaculate (noun) or making someone ejaculate (verb). Otherwise there’s this anti-feminist implication that female ejaculate is more passive than male ejaculate, or perhaps that it’s bottoming because it’s humiliating.

[n.]: I think “milking” doesn’t have to be associated with that gesture – the verb “to milk” means “drawing milk” – i.e. making someone ejaculate doesn’t need to have a gender bias.

[lc]: I think that female ejaculation would be closer to the cum fetish (cream) flag. I think if we are talking about a female body, it can be “milked” through female ejaculation, but ejaculation doesn’t necessarily equal “milking” someone.  You can milk without bringing someone to orgasm, or to a point where it’s not pleasurable, eg prostate milking. I think the cum flag is more about the fluid whereas the milking flag is about having a lot of that fluid, from the one person (with possible overtones of control or humiliation).

[max]: I think f.e. deserves its own flag because it’s really different from jizz, in so many ways – the most obvious being the false but popular idea that female ejaculation is elusive. I want the ability to flag f.e. specifically, for political as well as other reasons, without the ambiguity of “cum”. I think it makes sense for cream to be pan gender.

[felix]: There shouldn’t be a particular female ejaculation flag – you can just use cream with a triangle if you want to specify. But that reinforces male as default, unless you also use a symbol for cock.

[gauche]: No, we have the symbols so I can disambiguate among my own orifices — eg if I want to be fisted vaginally or anally. I don’t support using the symbols to seek particular genitals, or enabling that through another method — that goes against the queer spirit of this code and also I think its only practical use would be for trans panic. I don’t want to encourage that at all.

I think there’s a place for “milking” where it’s making someone ejaculate, where that’s your fetish and a specific bodily function you’re trying to provoke (“drawing milk” as n. said) – which is different from a cum fetish where the cum is part and parcel of someone’s orgasm.

[lc]: I don’t think cum is necessarily ‘part and parcel’ of orgasm. You can totally ejaculate without an orgasm and vice versa; often they happen simultaneously but not always. So I think that cream can totally be a female ejaculation flag and the gingham more focused on milking. Also I wish we had better terminology for female ejaculate, every other bodily function seems to have a (number of) colloquial term(s).

[max]: cum=orgasm is totally jizz-assuming.

[gauche]: The colloquial term would be squirting, and no, some vulvas always squirt when they orgasm so I don’t think it assumes jizz. I don’t see the need for a sex-specific flag but I guess being lady-like means my hankies are read as queer rather than gay – is that part of your concern, max?

[max]: No, it is jizz-assuming. In general – even queer-general – cum/ejaculation/orgasm are synonymous because of the way all things sex are default to male/male desire. Just because some vulvas squirt doesn’t take that away: some vulvas don’t, and some cocks don’t, either. That’s the reason that cum/come homonym exists. And we need to (and do) work against that: cream= cum (fluid, pan gender).

I wouldn’t say it’s about being “sex specific” in the sense of “femaleness”, more in regard to the biological fluids as different and specificity is hot. I totally want to see more transguys reclaiming their boyjizz. Clarification/consent is hot too, but I think a specific f.e. flag could be politically salient.

[lc]: I think we should change the cream flag to cum/squirt fetish, I’m currently not into having a specific female ejaculation flag. I think that firstly it places an emphasis on biological sex, all our other flags have endeavored to be non-specific about the junk you are looking for. As gauche said above, the symbols are for your own orifices, not for the ones that you are looking for.

[gauche]: I can understand having a separate flag for milking, where (as with the traditional code) left is milker and right is milkee. And I can understand that blue gingham is an improvement on holstein.

[max]: Yes. And it makes sense for the left/right positions to be reversed for blue gingham as opposed to cream, because the focus is different.

So now we have two pan gender cum-related flags:

CREAM cum fetish (mine) cum fetish (yours)
BLUE/WHITE GINGHAM milker milk me

All About Orange

4 01 2011


Traditionally, flagging orange means:
(L) anything goes * (R) just cruising

But that in that sense, (L) is consensually worrying, and (R)  too like an anti-flag (ie, leave me alone).

You want just cruising? Go for white velvet, left.

Given the emphasis on consent, I’d like orange to be reinterpreted as:

ORANGE looking to lead open to suggestion

I think there’s a real need for open to suggestion and it makes sense for orange, ie “could be up for anything, try me”. I’ve been thinking about control/drive flagging – and I like this as a revision which satisfies.


Archive on Orange

[lc 22/03/10]: I think that the orange flag has its place. Flagging something obviously doesn’t equal consenting to something and it’s highly dangerous to assume someone has no boundaries but I think orange could mean something like ‘I’ve liked everything I’ve done so far and I’m into trying other things as well’ or could also/simultaneously symbolise that you’re up for being propositioned for anything.

[max 22/03/10]: I think it’s really important to stress that flagging isn’t consent. I think the phrase anything goes makes that more difficult. And that concerns me.

[lc 25/8/10]: Go to “Asking For It

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Is demisexual anti-queer?

2 06 2010


Sometimes I support the idea that proliferation of identities approximates deconstruction, but demisexual is the dumbest thing ever, right down to its etymology. Fair enough if you take an extended hibernation, limiting your sexual activity to summer and spring, but any non-temporal reading suggests that demisexual is halfway on “the asexual spectrum”, between the poles of asexuality and “full” sexuality.

According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network wiki, a demisexual is

a person who does not experience primary sexual attraction but yet still experiences secondary sexual attraction. Primary sexual attraction being sexual attraction based on outward qualities such as a person’s looks, clothes, or personality. Secondary sexual attraction being attraction to another stemming from emotional connection (usually romantic) or status or how closely the person is in relationship to the other.

