Author Archives: Jessica

About Jessica

Feminist, activist, cyclist. Also tech stuff.

Hands on Vulvas

The inspiration for this post came from two places.

One place was an article about fingering which, while it was great to see one of my favourite things as the subject of an article, was a crashing disappointment in terms of the scanty advice it actually offers.

The second place was a personal event: I had two-in-quick-succession sexual encounters where my sexual partner (one male, one female, I might add) was completely stumped when I said I didn’t enjoy receiving oral sex. They literally had zero moves once licking my vagina was off the table.

Some brief addresses

I just want to briefly address that second one first because, well, surely it’s obvious that you don’t necessarily need fingering to get you out of this particular no-oral-sex conundrum. I mean, I have skin, like, all over my body. You could touch that somewhere. Anywhere really. And not only that, but I have a variety of explicitly sexually charged body parts like a mouth, a butt, two breasts and I haven’t banned you touching my vagina! But we’ll get to that. Anyway, why do you have no game when I say your tongue touching my vagina is kinda “meh”? So yeah before you read this you could go and think about rubbing ears erotically or weenus massage and how to stimulate sensitive nipples, and the like and then come back.

Another address: the word “fingering” is kinda high-schooly. I am a bit ambivalent about it; on one hand it seems childish and a teensy bit… well, violent? But on the other hand high school slang is kinda nice, non-sciencey and filled with that flush of anticipation. Ref: “making out”. There are not many great alternatives for fingering. My sexual health nurse once described such sex as “digital” which, while delightfully linguistically accurate, could also be confusing and it’s not that sexy. So let’s try to be our best selves with the word “fingering” and be happy that I’ll be using the phrase “vulva” and “vulvic massage” a fair bit too (ewww) (ps “vagina” is the inside bit, “vulva” is the outside bit).

Finally, not everyone is into being penetrated until waaaay later on or not at all. This article presumes that you and your partner have discovered that fingering is on the table.  If you have a partner like me, they will have listed “penetration” in their likes, which is deliberately ambiguous to leave room for digital possibilities (arf arf) but if that has not happened to you then you can say,  “do you like having things in you?” “can I put my hands on you? / in you?” etc.

Fingering

Hold up! Your mind has already gone way too far. Your fingers are already in the wet bits aren’t they? No! This section is actually called…

Vulvic Massage

(My word is my bond). Ok so this partner likes penetration, (and maybe doesn’t like oral). Our purpose here is to go from chatting about work all the way to penetration by the big, big things (yay). Oral is everyone’s go-to because it’s intimate and wet and stuff and really gets the mind going in the right direction too. Well how do we do that without using our face? We use our hands.

First step – touch their genitals please! You can start this very lightly if you like. I once had a guy massage my inner thighs, up and down, getting nearer and nearer to my pubic hair without actually touching it. When he finally did snag a stray curly thread it was one of the best things I’ve ever felt.

But it doesn’t have to be that light. I normally try to describe to my partners the idea of massaging a vulva. Think about it, this poor mound of flesh has been crushed into tight underwear, further reinforced by obligatory “skinny”, “stretch” (read: “crush”) jeans, with a giant seam in the crotch right where your softest flaps are, and we’ve crushed them further by keeping out legs tightly crossed, crushing ourselves into the smallest size a human body can possibly occupy in physical space. We’ve been totally ignoring this part of our bodies all day. This non-existent (Barbie), embarrassing (camel toe) feminine (don’t show it at work), most vulnerable, most dangerous, most powerful place between our legs has gone unnoticed for hours, days even…You get the idea.

We’re here to say sorry to this vulva for ever forgetting it and to make it happy again. Use massage style strokes across the whole mound or gently manipulate the skin of the outer labia / around the outer labia area. Don’t use much force, we are not unknotting a muscle, we are uncreasing a piece of skin, like an ear or weenus (yes that homework was relevant). We are coaxing blood flow to the area, uncreasing all the wrinkles and releasing any trapped sweat. We’re also showing the person we are really into them and their sexy parts.

Don’t touch anything from the inside yet, no inner labia (even if they protrude) or vagina. That would be like giving someone a face massage and jabbing your finger up their nose. That’s not the point. We are not wet enough for any of that yet. We are plumping the pillows, giving a little shjouj to the room. Vulva.

