Apr 252013

Ask Tristan logo
How can gender identity affect a sexual experience or a sexual relationship (even mentally)? How can we avoid gender identity becoming a point of contestation? We are both doms.
If you are trans* or your gender identity is complex, non-normative, fluid, genderqueer, or your body doesn’t entirely reflect your gender expression, it can absolutely affect your sexual experiences and relationships. As you begin to figure out your gender identity (knowing of course that it’s still not fixed and can change), share as much of that information as you can with your partner. This includes your relationship to your body, your preferred words for your body parts, how you want to be touched, and your sexual boundaries. Communicate with your partner about words that feel authentic and sexy in relation to your body and certain sex acts—words like dick, cock, cunt, pussy, as well as “fucking” or “making love”—can be loaded for people, no matter what their gender identity is, so ask your partner what words they use in regards to their own body and then respect those choices. It’s also helpful to stick to gender-neutral adjectives instead of nouns (hard, tight, wet, open, etc.). Your gender identity should not be a “point of contestation” between the two of you. The more comfortable you are with your gender identity, and the more you can talk about it with your partner, the more likely they are to understand it. Gender identity with regard to sexuality and sexual dynamics can vary for everyone, not just trans* and genderqueer people. For example, a straight man may want to be dominated and treated like a bad girl by his female partner, a lesbian may like to imagine she’s a straight man who’s seducing another man for the first time. We often get turned on by gender and sexual dynamics that don’t match our everyday gender on the street. Even when people aren’t explicitly roleplaying, there’s a certain energy dynamic that goes into the act itself that connects to our gender identity. Make a list of what gender identities you connect to in the bedroom (and which ones you don’t), share it with your partner, then have them do the same thing and find where you overlap and connect.
Recommended: Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, PoMoSexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality and Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation

Apr 252013

I gave my Sexploration lecture at Bucknell University on Tuesday April 23, and there was a huge crowd. I often do anonymous questions at college events where students write their questions on notecards and everyone has to write something, even if it’s “no question.” The anonymity gives folks the freedom to ask their most pressing questions. I only had time to answer about 60% of the questions, so I’m answering the rest here. I’ve combined some questions that are on the same topic.

Is it weird that I want sex all the time even though I’m a virgin?
No. It’s common to have sexual desires regardless of your sexual experience. Remember what I said about the problematic concept of virginity? I encourage you to define sex as broadly as you want and not buy into the cultural construction of virginity.
Recommended: The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women

How often do most people masturbate?
It varies wildly from person to person, and how often just one person masturbates can vary depending on their energy level, desire, stress, opportunity, etc. There are some interesting stats you can check out. In general, I don’t think masturbation is ever a bad thing. Everyone should have a sexual relationship with themselves, and it’s a great way to figure out what you like.

I masturbate so much it’s turned into a chore; any tips for spicing it up?
Masturbation shouldn’t be a chore! But people can get into a repetitive rut. Don’t think of it merely as a quick way to get off, think of it as a date with yourself. Try changing positions, experimenting with new stimulation techniques, adding lube and a toy to the mix.

How long does it take to give a guy a blow job?
There is no set amount of time that it takes anyone to do anything sexual. If you’re giving the blow job, take charge of the situation and do it for as long as it feels good, for as long as you want to. If you get tired or overwhelmed, switch to using your hand or doing something else.
Recommended: The Expert Guide to Oral Sex 2: Fellatio

How long should a guy last during a blow job?
I hate to repeat myself, but: there is no set amount of time. Depending on the guy, the stimulation of oral sex could bring him to orgasm slowly, quickly, or not at all. Blow jobs do it for some people and not for others.

How nutritious is semen and how can I convince my girlfriend to swallow?
Semen has little to no nutritional value because you don’t ingest all that much of it. You don’t want to convince anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. You can share your desire with her and tell her why it turns you on, but ultimately, it’s her choice to swallow or not, and you’ve got to respect it. Also, swallowing semen is a riskier practice in terms of safer sex than not swallowing, and I am a fan of condoms for blow jobs.

