How They Use Us

We have to be careful, the neurotypical folk use us sometimes. They use us to be the bold, brave hero in the face of danger. They encourage us to say the things they can’t say themselves. We are their voice by proxy. The ones who speak what they can’t.

Examples? I have a few from throughout my life.

  • School – teacher is an abusive arsehole, nobody wants to say anything for fear of getting abused or in trouble… everyone looks at me
  • Social – one friend out of a group of friends is fucking up their life in ways that don’t really spoil anyone else’s day, nobody wants to be the one who oversteps boundaries
  • Authority – Police officer(s) abuse their power against outnumbered “assailant”, everyone watches but aren’t prepared to say anything but suggest others (you) should
  • Family – someone needs to be told something awkward, nobody wants to do it and let’s it build up to a level unmanageable for me purposely so I will

Oh, they’ll happily reap the rewards of your honesty though. Or side with your “victim” afterwards saying how you lack compassion and empathy and they solemnly disagree with whatever you said. It’s about what works at the time. Whatever gives them most favour. And then when you confront them about their disloyalty and dishonesty, they’ll ask how they could possibly reveal the truth knowing it will hurt/isn’t their business/will cost them/is risky, but still, they admire that your nonchalance about the consequences. It’s what makes you, you, or some other awful cliché that removes the removes the responsibility off of them to change. To say what they really fucking think for once. Use their own voice.

Solutions? I have none. 

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Nothing More Subjective Than The Truth 

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My job means that I work with couples during one of the most precious but tumulus periods of their lives. I get to see a range of couples from varied cultural and religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. I see all kinds of dynamics. I see who wears the trousers and when that relationship has no trouser-wearer. I see when everyone involved wears a frilly dress. I see when both people think they have they are clothed in the most amazing new outfit when actually, they are very, very, naked. I see them compliment one another on their new outfits without batting an eyelid. I hear them talk about their partner’s obvious nudity behind their backs.

Most of it, I get. Some of it, I don’t. I mean, the dishonesty baffles me. How could you get to place where you’re planning a major life event like procreation when you know you can’t be honest with that person? I don’t mean when an unplanned pregnancy has occurred in a new relationship and the people involved barely know each other; I’m talking about a couple who have been together for long enough to live together, maybe even own a home together, yet there are major things about your past that you cannot disclose to them. Things that might impact on their wellbeing, or even things that are historical and should have no bearing on them or your current relationship at all. Things that are going to be very hard to keep completely concealed during the pregnancy and doing so might mean those who aren’t aware of the situation are excluded at times to maintain your confidentiality.

Is that a relationship really? When one party is holding back pertinent information? Information pertinent enough that they do not want their supposed life partner to know? Of course it is a relationship, but is it one to respect? To admire? I’m sure we could all find someone willing to nest with us if we told them only the stuff about us that isn’t controversial, if we just kept to the good bits, but that isn’t real. That isn’t two people who have agreed to a shared future. That’s one person tricking someone else into a relationship with a person they don’t really know. Maybe both people are doing it to each other. Either way, it isn’t real. It isn’t admirable.

Of course, health care professionals, for the most part, really do care about you and don’t use the information you have disclosed to judge you. But we are human. So when I know that you’ve never told your partner that you have a lifelong sexually transmitted infection, or used to be an intravenous drug user, or this isn’t your first pregnancy, or maybe even your first baby, but you’re trying to act as if you’re the sweetest, closest couple anyone has ever seen, it’s hard not to mentally facepalm and wonder what the very fuck is missing from your value system. It’s hard to not feel really sorry for the person who doesn’t know when everyone else looking after the couple does know and are keeping it from one half of the dyad. The more you try and pile on the fake, the worse you look.

But what I find most bemusing is wondering how people can form a genuine bond when lies and betrayal are so rampant in the relationship. How can you feel all the things you need to feel in a relationship when you know you’re not being honest? Any of us could secure a partner with lies and wishful thinking about who we are and how we got here, but surely that’s not what you aim for. Surely?

