Episode 376: Sex, Love & Intimacy During a Global…
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Tristan: Welcome to Sex Out Loud, everyone. Hey, this is just an unprecedented time that we are living in and a lot of you have asked me to do this show, so I thought, okay, I think it’s time to address it head on. So here is the show on sex, love, intimacy, all of those things, and during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m really fortunate to be joined by someone who has already been on the show a couple times, but who I consider to be, you know, the kind of go to person if you want to troubleshoot or be super creative around sexuality. So to me, when I was doing this show and putting it together, I was like, oh I know the exact person I want to talk to, it’s Tina Horn. Hi Tina!
Tina: Oh I’m smizing, what is the…
Tristan: What does it mean to smile when you’re not on video? I don’t know.
Tristan: You’re projecting a smile, or something.
Tina: I guess I have to say something so you can hear the smile in my voice.
Tristan: Hear the smile.
Tristan: So for folks who don’t know, Tina is the host and producer of the long running kink podcast, “Why Are People Into That?!”. She also writes and reports on sexual subcultures and politics in places like Rolling Stone, Hazlitt, Glamour, Jezebel. She’s the author of two non-fiction books. She’s contributed to numerous anthologies. She lectures on sex work politics and queer BDSM identities at universities, at conferences, all over the country. And she’s been in the headlines most recently because of her first creator owned comic books series, “SFSX (Safe Sex)”. What issue are we on now?
Tina: Issue seven, which is the completion of the protection arc. So the first season of the ongoing comic book series came out the week of March 13th.
Tristan: Oh wow, right under the wire.
Tina: We’re trying to eradicate the bullshit parts of capitalism, but the parts where you can buy books in society.
Tristan: We’re for that. We’re for that.
Tina: For that, yeah, and you’ll be able to buy “Safe Sex” the…
Tristan: The book.
Tina: Yeah, the paperback sometime this year, I hope. Anyway, how are you?
Tristan: So yeah, I mean I kind of want to start out and say, one of the reasons it didn’t even occur to me to do a show on this topic is because I sort of almost immediately saw a thousand articles on sex during the pandemic.
Tina: I’m so with you on that, by the way.
Tristan: You know what I mean? Like on social media, my feed was just over and over and over again. So I thought okay, I think this has been addressed. But then several people said “No I kind of want to hear what you think about what we should be doing.”.
Tristan: So I want to just start by saying a couple things. First, I feel like “we’re all in this together” is a total bullshit marketing line.
Tristan: So folks, we’re not all in this together, and by that I mean we have very different social locations and circumstances and so we are not all having the same experience. That definitely is true of sex and intimacy, because some people are quarantined with a partner, a lover, a spouse, some people do have those folks in their life, but are not living with them and are not quarantined with them, and then some folks have multiple partners who they may or may not be quarantined with.
Tristan: So we don’t have a kind of “One size fits all” answer and I don’t want to make assumptions, along the way, that there’s another person in your home or in your life, I just want to put that out there. And then the second thing I want to say is that I think one of the things that began to grate on me about these articles was that it felt like a little bit of pressure, which happens with sex a lot and this is the dramatic, cosmo thing, right? The cosmo is pushing the g-spot so much that people who can’t find their g-spot or don’t like their g-spot touched are feeling left out or like failures or broken.
Tristan: So the thing I want to say is people are really all over the board here. We have to remember that this is totally something we have never experienced in our lifetime, the vast majority of us. So people may have increased sex drives, decreased sex drives, want to be intimate with the person you are quarantine with, don’t want to be intimate with the person you’re in quarantine with, and then this can all change day by day, hour by hour. People are really reporting all over the board, having all these different feelings around sex. So I want to say first, please, please, please give yourself permission to be however you are right now.
Tina: Yeah, you said it, there’s nothing else to say.
Tristan: So we’re just done with the show? This is a real short one, this is a short episode?
Tina: Yeah I’m dying to go for a run.
Tristan: You’re going to go for a run.
Tina: With a mask, of course. I’m going to plug Leather Core.
Tristan: You got a leather mask?
Tina: I got a leather quarantine mask.
Tristan: You are such a hot bitch, I cannot take it.
Tristan: I cannot fucking take it.
Tina: Especially when you’re going for a walk, you’re like “Okay I gotta get my heart rate up” and you’re like huffing leather.
Tina: It’s pretty great.
Tristan: I like that very much. So I just don’t want people to feel pressure that they have to use this time in any particular way to do any particular thing with their sexuality.
Tristan: You know, I think that’s important. I mean what were your thoughts when you saw, coming across your feed, like thousands of articles about sex during COVID-19?
