The Witcher – Lukewarm Take
So I’ve been watching the Netflix adaptation of the book and game series “The Witcher”.
CW: discussion of sexualised violence/rape.
I didn’t really come into it with any particular expectations. In fact knowing that it was adapted from a computer game (I initially wasn’t aware of the books) I probably had lower expectations than I do for other series. Mostly because computer games and narrative fiction have radically different approaches to telling a story. Games can rely to some extent on the player’s participation to fuel engagement with the character. Also players can replay a failed challenge time and again until they succeed, giving them a sense of achievement that simply can’t be reproduced in a more passive medium.
That said, I’m starting to quite like it. I think I struggled initially with it being rather unrealistic (I kept being put in mind of the Mitchell and Webb sketch about the screen writers who couldn’t be bothered doing the necessary research). But after a while I became more comfortable with the series when it became clear that it doesn’t take itself entirely seriously. Long story short, humour can let you get away with all manner of sins. Which makes the po-faced first episode or two a bit of a stumbling block.
But the thing I still don’t like is the sexualised violence. True there isn’t much of it directly depicted, but references to rape occur multiple times in the first episode including at least one instance of this being sold as character motivation/backstory (drink!). And I just don’t get it. For me it has added precisely nothing to the story, world or characters. It’s just an unnecessary element to throw in, like an anchovy in a milkshake.
There seem to be two arguments for including repeated references to rape/sexual violence; historical accuracy/grittiness and showing that a show is “edgy”. Both are complete bullshit.
Attempting to make this story gritty/accurate falls at the first hurdle and every single hurdle thereafter. I’m no historian but the first episode alone has enough in it to make fucking Braveheart feel like a documentary. The series is absolutely at its best when it leans into the silliness (it’s not too spoilery to say that a major plot point literally revolves around the “Law of Surprise!” literally, that’s literally it’s name). The entire notion that anyone watching this would be put off by the “historical inaccuracy” of not having everyone talking about rape every five minutes is frankly infantile.
I know that this is a pretty lukewarm hot take by now but I’m so fucking sick of this. Because it makes me distrust the creators. It automatically alienates a huge amount of your potential fanbase. And if nothing else it puts in a barrier to enjoying it that means it took me most of season one to drop my guard enough to actually start enjoying this show.
Tl;dr gratuitous use of/discussion of sexualised violence/rape is hell a stupid and needs to die in a fire.
Apropos of almost nothing, here’s certain kinds of fuckers (people whomst fuck) as guitar players:
Little formal education, goes mostly by feel, instinct and raw talent. Occasionally uses teeth and/or sets things on fire. Sadly also has countless less-talented imitators.
Diligent student, well versed in theory and ever willing to learn. Adamantly insists they’re not the best. Your dad’s favourite.
Seems cool when you’re a teenager. After a while you realise they never learned anything beyond their first few tricks and after a while it all sounds the same. Likes to wriggle around on their back and moon at crowds of onlookers.
Bit of a gadget Dom. Lots of effects and kit but with little technical skill. Impressive but is only ever one blown fuse or flat battery away from disappointing tedium.
Can’t really play, can’t really sing, but their way with words brings me to tears.
Kicked out of “the band” for doing too many drugs. Will blow your socks off but has a strong pick-up-artist vibe. Bonus points if you steal their hat.
Doesn’t let a chainsaw accident get in the way even of they have to relearn how to play. Develops a distinctive style and manages to be understated and cool despite doing reality TV on occasion.
Like David Ford but more popular, more talented and hangs out with that guy that makes everyone question their sexuality. Also trying to watch out for that scene newcomer who’s going a bit off the rails. Your mum’s favourite.
N.B. these archetypes are gender-free, the absence of more non male guitarists is basically because I stopped buying music when I was fifteen, and fifteen year old me needed his horizons expanding!
Pyjama Bottom Boners
There’s a sensation I felt this weekend. No, more than that. It was a sort of moment, an atmosphere, a sort of capsule of feeling that doesn’t make sense out of context and where you kind of need all of the pieces or it just wouldn’t be the same.