Lying in relationships seems to be commonplace. Some lies are understandable, for instance, I’ve associated with guys who have such archaic views about female sexuality, I can see why women might be compelled to be untruthful about their sexual history, particularly in relation to pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Same for men, actually, though women might take issue for slightly different but no less archaic reasons. I’ve even been encouraged to be less forthcoming myself to ensnare people emotionally before they find out something that may have altered their choices. This has been sold to me by liars as an evolutionary tactic to secure a mate. Weird.

The worst thing about people lying when I know they’ve concealed the truth is that it keeps me up at night. I worry about them being found out and all the difficulties and embarrassment and hurt it will cause when they’re probably not even concerned about it. The people they’ve lied to are equally apathetic when they find out. Literally the only person thinking about it, writing about it, consumed by it, is me. For everyone else it’s the norm. For them, there is nothing more subjective than the truth. It’s their truth. It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to work.

We Saw A Boy Today…

Running in the busyish park, pants around his thighs, penis showing, laughing. A guy was chasing him. Awkward smile. But somehow relieved. I couldn’t understand his apparant relief until I saw the boy was running directly towards a minivan. The man cautiously eases him towards the minivan in that furtive “I haven’t just got you to do exactly what you’ve been against doing for x amount of time, you decided this yourself” way that parents will know. The only difference is that this boy was at least a teenager. He may have even been a young adult. He had some sort of additional needs. A visible condition. The man chasing him was a relative or a carer or probably both. He succeeded in getting him in the vehicle. I could only imagine how the man felt: drained, amused, humiliated, grateful?

I know I felt gratitude, and then shame for that gratitude, because I was thankful that both my son and I have non-visible autism and I was ashamed of being grateful things like that don’t happen to us. Don’t get me wrong, non-visible neurodivergence comes with unique issues as people are less inclined to faciliate the additional needs of people who appear to be pretty normal or even outstanding in other areas. But, my son running through the park with his penis out is not likely to be an problem pretty much ever. I am thankful for that. And I don’t believe it was just as simple as luck of the genetic draw although that plays a significant role. 

I pondered how many shades of wrong this is for a time, until Monster remarked that he couldn’t understand why that boy didn’t pull up his pants. It wasn’t apparent to him that this boy was not neurotypical. To Monster, in that moment, that boy’s neurodiversty was non-visible. He was just a male too old to be running through the park with his cock out. He didn’t see it as sinister so much as lapse. Like this kid was so busy messing around he didn’t think not exposing himself to the public was of more importance. This boy looked “normal” enough for his behaviour to seem inappropriate rather than indicative of alternative cognitive function and social awareness. Visibility is only as relevant as the viewer perceives it to be. My gratitude was naive and misplaced.  

Of course, the other side of this coin is that my own neurodiversty compelled me to interpret this in the way that I did. Perhaps Monster was right and this was just a youngish kid messing around in a tracksuit far too big for him and his general lack of decorum meant that indecent exposure was of secondary concern to running away. Perhaps the person chasing him was in on the game and I misread awkwardness in his smile. Maybe I see it the other way because otherwise it just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe I should just be grateful my son already knows better although he is not neurotypical. Maybe I should just be thankful for that.  

Otherings

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Last week I met this guy. He’s hot, smart, funny, lots of good points. He’s Latino (his description), though he does mention his European heritage. My understanding of colonisation, white supremacy and general championing of all things Caucasian tells me that it is seen as a positive trait for any non-European to have links to their Master’s people. It shows them to be a bit less “other” than their fully “other” counterparts. His desire to have this absolutely acknowledged at first contact is part of that, I think. I’m not sure he is completely aware of how much of an “other” trait that is, a non-white trait:“I swear my great granddaddy be a white man from London”.