Tina: Yeah, I mean I’m so with you and I think that, you know, sex is a metaphor for everything else and what you just said about how everybody is going through something different and there is so much social pressure and so much capitalist pressure to be a certain way, like whatever way you are is inadequate and that shame and sense of inadequacy is good for capitalism and good for the people who want to have power over us and control our lives. And unfortunately, sometimes even the idea of sexual liberation can be warped into “if you’re not sexually liberated, then you are failing somehow and you’re failing yourself, you’re failing your partner, you’re failing the revolution.”. And there’s this other thing that really chafes my hide of this sort of snakeoil approach to sexuality where people are like “If you just do XYZ, then it’s going to produce a result”. And the truth is that at best, any sex advice is advice for exploration and development, and by development I mean developing your own sensibility and style and approach to things, you know, and when there’s a big dramatic shift, like the one that we’re experiencing, and we’re having the somatic experience of shock and also the somatic experience of things that we took for granted, like if we’re introverts, extroverts, being around large groups of people, or traveling long distances, or being able to see far away from ourselves, and all the things that we took for granted where we might have been either getting sexual energy or burning off sexual energy. Like going dancing with people, you know, you might not think like “that’s a place where I am having an erotic experience”.
Tristan: Oh but you are, yeah absolutely. Well, that’s the other thing of this sort of expansiveness of erotic and intimate versus sex drilled down to this one thing.
Tristan: This whole thing really resonates with me. So what you’re saying is that sex has become part of the productivity conversation.
Tristan: As in we must be productive during this time, we must continue to work and produce. This gets added to the list of things you should be doing on quarantine and what this makes me think of is, I was making a list of things you can do, blah, blah, blah when you’re in quarantine and obviously, we are not living during the Spanish Flu.
Tristan: We are living during a time of extreme technology, where we can connect in all sorts of ways. I also was thinking just because we have technology and it works, doesn’t mean it’s the ideal vehicle for everyone.
Tina: Yeah that’s totally true and also I mean that’s another thing that I have experienced. I’ve been surprised by how fatiguing Zoom calls are.
Tina: And then I feel guilt or confusion because I’m connecting with people who in some cases, people who live in other states or very far away. I just had a Zoom call this week with my neighbors, who’s home I can walk to in five minutes, right? I need to connect with them, and these are platonic friendship connections by the way, but like I start to feel fatigued from them and I don’t know if that’s just me, because I associate those video calls with work. I mean it’s something that I’ve found as a sex worker and even as a sexuality coach is that I prefer to be in the room with people and there are all of these subtle things that are happening in the way that I am relating to someone else that I don’t get from video call. So I also just want to add that to the pile of things that it’s okay to feel the way that you feel and also, this might be an opportunity to observe in yourself what does happen to my attention to my body, to my desire, even if it’s the desire to have a conversation, when I am using technology, as opposed to when your experience is usually to be in the room with people, whatever it is that you’re doing, whether it’s talking or fucking.
Tristan: Yeah. This is what I’ve been thinking about a lot this week, so a lot of people I know have regular jobs, weird right? Nine to five office jobs and many of them have never worked remotely, so that means no one in the organization has worked remotely, so now they’ve switched to working remotely, the expectations are that everyone can make that transition seamlessly. I mean the work experiences I’ve been hearing about from people are actually horrific.
Tristan: Everyone is super anxious, they’re all getting micro-managey.
Tina: Of course.
Tristan: And everyone’s a little bit miserable, but I feel like no one sat down and said “Wait, we’ve never done this before, can we take a fucking breath or a minute?”
Tristan: Yeah so the idea that we’re like, as sex educators, we’re like “Hey guys, this is a no-brainer, right? This is how you have sex now. Just have sex, on the zoom, on the skype, on the whatever.” It’s like “Just text each other now.” But if you’ve never done that, if you’ve never sexually communicated with these technologies, it seems like a big leap to just say “Hey, do it all online now.”
Tina: Yeah that’s absolutely true. I mean, tell me if you relate to this, like I sexualize everything so every new piece of technology that has emerged or become a part of our lives, the absolute very first thing that I do with it is figure out how to use it as a pornographic tool.
Tristan: Sex it. How to sex it.
Tina: Yeah. And so, the idea of somebody not having the intuition to start a back and forth volley about telling a sexual story to one another over text or feeling self conscious about showing their face on cam or, you know, and we can get into the safety considerations, and by safety, I include privacy considerations. But sort of the more creative synapsis that are involved in that, that’s something I take to. Now I can’t do basic math like, speaking of things to use your phone for, I have to get out my phone to calculate 20% tip when I go to restaurants or nowadays…
Tristan: Now I think it’s 50% or something, that’s what I’ve been hearing.
