Hermione Danger Recommends #1: The Dildorks

Hermione Danger Recommends is a new series where I recommend a piece of media – TV show, book, podcast, etc – that centers on sex, feminism, and/or social justice issues.

When I started planning this blog series, I began making a list of media I wanted to discuss. Soon, I had enough material for a year’s worth of monthly posts, and the ideas kept on coming. However, it was never a question which one would be my first-ever recommendation; it was always going to be The Dildorks.

dildorks

(Amazing logo by the incredibly talented Amy aka @starboots_)

If you know me well at all, you know that I listen to a lot of podcasts. Sports podcasts, TV recap podcasts, Harry Potter podcasts…my subscription list is long and varied. My day job both allows and necessitates that I listen to my headphones all day, so podcasts have become an essential part of my life. Enter The Dildorks, a weekly podcast that bills itself as “dorky discourse on sex, dating, and masturbating.”

The show is the work of Kate and Bex, two sex bloggers and all-around delightful humans who are also best friends. Their vast knowledge of the topics at hand combined with their great on-air chemistry make for fascinating and entertaining discussions.  When I first discovered the show, they had released nearly 40 episodes – and I listened to all of them within a week. The hours at work flew by as I listened to these two self-proclaimed sex nerds talk about blowjobs, gender feels, kink, sexting, and more. (Oh, and their theme song? It is catchy as hell and will almost certainly get stuck in your head.)

In fact, this podcast was partially responsible for my decision to jump back into the world of sex blogging. After I closed down my old site, I fell out of it for a time; I stopped reading review blogs, didn’t interact much with that side of Twitter. But I began to miss it, and after I found The Dildorks, those feelings intensified. I was already previously aware of both Bex and Kate, having read their work and seen them around Twitter before, but the podcast rejuvenated my own sex nerd spirit in a way I hadn’t experienced in a long time. I began seriously contemplating attending the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, and about a month later, I purchased my tickets, opened this site, and fully rebranded as Hermione Danger.

And speaking of Woodhull, The Dildorks did a live show at the convention, which I was fortunate enough to be able to attend! It was such a fun experience, and you can listen to it here. I am one of the many giggling audience members in the background.

I would love to be able to tell you what my favorite episode of the podcast is, but honestly they’re all gold and it’s too hard to choose, so I’m just going to highlight a few.

***

Interview Episodes

Episode 32: Toymaker, Toymaker, Make Me a Toy, where Kate and Bex sit down with Kenton of Funkit Toys and talk about making silicone and other bits of fucksmithery.

Episode 60: Blushing and Gushing, a conversation with Princess Kali about erotic humiliation. I’ve been a fan of Kali’s for quite some time via Twitter, and Kink Academy, the site she founded, is such an incredible resource for kink education, so I was thrilled to listen to her talk with The Dildorks.

Salty Episodes

Episode 18: Orgasms ‘n’ Outrage, because two sex bloggers have lots of opinions about sex toys and shitty sex toy marketing!

Episode 59: Fifty Shades of Garbage, in which our brave hosts do a live Halloween commentary of the truly terrifying Fifty Shades of Grey film. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cringe at the horrible portrayals of BDSM!

***

The episodes listed above comprise only a small sample of the fantastic content that this podcast delivers. The release of a new episode of The Dildorks is truly one of my favorite things about Wednesdays (Hump Day, amirite? *wiggles eyebrows*), and if you’re not already listening, I highly suggest that you give this show a try. Episodes are available to stream via their site, but if you want to listen on the go, the show is searchable in iTunes and other podcast apps.

And thus concludes the inaugural post in Hermione Danger Recommends! Tune in next time for a new recommendation in sex-positive, feminist media.

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I Hope Your Soul is Changin’: An Open Letter to My Rapist

Trigger warning: this post includes discussion and depiction of rape.

Remember me? Surely you do, though I don’t know if I prefer it that way. I sure as hell remember you, even though some days I’d give anything to forget.

