Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Non-Monogamist's View of How Harry Potter Should Have Ended

I finally figured out last night why the epilogue of Harry Potter was so awful for me. I mean, I’ve known a lot of the reasons why for a while now, but it really crystallized for me and I think I can put words to it. Plus offer a bit of an alternate ending had it been written by me (ha ha, yeah right. We all know I could never even dream of being as good a writer as her, so don’t take this a total knock against Rowling or the series).

Quick spoiler alert: Harry kills Voldemort. Lots of people die in the Wizard Battle at Hogwarts and it’s sad, but ultimately the survivors live happily ever after. Harry and Ginny are married and have kids. Ron and Hermione are married and have kids. The epilogue is bitter-sweet but mostly sweet; we know these four will be forever scarred by the events at Hogwarts, but now here they are at Platform 9 3/4 sending their own offspring off to Hogwarts to begin or continue their wizarding education in peace. I don’t really remember how many kids they each have or any of those details and I don’t care enough to look it up.

A lot of people didn’t like this ending; the part where Harry easily offs Voldemort feels abrupt, and the idea that all of these romantic relationships still exist and are going strong feels unrealistic and overly saccharin. Those are my major beefs with it for sure, but I’ve heard others say the same. Of course going through a traumatic battle throughout their secondary education would likely have bonded these friends forever, so perhaps imagining them still all romantically involved is not a huge stretch. But I would argue that those traumatic events could just as likely pull them apart.

Whether or not the idea of these two couples remaining in romantic relationships well into their adulthood is realistic or not, I think it bothers many people for another reason: it is not a modern view or portrayal of romance. When I was a youngster my heart did pine for that that dream wedding and forever romance til-death-do-us-part crap, but my logical brain also constantly reminded me how unlikely it would be for me to be with someone forever. Not only that, but my teenage libido was very disheartened by the idea that I might meet one man, lose my virginity to him and then only have sex with that one man for the rest of my life. How depressing. What if I wanted to have sex with a ton of men (and I did)? What if I wanted to have sex with women (oh lordy, did I ever want that) but didn’t want to marry one? What if I wanted to have sex with two people at the same time? etc.

I don’t think the kids of today think any differently than me, and if anything I think many of them are way ahead of me in their realizations of the existence of queer and non-monogamous romance. I think the fact that the Harry Potter series is for young adults is what is really bothering me about the ending; it will be culpable in setting unrealistic expectations, beliefs and morals surrounding romance for generations to come. It will continue to confuse kids who are like I was- queer, non-monogamous youth may not understand that there are other options, and it’s because of happily ever endings like this.

In my mind, they all did end up happily for ever after friends. But here’s how I would have liked to see it go:

Harry, Ron and Hermione enter into a triad relationship. All three of them are bi/ pansexual, but Harry leans a little bit more homosexual than the other two. They start out experimenting with threeways but ultimately find that their relationships within the triad work best on a one-on-one basis, and only have threeways when all of them are really feeling it. Ron has a relationship with Luna that annoys him, but the sex is good and ultimately her learns to love her despite her quirks. Harry and Malfoy’s sexual tension eventually leads to some hate fucking that is stupid hot for both of them. Hermione and Ginny have a relationship that makes Ron uncomfortable. Harry and Ginny have sex once and never tell Ron about it because of the way he acts about Hermione and Ginny. Ultimately, Ron and Harry break up over the lie, but everyone still loves and supports each other. I don’t really see any of the characters as being trans or gender queer/fluid, but I also don’t see why any of them wouldn’t grow up and realize they don’t have to live with gender dysphoria. I just don’t know which one it would be.

This sort of epilogue is not less realistic than Rowling’s vision- if anything I think it’s closer to a vision of reality that many yearn for. Even in YA fiction I don’t think including the sexual dynamics would be inappropriate but rather necessary. I can’t wait to see more epilogues like this popping up in any and all fiction and media. Let’s get to work, creative non-monogamists!

Monday, October 13, 2014

7 Things Journalists Shouldn’t Ask Sex Workers

I recently posted this on Tumblr, but I decided I like enough that I want to post it here too. I promise my next post will be less political :)

OK y’all, don’t laugh at me- I recently got an idea that I knew was stupid, and I pitched a piece to buzzfeed about being a sex worker. Actually, I pitched several pieces, but the 2 ideas they accepted were along the lines of “what it’s like to be a non-monogamous sex worker with a partner” and “why I started doing sex work at the ripe old age of 31.” I also tried a tactic of telling them it was important it be told by me, in my voice and in no-uncertain-terms pro sex worker rights and decriminalization. Because, for me, the point in telling this story was to tell a story about how normal my life actually is. Not very good click-bait, sure. And I don’t think the piece was particularly well done, as you can see from the editor’s fair criticisms early on in this email that I received earlier in response to an email I sent inquiring where we were at with the piece I had submitted, and whether or not it needed improvement:

*note, I censored the editor’s name because I don’t think this is all their fault nor that you should harass them about it.