Tina: Dude, I for sure am giving all of my cash to anyone who is an essential worker right now, which I highly recommend that people do, and eroticize it if you can, tipping people. Yeah anyways, tipping is the sexiest thing you can do, that’s my advice.
Tristan: Oh look at that! That’s your number one tip for quarantine, tip.
Tina: I mean maybe my number one tip is to eroticize everything, I don’t know.
Tina: I mean maybe that will get some folks into bad situations. Again, I’ve built a life for myself where I can eroticize everything.
Tristan: Yes, exactly. Okay, we’re going to take a quick break. But I do want to, in the next segment, talk about some how to’s, give people ideas for what they might want to do to connect sexually.
Tina: I do have some of those and I know I was derisive about snake oil, but I have tips.
Tristan: No, of course. I know what you mean about the snake oil. That’s what I meant about just saying, “Oh guys, you can’t have sex with the person you love? Just have sex with them on zoom.” It’s just not that simple. It’s not that simple a solution, so I want to suggest a bunch of different things so that people can maybe find something that they can then tweak, that works for them, or they can find a medium that feels comfortable and feels right to them.
Tina: Yeah that they can adapt to.
Tristan: Right, exactly. So let’s take a commercial break, hear from our fabulous sponsors, who keep the lights on, folks, they do. Let’s take a break and when we come back, more about sex, love, and intimacy in a time of a global pandemic and more tips, besides just tipping, from Tina Horn.
[Pleasure Chest Commercial]
Tristan: Welcome back to “Sex Out Loud”, everyone. We are talking today with Tina Horn.
Tristan: About love and sex and intimacy in the time of COVID. Raymond, you had a story that you wanted to share with us.
Raymond: I did. We were talking a little bit on the break about how we’re human and sometimes we have moments of schadenfreude reading about other people’s experiences and that reminded me of, I think early on in shutdown, I saw someone on my twitter had put out a call about like “If you are in quarantine with someone, and you’re in a relationship, and you’re really upset and you hate them and you have a lot of drama, please email me, I’m not a journalist, I’m just messy.”
Raymond: I just appreciated that they were like “I want to hear your tales of quarantine woes.” There are also, I saw, I have another writer I follow on my timeline who put out a different call out and ended up writing a story for, I think it was Vice and it’s called “Six stories of Housemates Who Hooked Up While Isolating at Home Together” and if you are one of those queer people who love stories of “Oh no, we had to sleep in the same bed” and that turns into romance, this article had a lot of great real life examples of that. And you know, looking at the article now, it’s dated March 27th, and I think at the time, I was like “Oh this is really sweet”, but now a few weeks have passed and I feel a little bit like “Can we check in on these couples?” because I want to know what’s really going on with the sort of U-Haul lesbians, that’s part of all queer culture, that’s not just lesbians.
Tristan: Right. But no, that’s a really good point like what are they all doing? They’re now all stuck in the house with their housemates and what if there are regrets or drama.
Tina: Yeah, I mean, sleeping with your housemate is kind of like sleeping with somebody that you work with, which is kind of like incest, you know? It’s like there’s all kinds of reasons not to do it, but the number one reason is like awkward family barbeques for the rest of your life right? So now, your home is like an awkward family barbeque with the cousin that you fucked like everyday. You see what I did there?
Tristan: Oh yeah I do.
Tina: Hopefully that also is a fantasy for people to enjoy as they’re stuck in quarantine.
Raymond: I know, I was just circling back to your advice to eroticize everything.
Tristan: Yeah eroticize everything, oh my gosh.
Raymond: Including your messy drama.
Tristan: Including your messy drama.
Tina: I do love an advice column and I love, you know I don’t love reality TV, but I think I love advice columns for the same reason that a lot of people love reality TV. I just want my messiness. I want to root around in the messiness and then I want someone to come in and bring order to the messiness. That’s probably also my sexuality to be honest.
Tristan: Tina, we’re going to make great housemates.
Tina: I know.
Tristan: Because I’m all about order.
Tina: You, also, you like to get messy too.
Tristan: Oh yeah, no, I totally like mess but then I love order, I just love order.
Tina: Oh yeah, that’s going to work out.
Tristan: You know, people are like “Oh you’re doing these organizational projects while you’re under quarantine?” and I’m like “You don’t understand, it brings me joy.”
Tina: There was a pile of New Yorkers that now, I’ve read them all and recycled them.
Tina: So yeah, you guys, whatever situation you’re in, if you want to sexualize a pile of New Yorkers, read them, recycle them, if that’s the release that you feel, that’s cool, that’s fine.
Tristan: Exactly. No, this is good about New Yorker. Let’s talk about words, okay.
Tina: Oh yeah, love them!
Tristan: Because I think one of the simplest ways, and we don’t need to think about creating images or any of that, but one of the simplest ways people can communicate is with words. You are the queen of this, you wrote on it, Sexting.