How do you improve oral sex?
Since you didn’t specify, I’m going to make some statements that apply to all kinds of oral sex (cunnilingus, fellatio, and analingus), then give you some particulars. Enthusiasm, focus, tenacity, and paying attention to your partner’s body language are all good qualities to have when giving oral sex. Use your fingers and hands along with your mouth. For cunnilingus, experiment with different techniques using your lips, mouth, and tongue, and ask your partner to tell you what she likes (if she doesn’t know, explore and ask her to alert you when you’ve stumbled on something great). For fellatio, concentrate on the head and the sensitive frenulum on its underside (remember our anatomy lesson); experiment by applying different amounts of pressure with your mouth along the head and shaft. For analingus, use your tongue and lips to get into the folds of the sensitive anus.
Recommended: The Expert Guide to Oral Sex 1: Cunnilingus, The Expert Guide to Oral Sex 2: Fellatio, and The Expert Guide to Advanced Fellatio

I don’t think I enjoy sex at all. The picture of the vagina (in your presentation) made me squirm, and I have one. What can I do to be comfortable and enjoy the experience when my partner wants to have it?
First, this is a question I can’t answer with a pithy one minute (or three sentence) response. It was a line drawing, but an explicit one, of a vulva, and we are not used to looking at those images on the big screen or in public, so it can make some people uncomfortable for a number of reasons. But you said you don’t enjoy sex at all. Could you be asexual? If you have sexual desire, then it’s a matter of getting comfortable with your body and with sex. Do you masturbate? It all begins there, so I’d start with establishing a sexual relationship with yourself before you address sex with a partner.
Recommended: Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving

What is the best way to have sex in a long distance relationship?
I assume you mean when you and your partner are apart? Use technology to keep you connected. Dirty text messages, naughty instant messages, steamy emails, and Skype with mutual masturbation. I caution you against sending naked or sex pictures to each other, however, since we’ve seen all the trouble that can cause.

Got any good positions?
Each position has its pros and cons, and experimentation is key. If you like Missionary, try Flying Missionary where the person on their back puts their feet on their partner’s chest. If you like Cowgirl, try Froggie where the person on top balances on their feet. If you like Doggie Style, try Tailgate, where the receiver lies on their stomach and the penetrator then lies directly on top of them.

Do you have tips for using a toy to stimulate the G-spot?
Pick a curved toy like Pure Wand, and always aim the curve toward the front of the person’s body. Many G-spots respond to deliberate, firm pressure rather than gentle stroking, so don’t be afraid to apply pressure—just make sure your partner is aroused and ready before you do.
Recommended: The Secrets of Great G-Spot Orgasms and Female Ejaculation and The Big Book of Sex Toys

Does size matter?
The easy answer is no. People are way too wrapped up in penis size, when most folks want a compassionate, responsive lover more than a particular size. But I don’t want to deny that everyone has different tastes and turn ons, and some people do like penetration with big stuff. But that’s why God created dildos.

How do I get a vibrator and which kind do I get?
If possible, visit a sex-positive store like The Smitten Kitten, Good Vibrations, or Babeland. When you shop in person at stores like these, the toys are out of their packages, so you can see and feel them, feel the vibration, hear how quiet or loud they are, plus you benefit from the advice of experienced sex educators who work there. If that’s not possible, try one of their websites; they all have detailed product information and customer reviews.
Recommended: The Big Book of Sex Toys

I’m a girl. Do I need to shave my pubic hair before I have sex?
Your pubic hair is your business! It’s a matter of personal taste, just like how you cut and style your other hair. Some people let it grow, others trim it back, and others wax or shave some or all of it off.

As a female, how do you know if you’ve had an orgasm?
I want to say, “Oh you’ll know!” but I want to be more specific. Some of the physiological responses include: a feeling of release; muscle contractions of the uterus, vagina, and sphincter muscles; other muscle contractions and muscle tension throughout the body; involuntary muscle responses that cause you to make strange faces; and cramping of hands and feet. Talking to your peers about what their orgasms feel like is a great way to open up a conversation and hear from real people about their experiences.
Recommended: The Expert Guide to Female Orgasms and The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women: How to Become Orgasmic for a Lifetime

How long does it take a woman to climax?
There is no set amount of time, and I hesitate to even say there is an average amount of time. Women often put pressure on themselves about this (I hear all the time “It takes me a really long time,” or “It takes too long”). Concentrate on what’s going on and how it feels, and don’t think about the clock and how you measure up to it.

