Limits – Cupid Does Not Have Me In A Chokehold

In this entry of my hard limits blog series, I decided to talk about one of the major things that has plagued my entire sexual history. Choking. It doesn’t matter whether it’s just light pressure from a hand being placed on my neck or hands more forcefully pressed against my throat, everything neck related (aside from kissing and the occasional collar wearing) is off-limits for me. I’ll pretty much give anything a go once or twice (within reason) but both times I’ve tried choking have resulted in a PTSD flashback. I’ve had to go into a dark room with my favourite blanket and a scented candle to feel okay again.

If I take you back to the limits post that I wrote about rape play, you’ll know that I was assaulted at a young age. This is relevant because the guy that was responsible for that event put his forearm against my throat during the assault. It was forceful and it hurt. I didn’t really understand it at the time. I thought he was trying to kill me. I now understand that this was an attempt to keep me quiet but because of this, I can’t associate any level of choking or breath play with anything but traumatic memories and physical pain. It’s not a sexy type of domination for me. I don’t know if my feelings and boundaries on this topic will change following a revisit to trauma treatment, but I am not expecting it to be an activity that’s part of my sex life anytime soon. It is a defined in stone hard limit for me and I don’t think I’d mind if this box stayed locked forever.

I think it looks hot in porn, and I can see how that level of trust and vulnerability can be sexy to some, but it’s not something I could do. I thought that coming back to it in adulthood with a trusted sexual partner could change the way I feel about it, or at least make me less scared of it, but evidently that’s something I’m not able to explore. I have taken a few steps in recovery such as allowing someone touch me there and penetration was an issue for a while, but acting out anything similar to what happened during that assault send me into a trauma infused panic attack. I can’t do certain sex positions with my partner now as they are variations of what that person put me through and it’s a painful (mentally and physically) encounter.

Outside of that part of my past, there’s another reason that plays on my mind when I think about choking. My health. This can be a very risky, dangerous play and using the wrong amount of pressure or missing a safe signal can be deadly. For that reason, I think that being in a well-rested, sober mind-set with good lung health is vital before engaging. I personally do not have great lung health. I am a lifelong asthmatic who had pneumonia in my childhood that required surgery on my left lung. I still have it, unlike my grandfather who had to have his removed, but it’s never been quite the same. I end up in a panic state if I can’t take a deep inhale/exhale every five seconds or so. I wouldn’t be able to feel safe, comfortable and sane during a choking scene as a result.

If you are going to engage in this sort of play, I’d recommend only doing so with someone you truly trust. Someone you’ve been intimate with before. Someone who understands what “no”, “stop” or a safe word/signal means. Get those safety measures in place beforehand. Both be clear on the signal and make sure to follow through and use it if needed. Be aware of your surroundings if the choking isn’t taking place on a bed and remove any possible hazards from the area such as long cables or dressing gown ties that could get caught around the throat. Don’t pull the neck upwards, apply pressure on the receivers windpipe or use your grip to move a partner around. Use their lower body to manoeuvre them into a more comfortable, accessible position or stop and let them adjust themselves.

Hard Limits – Oh Toe You Don’t

Ah, foot fetishes. A topic that can turn a conversation into a debate. Some people love this fetish, some hate it, some feel indifferent and some are confused. I think this goes with most fetishes and kinks, but I’ve found that people have a lot of thoughts on feet in particular. In this post, I’m going to be talking about the reasons behind this fetish being a hard limit for me, my thoughts on the fetish in general and sharing a bit of a rant about kink shaming.

Foot Fetishes - LimitsI’ve never really liked feet. I don’t know what it is about them, but I just don’t like them. I know there are a lot of others out there who feel the same as I do and that’s totally fine. We all have areas of the body that we aren’t too keen on. I just so happen to be freaked out by feet/toes and belly buttons. No logical explanations for either are known to me. I take care of my own feet, regarding clipping and painting my nails, with the occasional foot bath here and there, but I insist on making those ‘pampering’ sessions go by as quickly as possible. Would I go to a spa and get a professional pedicure? Absolutely not. It’s bad enough that I have to touch my own feet. I wouldn’t be comfortable with someone else doing so. I’d rather get a facial or back massage any day.