And here’s a transcript of it, since it’s a little hard to read. I have bolded the part that is of particular concern to me:

Hi! Sorry, I’ve been slammed. So I think this is a good start but we need a little bit more on your life — it’s not clear until more than halfway through the piece that you’re in a non-monogamous relationship, and that you were already with your husband when you were with the boyfriend who suggested you get into sex work. I think we also need more explicitly on what you actually do in terms of sex work. Do you have regular clients? What do you do with them? How do you determine price? How do you get clients? Have you ever felt in danger? Has a client ever wanted more from you? etc. 
Does this make sense? Also, even though it won’t be published I will need to have your real name for our records.
Has this idiot learned nothing about talking to the media from Audacia Ray or Melissa Gira Grant? I can hear you all collectively asking. I’m asking myself that too! Why did I think buzzfeed, of all places, was going to want to help me tell my story about my normal, happy little sex worker life?

To honor this occasion, I have decided to abandon the piece and ignore the email from them while publishing my own click-bait here on Tumblr. It’s called

7 Things Journalists Shouldn’t Ask Sex Workers
  1. Do you have regular clients? are you asking this question to try and help me legitimize my work? If I have regular clients does that make me the sort of sex worker that it’s “more ok” to like? If it’s more like I’m actually just dating my clients, having a real connection with them, not just turning ‘em out for quickie sessions, that makes my work much more palatable, doesn’t it?
  2. What do you do with them? Oh sure, I’ve been avoiding directly incriminating myself, but since you asked let me just tell you about all the dirty, depraved, sexy things I do for “work.”
  3. How do you determine price?  Or, in other words, how can I further incriminate myself? Also, how can I give you information about other ways you can further judge and stigmatize me based on how much I pay myself? Or how little?
  4. How do you get clients? I would absolutely love to share this trade secret with you, not only incriminating myself this time but throwing everyone else who advertises on the sites where I advertise under the bus by sharing details like that on such a high profile “news” website.
  5. Have you ever felt in danger? That would play very nicely into your assumptions about sex work, wouldn’t it? While I would love to further perpetuate the stigma against us by participating in your rescue porn, I am instead going to ask you a question: have you ever felt unsafe walking or driving to your buzzfeed office in LA? Because I hear the people there drive like assholes. Also, did you read the part in my piece about where I said I sometimes fear arrest? Did you miss the connection there, that I feel fear- or, you know, I feel endangered- because my work is criminalized?
  6. Has a client ever wanted more from you? Similar to above, but this time let’s try to really address the gray areas of consent, shall we? Let me again ask you a question, only this time it’s exact same one: has your boss at buzzfeed ever wanted more from you? Have they ever asked you to work late several nights in a row, even though you’re paid a fairly low salary to work what should be 40 hours a week? Were you able to stand your ground and say no to extra work you did not consent to do? Or did you think about how badly you need that salary? How rent is coming up and you’re in debt and you can’t afford to see a doctor because surely buzzfeed doesn’t offer health insurance benefits. Just remember: if you didn’t say no, I’m going to judge you as being a victim and I’m going to shake my head and say “what a shame that they allow themselves to be exploited like that.”
  7. I will need to have your real name for my records. Alright- so now I’ve told you what I do with my clients, how much I charge them for it and where I advertise. Guess I’ll just give you my real name because this is totes anonymous, yes? I’m sure you keep no databases with my real name linked to that article whatsoever? I’ll just trust you on that, no problem.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Get That Life!

A busy Kitten is often a happy Kitten, which is interesting considering I need so much down time in order to get through any particular day. One of the ways people talk about how we balance our social energy is the whole introversion vs. extroversion divide. Most people will say that they are either introverted or extroverted; I myself often identify with introverted just because I find myself craving alone time and feel I have earned the right to enjoy a lot of it. But in reality, I get energy both from alone time and social time, and feel energy drained by too much of either. I've heard from a lot of people that they feel similarly to me, though perhaps identify a bit more on one end than the other.

The past couple of weeks I have been busy attending a workshop in New York and a conference in San Francisco, and working lots in between. I am both rejuvenated from spending so much time with like-minded individuals, and desperately in need of my cat and teddy bear who are waiting for me back home. Well, I won't make an assumptions about the cat waiting for me, but I can make assumptions about my teddy bear since he is an inanimate object and I can assign whatever feelings I want to him.

