Learning to Say No

My mother taught me that if a boy made me feel uncomfortable, it was good and right to tell him to keep his distance. When I was 16, I used to do exactly that. The burgeoning street harassers leering at me in school corridors got the wrong end of my aggression because I believed they didn’t deserve more respect than they doled out. I swore at them and went on with my day. I saw unrequited crushes off with a resounding “definitely not” and smacked away roving hands without guilt.

When I left school, society began to teach me to be nice—to the first date who wouldn’t accept that there would be no second date; the stranger who exposed himself to me in the street; and the leering crowd who shouted sexual euphemisms at me in restaurants. “No” made such men aggressive, so I downgraded to diplomacy.

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“No” didn’t have the required effect anyway. James taught me that my “no” was a sign that he should start wearing me down because he knew what I wanted even if I did not. Rob taught me that expressing my lack of interest was offensive and that I should use soft “noes” to spare his feelings. He also taught me that soft “noes” were no more likely to be heard than hard ones.

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Christmas Woes

Back when I believed in magical things, I used to leave a note under the Christmas tree with all the questions I had for Father Christmas: how did he know who was naughty and who was nice? Why did he only come visit when I was asleep? Could I please meet one of his elves? My mother would answer my note, and in the morning, the replies give me new reasons to believe in magic.

Christmas was always magical, even after I found out that my mom was Santa, and that she had once searched 10 hours for the Jack in the Box I’d asked for—the one that sang the same damn tune every time Jack bounced out. My gratitude for my family took Santa’s place. Christmas was often the only time we managed to get everyone into the same room all year.

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This will be my third Christmas without my parents, and it’s no easier now than it was three months after my mom had died. I get grief-free days for most of the year now, but Mother’s Day and Christmas are still dark times for me. This time of the year is tailored pretty snugly around families, so those of us who have never had loving parents or who are adult orphans tend to struggle with it.

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Open Letter to a Nice Guy

I know—years of celibacy are enough to make your penis fall right off. I should know. I’ve suffered the horrific torment of five years without even a manly hug. Mike the Hottie chose Lynn instead of me, and I was way nicer than she was. Gary chose his 15-year marriage when I was clearly the rational choice. Sean had the nerve to choose a woman who was closer to his tastes than I was. Bastard!

After years of singlehood, I came to realise that men aren’t interested in nice girls. When your crap romantic choice ends in man tears, Mike, don’t come running to me.

Sorry. I’ll put my sarcasm away now.

Look, being single for that long is enough to make a girl wonder if she’ll ever get laid again, but in the scheme of things, my celibate streak was one of the least traumatic experiences of my life. I didn’t insult all of mankind for daring not to fuck nice girls like me because gender had nothing to do with it, and nor did niceness.

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Periods of celibacy, Mr Nice Guy, are a universal problem, suffered by people with vaginas and penises alike. In fact, there are almost two single women to every man so stop treating your celibacy as a tragedy unique to you. The only difference between you and other singles is that you’re butthurt about it.

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Profile of a Fetlife Sexpert

DoctorSteve

Orientation: Sexpert

Is looking for: Ladies to admire my infinite knowledge and wisdom about The Sex.

About Me


Beware. Fucking me will ruin you for every man in your future, for I am Doctor Steve, purveyor of sexual secrets, mystic of the glorious yoni. I’ve been known to make a masochist come with a single sadistic stare. I was trained to wield my magical pene by Kamedeva, the lord of desire. With a single lick of my tongue, I can make a female squirt so hard that I have to wear safety glasses for protection. Mlem!

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After you’ve had a taste of my holy cum, you will be so changed, your friends will barely recognise you. I know you’re on the brink of orgasm merely from reading this. Go fetch yourself a towel, darling. I’ll wait.

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The Other Side of Suicide

I was depressed for the better part of a decade, and I spent most of it trying to die and not to die. I had become intolerant of the simplest parts of staying alive: eating, working, sleeping.

I crossed the road without looking.
I fell asleep in the bath.
I returned to suicidal matters for the third time that year.

I just wanted my brain to shut up, but on it went, year upon year. Then my emotions retreated, and I returned to numbness.

There are no easy ways to kill yourself, and few painless ways to die. Through all my planning, I was brought back to life raging, churning my suicidal ideation around and around in my mind as though it would curdle if I stopped.

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Depression is relentless. It chips away your character until the only things left are the skeletal remains of your old self. I couldn’t connect with people. I was too dead for that, and I had enough self-hatred to fuel a liturgy.

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If Sex Advice for Women Was Written Like Sex Advice for Men

Ladies, the penis is not complicated. If you learn to relax, so will he. Treat his cock like the fragile rose petal it is, and he will feel relaxed enough to come.

To begin, simultaneously stroke his nipple, kiss his left ear, and trace the muscle on his inner thigh with your fingertip while circling the air with your right foot. Once you’ve moved below the waist, compliment him on his pretty hair and willowy waistline. Your approval will make him feel less self-conscious about his sexuality. Don’t go straight to the penis, though. Men really want to have their earlobes caressed first because it makes them feel beautiful.

Male orgasm anxiety can be cured using my trademarked Alphabet Technique™. With your tongue, spell out the ABCs on the tip of his penis.

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If you hum “Never Gonna Give You Up” while you geeee-eee-eeently tease his cock, your man might fake multiple orgasms while peeing simultaneously, which is most satisfying for the female ego. Yes, the male orgasm was designed to make women feel better about their sexual prowess, so choose a man who’s willing to put on an enthusiastic act.

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The Silence Breakers (TW: Rape)

Rape put some kind of evil into me. I felt too far out of my body to sense the world around me. I felt so dead and numb that I forgot what it meant to be alive, but I stayed silent. I learned the hard way that speaking brought judgement and blame.

I can’t say if I got beyond the trauma because I found the right help or because I broke my silence. Recovery was an eerie kind of strangeness. Some days, for an instant, the woman who had not been raped reappeared. I heard her speaking from the other side of my fear.

These days, I am that woman. I’ve relegated rape to my history.

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People tell me assault is a life sentence, but it has only been that way for me in the tiniest ways. I still have some triggers, but they’re rare and come with their own gifts: They remind me of how lucky I am to have the serenity I do today.

This year’s Time Person of the Year is The Silence Breakers: those people who have led the MeToo# movement since October—Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and all the other people who have brought the reckoning of the last two months. Time says this change has been simmering for decades, but this, right now, is its moment.

The announcement yesterday made me think of that day in April when rape felt like swallowing evil. Back then, you wouldn’t find me writing this post because few were willing to hear me. My silence kept me isolated and steeped in shame. I have a voice now because much of the world has become uninhabitable for victim blamers.

Silence is stasis. Today, I’m celebrating those who have proved to the world that silence is also unnecessary. I hope that others will see Time’s choice as an invitation to speak because the world is listening now.