If it was possible for toenails to clip and paint themselves and soles to apply lotion to their cracked skin without assistance, I’d be made up. Unfortunately, the human body has not evolved that far. So whilst I may be uncomfortable, I’ll deal with my feet to remain clean and fresh. That’s as far as my relationship with my feet will ever go. I’m certainly not interested in touching, treating or tending to anyone else’s, so my toe contact is limited to about once a week. I can cope with this. I couldn’t cope with someone wanting to touch my feet, hold my feet, massage my feet, suck my toes etc. It has been asked of me before and it’s always been a straight up no.

Looking back, I remember feeling harsh for having to completely reject all aspects of a person’s fetish as I’m usually quite open to experimenting, but I’ve realized that I shouldn’t feel bad for having limits. This fetish is one that I don’t feel I could ever budge on, just because of the way that I feel about feet, and luckily for me, this does not interest my long-term partner. If he hypothetically did have a thing for feet, I’d want him to find someone he could explore that with, even if it meant letting him go. We all deserve to be with partners that we are sexually compatible with for the most part.

I may not ever completely understand the old foot fetish, but I respect that this kink is not my kink. It works for a lot of people as is evident by the reports that show that this is one of the most common fetishes around. It might still be a taboo topic for some, but it’s a genuine source of enjoyment for others. My thoughts are this; as long as the foot fetishist doesn’t creepily approach unwilling strangers to satisfy their kink (because this happens more than I’d like it to), purposely cross over someone’s boundaries or limits or hurt someone, then I think we should be happy for them. They’ve found what works for them and that’s a great thing.

I’ve read posts on a few forums about people not wanting to communicate with their partner in relation to this fetish. The most common reason behind this is the fear of being judged or branded as strange. I don’t think that’s fair. What one person might find strange could be vanilla to someone else. Sexual preferences are exactly that, preferences. We shouldn’t talk badly about someone else’s or make them feel insecure for liking something that we don’t. If feet are your thing, good for you. I hope you find someone you can communicate this with openly and honestly, without fears.

Let’s Talk: Lube Is Not The Problem

Let's Talk About LubeIt has taken me a while to understand that a lot of people outside of the sex-positive community don’t see lube as a good thing. It can actually be a very sensitive subject to some people and perhaps even taboo in some households. I think this is because there are lots of common misconceptions surrounding these sexual aids and not enough education. I didn’t learn much about lubrication in School and I was taught that it was not something people liked to talk about. It became a shameful, off-limits topic amongst people I knew and nobody came out to set the record straight.

I had to look into the rumours myself, which resulted in exposing a pack of lies and finally learning how to enjoy masturbation and sex. I reached the age of 18 before I realised that lube was a very easy way to avoid the sensation of rug burn inside my vagina and awful friction against my vulva. I didn’t think of it sooner as I was told that I should be producing enough naturally or my partner should focus more on “foreplay”. This is part of the misconception amongst folk that claim a sexual partner is responsible for turning you on and if you can’t get lubricated enough, then there must be something wrong with them, or you.

The use of lubricant in the bedroom has become associated with feeling broken, being lazy and having incompatible/selfish sexual partners. All of these things point to a lack of communication and the misinformation that is spread within culture and the media. I want you to read the next few sentences very carefully and repeat them to yourself as many times as it takes for the information to register in your head. “Using lube does not mean I am not broken. Using lube does not mean that my partner is broken. Using lube does not mean I am bad in bed. Using lube does not mean that my partner is bad in bed.”

Let's Talk About Lube

I’ve received several comments on this topic over the past few months, so I’ve compiled some responses to some of the most frequent comments/questions/responses below.

1. “Why doesn’t my partner get wet enough naturally?”