Tina: I did! It’s called Sexting.
Tristan: But my question is: what should people do if they’ve never sexted before and now they want it to be one of the ways that they communicate?
Tina: Okay, my first piece of advice is eroticize everything, I’ve decided that that’s my theme for today, and in this specific case, the advice that I want to give to people is chances are you’re having some kind of problem right now, some kind of emotional issue, some kind of anxiety, some place that your anxiety or depression is aligning on, whether it’s the dishes or some perceived inadequacy, right? So whatever is stressing you out, my advice is be creative, think about how you can transform that stressful thing that you’re focused on, maybe to the point of obsession right now, how do you turn that into a sex game? How do you eroticize that. So for example, someone recently asked me for advice about an issue they were having before quarantine and that now is just really in their face, which is they come like ten times as often as their partner does and this is an issue that people of all genders and all bodies and all genitals and all coming styles have, I hear this all the time, right? And obviously its that feedback loop where you want to give your partner pleasure, but maybe your partner is like “I’m fine with the amount that I come” but you’re like “But I’m not fine with it because I want to feel pleasure from your pleasure” but then they feel bad, you know, anyway, people are probably already familiar with this. So my dominatrix brain is like “Well, you should just…” and by the way my friend specifically was like “Making someone come makes me feel powerful” and I was like, this is another piece of advice, “What is the role of power in this issue, how can you map the power in the situation and do some journaling about it, do some talking about it, with your friends”. That’s another piece of advice is to talk about sex with your friends that you don’t have sex with, no better time than now to do that.
Tristan: Ooh that’s a great idea.
Tina: But anyway, my advice to my friend was if you feel powerful when they come, then you should just tell them that you want to be in control of their orgasms and then I just started spewing sex to my friend, this was obviously something she was open to, of like here are all of the things that come to mind when I think of orgasm control, like teasing someone with the things that they love the most and then telling them that they’re not allowed to come for three days, like putting them in chastity, telling them to ask permission, emphasizing how backed up they are and how heavy their genitals must feel with all of that cum backed up or how they’re just a cum factory for your pleasure, etc. So you know, like transforming the things that are stressing you out into fun sex is a really good project for right now, I think.
Tristan: I love that. I love that idea. And the other thing I wanted to say too about words and technology is if writing is not your thing, or if writing stresses you out, or if writing is your job and you don’t want to write, you can also do these voice memos on your phone, right?
Tina: Voice memos, I think, are the new frontier of sexting. I think they’ve been underappreciated for awhile and I think that either dirty talking into your voice memos or just pressing record, especially I advise people who feel self conscious about sexting to open up some kind of voice recording device whether it’s the voice memo app in your phone or whatever and set it on the bedside table or the bed and press play and just do your best to forget that it’s there and just have it recording the audio while you masturbate.
Tristan: Tina! You just stole my thunder on this, I had it written in my notes and I’m going to take a photograph of this, because I have done this with a partner.
Tina: We’re just simpatico, Tristan.
Tristan: I have recorded myself jerking off and it’s so hot and they’ve kept it on their phone.
Tina: I like listening to myself, personally. It’s okay if you don’t.
Tristan: Oh yeah, I mean, I love this idea. And then I want to take it like two steps back, which is, so say you are not finessed at dirty talk and this idea that we just gave you feels way over your ahead, also you can use someone else’s words. Like what about a little snippet of a story that you read online or that you read in an erotica book, you can just read a little story, read a little scene into the voice memo.
Tina: That is very good advice, because I think that people get self-conscious or they tense up or they freeze up, this is like the number one thing people come to me, you know, when I teach dirty talk workshops or when I’m doing one on one coaching is that they’re like “I don’t know what to say” and I’m like “You need to take some improv classes, obviously”.
Tina: Because it’s all locked away in there.
Tina: People get stage fright right before and then the issue, I think, is that people conflate their stage fright, or performance anxiety, with the idea that there is nothing there to draw from. Like imagine if you walk onstage to give a lecture and you have anxiety and you freeze up and you can’t get anything out, or you choke and you can’t get a song out and then you conflate that with having nothing in your brain. That’s not true, it’s obviously there, which is why a lot of people who do public speaking bring notes with them, right? So you can read something that’s somebody else’s or you can read something that you wrote, you can write a dirty story or just write a list of words that you find sexy. Those could be words that you know you like to describe your body, words that you like to describe other people’s bodies, maybe the body of the particular partner or partners that you are sexting with, you could write down sexy action words, verbs, you could write down sexy adjectives, descriptive words, and then maybe you start to get to the point where you’re writing down sexy phrases or sentences or scenarios, you know. It’s kind of like learning a different language, but it’s sort of more like learning how to play music, some people have a better intuition for it than others but that doesn’t mean that…
Tristan: you can’t learn it, yeah.
