Exposing40

Friends. Photography. Adventure.

Category: Writing (page 1 of 7)

The night I got locked in a nightclub!

This short and ridiculous story has been prompted by The Other Livvy’s other blog, @sexlovevideo. If you’re not following it already then you really should: every Sunday evening she posts an in-depth analysis of a movie, rating it on how sex positive it is, whether she’d want to watch it again, the fuckability of the cast, whether it inspires fantasies and whether it passes the Bechdel Test. This week it’s the turn of clanger What Women Want, a truly dreadful film – do go and read Liv’s take down of it.

I was on a round the world trip when this film came out and I and the two friends I was travelling with watched it on a flight to Australia. We laughed our way through it in disbelief and horror but the final straw in our incredulous hooting was at the end when Mel Gibson (spoiler!) gets his woman: they kiss in a dramatic lobby and the camera pans out to show her with one foot in the air. We lost it. WHO KISSES WITH ONE FOOT IN THE AIR?!

We were still cackling about it when we bonded with a group of women in a hostel, some of who I’m still friends with now and who’ve taken one or two photos on this blog. We (probably under the influence of too much white wine) decided that our mission was to get a photo of one of us snogging a man with one foot in the air. It was the start of a ridiculous list of photo challenges we set ourselves, including photobombing wedding photos on Sydney harbour and sneaking photos of men on the nude beach (forgive our poor awareness of consent – we were young and stupid and know much better now!).

Anyway, the opportunity for the leg in the air photo came a few weeks later when we went to one of Sydney’s less salubrious night clubs for a school disco. A chap starting making the moves on me on the dance floor and my friends were quickly egging me on to get the photo. When the bloke snogged me I’m not quite sure what he made of all my friends roaring with laughter and snapping away. Anyway, as it happens he was pretty hot and a great snog and it wasn’t long before we were sneaking off to a hidden store room. A store room that was dark and had a mattresses. It was funny and pretty hot and after he nipped out for condoms some more than passable sex ensued. Given we were drunk and in a manky storeroom it’s remarkable there were any orgasms but there was. Then on the ‘comfort’ of the mattress we slipped into a deep slumber. Which is how we found ourselves sneaking out of the fire exit of a closed and quiet nightclub at 6am on a Sunday morning and wandering through the streets of Sydney dressed as a school girl and school boy.

I’m not sure who has those photos these days so I can’t share one, but the leg in the air game continued so please enjoy this photo of me kissing Toadie from Neighbours.

Footnote: the nightclub later featured on an expose of the sex lives of backpackers in Sydney. I did not feature but I now have a good idea of how many other people may have used that mattress!

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Friendly Concern

Last week I was having dinner with three other women. Not close friends but a group of ex colleagues who I meet up with once every 12 – 18 months. The conversation takes the usual twists and turns of people who’ve known each other for years but see each other rarely. The dynamic of colleague friendships fascinates me; for the period you work together you spend more waking hours with each other than you do your family, friends and partners, you see each other at your best and worst, you spend long evenings in the pub analysing crises and internal politics and then poof! – just like that jobs change and you’re down to a couple of hours every year or so.  Anyway, the conversation went the usual way – asking each other about work, holidays, children, nieces and nephews, common acquaintances.

Then the searching “Sooo, how are the love lives then?” directed at me and one other single woman with the hungry gazes of two women who have been married for years and want you to give them something new and exciting to pore over. As I have written previously, I am increasingly open about my relationships with those closest to me and who I see regularly. Not so much with ex colleagues who I see rarely and whose response I couldn’t necessarily predict. But last week I had one of my ‘fuck it’ moments and I found myself talking more freely and honestly than usual.

The response? Well, one woman exclaimed: “Oh my God, I need another drink!” and promptly ordered a large glass of Rioja. There was surprise, there was fascination, there were some sensible and some annoying questions and there was (happily) very little judgement. But there was also concern. Was I definitely OK with this? Am I being treated OK? Is it what I actually want? Does my partner’s wife know? Is she OK with this? Have I ever met her? Do I like her? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! What I realised was that while there was little judgement of me the tone of the concerned questioning was loaded with judgement about my partner.

At the time I calmly answered all their questions, reveling slightly in the fact that I’d sent a little shock wave through our pleasant but pedestrian evening. Yes, it suits me really well. Yes, I get many of the nice bits of a long term relationship but with none of the compromise of family Christmases and blended lives. No, I definitely don’t want to ever live with anyone again. Yes, I know her and I was at their wedding (that tit bit always shocks the listener and delights me). I’m off on a gallery day with her and another friend next week actually. Without the bloke? Yes, he doesn’t need to chaperone us.

But on the way home I started thinking about their line of questioning and how frequently people default assume that non-monogamy is something that is done to women by men and that it is something that women put up with because they have to. I started reflecting on other occasions where I have had this assumption projected on me. My best friend: “But you are so sensitive I just worry that you are going to get hurt.” Me: “But the things that hurt me are things that could happen regardless of whether a relationship is non-monogamous or not.” Exhibit A, The Other Livvy and me at an event in my local bookshop discussing a book called Is Monogamy Dead? and a woman asking EA rather aggressively “But what would you think if they had other partners?” and the surprise in the room when I piped up “I do have another partner.”

That last one always causes surprise. People outside of this community never expect me to have other partners. Even if they can just about get their head round the fact that I have an established and happy relationship that will never be more than it is, with a man who is married to someone else, and that is enough for me and fine with everyone involved, then introducing the notion that I have other people in my life just about makes them fall off their perch. My Mum, who now always asks about Baby M, never asks me if I’ve been on any other dates or after other partners who I may have mentioned. It’s like that is a bridge too far.

The more I thought about it the more I found myself getting annoyed by the narrative that non-monogamy and polyamory are things owned by men and accepted by women and that men will be the ones with multiple partners while the woman stays happy with just the one. Even if my friends or a stranger in a bookshop weren’t explicitly acknowledging that assumption it was there in the way they asked their questions. When I mused this point on Twitter last week @kinkynerdy rightly pointed out that the assumed status quo makes no allowance for poly lesbians, for example.