As you have used the term wet, I am taking that to mean your partner has a vulva. Vaginal dryness is very common and it can happen for numerous reasons. One of the most common culprits is medication. This could be antihistamines, asthma inhalers, antidepressants, birth control etc. If this person has a sudden change in the amount of natural lubrication that they produce after a medication change, it’s very possible that it’s the cause. Medication isn’t the only thing that can affect natural lubrication though, other causes include hormones, menstrual cycles, lack of warm up, age, dehydration and being a perfectly normal human who simply produces less than others. It very often has nothing to do with how aroused a person is. You don’t have to be wet to be aroused. If dryness is an issue for your partner/yourself, lube is your friend. It’s no big deal. Apply some and get going!

2. “My partner gets annoyed with me if I ask to use lubricant as he says I should be wet enough if I was really aroused by him”

I’m going to refer you to the last part of the answer above this question. Lubrication does not indicate how aroused a person is. Some produce more than others, some produce less, some produce enough sometimes, but not others. It’s just how the body works. We are all wired differently. If he does not understand this, please ask him to do some research. If he isn’t interested or willing to give it a try to make you more comfortable, then I believe the answer is finding a different partner who will actually respect your wishes, your body and want to make things as pain-free as possible for you.

3. “How do men feel about it? Don’t they expect a woman to be wet enough?”

I don’t think a man should expect anything from a woman. Nor do I think any partner should “expect” anything from the person they are sleeping with. I have come to realise that many people have unrealistic exceptions of how long it can take a vulva-owner to be ready for sex. Some can be ready to go in minutes, but others need a ton of build-up and even then, lube can be extremely beneficial. It seems that some people are impatient and expect sex to be like porn, where it just happens out of no-where, with seemingly no play beforehand. I would encourage anyone who thinks like this to do some research and become educated on the human body.

4.  “My partner and I tried lubricant but they said it gave them a burning sensation, is this normal?”

If it burned or itched during use, the chances are that you’re using a lubricant that doesn’t agree with you. Step one: Check the ingredients. Does it contain Parabens and/or Glycerin/Glycerine? If yes, chuck it out. I’m going to do a more in-depth post about ingredients at a later date, but for a quick overview, these are things you want to avoid. Glycerin in particular if you own a vulva and are sensitive/prone to UTI’s. If you’ve taken those things out of the equation and are still having problems, remove Propylene Glycol. Following that, check for things that you might be allergic to such as Aloe Vera. I would also advise a trip to the GP or clinic at this point to rule out the possibilities of an STI, UTI or latex allergy.

5. “We’ve used lube before and found it didn’t last long enough”

Water-based lubricants can dry out quickly, that’s a fact. A good thing to note is that they can be reactivated with just a spritz of water. I like to keep a spray bottle by the side of the bed to refresh so we don’t have to stop what we’re doing to reapply. There’s nothing wrong with stopping for a few seconds to top up though, if that’s the method you prefer. If that’s not ideal for you, then I would look at trying a hybrid or silicone based lubricant. Silicone lubricants can’t be used with most silicone sex toys as the materials can interact with each other (there’s more science behind this, but that’s for another post) and they can also interfere with pre-lubed condoms as many of them use the silicone type. If you want a slick, long-lasting glide during sex or water play, silicone is definitely the way to go. Just make sure to get some un-lubricated condoms first.

6. “What lubricants do you recommend?”

Anything by Sliquid, for water-based, I usually use the H20, Sassy or Satin. If I want silicone or hybrid, then I would go for Silver, Organics Silk or Silk. If I want something flavoured/enhancing then I’d opt for anything from the Swirls line (although Green Apple is the best), Sizzle or Organics Natural Sensation.

Another great brand is Pjur. Stay away from the relaxing products though. I like their Silicone Bodyglide Original, Silicone Bodyglide Woman and Woman Nude Sensitive which is water-based.

Let’s Talk: Infertility

Before I get started on this post, I want to tell you that it’s ok not to read this if it’s a post that might upset you. I understand that infertility is not a soft subject and it can be difficult for many people, but I really need to put these feelings out there and vent about some of the comments I’ve been receiving.

So, I’ll guess I’ll start by saying that I am infertile. If you’ve seen my recent tweets, then you’ll already know this as I did post some of my frustration there. I have known this for three to four years now, although I knew it was a possibility for a year before that. The reason for my infertility is not something that I really speak about on my blog or in this community much, which is my eating disorder. I have anorexia and this has ceased my ovulation. I’ve had some fertility tests done in the last couple of years, and despite the possibility of recovery in the future, I was told that it’s not possible for my body to handle a pregnancy due to the other medical problems that I now have.

I feel it’s important to clarify that many womb-owning anorexia recoverers (is that a word?) can go to on to conceive if they are weight restored, have menstruation/ovulate and/or their body has had a period of time to heal. It can take longer for this to happen, but it’s still possible for many people. Whilst this is fantastic news for my friends who suffer, it’s not possible for everyone. I’m one of these people who it’s not possible for.

As I have known since the age of sixteen that it was likely, I have kind of made peace with it. I have accepted it, but it seems that others around me haven’t. I feel like this is lifes way of telling me that it’s just not in the cards for me and honestly, I’m ok with that. I now feel that it’s better if I can’t, because I don’t think I’d be able to deal with it if I bought a child into this world and passed some of my problems onto them. I don’t think it’s fair and I couldn’t bring someone into this world for them to just be miserable. Maybe I am saying things like this to make the news easier to deal with or maybe I actually feel this way, but regardless of whichever it is, I shouldn’t have to deal with the comments, especially from those that I care about, that I am fending off on a regular basis.

Here are just a few of the comments I have received from people, some of which include my family or those who know me offline and are aware of my situation:

  • “What will you do with your life now that can’t have kids?”
  • “Real women can have kids.”
  • “It’s your own fault, if you didn’t do this to yourself, you’d be able to have kids.” (this one is particularly upsetting to me – Anorexia is not something I “did” to myself. It’s something that the mental illness did to me.)
  • “Are you going to adopt? Foster? Get a surrogate? You do want children, right?”
  • “It’s your duty as a girlfriend/wife to give your partner a child.” (Are we still in the sixties?)
  • “Why is he with you if you can’t give him a family?”

I’ll start with the less offensive of these and work through them. The questions regarding wanting children and other methods of fertility. I know many people who can’t have children would love them, so I see why these questions are asked, but it’s the way that these people ask the questions. It’s like they are expecting me to say yes, simply because I’m a woman, and what sort of monster woman doesn’t want them? Well, me. If I can’t have them, then I won’t. I support others who do have children and that’s fantastic for them, but what’s right for them, isn’t right for me and I’m not going to bring a child into this world through some other measure just because society says that I should.

“It’s your duty/why is he with you?” Personally, I think these questions are extremely insensitive and rude. I am actually disgusted by these comments, but I don’t think people realise how hurtful these types of sentences can be. Family is not the be all and end all of a relationship. We can be a family without a child and as long as I satisfy him and he’s happy – why should you care whether a child is involved or not? We are now in 2016, so I really shouldn’t have to defend myself for not having children.

As for the I’ve brought it on my myself and other disgusting comments regarding my mental illness, I have lots to say about that and none of it is pleasant, so I’ll keep those thoughts to myself. Like you should. If you’re a person who’s ever said this to me, I hope you understand how inappropriate and disgusting these comments are. If I didn’t feel bad enough about myself already, I have people like this coming in and making things worse. It’s almost like if it was for any other reason, other than Anorexia, they’d shut up and say nothing. I think that’s what makes this so upsetting to me. If it wasn’t for a mental health reason, they’d just accept it.

Why should I be made to feel bad about not being able to have a child and not wanting to go through other methods to have one? Motherhood is not for everybody and it seems that it’s just not meant to be for me. I find it extremely rude that people suggest I’m less of a woman for not being able to have a child. I am actually a real woman, because I’m a woman. I have thoughts and feelings too and it seems to me that some people forget that and just look at me as though all I am is a womb.

It seems to be a very common thing for people to comment on others fertility and family size throughout a relationship. It starts with “so, when are you getting married?” and leads to “when are we having a grandchild?” – I really believe that people need to stop this. You don’t know the ins and outs of someones relationship, health and life, so you have no idea what these questions stir up in people. If my partner knew about this before our relationship started and he loves me regardless, then why can’t others just leave it alone?