How Honest Should We Be Here?

This discussion started with a reader’s comment on the very straightforward “Technique” posts.* But it soon went into another realm entirely, becoming a discussion of how such material might be viewed by Internet readers who were not clued in to our context here. There was concern that it might be in some way dangerous to be that honest about our sexual lives, especially  in such a very, very public way, with literally world-wide exposure.

See if you think there’s something to be concerned about:

Me, I’m wary of thrill-seeking for its own sake. I’ve got this whacky idea that the ancients figured out, for instance, that the lower GI and mucous membranes can dance together fatally, so better keep them apart. Within this general context, I’ve recently had to come to, uhh, grips with a request for “fisting.”We weren’t talking about anything violent or power-related — which is good, because I’m sure as hell not interested in that. The request was for a well-lubricated whole hand. I resisted, but relented. It did nothing for me. It was much appreciated. 

Confusing the issue were pleas that “It’ll make me feel closer to you, like you’re really inside me.” Honey, you’re scaring me. Turned out that I was okay with it, but I’m haunted by the possibility of what’s next. “Your friends X and Y seem nice. I think it would make us even closer if you were in A while they were in B and C.”

Call me a prude (I’m not, really), but in this society there’s a substantial component that’s seriously interested in what can only be called More. More tricks, more taboo-breaking for its own sake, more outrageousness, more holes.

“Why your wife won’t have sex with you” is a great and nuanced subject, but I reserve the right to change my mind if the answer is “Because it’s just not fun if there’s no feces smeared around the bedclothes” or “A real man would understand that I need the Elks Club to pull a train on me or I can’t truly get off.”

Sorry if this is crude Julia, honestly I am. The intimacy of sex springs, I think, from its being a shared secret, a private (and, yes, experimental) voyage of paired peers. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I detect lately here an ever so faint verging into voyeurism, into fake intimacy. “Why your wife won’t have sex with you,” after all, only obliquely contains online mutual masturbation — however (marginally) well-written the accounts may be. “Sex” is in there, “wife” (or husband) mostly is not, “won’t” and “why” don’t even figure. Indeed, the whole matter of who’s “you” is up in the air.

Ah well, other people’s websites and all that. Nevertheless I have learned first hand (heh) that “catbird” knew something I didn’t and that it’s not so weird as far as it goes. Still, “Why you should learn and encourage your wife’s kinks” can lead people to places they don’t want to go, can break the reliances that even sound relationships are built on in the name of unchecked openness. Most website visitors are lurkers. Care should be taken, I think, to couch these reports in language that dis-validates creeps and takers. They are reading this.

There are things [we two] haven’t tried but could. Learning about them would expand our intimacy, and that’s good. But some of these same things could be expressed or thought about such that they lead away from [the] intimacy [of we two]. “Anything goes” is easy. The advice given here, I think, would do well to take up the more difficult matter of shared boundaries.

Lou Quillio • 8/14/03; 10:01:42 PM
So what are you saying, Lou?That this blog should be honest about sex, but only to a point? 

That I shouldn’t publish anything that might thrill a lurking creep?

I’m a little confused. There was good stuff in that comment, but it also felt like I was being scolded. What’s the story?

Julia Grey • 8/15/03; 10:18:31 AM
Wow, Lou’s comment is a splash of cold water. However, I’m afraid the whole alphabet thing left me a little lost. I’d like to think that this is not really a “lurker” site, as much as it is a forum for those who are really interested in improving their love lives (NOT necessarily their sex lives). While fisting is way far off from what I’m interested in, I’ve got a question that will probably reveal me as being somewhat more than clueless (like a guy), as to technique. What do I feel myself bumping into when the Xing is great and she’s happy and I’m happy? Curious, 

seminerd • 8/15/03; 12:22:32 PM

So what are you saying, Lou? That this blog should be honest about sex, but only to a point? That I shouldn’t publish anything that might thrill a lurking creep? I’m a little confused. There was good stuff in that comment, but it also felt like I was being scolded. What’s the story?