Interestingly, much of my experience with non-monogamous men suggests something contrary to the assumed norm. When I think about the significant men I have met since I joined OKC in 2013 – not the brief flings or one off sex dates, but the ones that turned into something more – I note that four of them opened up their relationships as a result of their wife or primary partner having an affair. Now, I am not advocating this approach to opening up a relationship – all of them came with a fuckton of baggage – but unless I exist in some microclimate or have unique appeal to men who have been cheated on then this wafer thin data suggests that there are many women open to shirking a one penis policy!

The thing that bothers me most about the common narrative is that it is taking away women’s agency in non-monogamy. It is suggesting that women may be passively accepting something that is somehow second best. Do people really look at me and my life and my business and my travel habits and see a woman who is ‘settling’ for a life because that’s all she can get? Do they think I am lying when I say that I don’t want more than I have? I also hate the way it pitches women against each other. The subtext of people’s questions can be that women who are in a relationship with the same man see each other as enemies or a threat when in reality we are connected through a shared affection. There is deep joy and camaraderie in sharing a small joke or knowing smile about a mutual partner’s habit. I have written a letter to a woman I have never met who lives 4000 miles away, expressing sympathy for a terrible event, not because I had to but because it seemed inconceivable not to extend a kind word to the wife of someone who meant something to me. For me, one of the greatest joys of non-monogamy has been discovering a completely new kind of friendship and respect that can exist between women.

That non-monogamous relationships are becoming more accessible through dating apps and normalised through mainstream media delights me. Six years ago I didn’t even really know what non-monogamy meant; now my mother asks after my partner’s five-month-old. I once worried there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to settle down, now I have meaningful relationships that nourish me without stifling me. Sex is back in my life. That people might look at everything I have and somehow think I am being short changed distresses me. Did I spend my thirties explaining that ‘no, I don’t want children and I am happy to not be married’ only to have to spend my forties explaining that “yes, non-monogamy really works for me, I am very happy’. Must women always have to justify their choices?

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Sometimes coming joint second

The last few months haven’t been easy. I have spent it getting over an ex. And it’s not even my own ex, it’s a partner’s ex. In fact, getting over this has proved more problematic than getting over some of my own exes – I have an enviable degree of ease in moving on from my own dead affairs of the heart; I tend to shrug them off with an ‘Ah, that was fun’ and no backwards glance.

To be honest, it wasn’t the break-up that upset me, it was the entire existence of this person in my partner’s life, albeit only for a few months, and so I am not really getting over the break-up, I am getting over the relationship. And with that it has thrown up a whole lot of questions for me about how good a partner I have been. Spoiler: I have been a bit of a shit. Why I am writing this now? As part of my own healing process, really, and to draw a hard red line under a difficult period. And because this week’s WW prompt is tantrums and I have had too many tantrums for any self-respecting 44-year-old in the last six months!

But really, it was this tweet from Nooky Semper, asking about the difference between jealousy and insecurity that really got me processing my thoughts and crafting sentences in the shower. Was it jealousy that made me so unhappy? No I don’t think so. I don’t ever really experience the debilitating grip of the ‘green-eyed monster’ and I never wonder or worry about what partners are doing when they are not with me. The voyeur in me delights in hearing about their sex adventures and I will happily host posts written by partners and by hot-damn-why-don’t-you-live-closer men about their wives.

What I do have is a sometimes debilitating degree of insecurity that can leave me ludicrously anxious. Without information and reassurance I display many of the erratic (and distasteful!) behaviours associated with jealousy. So maybe Nooky is right – maybe it is a fine line between insecurity and jealousy. On reflection, I think what shook me so much last summer was the surprise of it all. I chatter away to my partner about who I am swiping on and who is sliding into my DMs but he’s not quite so loose-lipped as me so when I realised there was someone more significant in his circle it gave me a profound wobble. He didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t lie. I just didn’t have the information and reassurance I needed to feel secure and when I worked things out for myself the insecurity was already doing its worst. Last summer was a bit of perfect storm for me anyway – I had a huge ‘don’t come home again’ row with my Dad about Brexit, my business was not in a good place and I was already working through in my head the other changes that would occur in our relationship in a few months’ time. I was low on bandwidth to cope with curveballs.

I am also ‘blessed’ with off the scale status anxiety and while I still have no desire to have a primary partner I have realised that the possibility that I might be joint second does not fit at all well with my vision of myself in a hierarchy. My partner has pointed out that while I relish hierarchy it doesn’t mean he does and of course that is fair but I found myself thinking all the not-good-poly thoughts that I might not be good enough, that he’s gone off me. He reasonably and rightly pointed out that I manage to accommodate two or three ‘partner light’ arrangements without it affecting my feelings for him and of course he is right.

For me the hardest part was that I didn’t like her. I am used to thinking the other women in his life are magnificent, talented, hilarious, sensational women but I didn’t feel that about her. I found her opinions challenging and her comments about weight hugely upsetting and some of her attitudes to relationships jarred with my outlook. And I did not cope or behave well in the face of this adversity! In fact, I became a bit of a monster. In public I wrote thoughtful comment pieces but in private I had spiteful WhatsApp tantrums. I am lucky probably that I have a partner who has both patience and a remarkable ability to just ignore you rather than judge you when you’re being a harridan!

It’s at this point I feel the need to give @19syllables a cameo; last week when I was pondering what you call a partner’s partner if metamour seems highly inappropriate to the situation. “Step Fuck” she quipped. Now, being in possession of a lovely stepmum I don’t go in for the ‘evil step…’ trope but we guffawed so loudly at her joke I think we disturbed the sewer rats under the pavement where we were drinking coffee! I think Step Fuck is a perfectly glorious flipside to metamour!

So, here we are months later. I can’t deny that when it ended I was relieved. I am not a total cow – I was also a little sad for him when that happened because I could see he was sad – but my instinctive response was ‘Oh, thank God, we can get back to normal now’. Although of course, that was easier said than done because his new normal meant there was no time for us to re-establish our balance and contentment levels before an entirely welcome and glorious hiatus was upon us.

But now spring has sprung and we are slipping back into routines of writing geeky lists, long evenings at my dining table and cheeky photo adventures. I can feel my shoulders relaxing and my sense of calm returning. And the best thing to come out of it has been acknowledging my desire to dig in and survive the trouble. My default is usually to up sticks at the first sign of properly hard work but I found that I didn’t want to. There is too much wine to be drunk, recipes to road test, long lunches with mutual friends to enjoy and adventures to have. It’s nice to feel that way. Winter has gone!