Now let me be fair, he did tell me this rather poignant story about his European ancestors who both made major life decisions in order to be where they were to start his family, basically, so one could say that his determination for his European heritage to be recognised is more about the story than wanting to feel less of an “other” in that swanky white people’s area he lives. But he also mentioned how he feels he has to assimilate culturally, even tone down his accent. He wants to give an impression that he can “fit in anywhere”, and in truth, he probably can. He’s well-read and interesting and anything in his accent sounds far more interesting than it really is. But that’s my British fetish for exoticism. From when we sailed around the world “discovering” lands and people, raping that land and those people of anything we saw as valuable and leaving the rest. We like the accents. It provides an erotic backdrop that reminds us of when we could employ foreigners as our entertainment, sexually and otherwise.

People often speak about the creation of a melanin focused hierarchy amongst non-whites as an ingenious method of ensuring that white people remained on top. I see this in this guy: as a Latino, he’s more white than a black guy but still not white enough to be one of them. White being the social identity rather merely the colour of one’s skin. The only way he can increase his whiteness and decrease his otherness is by pointing out that he is less of an “other” than those less white than him. Or by subscribing and promoting their arguments that work to perpetuate white supremacy: “cultural appropriation is a good thing that works to unite cultures”. He’s white enough to only really benefit from the positives of cultural appropriation and positive discrimination - us Brits will think he’s sexier because of his accent, assume he can salsa (is salsa even from Argentina? Who cares? It’s from somewhere in that region. Same difference). He won’t realise that although we think his accent is cute as hell, it also means we assume he’s a little less educated, not so much formally as socially, but can fuck like a bunny. He doesn’t get that when he cannot salsa like we expect Latinos to be able to, he might not be invited to the next party. If he has trouble getting it up like a lot of men in their late thirties after a few drinks, we are disappointed. This is meant to be a walking sex toy! He doesn’t understand that we assume he is sexist, macho and insecure, because that’s how we perceive Latino male culture. And when we speak about his intelligence and creativity, we are basically remarking on his achievements despite being from a third world country and a somewhat underprivileged background. You’re good for one of you, not for one of “us”. That’s White, Eurocentric privilege and yes, even me as a beige girl drinks that fucking koolaid. We all do. We just need to be aware of it enough to spit it out as often as we can.

As an other, your best bet is to find the other “others” and stick with them. As an “other”, your whiteness will never be valid enough. You think you’ve been included because they value your exemplary work when in fact you’ve been included because you are other enough to increase diversity statistics but still still palatable enough to have at the dinner table. As long as you don’t start getting too “cultural” or “ethnic” if your skin is dark enough. Except when it would be “good fun” for everyone. Maybe we will have a Mexican evening next week? You can be the bartender just like Jose at that bar in Cancun. It was Jose, or was it Jesus, or Jorge? One of those anyway, eh?

Why Your Fear of “Consent Culture” Means You’re Shit in Bed. 

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I used to feel threatened by the “SJW” focus on “consent culture”. Much of what they say fit the White feminist rhetoric that didn’t reflect my experiences as a woman and didn’t consider the differences in how people, namely autistic people, communicate. For me specifically, it’s that I can’t always get my body language to say what I’m thinking and feeling. Or more like, my body language does not represent my feelings in the ways neurotypical people are socialised to understand them. Not if I’m behaving naturally and therefore refraining from making sure that it does match. One generally wants to feel they can be “themselves” as much as possible so when I’m interacting most organically, my body language might say something else. Or just be confusing. Most men do not want to rape women so this “mixed message” often required my clarification that I am comfortable with where things are and where they might go. So it seemed that this “consent culture” thing was installing another obstacle which interrupted the fluency of my interactions. For some people, this might not have been too big of a deal but I very much liked when a guy would know that I want him, want me too, and take me. Whilst I could see that this constant checking in verbally could be hot in some circumstances if a confident and dominant guy could pull it off, it wouldn’t work for me all the time and did not seem to circumvent people feeling like they cannot say no due to fear.