It was June 2013 when we began chatting on an online dating site – don’t worry, I don’t blame the site for bringing you into my life – but I don’t recall much about those early conversations, if I’m being honest. I do know that you were charming, funny, and engaging from the beginning. I don’t know how much of that was the real you, or if it was all just a manipulative façade to get me hooked on you. I suppose I’ll never know. But it worked. At some point, as I’m sure you do remember, the conversation moved from the site’s messages to texts. God, I wish I’d never given you my number.

You brought the flames and you put me through hell

July 2013. We agreed to meet up for the first time. You flaked on our original plans, citing family in town for the 4th, but you maintained that you wanted to make it up to me. So a few days later, I drove to your house, bottle of wine in the seat next to me, while practically buzzing from first date anxiety.

I was not disappointed. We had a lovely night, drinking wine out on your deck and taking in the starlight mixed with a few stray fireworks. Conversation flowed just as easily in person as it did via text, and your eyes were captivating. When you took the wine glass from my hands and kissed me, I melted. We fooled around a bit out there on the deck, reveling in the newness and the thrill of possibly being glimpsed by a neighbor or passerby. We didn’t have sex that night, though; I knew you wanted to, and a large part of me did too, but I hadn’t come to the date mentally or physically prepared for full-on sexy time. So after more kisses, I left, driving home around midnight with a giant grin on my face. I was sure this was the beginning of something wonderful.

*Ron Howard narrator voice* It was not.

As you may remember, you didn’t talk to me for a few weeks after that night, aside from a few short texts the following day. I was upset at your disappearance, more upset than I’d like to admit, but after a couple of weeks of silence, I began to get over it. Perhaps you didn’t feel as much of a connection as I did, or maybe you met someone else you liked better. I was bummed, sure – you were cute and funny and smart and a good kisser, who wants to give that up after only one date? – but I just chalked it up to another dating misadventure. Another one bites the dust, on to the next, etc.

And then you came back.

I’ll be honest: I don’t have any memories of what you said to get back into my good graces. I have no idea what excuses you made, what probable lies you told. All I know is that I fell for all of them. We began texting back and forth as before, and our conversations often turned sexual. You knew about my submissiveness from the jump, as I made no real secret about it in my dating profile, but this was when you began testing it. Feeling it out. And again, I fell for it. I’d never been anyone’s submissive before, though I was experimenting in BDSM with my FWB. More than anything, I wanted to be both your girlfriend and your submissive.

It makes me sick to my stomach to think back on it now, how wrapped around your finger I was after such a short time. I don’t know how I could’ve been so easily fooled; there were so many red flags. But I was going through a lot of inner turmoil back then, still trying to figure out where I was going in life and who I was as a person after I graduated college and was dumped by my longtime boyfriend two years previously. And loath though I am to admit it, this was in the middle of my longest-ever stretch of being single, and I was craving love and affection.

And we both know all the truth I could tell

August 2013. I don’t remember how much time passed between your return to my phone and my return to your house. A few weeks, I think. Enough time to build the sexual tension to a dizzying peak via texts, in any case. I even bought and began playing with a butt plug at your request, slowly acclimating myself to anal play, because I was completely new to it. I found that I enjoyed the sensation, but I was not yet ready for anal sex. You said you understood. You wanted me to go at my own pace. This will be important in a moment.

I drove to your place that night, this time filled with a different sort of anxious energy. Again, we relaxed on the deck for a bit; you were much more handsy this time, but I was into it. After a time, we went inside and you led me to your bedroom, where clothes were quickly removed. So much of what happened is a blur now, but I know I was rather enjoying myself. Until, suddenly, I wasn’t.

You were fucking me from behind, my favorite position, when you pulled out. I wasn’t bothered; I assumed you were just readjusting or something. And then, I felt you pressing your penis against my asshole. For a moment, I thought you’d simply misjudged the placement of my body in the dark, that you had bad aim and would correct the error. But you kept on pressing, and the pain began.

