Friday, January 31, 2014

Shit Book Snobs Say: Translations

I am in love with this list: Shit Book Snobs Say: Translations

Some other ones I hate:

They're not really graphic novels; they're just comics. = I dismiss the incredibly obvious melding of art and literature as trivial and pretty much just picture books for adults. Because I've never heard of Maus: A Survivor's Tale or the many, many, many established and acclaimed literary authors who've worked on graphic novels or a friggin' movie or TV show, which have been managing to tell stories very well both visually and with words for quite some time now!

You read children's books? = Because I have no interest in knowing what the next generation of readers will read and can't appreciate good storytelling because all I actually bother to read is the age level.

I only read non-fiction; I don't see the point of fiction. = I have no imagination and my world is a very, very, very small place.

I only read fiction. Non-fiction is boring. = I only visit specific parts of bookstores and don't bother looking anywhere else because my literary world is a very, very, very small place.

I hate/like Twilight/ Fifty Shades of Grey/ Harry Potter/ etc. because everyone else does (even though I haven't actually read it. Yet! Or even have plans to read it. Yet!). = I believe that the entirety of a book can be deduced solely on the pithy, sound-bitey opinions of others. (I'm not saying I, personally, like or hate those books, but at least I cracked open the pages and gave them all a shot before I passed judgement. Someone spent the time writing and editing that; the least you could give them the first few chapters to grab you before you decide if they're good or not.)

Erotica is just dressed up porn.  = I secretly surf my porn online and, while I'll gladly enjoy and wank to the work in the privacy of my own Kleenex, I still plan to publicly shame the people who make it. Because that's what good and decent people do. Because porn is literary sausage; I want it to exist, just not the people and processes that make it.

This. So Much This.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Weird Boobs & Little Penises"

Yeah, you kinda have to read something titled that, don't you?

And you should. It's something worth reminding ourselves from time to time.

I have small boobs. I have small hands and my boobs are barely a handful. And I'm not going to pretend like that hasn't bothered me in the past. I'm not even going to pretend like it doesn't bother me still sometimes. Just as Pearce points out, it's hard not to see your bodily bits and pieces as "objects being laid side by side on tables at flea markets, compared next to all the other breasts [...] of the world" and, too often, find yourself lacking in one way or another.

My breasts--sigh--they're small and round-ish and too easily lost in even just normal-fitting clothes. They never quite fill out non-padded bras and completely disappear at any angle wider than perpendicular to the ground. Which is nothing compared to the inevitable vanishing act that happens the instant I stand next to anyone with larger breasts than mine--which is to say, most of the female population.

Yeah, suffice to say, I relate very much with the woman Pearce was talking about. I feel her weird-boob pain.

It took me a long time to really come to appreciate what I saw as my shortcomings. To realize that not being able to fill a bra meant that bras were optional, that I could quite comfortably forgo an article of clothing that most women think of as obligatory. I really don't own a "functional" bra; every one I own is fun and pretty. More an accessory than an undergarment. They are never support; they are window-dressing.

And, even if my breasts get overshadowed by larger ones at times, every person I've been with has always enjoyed them. Because Pearce is completely correct, "They’re fun to have touched, and they’re fun to touch. It’s always been that way, it always will be that way." The partners I've been with have always been more attached to the person my bodily bits and pieces are attached to than just the parts alone. My small, weird boobs were beautiful to them because, unlike me--who mentally separated them from me and scrutinized them against the catalog of others out there in the wide, wide world--my partners saw them as just another part of the whole of me. And they liked me. They enjoyed what they had in front of them because those boobs--weird and small as they are--belong to me, a person--whole and complete--that they already enjoy. 

And, most importantly, I love my weird boobs because I enjoy them. They are great sources of pleasure, that both give and receive in massive and amazing quantities. How could the way they're packaged ever compare to that? You don't return, resent, or muck about with something that works just because it doesn't look quite the way you wanted it to.

"And my advice is, if you’re with someone who really would look at you in all of your unique genetic perfection, and who would really take your gift and spit on it by wanting something else, put your clothes back on and tell them to get the hell out. It’s your gift to give. It’s your gift to take away. And nobody deserves it who doesn’t understand that. Nobody deserves it who isn’t enchanted, and excited, and fascinated by your gift."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Deviant Nerd - Don’t Be Someone’s Angry Tumblr Post

Don’t Be Someone’s Angry Tumblr Post
The Deviant Nerd
Brought to you by Bits ‘n’ Pieces, where lingerie is more than a luxury, it’s a way of life.


QuestionHey Pip,

Last weekend, I introduced my new girlfriend to my friends and, while it all went fine, I guess, afterward, my friends sort of joked that I’m racist. See, I’m white, but four out of the six relationships I’ve had in my life, including this one, have been with Asian girls. 