You might have noticed I’ve been a little sporadic of late and, guess what, so has my sex drive. So it was noticeable when it emerged fully formed, albeit briefly, this weekend. You see there’s a difference between sort of a subsistence sex drive, sufficient to have a regular wank and sex will occur if circumstances conspire. But there’s a big difference between that and a sort of more pervasive sexiness. A headspace where, irrespective of whether anything directly sexual is happening, there’s a feeling both that it could, and that it’s not a big deal.
At one point I was living in a really rubbish basement apartment. It was small, poorly lit and the kitchen was literally in a cupboard. I wasn’t happy. Then I erected a few of the cheapest bookcases IKEA had to offer and dragged my books from their hiding place in a pile of boxes and put them on the shelves. It was transformative, this shallow grave I’d been wallowing in became a cosy burrow. There’s something I find incredibly relaxing about being surrounded by books and I think it’s the subconscious signal that, even if I’m not reading, that this is a space where there is time to read, if you choose.
I guess it was a similar feeling this weekend. Fucking wasn’t happening, but as I wandered into the kitchen to make a fresh cup of tea, I felt like it could. My cock was stiff, brushing against the loose fabric of my pyjama bottoms, I had a fresh mug of chai, a good book and time.
Oh, and some wonderful perverts sending me suggestive messages, which probably also helped.
Don’t Call Me Maybe?
I don’t think I’m living the best version of my life. But every now and then something happens that reminds me that, if not the best, ther version I’m living is pretty bloody good. Certainly top-tier I’d guess, and a fuck tonne better than the one I had lined up a decade ago.
But there’s still things that suck. Work is still work, life happens, and breakups are very much still a thing.
It’s usually pretty civilised, a few times exhausting, and once or twice kind of bewildering. I used to say that I’m still friends with most of my exes, and that’s probably true on a purely numerical majority, but it glosses over the sizeable minority where, after the breakup we aren’t exactly antagonistic or anything, we just go out separate ways. Usually it’s with a spoken or unspoken understanding that we each would like some space before interacting again as friends. But those bits of space have a tendency to grow. The social awkwardness of not being the thing that you were before, making it easier to just leave something on the back burner until it quietly falls off the stove entirely.
It rarely takes me by surprise now, I’m getting better at recognising when things aren’t sustainable, or when someone isn’t satisfied with the way things are. It sucks but I guess it’s better than getting caught out of the blue right?
Except, every now and then, I’m wrong. And that’s fucking brilliant.
Content note: fat phobia/body image issues.
So, I snore. I mean, I’ve always kinda known about it, you know those moments where you wake suddenly into a deafening silence? Yeah, I’ve snored loudly enough to wake myself.
Thing is, I’ve basically either started snoring more, or just become more aware of it recently because of sharing a bed (#HumbleBrag). And this has become a frequent enough issue that I decided to look into what measures I can try to take to relieve this.
Have a wild flying guess what comes at the top of the list for possible causes of snoring?
Guess what comes top of the list for suggestions for how to reduce snoring?
What’s that, oh, hello body dysphoria, it’s been a while. No, please don’t settle down on the sofa I really have other things I need to be…
This kind of diagnosis and “advice” is bullshit and there’s a bunch of reasons why.
First up, let’s be clear, significant weight loss is not a viable option for the majority of people. Yes there are people who achieve a significant reduction in weight, but they are very much outliers and it’s extremely challenging finding a study that shows the majority of participants successfully losing a significant amount of weight and then managing to keep that weight off long-term.
For most, advice to lose weight broadly leads to either yo-yo dieting or a never-ending cycle of failure and shame about not being good enough. Because let’s be clear, we as a society have an utterly fucked up attitude that treats being overweight as a moral failure. I had a partner who strongly discouraged me from being unusual, from attracting attention by not fitting by general societal standards because, sas they saw it, I’d effectively used up my allowance of social deviance by being overweight.
I will very probably always be significantly overweight. So trying to tackle things like snoring by losing weight is just adding extra carrots to a gigantic pot of carrots that is so far in the distance as to be almost over the horizon. Putting all hoes and desires into that impossibly distant goal is a recipe for misery. I don’t want to end up as one of those people with a wardrobe full of clothes I haven’t worn in years because throwing them away would mean admitting that I’m not going to be the same body shape that I once was.
No, I Marie Kondoed the shit out of that wardrobe.
The other thing is that simply seeing someone as overweight or not overweight misses a whole world of nuance. Because if I’m always going to be overweight then why the fuck bother? Because there’s a lot of fucking grey in the picture here.