Sorry about the tone. Guess there were two unrelated topics in there. 

No, not self-censor, not at all. I only mean that 99% of one’s audience is never heard from (via email or comments) and it’s pretty diverse. There’s a tendency to think that the audience is not only drawn to the content by interests it shares with the author, but that there are attitudes in common as well. In my experience, that’s more mistaken than we suspect.

Btw, “lurker” doesn’t necessarily mean anything creepy, though a provocative sitename does skew the typical metrics.

Anyhow, folks take-away from the content what they will. My thought was that “anything goes” demands a consistent proviso, to discourage true creeps from reading-in their creepy little biases. “Why your wife …” implies intimacy between committed couples. Stray from the idea of couples and it’s time for a sitename change. Detach the mechanics of sex acts from the intimate, non-sexual trust they can occur within and you’re just talking about rubbing. Many awakening men and women tend in this direction, focusing on the acts at partial expense to the relationship. Learning about and more greatly appreciating sex doesn’t automagically bring couples together. It can set their eyes roving. “I love our new sex life, honey. Have you ever thought about swinging?” There can be pressure to go along with all proposed innovations in the name of open experimentation.

I specifically see a shockingly large number of couples my age (42) move into organized swinging, and in a good percentage of cases it’s an accommodation of only one partner’s desires. Openness can become a lever, a trap, a source of resentment.

By way of example, I guess that’s what I was driving at.

Lou Quillio • 8/15/03; 1:54:47 PM
First, a big “ditto” to Catbird, with the caveat, from the male side, that once your partner is comfortable, I find it is not always unwelcome to show some initiative rather than waiting for permission all the time. I’ve found that as long as you are gentle and patient in your general approach, you can innovate with the details of the technique and often get a good response to the occasional “suprise” move.

As to the explicit details – hey, keep it real, babe. Maybe lurking creeps will learn something too. 

Rob Salkowitz • 8/15/03; 2:00:48 PM
What do I feel myself bumping into when the Xing is great and she’s happy and I’m happy? 

Hm. Her cervix? I don’t know. Need more data.

Thanks for the clarification, Lou. I think I understand. I agree that it is VERY easy to inadvertently exert too much pressure on a spouse to experiment. In that case, the intimacy would indeed be ruined by a particular kind of “secret” one spouse holds away from the other, namely, how much they dislike or worry about the new sexual reality in the marriage.

I’ve been on the internet long enough to have stopped worrying about the opinions of lurkers, creepy or otherwise, long, long ago. The audience here is MUCH larger than the “participation” might indicate.

Julia Grey• 8/15/03; 4:32:46 PM
I’ve been on the internet long enough to have stopped worrying about the opinions of lurkers, creepy or otherwise, long, long ago. The audience here is MUCH larger than the “participation” might indicate.

Yes, everyone’s is, and no, lurking is nothing to much worry about. We are all lurkers; the Web is a lurker’s medium. 

On this lurking score, I only mean that literati-types like ourselves tend to assume that we’re being read “on message.” We’ve internalized the themes of our websites and see each content addition as an extension of the known and understood theme. Unlike books and magazines, this medium attracts casual and uninvested readers who are clicking and multi-tasking all over the place. This creates the burden (I think, for myself only) for each piece of content to be as self-contained as practicable, to contain its own context lest it be misunderstood.

A practical metaphor is RSS syndication. I could build a site in ten minutes that does nothing more than present your (Julia’s) recent posts, maybe those of a few other sites, and frame them in a wrapper of my choosing. Really. Fully automated. Now you’re being read in my context.

So I wouldn’t assume that everyone reading the quite valuable and interesting material here knows it’s all presented under a stipulation of equality, fairness and respect. Considering the voyeur value of some of the subject matter, I would editorially embed the context in the content. If I were handed a print-out of the lengthy chatroom sex entries, I would not infer that it was intended as a exploration of sexual memes, it would just seem cheesy, cheap and indulgent. And if “Julia Deckham Grey” were printed at the top (and it might be) … well, I don’t need to finish.