A couple of weekends ago I went to New York for the Body Sex Workshop done by a couple of women I super look up to, Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross. Betty's work has been enormously influential for me ever since I was about 19 or 20 and first read her advice column in Bust Magazine. Carlin's work toward continuing to get Betty's voice heard over the Internet has been phenomenal and has kept me in touch with both of them and their work over all these years. There's so much I could say about this whole experience; it was a pivotal moment in my life and one that I will always remember. But for the purposes of keeping this piece within a reasonable word count, I will just tell you one highlight: my sexual mentor, 85 year old Betty Dodson, touched my vulva and told me it was beautiful. Later Carlin told me that Betty said I was "brilliant." I can't even use words to describe how amazing that all makes me feel.

There was a wedding in between last weekend, and now I am sitting at a conference I will not name (to protect the semi-privacy of my partners) after just seeing my husband's talk. Last night I also watched a talk from my lovely partner Zephyr, whom you've heard much about. Watching my partners in the midst of achieving their goals after having just achieved one of mine is a whole new level of amazing. What really makes me thrilled is the fact that all three of us are working with, in or around sex and human sexuality. This life I am living goes way beyond my wildest dreams of what I thought I would be able to achieve.

Before his talk yesterday, Zephyr and I spent some time talking about how he's been hearing a bunch of people say "get that life!" lately. He was uncertain what the term was referring to, but was able to discover a Cosmo column with the title of Get That Life by using the googles. The column seems to be a profile piece about powerful/ successful women with a bit of background information about how they got where they are. An instructional piece about how to "get a life" similar to the founder of Jezebel.com, for example. We went into a bit of a critical space on the concept of an article telling women how to get the life they want rather than appreciating the life they have, of course, but hold your thoughts on "get that life" for a moment. I'll get back to it in a minute BECAUSE...

This morning I was talking to the husband about his technology/ business/ life manifesto that he was presenting at the conference today. Basically, I think he's really smart and awesome and I was congratulating him for coming up with his manifesto, which is brilliant. Not just the items on it, but the idea of a business/ life manifesto itself. A personal list of rules to live by and to revisit any time you feel lost or hopeless. Since I'm in such a good place right now and feel that I have gotten that life I always wished for, I'm going to write down my current business and life rules. Using the word rules is a little funny here, but I can't think of a better one. I don't always stick to these, but they are what I strive for.

Of course, everyone's rules are totally individual! So this isn't an instruction manual on how to get a life like mine; rather, it's inspiration to think about what works for you, and what doesn't. Get that life, y'all, whatever it might be.

Kitten's Life-a-festo

1. Alone time. Sleep. Relaxation. Quality time with those I'm closest to. These are the most important things in my life and the reasons behind why I do anything I do. Whenever I am drained, I will always come back to these. I will always allow myself to have time for these.

2. Only one social obligation and/ or one task per day. This is a rule I hardly ever stick to, but that I aim for. I tend to become overwhelmed by scheduling too many things for myself in a day, so I tell everyone that this is a rule of mine. This way I tend to flake out on people or things I was supposed to do less often because I don't have too much going on.

3. Sex is my life's work. And it's working out very well for me. I am firmly dedicated to learning about sex, experiencing sex, and sharing what I have learned and experienced with others. To that end I am also dedicated to creating safe space and community that facilitate other people's sexual education and experience.

4. Independence. Collaboration is great- anyone else owning my image, my brand, my schedule/ time, a portion of my paycheck, my words or my ideas is absolutely unacceptable. This means I cannot and will not work for others, unless it is in a consultation capacity. I only work for me from now on. I will not allow others to take my autonomy ever again.

5. Criticism of my ideas is not (always) personal. This is a particularly hard one for me, but I want to be able to hear about the flaws in my ideas without going into a depressive hate spiral. I aim to believe that everyone who is telling me that something I am doing is a problem is telling me that with love, and not because they think I am a worthless human being.

6. Continue to believe that very few people in this world actually intend harm. Continue to approach human interaction with love, patience and compassion.

7. It is acceptable to medicate myself with whatever drugs I feel are working for me at any particular time. My mind is hard on me. Drugs work. I am much more capable, productive and happy on drugs. Sometimes I need to change the ones I'm using. I will continue to work on a comfortable brain chemistry for me, and I will continue to assert that I am not missing out on anything in life because of it.

8. Positive outlook, cynical approach. I am an idealist who understands that shit is constantly and always happening. I want to continue to strive for positive change for myself and for others and for this world while going easy on myself and everyone for our limitations and for what a shit show our current society is.

So there they are, as of today. My life-a-festo is constantly metamorphosing and taking new shape as I live my life. Today I am happy to have the life I have- tomorrow I will continue to do great things and inspire others toward greatness.