And I think we have a new found appreciation of expectations and boundaries. I am certain he is much more aware of what I need to know to stay secure and I most definitely learned how not to react. I trust him to be more open with me next time and I hope he trusts me to be less wedded to a meaningless hierarchy. Because there will be new partners in the future, for both of us, and I must remember what he said: “It was something and now it’s not. It didn’t affect how I felt about you when it was something and it doesn’t now it’s not.”

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

“If in doubt take a photo of your arse”

The Wicked Wednesday mentor prompt feels like as good a reason as any to get my arse into gear to write up my Eroticon talk. I have been (and am) a mentor to many in a professional capacity but I didn’t imagine my little hobby blog would result in me becoming one within this community. But iof Ros’s awesome photo from the closing hours of Eroticon weekend and JenetalTorture’s stunning Sinful Sunday this weekend are anything to go by, maybe I am here too!

The title of my talk was Nude photography and its role in personal power and self-esteem. I split my talk into two sections: the first half was a brief look at some photographers who’ve used nude photography to powerful effect and the second looked at some of my own techniques for helping me and those I photograph feel fabulous. This post was going to be developed into a longer one so it had some of my ‘talking’ bit to bring the slides to life for those who weren’t there but I ran out of time! So here are the slides flying solo…

nude-photography-and-its-role-in-personal-power.pdf

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Eroticon Meet and Greet

NAME (and Twitter if you have one)

Exposing40 will be on my badge but you can call me Catherine! Find me on Twitter at @Exposing40.

Tell us 3 things you are most looking forward to at Eroticon 2019

1) Having the delightful Tabitha Rayne back in the house. Our after hours PJ parties are often the highlight of Eroticon for me! Especially if we Skype in Maria from the US! But catching up with everyone will be a joy!

2) Being there all weekend. Last year I could only make the Sunday sessions but this year I can make both days and I’m looking forward to the buzz of day one! I am especially looking forward to hearing Franki, Eleanor and Zebra’s sessions on the Saturday and Florence’s on Sunday.

3) Me! I’m running a session on Sunday morning – it’s the first of the day so I promise it won’t be taxing! I’ve plumped for an interesting and inspiring (I hope!) walk through the work of some amazing photographers from within and outside our own community who used/use nude photography to great effect and I’ll include a look at some of my photos that have helped people deal with self-esteem issues.

We are creating a play list of songs for the Friday Night Meet and Greet. Nominate one song that you would like us to add to the play list and tell us why you picked that song.

Continuing on from last year’s Pulp choice, here’s another number from them. Sheffield: Sex City.

What is your favorite item or book you’ve purchased so far this year?

The only tangible thing I’ve purchased for myself other than a couple of pairs of nondescript linen trousers for a work trip is this door stop! I had one before but the moths ate it. The maker names them all and asked me if I wanted to choose the name. I said no and told her to choose the name. She named her Martha, which for obvious reasons amused me a lot when I opened it. But that’s not my favourite thing. My favourite thing to purchase is experiences (so, flights and tickets basically!) and the adventure I’m most looking forward to this year is Tel Aviv and Petra in September.

You can have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what is it? Sushi? Scotch Tape?

Time! Kind of a cheat as the rest of my life is also time…but if I could just have more time in the time I have left it would make life so much easier!

What is your favourite quote from a movie?

What self-respecting person of a certain age would not deal up a Withnail & I quote at this point?! But which to choose…

…but this is probably my worst nightmare…

What is your word suggestion for next year’s Eroticon anthology?

Joy (copied from two other meet and greets but it’s one of my favourite words so happy to back it!)

Complete the sentence:

I feel…

…dizzy! I haven’t been able to stand up properly without holding on to something since Thursday evening’! And related, I feel a bit sorry for myself. I never get sick but I am bonafide properly sick and it’s horrible. I’m not good at slowing down but I’ve had to leave work be, my presentation for Sunday still needs finishing and I’ve cancelled an evening with my bestie who’s in town from Wales today and a date night with EA tomorrow. If I’m not better by the weekend I am going to have a proper cats bottom mouth on me!

Eroticon 2019 Attending

Language Matters

“She had a shotgun wedding.”

“She’s living in sin.”

“She’s just his bit on the side.”

One late September Saturday in 1983 around 100 of my grandparents’ friends and family gathered for a 50th wedding anniversary party that my Mum and her siblings had organised. It remained a surprise until the Friday afternoon when my Aunt told my Nan that there was a hair appointment booked for her on the following morning. On hearing the news my Nan broke her heart crying and revealed a secret that she’d kept for 49 years. You see, they hadn’t married in 1933, they’d married in 1934, just six months before their eldest child was born. For almost half a century my grandparents had been lying to their children and friends, hiding the shame of their ‘shotgun wedding.’ In the face of this very public celebration the mask finally crumbled and my Nan confessed that we were celebrating a year early. But she swore that Aunt to secrecy and the rest of her children only found out five years later when their parents died within a few months of each other.

Almost 80 years to the day after that 1934 wedding I was sat in my local pub chatting to a then partner about the news that had come out of his country that day; America’s Supreme Court had allowed same sex marriages to stand in five states meaning for the first time more Americans lived in states where these unions were legal than not. That evening he stated his view that “non monogamy is going to be the next relationship structure to come into the spotlight and upset the status quo.”What makes you say that?” I asked. He argued that people have always gossiped about and judged other people’s relationships and that as each one becomes more socially acceptable (and disparaging the people in them becomes less acceptable) it paves the way for something new to bear the brunt of judgment. “Think about it,” he said. “Having a child out of wedlock used to be the worse thing that could happen, but imagine calling a child a bastard now? And living in sin – you’d never say that these days.” His view was the legalisation of same sex marriage marriage would mean another paradigm shift and the door was now open for non-monogamous couples to out themselves and ‘enjoy’ a period of being the object of fascination and fear.

I can’t really decide whether he was incredibly astute or over simplifying things and bloody lucky in the timing of his statement, but it’s undeniable that in the last five years ethical non-monogamy and polyamory has been enjoying its moment in the spotlight. There’s an increasing amount of coverage in the mainstream media, some of the most popular dating apps have introduced the opportunity to declare your non-monogamous status and more people are coming out about their relationship structures to family and friends. And, as he predicted, there’s backlash.