I think this is where that apparently really stupid sex advice of “gently pulling the pubic hair” will genuinely be something you can do. If your partner has pubic hair (seriously why am I still the only one?) then you could in fact curl a lock of it (not a single hair) around your finger a bit or hold it with your thumb and very gently pull it, just enough to move the outer labia around over the inner. This strikes me as similar to a scalp massage, where for a change you might gently pull their hair, or gently pull someone’s ear for the extra tingle. Only do one small pull per area of skin but a couple of different areas should really waken the nerve endings up from their slumber.

You can do a bit of actual tissue/muscle massage here too. I find a thumb in the crease between my labia and my thigh is a spot that can handle some good massage. The pressure is more towards the vulva than the thigh, but even just sliding your thumb into that crease will do you no wrong. Similarly, if you’re in the same position you would be in for oral, facing the mistress as it were, you can probably reach the bit between vulva and butt cheek. There’s a bone in the pelvis there that hurts from sitting on it all day. Also you’re massaging their butt. Nice.

Finally, you could massage the outer labia enough with your hands to gradually tease apart the inner labia in preparation for the next bit.

There’s an endless variation with this stuff because each person is different but I hope this has inspired you to spend a few minutes exploring the idea of massage on a vulva and why it’s good.

Wet bits

Ok we’ve done well. We’ve touched our partner’s bits, which means we definitely like them as a person and as a vulva. They actually have some blood flow now and they’re more likely to be thinking about sex. Now we need to make sure they are wet enough for big penetration.

You can finally put a finger in a wet bit, but we are literally testing the waters at this stage.

At this point, some people are making the sheets wet from dripping, or their vagina is like an oil slick, so much so that you’re not sure which bit is clit, flaps, or vag hole. If so, they need big penetration right now, no need for more fannying around, just move on to whatever toy or flesh penis or duckbill-hand-shape you were gonna use next.

But if they’re not, there’s more to do. At this point everyone cries lube! Use more lube! And they are not wrong, but lube has drawbacks too.

All kinds of lube sting me, especially if I’m abraded from my last sexual encounter, but basically all the time. Don’t argue with me! I come out in a rash when I take a warm shower! My skin is sensitive. I’m telling you all kinds of lube stings and burns all the time, and you can’t tell me my own experience, so shush. I don’t want to be stung and burnt.

The other drawback is that if I’m not wet, that can also mean I’m not ready. I am capable of pretty extreme arousal, but if we use lube right now we will skip some of the process and we’ll come across a rock hard, small cave vagina that has not had time to fluff up the internal pillows, which is no fun for either of us. Even worse, you’ll be able to slide in and out of there without any resistance and it will hurt.

So, let’s set about giving our vulva-owner an internal hard-on/massage this time, complete with free lube.

Still not inside yet!

We have got ahead of ourselves again. Here’s why.

If we are not endangering penguins and sea birds with our oil slick, then our vaginas only have a little bit of wetness available. This is a delicate moment. It may not seem it but the skin on a finger is like litmus paper on a tiny drop a fluid, a single digit is capable of sucking up all the moisture we had and now we really will need lube. So! Don’t waste what we’ve got.

This is also the moment to mention the “don’t forget the clitoris” advice from the article I linked to at the top. It’s true, please don’t forget it, we have two functioning penises down here and it’s damn rude to just ignore one of them.

Oral sex aficionados would use this moment to start getting their tongues out for that clitoris. Tongues are warm, wet and gentle. But we are in fingering school here so allow me to suggest another way.

You can’t just poke that clitoris with a dry finger. That would feel like sandpaper on the tip of the tongue, but more painful, because clitorises don’t eat crisps on the regular. So where does the moisture come from? I hear you cry. Well, I always think of my vaginal opening as like an ink pot. If you were to stick all your fingers all the way down there now all the moisture would be sucked into your skin and we’d be done for. But if you stay outside, and dip the end of your finger in the ink well from time to time, it will never run dry.

If there’s no moisture at all at the opening of their vagina check you are in the right place, the vagina is close to the anus, quite far away from the clit in some cases. You may want to massage open your person’s various flaps (lol) so you can get access. If there’s still none, do something else (do they have sensitive nipples?) or lick your finger or use a tiny dot of lube.