I’ve gone through periods in my life where I’ve not been in great shape, and I’ve been in periods where I’m doing pretty well. I’m currently feeling pretty good about my body, I’ve got an exercise regime that fits neatly into my life and I’m feeling stronger, fitter and more energetic than I have in quite a while. I’m still overweight though. I can shrug off a bout of circuit training that three months ago would have been impossible for me. Still overweight though.
The thing is, I went through a change in my outlook a while back, a change from looking outwards to looking inwards. I try not to crow about the exercise I’m doing because I want approval, but I share photos of me naked and sweaty afterwards because I feel good about my body. I don’t work out to get approving looks from strangers in the streets, I work out so that I can go ceilidh dancing with my partner and not be spent after three dances. I don’t do upper body work to show off y glistening guns, but because I want to make interesting things in the shed with a hammer. And when it’s leg day I’m doing it to keep my thighs firm and strong and able to thrust hard.
Still not quite sure what to do about the snoring though.
Spring is a great time of year Not just the obvious, the feeling of the world coming to life and the way that green starts to appear form every nook and cranny. One of the great things about spring, possibilities.
There’s things that just aren’t practical in the winter. Back alleys are cold and damp, fumbling requires careful snaking of hands though countless layers seeking bare flesh. But spring is different. The air loses much of its chill, lingering outside becomes easier. Crucially, spring brings with it possibilities. Meeting friends and lovers for adventures is easier when you’re not trapped by needing to be somewhere warm. Instead of being limited to indoor play spaces, hotel rooms and bedrooms, suddenly the world opens up, and the world is a big, strange and exciting space.
Spring makes it possible to get away from other human beings, to find somewhere peaceful and undisturbed, by a stream, hidden in the woods, where a tossed down coat can accommodate as well as a night in a Travelodge, where aftercare can be listening to the birds of watching for the stars to peek through the clouds above.
The alleyways are still there of course, but robbed of much of their hostility, quick, urgent movements can become slow, luxurious teases. Running free like children or beasts. At least until the heat of summer drives us indoors again, sees us cowering in air conditioned spaces with the rest of humanity, biding our time for the rustle of autumn leaves.
CW: bullying, homophobia
I don’t like being called a millennial. Not because of the nonsense spouted by the Daily Mail et al about how we’re all whiny entitled little shits with eight genders and a chemical dependency on avocado. I’m more annoyed because the net of “millennial” is cast pretty wide and disregards some things that are really super important.
I was born in the first half of the nineteen eighties. I remember a time before the Internet, before mobile phones, when music came on CD, but had to be copied onto tape before you could listen to it out and about.
My sex education taught me that HIV was a death sentence. Mainstream humour was, with hindsight, heavily seasoned with homophobia, transphobia and mild racism. I was part of probably the last generation that found porn in hedges. My introduction to BDSM wasn’t through any kind of community online or otherwise, but through discount end of line Nexus paperbacks.
Compare and contrast to many later millennials who grew up with the internet as a thing. Who were able to get porn on a laptop in their bedroom. Who explored their sexuality through forums and fanfic and finding people of their own particular flavour of weird.
Yes I’m painting with a broad brush and individuals’ lived experiences are hugely variable but bear with me. A decade can be a long time in terms of societal attitudes and there are times when I really feel that a change happened between me and people a decade younger. In particular I wonder if I genuinely have more internalised homophobia than I would have had I been born in the early nineteen nineties? How much difference does upbringing make? How much of my awkwardness around cute guys I’m interested in is because of growing up in a rural village where being gay was considered the worst fate imaginable. An environment where I was bullied for and (confusingly) by the perception of being gay irrespective of my actual sexuality.
I don’t think my experiences were particularly atypical. I dare say that outside of my queer sex positive social circles a lot of these experiences are still relatable today. I guess I just get annoyed sometimes when I think about all of the experiences, all the potential joy and fun I’ve missed out on, and might still be missing out on, because of that time I got followed home by a couple of drunk lads shouting homophobic abuse, or that time a family member made up a song mocking my close friendship with another boy when I was at primary school.
“There’s a beast at the door,
And he’s wild and free,
But we don’t let him in,
Because we don’t want to see,
What is lurking behind the facade.”