Additionally, I always received the message that “good” girls say yes to sex by saying no and then being convinced to do it. So the first no is never really a “no”, it’s a “try harder”. And so you do. Sometimes this might take place over weeks or months and other times it might be an “in the moment” thing where they persevere there and then and if they say and do all the right things, you can say “yes” without being a slut. Naive maybe, but not a slut. I am still trying to shed the influences of the slut shaming, sex negative cultures I have been brought up in, thus I can appreciate how much these messages dictate our behaviour and how hard it can be to break that cycle. For both parties. Again, this “consent culture” seemed to ignore the nuances in how people from different cultures interact with each other based on their shared values. It wasn’t that it didn’t highlight a real problem in those communities, it just didn’t provide an answer for them. Not one that is based in the reality that people want to fuck and will fuck. Even if they lack the tools to do so without harm.

The other problematic feature of “consent culture” for me what seemed like an unwavering support of people who habitually “freeze” in certain circumstances meaning they are unable to express even an agreed method of consent withdrawal. For someone who is forced to communicate under duress so often, it seemed fucking outrageous that adults were being excused from this level of accountability. Especially when the consequences for the other people involved were so steep. Furthermore, misogyny seemed rife in this line of thought as women were often cast as these passive victims so afraid of men that they were unable to express their unwillingness freely. It seemed to say that women were incapable of the same responsibility as men when it came to ensuring their views were heard, if not respected, hence the man was at fault if the woman did not accurately relay her true desires in a way that could he could comprehend. Of course, empathy for my male autist counterparts kicked in here, how the fuck could they navigate this minefield?

What changed this for me was my refined approach to honesty and self worth. It probably started with ethics actually. It started to become really important to me that people knew what was on offer before they invested. That took some time of deciding what I could offer before there were any interested parties and adjusting it as I formed commitments. I realised that when people invested in relationships, they are more likely to agree to things that aren’t really conducive to their happiness. Sure, people evolve and there is always the chance someone will want to change the parameters of your relationship at any point, but why begin without detailing any pre-existing limitations? In all honesty, it also helped isolate those who came into the situation with the intention to be dishonest and then manipulate everyone around them into meeting their agenda. The “bad polya” people. This led me to ponder the effects of coercion on consent. How much should we try to convince someone to do something? Anything? I have professional guidance on  what constitutes coercion in gaining consent for treatment and intervention. I applied these to social situations. And rejection? That’s where self worth comes into it: why would you want to have to convince someone to love/fuck you?

It wasn’t that I began denying how people are socialised to behave in ways that inherently muddy consent. I just realised that the only way to combat it is to refuse to engage with the interaction. If someone says no, back off. Completely. Go cold. You’re worth more than having to jump through hoops to prove yourself to someone who doesn’t want you or has drunk too much kool-aid to be transparent about it. Back off and if they do want you, they will come running, or they will be braver next time and be transparent. Either way, it’s changing things one person at a time.

For me, I need to meet people in a way where I can speak about my communication difficulties before we get to that point. Internet dating sites are perfect for that. If I do meet someone in person, we need to swap contact details before we get to a position where there is the potential for sexual contact so I can speak about it before we get together again. I might tell them what limitations I have for the date and that I enjoy being touched and want them to touch me, even if I might not “say” that with my body language. If I was male and/or dominant/a top, this would be the point that I made it clear that I am no longer drinking that kool-aid and will therefore not be playing the game. That doesn’t mean consent has been given and definitely does not mean that any consent that has been explicitly given cannot be revoked, just both parties know what is acceptable on first contact unless otherwise stated, and how any withdrawal or declination of consent will be handled.

I still fully believe that anyone who knows they have the propensity to freeze and not be able to withdraw consent should take steps to minimise the risk of harm that can occur from that. That definitely means full disclosure and probably nothing resembling a “hook up” unless there has been explicit conversation about how this risk can be reduced in that context. However, if you choose to engage with someone disclosing that, it’s on you to ensure they leave that interaction feeling positively. That was them asking you to take on more responsibility than usually expected as they can manage less than usually expected by a competent adult, as shitty as that sounds to them. Someone who repeatedly chooses to say yes to this sort of situation or does not learn from the negative outcomes of similar situations and spot the red flags isn’t functioning correctly. Regardless of the problems with the other parties involved, this person has issues that needs addressing and on a personal level, doesn’t have the sort of self awareness necessary to attract me. What I’m saying here is that a guy who has a reputation for getting into these sorts of consent issues may not be a rapist, but he is a guy who doesn’t learn from his mistakes and attracts a certain type of person who is equally unwilling to be accountable for the safety of themselves and others. Or, he’s having to gain consent through coercion. He lacks the confidence and self worth to accept a lack of enthusiasm and move on. He doesn’t believe in who he is. It’s not attractive to me.