And, even though I kinda laughed it off at the time, now, it’s messing with my head. When I was younger, I was really into anime and Japanese culture. Still am now, but not to the same degree. And, it’s not like I don’t find other types of women attractive, but, I don’t know, I just really find Asian women really beautiful.

I mean, I have friends who prefer blonds over brunettes or bigger boobs over smaller ones or tall women over shorter ones. Is liking Asian women over other types really that different? I don’t feel like I’m fetishizing my girlfriends, but does the fact that I’ve mostly dated Asian girls make me some kind of racist?

Am I That Guy?

———

Pip: Hey That Guy,

So are you some kind of racist?

Hmmm, I guess that entirely depends on how you treat your girlfriends. To be fair, considering your history—loving anime and Japanese culture, your dating history, the women you go for—yeah, I can see how your friends may have gotten there. It sounds like you just might have an Asian fetish.

But does that make you a racist? Is it necessarily, always and already, a bad thing?

Exactly as you said—just like guys who prefer blond or more endowed or taller women—most everyone’s got a type they gravitate to, that they find themselves inexplicably drawn and attracted to. And, for you, that type is Asian women. And, for the most part, I think that’s awesome.

Just so long as you remember that people—blond, brunette, endowed or not-so-much, tall, short, Asian, white, whatever—are people first. Are absolutely and without exception more than just that feature you’re initially attracted to.

So take a good look at why you prefer Asian women. Is it because, as you say, you find them aesthetically beautiful? Because something about the way they look and sound and feel is just inexplicably appealing?

Or is it that you like the idea of Asian women? 

You said you’ve watched a lot of anime. You’ve immersed yourself in Japanese culture. There’s a good chance you have a certain idea of what it means to be an Asian woman because of all that. And that certain idea—particularly among Asian American women—may not be true. The idea that they’re shy and submissive. Or giggly and perky. Or mysterious and exotic.

I guarantee you, not every Asian woman is going to fit that description all the time. Because, again, people are people; they aren’t cultures or cartoons. And it is racist to take a whole and complete person and rewrite their specific personal history and experiences to fit ideas and expectations you have because of things you’ve seen or read. To assume that, based solely on what they look like, you know what type of person they are. 

As odd as it sounds, when it comes to the physical types you’re attracted to—Asians, blondes, redheads, BBWs, etc.—it’s actually less objectifying to find them attractive because of what they look like than because of how you think they are or ought to be.

Hey, if you like (insert type here: Asians, blondes, redheads, BBWs, etc.)? 

Yay! Like I said, everyone’s got a type.

Think they’re sexy? 

Super yay! Who doesn’t love to know people find them attractive? If you’re (insert type here), you want to be with someone who finds that type beautiful. Who is turned on by what you have to offer.

But—and it’s a big, big, BIG but—if you think (insert type here) is (insert stereotype here: easy, sexually freaky, shy and submissive, desperate, etc.) because of that, that’s when you end up the subject of someone’s angry tumblr post. And rightfully so.

You should be attracted to the people you’re into. And you should never let anyone make you feel ashamed about it. So long as you’re into them because you’re drawn to who they are—what they look like as well as the person their lives and experiences have made them—not who you expect them to be based on how they look. 

Because, while you may have a fetish—and that’s normal and okay—the people you date should never be treated as if they are fetishes. 


– Pip, Your Resident Deviant Nerd


* If you have a sex, kink, love, or life question for The Deviant Nerd, email Pip at PipJones.DeviantNerd@gmail.com
And read more about Pips story in Brought to You By.





Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lifting Weights with Your Vagina?!

I just...I can't even...why?!

"Apparently it’s a real thing… No seriously, Tatyana Kozhevnikova holds the world record, lifting 31 pounds with only her vagina muscles. But, WHY?!"



Lifting 31 pounds with only her vaginal muscles?! I’m gonna cross my legs for a while. Excuse me. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Making the Settled Strange

“The function of the imagination is not to make strange things settled, so much as to make settled things strange.” (G.K. Chesterton)

I’ve always liked this quote to describe my favorite kind of speculative fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I love stories that create new worlds, that take readers to places they’d never have seen otherwise.

But, even more, I love stories that take a new and different look at our normal, everyday world, making it seem somehow strange and unknown.

One of my favorite authors, Francesca Lia Block, does this in all her books, transforming the smoke and smog of Los Angeles into a magical place filled with old Hollywood starlets, tropical jungles, ghosts, genies, gods, and a quirky fashion sense. Reading her stories is like seeing fairytales and myths exist in our world. She injects unusual beauty and quirky magic into everything, transforming the mundane into something amazing. By highlighting and exaggerating the wonder of the world, she allows her readers to approach their own world, one they feel comfortable and sure of, in a new way. Her stories make the everyday, like mannequins and strip joints and nail polish, more than what they are, transforming them into nightmarish dangers and mystifying marvels.