Tina: It doesn’t mean that everyone doesn’t have the capacity to learn it and then to extend the music metaphor a little bit, there are so many different style and tastes of music, just because you’re learning this new language of music doesn’t mean that you have to do it the way anybody else does it and you might be surprised at what styles emerge when you are playing music with different people.
Tristan: Right. Okay so let’s say we want to bring an image into it. We’re both former pornographers, so we have a lot of ideas about this. But I think the first thing that people think of is…
Tristan: Well I think the first thing people think of is if I’m naked, where is that image going to go?
Tina: Oh, so you’re talking about sending nudes.
Tristan: Sending nudes or doing a little strip tease or mutual masturbation over the internet with images. I think the first issue, like you said at the top about safety, is like safety and privacy, right?
Tristan: I just made a little porn movie of myself and now that could be anywhere.
Tina: So it’s a big, complicated subject and there are really good resources about it online, but one really important one that I want to recommend right now is that if you don’t already, use an app that has end to end encryption, which sounds like a big fancy tech word, but is actually quite simple and commonplace. So Signal is a really great texting app that has end to end encryption, which essentially just means that it is harder, not impossible, just like any sexuality, you’re always making a risk or an assessment, but it’s a more privacy friendly form of sexting and if you feel secure in yourself that your mode of communication is secure, you’re more likely to feel safe letting go in the way that you want to and connecting with people in the way that you want to.
Tristan: And then what do you think of what I’m calling temporary, in other words it doesn’t get saved anywhere, what about like Snapchat and Facetime?
Tina: I mean, how to feel safe with them?
Tristan: Yeah, I mean do you feel like you could send a little sexy something something to someone on snapchat and that’s safer than sending an actual JPEG of your nude self over imessage.
Tina: I mean, you know, I don’t mean to be evasive but I think that we need to take a bigger view of this and ask ourselves what do we mean when we say safe and I think that if these are concerns people are having, that it’s a really important thing to interrogate, like what are we scared of and is that fear well-founded. You know, it’s similar to other forms of safe sex, like if we are averse to the idea of having sex without barriers with someone because we are fearing contracting, speaking of viruses, HIV or other STIs, actually asking ourselves, what is the scientific risk factor here and do I just assoicate barrier free sex with sex that is going to result in death or will this barrier free sex with this particular individual actually result in me contracting a virus. So going back to sexting, if you use Snapchat, like the idea behind Snapchat is that the videos are supposed to disappear but people can take screenshots, people can also take pictures with other devices of a screen, you know. Unfortunately, there are people out there who either are saving these images just because they want to be able to access them and then they’re getting backed up to the cloud and then they’re out there, or there are people who have malicious intent, the most extreme version would be posting it somewhere online without your consent or there’s all different scenarios that people are scared of and I think that people go straight to the fear without actually considering well what are the consequences that I am scared of. This is part of the reason that one of the things that I always advise is if you are dealing with fear about the consequences of someone seeing a sexy picture of you that you didn’t intend to see a sexy picture of you, what are you doing to contribute to a world in which we are not slut-shaming people on a social level, or an institutional level, for exchanging sexual or nude pictures of themselves with other consenting adults.
Tristan: I’m 100% with you on this, but I think the average person believes the consequences are big and means being ostracized from their community, losing their job, losing the right to see their children. I mean all kinds of things can happen and will happen, and we’ve seen happen, when some little erotic dalliance is taped and then released. So I’m here for you theoretically, but I also feel like where we are now, there are real consequences for people if this stuff gets leaked or hacked or whatever.
Tina: Yeah and if I can give a little plug, there is a really awesome organization called Hacking Hustling that has a website, hackinghustling.com, that is a really great hub of people who are doing a lot of sex work activism and tech freedom activism around trying to create a world, again both socially and institutionally, where first of all we have more freedom of privacy for things like end to end encryption, but also that the consequences of such images existing, like a sexual or nude image, does not mean that someone has grounds to fire you, that someone has grounds to take your kid. These are the concrete things that there are reasons to be scared of them. It is true that people can be slut shamed or whore shamed out of the things that they should have rights to, so Hacking Hustling is a really great resource for actually educating yourself about that and who are the people who are, on the grassroots level, really fighting for our freedom to sexually communicate as adults without those consequences.
Tristan: Right. Okay, we are going to take another commercial break. I have so many questions. We’ve got more to cover, people. So listen to the commercial, come back in just a minute or so, and we’re going to keep going with Tina Horn!