While it would seem inconceivable in 2019 to make asides about ‘shotgun weddings’ or ‘living in sin’, comments like ‘she’s his bit on the side’ still prevail and they carry the same weight of casual thoughtless judgement. I read something recently where someone talked about poly men “pretending to be enlightened and sex-positive and forward-thinking when really it’s just them wanting to stick their dicks into as many women as possible.” A couple of weeks ago LoveLustLondon tweeted an OKC comment where someone’s blanket message to non-monogamous folk was “don’t even think about messaging me and good luck catching an STD.” Comments like these are not prejudiced on the scale of homophobia or racism, but they are prejudiced nonetheless and can be deeply hurtful to non-monogamous people. And they are lazy. People who make them are invariably lashing out and making no effort to understand or respect the dynamic and hard work that goes into successful open relationships.

Of course, there are some people who are using the increasing profile of non-monogamy and tick boxes on apps to behave in an entirely unethical way. Tech can facilitate in a far more efficient way the same poor behaviour that drunk Saturday nights with mates or late nights at the office used to pave the way for. Humans have always and will always behave like arseholes sometimes. A while back a few of us got involved in a Twitter chat defending poly in light of someone claiming that it’s being evangelised. Exhibit A said at the time: “The pseudo-poly guys and opportunists on dating apps are assholes, but ‘it seems to be all over the media and it’s the evangelical ones who shout loudest’ is exactly what people used to say about homosexuality: “why do they need to shove it down our throats, etc”.
To extrapolate the point Exhibit A made, to those people who make snide comments about poly being trendy or poly people just wanting to fuck everything that walks, I would suggest they replace poly with ‘gay people’ and check whether their comments stand up to scrutiny. If your comments are stigmatising someone and how they are honestly and consensually living their life then you may want to interrogate your attitude rather than their lifestyle.

Last weekend, knowing this post was in the pipeline, I asked Twitter what their experiences were. I could have written this post just sharing people’s responses. I think the one that made me saddest was The Curious Mermaid who said: “The more I read of these tweets, the more I feel that I’m right to still be in the closet about non-mon as far as work acquaintances and parents are concerned.” I hope in time it becomes as acceptable to talk about your different partners without raising eyebrows as it is to now say you’re moving in with someone. I’m unlikely to ever experience the half a century of shame that my Nan did when she became pregnant with her first child, but I also look forward to the day when describing me as someone’s ‘bit on the side’ becomes as unlikely and unacceptable as discussing that someone is living in sin.

This was meant to be posted in time for the fear prompt last week but time ran away with me. Here it is a week late!

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Lutz Wanking, a fantasy.

“Don’t stop.”

“What?”

“Don’t stop,” I repeat, sitting back on heels and dropping my camera to my lap for moment.

It’s a warm spring day and we’ve been walking in the woods for a couple of hours, chatting aimlessly while also keeping an eye out for hidden spots away from the main path. We’ve found one. Our usual drill follows – I test a couple of frames and angles while you undress. Moving into position you reach down and give your cock a couple of swift strokes. You’ve no intention of getting yourself hard, it’s just part of what you do to get camera ready. It always makes my cunt pulse. I usually ignore how damn hot it is and just focus on getting the shot, but today I don’t want to.

I’m on my knees, ready to get the angle I wanted for my photo and looking up at you against the trees has brought the image of Lutz Wanking to mind. It’s no secret that Tillmans is one of my favourite photographers (I’ve used his work as inspiration before, after all) but the Lutz Wanking shot is just everything. A naked man, wanking for the camera, in the woods. It’s got me written all over it.

“I want you to wank. Here. In the woods. For my camera.”

Your expression is a mixture of disbelief and mild discomfort. An exhibitionist you may be but there’s a difference between the risk of being caught naked and apologetically passing it off as an art project and being caught wanking. For a moment I think you’re going to refuse but you hold my gaze, spit in your palm and move your hand back to your cock. Your jaw is set and you look almost annoyed by the situation but as your cock hardens your face softens.

I watch. I watch as your body relaxes into the pleasure. I see your knees sag slightly and your eyes close as you tilt your head back and lean against the tree. I take in the sheen across your chest and the colour rising in your neck. Your rhythm changes and I clench my cunt in time to the brief pauses in the short staccato pumps of your hand.

As the grunts rise from your chest I raise my camera to my face and capture the shot I’ve fantasised about.

In the small hours of Sunday morning, sleepless in a hot mosquito ridden room in Nairobi, playing this scene in my head resulted in a deliciously intense orgasm. A few hours later I read this week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt. It seemed too much of a coincidence to not share this fantasy with you. I hope to make my tribute photograph a reality soon though!

 

Lutz Wanking, Wolfgang Tillmans, 1991
Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

The Long Shadow

Me: I still have ‘big scary post’ on my list.

EA: You really need to just write that

Me: I’m basically never going to write that post, am I? Not unless there’s some celibacy prompt on Wicked Wednesday or something that I won’t be able to ignore.

EA: Smirks.

I periodically like to brainstorm blog ideas with Exhibit A and it’s often successful, but this time it came back to bite me on the bum. By the time we’d finished dinner Marie had emailed him to confirm that celibacy was now on the list of future prompts. Stitch up. Possibly. But the fact is this blog is four years old next month and I’ve had ‘big scary post’ on my list of things to write for almost as long. So why have I taken nearly four years to write this and why, when I sat down on Monday evening to write it, did I almost sabotage it by purposely letting myself get upset by something entirely unrelated? How exactly did it come to be called ‘big scary post’ anyway?

If I’m honest I think it’s because I was (am?) ashamed. Ashamed and embarrassed to write about a period of my life where I didn’t have sex for five years. Then, after that drought was broken, went on to only have a handful of flings over the following few years. Nine years where I could, if I thought about it for not too long, probably remember every occasion that I had sex. There is no reason to feel ashamed about this, I had done nothing wrong. Thankfully, there was no distressing reason for it either – no abusive relationship in my past and I wasn’t harbouring an unrequited love or nursing heartbreak. I wasn’t being unnecessarily unkind so that karma got me (sorry, but I totally believe in karma!) and I didn’t have sex on a pedestal. I was just a normal late twenties woman who’d had a couple of infatuations, a small love, a big love and a good amount of fun casual sex during the ‘Camden party days’. That my sex life dried up was entirely circumstantial.

