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Two things: Devotee discussion and the right amount of sex

Two things (OK, actually three things) to kick off your Monday… a BBC programme on devotees, the ‘right’ amount of sex to have, and a kickass sex story set on a train.

The good: Meet the Devotees

If you’re not already following @EmilyRYates on Twitter then you totally should. She’s a writer and accessibility consultant who writes fantastically about sex. She’s just made a programme – Meet The Devotees – which explores ‘Devoteeism’ – people who are turned on by disability. It’s an uncomfortable, eye-opening, and incredibly difficult topic. Here she writes about one of the devotees she met:

“Gray’s interest in disabled women first emerged at school when a girl with a very short leg and one arm entered his classroom, he says he fell immediately in love: ‘To me she was obviously the most gorgeous woman in the whole school district.’

“As I spoke to him, though, I wondered if his attraction was more about vulnerability and power – things which I didn’t want others to consider when they look at me.”

Read Emily’s article about making the show, or watch the whole programme on the iPlayer.

Update: Emily also just sent me this open letter from a writer with cerebral palsy, and it’s incredible:

“Your panicked questions, the constant pressure, and those backhanded compliments all imply that my disability is a problem I need you to solve. That’s kind of the only language we have for when able-bodied and disabled people get together. And I, for one, am pretty bored of it. So let me offer an alternative: I don’t need you to save me. I need you to see me.”

The bad: the ‘right’ amount of sex to have

Are you shagging enough? What counts as ‘enough’? Often the discussion around sex frequency relies on the idea that there’s a ‘right’ amount of sex to have to keep us happy. But an article in Scientific American recently speculated that it’s not about the overall number, it may be a comparative thing:

“Unlike in previous studies, a subtler pattern also appeared: at frequencies greater than once a week, the happiness graph flattened out. The reason “is an open question that we are exploring,” Muise says. Her team thinks one possibility is that people are satisfied when they are doing it as much as they think they should be, a standard set by their peers. Indeed, the average for couples is once a week.”

Which isn’t necessarily bad, it just highlights again how rubbish humans are at understanding our own pleasure exclusive of others. With sex – as with lots of other things – we’re intensely keen to compare. What’s a ‘normal’ amount of sex? What’s the ‘right’ way to do it? Blergh.

Bonus thing: awesome sex story

SexBlogOfSorts is running a writing competition, where you pick the title of an article in a magazine and write a sex story using that title as a prompt. Jo, from TeachersHaveSex, picked a pretty spectacular title and wrote an amazing story – check it out…

Underground Eruptions Could Cause Quakes Months Later (Scientific American)

“Sitting on a KTX train bound for Daegu, I see my own reflection absentmindedly staring out the window at the mountains passing by.  As so often happens when I’m not thinking of anything in particular, my thoughts drift to you.  To your strong fingers, your expressive brown eyes, your dirty words whispered lovingly into my ears.  Your mouth on my nipple, seen from above as I’m straddling you.  Your sex and heat and body odor-mingled scent in the late morning after an all-night fuck marathon.”

Read the full story here…



  • Jo says:

    Holy shit! Thanks so much for posting a link to my story – if I weren’t full of wine, I’d probably be bouncing around my apartment like a chinchilla! xx

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    I’m not disabled myself, but reading that article about ‘devotees’ made me angry enough; I imagine if I was disabled I would be furious. In particular, this:

    “If it was a performance and I could look really sexy that could be really fun, but actually what they’re asking me to do is something I do every day and have difficulty with.” (Would bold and underline if I could.)

    That seems to epitomise everything that’s wrong with our contemporary society: a society where people increasingly put their own interests and desires first and don’t question them, and think about others afterward or not at all. And a society that sees disabled people in particular as bizarre things to be either fetishised or feared.

    Look, I consider myself pretty sex-positive, but I *am* going to judge ‘devoteeism’. Maybe these people didn’t choose their fetish, but that doesn’t make it OK. A sexual desire based around the privileged fetishing the lives of the unprivileged is inherently incredibly problematic.

    I’m aware I sound like some student activist on Tumblr here, but TLDR: People need to examine their fucking privilege.

    • Charlie says:

      I think you’re spot on here. It’s dehumanising, I think, which makes it not OK as a kink, unless the disabled person is totally consenting, in which case I’d imagine there would be a name for the kink of wanting to be treated that way. If there isn’t, it immediately implies disabled people either don’t have desires or they’re not important.

  • josephine_kk says:

    I’m not sure if i should be shocked or annoyed at those devotee types? I’m actually baffled by it!

  • The devotee thing makes me deeply uncomfortable – the idea of being desired for something I’m often trying to forget about or not dealing at all well with – it’s a pretty uncomfortable thought. I think the open letter though, is spot on and so beautifully done – it made me a bit teary. And thank you so much for sharing the competition link again x

  • Girl on the net says:

    Charlie and SCS – I agree, and I didn’t want to write too much about the programme because I’m still getting my thoughts in order. If it weren’t for the way Emily tackled it I think I’d have switched off quite quickly – but she explored so much around it I think I spend much longer dwelling on it than I would have otherwise. It’s easy for a dev to say ‘oh well this is just how my sexuality works’ – as a lot of the devotees did, but then there is a huge difference as soon as your fantasy becomes reality (or you try to make it a reality). On top of what you both mention, there seems to be a huge amount of non-consent involved in sexualising people for things that they do not intend to be sexual in any way – and a lot of entitlement/callousness in the way many of the devotees had those conversations. I still can’t quite put my finger on exactly what I think about it – because I don’t want to, for instance, write off the woman who makes money creating videos etc for devs, or tell people who are perfectly happy being in an objectified relationship that they shouldn’t be, but I am massively uncomfortable with the people who were just shrugging and going ‘well I like what I like’. That’s fair enough to a point, but as soon as your likes cross over from fantasy into reality – whether just a post on a forum or an approach towards someone or what have you, immediately you have a moral responsibility for your actions. I think the main thing I took away from it was a sense of the cognitive dissonance that necessarily has to be in place for someone to go ‘oh yeah you’re so hot’ and yet simultaneously deny (or just ignore) that the person they think is hot has any internal life, emotions, struggles etc which they should consider. I think Emily making her own video was incredibly powerful, for exactly that reason, and I think my opinion on whether devs are ‘well-meaning’ would depend heavily on whether that video affected them, or whether they shrugged it off.

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