Tristan: Welcome back to “Sex Out Loud”, everyone. We are talking today about sex, love, and intimacy in the time of COVID-19 and I’ve got with me, in addition to Raymond Johnson, my producer and the everyman, I’ve got Tina Horn who has written a bunch of books, but one that may be a special interest to you right now is actually called Sexting. We can still buy books, and you can ship them to your house, and you can read them, so that’s exciting.
Tristan: It’s one of the things we can still do, so check out Sexting. So before the break, we were talking about different platforms for having internet sex or safe sex or cyber sex. Now recently, I think as recently as this week, Zoom has come out and said “We heard people are having sex parties.” First of all, it was like six weeks ago when someone said “Oh my god, queer people are having orgies on Zoom” and I literally just wanted to reply to that with the word duh.
Tristan: I mean, that’s news?
Tristan: Of course queer people are having orgies and other people as well are having orgies on Zoom. I mean, we know how to do it, that’s all I have to say, but Zoom now says they’re going to use bots and other technology to shut down people being naked or sexual on their platform. So I first I want to say everyone do it now, because Zoom may be shutting it down soon, right, so it’s like this is your time, so do it now, I’m not saying violate the terms of service, I would never say that on the air, but for now, there are things like Skype and Zoom where you can actually have some sexy time. What are your thoughts about video sexy time?
Tina: Well, I mean, one thought that comes to mind is first off, I’ll say I love it, I endorse it, I think it’s great, and one thing that comes to mind is I’m just thinking about how the dystopia of Safe Sex, my comic book is already here and the ways that people are policing one another and that the people who create the terms of service are like “Don’t use our platform to connect safely”, because that is associated with sexually transgressive behavior, pervy behavior like voyeurism and exhibitionism and you can’t procreate through video chat.
Tristan: Yes, yes.
Tina: Which is one of it’s key appeals to me. Video chatting is safer sex in the sense that no one yet has been knocked up or contracted a virus of any kind while jerking off together, using video chat. But yeah, the idea that then they would be sending these little perv bots to be like “That looks like a naked body” and also like what are they interpreting as sexual? Can we use the heteronormative imagination against itself, where we’re doing sexual things that bots are not programmed to recognize as sexual? But, you know, another thing that comes to mind with your joke that’s not a joke about how of course queers are having orgies on Zoom. I mean it makes sense to me that queers are more attuned to the different ways that we can express ourselves sexually, especially kinky queers are just more attuned to how mutual masturbation or putting on shows for one another.
Tristan: Or just watching, or showing up and just being a voyeur of all of it.
Tina: Voyeurism is participation, I always say that.
Tina: And yeah, we were just talking about how there are sex workers doing virtual strip clubs and there’s all kinds of wonderful sexual entertainment, the kind that you can pay for and the kind that is a bunch of folks getting together in a noncommercial realm to enjoy that space together. It just kind of makes sense to me that folks who are already used to not accepting the default programming of what sex is and what it has to be in order to be satisfying or in order to count as sex would take to these forums and see that there could potentially be joy and pleasure and human connection as well as creativity and education and all of the other things that sexuality can be about that are happening on these platforms, and the fact that it is getting censored, it’s just a foregone conclusion for people that it would be innapropriate to use technology for these pornographic purposes is just so backwards and it’s something that I fight against in my fiction and my nonfiction all the time.
Tristan: Well this also gets to such an important point, Tina, which is now more than ever, people may want to think about expanding their definitions of sex, of pleasure, of intimacy, right?
Tristan: Now could be a good opportunity to say “I would like to connect with the person who I‘m in quarantine with, but I’m not up for what we usually do when we say we have sex.” So these ideas of connecting in other ways, I talked about this briefly with Raymond, Raymond are you there?
Raymond: I am. In fact, Tristan, I was thinking about how we were talking in the first segment, or Tina was talking in the first segment, about that feeling of being drained by Zoom and those video calls. I had been thinking about this idea that a lot of time with these video calls, our brain is connecting with people, we’re seeing photos, we’re laughing, we’re sharing stories, there is that mental connection but we don’t have that physical, coregulatory, biological thing and so after the call, our bodies are feeling like “I didn’t get nurtured”, our brains got nurtured but our bodies didn’t get nurtured.
Tina: And it’s not even just about physically touching, skin to skin, it’s also the presence of people in the room.
Raymond: Exactly. The shared breaths, the shared laughter.
Tina: Some of us are very attuned to smell, some of us are very attuned to the difference sound makes, especially a human voice in a room versus coming through your tinny laptop speakers.