Anyhow, I wouldn’t mention any of this if I didn’t care (sighing, lashes batting). “Let ’em draw their own conclusions” is liberating but not without risk of being misunderstood. The stuff I write is not as vulnerable, but if my name’s on the masthead you can bet that I wrote it, or at least framed outside material in my clear editorial wrapper.

The Web can make us network-drunk on the power of quasi-anonymity — but human affairs are still ruled by reputation. And we each have only one. If you, Julia, mean for everything to be prefaced by “Don’t try this ay home unless your spouse agrees,” it might be wiser to say so explicitly and consistently.

And I still say that shared boundaries are an overlooked and essential theme. But this is not my site, so never mind.

Lou Quillio • 8/15/03; 6:07:54 PM
It’s been interesting to read the responses to my words. What I was describing was a nice pussy massage, not a spelunking expedition in search of edgy thrills! Apparently the passing reference to fisting was what triggered all the concern about spousal boundaries and creepy lurkers. Sorry it freaked you out; I guess I just don’t see a hand in the bush as all that extreme and scary. Did you actually notice the rest of what I wrote, which was (I hope) clearly situated in a context of mutual affection and enthusiastic consent on both sides? 

Catbird • 8/15/03; 7:07:57 PM

Sorry it freaked you out …

Umm, you talkin’ to me, Catbird? My stated conclusion was that a kind of fisting’s not weird when requested and done in the spirit you describe, and that I’d independently learned that — first-hand, so to speak. We’re in agreement. 

But I was troubled by the original request. Overcoming my objections and learning something was gratifying but didn’t close a larger issue for me, which I then oddly extrapolated into remarks on a trend I’d detected at this site. From there flowed some unsolicited editorial advice to our fine hostess, centering on nuances of the Web medium.

Apparently the passing reference to fisting was what triggered all the concern about spousal boundaries and creepy lurkers.

So no, this conclusion is not apparent, almost not germane. But it bears an oblique parallel to another remark higher on this page.

We do not know who Catbird is, who Fiona is, who seminerd is. We generally do know who Julia Deckham Grey is, who Rob Salkowitz is, who Lou Quillio is. The Visible can make use of the Anonymous, anecdotally and to help scratch our journalistic itches. Nevertheless we occupy opposite Web realms: the gallery and the builders. The former may indulge fantasies of influence and whatnot, the self-identified latter have hung out a shingle.

In the end there’s only modest value in showcasing anonymous commentary, and that was my advice to Julia. The Web is young; many have come to it from instant messaging and chat, even assume that’s mostly what it’s about. It’s not, or at least eventually won’t be once ordinary human attribution norms kick-in.

Or perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps big tracts of the Web will be given over to tabloid-style ruminations, enabled by the anonymity they overvalue in the first place. Wan’t sure Julia realized she was headed there, hence my warning. There is an audience for it, but serious analysts use unattributed sources only sparingly and with much disclaiming, because an informed readership knows they can be faked.

In any event, anonymous trails can’t be followed. The decision to attract a readership unbothered by that should be made with eyes wide open.

Lou Quillio • 8/15/03; 8:37:28 PM
I loved the description of the pussy massage. My advice is experiment, experiment, experiment. Learn to know and love your lover’s body. Find the places and touches that make her gasp in pleasure. 

And Lou, don’t be so worried about people swinging, or whatever they want to do. I agree that it absolutely must be mutually agreeable, but as long as that’s the case, don’t get hung up on it.

Gentle Maitresse • 8/21/03; 12:23:52 PM

*Technique: One Woman’s Preferences and  Technique: Another Woman’s Advice

__________

I should probably note that this discussion took place over 6 years ago now, and nothing horrible has happened to me as a result of these posts. Yet.

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