communication

Clarisse Thorn's picture

[porn] The Lone Villain Rides Again

Originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism

Last week, I posted an interview with Tim Woodman, who’s a fetish porn director and an experienced BDSMer to boot. His interview raised fascinating questions of consent and industry standards within pornography, especially BDSM porn. Lots of people had questions and comments, so here’s a followup interview. Ladies and gentleman, once again … welcome Tim Woodman!



Clarisse Thorn: On the original interview, Alexa commented, “I agree wholeheartedly with the positions articulated on this in the interview, and I think it’s not going to stop unless some names get put out there in the public sphere so we can know who these assholes are. Tim can make these kinds of assertions all day long, but unless he attaches some names to it and calls them out, he’s not doing anyone a service and appears to be serving his own interests. Not that I doubt him at all (quite the opposite, in fact), but I’d like to know who they are so (A) I can avoid doing business with them, and (B) can let others know to avoid having anything to do with them, either as a consumer or potential talent.”  What do you think?

Tim Woodman: Several responses to my previous interview asked me to ‘name names’ and call out the companies whose practices I disapprove of. Nothing would delight me more, but I was also pointedly reminded by an attorney friend just how much headache could be involved in a libel suit. I would likely win, but only after great expense.

I would, however, be very happy to recommend some companies whom I can vouch for personally as being conscientious and very good about respecting models’ limits and still producing quality content. The absolute best person I know in this industry is Lorelei, from bedroombondage.com – whatever your kink, whatever you want to search for, if you start at her page, you will only find links to high-quality companies run by good people.



Clarisse Thorn's picture

[porn] A Lone Villain working within an Evil Empire

Originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism

I met Tim Woodman and his partner this past weekend at an S&M party. Tim — whose business cards style him a Professional Villain — produces and stars in porn, so we had an interesting conversation about consent and porn practices. Porn has never been my thing, though I emphatically oppose censoring it. I’ve worked with and made friends with many sex workers, and sex workers’ rights are very important to me. And, of course, I’m an S&M activist who believes that there’s nothing wrong with BDSM (or any other kind of sex) as long as it’s 100% consensual — that BDSM deserves wider acceptance as a form of sexuality.

So it makes me sad when I hear stories and rumors about the fetish porn industry that imply that some actresses did not fully consent to the porn shoots they did. And I think that it’s important for porn consumers to push for responsible practices from the companies producing the movies they watch. It can be hard to tell whether a given company has responsible practices, though. I know that some porn companies have their actresses give interviews after the shoot, in which the actresses talk about what they experienced during the porn shoot. This seems like a step in the right direction to me, but Tim says some of those interviews are fake, which breaks my heart. It’s the kind of allegation I wouldn’t trust from an anti-porn idealogue, but Tim has real knowledge and contacts in the business — and he’s not pro-censorship — so he’s got a better perspective.

After listening to some of Tim’s thoughts, I asked him to do an interview with me. And here we are:



Clarisse Thorn: Can you introduce yourself to my readers, and describe some of your feelings about working in the fetish porn industry?

Tim Woodman: As a self-defined “Professional Villain”, my life is a paradox. I produce fetish porn videos depicting rape, torture, and sometimes murder, but my career depends on my reputation within the industry as a good guy, whom women will enjoy working with and would be willing to work with again. Fortunately, I have been in the BDSM lifestyle even longer than I’ve been in the industry, and I already know the rules. If you want to play in the BDSM scene, you can’t break your toys!

The rules about BDSM porn are not different from the rules about BDSM in the real world. Consent is never implied, and can always be withdrawn. Negotiation is critical, and must be done thoroughly beforehand.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

[litquote] How being good in bed is most of all about attentiveness

Originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism

I would never deny that certain inborn qualities or skills can make sex a lot better. It’s true that size does, generally, matter. But I really do believe that these things matter a hell of a lot less than open-hearted and open-minded attention to one’s partner. And that’s why I love this quotation from Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart.

The summer vacation of my freshman year in college, I took a random trip by myself around the Horuriku region, ran across a woman eight years older than me who was also traveling alone, and we spent one night together.