Refusing to play these games that people play around sex and dating might mean that you have less sex and dates, but what it does mean is that you aren’t lowering yourself to these demeaning levels. You’re not trying to sell yourself, or having to lie about who you are or what you want. You have sex when you want to have sex, not when the other party has jumped through enough hoops or society says it is okay. Or when you’ve “proven” yourself. That way, it isn’t this grand prize that must be won by deception or determination. It’s just a thing we might do if we get on well. It doesn’t mean that guys don’t lie to me to fuck me, it just means they look pathetic when they do because there wasn’t any point. It just seems as if they are desperate for sex and weren’t confident enough to be themselves to get it. Sex isn’t something that is done to women to pleasure men, it should be a mutually enjoyable experience. This auditioning process where men have to meet this arbitrary criteria for women to give up the goods removes the responsibility on people to be skilled in bed. When sex is no longer the optimum goal and you make it clear that sexual compatibility is vital, they have to make sure they know what they are doing and that they make the effort. It’s easy to say that “giving them” sex was effort enough. This is what they worked for - mediocre sex with blow jobs on special occasions. There is no onus on either party to ensure sex is fulfilling, especially the man. That’s why women who have sex with men are least sexually fulfilled.

If you’re going to do that “not a slut” thing where you both avoid talking about sex so that they realise you are also interested in them as a person, then you’re missing a huge opportunity to discuss sexual consent. This is your chance to say “I like it when…” or “I don’t like…” and ask those sorts of questions. Sleep sex for example. I’m a person who wakes up horny as hell and also earlier than my partner for the most part. As soon as I wake up, I want to feel a masculine body and a rock hard cock in my hand and pressed against me. Some people do not like to be touched like that when they are asleep. This is something we can discuss before we are in that moment. Drunk sex is a similar one. The “not a slut” guidebook states that speaking about sex too quickly suggests that a woman is a Jezebel and the guy is a dirty dog though, so these conversations are often seen as a sign of me being morally devoid rather than an adult conversation that helps to ensure we both leave our interaction feeling positive about what went on. If someone sees this type of conversation as wrong, you know they are ashamed to speak about sex and therefore are probably reserved in the bedroom. I know that isn’t something I want in a long-term partner. I’m too old to make someone feel comfortable in their skin and with their sexual desires. I want someone who has completed that journey. Sex is a far too vital aspect of a relationship to play like that. Of course it takes time to learn each other’s bodies, but at 33, I want someone who at least knows the basics of pleasuring a woman and the basics of what pleasures them too. I don’t want someone so disconnected from themselves that they don’t know what they like. I don’t want to be teaching people how to fuck at my age.

Consent can be verbal or non-verbal, but actually a good test to determine how sexually confident and experienced a person is by seeing how willing they are to talk about it openly. Do they know what they want and how they want it? What will you have to do to get it? Do they know when they don’t want it? Will they tell you when they don’t? Are they offended that you are interested in them sexually? Do they think it detracts from your curiosity about them as a person? All of these answers let you know something about their attitude to sex.

There isn’t any need to feel threatened by “consent culture” or “SJWs” or anything like that once you stop engaging in this ridiculous game playing around sex and dating. It counteracts the “no..no..no..yes” approach as the first no is taken as a firm no until the refuser initiates a conversation or interaction where they turn that no into a yes without coercion. It ensures that people focus on being good in bed and not just good at getting you there or believing that they have already given you a precious gift by saying yes. It ensures that your own communication is transparent and forthcoming rather than devalued by societal expectations. It does require that you know what you want and aren’t threatened by the thought of your partner being less than virginal. Yes she might know what a good cock feels like and you have to match that, but it doesn’t have to be a scary competition. Take time learning how to be a decent lover and there honestly won’t be an issue. Realise that you are worth more than having to wear someone down or bargain with them to fuck you. It should be good for them too and they should be equally as excited about it. It shouldn’t be a chore. First time sex should always be a “Fuck yeah”. First time sex is not the time you fuck to appease a partner who is more up for it than you are.