Raymond: Right, and so I think about what are ways that we can also bring physical connection to the person you’re quarantined with or with ourselves. It’s not the same, I know it sounds really silly to do things like putting our arms around yourself, as if you’re hugging yourself, but physically speaking, it does do things, you know, if you’re sort of slow dancing with yourself, but that’s the other piece too that I’m trying to incorporate with my wonderful person that I’m partnered with is that I sort of start saying, “Let’s start doing a kitchen slow dance a day”, because then you have like five minutes where we’re slowing down our breath, where our bodies are in contact, where we’re sharing intimacy, we’re sharing a connection, but there’s not the expectation, there’s not the pressure of making it more, you can have a slow dance that feels sad, you can have a slow dance that feels sexy, you can have a slow dance that feels silly, you can bring all the emotions to it, but you’re still having that physical touch, that physical intimacy, things like that, which I think remain important. And I think the other thing I was saying to you, Tristan, was that like if you’ve always been meaning to talk about scheduling sex, now is a good time to really experiment with that, because we need some structure and we need some boundaries, our schedules are just so open, we have so much time, and some people are maybe dealing with too much connectivity, that’s a funny way of saying it, but you know what I’m saying.
Raymond: So if you actually sort of say, here’s the one hour of week where we have to really just make an effort to push everything out and be in the bedroom alone and take off our clothes and see what happens, and maybe you don’t have sex either, but I still think it’s going to start to shift your brain and shift your thinking into what physical intimacy, what erotic intimacy, what togetherness is.
Tina: Can I just say that what you were saying a second ago is actually true, that I have had the feeling, in the past few weeks, because there are a lot of people I’ve been talking to, friends, and family, and even having work meetings more, and I’m used to working from home, but I’ve been having them more than usual and sometimes it actually feels like all of a sudden everybody’s in my house and my house is a place that, outside of social time, is time for myself and the person that I live with and the people that I’ve specifically decided that tonight is a night that I feel like being social with in my home. So I totally agree, actually, that just like people sometimes say “Have a room where you work and a room where you rest.” and that’s extra hard for those of us who live in New York City and have a room that is both a dining room and a TV room and a gym.
[Tina and Tristan Laugh]
Tina: And an entryway, mudroom, coat closet, so that’s hard but using our imaginations to try to create…
Raymond: Right, and different types of boundaries like there’s physical boundaries, but I think having time boundaries and schedule boundaries and mental boundaries can help when you do have a lack of space, or a lack of alone time, or things like that.
Tristan: Yeah, no this is a really important thing to talk about which is that part of what’s happening in work and life is that the boundaries have gotten real fucking fuzzy, right?
Tristan: It’s like now you’re living room is your office and it’s also your kids’ school and it’s also the place where you try to relax and watch Netflix and it’s also a place where you’re caring for another family member who’s also quarantined with you. And so the idea of putting into place some structure and some boundaries around time that is just set aside for connection and intimacy and maybe space that is just set aside for that, I think it’s really important and I think we’re not good at it. A lot of people have been reporting, for example, now that they’re working from home, they’re getting emails, and even phone calls or texts, from coworkers at off hours, like Saturday at 3:00 pm.
Tina: I mean, oh my god, welcome to freelance life everybody.
Tristan: I mean, yeah of course. Tina and I, and Raymond too, we’re used to that, but people who work a nine to five job and really want to put that down afterwards and have their weekend, which is the structure a lot of people who have 9-5 jobs have, feel like being invaded. See, what I pictured when you said that Tina, was there are people in my house who I didn’t invite into my house and I actually don’t want them here.
Tina: And it’s like I technically invited them in, but they just showed up and I was like “I guess I’m going to make you tea, also when are you leaving?”
Tina: But also, you know, this leads me to another piece of advice which is that people should totally start masturbating like freelancers or start masturbating like me, a freelancer, which is taking a break from work. Freelancing is hard and it’s hard to have boundaries and it’s really hard to send another email saying “Did you get my invoice?” but you got to find the perks when you can, and for me, one of the biggest perks of working from home and being a freelancer is that as my own boss, I can tell myself, at any point, time for a jerk off break, and going into the other room, which is maybe a few feet from my desk, and putting on headphones and listening to music, or maybe watching porn, porn that I have a log in for, because I paid for it, or reading erotica, or doing something that makes me feel sexy and masturbating and flooding my body with endorphins. Also, essentially when you’re masturbating your tricking yourself into lying down and maybe closing your eyes and just shutting off the rest of the world and actually being in an ultra focused fugue state, like I often say when I go to acupuncture, I’m paying for acupuncture but I’m also paying for someone to just dom me and tell me to lie down and be quiet for an hour. So masturbation is like that too and whether or not you’re actually feeling super horny in that moment, thinking of masturbation as part of your self care routine, even just thinking of it in the same way that you think about working out, where you’re just like I’m going to do this totally scientifically, flood my body with endorphins, take a break, not stare at a workscreen. So I highly recommend doing that, that is the key to my success, and look at me.
