Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Looking Back at Attraction from a Female Lens

I love this performance. Don’t get me wrong, I love it because Hailee Steinfeld and the rest of the dancers do an AMAZING job, but the main reason why I love this so much is how they not only did a lovely, very faithful homage to the original video, but they did a perfect modernization of it. 

And not just that they switched the gender roles, which can certainly be interesting, but I love that they made the conscious decision to tell this tale of attraction from a fresh, updated, female perspective.

I love this song, which sounds very sweet and flattering, but, it wasn’t until I re-watched the original music video this morning, that I realized that the video…man, from a female viewpoint, it looks way less sexy and romantic than it does a PSA on street harassment or a prelude to a crime scene investigation. 

I watched it on edge, terrified for safety of the woman in the video. I mean, sure, it’s a sexual video, but the sexuality in performance is pretty much exclusively male. Sure, the woman IS sexy, but her sexiness is only relevant in that the men in the video find it sexy. This is all about their sexual reaction to her and what it inevitably means sexually. 

In fact, I’ve watched it a couple of times now and, while I can certainly see all the moments of attraction for him that would logically lead to the ending where they end up together, I cannot for the life of me pinpoint exactly what would make her fall for him. Where does this stop being a horrifying or annoying or inconvenient event for her and turn into something attractive and enticing to her. Where are the signs that she is, or even reasonably should be, as into this as the guy? It’s as if they weren’t even trying to make it make sense. I mean, OF COURSE, she’d be into him in the end because he…dance…good? He so cool, can haz girl now, right?

Contrast that to Hailee’s performance. From the start, the performance makes it clear that her partner is as into this—as into her—as she is. From their facial expressions to their body language to, of course, the lyrics, it all makes sense now. THIS is a story about attraction that would reasonably result in the couple ending up together at the end of it because, from the beginning, they’re already in it together. It’s flirty and fun and, most importantly, mutually so. 

So often, when we talk about the way men and women view dating and romance and sex, we act as if men are after sex and woman are after love and that’s the difference in perspective.

And, while that may be true for some men and some women, I think this performance is a better example of the difference between the male and female perspective. Looking at Hailee’s performance, there is nothing about it that screams romance. It is as sexual—if not more so—than Michael’s. The moves she performs are plays on his from the original video. The setup and scene are almost identical. The only difference is reciprocity. The idea that the person Hailee wants wants her too. Watch how she pursues him at roughly the same rate and at roughly the same intensity that he pursues her. This isn’t a mating dance where one person impresses the other. It’s a mating dance they perform together, that cannot exist without the other.

So often stories told from a more masculine focus are all about overcoming obstacles. They are about winning and triumphing over some stumbling block to get your reward. And, when you apply that to dating and romance and sex…stuff gets horror-show, CSI, PSA scary. Fast. Even if that isn’t the intention. And, to be fair, we are all seeing things with new eyes now that we couldn't see in the eighties. I’m sure I’ve seen the original music video before when I was younger, before I started dating or having sex or being hit on on the street by groups of shouting, unrelenting men, and I likely didn’t think anything of it. Younger me was clearly not nail-bitingly turned off by the video. However, the me today…would rather be in, would feel safer in, a room with “Thriller” Michael than the jerk Jackson is playing in this video.

The me today, with all my lived-in experiences of how an attraction that does not see me as anything but something to be obtained or won—that, in doing so, sees me and my desires as something to be overcome or triumphed over—inevitably ends…yeah, I will take Hailee’s tale of mutual desire, that looking at the performance may just as likely be love-everlasting as lust-in-the-moment, over Michael’s creepily pushy approach at attraction any day.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

January Newsletter

So, like I said last month, I'm looking to start a newsletter. If that's something that sounds interesting to you, send me an email with NEWSLETTER in the subject line saying you'd like to sign up to sonnidesoto@gmail.com and, when I have enough names to make a good go of it, I'll start sending one out every month.

Until then, to give you an idea of what that would be like, here's this month's.