So, dip a finger in the moisture and spread it around. We are kind of doing the vulva massage again but this time on the inner labia and this time with lady-cum. You might not be able to spread the first bit all the way around and up the mountain of the clitoris but just go back to the ink pot. Once your fingers are a bit wet and the clitoris is a bit wet and everything in between is a bit wet you can start rubbing the clit without fear of the sandpaper thing. That bit of clitoral stimulation is helping the ink-ducts (ok this is weird now) to produce some more fluid and now you have replenished what you used and have a bit more to work with. You can do the whole process a few more times, dunking in the inkwell a bit further to see how things are going inside and spread that wetness around before it all absorbs into your finger.

I know this sounds a bit laborious but this bit doesn’t have to take long, like 30 seconds – 2 minutes tops.

Ok, finally, finally…

Put your fingers inside

Now that you’ve got some moisture production going you can put your fingers inside, and it will feel good after all that inkpot teasing.

Put one finger in just to make sure you haven’t got the wetness level wrong and to introduce the idea that we’re going inside, but by now I think everyone’s ready for more than one poxy finger, so let’s have at least two at this point and you can probably work up to three quite quickly.

Now we have a paradox. Our fingers are now leeching moisture out of the vagina, but we all want them in there, but still stay wet. So! Our job is still to make our partner horny and wet. There are a couple of glands in the vagina that produce vaginal fluid and somewhat terrifyingly they are probably there to aid childbirth or some shit. They may or may not be the same areas that produce intense pleasure too. Anyway the point is they are there in the vaginal wall and they are activated by pressing on them, really quite hard. Let me stress, it is pressure on these areas that gets it going, not necessarily thrusting in and out. The thrusting only helps in the sense that, since we don’t know exactly where these points are, a certain amount of sliding around increases the probabilities of actually pressing on it. The thrusting also uses up moisture, so don’t overdo it.  I would suggest really slowly sliding slightly in, and slightly out and when you slide back in again the vagina may have swelled with blood some more so you’ll have more room at the top end to go further in. When you slide back out, you are not in fact sliding your hand back out at all, that would let loads of moisture get lost! You’re just moving your hand backwards a tiny bit to vary the pressure on the vagina, then moving further in again. You’re now trying to literally climb inside your partner with your hand. Which is hot.

The pressure thing is the reason that the article above has lots of women complaining about a single finger sitting limp inside of them. Peeps: we can’t feel that. These vaginas are made to accommodate penises and giant fucking babies. Once I’m wet enough for fingers to be in, they need to be in, lots of them. Taking up all available space in a vagina with almost your whole hand maximises the pressure all the way round the walls, where the ducts and pleasure centres live. These pleasure centres are on all the walls, mind. Yes you’ve been taught the g spot is on the “front” wall of the vagina, like you’re trying to rub their belly button, but from the inside. But the “back” wall, towards their bum has parts that feel great and produce fluid too (does your partner like anal? I wonder WHY). So it really is about pressure all the way round, top to bottom.

Having said that, now that you know the rules, you can bend the rules. If you keep pressure on the walls of the vagina, you could use just one finger, or maybe two, you just have to be doing the right things with it.

I would strongly suggest that at this point you need to make use of your thumb or your other hand to start touching their clit again. If it’s gone dry (likely), bring the wet hand out and give it some moisture but for the love of God put it back in again, we haven’t come this far for tiny little clit rubs all by themselves. We’ve been escalating this shit. So, wet hand back in, apply pressure, other hand gently massaging the clitoris. I think I should stress that it’s at this moment that you understand why drummers and juggles get laid so much. You need to be doing hard, not very subtle things with one hand (internally), applying force and very slowly grinding that thing in and out, while the other hand is trying to be light and feathery and quick-moving, starting and stopping, gently but quickly rubbing etc.  And you have to do both at once. It’s a nightmare to keep up for long (unless you’re a drummer or a juggler)(they’re so dreamy). So yeah, concentrate! The answers are coming.

Ok right, we have hopefully applied some slidey pressure and clit rubs such that our partner is creating more fluids, hopefully making nice noises and starting to crush our hand with their formidable pelvic floor muscles. If they are not, they don’t want to be fingered after all and if they are but there is still not enough lady-grease then it’s time for lube.