Consent means better sex for everyone.

When Position is Everything

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My grandfather taught me most of the card games that I know, bar Blackjack. Not proper Blackjack. This other “hood” game where 8 means miss-a-go, blackjack means pick up 5, etc. But all the proper games like poker, Blackjack, Rummy, my granddad taught me as a young child.

My paternal family are gamblers. They have the gene, assuming there is one. Even those who profess not to have the gene dabble in business gambling. Stocks and shares and what have you. For this reason, my grandad should have probably been more cautious about teaching me these card games (he’s on my maternal side), but all of the grandchildren learnt.

All card games of that nature are about spotting patterns, risk, chance and everything else that comes with gambling and competing, but poker always resonated with me the most. I’ve played internet poker avidly for years as well as watching every major tournament I could to learn to be better. And I know how I could be better. I just can’t. Poker is too much like life. It’s all about your fucking position in the game.

For instance, one of my flaws in poker (I’m talking Texas Hold ‘em) is that even when I have good pocket cards, I don’t come out aggressively. Now this isn’t something you should do all the time anyway; it depends on several factors - but even when I should and I know I should, I don’t. And that’s because life has taught me that even when you think you’ve got the best hand, you have got your pocket Aces, some fucker with some random unrelated, unsuited cards will bag a straight on the flop and you’ll have already committed to the hand. Like you should have done, statistically, perhaps, but that’s not going to pay your bills next week.

So I don’t commit, instead, I play passive aggressive. I’m the small blind. I have to act first. I pretend that I don’t have shit, I call, see what every one else has got hoping someone else will raise so I can reraise them. They can’t have a better hand than me at this point. But they might do later and I’d have committed more than was necessary. I call and whilst everyone else has their go, I weigh up whether to call a raise or reraise it and trust that my pocket Aces are enough to see me through. It’s like auditioning or interviewing for a position where there is an element of competition and also several rounds, you can choose to give it your all on the first round and maximise your chances of success of going through to the next round, but you might not be able to elevate your game. You don’t have anything else to give. Maybe it’s best to coast and see what other people have before you decide whether you have enough resources to compete and how much of those resources you should reserve for later battles. Being risk averse, I take this option after the flop too. My hand hasn’t improved as I don’t have another Ace, but the flop doesn’t have a pair nor does it support someone else having a flush or a straight at this point, so statistically speaking, I’m still in a good position with my Ace pair. It still nags at me though, the knowledge that despite starting the hand with a low pocket pair, someone else could be sitting on 3 of a kind. Or has some random straight or flush draw that the later cards will complete. So I check, and hope someone else raises so I can retaliate without feeling impulsive and reckless. I’d be defending myself. Not arrogant or foolhardy. Measured and rational.

Nobody raises, the Turn pairs with one of the flop. For the first time, I’m critically aware that I really might not have the best hand statistically. Someone else could have three of a kind. I’ve now got a 2 pair but it doesn’t matter. If they’ve got 3 of a kind, I’m finished. My chance to dominate the hand has passed. Unless, I lie and pretend like I have the 3 of a kind, or somehow this card has made everything right and I’m 100% sure I can win this hand. Or should I let them see my caution with a small raise and make them think that I have absolutely nothing? I have a weird relationship with bluffing. Lying and pretending to have what I don’t is so alien to me that it fills me with anxiety so I rarely bluff when I have nothing of note, but I might exaggerate a little, like in this situation. I’m panicking that I’ve left it too late to win so I start relying on wishful thinking to scrape back some of what I’ve let go. I check. Still hoping for an opportunity to reraise and wishing desperately for an Ace which will give me a high Full Houseand pretty much guarantee I win the hand. Unless someone now has 4 of a kind because they have had a pocket pair all along. Always cautious that what I have, as good as it is, will not be good enough. Someone else will have more low value stuff that will trump my good stuff. Poker is like fucking life.

