A/N: This was mean to be a companion piece to “lessons in consent,” but as I sat with what I’d actually written, I realized this was less about “times I wish I’d said no” and more about touch. (None of these instances are sexual.) So, there’s something to be said for letting a piece of writing sit, and giving yourself and the writing time.
Word count: ~1200
At the opening of the retreat I’m on, the instructor says, “Stand up and turn to the woman next to you.” This is our introduction to one another. The woman to my left and I face and look at each other.
“Get close!” the instructor calls out.
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This was originally written back in 2017. It was around the time Kitty Stryker’s anthology Ask was coming out, and I think Stryker had some post that inspired me. I picked it back up in 2020, and have since edited and added to it. Thanks to Jenna for betareading this.
Content note: We often hear consent applies to situations beyond sex, and this piece is an attempt to describe what I’ve learned about consent in my actions towards others in daily life. I’m not sure what content warnings are applicable (for example, this ranges from sex to giving unwanted hugs). If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. This is also NSFW because of sex.
Word count: ~1,900
My mother does many things right by me. One of them is teaching me to listen and obey when people say stop. At eight, I know no meant no, do not pass go, do not collect $200.
I am an only child, and when I have playmates over, the moment one of them says no or stop, my mother is listening to make sure I obey.
She never gives me the sex talk, but this lesson stays in my heart, even if it does need some polishing.
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…you gotta fill out this application.
I created this application half in exasperation at men sexualizing me (thus some of the flipness) and half because I am serious about communication. While this might not be your exact situation, I think you can adjust this for your own purposes – COVID hangouts, cuddle puddles, new friend dates, whatever’s clever. These questions aren’t new by any means, but I hope they get you thinking about what you want.
Please free to take what is handy to you, adapt as you need, and discard the rest.
(The Republican question specifically is actually asking: “do your politics undermine my right to exist as a person in this world?” But I phrased it the way I did to troll people. And yes, when I IRL said “Republicans need not apply,” I got some pissed people in my inbox. *shrug* This pussy don’t pop for you, not sorry.)
- thanks to Octavia, who encouraged me when I said, “I’m tempted to just interview dudes who want to sleep with me, including asking for their exes as references.”
- Some of these questions were directly inspired by Midori and Zoe Ligon’s video.
Your interest in having sex with me has been noted. Please respond to the following questions, and I will reply to you at my leisure.
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- Are you a Republican? Y/N
- What name should I call you?
- What are your pronouns?
- Best way to contact you? I will use this for any subsequent contact and/or to let you know if I test positive for COVID or an STI.
- Does the experience you want include just me and you, or does it involve additional people? If the latter, please have each individual fill out their own application.
- Why should I share the gift of my time and attention with you? Let alone my body?
This was supposed to be a lulzy recounting of my first time having sex, but then the examination of my sexuality took a turn elsewhere.
Word count: ~2,600.
“And if they feared the power, would they try to cut her off from it by breaking her? A Virgin Night performed with malevolent skill could strip her of her power while leaving the rest intact.”– Anne Bishop, Daughter of the Blood
It’s been years since I read Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books, but here’s how I remember it going down: a witch’s first time having sex is a make or break experience. Men looking to destroy a witch’s power rape her. For the others, sex is a rite of passage to be navigated with a safe (cis male) partner to ensure her power continues growing.
There’re problematic parts of this of course. The absence of pleasure, the cis hetero normative narrative, sex as a universal, the absolutism of it. But I do think there’s some truth to it. Our first times matter in the same way first impressions do. Have a shitty first time, and it’s harder to recover from than an underwhelming one.
It’s a rite of passage to be born, not done in pleasure. And isn’t that what sex is right now anyway?
Which is why I’m glad I chose the circumstances of my sexual first time by placing an ad on Craigslist*.
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Thinking out loud about my relationship to others, myself, and my eczema. Snippets of this previously appeared on FB & IG.
Content Note: Humiliation (?) and NSFW due to sex.
I don’t like the horror genre, because I don’t like being scared. But every now and then I press through it, like Annihilation for Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson, or Get Out to be culturally competent. I watched both with the lights on, in broad daylight, after reading the summary on Wikipedia.
I have a particular aversion to body horror though. I don’t fuck with that. I’d list some examples here, but you’ll just have to go to the Wikipedia article instead, because even thinking of listing them makes the back of my skull tingle in bad ways.
My body is already a horror, after all.