I think this sliding in an out with your hand thing should also not really last too long. We are attempting to go from chit-chat to big penetration and we’ve achieved that pretty well I think.

No fucking around now, time for the big guns.

Final tips

During oral, you can normally see what you’re doing if you need. Less so with fingering. You can go and look when you’re fingering too, that’s fine, especially during the massage phase. But it might be more fun to get used to “seeing” with your hands. This method of “seeing” during sex will also bring you much closer to my mindset (and so to other people who do “sexual trance”), and may help you understand why my eyes are closed all the time – I’m “watching” you inside me! Doing all this stuff with your hands also leaves your face nearby to their face so you can kiss your partner while you’re doing all these things, yay!

Wash your goddam hands. Always.

Cut your fingernails. That part about fingernails in the movie FightClub was a deliberate, tragic reference to directionless masculinity. When Jack says “Fight Club became the reason to keep your fingernails short”, is a direct nihilist mirror image of the other reason a man keeps his fingernails short. Fingering vaginas. So yeah, whatever your gender, cut and buff soft your fingernails.

Finally, this post is obviously heavily influenced by my own preferences and by my own experiences of fingering vaginas, but I think there are some solid ideas and techniques in there. Always stay in communication with your partner, whether its physical, verbal, through breathing patterns, noises or whatever. If you’re unsure, slow down and stop.

Have fun peeps!

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(Unfinished)Reflections on 2016

EDIT: This post was left unfinished. I publish now for the interested reader.

Change, change, change again!

I’m particularly keen on the reflections post this year because a friend recommended that I record how I think now, in order to have an interesting history of how my thinking changes over time.

Work

Well, 2016 opened with a continuation of much that was happening in December. Two things were pertinent in January, I was working a contract and I was getting fortnightly talking therapy on the NHS.

I was in an office full time. The commute was long and grey, the days were grey and the company itself was a bit grey too. Related to health insurance. Sane people, just a little dull. Even the tube line that I used each day was the grey one. But it was money and I was pleased about it.

The whole beginning of the year was then much the same. My contracts were not quite back to back, but the gaps were entirely filled with illness, so I did nothing but work or be bedridden. At one point I had two colds and two rounds of tonsilitis back to back, which led to a chest infection.

But due to my revenue, I graduated myself onto a “real” salary of £2,000 gross /month. More than I’ve ever been paid before. This lasted until the end of August.

I used it to “be London” – swanking around buying coffees and eating in restaurants. I got a pricey gym membership (another first) and even used it 3 times a week when I wasn’t ill. I bought some things for my living space, including a sofa, which according to my close friend is a “grown up” thing to buy, haha.

Mental Health

I finished up the final 4 of 6 sessions of NHS talky therpay with Uwe. It helped a lot. I feel shy writing more about it.

In May, I discovered Meaningness.com and it helped a lot too. More in the philosophy section.

Relationships

New Person from last year was/is still around and still great. However, for most of this year I was not able to visit them because of their flatmate/landlord’s refusal to allow me in the building.

The flatmate/landlord is the driven man who I fell out with in 2014. Back then, I sent an email to say I didn’t agree with some of his beliefs, and would be withdrawing from their friendship to concetrate on earning my own money. In 2015 I succeeded in that and was still visiting the house to see New Person. At the end of 2015 it transpired that Driven Man was waiting for me to ‘come around’ about my crazy decision about our friendship. I did not ‘come around’. So they banned me from the house.

Eventually, mid-year, New Person said to Driven Man that I was going to start visiting the house again and he couldn’t ban me from being there. Driven Man’s response? He told New Person to move out. There is so much more detail, but yeah that was stressful.

After a tough summer of savings and multiple job changes, New Person now has their own place and we celebrated Christmas there, woo-hoo!

Also, in late 2015 I slept with someone new. I’d met them a while before, but they were not in a good place to be dating. Now they are. I had some feels, which have waned since. I’m still not sure how close I want to be with this person.

Time changes

My sense of time has changed. I’ve come to notice this by being around people who are still in their twenties (I’m 33 now).