Last year, I was devastated by the 2016 campaign and election. So much of it preyed on the worst parts of my country's psyche and history, targeting women, people of color, and the queer community. In so many ways, it'd changed the way I, as a brown, queer daughter of immigrants in an interracial relationship in an incredibly white state, looked at my home and the way my home looked back at me. 

On almost a daily basis, I get to hear people--from coworkers to strangers to politicians and pundits--talk about immigrants and women and people of color like they--like my parents, like my friends, like me--are political talking points and not people. Recently, I discovered that I have a white supremacist living in my neighborhood, who routinely rides the same morning bus as me into work, who won't stand less than three feet away from me, who will stand in below-zero temperatures in the frozen snow to keep that distance, who glares at me, mumbling about the bronwning of America, most mornings for the whole twenty-five-minute ride. That's my world now.

Which is why, on inauguration day, I was so glad and honored to be a part of Coming Together's Moving On anthology, all about elevating the voices and stories of those affected by the current shifting politics. Even before Charlottesville, before the toxic attacks against the NFL, before the dehumanizing "shithole/shithouse" comments, I knew stories like these would be needed. In my stories, "When There Are No Words" and "The Help," I wanted to speak about what this current climate feels like from POC viewpoint. Since the anniversary of this anthology, as well as the reason for it, is just around the corner, I wanted to take another look at this anthology and the circumstances surrounding it.

In this video, I talk about how the relationship between people and the news has changed in the last few years and specifically how that's affected writers.

In the next one, I read an excerpt of my story "When There Are No Words." This was one of the quickest, but hardest to write stories I've ever written. The submission call came at the end of the year and was set for release on Inauguration Day. I wrote this story in a day, pretty much a retelling of my own election night experience. If I'm honest, it's not my best work. When I re-read it now, there are points in the prose that I would change. Awkward phrasing or ill-timed pacing. I didn't have the time to edit it the way I like to with most of my other stories.

It is raw. Unfiltered. It's my feelings--my fear and helplessness-- spilled onto the page. It is also a real-time picture of the sliver of hope and love that, on dark, despondent days, help stitch the broken bits of me barely together. 

It's the parts of myself that, under normal circumstances, I would never want anyone else to see. Yet, when I saw that call, I knew I had to. Not only do the proceeds go to Move On, but it was a story I wanted other people to know.

The world felt changed for me that night. Irrevocably shifted. And I needed other people to feel that too. To know they weren't alone. To know that, even in the face of all that helplessness, there is still hope.

It is raw. And I think that's what that story needs to be. I like to think that was why it was featured in Rolling Stones's article "Trump Erotica: How Smut is Getting Political Again". I can't even describe how floored and humbled I am to be included in this article, to be named next to powerhouses of this genre. I honestly, while profoundly grateful, don't feel worthy. If I'm being completely honest, I was drunk at a work bonding event when I saw it on Twitter. I was convinced I was seeing things. It was so hard not to scream it out at the top of my lungs, in front of my coworkers, my boss, the heads of my company, and an arena full of people, I was so proud and honored. Looking back on it, it's still hard.

This next video introduces an idea I've been having for a while now. That we need to change how we talk about sex in this country. Everyone is trying to solve the problem of sexual misconduct. But I think too many of us are looking at this wrong. We need a new perspective.

So here's basically what a newsletter from me would look like: some behind-the-scenes information, a featured excerpt, and an update on what's going on. And, remember, if you'd like to be a part of a monthly newsletter like this, email me at sonnidesoto@gmail.com with NEWSLETTER in the subject header. 

As we witness the end of the current president's first year in office, check out Coming Together's Moving On charity anthology that lets your feel good do some real good.

And remember to check out my story "When There Are No Words" and "The Help," now available:
Barnes & Noble
Coming Together

Thursday, January 18, 2018

#FuckLikeAFeminist - We Really Need a How-To


I LOVE this statement Samantha Bee made on her segment covering the Ansari situation. And she made many other great points in it too (watch it here), including the point that Ansari has made a career on being able to fuck like a feminist and the fact that he can’t or won’t is a criticism worth talking about. That’s incredibly valid.