A selected list of monstrosities:
- thickened skin, darkened skin, combine the two and you get dragon scales
- a body full of open wounds, ready to ooze and weep and bleed at any moment
- skin dappled with scabs in various states of repair
- my hands, smelling of raw meat after I’ve scratched them raw
- my fingers, stiff and brittle leaving me two options: 1) delicately applying lotion to my joints to bring movement back to them 2) clenching my hands into fists, snapping the skin open like a glow stick lit bright with my blood
- my lips, my nipples, splitting open like overripe fruit
Does that satisfy your criteria? Do you know why my body is marked off with yellow caution tape? It’s not because of any of these, it’s because of the way you treat me.
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“Oh my love, my darling, –A. North & H. Zyat’s Unchained Melody
I’ve hungered for your touch,
a long, lonely time.”
presence was larger than life. One of my favorite Aunt’s friends,
her laughter filled the room, her smile buoyant. I still haven’t
met a woman as charismatic and magnetic before, that I couldn’t
help but draw close to. Towards the end of the night, we were on the
couch together, and she took my hand in hers. Asked me to massage
“Isn’t touch so wonderful?” she asked me, watching the rest
of the party continue.
I could only blink at her, dazzled, and kept pressing my thumbs
into her palm.
I couldn’t have been more than ten. How had she seen the hunger in me so quickly, before I even knew the depth of it?
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Inspired by one of Witchdoctorpoet‘s prompts in Decolonizing Our Voices. This touches on unhealthy parent-child relationships.
“You cannot succumb to the pressure of how somebody will misunderstand what you have to say.”— Amy Tan in conversation with Celeste Ng
terrified if I tell the truth about my mother and I, it will be a
wildfire I cannot control. That the people who read it will say,
“Oh, a Chinese-American mother and daughter with issues, of
course.” That they will only see a Tiger Mother. That my mother
will be publicly crucified. That people will see my name and think,
“Oh, Esther, that author.
She just keeps writing about her mommy issues.”
The truth is a topic I skate around, eliding, smiling, deferring.
If we are close, or you’ve known me long enough to read between the
lines, you know my mother and I have history.
I hesitate to name it trauma or abuse, because those words have
weight, responsibility, and assumptions.
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Content note: there is some discussion of passive suicide ideation (wanting to die, but having no plans to act upon those thoughts) and unhealthy parent-child relationships.
The thought of seeing A Wrinkle in Time, just like Black Panther two weeks earlier, got me through an abysmal work week. As my eczema left ruby constellations across my skin from stress, I agonized over whether I really meant it when I said to myself, Girl, it’s time to quit. So much work, a desk piled precariously high with paper, and so-busy-I-needed-a-Time-Turner, I didn’t even bother checking the movie reviews like I usually do. Come hell or high water, I was getting myself to this movie screening, 6:30pm Friday night, opening weekend.
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From Yrsa Daley-Ward’s IG prompt from 3/14/19. Also inspired by Abiola Abrams’ Spiritpreneur School podcast from 3/13/19 which asked, what do you want and how do you want to feel?
“tell the truth about something you haven’t been honest about this week“
comes naturally to me, but I’m not looking for it in a
What I want is to come home to someone. Build a life together. Get deep in our shit with each other. That Jada and Will kinda partnership. I dunno the exact details of it. Romantic and sexual? Monogamous? Not if it’s platonic. If platonic, with one person, or more? If more, I’d prefer a triad or more-ad.
How do I express I want intimacy – emotionally,
physically. Sexual intimacy
is a footnote.
Give me that life when I crawl into bed with you, settle against
your side. And you kiss me. And kiss my hair and my forehead. I want
your tenderness. When I say I want these things, I mean I want to
- safe, physically & emotionally
- cared for
- like I could purr
- full of warmth
- present in my body
Isn’t it strange, I say I’m not
looking for a committed partnership, but isn’t it what I so easily
“loving you doesn’t hurt”
For Vanessa Mártir’s January 1st Writing Our Lives prompt, [1 of] 3 stories that haunt you.
the four years we spent together, there are many moments I look back
at tenderly; and many
more where I was vulnerable, broken apart, and you carefully held me.
You’re a Cancer, so you were unafraid of swimming in the sea of
tears my body exuded. But this moment, something about it remains
clear to me, even if I don’t know exactly why.
It was in the dark warmth of my bedroom I was my most honest and confessed I loved you.
It wasn’t the first time I’d told
you I loved you, but the flavor of this particular one, I knew it was
something different, something I had to tell you.
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