My friend Jo is 23 and to them, 6 months is an absolute age.

I’ve recently connected with a new partner who is 26. He is going away for four months, and hopes to stay away longer. He has more anxiety than me about the future of our relationship.

I recall being about 28 or 29 and realising, through polyamory, that my relationships will probably no longer follow the meet-date-acrimoniousbreakup pattern that was an unquestioned way of things in my “20s monogamy” phase. Rather, relationships can have ups and downs, recesses, corners, timeouts and timeins. The older I get, the longer relationships can be and the more they’ll morph.

Around this time I started saying “the future is long”, meaning that whatever stage a relationship is in now (normally just broken up), it will change over time and the change will happen quicker than you think. There is always the possibility of: -getting back together -becoming friends again -being thrown back into a life situation together -actually not really caring about them anymore.

Some of my longer-term relationships, like family and early boyfriends have followed so many twists and turns it’s now not very easy to describe them all. The swings from love to hatred to indifference to betrayal to empathy to love again have been numerous.

I’ve had a monogamous friend with whom I could have sex only when he didn’t have another partner. I saw several girlfriends come and go, and didn’t really feel particularly deprived when I wasn’t allowed to have sex with him for a while. The friendship was clearly going to endure much longer than these partners.

There is security in patience.

(Post-script: I am aware that one day, the longer I live the more likely it will be that my relationships with others will end. Time will speed up again. Relationship needs will be more urgent. I’m sure it will feel like a blink of an eye since I was here, now, saying these young things at this young age.)

 

 

Bisexuals at London Pride 2017

We ARE marching!

PORTLAND PLACE! 1pm cut off xxx

All the bi groups of London will be marching with ‘UKBiPride‘ this year as part of the ‘UKPrides’ section of the parade. They are the ones allocating our marching spaces, and I will copy their instructions here.

Order of events on the day

9am – 11am Big Bi Breakfast hosted by BiscuitMag (@Biscuitmag on twitter)

Address: Fitzrovia Center, 2 Foley Street London W1W 6DL

10.45am – 11.15am Collect wristbands

Address: UK Pride Organisers Network (UKPON) on Gildea Street, near Wogan House

11.30am Travel to form up point.

Address: unknown, usually near Baker street. We are the front of section “B”.

1pm Head of march moves off (we will start moving around 1.20pm?)

~3pm Reach end of march and attempt to enter Trafalgar square for stage entertainment/stalls

Rest of afternoon/evening: no bi specific event planned. This meetup event has co-ordination for people wishing to meet other bi people on the day: https://www.meetup.com/london-bisexuals/events/235740898/

 

Instructions from UKBiPride

Hello wristband holders and lovely folk on the waiting list!
Bi Pride UK want to thank you for your massive enthusiasm to march with us at Pride in London next weekend, Saturday 8th July! Below you will find some key information about the day. If you emailed us on behalf of others (e.g. a group or a partner), please forward this email to them so they know what’s happening on the day too. It’s a long email, but we wanted to make sure that you get as much detail as possible…
Meeting Point and Time:
As you will be aware, we have a very limited number of wristbands allocated to us (50). Because of that, please let us know if you are no longer able to attend for whatever reason, so that we can reallocate your wristband to someone waiting patiently on the waiting list. We have already been able to reallocate a few wristbands, so if you are on the waiting list, don’t lose hope!
We will be meeting close to the UK Pride Organisers Network (UKPON) on Gildea Street, near Wogan House. We will get there at 10:45 to start handing out wristbands to the 50 people on our list. If you do not arrive by 11:15, we will start giving out the wristbands to those on the waiting list. By 11.25, if we still have any left, they will be given out to anyone else on a first-come-first-served basis. If you are running late but are definitely coming, then please call 07837754474 and we will hold one for you.
We will be leaving the meeting point at 11.30 and heading to our place in the Parade.
We will be marching at the front of SECTION B. If this is your first Pride, that may sound very confusing; Pride in London is divided into a series of sections, each with their own theme. If you get lost, there will plenty of Stewards around with brightly coloured high-visibility jackets to ask, and there’ll be plenty of signs on lampposts telling you which section you’re in.
Clothing, Accessories and Things to Bring:
Through some generous supporters, we have procured enough t-shirts for each of our wristband holders to wear on the day! These will have the Bi Pride UK logo on them, and we are very excited to debut them here. We would very much appreciate you wearing these t-shirts while marching with us, although there is no pressure to do so, but then returning them to us at the end of the march so we can use them (after washing them!) at future events. If you would like to keep the t-shirt (because they are just that awesome), we are requesting a donation of £5-10.
Our message for this march is Show Your Colours, and so on the rest of your body, please feel free to wear and bear whatever colours or flags you feel best represent you! We want you to feel free and open to be who you are and wear your colours, whatever they might be, proudly. Banners, placards, flags, capes, face paint, hair spray, whatever, all welcome – the more the merrier.
Remember to prepare for all weathers – this is London, after all. Make sure you have comfy shoes, plenty of water (it’s a long day), snacks if you feel you need them, suncream (it doesn’t hurt to be optimistic), antihistamines and/or any medication you might need, and an umbrella (because you should always be prepared!).
Security:
Pride is a wonderful event, but there are always some people who want to rain on our parade. To make life easier for yourselves, we recommend that you don’t bring any large bags with you, because getting them searched every 10 minutes is just tiresome.
Also, the Pride in London Parade operates on a strict wristband-only policy. This means that only people wearing a wristband will be allowed to enter the Parade form up area. If you are running late and have let us know in advance, we can arrange to give you one to allow you to enter the area, but otherwise we’re afraid we’ve got to stick by the system. If you don’t have a wristband, though, that doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with us, though! Which brings us to…
Social stuff:
If just marching isn’t enough for you (and let’s be honest, why should it be?!), check out the meet-up that we’ve been told about, organised by a few people for the Saturday morning, from 11am at the Fitzrovia Centre: https://www.meetup.com/london-bisexuals/events/240449746/ There will also be people gathering post-parade (https://www.meetup.com/london-bisexuals/events/235740898/), so plenty of ways to keep the party going in whatever manner you’d like! For more information on these things, please use the contact details on the respective event pages.
Finally, Bi Pride UK would like to thank you again for spending Pride in London with us. We are very much looking forward to meeting you and building together this amazing community. Let’s spread the bi pride and enjoy our day!
With visi*bi*lity and love,
Allison & Abigail (Co-Chairs of Bi Pride UK) and the entire Bi Pride UK Committee

 

My Instructions in line with previous years

Pride colours

Bisexuals are a diverse group with no single unifiying attribute, but at Pride that means no-one can see who we are! The bisexual colour is purple, so please everyone wear head to toe deep purple outfits, so that we look like a unified block that can easily be seen. We want to be visible!

Deep purple is an unusual colour and you will not have something suitable in your wardrobe on the day. Lilac, blue or “wearing your purple socks” are not good enough! You need to go online and buy something NOW especially for the parade. We want to be loud and proud!

Here are some inspirations:

These beauties can be ordered from The Bisexual Index Their other t-shirt designs sometimes come in purple too. Make sure to select purple when purchasing!

If you can’t afford these, grab yourself a plain deep purple tshirt from ebay.

Pre-form up meeting

The pre-form up meeting is once again at The Fitzrovia Centre at 9am-11am.

Address: 2 Foley Street, London W1W 6DL. Nearest tube: Goodge Street

Here you can paint faces, change clothes, meet some other bis, have a cup of tea, eat cake, use the toilets and collect your wristband for marching in the parade. You will also get on-the-day updates that will be very important.

Attending this meeting promptly is the only way to guarantee you can march in the parade. Please attend this meeting on time!

Wristbands

You must have a wristband to march in Pride.

Important change to last year: UKBiPride are requiring all participants to email them directly in order ot get a wristband. The deadline is 16th June and there are only 50 wristbands to allocate. Please email biprideuk@gmail.com saying you would like a wristband (put it in the subject line).

Last year we ran out of wristbands when we only had 50, please email anyway so that we have an idea of numbers for next year (and come along anyway, there are always no shows and dropouts).

Since we are co-ordinating with another group this year we have to arrange distributing wristbands. This will most likely happen at the pre-form up meeting in The Fitzrovia Centre.

The Parade

We must form up in <street unknown> at <time unknown>. (Likely near to Baker St Station) We will depart The Fitzrovia Center at <time unkown>.

The area becomes extremely busy and phone signal sometimes blacks out. It is quite hard to get information about the parade on the day if you have missed the pre-form up meeting. If you persevere though, someone might get back to you on Facebook, Twitter or Meetup eventually. I recommend the app WhatThreeWords, which uses a three word code to give you a map pin that is accurate to within 3 metres of a location. I’ll post our three word location once we are installed at form-up.

The parade takes a very long time to move off and reach Traflagar Square, be prepared for lots of standing and being out in the elements for several hours.

Trafalgar Square

The parade ends in Trafalgar Square and a stage with live music is set up there, plus stalls and food and drink. If you can get in (!) it’s a great way to socialise after the parade. Jon Bi from the London Bisexuals Meetup Group normally forms up a group there. More information can be found on his Meetup Page.

What to bring

London Pride is a long day that is very tiring, you’ll need to bring two types of things: extreme fun and dressing up stuff for a wild day and extremly boring things to keep you comfortable and happy on a gruelling day of standing up.

Wild party fun times: Pride is so great because the gays go absolutely wild. There’ll be all the men in just g-strings, extravagent carnival-style drag queen wonders and people dressed in leather dog masks, to name a few,  all running wild down the centre of Regent’s Street and Oxford Street as neary a million normal people cheer them on. It’s a goddam rush and is the most wild dressing up you’ll ever see, so don’t hold yourselves back 🙂

  • Facepaints, especially bi colors: Pink, Purple, Blue
  • bi flag
  • deep purple clothes, head to toe, including pants (I like to get my pants out)
  • purple/rainbow unbrellas
  • whistles
  • portable speakers
  • bi badges and stickers
  • spares for everyone else: purple scarves, hats, tops, long socks, badges anything you’ve got
  • CAKE

Why not check out the Biscuit Magazine Etsy Shop for stickers and cards.

Practical stuff: those hot men in g-strings will be wearing just two other essential items: trainers and sun lotion. Remember how you had to prepare carefully for a day trip to London, because being a tourist in London for the day is exhausting? Well this is that. Don’t be complacent just because you live here now.

  • comfortable walking shoes – VERY IMPORTANT
  • umbrella
  • foldable waterproof jacket
  • sun cream
  • hat/headscarf
  • medium/large bottle of water
  • snacks (you will be without food 12noon – 3pm)
  • cash money
  • oyster card
  • foldable layers of clothes – light jumper, leggings
  • string, tape, scissors, safety pins (useful for attaching bi flags to people & wardrobe emergencies)
  • plasters, paracetamol, antihistamines

 

YAY

We look forward to seeing you there!! Any questions you can comment here or email me: jezzburton@yahoo.com or tweet @ssica3003.

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Not A Meritocracy

Social Justice

So, I’m done with the social justice world.

I always had more time for the really complex and nuanced arguments of the heavyweight writers anyway and I had the privilege of working with smart and level-headed activists when it came to actions.

But, in the last few years I lost my certainty about every cause I was involved with and now I feel much more interested in studying all sides, watching how things play out and to a certain extent having a go at predicting outcomes, without feeling particular alleigence to any “side” in a debate because almost everything has merit and almost no-one is interested in measuring actual outcomes. When outcomes are played out, things are normally good for some people and bad for others, appropriate in some circumstances and irrelevant in others.

Im interested in that fact, but openly sympathising with the problems faced by men’s rights activists gets you pushed out of the feminist activist club fairly quickly, and rightly so, because passionate outrage is the fuel needed to act there.

Anyway, excellent activism is more drowned out these days by tribe-signalling meme warfare and I generally ignore it.

But I still have thoughts and critiques when particular examples float my way and here is one of them.

Intro

A friend invited me to a talk by a woman of color about the difficulties she has experienced in the media industry. It set me to thinking about the media industry and how this is a known industry for being extremely difficult to get into. It also strikes me that the media industry is one of those industries that is most obviously based on nepotism (powerful people promoting their friends) than based on merit (fair interview processes for all job openings).

In this talk I wonder if the person will be calling for less racism in a meritocratic sense or in a personal relations sense.

Systematic lies

I certainly used to be a highly systematic and individual person who believed in rules and fairness. My understanding of feminism moved through the following cycle:

Believing that the world was fair to the genders -> angrily realising it was not -> advocating for more fairness ->seriously thinking about how to educate others to be fair -> realising you partly have to tell the next generation to behave better than you do ->telling kids that the world already allows boys in pink skirts ->those kids believe the world is fair ->angry realisation that it’s not…. etc.

In this way we are iterating over the generations since the 60s telling little lies that everything is fair.

Relationships

I recently spent some time working on my skills when it comes to relationships, being dissolved in a web of humans, forgetting the rules and so on.

A pertinent example of this is moving to London. I had always been too scared to move to London since the barriers to entry are so formidable. When I decided to make the move, I had no money, no previous address and no (current) skills. I knew that the “correct” way to move to London, use an agency to rent a property at market rates, would be impossible for me. I knew it was impossible for others too, and yet people managed to get there. It seemed obvious that it was important to meet some people who had found some sweet deal, some cheaper niche of their own, by luck and rule-bending and circumstance. It was important to personally meet these people because any spare rooms would be a closely guarded secret that would never leak out onto “official” channels, reserved only for friends by word of mouth. This strategy would take time and luck, but was my only way in.

It worked, and that is exactly how I moved to London.

This is nepotism, the epitome of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. The catch-22 of “networking” is that human networks is one of the only ways things get done but articifially trying to build those networks at networking sessions is exactly the wrong way to forge those connections. It must be done in a way that feels natural and inspires trust.

More Lies

Back to lies we tell our kids. Adults claim that their institutions are based on a meritocracy, which is not really the truth. There is a sliding scale of truth to that claim, with most universities and boring companies on the meritocratic end and Oxbridge, government and the arts industries on the nepotism end.

When I was a feminist activist, I took fair, meritocratic systems as a given and was trying to eliminate unfair practices between genders in what I perceived should be a fair system.

I wonder if this woman of color is making the same assumption: that unfair racist practices are occuring in what should be a fair, meritocratic system. If so, I don’t think she will get very far. Not because of the resistence to equal treatment of race and gender (though that is likely present), but because protecting the facade of merit over the reality of nepotism is something people will fiercely defend and lie about (and do it well, this is the media we are talking about).

My advice to this woman would be to use race and gender as a tool in this nepotistic setup. Go find the people of color who are already there and if they won’t help you (likely) they might indicate who in power likes having black friends. Gender is an even more unpalatable option, since other women may not help (they might, find that one feminist who works in TV), so one might have to resort to feminine attractiveness or, more likely if its TV and theatre, one could do well by butching up for all the gay guys that find women a bit scary.

This all sounds like a social justice nightmare, but if you’re not willing to be realistic about these strategies a career in the media may not be for you. It also does not preclude activism. Someone’s personal climb through the nepotisitc ranks may lead those friends on the way up to regard a person of a colour as a good bet in the relations stakes, whereas before they were prejudiced/ blind to it. I genuinely believe that that outcome would be a big win that does a lot of good.

Support

I won’t be going to the talk. I’m bored with all that. My advice above would not be taken well, and I can see why. But my friend is definitely showing signs that she takes my lack of support for her talks as a rejection of her friendship. Is it possible to show support for someone in this part of their life without resorting to totally faking it?

The Accountant – how to deal with clients

I instantly fell in love with Ben Affleck’s character Christian Wolff from the film The Accountant. Something about being awkward, fit and hot, plus having the exact same delay between shots he fires with his anti-aircraft rifle. But best of all, his client meetings. He is my new hero when it comes to dealing with new clients.

Here, have some memes:

imontheclock

 

clientbusiness

Books of 2016

I use Goodreads. My Reading Challenge goal was 20 books (an increase on the 17[?] that I read last year). I in fact read 15, including just one graphic novel. For me graphic novels count as cheating because they are so short, but I also often read 300 pages of a book before abandoning it as rubbish. Last year had around 3 graphic novels I think…

Here’s a screenshot:

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-23-33-03

Books I’ve abandoned this year:

  • ‘Bodily Harm’ by Margret Atwood
  • ‘The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden’ by Jonas Jonasson

My reading challenge goal this year it back to 17.