I wish I could say that I firmly told you no and then got dressed and left. I wish that could have been the end of it.

I don’t remember exactly what happened next. I think I mumbled some sort of protest, that I wasn’t ready for that. But it’s all too blurry now. Trauma is funny like that, I guess. I always thought I’d be someone who fights, but it seems I’m someone who freezes. You just kept going, oblivious to my pain, my confusion about what was happening. I don’t know how long it lasted – it was probably only 30 seconds, though it felt like an eternity – but I was eventually so overcome with pain that I wrenched myself away from you. I felt betrayed, but also like a disappointment. I wasn’t processing the consent violation at the time, only that I’d let you down. I hadn’t been a good girl.

Do you remember what you did next? Because I do.

You asked – no, demanded, because you were still in a dominant space, despite my obvious distress – that I suck you off. I did, tears still in my eyes but otherwise numb to the entire experience, and when you climaxed, I felt nothing. (I, of course, didn’t have an orgasm at all that night.)

And then, amazingly, you wanted to cuddle. You expected me to stay the night. And because I didn’t know what else to do, I did. You fell asleep quickly, but I stayed awake. I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t comfortable with you anymore. My brain still wasn’t processing what exactly had happened, that you had raped me, but I knew that something was off. I eventually nodded off, but it was not a restful sleep. When morning came, I left quickly, still incredibly confused and feeling a million different emotions simultaneously.

You disappeared again. We may have exchanged a few texts in the days immediately following that night, but if so, they were brief. I expected the ghosting act this time; I knew you’d got what you wanted from me.

Someday, maybe you’ll see the light

November 2013. I was in a different city a few hours away, seeing some family and taking in a hockey game. My phone rang, and it was you. I still had your number in my phone, so I ignored it. You called again. I ignored it. You tried a few more times throughout the evening and following day, and every time, I hit ignore while my anxiety ratcheted higher. I’d spent the past three months ignoring you, hoping I didn’t see you out at a bar, never listening to the radio station you sometimes worked for, never seeing a game of the local  sports team about which you wrote. Finally, you sent me a text saying that you wanted to know if I was okay. I replied that I was okay and would appreciate you never talking to me again. I was casually seeing someone new, you see – someone sweet and funny and kind but too vanilla – and I didn’t want you in my head, fucking things up. You had a knack for that.

When I got back home, I had to log in to our family’s Verizon account so I could block your number.

I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known

June 2014. The last time I ever spoke to you. I think there were a few attempted texts or calls from you since that November; number blocking wasn’t permanent unless you paid for it. But I ignored them all…until this one.

You texted out of the blue, as you were prone to doing. I don’t know why I responded. I had finally contextualized what you had done to me as rape, or as sexual assault at the very least. I’d even blogged about it. (That blog doesn’t exist anymore so no, you won’t be able to find it. Don’t bother.) I think I wanted to know if you even knew what you’d done, if you had any idea that what you did was wrong. But also – and I hate myself for admitting this – I did sort of miss you, if only just a little. You were incredibly charming when you wanted to be, after all, and when I responded to your messages this time, you wound up being the one to whom I vented.

You probably don’t remember what I was going through at the time, but I thought I had been ghosted again, this time by a guy I met on Twitter. I had started to develop feelings for this guy, and I was reeling from this latest disappointment. I kept getting ghosted by men, and I couldn’t figure out why. (I hadn’t been ghosted this time after all, though – it was a mix of a misunderstanding and overreaction on his part – and we’re still together and happy.)

So we talked, and eventually, I brought up what happened that night. I told you how you violated my consent, how upset I was, how gross it made me feel, and you…you seemed so surprised. You said you didn’t remember it happening the way I described it. To this day I don’t know if you were telling the truth; I suppose I’ll never know. But we agreed to meet up for drinks again. You’d moved since we last spoke, so I drove to a different neighborhood. I don’t really know why I was agreeing to see you; I think I was just emotionally confused from everything going on in my love life and trying to prove a point to myself. And I suppose I did, though not the one I intended.