First off, marriage and babies happened. Not for but me but for all the people I used to party with. There is a period during your late twenties and early thirties where you are on a merry-go-round of hen dos, weddings and new baby celebrations. The life that you knew momentarily becomes hijacked by celebrations of other people’s milestones. Of course, this is wonderful, but if you’re not on that path you emerge slightly bewildered that your own life has ‘settled down’ against your will and with you as a solo player. For a while, if you want to stay close to your oldest friends you swap stumbling home at 3am with tales to tell for a bottle of wine on their sofa and interrupted conversation. (Spoiler: the storm passes and before you know it they’ll be up for stumbling home at 3am again and if you’re really lucky you’ll have some new friends in the shape of their children.)

I also chose that time to start working in a sector with a higher than average proportion of women and gay men. My now business partner (who I met at work) was the only man in a department of 30 women. My (gay male) desk mate once looked up at the huge open plan office and said “do you know, we can only see seven men from our desk and they’re all gay.” I wasn’t likely to meet a string of suitors for casual affairs at work!

“What about online dating?” I hear you cry. Mmm. I refer you to the age rings in my trunk and ask you to count the years backwards! Online dating was fledgling back then. I joined Dating Direct and Guardian Soulmates and every so often I half-heartedly went on a dates but those sites largely filled me with doom. The fundamental flaw with them was they assumed that everyone was looking for ‘the one’ and people behaved accordingly. Namely, in a tedious this-is-how-a-first-date-should-be-done way. If that wasn’t your bag there weren’t really any options 15 years ago. I still remember the straw that broke the camel’s back. I spotted a hot bloke on Soulmates and clicked on his profile. “I wake up to Radio 4 and go to sleep to Radio 6”. Really? REALLY? Your opener is going to be that self-conscious? I didn’t hang around to read the rest but I am sure if I had got to sentence three I would have discovered that on a Saturday evening he liked to curl up with a bottle of red wine and a DVD.
Apps for hooking up and sites where you could be more nuanced in your preferences were way in the future. In hindsight, I am sure there were numerous like-minded men who would have been more than happy with the kind of relationship that I now know suits me but those conversations were not happening in the early noughties. At 30 the idea that I would one day use apps to seek out men who were specifically looking for a secondary partner rather than ‘the one’, or couples looking for a regular play partner would have been inconceivable. That tech did not yet exist and my social life had shrunk to nights in with mates and nights out after work with colleagues and I just slipped into a place of acceptance that sex wasn’t part of my life.

So, if I can objectively look at the personal, professional and tech environment that I was operating in and recognise the circumstantial nature of my celibacy, why do I still feel shame about it? And why was it a ‘big scary post’ for so long? I think it was scary because however much I can rationalise why it happened there is still a part of me that sees it as a reflection on me. I am embarrassed that I accepted without much of a fight the loss of something so important and fun. And I worry that all the rational reasons I use to explain why it happened are just hot air. That actually it might be that I just wasn’t hot and that people didn’t fancy me. That thought casts the longest shadow.

There is much about my physical self that I love. I love my height, my legs, my arse, my hair and my face does a very good job of reflecting who I am on the inside. I don’t like my belly or my tits but generally as a whole package I can live with what I’ve got. But I don’t really believe I am hot. And that lack of confidence in my physical appeal bleeds into sexual confidence. I equate being good at sex with being physically appealing and as long as I don’t really believe I am physically appealing I don’t really believe I am good at sex. I should say at this point that I think I suck cock like a boss and I have awesome partners who work hard to reassure me that I am hot and good and that I should just shut the fuck up about all of this, but the voices in our head linger.

So what changed? How did I emerge from a sex-free decade to the life I have now? At 36 I became self-employed. I joined a host of freelance networking groups and bobbed about all over London meeting new people. Overnight I had new circles of friends, all in the mid-thirties to late forties ball park and virtually all of them committed to nurturing just one baby – their business. I had a found a new tribe and they shared my priorities. Within months I was having a fling with a fellow freelancer. Then in early 2012 I was on a contract where idle lunchtime chat with a fellow consultant led to her saying, “You haven’t heard of OKC? Oh my God – it’s amazing! I am having so much sex!” And the rest as they say is history. There I have met many more like-minded people, one of whom led me to this tribe.
The app can get a bad rap and people can be inappropriate but I don’t really see a whole lot of difference between a drunk bloke in the pub pinching my arse and saying my dress would look better on his bedroom floor (hello North Wales circa 1995!) and someone being suggestive in an app. They’re certainly easier to mute in an app than the pub! I think of OKC as being like the flirty parties and pubs of my twenties. I don’t give a fuck what radio station you listen to and I like watching movies on my own. Some flirting and some suggestive chat as a gateway to some drinking and fucking suits me fine. Would I have had the wilderness years that I did had something like OKC existed in 2003? Probably not. Am I bitter that it didn’t exist 15 years ago? Hell yes!

So now I am in the happy place that I am – with one regular partner who I value deeply and other more casual affairs that come in and out of my life according to how my diary is dictated by my business (roll on April when work quietens down for six months and I’ll be looking for this year’s spring/summer flings!) – I have finally written this post. How do I feel? Relieved to be honest. That period of my life sometimes makes me feel a bit of fraud in this community and, like I said, the long shadow affects my self-confidence at times when I feel more vulnerable. But something I have learnt here over the last four years is that almost every time I have worn my heart on my sleeve someone has popped up to echo my sentiments or to express relief that they are not alone. Part of what makes this community strong is how honest people are and how giving they are of their own experiences in supporting others. It’s kind of a relief to look at this secret, take a deep breath and chuck it in the fuck it bucket.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

After the Flood (reprise)

Today is day three of my period. I’m not wearing a tampon. I didn’t wear one on day one or two either. In fact, I haven’t worn a tampon for months, maybe even more than a year. These days my periods are so light that I only know they’re here by a very slight colouring of the loo roll. In fact, earlier today, knowing I was going to write this, I giggled when I wiped my hands and the juice from a blood orange left more of a mark on a tissue than an earlier bathroom visit had.