Do you have any suggestions for mixing things up during sex?
Lube. Sex toys. Role play. Analingus. New positions. Porn. Do anything except intercourse. Mutual masturbation.
Recommended: What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety

Do you poop when you have anal sex? How do you have “clean” anal sex?
When you have a bowel movement, feces stored in the colon pass through the rectum, down into the anal canal, and out the anus. The colon is the storage area, and the rectum and anal canal are pathways. If you have good bowel habits and plenty of fiber in your diet, then there should be very little fecal matter in the rectum and anal canal. When you play with fingers, a toy, or a penis, you’re not going beyond the rectum. Go to the bathroom before anal play. In addition, take a warm, soapy shower or bath before anal sex to make sure your genitals are clean. You can even slide a soapy finger into your anus. Always use the most mild soap you can—either a castile or pure glycerine. A trip to the bathroom and a shower will go a long way toward you having relatively clean anal penetration. I say “relatively clean” because I want you to be realistic. There are no guarantees in life, and some amount of fecal matter may be present in someone’s rectum. If you want to go the extra step to make sure you’re totally cleaned out, you can give yourself an enema beforehand.
Recommended: The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women

How safe is anal sex and how do I avoid anal fissures?
I always recommend that people use safer sex barriers if they are not currently tested and in a sexually monogamous relationship. You can transmit most sexually-transmitted infections (including gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, HPV, genital warts, herpes, and HIV) through unprotected anal sex, especially penis/ass intercourse. In addition, as I said in my presentation, the ass is made of delicate, sensitive tissue which is susceptible to small tears or anal fissures. The best way to protect against them: use gloves to make your fingers butt-friendly, use plenty of lube, focus on warm up and don’t rush penetration, and, as the receiver, listen to your body.
Recommended: The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women

Is it inappropriate to go up to someone and say, “Wanna fuck? Right here, right now?” (I’m female.)
I like people being direct about what they want. I appreciate shameless assertion of your desires. So I don’t think it’s inappropriate to speak your desires in the right context with potential lovers. But, that said, there are repercussions for women who speak openly about their sexual desire, so you’ve got to take those into account, knowing that reactions to your honesty will be mixed (see next question).

How can I, as a woman, express wanting to have sex without looking like a slut?
Just do it. Own it. Don’t let anyone shame you for your sexual desires, experience, or consensual behavior. And don’t shame other women for theirs. Don’t buy into our society’s double standards that applaud men for their sexual prowess and punish women for the very same behavior. (Easier said than done, I know.)
Recommended: He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know and What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety

How do we as a society combat false sex information like the “What Not To Do Guide to BDSM,” aka Fifty Shades of Grey?
You’re right, Fifty Shades of Grey is not an instruction manual, it’s a romance novel with some kink thrown in. But lots of people have read it and it’s opened up conversations about kinky sex, which is ultimately a good thing for society. If a friend mentions reading it or being inspired by it, be ready to let them know that it’s not a how-to and have recommendations for other resources that give solid information about BDSM.
Recommended: The Ultimate Guide to Kink and SM 101: A Realistic Introduction

I am really into bondage. How do I bring it up to a casual hookup without being scary and intense?
It’s all in the way you present it. Be direct and put it out there (“I want to tie you up” or “It would turn me on if you tied me up”) and make it clear that it’s a suggestion that your partner is welcome to embrace or turn down. If they agree, be prepared to give them information about safety before you start and always use a safeword.
Recommended: The Ultimate Guide to Kink and Midori’s Expert Guide to Sensual Bondage

How does a girl approach the idea of being a dominant with a guy?
Talk about roleplaying fantasies and see what kinds of scenarios you each come up with. Suggest some scenes where you play a dominant role and see what he says. Context is everything.
Recommended: The Ultimate Guide to Kink

Why do I have rape fantasies? It feels problematic.
Our fantasies often do not reflect our politics. Rape fantasies can be about exploring submission, masochism, surrender, objectification, control, and a slew of other dynamics. Although “rape” is the hot-button word in this question, the operative word here is fantasy. It’s a fantasy where you create the script, imagine the details, call the shots, and know how it ends—which is an entirely different thing than actual rape.
Recommended: Toybag Guide to Playing With Taboo and Mollena Williams’ two chapters in The Ultimate Guide to Kink

Any advice for a woman who wants to peg her man? Techniques, a particular toy, a particular position?
Pegging is strap-on anal sex where the woman is the giver and the man the receiver, and it can open up a whole new world of erotic exploration for couples. Great anal sex is all about the warm up. You’ve got to take your time, relish each sensation, and tease your partner into a frenzy before any serious penetration begins. As for toys, I love the Mistress dildo by Vixen Creations and any harness made by Aslan Leather.
Recommended: The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women and The Expert Guide to Pegging

What are your thoughts on tantra, sexual ecstasy and spirituality?
That’s a big question on a big topic. More and more people are getting interested in sacred sexuality, the intersection of sex and spirituality, sex magic, and Tantric sex. I want to refer you to two of the best, most accessible books on the subject: Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century and Tantra for Erotic Empowerment: The Key to Enriching Your Sexual Life.