I’ll give this to you: everything we did that final night was completely consensual. So, you know, good job on that one. We chatted while having drinks on your porch, watching people walk by on their way to the nearby bar district, but you weren’t nearly as engaging to talk to as I had remembered. It was pleasant conversation, sure, but honestly? I was a little bored by you. I wasn’t under your spell anymore. We had fun fooling around, mouths and hands everywhere, but I wasn’t enthralled by you.

And then I did something truly empowering, something that proved to myself that I’d conquered you and your manipulations: I swallowed your cum.

…I know, I know. That sounds utterly ridiculous. But you see, I’d almost never been able to successfully do that before, due to longstanding hang-ups dating back to a bad first experience in high school. I’d given and enjoyed plenty of blowjobs in the intervening years, but the ejaculation bit was always a sticky (ha) situation for me. I wanted to be able to, and I’d tried, but I just…couldn’t do it. But that night, I did it easily. I don’t know how or why it suddenly clicked in that moment, but I felt like a fucking semen-swallowing wizard. You had no idea what that meant for me – how could you possibly know? – but at that moment, I was invincible. You took something from me, but less than a year later, I took something of mine back. You’d had the orgasm, but I was the victor.

I walked out of your apartment the next morning, feeling lighter and more carefree than I ever would have expected, knowing I would never see you again. My now-boyfriend and I got back on track a few days later. You tried texting me once or twice since, but I never responded. I’ll never respond.

When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name

I don’t hate you, most days. Not anymore, though it might be easier if I did. There is, however, a part of me that will always hate what you did to me. I doubt I’ll ever enjoy anal sex – I don’t know if I would have regardless, but I hate that I’ll never know. I hate that I never got the chance to try it on my own terms. But despite this, I refuse to let you dictate my sexuality, to own parts of me that were never yours. I don’t owe you a goddamn thing.

But I do hope that you’ve learned something. I hope that you’re not manipulating other women the way you manipulated me. I hope, if you’re still engaging in kink, that you’ve learned to not be a shitty Dominant. I hope, if you’re dating someone, that you’re treating them with kindness and respect. I hope I’m the only person whose consent you’ve violated. And more than anything, I hope your soul is changin’.

Thanks to Kesha for her song “Praying,” the inspiration for and soundtrack to writing this post.

Woodhull & Whiteness

As you probably know, I recently attended Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit – usually referred to as Woodhull or SFS, for short – and overall, it was a phenomenal experience. Exhausting and overwhelming, yes, but wonderful. On the plane journey home, I began mentally composing a blog post about my time there and quickly realized I had more to say than I first thought. So I plan to do a mini-series of sorts, and while I originally intended to begin with a general recap, the recent events in Charlottesville have necessitated a change in plans.

First of all, FUCK NAZIS. Fuck white supremacists, fuck fascists, and fuck anyone who doesn’t unequivocally condemn them. What happened in Charlottesville was disgusting, and the person who drove that car into the crowd is a murderer and a domestic terrorist.

So what does a Nazi rally have to do with a conference of sex bloggers, activists, educators, and other members of the sex positive community? Whiteness.

*** Before I continue, let me say this: I am white. I have white privilege. I benefit from white supremacy. I am speaking to my fellow white people with this post. The obligation to change, to be better, to relinquish the stranglehold that whiteness has on people of color is on us. If you’re a person of color, especially if you’re black, and you think I’m out of my lane here, please call me out. I have just as much work to do as everyone else. ***

Woodhull, and the sex positive community in general, is overwhelmingly white. I know efforts have been made by conference organizers to bring in more non-white presenters and attendees alike – and I’d say, at least from what I saw, that they were more successful with the former than the latter – but there is clearly so much work to still be done.