Other definitions give primary attraction as based only on that which is immediately perceptible (looks, smell, clothes, etc), not personality. For some demisexual implies panromantic inclinations, while others use it with gendered orientations (eg a “heteroromantic demisexual” would be someone who only wants to fuck within the context of heterosexual romance).

It would be silly enough for a sexual identity to not only accept but reinforce a notion of normative sexuality, but the normative sexuality implied by demisexual isn’t even correct. For women at least, normative sexuality presupposes “deep emotional connection” as a requisite condition for sex — if it didn’t, we wouldn’t have concepts like “nymphomania”. Isn’t there enough slut-shaming in society as it is?

I don’t buy the argument that demisexual can exist without denigrating promiscuity. Even if individual demisexuals don’t use their identities as a value judgement on other people’s sexuality, demisexual already assumes a normative centre, and elaborates the sex of that centre as being based on “primary characteristics”. Never mind that the primacy of those characteristics (such as gender) might be something we actively resist. Never mind how we might understand our own motivations or attractions and the ebb and flow of desire. How does a demisexual differ from me (sexual, pan, poly, fussy)? Presumably I’ll want sex earlier in a relationship than they will, or with people I don’t know as well as they’d need to — but if I haven’t fucked someone by the third date I assume they just like to pay for meals and lose arguments. I hear that most girls work slower — apparently there’s even rules about it. So how is a demisexual different from your run-of-the-mill, sex-after-love romantic? And doesn’t demisexual deny the fluidity of sexual(ity)?

Even if all this is true, it may yet be insufficient grounds on which to deny anyone’s self-identification (though I don’t accept that it’s never justified to do so). And I realise that many other sexual identities involve similar value judgements: eg, when people talk about bisexual or pansexual as being attracted “to a person, not a gender”, when I think that describes people of all sexual identities, even if gender might be a factor (which it is for many bi and pan people anyway). Or how poly people talk about monogamy sometimes. I think it’s always rude to pretend your tastes are more profound and less superficial than others. Nevertheless, I feel that demisexual is especially problematic and I’d like to hear the rebuttal.

What does all this have to do with flagging? I think flagging is about communicating something that usually isn’t immediately perceptible, which destabilises the distinction between primary and secondary attraction. More than that, hanky code creates a sexual lexicography that enables a level of specificity and intentionality that I think is inherently queer, regardless of who practices it, while demisexual seems to me anti-queer in reinforcing fixed and stable sexual identities. This isn’t about sex positivity necessarily — I think dominant culture is both relentlessly sexual and particularly anxious about sex; I wouldn’t call it repressive or oversexualised  — but a critical relation to normative sex.


In response to Pico the Great’s post:

[gauche 18/6/10]

I think your point that demisexual comes at sex and love “from an asexual, rather than sexual, perspective”, is pretty useful. This makes sense to me — that the resulting position might look the same to another person (in terms of stated desires and concrete action) but is coming from a different direction.

You said:

If there is a bell curve of human sexuality, zero to ten, then there will be folks all from one end to the other, from -1 to 11, expressing themselves and realizing themselves in a myriad of ways. […] Promiscuity is simply on the 10 or 11 end of the bell curve, just as demi is on the 1 or 2 end.

As I said to Emma Rainbow below, I reject all views of sexuality as a spectrum or scale — I think this forces complex subjectivities into a binary opposition. But accepting this spectrum for the moment, I would have said asexual is all numbers ≤0, and everything above 0 is just sexual — a 1 or 2 isn’t “demisexual” any more than 10 or 11 is “hypersexual” (though “hyposexual” would seem more apt to me than “demi-“). I can accept though that someone who thinks of themselves as a 0 but sometimes ventures into positive integers will retain an asexual identity despite their actions, just as dykes can retain lesbian identity despite having sexual relationships with men. The “demi” etymology still bothers me but that’s just my pedantry at work. (To be fair, you used the words “anthypophora” and “apodioxis”.)

By the way, you used male pronouns for me: I’m a woman, which is why I’m positioning my sexuality in relation to norms of female sexuality. As a cis woman whose femaleness is rarely questioned, and whose preference for gender-inclusive pronouns is inessential, misgendering me isn’t a big deal, but I do think it says something about the way you read (ie, androcentrically). This criticism is valid regardless of your gender.


Straight Flagging?

10 05 2010

Do straight people flag?

Hanky coding originally was a way of queer people identifying each other, but it’s better not to assume the sex-gender of who’s flagging or who that flagger is seeking; there’s no reason why straight people can’t be flagging hankies these days. Flagging is about inviting questions, and the more straight people who aren’t offended by being hit on by queer people (but rather are open to conversations about sex and sexuality), the better.

But there is a history to straight [anti-]flagging that has potential to be played with [contrary to popular belief, there is not one but TWO straight flags]:

  • A ring on the left fourth finger means married
  • A ring on the right fourth finger means committed (not married)

As you can see, ring symbolism has been used not so much as flag but an anti-flag. Ring flagging doesn’t have to flag ‘straight’ – on the contrary, ring flagging could be a way to break down straight/queer (flagging) divides.

[posted by max 10/05/10]

– – –

Similar concept and an antiflag is the MsTaken ring and it’s accompanying video.  The idea behind is that if someone undesirable is hitting on you, then you can get out your MsTaken ring and tell them that you are married.  It even comes with a key chain to hide your ring/flag in.

[lc 20/05/10]

Jay Wiseman in SM 101 proposes hets flag general kink interest with a “black leather ring, held together with a single rivet” on left or right as appropriate.

[gauche 10/08/10]

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