How do you feel about porn, which often portrays false or fantastical situations? How realistic is porn? Is it misleading?
Well, it depends on the porn! Much of mainstream pornography portrays a fantasy and a performance, so there’s a lot of athletic positions, high energy and high libido, heightened reactions to stimulation, and earth shaking orgasms (both real and performed). You don’t often get to see honest communication, awkward moves, enough warm up before intercourse, a focus on other kinds of sex besides intercourse, partners being shy or quiet, stopping and starting, and much more. I like to portray more realistic sexual scenes in my films, where people verbally negotiate, ask for what they want, use lube and sex toys, focus on activities that turn them on rather than a “script” of how sex should unfold, get into positions that feel good for them, and allow enough arousal time and stimulation to allow female performers to have real orgasms. There are lots of feminists who make porn, and you may want to check out their films as well as films featuring real couples including Make Love Not Porn.
Recommended: The Feminist Porn Book

How can gender identity affect a sexual experience or a sexual relationship (even mentally)? How can we avoid gender identity becoming a point of contestation? We are both doms.
This question requires a longer answer, so I gave it its own Ask Tristan post.





Jan 152013

Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica
I am so thrilled to announce the release of the audio book version of my Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica. It’s available on Amazon and Audible (you can even listen to a sample at Audible). First, I am just excited that the audio book market has really exploded recently, and audio book versions of several of my books have already been produced, including Best Lesbian Erotica 2007, Best Lesbian Erotica 2009, Best of the Best Lesbian Erotica, Hot Lesbian Erotica, and Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships (and coming soon: Down and Dirty Sex Secrets!). I think erotica books make especially good material for audio (of course) and queer erotica is where I got my start so it’s close to my heart. But what makes this one extra special is that I co-produced and narrated it! That’s right, here’s your chance to hear more than 7 hours of me talking dirty to you, reading smutty stories by folks like S. Bear Bergman, Toni Amato, D. Alexandria, Peggy Munson, Sinclair Sexsmith, Elaine Miller, Amie M. Evans, Alison Smith, and more. You’ll hear tales of the new femme in town and the butch pastry chef, the cop who passes as a guy and picks up straight girls at hip hop clubs, porn-watching butches who can’t keep their hands off each other, a sexy game of hide and seek in the woods, what happens when a femme trolls the personals for a date, one girl’s revenge on sweet-talking butches, a threesome with a power couple, girl-on-girl lipstick smearing, poetic public sex and some particularly incendiary roleplay. The stories are filled with dominant Daddies, butches with swagger, fierce femmes, strippers and sex workers, longtime lovers, femme tops, and plenty more. I promise you: it’s a good time! My producer and engineer on this project is a superstar in his own right: Dylan Keefe. Dylan is part of the team of geniuses who work on public radio show Radiolab and the bass player for Marcy Playground, an awesome 90s band famous for the song “Sex and Candy.” Dylan and I had so much fun in the studio together recording this, and we hope to collaborate on more projects together. I hope you’ll check it out, tell your friends, and enjoy this porn for your ears!

Aug 152012

Artwork by Joe Newton for The Stranger

While Dan Savage was on vacation, the “Savage Love” Letter of the Day—a.k.a. SLLOTD—had to go on! So Dan asked three different guest columnists to field his readers’ questions while he’s away. I was the guest columnist August 13-17! You can read each of my questions and answers on the SLOG, along with readers’ comments which were diverse and very opinionated here:

August 13: Even Less Kinky Than Plain Vanilla, about incompatibility, kinkiness, and communication
August 14: Fetishes, Porn, Meatballs, and Eggs, about women’s fetishes, a gyno sex fantasy, and gossip
August 15: Hungover and Hurt, about a partner’s boundary violation (trigger warning)
August 16: Maybe I’m More Vanilla Than I Thought, about crossdressing, anal, and sexual compatibility
August 17: Less Face, More Fuck, about a new Dom/sub sex partner who’s avoiding intercourse