Everyone else checks. Maybe they have nothing. Or little. Next card. The river. A King. Here’s another chance for passive aggression. I can rely on the fact that I’m female in a male dominated game and act accordingly: naive and excitable. Oooh I have a pair of Kings now to go with that low pair on the board and that’s a winning hand. Big bet. That way, anyone with a King will be compelled to compete not knowing I’ve had a higher pocket pair all along. I go with that. First one folds. I hope they all don’t. I want them to see that I had a pair of Aces, or do I?

Second one calls. Shit. No, don’t worry, he also has a King. Probably a King with a high kicker which he is confident about but not cocky. He’s thinking about the 3 of a kind too. That’s why he called and didn’t raise. Shit, what if someone has a Full House because their “kicker” is actually a pair?

Next one reraises. Shit, he does have that! That’s why he’s cocky rather than confident. What shall I do? I could fold. Be the bigger person. Acknowledge that his larger bet means that he must have the better hand and bow out gracefully. Refuse to engage. Make out that I never had an agenda and it was all about statistics, which are obviously out of my favour given his action. If he’s lying, then treating him as if he isn’t will prick his conscience. He’’ll feel bad that he pretended to have something that he didn’t and I assumed the best of him. I’ll still be the bigger person. Sure, he will have taken some of my money. Money that I risked because I also played a game of pretence. Or I could fuck the lying bastard over and go all motherfucking inon the cunt. He’s not lying, fine, we’ll know that it was my doing. I made the wrong decisions. I should have taken the hand when I really was in the best position. I should have set the bar so anyone who wanted to stick around would have to pay a steep price to see if the next round would improve their chances of success. If he is lying. He will pay. Lying always has a price. You always have to pay it. Fuck is poker like life.

Sometimes I go all in at this point. Sometimes I call. Other times I fold. It varies. Either way, unless I fold, I know what will happen next: I die a little. I might win the hand because the person was bluffing, at least to some degree. They have neither a King or any of the other possible strong hands, they have some bullshit low pair I didn’t even consider, if that. They invested all those resources into a hand they could never win and the winner wouldn’t even feel any real sense of accomplishment from gaining. They beat someone whose only chance was scaring them off with half truths and misrepresentations. I might lose the hand because of all the reasons I listed before which can be summarised as fear and baggage and regret. I die a little less when I see that the person who won was an underdog rather than a chancer. Someone who had an Ace and a low card and that low card just happened to match a pair on the board rather than some lucky fucker who bet big with two unrelated low cards because they have the means to lose that kind of money and not miss it. That cunt reminds me that my pocket Aces, as good as they seemed, were only ever a lousy pair and I was right to play them that way. Regardless of what I choose, I die a little more each time.

I go all in on this occasion. I call his bluff. But this time none of what I expected happens. This time he just disappears. Goes offline. Yeah, I win the money. All of it. But I don’t know what how or why. Did his internet or the app crash and he actually did have the winning hand? Did he bluff and was so embarrassed to show it that he flounced like a petulant child? Did something happen that required his immediate attention and he just had to go and leave the money? We’ll never know. I’m just left numb, with all my money, and none of the satisfaction that usually comes with winning it. Poker is life.

What Makes Us Cis (and someone else not)

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TW: really fucked up hetero- and cis- normative language and ideals.

I’ve been painfully aware of my heterosexuality as long as I can remember. Like from ridiculously young, the smell or sight of certain guys would make my loins ache. I’m talking four. I was under no illusions that I was into men, and that’s why it’s never been difficult for me to believe that some people have known they were homosexual from an equally young age.

My acknowledgement of my heterosexuality meant that I found it as confusing as fuck as I got older and people queried whether I was homosexual or even trans; they seemed to conflate the two. This was purely based on the things I liked to do and what I liked to wear to do those things, mind. I mean, I’ve always had boyfriends. Often more than one at once. I had lots of male friends too, sure, but I had boyfriends. We used to do things that I was probably too young to be doing. But everyone seemed to use factors other than How Do You Feel? and Who Do You Want To Fuck? to gauge sexuality and transgenderism. I used to think “leave me with your older brother and we’ll see how ‘lesbo’ I am”. But I didn’t always have that confidence – for some time I felt as if life would be much easier if I were male. People used to say that I wanted to “be a boy”. Did I? I had discovered my clitoris by then so I’m pretty sure I was more than happy in my body. I liked being someone’s “girlfriend”. What made them think I was attracted to females? I loved men and couldn’t wait to show them exactly how much I loved them with every part of my body. But they seemed so sure that my love of sport and rough play and shorts was a definite symptom of either a subconscious or hidden homosexual or trans identity that I wondered myself. Doubted myself. They were sure these traits were unattractive to males but on the contrary, I seemed to garner a respect from boys and men that my cohorts did not. I did not dislike being female or having a female body in the slightest, though I was already aware that even my minimal femininity gave people an excuse to dismiss or invalidate my feelings or opinions. That’s what I didn’t like about being female. Sexism.

It was strange as I got older and I started wearing more “girl” clothes and also developing more female friendships. Whereas once I had been stereotyped as a lesbian or trans for my male oriented friendship group, interests and fashion choices, now I was a slut. They weren’t quite sure where the fact I played basketball fit in with that, but the fact that I wore a skirt and seemed to have many male friends who sought my company, I must have been fucking them all. I’d gone from dyke to harlet by just by utilising traditionally female dress and developing some magnificent breasts. Of course, I was sexually active, but not with the people they thought I was fucking. Back then, even I believed that sex should be shrouded in the confines of a committed relationship and females should only ever have one sexual partner at a time. I fucked my long term boyfriend but had what I affectionately termed “age appropriate” relationships with other people in my first experience of semi ethical non-monogamy. “Semi” as I only really had the consent of my long term boyfriend.

My point with all this is that regardless of how I presented in terms of my dress or the ratio of my male friends to female friends, I have always been the same cis-gender, heterosexual female bodied individual I am today. There are probably many homosexual and trans people who could tell a similar story about not meeting their heteronormative conventions of their assigned sex. My comfort with being labelled female, my typically female anatomy and my certainty in my heterosexuality, however, are what convinced me that any identity issues are far more related to our patriarchal society than my gender or sexuality being different than what I have thought. It also convinced me that someone else with a similar story might feel completely different about the female label, their body or their sexuality. Their gender or even their sex might be different to the one that they were assigned at birth. They might feel the need to change it or adopt labels that better suit their identity. This may or may not be related to who they are attracted to. Who You Are and Who You Want To Fuck are completely separate.

There were times, during this journey, where I thought that my experiences could “help” people who are trans to perhaps realise that actually they aren’t. I thought that perhaps if they realised that gender roles do not have to be as rigid and prescribed as society compels them to be, then they could be happy with their assigned labels and the body they have been given at birth. I read some evo psych bullshit mixed up with some philosophy and what I now suspect was MRA and TERF literature and I had all the answers. All of them. But then, as I developed my sense of self and realised just how very long I had this defined sense of Who I Am and Who I Want to Fuck, I understood just how very fucking arrogant it is for me to think that someone else could not be as certain in themselves. And that’s when I realised that my story shouldn’t be shared amongst trans people, but instead should be something I speak about with other cis people. People who essentially rejected the experiences of trans people based on their minor struggles with being a less than typical cis and heterosexual person in a Western society. Just like I used to. Sure we might want our body to be more aligned with societal ideals of beauty, even to the point of feeling repulsed or delusional about our bodies, but we still want all the same parts. Sure we hate it when our patriarchal society limits our choices, women and men alike, but our problem isn’t with being labelled a woman or man, it is the limitations of that label we want to challenge. And these things are what makes us cis gendered . And someone else not.