One of the sessions I attended threw this into particularly sharp relief. It was a workshop called “Beyond Tuskegee: Exploring Anti-Blackness in Human Sexuality,” led by Tracie Q. Gilbert. She was fantastic and incredibly engaging, and she made me think a lot about things that I already knew but don’t mentally confront nearly often enough. (If you’re interested in reading tweets from the workshop, check out #AntiBlackSexEd.) It was also the only time during the entire conference where I was in a room that wasn’t majority white.

At one point during the workshop, she had us divide into small groups and come up with a list of the top ten most influential figures in sex in America in the last century. We read our list aloud to the rest of the room, and then once every group had shared, Tracie showed a slide of Playboy’s selections, according to a list they published in 2008. There were a few overlaps from some of our lists, but not many. Most were men, and all were white. (The Rolling Stones but not Prince? Seriously?!)

Playboy’s utter foolishness aside, there were two quotes from the session that have stuck with me most clearly, ones that have shaped how I plan to move forward in my writing, my activism, and my everyday life:

“There is no better way to impugn the character and humanity of a people than by maligning their sexuality.” – Kelly Brown Douglas, quoting Foucault in her book Sexuality and the Black Church

“What would black sexuality be without white supremacy?” – Tracie Q. Gilbert herself

So with the lessons of this workshop swirling in my mind, I was especially introspective re: the racial politics of the rest of the conference and the sex positive community at large, and at the final session on Saturday, I hit my breaking point.

Now, before I rant: to be fair, I will note that many of these sessions, even if they were panels rather than workshops, were designed to be more of a conversation rather than a lecture. Input from the “audience” was often welcomed rather than seen as an interruption. HOWEVER, I started to get really uncomfortable when (white) attendees kept adding their two cents when a session was being led by a person of color, especially a black woman.

This final session, entitled “Reproductive Justice, Sexual Citizenship and the Politics of White Supremacy in the Age of Trump,” was led by Loretta J. Ross. I was really excited about it, despite being exhausted. I pushed myself to attend, and then I would up leaving after about 20 minutes.

(EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that Ross said some appallingly ableist things regarding sterilization at the conference’s final roundtable. I did not attend this event, and I remember seeing tweets about it, but I did not realize that she was the one who made the comments. This is not okay, regardless of Ross’ accomplishments, and while the things I discuss later in the post still stand, it’s important to note that she is problematic in her own way. Thank you to @PillowPrincessR for calling me out on this.) 

Looking back on it, there wasn’t one particular egregious instance that made me walk out. It was a culmination of little things, a pile of microaggressions from not just that session but the entire conference. Dialogue-based or not, I didn’t attend the session to listen to other white folks give their opinions. I wanted to hear Loretta Ross speak on one of the many subjects about which she is an expert. The points she did make during the brief time I was there were very good; I wrote down many of them. I had never really thought about the concept of sexual citizenship before and what that meant. I was keen to learn more, to hear her analysis. I wanted to scream at the other attendees to just shut up and let her fucking talk.

And there’s the crux of it. We as white people don’t let people of color, black women especially, just fucking talk. We don’t listen – even when they’re experts, even when we paid money to hear them. We just cannot resist getting our opinions in, because that is what we’re taught by white supremacy. Our thoughts and opinions are always relevant, always welcomed.

This is a problem.

At Woodhull, in other sex positive spaces, and in other activist spaces, there is too much white talking and not nearly enough white listening. We like to think that we are better than this, that we are “woke” and some of the “good ones.” But we’re not immune. I’m not immune. As Tracie Gilbert reiterated for me earlier that same day, sexuality is a field riddled with just as much racism as any other, sometimes more. Whiteness reigns in sex positivity, and that needs to change. It has to change. And it starts with us, fellow white people. It starts with #blogsquad, activists, and educators alike confronting whiteness, calling out other white folk when they fuck up, and most importantly, shutting the fuck up when people of color are speaking and actually listen to them. Support them. Center their voices.