I’m thinking about werewolves and it’s kinda hot.
I appreciate that I’m a little late to the party on werewolves, but I’ve been thinking about how it would feel to be one and it’s kinda scary hot in a way that makes the subby parts of my brain tingle.
So, standard wisdom on the subject is that wolves represent repressed sexual energy. They’re scary and thrilling because they’re uncontrollable, a rampant id taking its revenge on the ego and super-ego (sorry, did I mention that this post was going to get a bit Freudian).
But what I’m more interested in is the other side of the equation, the were bit in werewolf. Again, looking at common representations there’s basically two ways of playing this, the human part of the werewolf typically either revels in the pleasures of becoming the beast, or ties themselves in emotional knots of guilt and self-recrimination. The former is engaging, but a little one-note; the latter can be outright dull… but doesn’t have to be.
Becoming a werewolf is a loss of control, and so, too, is submission. I can imagine a full moon transformation like a play scene, the building expectation, the want/not want, the fear, the mental games of denial and distraction until it’s suddenly upon you and it’s too late to do anything but go with it. Likewise with the comedown, the aching luxurious afterglow, the cool grey transition to the real world afterwards, the flashbacks, the hidden marks and scars stroked and grinned over as trophies.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’m hot for the idea that a werewolf is in a D/s dynamic with themself.
So, at the time of writing I’ve (temporarily at least) put my Twitter account on private while I process some thoughts. Specifically regarding content and unintended/unwanted exposure to adult content.
Someone on my feed posted a tweet basically asking people not to retweet porn. I took the point that they didn’t necessarily want to see what people enjoy wanking to. That said, social media and retweets/other forms of sharing are really important for independent adult content producers, and often if I like what someone’s doing, and whether or not I choose to buy their content, I will retweet what they are up to. This can potentially help them reach a larger audience and, more importantly, a larger audience who is more likely to be into what they’re offering than a more mainstream account. I raised this issue with the original tweeter (I know that I’m by no means perfect and am happy to reassess my approach if it means I can do better). Their response equated unexpected porn tweets with flashing.
There is, I don’t hesitate to say, a lot to unpack here. Certainly there’s enough that I’m not going to pretend that this post can cover all of the main bases, and I may well delay posting to seek additional thoughts on the matter. But it’s been running around my head for a couple of hours and here’s what I’ve got so far.
First up (and I’m going to make this one brief) intent is important. Flashing is a targeted form of sexual assault. There is intent to do something to someone against their will, with their distress forming an inherent part of the motivation. Comparing sharing adult content with flashing is a bit extreme on that basis alone.
That said, I don’t want to deny that the effects are very real for some people, and actually “I didn’t mean to” doesn’t disregard the impact of triggering someone. I guess my thought on that (and content warnings in general) comes down to sharing stuff is one thing, sharing stuff recklessly is another. For example, were I to write a post or tweet about self harm or sexual assault I would probably add a content warning.
But adding content warnings to tweets (let alone RTs) is tricky. Sure I can (and now have) added an NSFW disclaimer to my twitter profile, but you’re not going to see that if someone retweets a picture of my butt into your timeline. Twitter has an option for flagging your tweets as potentially containing sensitive material (I’ve now enabled this option, although again I don’t really know how it works in practice and whether it applies to things like retweets).
Context is also quite important. So, my twitter feed is generally pretty adult content heavy. This isn’t really an instance of me having a vanilla feed that just once in a while posts a close-up for someone’s butt-hole that can catch you by surprise. I never thought I’d be thinking of this as a defence, but at least I’m consistent in what I post and retweet. Looking at that written down it doesn’t really offer much comfort.
One option would be to basically self-censor, to not have anything on my feed (either my content or RTs) that isn’t safe for work or at least fairly unlikely to cause issues for anyone. But at that point I’m asking genuine questions about why I’m on Twitter at all. One of the main reasons I engage with it as a platform more than instagram, Facebook et al is that Twitter is relatively open to having adult content and, deep down, I really believe that having that content out there, and enabling sexual expression is an important thing, something worth fighting for.
And again, I’m in the privileged position of not relying on getting my stuff out there in order to pay my rent.
So what should I do? I am trying to examine what I’m doing and happy to look for ways to do better, but right now I’m not sure what they are.