… She had a certain charm, which made it hard to figure out why she’d have any interest in someone like me — a quiet, skinny, eighteen-year-old college kid. Still, sitting across from me in the train, she seemed to enjoy our harmless banter. She laughed out loud a lot. And — atypically — I chattered away. We happened to get off at the same station, at Kanazawa. “Do you have a place to stay?” she asked me. No, I replied; I’d never made a hotel reservation in my life. I have a hotel room, she told me. You can stay if you’d like. “Don’t worry about it,” she went on, “it costs the same whether there’s one or two people.”

I was nervous the first time we made love, which made things awkward. I apologized to her.

“Aren’t we polite!” she said. “No need to apologize for every little thing.”

After her shower she threw on a bathrobe, grabbed two cold beers from the fridge, and handed one to me.

“Are you a good driver?” she asked.

“I just got my license, so I wouldn’t say so. Just average.”

Clarisse Thorn's picture

[storytime] My worst moment of hypocrisy

Originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism

“Do you have anything that you’re hypocritical about in your own life?”

My mother just asked me this question. We’d been chatting angrily about the latest conservative homosexual coming-out, Ken Mehlman, “the most powerful Republican in history to identify as gay.” I’d mentioned this other conservative leader, a Baptist minister exposed hiring a rent boy, who claimed that “I needed to explore the psyche of a real live gay and witness first-hand what the lifestyle is all about so I could finally find the cure.”

“What do these people tell themselves? How can they justify themselves?” I cried, at which point my mother gently asked about hypocrisy.



I try really hard not to be hypocritical about things. But, like everyone, I’ve had my moments. It seems to me that hypocrisy almost always arises from conflicted emotions, rather than a straightforward intent to lie. The bigger the emotional conflict, the nastier the hypocrisy can get. For this reason, I think I have some understanding of people like Ken Mehlman, who clearly had a really difficult coming-out process, and whose sexuality drastically contradicts his perceived values. (I still think he should at least apologize, though.)

So here’s my biggest moment of hypocrisy. I’m writing about it to remind myself that sex and romance can be terribly difficult, that they bump up against nearly everyone’s morals at some point, and that when you’re really hurt and confused it can be legitimately difficult to know what you yourself are thinking.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Sex Communication Tactic Derived from S&M #3: Journal-Keeping

Originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism

I’d like to thank all the brave pioneers of the BDSM community, for plumbing the depths of human sexuality, and coming back with maps.
~ an unsourced quotation provided by commenter Motley on my gigantic manliness thread

I’ve already written about S&M checklists and S&M safewords, and how both those things can set really great examples for everyone’s sex life — not just us BDSMers. This entry will be about journal-keeping!

Some BDSMers play with really, really strong power dynamics. A good example of this is couples who choose a “24/7 dynamic”: one partner is dominant and the other is submissive … all the time. I attended a workshop once with Sir Top and slave bonnie, two wise BDSM educators, where I learned that slave bonnie was only ever allowed to disobey orders of two kinds:

* Suicidal orders,
* Orders that would cause financial ruin.

The rest of the time, bonnie obeyed Top — all the rest of the time.

Obviously, relationships like this are totally cool with me as long as they are — say it with me, everyone — 100% consensual! Such relationships can also encourage the use of interesting communication tactics, because many of the usual tactics don’t feel right to the participants. For example, these relationships often take place between people who feel such a strong power dynamic that it would be almost impossible for the submissive to feel comfortable safewording — safewording can feel disconcertingly like a form of resistance.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

[litquote] Hot vanilla sex scene includes checking in

Originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism

For a sex writer, I’m surprisingly indifferent to sex scenes. Predictably, I’m quoting this one from Kate Furnivall’s novel The Russian Concubine for a theoretical reason: because it gives not one, but two instances of checking in with one’s partner to ensure their continuing sexual consent … and the sex goes on afterwards just fine. One of the most frequently-heard complaints about ensuring consent is that it will supposedly “ruin the moment”. But if that were really true, then you’d never find check-ins being glorified in hot romance novel sex scenes!

Note: the main character has never had penis-in-vagina sex before.

It was as if her skin became something other than skin. It grew so alive it leaped out of her control, rubbed itself against his body, her hip pressing against his, her hands touching, searching, stroking, seeking out each bone of his back, his flat wide shoulder blades, the curve of his buttocks. Her lips opened to his and the unexpected sensation of their tongues entwining sent such a shiver of delicious shock through her body that it made him stop, lift his head, and gaze at her with concern.