Things used to be very different. I used to plan my work diary to avoid leaving the house on day three of my period. If day three fell at the weekend and I was away I would take my own towels to wrap around me like a nappy in case I ruined a friend’s mattress. Dates, nights out, exercise – all of them would be embargoed if it was day three. Day three was when the floodgates opened. Literally.

Then in summer 2016 a pub conversation with Livvy set in place a chain of events that led me, five months later, to surgery. Nothing serious – just a simple 15 minute procedure to remove what turned out to be “a multitude” of polyps and insert a Mirena Coil to stop them coming back again. Today, I would delight in answering the white trouser question very differently!

Had that conversation not happened would I still be on that frankly horrible monthly rollercoaster, living in fear of public embarrassment? Or would I have eventually taken myself to the doctors of my own volition? I’d like to think the latter, but who knows; I was already putting up with ridiculous levels of inconvenience and had made it my normal. And too many women do this. One of the reasons I’m so glad to see Sub Bee’s new meme, Menstruation Matters is because it provides a place where we can all share our stories and experiences and where we think someone might need a gentle nudge to seek help or just a friendly word, we can help.

So is it all a bed of roses now? Not exactly, but it’s nothing I can’t deal with. Although my monthly bleeding is nothing more than mild spotting now, other things have changed. I rarely (ok – sorry – never!) had period pain but now I get very definite cramping. I’d hesitate it to call it real pain but because I’ve never experienced cramps before I do get a bit cats bottom mouth about them, especially as I cramp but don’t bleed. The most problematic change is emotional. When I was talking to friend around the time of the op and told her I was going for the Mirena Coil she replied: “ah, PMS to FMS!” I pressed her on this. Apparently FMS is fat miserable and spotty. These were the side effects she’d read about when she was researching her own procedure. Fat we’ll come back to. Spotty – I have been annoyingly fortunate on that front all my life. But oh my, miserable? Yes!

I’m not talking ongoing constant malaise but as regular as clockwork a few days before my ghost period arrives I get truly distressed about things. In the old days I’d get all ranty and cross, now I just get really really upset with someone-is-pouring-a-watering-can-down-my-face level of tears. It’s mildly annoying but unlike the hormonal swings of my twenties, when the pill didn’t agree with me, I feel more robust when it comes to coping with these dips. They just happen. It just is. It lasts 24 or 48 hours and then it passes. What I find most fascinating is they’re never irrational tears. When I used to get angry and rant, that was often about stupid pointless things of no consequence or out of my control and afterwards I would feel stupid. Now, I find myself intensely upset about things that I may have been trying to push under the surface for the rest of the month and then – boom! – in the same way a hot flannel will bring a spot to the surface and make it easier to pop, my cycle brings all that emotion up and out. It took a while to cotton onto my new patterns but now I have I am more prepared for them and I examine more closely what that emotional purge is telling me.

And then the fat thing. The official paperwork says fewer than 5% of women experience weight gain, although 5% of the number of women who have one fitted is probably a lot of women. I have put on a fairly significant amount of weight in the two years since the op. But I would be really really disinclined to say that’s coil-related, it’s almost certainly life-style related. Many people talk about ‘eat less, move more’ as a method of losing weight. I generally gleefully subscribe to the ‘eat loads, move loads’ method of making sure my clothes continue to fit! I’m lucky enough to usually enjoy good physical health and I love exercise so this isn’t usually a problem but a stupid accident on a bus last spring left my knee in a sorry state and seen me in and out of X-ray rooms and MRI pods. Of course, I haven’t tempered my eating or drinking to match my reduction in exercise – if anything I’ve done more of both in response to work stress. In short, I’m 99% sure consumption and lack of movement is the cause of my weight gain and that in time normal service will resume. However, if someone was to say to me it is all because of the coil, would I have it removed so my favourite clothes fitted again? No bloody way. Excuse the pun! I never want to find myself hiding in a graveyard washing my legs or cleaning my carpets at 3am again.

So that’s my before and after! If you’re experiencing periods that are disrupting your life, don’t be like me and wait years to get it sorted – book an appointment with your GP right now!

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked
Menstruation Matters

40 over 40

So, this list was born out of a ‘for fuck’s sake’ moment, which if truth be told is the starting point for many of my posts! Earlier this year I read an article about ’40 under 40′ and tweeted that I might just make a ’40 over 40′ list! Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s important to celebrate young talent and I know that most of the lists in professional journals are just PR guff, but it’s still annoying that public recognition for talent and value is so often given an age cap. I’d written about the issue of invisibility as we age just a couple of months earlier. The tweet was well-received with lots of people saying ‘yay, do it’. And that’s as far as I got. Then I decided to resurrect the idea for the Twixtmas period and my end of year round-up. Some points to note:

1) Bloggers under 40 are amazing too – this is just a game.

2) There is zero science to this whatsoever – if you want an extraordinary list that someone puts hours and hours of work into then you need to read the Top 100 Sex Bloggers list that Molly curates every year.

3) This was compiled through me already knowing people’s ages and through people putting their hand up to being over 40 or giving others shout outs.

4) I thought I’d be struggling to come up with 40 but I ended up with way more. So I’ve started with my A team and then there’s 40 listed alphabetically. My game my rules!

5) Don’t be offended if you’re not on here – it was all done very quickly! This is just fun and the list can get to 140 if necessary so feel free to ask to be added. I’m not going to reorder it to keep it alphabetical though. That was an arse enough first time round so I’ll just add to the bottom now!

The A Team

Haiku

I’ve included a link to an account where Haiku sometimes lists her work but really you’ll find her all over – she’s at my place regularly and has guested on The Other Livvy, GOTN, Bibulous and probably more. That’s just the kind of social butterfly she is. She’s a joy and my life would be less without her.

Honey

One of the most self-aware, honest and inspiring women I know. Too often hard on herself (IMO!) but the most loyal champion of her family and those close to her. I admire her strength of character so much.

Maria

Goddamn it woman, when are you moving to London Town? I can lose HOURS on Skype talking to Maria and I really find it hard to believe I’ve only met her once (even though that once involved all sorts of delicious and crazy adventures over 10 days she was my house guest).

Molly

Molly, the mothership! Where would we be without Molly? Where would I be without Molly? Sinful Sunday has brought so many wonderful people and awesome experiences into my life I can’t help but gush about it. The only problem with Molly is where she lives. I can accept infrequent meetings with Tabitha and Maria as they are miles away but Molly is just close enough to not feel far away but just too far away for impromptu outings like I enjoy with the South London people. Damn our busy work schedules. I hope for another Molly photo adventure one day!