On the other hand, another of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahnuik, takes almost the reverse approach to accomplish the same goal of making the ordinary odd. Instead of focusing on the beauty of the world, Palahnuik grounds his stories in the grittiest oddities he can find. He forces you to face the strangest the world has to offer, from the most deviant of sexual practices to gruesome medical practices, making any strange and out-there idea he could think of, like Jesus-clones made out of holy foreskin or a revolution waged by a rowdy Fight Club, seem completely believable in the face all the strange that already exists in the world.

Like I said, I do enjoy writers who create entire worlds of their own, who take us out of this one into places no one has ever seen before. But I also think this world is as weird and unique as any other that’s been created, if you know where and how to look. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

We Are All Unnatural Animals

I’m currently reading Jesse Bering’s hilarious and insightful Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us. And, while not terribly far into it, I must say that I’m quite enjoying it. It takes a very honest and matter-of-fact look at what the world considers sexual deviancy.

In chapter one, “We’re All Perverts”—any wonder why I’m liking this book?—he presents the idea that so often sexual deviancy—from homosexuality to BDSM to kink to poly—so often is railed against because it’s seen as “unnatural.” After all, if a holy Creator created us to be the pinnacle of the natural world, how could we possibly exhibit behaviors more prurient than our lesser animal brethren? I mean, if the humblest wild beast knows better than to engage in those activities, shouldn’t we?

This argument has so very many flaws, it’s hard to imagine that it’s lasted as long as it has with the fervor it has.

First off, most of the kinks and deviancies this argument seeks to shame—homosexuality, BDSM, poly—all these exist, in some form or another, in the animal kingdom. DNA testing is proving that none of the animals we were previously sure were monogamous actually are. We’ve documented animals engaging in homosexual acts and pairings for quite some time now. And many animal mating habits are grounded in showings of sexual dominance and aggression. Even if one does believe that humans hold some moral high ground over the rest of the animal kingdom, surely we can’t say that any of these so-called deviant acts are “unnatural.” Nature, in all its perverted glory, is no stranger to the sexually strange.

But often those who hold this belief claim that we’re the best that the natural world has to offer, right? We ought to be above all that baser nonsense. We should be able to suppress the more animalistic and savage parts of ourselves, right? As if the denial of or deviance from what comes naturally to the rest of the animal world is somehow humanity’s natural state and proof of our superiority? 

Though, to be fair, there are a great many things that many animal species do that we do not—to humanity’s credit, I believe.  We don’t walk on all fours, we don’t scavenge rotted food, we don’t keep quite the proximity to our poo that much of the animal kingdom seems content to. All good things that evolution and human progress has afforded us. But, in terms of this argument, wouldn’t this in fact make us intrinsically and unnaturally deviant to the animal world in most ways, not just sexually but in a lot of everyday mundane ways? 

And, the fact that we would take things that already exist within nature—walking, homosexual pairings, scavenging, sexual dominance displays—and put rather uniquely human spins on them—upright bipedal gaits, intimate and social homosexual relationships, grocery stores, kink—should be not only seen as expected but completely natural evolutions of human progress then, according to this logic. These sexual deviances, by this logic, are then the most natural things in the world.

And even if that idea doesn’t fit your definition of “natural,” what exactly is the morality of natural versus unnatural. Sure, most of the animal kingdom doesn’t copulate unless it’s intending to procreate, but most of the animal kingdom doesn’t use cell phones or drive cars either. So unless you’re willing to give up all the things we as humans do that other animals don’t in the name of natural morality, what makes the crazy, kinky sex stuff so different than all the other pleasurable advances humans have made throughout our history? We don’t question the morality of most of our evolutionary advances. Why do we do this with some and not others? What exactly makes BDSM so much more unnatural, more wrong, than going to a grocery store or using indoor plumbing?

So, really, the “don’t do it because it’s not natural” argument is pretty lame and breaks down almost laughably fast. And that’s because, when a person invokes that argument, that’s not what they really mean. What a person really means when they say “it’s not natural” is “I think it’s icky.” Bering calls this the “disgust factor.” What’s interesting about the disgust factor is that, more than pain, more than fear, more than anger or any other emotion or sensation, disgust is the thing that shuts down libido the most efficiently. 

In kinkland, we know this phenomenon as being “squicked out.” Your kink is your kink and that’s okay but, if it squicks me out, there is next to nothing you can do to get me to want to have anything to do with it. Personally, I have a thing about blood. Can’t do it. If I see it, I smell it, I feel it, whatever, and I’m done. My libido is shut off and all I want to do is sanitize myself clean and bandage myself up. It is the germaphobe inside of me that wants all the stuff inside me to stay inside me and all the microbial, viral whatnot outside to keep the hell out. While I’m all for people being into what they’re into, I couldn’t even watch someone do a blood play scene, much less ever participate in one. It’s just one of those things that squicks the shit out of me.