But she laughed, almost a purr, and wrapped her arms around his neck, drawing him back to her once more. …

[make-outs, make-outs, make-outs]

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Sex Communication Tactic Derived from S&M #2: Safewords and Check-Ins

Originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism

Everyone knows about BDSM safewords … or at least, everyone thinks they know about safewords. But one of the initial moments that really impressed me about my current boyfriend was when I asked him, many moons ago, if he knew what a safeword is. He paused, then answered, “I think I’m familiar with the idea, but I probably don’t know much more than a stereotype, so I’d like to hear you define it.” Humility and open-minded curiosity are so incredibly hot!

Righto. Hot boyfriend aside, I’m here to explain safewords and check-ins, and how those concepts can exemplify excellent sexual communication for everyone — not just S&Mers — in a world that doesn’t do a good job teaching anyone how to communicate sexually.

When two (or more) people have a BDSM encounter together, generally they set a safeword — a word that anyone can say at any time to stop the action. (Sometimes people don’t use safewords. This is their choice and I totally respect it. I would not recommend going without safewords for anyone who doesn’t know their partner extremely well, and I would be seriously sketched out by anyone who pressured a partner to go without safewords.)

When I give advice about setting safewords, I usually offer the following:

A) Some people like to say that it’s good to use a safeword that’s jolting, and is likely to make your partner feel totally unsexy. Isn’t there a “Family Guy” episode in which Lois & Peter’s safeword is “banana” or something?

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Sex Communication Tactic Derived from S&M #1: Checklists

(Posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism)

I’ve often written that the BDSM community encourages really excellent sexual communication, and I’ve been meaning to write further about specifics for … um … years. (Oops.) So I’m finally getting around to describing one of my personal favorite sexual communication tactics: checklists!

S&M checklists are long lists of different acts that sexual partners can use to discuss different acts and measure each others’ interest in those acts. Here is an excellent example. Each act on the checklist usually looks something like this:

FLOGGING — GIVING __________________ O O O O O
FLOGGING — RECEIVING ______________ O O O O O

Each partner rates each entry by filling out 1-5 bubbles, with 1 darkened bubble meaning “Not interested” and 5 bubbles meaning “I crave this!”

I think this concept is brilliant because:

Olga Wolstenholme's picture

Gender Specific Small Talk

I went to a party the other day where their happened to be one single person for each couple, all of which were straight and in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. Topics of conversation were typical; ranging anywhere in between work and how do you open a beer bottle with a lighter. I was stone cold sober as per usual and although I was enjoying the company of others, I was in a quiet and observing mood.

At one point in the evening, I was leaning against the wall in the kitchen listening to a couple guys enjoying some small talk. The event that spurred on this specific little tidbit of conversation, which I’m going to tell you about in a minute, was some sort of superficial dispute between one of the guy’s and one of the girl’s present. The girl in question had just left the kitchen and the guys were doing their whole shtick where they express their exasperation at apologizing to a girl about something the have no idea about and still finding themselves in the dog house without a clue as to why they’re there in the first place.

The conversation turned to the general as opposed to the specific rather quickly, and could only be described as gendered posturing. I felt like I was in an American sitcom staring Jim Belushi and Courtney Thorne-Smith. I’m not a relationship expert having been in a rather minimal amount of them in my short twenty-eight year span and I just had to ask, “Is that really what it’s like?” The answer I got was, “No, it’s not.”

Clarisse Thorn's picture

The last three times I said “I love you”

Regular readers know that although in America I spend a lot of time in the BDSM community (am, in fact, a pro-BDSM activist), I currently live in sub-Saharan Africa, working on HIV and dating a Baha’i convert who’s observing a religious vow of chastity. My boyfriend’s pseudonym on this here blog is, therefore, Chastity Boy.

We’ve been “officially” involved since September, and Chastity Boy recently got to the point where he decided to say those Dreaded Three Words. And part of me … part of me, yeah, wants to say them back. When I was younger, I used to have no problem falling in love, saying “I love you,” flinging my heart open kindasorta for the fun of it. (As Isak Dinesen once wrote: Love, in young people, is a heartless business. We drink at that age from thirst, or to get drunk; it is only later in life that we occupy ourselves with the individuality of our wine.) But although the words cross my mind all the time when I’m with CB — although I feel them struggling to escape, something in me just won’t say them. Just … can’t.

How did I say it, the last three times? *

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