Tabitha

Tabitha is a beacon of joy in our community but also the BEST person to share gossipy Prosecco-loaded pyjama parties with. I love this woman’s spirit and how she rallies us all with things like daily orgasm challenges. She writes fucking hot fiction, takes jaw-dropping photos but also – most importantly – writes with so much honesty and vulnerability about mental health and her relationship with her body. I am proud she let me photograph her.

1) A Queerer Journey

A new blogger and one I’m really looking forward to reading and seeing more of, not least because the man and women’s underwear combo. A kinkster blogging their journey from within the first month of their kink adventures is an interesting journey for readers to go on with them.

2) All a Blur

I love this man’s photography so much. He shares his work direct to his feed rather than on a blog, but he’s well worth a follow. He’s been shooting nude self portraits and nudes of others for 30+ years and his back catalogue is wonderful. I particularly like it when he shoots a new version of an old shot.

3) Anna Hopeful

I met Anna in the summer when she slid into my DMs and asked if she could come on the Brexit march with me. I’m so glad she did. She’s a dating blogger who as her pen name suggests was always hopeful – and the hope paid off because she’s at an exciting new chapter in her life. Dating bloggers seem to be less joyful than sex bloggers (the coal face of dating is far more brutal and with more ill-feeling, it seems) so it’s nice to have found such a happy dating blogger.

4) Bibulous One

I love this blog so much. I love it for the openess with which it is written and how much B wears his heart on his sleeve. It allows me insight into a world I’d otherwise never understand and that’s a real privilege. And his most thoughtful posts (like the one about telling his brother about his blog) are spine-tingling.

5) Candy Snatch Reviews

I  read Candy’s blog but mainly I just stare at her photos. Her hair, her make-up, her clothes! I bloody love how she curates her look – so much care and attention and to stunning effect. She’s the opposite to me with my ‘fling something on and minimal make-up’ and I drink it in. But we women are more than how we look so don’t just stare, read her amazing reviews too!

6) Cousin Pons

A newish blogger and one whose appearance clashed with my mad year of work that hammered my reading time. The small amount of his writing I got to was wonderful and I hope to get to more in 2019. His Sinful Sundays are fabulous and I’ve been glad to see him make the round-up more than once!

7) Elliott Henry

This man is a master class in finding multiple ways to photograph masturbation and his site is a feast of creative dick pics. More recently he’s had a regular guest whose photography is stunning! Also, he sends real post which is lovely to receive!

8) E T Costello

Filthy hot writing (do read Lust and the Scrubber!) and a talented artist so check out his drawings as well as his writing.

9) Eve Ray

I met Eve at my first Eroticon in 2016 when F Dot Leonora introduced us over Friday dinner and I’ve loved catching up with her at each one since. She was part of the awesome Smutathon team that raised a bunch of cash for good causes in the summer. High five!

10) Eye

Oh, what to say about wonderful Eye. A role model on how to age elegantly and confidently and what an example to those who need to make a significant change in their life.

11) Ferns

I love reading this blog! I think the main reason I manage to keep on top of this blog so much better than others is all the short pithy and very funny posts!

12) Fettler

I can’t remember how I first came across Fettler’s work but I think we’ve been chatting on and off for almost as long as E40 has been going. His self-portraits are absolutely stunning and regularly shared on Twitter but recently I’ve been happy to see him make an appearance on Sinful Sunday as a guest of May More.

13) Focused and Filthy

I don’t know what to say about this site other than 9/10 I really wish I’d taken the photos! They are amazing. F&F suggested we have a photo adventure in 2019 and frankly I can’t bloody wait!

14) Grace O’Malley

Grace doesn’t seem to be blogging as regularly at the moment but I loved the editing effect she used to use on her Sinful Sundays that gave them the appearance of old masters and I hope she does more again in the future.

15) Hy

Purveyor of the best boob shots in town and the chief of the Boob Day meme, not to mention the most emotional and often painfully raw writing. Often I don’t enjoy Hy’s posts and I want to wrap her in a bear hug but they’re always a powerful read.

16) Indigo Byrd

I think Indigo saw more of the UK in six weeks than some of us see in six years!! So much ground covered and so many cheeky photos along the way!

17) Inner Devil

Not a blogger, but oh my – the legs photos. So many gorgeous photos, so much amazing hosiery!

18) Jedi Hamster

Jedi Hamster is generally more present on my blog than her own, both behind and in front of the camera and as the author of the occasional guest blog. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, she came up with the E40 name! But once a year her own blog springs to life with her annual New Year New Movies challenge where she watches and blogs about a new film every day in January. So, if you like your movies head on over.

19) Kilted Wookie 

Just look at the man’s photos. Some of my favourite photos of a naked man that I haven’t taken myself!

20) Kisungura

Another new blogger whose work I haven’t had chance to read this year (well, until reading the review of the year just now), but oh my god – the photos! Sensational addition to the Sinful Sunday stable!

21) Marie Rebelle

Marie Marie, how do you get everything done?! It’s been said in more than one round-up this year than you, Molly and Kayla are some kind of super women. Thank you for all you do, for all you wonderful comments and congratulations on the Smut Marathon success. I look forward to 2019’s!

22) Master Pleasing Bitch

What a year this woman has had. Her diary of her breast cancer journey has been deeply fascinating, if that’s a word I can use – it will undoubtedly be a very valuable resource for many women in the future. But it’s not just the cancer – Julie has had a full on year all round – house move, retirement. Wow. I hope 2019 is relaxed.

23) May More

ALL the photos makes me sigh, but the summer pool photos made me downright envious. And the fishnet ones through the autumn. And I love how supportive May is of other bloggers. A great champion!

24) Miss Scarlet

Miss Scarlet started blogging just a few weeks after me and over the years the posts I’ve enjoyed the most are the ones where she discusses and explored issues around body confidence. I love how honest and supportive this community is around these things.

25) Modesty Ablaze

I love love love Modesty’s Polaroids Past series – they are just so evocative of moment in time and they always make me wish I had more photos of when I was young. And her cheeky holiday photos are always hilarious!