Which kinda sounds judge-y, right? Except it’s not. When I say that something squicks me, what I’m really saying is that it’s not my thing. Which allows me to not have to do anything I don’t want to, while still allowing other people to do what they want without guilt or shame. It’s removing the stamp of overall, absolute value from the act. It’s no longer a question of social morality, but just one of personal taste.

And that’s the real difference between these two statements. While they look very similar, the difference between the “it’s unnatural” argument and the “it squicks me” stance is all about passing judgement. When one says something is unnatural, they’re passing a value judgement on that act, and thus the people who do that act. They’re saying that no one should do it or, if you do, you are not natural, not normal, not right. It becomes a blanket prescription to the whole of the population. And allows the policing, penalization, and punishment of individuals in favor of the protection of the whole.

But when one says that they’re squicked by something, it’s less a judgment on the act as it is a statement about themselves. The act itself becomes much less important as the focus shifts to the people involved. You do what you do, but I’m squicked so I’m out. It’s not that I’m going to stop you or shame you or shun you, I’m just going to step out of the room, remove myself from the situation, till you’re done. The action shifts from “I think this is wrong, so you should stop” to “this isn’t my thing, so I’m going to go.”

Because for most sexual deviants, it’s less a question about what’s natural or not, less about what’s wrong and what’s right. But rather it’s about whether it’s harmful or not. If whatever you’re into doesn’t harm anyone—doesn’t act without basic caution or consent to all involved—then I don't see a problem. So long as everyone involved gives knowledgable and informed consent, what right does anyone else outside that scene have to say about what they do?

After all, think about it, you may think someone else’s kink is weird, but chances are there’s someone out there who thinks yours—spanking, bondage, cunnilingus, missionary, procreative sex, whatever—is too. 

Do you really want their personal judgements determining what you get to do?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Reading, It's the New Sexy

Didn’t you hear? Reading a good book boosts brain activity, even days after you finish the book. Reading a good book literally makes your brain better. Makes your brain feel like it’s stepping into the shoes of the characters you read. As an erotica writer, I find this bit of science sexy as hell!

I’ve talked about this before but, in case you couldn’t tell, in addition to being a writer, I’m also an avid reader. Always have been. Since my very first Dr. Seuss book, I’ve never gone anywhere without at least one book on my person (and now, with the wonders of audiobooks and ebooks, I can have a veritable library with me on a single mobile device—you’ve no idea how giddy that makes me).

Now this may sound like bragging. It’s really not. It’s more like an addict’s introduction (Hello, my name is Sonni and I may as well just hand every paycheck over to iBooks & Amazon.). I don’t read to impress anyone. If anything, my reading habits and bookwormish ways are a social turn off. I don’t read for any other reason than to please myself. I rarely read The Classics, though I do enjoy Shakespeare’s comedies—gotta love the banter between Beatrice and Benedict. I never know what’s on the New York Times Bestsellers’ List—if I happen to read one, it’s purely coincidental. 

Frankly, I don’t read much of the lofty texts one’s supposed to read. The stuff stuffy, suited businessmen carry with them on buses and around the office to impress the other unknown passerbys around them. The books that are treated more like accessories than stories. 

No, I admit it. Mostly, I read what the world considers trash. I love graphic novels, where the art tells as much of a story as the words. I love urban fantasy novels filled with witches and shapeshifters. I love romance novels and erotica—corny cute-meets, steamy sex scenes, and everything in between. Mysteries and who-dunnits with bloody murder scenes and long, drawn-out suspense. I love those funny, little fact books about the histories of superstitions or strange medical trivia. I devour cookbooks and DIY craft books. I read children’s picture books and young adult series. There’s not really a section of a bookstore that I won’t explore to find an interesting read—much to the chagrin of anyone accompanying me. Author, acclaim, genre be damned. My only real requirement of a book is that it entertain me. I love them all!

So, this year, my resolution is to give a little back to the books that have given me so much. Each month, I’m going to celebrate a writer or story or series or genre that has inspired me.

Because, as one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, said, stories “are transmissible. You can catch them, or be infected by them. They are the currency that we share with those who walked the world before ever we were here. (Telling stories […] makes me feel part of something special and odd, part of the continuous stream of life itself.) […] I believe we owe it to each other to tell stories. It’s as close to a credo as I have or will, I suspect, ever get.”

Stories touch us in ways few things can. They offer us peeks into worlds and lives we’d otherwise never know. And, as effortlessly as they flow for the readers enjoying them, every writer knows that
they take effort, dedication, and an act of almost insane will. From creation to consumption, stories—the act and practice of telling and being told—are miraculous things. And a touch we should all seek to share. 

After all—as one of my favorite shows, BBC’s Sherlock, says—“it’s the new sexy.”