Jul 012012

Performer and activist Ignacio Rivera joins me this Friday, July 6th at 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET for a nuanced discussion about some highly charged subjects. Ignacio, who prefers the pronoun they, will talk about their gender identity and how it impacts their sexuality. We will discuss polyamory in people of color communities, race politics and racially-charged fantasies in the kink world, and how to create a truly inclusive, multi-racial community event. Then Ignacio will look at the challenges of their starring role in the feature film Mommy is Coming and reveal what it was like to work with acclaimed indie director Cheryl Dunye. This episode was recorded live during the OpenSF Conference in San Francisco and includes an audio excerpt of Ignacio’s co-keynote presentation with Yosenio Lewis.

Ignacio Rivera aka Papí Coxxx identifies as a Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit, polyamorous, kinky, Black-Boricua. Ignacio, who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun “they,” is a lecturer, activist, filmmaker, sex educator, sex worker, and performance artist, sharing spoken word, one-person shows, and storytelling internationally. Their work has appeared in ColorLines, Ebony, Yellow Medicine Review, The Ultimate Guide to Kink and in their chapbooks, Las Alas, co-authored by Maceo Cabrera Estévez; Ingridients; and Thoughts, Rants and What Some Might Call Poetry. Ignacio is the recipient of a Marsha A. Gómez Cultural Heritage Award from LLEGÓ: The National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Organization. Ignacio is one of the founding board members of Queers for Economic Justice; they are also the founder of Poly Patao Productions. Ignacio has been facilitating workshops, doing lectures and creating events for kinky, kinky-curious Queer/Trans POCs and their white queer and trans allies for over a decade.

Jun 192012

This week on Sex Out Loud we will be LIVE for the very first time, talking with author and activist Jaclyn Friedman. We want you to join in the conversation, so we’ll be hearing from listeners while on the air.  Call in & talk to us at 866-472-5788.

Writer, editor, performer, and activist Jacyln Friedman has been instrumental in presenting new ways of thinking about preventing rape without shaming or blaming women. In our first live show, we’ll discuss with her the success of her book, Yes Means Yes, as well as her latest release, What You Really Really Want. Jaclyn will talk about discovering what safe and shame-free sex means to us both as individuals and as a society, including stories of her own journey through feminist sex education to become “this generation’s version of Dr. Ruth.”

Jaclyn Friedman is a feminist evangelist, and the editor of the hit book Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape (one of Publishers’ Weekly’s Top 100 Books of 2009, and #11 on Ms. Magazine’s Top 100 Feminist Nonfiction of All Time list). Her new book, What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex & Safety, was recently named a finalist for ForeWord’s Book of the Year Award in Women’s Issues. Friedman is a popular speaker on campuses and at conferences across the U.S. and beyond. She has appeared on radio and TV including on the BBC’s World Have Your Say, Democracy Now, Q, and To The Contrary, and her commentary has appeared in outlets including CNN, The Washington Post, and The Nation. Friedman is the Executive Director of Women, Action & the Media, a national organization working for gender justice in media. She is also a charter member of CounterQuo, a coalition dedicated to challenging the ways we respond to sexual violence.

Jun 122012

My next guest on Sex Out Loud is author, performer, playwright, and gender theorist Kate Bornstein. Join us on Friday, June 15 at 5:00 pm Pacific time/8:00 pm Eastern time on the VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network when we’ll talk about her new memoir, her years as a high-ranking Scientologist working directly for L. Ron Hubbard, her transition, BDSM and kink, her time as a collared slave, the documentary being made about her, her own mental health and the struggles LGBT folks with mental health issues face. Plus, she’ll read one of the most provoactive sections from A Queer and Pleasant Danger.

Kate Bornstein is an author, playwright and performance artist whose latest book is her memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger. Other published works include the books Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us, My Gender Workbook, Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives To Suicide For Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws and the cyber-romance-action novel, Nearly Roadkill with co-author Caitlin Sullivan. Kate’s plays and performance pieces include Strangers in Paradox, Hidden: A Gender, The Opposite Sex Is Neither, Virtually Yours, and y2kate: gender virus 2000.

Kate’s books are taught in over 120 colleges and universities around the world; and she has performed her work live on college campuses, and in theaters and performance spaces across the USA, as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Austria. Kate is currently touring colleges, youth conferences and high schools, speaking, leading workshops, and performing. Follow her on Twitter @KateBornstein.