[Tristan and Tina Laugh]
Tristan: Oh Tina Horn.
Tina: And I think that it’s really, if I can just add one more thing, whoever you live with, now you may live with people that it is appropriate to talk about your masturbation routine with, like say a partner, and you may live with people that it’s not appropriate to talk about, but having language around privacy is important. And unfortunately, I think we all have this fear of rejection or fear if you want private time or solo time or alone time, that you’re saying “I don’t want to be with you” and I think that learning how to communicate with the people that you live with, saying you want privacy is about like “I want this for me. I want to spend time by myself.” and whether that means putting on headphones and listening to music or listening to a podcast while you do a chore and feeling like you can be alone together and having that parallel play within your space is so important and if you do have a partner that you live with, now is the time to emphasize that masturbation is solo play, self love, and that you have a right to do it and whether you are comfortable doing it while your partner is in the room or maybe your partner participating by talking dirty, or letting you smell them, or like smothering you with their tits or ass or feet or whatever is your favorite part of their body, even like eroticizing being ignored while a person reads a book next to you while you masturbate or being just able to say “I’m going to masturbate right now, because that’s the thing that’s going to help me sleep” or “I need to masturbate right now, because I’m taking my signature Tina Horn work break so that I can come back and focus for the rest of the afternoon.” Being able to assert that and communicate that, like I really want to tell people, you have the right to masturbate and it is a beautiful thing and you have the right to communicate to your partner, whether you generally say I need some private time or whether you can actually emphasize or accentuate the eroticism of it and say to your partner, “It’s time for me to have a me party” or “It’s time for me to jerk off right now”, and to have it be something that is an activity unto itself and something beautiful unto itself that’s not a consolation prize or a rejection or something like that. Now is a really good time to work on that because that will help you in non quarantine crisis life, I promise you.
Tristan: Absolutely, I mean, absolutely. I think, yes, that someone could fall into the trap of “Hey honey, I’m going to go into the other room and masturbate” and their partner saying, “Well why? I’m here, let’s just have sex.”
Tina: Especially when people are feeling anxiety or depression that is affecting their libido, sometimes it’s a sense of control, sometimes it’s a sense of comfort, sometimes it’s a sense of like “I want to have sex with the person I’ve been having sex with longer than anybody else, which is myself” and its okay to carve out time where you’re not thinking about anybody else’s pleasure or even attention on you and just like totally be alone. It’s a two way street or a three way street, whatever your living situation is, to encourage and emphasize that it’s okay and if your partner says “I’m going to go into the other room and masturbate”, just be like “Okay, you’re so hot, I can’t wait to smell you later.”
[Tristan and Tina Laugh]
Tristan: No, I love this, I love this idea and I think it was a really good point that if you don’t have a lot of separate space, or you don’t have a lot of space period, putting on headphones to get into your own world or bubble, I like that idea a lot. For me, wearing headphones to listen to music or whatever, really does help me to concentrate more and feel that I’m not hearing the sounds of my partner working or other things going on in the house. So I love the idea of, if you don’t have separate spaces, of headphones. And these are just in general, Tina, all really good ideas, and Raymond, all really good ideas. We’re out of time.
Tina: Aw man.
Tristan: Okay. You can find Tina on the interwebs at tinahorn.net. Also, your podcast is available where people get podcasts, it’s called “Why Are People Into That?!”. I recommend the episode I was on, no, all of the episodes are really good.
Tina: Butt Plugs.
Tristan: Why are people into butt plugs. Tina is on Twitter and Instagram @tinahornsass. So Tina Horn sass, is another way to read it, but it’s Tina Horn’s Ass, without the apostrophe. Thanks so much, this is my first early morning podcast that I’ve recorded.
Tina: I’m very blessed.
Tristan: So thanks for being my reason to get out of bed and the first part of my day, which has been really good, it sets a good tone.
Tina: Thanks for getting messy and then bringing order back to things with me.
Tristan: Okay next week, coming up, we are going to do a show that we said we were going to do this week but now it’s going to be next week, I’m going to talk with Raymond about my Me Too experience, in a sex positive space, it’s a different show for me, because I’m going to be very personal and vulnerable and I’m a little terrified, but I hope you’ll take a listen. So until next time, you can catch me on social media, across all platforms, @TristanTaormino and you can figure out where you want to listen to the show at sexoutloudradio.com. Since we have become independent, we really, really need your support and if you are a regular listener who hasn’t yet subscribed, I would love it if you could subscribe to show your solidarity and your support and it would really help us rebuild our audience after leaving one platform and going to another. So until next time folks, take some time to talk about sex out loud.
Transcript by: KiaTranscripts@gmail.com