Otherwise, Woodhull will continue to be a sea of white, and sex positivity will always be an agent of white supremacy.

We have so much work to do, y’all. So let’s get to work.

On Platonic Bunnying

Recently, I spent a lovely evening with three of my friends: a couple with whom I am very close, and another of our mutual friends. We drank, ate burgers from the grill, sweltered in the Midwestern summer heat, and chatted about various things, including politics and some drama that’s been happening in our friend group.

Oh, and for about an hour, I was being tied up in the living room.

I imagine it would have been an odd sight, to someone unfamiliar: two women standing with their arms behind their backs and wearing tank tops and short shorts, chatting casually while a man stood behind each of them, tying them into harnesses. But this is the kind of thing my friends do on Saturday nights – and it’s one of the many reasons why finding a group of kinkster friends IRL has been so beneficial for me.

It’s no secret that I’m a bondage slut, but I’m a huge fan of rope in particular. I love everything about being tied: the intricacy and skill involved, the visual aesthetic, the feeling of confinement, the beautiful shapes my body can make. It is one of my biggest kink goals to be fully suspended one day. But, as with many of my other kinks, it can be difficult to do rope when I’m monogamous and Swarley, my boyfriend and Dom, lives hundreds of miles away. (And self-tying is hard when you have short arms!)

Enter platonic bunnying.

I know, I know. People do impact play and tie each other up and engage in all sorts of kink activities with platonic partners all the time. But I don’t. My brain just isn’t really wired that way. But to my surprise, I’ve found that I do rather enjoy doing this with a friend. Not an actual scene, during which I cannot extricate myself from all of the subby feelings that are exclusive to Swarley, but casual, friendly practice. Teaching each other, experimenting with new ties, spending time with friends I love and trust while also fulfilling a need that they both share and understand.

The friend thanked me repeatedly for bunnying for him, which amused me greatly – as if I were simply doing him a huge favor and he was in my debt. The rigger half of the couple had been mentoring him for several months, you see, but it was becoming more difficult for them to practice with two riggers and only one bunny. I don’t know why he never thought to ask me before; perhaps he felt it would be presumptuous or that he would be overstepping the boundaries of my relationship, neither of which were true. So the aforementioned overworked bunny, who also happens to be one of my best friends, took it into her own hands and called me up from the metaphorical bench, and I immediately accepted – with Swarley’s full knowledge and permission, obviously. I am above all his good girl, after all. 

And so it was that I found myself gossiping with my friend in her living room while neither of us had use of our arms. And while I went into the evening knowing I would have a good time, I did not anticipate how freeing – how restorative – it would be for me. 

Of course, it wasn’t the same as when Swarley ties me. It’s an entirely separate experience, with its own unique set of emotions. Without any sort of D/s dynamic present, it’s…lighter, in a way? Not that I don’t laugh or have fun when Swarley ties me, but our scenes are always imbued with so much love and lust, and I slip easily into my submissive headspace. But with a completely platonic friend, there’s none of that, and I can enjoy the act of rope bottoming in and of itself. Examining the ties, inspecting my body, testing my flexibility and strength. No power exchange,  no mind games, no sex, just base physicality and connection with my own body.

Scenes are great. Sub space is great. But sometimes, it’s refreshing to simply relish in a kink act for no other reason than the pure, raw joy of it.

Lumos

Greetings friends. For those of you who are new, welcome. For those returning to my world, welcome back.

I used to blog occasionally under my former online persona, and I’ve been feeling the writing itch again. With #SFS17 so near, I decided this was the perfect time to jump back into the blogging world.

So, who is Hermione Danger?

  • Feminist librarian with a dog and a lot of Feelings about Harry Potter and The Simpsons
  • Collared submissive, rope bunny, and mild masochist
  • Anxious introvert committed to social justice

…among other things.

And now, if you’ll allow me to quote Dumbledore, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.