But I take issue with the idea that no one gets to judge how women discuss this issue. Because we have to. We HAVE to critically examine how we tackle and frame this issue. We have to because, one, others are going to; they just are. But, mostly, we must because it matters. This topic matters, affecting every person on the planet. How we talk about it matters, because, if we’ve learned nothing from how we talk about race and sexual orientation and gender and [insert minority issue weighed down by eons of cultural baggage here], we should have learned by now that if we don’t have a discussion that sways the other side, all we’re doing is widening the divide and encouraging the worst in them, as well as in us. Because, if we’re more concerned with our own outrage than our ability to communicate, our goal isn’t change. Our goal isn’t the greater good. We have to be honest: our goal is to make ourselves feel better at the expense of making the world better.

And, I get it, it is TIRING to keep having to have this conversation. I feel like I’ve been saying the same things for years. “We need to get better at communication.” “Affirmative, enthusiastic consent is a necessary part of healthy sex.” “If you want to know what someone wants or want something from someone else, ask.” “Even if you do everything right, you are not entitled to a yes.” 

I’ve been saying it so long, it no longer feels relevant. How could anyone NOT know about this by now?

Except, if I’m honest, there are lots of ways someone could not know. Starting with the fact that, yes, toxic norms have dominated our culture for eons. Dismantling that kind of internalized culture isn’t easy. Especially when, for all our cultural shifts and movements, it keeps getting reinforced by our media, our society as a whole, and by the people around us. 

And it’s easier to get people on-board with cases like O’Reilly, Weinstein, and Lauer. It’s not hard to convince most people right now that no one should whip their junk out in front of people who don’t want to see it. It’s not hard to convince most people at this moment that forcibly raping people is a crime. It’s not hard to convince most people that leveraging someone’s career to get sex is reprehensible. Our culture has shifted enough to be able to recognize the horror in those acts. And it’s about damned time!

But, as many people are pointing out, Ansari’s situation is different. It isn’t as simple. In a culture that, in an effort to simplify the obviously complicated, preaches “no means no” and “yes means yes,” trying to grapple with nuance isn’t easy. If she said yes to some things, but not others, what does yes mean? What exactly does any given yes cover? If she didn’t directly say no, then exactly what does no mean? And how was he, and those like him, supposed to recognize it? I mean, if we’re using coded language and signals that weren’t discussed and agreed upon beforehand, how can anyone trust anything anyone says or does? After all, if something means no to you, but doesn’t to me, how can we ever even hope to avoid this situation? Because you should ALWAYS be able to say yes to some things and no to others and have those choices respected. But, if we can’t even constructively and clearly talk to each other about how to talk to each other, respect doesn’t seem like a likely outcome.

That’s why I’ve always been in favor of learning to communicate more directly. Using clear, direct language to communicate your wants and needs that goes beyond just a simple, often incomplete yes or no. But I also acknowledge another really, crucially valid point people are bringing up, that it often doesn’t feel safe to be direct. Giving a clear, direct yes or no to someone can, in certain circumstances, put people in harm’s way, physically, emotionally, financially, etc. We see it too often to deny it. 

So, if we can’t rely on indirect signals and don’t feel safe using direct language, where does that leave us?

To be honest, I don’t know. And trying to figure out an answer that can be universally applied is going to take exhaustive work. It is going to be tiring and feel futile and make outrage feel really good.

And, you know what, be outraged. Rage, as we’ve seen in the past few years, can be effective. It can spark conversations in ways that calm rationality just can’t compete with. We, as a species, are attracted to loud, shiny objects; sometimes it pays off to be the loudest, most sensational one in the room.

But, if you want that spark your rage created to spread into something productive, there’s got to be something behind it. Something beyond it. Because, inevitably, even if you get someone to listen, they’re going to ask, “Okay, you’re mad, I see that. But now what?”

And, like it or not, it leaves you with two options. You can double-down on rage. Shout so loud, you shut down any kind of conversation. When the other side tries to engage or ask questions, you can say that you’re tired of talking about this when no one’s listening anyway. After all, to be fair, there are always those on the other side who are just trolling and aren’t actually interested in communication. And, yes, trolling them back and shutting them down feels so damned good.

But how much good does it do? When you’re not even trying to convince anyone on the other side. Not just the trolls, but the people who have been fed our toxic cultural norms from birth who honestly haven’t questioned it because, until now, they’ve never had to. Not just the trolls, but the people your rage woke up and are listening and engaging for the first time. Not just the trolls, but the people who could actually be swayed. And, who, if you let them, might surprise you and help sway and shape your own opinions in a better direction.

I’ve talked about this before, but the relationship feminism and BDSM have is a great example. When each side dismisses the other as not knowing what they’re talking about and demonizes them as either prudes or predators, no good comes out of that. No problems are solved. It widens the divide and forces those who find common ground in each to choose a side.

But, when they listen to each other, they learn from each other. No other group has helped shape our conversation about sexual ethics better than these two groups. No one has grappled with and explored and examined sexual ethics better than these two groups and they never would have done it as well, if they hadn’t butted heads and debated with each other. If they hadn’t figured out how to communicate with each other. To listen and learn. To talk and teach. Without this, kinksters would never have questioned or learned to combat the rampant sexism and potential for abuse inherent in kink culture. Without this, feminists would still be prioritizing acts over consent, dismissing context and real, lived-in experiences over theory and ideology, demonizing innocent people and loving relationships, all the while helping to stigmatize an already marginalized group. Without this, without the ability to work together and the willingness to see things from other sides, the problems inherent in kink culture—that so often are echoed in vanilla culture, as we are seeing now—would still be pushed to the shadows, hidden under rage, shame, and stigma, making it impossible for either side to fix the problems they both know are there.

I’m not saying that we have to agree with each other on everything. Or that we can’t legitimately think and call out the other side as wrong. But there has to be a better, more constructive conversation that the ones the loudest, most sensational voices are having right now. Because, if we are rightly going to criticize Ansari for not living up to his words and ideals and #FuckingLikeAFeminist, then we should probably make sure we're doing all we can to make sure more people know what that even means.

Friday, January 5, 2018

You Know You Want to Do What I Say - Part Two

Ready to Play - 
A Playbox Donovan's Door Story
Part Two
Read Part One Here

To read the rest of this story, please check out my Playbox Exclusive story “Ready to Play” for free on their website. Online dating has become an inevitable and undeniable part of the modern dating landscape, particularly for those of us outside the everyday, vanilla mainstream. It can be frustrating and seem fruitless at times, but it can also be remarkably rewarding. Follow this couple as they make their way from digital space to the real world. U
sing their kinky dating app, these online partners play around the city, from out on the streets to a department store dressing room to a hotel room alone, seeing if their connection in real life can match, can surpass, what it is online. 

Play is the first kink lifestyle brand.

Temperature BDSM BoxThey seek to inspire and guide kinky and vanilla people alike with their Playbox store for kinky toys and products. Each Playbox is a hand-curated and themed BDSM box to provide you the best in kink toys from local artisans. With discrete packaging, Playbox is the perfect way to either explore kink for the first time in the privacy of your own home, or to discover new products and add variety to your kink life.

They also run the newest kink app, Play, put together for real kinksters by real kinksters. Currently in funding, they will keep you updated on their progress. If you would like to participate in their market research, please contact them!

Please check out my novel The Taming School from Sizzler Editions that explores discovering kink!
Available Now On

Please check out my novel Show Me, Sir from Sinful Press that celebrates feminist kink!

Please check out my story and get ready for some fit-on-the-streets-but-fun-in-the-sheets, pervertable play this PRIDE!

Please check out my story, "Safeword," in this new anthology from Sexy Little Pages, where women reclaim and recognise their power in myriad ways, and it's not always pretty. 
Available Now On

Find even more great reads and Put Your Money Where Your Orgasm Is!

Also, find out how you can support me and collaborate with me on my Patreon Page!

You Know You Want to Do What I Say - Part One

Ready to Play - 
A Playbox Donovan's Door Story
Part One

I see you sitting on the park bench, exactly as I’d told you.

Good boy.

You look good, all buttoned-down with a nice tie and shined shoes. But I know what you hide. I know what’s inside.

I smile. Let’s get started.

My friends all think it’s odd that we met on a dating site. That I would go through the hassle of long-distance dating instead of finding someone closer to my small hometown.

They don’t get it.

I remember messaging you. You’d been surprised. Even on a fetish dating site, even with Dommes, women rarely message men first. But I did. After one look at your photo, your profile, I knew you had to be mine.

For the first few exchanges, I’d kept things casual. Flirty. Asking about your job. Your family. Your interests. I’d memorized every office anecdote, every family memory, every trivia about your every passion, storing it away in my head like treasure.

Like when, after months of messages complaining about your boss and your scheming coworker, I’d had you conduct a meeting in front of them while wearing one of my thongs. You couldn’t believe that the ego-shattering humiliation of wearing my used panties somehow gave you the confidence to look your boss in the eye and tell him your ideas. As if knowing you could survive doing one proved you could do the other. The pinch of elastic and slide of pink satin providing you proof of your own capability and boosting your confidence.

I’d been so proud of you.

But not nearly as proud as when you’d gone camping instead of visiting your family last Christmas, choosing to send me pictures of you standing naked at the top of a cliff instead of having a strained dinner with people who willfully will never understand you. It was as if me making you do whatever I want gave you permission to do what you actually want. As if, through service kink, you discovered self-care.

After sharing messages and phone calls and pictures and videos for nearly a year now, despite living halfway across the country, I’ve never felt closer to anyone, more intimate with someone. I know you better than anyone else in this world and you me, but I’ve never even looked into your eyes, never touched your skin, never tasted your kiss.

And, as I stand in the shadows and watch you sit on that bench, I wonder if the distance made the difference. Nervous about what will happen to our dynamic outside the digital realm, I pick up my phone and log into the dating site’s app.

We could have switched to any other social media messaging system. We could have emailed or texted. And we did, from time to time, when it was more convenient. But we met on this app, got to know and fell for each other on it. It’s as much a part of our relationship as we are.

I click on our chat logs and type.

You look good.”

I see you jump at your phone’s notification sound. You fumble with your mobile device, read, then look around before responding.

Thank you. Where are you?

I smile. “Around.”

There’s a pause. “I thought we were going to meet face-to-face.” That’s the whole point of this trip.

I know. “We will.” But first. “Tell me what you want to do.”


I want to cackle, feeling the game begin. “When we finally meet, what would you like to do?

There's a longer lull. I can practically see the endless possibilities race through your head, overwhelming you.

I take pity on you, knowing you work better with options. “Well, I hear there's a great museum in town. Or we could see a movie. Or grab dinner.” I swallow and send one more option. “Or head to the hotel room.”


Your response is so short, quick, I want to laugh.

I couldn't agree more. “What will we do once there?

I watch you type. Then delete. Then type. You stare for an indecisive moment, before sending. “I want to touch you.


Your breasts, your shoulders, your waist, your hips, your ass, your thighs, your pussy.”

Good answer. “Would I touch you?


My hand instinctively fingers the hotel keycard in my pocket. Soon. “Show me your panties.”

You squirm, while you read that. You begin to move.

Where are you going?

You freeze. “To find a restroom, so I can show you?

You write it as a question. As if you’re asking for clarification. Or permission. That shouldn’t make me happy, but it does. So much so that I almost give it to you.

But we both know it’s better if I don’t. So. “Nope. Do it. Right here...”

Read Part Two Here