26) Mrs Fever

The thing about someone not being on Twitter is that you don’t get to know them as well as well as you do other people in the community and you forget to check for new posts when they’re not rolling past you on the timeline. But this woman’s writing is always amazing in my opinion. She has a unique style that I love.

27) Ollie and Dave

I’m a fairly new follower of Dave’s and oh how I love his feed. I’m not such a fan of the photos he’s shares – a bit too much photoshopped ‘perfection’ that could leave some less body confident people insecure, but oh my – his own photos! They are stunning. The beaches! I want to employ him as a location scout for my photos. And Ollie is a dog.

28) Posy Churchgate

I must admit that I haven’t read as much of Posy’s work as I realise now I should have done, but I always read her #SoSS – I love that she goes to the effort of interviewing people for them!

29) Sex is My New Hobby

I miss seeing Zoe on Sinful Sunday as much as she used to be there – her dancer’s posture made for some superbly poised and intriguing photos. I hope to see them again one day. In the meantime her photos taken on her travels continue to entertain!

30) Signs

Content warning: Signs is a lot less scary in real life than he sometimes appears on Twitter. ?
The first time I went to Molly and Michael’s for dinner I was really nervous about meeting Michael. I shouldn’t haven’t been. He’s so giving of tech advice, a champion of best blog practice and his occasional writing on D/s Life is really thoughtful.

31) Silver Dom Hates Nazis

I am so sad that Silver Dom’s blog has had to go into hibernation for a while (hopefully not forever!). He was a champion of more cock in Sinful Sunday, which I’m always going to be on on board with, but more importantly he photographed changing bodies, disability and long-standing intimacy beautifully.

32) Southern Sir

I absolutely loved the series of photos he and Kayla did for February photo fest, showing the same scenes from their own perspectives. I also purchased a beautiful wooden plug as a birthday gift earlier this year and can highly recommend his wood artistry. Also, cheekily linking Kayla into John’s entry as she is very nearly 40. Thanks to Molly for rummaging around to find Kayla’s age!

33) Sub Bee

Apart from being wrong about London, Sub Bee is awesome and has great tits, or is that a great arse? I’m not sure! The photos that appear on her blog amaze me week after week. I always love the needle and wax photos the most!

34) Sweetgirl

Really interesting posts about her and her husband’s D/s developing, great reviews and hot Sinful Sundays. And another 1974 baby. Vintage year!

35) Tiggs

Tiggs will occasionally share with us a hot photo, but mainly I’m mentioning her here because she engages so enthusiastically with so many bloggers, frequently liking and responding to our posts and as a judge on Smut Marathon. But mainly because I only just found out she’s 40 and good lord, Sonny better believe I’m going to be taking him up on his offer of lunch for photos of Tiggs for E40!

36) The Guyliner

Hilarious dissections of the weekly Blind Date column in Guardian Weekend, thought-provoking opinions pieces on sexuality and belonging, a keen love of Lady Di and my birthday brother. Win.

37) Victoria Blisse

The smiliest happiest Sinful Sunday-er on the block. These photos always always make me smile, but gosh – those bruises! I’ve never seen anything like it!

38) Wet Coast Kat

A completely new one to me and someone who waved at me on Twitter when I asked who was 40+. But this podcast focused on non-monogamy is definitely on my to listen to list for next year.

39) Wriggly Kitty

I nearly fell over when I met the person behind this pen name earlier in the year. But what a nice surprise it was. When she participates in Sinful Sunday the photos are always great and I love the way she blogs about her life and how her circumstances have changed and continue to change in such an open way. Reading her blog feels like a chat with a friend sometimes.

40) Zak Jane Kier

Queen of organising and compering erotic readings and editor extraordinaire! Make sure you’re following Zak for opportunities to listen to great writers read their work and opportunities to submit your work.

So there we are, 40 (ok, 45!) amazing bloggers over 40. Let me know if you want to be added to the list. And Happy New Year!

As promised, I am adding more fabulous over forties as they come to my attention!

41) The Joy At It Flies. Some truly stunning photographs and interesting posts about her adventures. Plus she used to be a Brosette. Yay.

42) Melina Greenport. Melina and I shared the best newcomer spot in the 2016 Top 100 Sex Bloggers list. She doesn’t blog at the moment, which saddens me because her fiction was utterly brilliant and brilliantly quirky. Do check out her archives!

43) Lascivious Lucy. Author of paranormal erotic fiction and finder of the most awesome vintage images to illustrate her post!

44) J X Spencer aka @BluesXplosnMan on Twitter is very very nearly 40 so added due to fact I probably won’t update this again for month!

45) CapriciousBabs is “is where a disorderly Gen X feminist shares personal stories, unrestrained ideas, and encounters with the wild and wonderful. It all happens while pursuing aesthetically pleasing food, sex, and style and being easily distracted by things lost and found.

46) E L Byrne is a poly travel tart. It’s almost like we should be good friends!

47) A M Harding This chap promising to write (and photograph) more this year so keep an eye out!

48) Kinky and Nerdy Queer femme pervert in Europe who “Writes things in various genres (personal, essay, fiction, poetry, how-to…), of various lengths, at irregular times.

49) Annie SavoyI’ve never been married and I have no children. I’m an American woman so I’m not supposed to be ok with this state of my life, but I am.” High five! And an awesome photographer!

50) Brigit Delaney It was Smut Marathon that put Brigit on my radar and I’m glad it did. Her fiction is great but I really love her Erotic Journal Challenge which is a year-long series of weekly prompts that Brigit follows to explore her erotic self and that others can join in with. In the summer months when my work is quieter I definitely hope to participate.

51) Isabelle Lauren Isabelle’s blog is a great mix of sex you reviews, hot fiction, interesting comment/opinion pieces and personal essays.

52) Jade Melisande Around the time I started blogging in February 2015 Jade was going through a significant trauma and there was lots of shock amongst the blogging community and as I recall, a crowdfunder. I ended up going down a rabbit hole of links and posts and finding out so much more about her than I might otherwise have done. Many of the newer members of the community won’t know that Jade was the founder of the Kink of the Week meme that Molly now runs. I was very glad when I saw Jade start a new blog some months later and enjoy the insights into her new chapter and her Sinful Sunday photos.

« Older posts

© 2019 Exposing40

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: