So, I was thinking about this game I'm writing. I mostly only have vague ideas at this point, but it's going to be one of those games where you control a human and explore the world and fight various enemies. And maybe you'll find various equipment – different weapons and armor that you can switch around.

I'm a mathematician, so I love generalizing things. So I looked at the switching-around system and said “How much can I generalize this?” And so I immediately thought of allowing you, the player, to switch off your arms and legs and replace them with robot arms and legs, or use cool bio-technology to give yourself tentacles instead. And you can't really have a “switch one thing for another” system unless you can switch one thing for nothing. Maybe you could take off your arms and sell them in a shop? Sounds ridiculous, but I've definitely played games where you can do things like that!

But anyway, the real thing I want to talk about isn't taking off your arms, it's just taking off your clothing, which has a lot of different social implications, for some damn reason.

So I've got a choice. Do I allow the player to have zir character take off all zir clothes,1 or don't I?

Suppose I do. Then I take a nice walk into the [...]

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(This post will contain straightforward descriptions of sexual stuff. If you think that's obscene, now is the time for you to stop reading... and reconsider your sense of morality.)

In this post, I'm going to talk about what sex is, as in “to have sex” or “to be sexually active”. Like a lot of other things I've talked about, our society thinks this is really important, but can't agree on what it means!

Society is full of myths and lies about sex – about what it means to have sex, about when you should have sex, about who should be having sex, about how many people you should have sex with, and so forth. In fact, there are so many myths and lies that I can't possibly address them all in one post. There are the traditional, Puritanical lies, like “You should never do anything sexual except with your spouse in a heterosexual marriage”. Lots of people disagree with that now, you say? Well, yes. But plenty of them have their own myths and lies, like “You should always have sex by your third date”1. No matter who you ask, someone is going to tell you how they think you should live your life.

All these myths cause a lot of problems. But there are too many problems for me to discuss one at a time. If I pointed out any three of them individually, I'd feel guilty for not pointing out all the rest.2 So I'm going to throw that all out and start over from the beginning.

What the fuck is sex, anyway?

Humans are strange creatures with strange feelings. I could [...]

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Before we can really talk about pornography, we have to know what it is. Of course, defining “pornography” is notoriously difficult. There's even a quote from a former United States Supreme Court Justice saying “perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so”.1 I usually don't like going to dictionaries for answers, because dictionaries are often behind-the-times on social issues, but here, I'll go ahead and ask a dictionary. At the time I'm writing this, Wiktionary defines “pornography” as:

The explicit depiction of sexual subject matter, especially with the sole intention of sexually exciting the viewer.

That wasn't so hard.2 So, we're basically talking about stories, pictures, videos, and so on, of people having sex or being in sexual situations, whatever that means.

Anyway, sounds great, right? I mean, most people enjoy a certain [...]

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Let's talk about affirmative consent!

A couple of days ago, someone posted some evil, rape-excusing statements on one of my college's student/faculty/staff mailing lists. I won't talk about it much here, because I have a policy of not repeating evil things on this blog. However, it inspired me to draw this!

A brief introduction to affirmative consent.

(That's a link to an image (I'm putting it behind a link because it's fairly large). Click the link to see it. A transcript of that image is below.)

Transcript: (show)(hide)
ELI: Hello, folks! Let's talk about affirmative consent, and the myth of a “grey area” between consensual sex and rape! Consent is actually fairly straightforward, but people don't always explain it perfectly. Here, I'll explain it with an image!

Panel: Two cheerful people.
PERSON 1: Want to have sex?
PERSON 2: Yeah! Let's do it!
This panel is labeled “CONSENT”.

Panel: A cheerful person and an idle person.
PERSON 1: Want to have sex?
PERSON 2: Yeah, whatever.
This panel is labeled “NOT CONSENT”.

ELI: This isn't very hard to understand. If you ask someone fifty times, and ze says no fifty times, and then you ask a fifty-first time and ze says yes, that is not consent. Compliance is not consent. Compliance means that someone has decided that the trouble you'll cause for zem if ze doesn't comply is greater than the trouble of being sexed up when ze doesn't want it. Which is exactly the opposite of the positive, mutually beneficial relationship you want with a sex partner. Is there a grey area here? Yes - it looks like this:

Wide panel: At the left end is a cloud of grey smoke. At the right end is clear blue sky. The left end is labeled “GREY AREA”; the right end is labeled “CLEAR AREA”.
PERSON IN THE GREY AREA: Oh, no! With all this smoke around, I have no idea if ze actually wants to have sex with me!
PERSON IN THE CLEAR AREA: Thank goodness! My partner and I are communicating well and we both know exactly what the other wants!

ELI: The grey area is the bad area. The grey area is the one you want to avoid at all costs. The clear area is the awesome area of super sexy fun. If you do sex to someone while you're in the grey area, you might not ever know whether you've committed rape. That would be an incredibly stressful situation to put yourself into. You'd probably have a lot of cognitive dissonance because you don't want to think of yourself that way. And that would be very bad for you as well as for your potential victim. But the point here is not “If you're in the grey area, don't have sex”; although that is important... the point is, “If you're in the grey area... get to the clear area.”

Panel: Two people talking.
PERSON 1: I'm having a little trouble figuring out what you're okay with - sometimes I don't know if you're protesting or just playing around... So, um... Are you interested in making out for a while, and then having sex?
PERSON 2: Oh, that would be wonderful! Sorry, I've just had a bad day and so I'm a bit snippy. I could really use some good sex right now!
NARRATION: They then proceeded to have the awesomest sex ever.

ELI: Clear, honest communication is the only weapon we have against accidentally hurting each other over and over for no good reason. And it's also the sexiest thing since vibrating dildos. Use it.

– Eli

Introducing the Colby Sex Club!

This is something that I should have blogged about long ago!

The story starts on March 9, 2011. There was a campus forum on that day, on the topic of “Gender, Power, and Community” – lots of people were there, and we had a really good conversation about a lot of important issues, like sexual assault, silencing, and various forms of discrimination. I said, semi-jokingly, something like “We should have a 'Colby Sex Club' where people talk about the act of sex and what we want out of it! This seems like another silence that needs to be broken.” I dropped the idea at the time, because I was busy with schoolwork, and because as a person who's never actually had sex with another person, I didn't feel like the most qualified to start it.

Then, this semester – October 19, to be precise – I went to an event that made me [...]

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A sexual board game!

I'm finally ready to distribute the sexual board game that I mentioned. I've been sitting on the complete design for a few months, I just hadn't gotten around to making a web presence for it.

Given the “losing at games” part of my sexuality, I've often been disappointed that there aren't more sexual board games out there. Non-yucky ones, anyway. I've seen ads for a couple commercial ones, but they are yucky. They repeat gender stereotypes, and they portray sex as dirty, bad, or mischievous – especially BDSM and other kinds of creative sex. I don't want to think “tee hee, I'm violating taboos!” when I do sex things; I want the taboos to be completely irrelevant. (Some people especially enjoy violating taboos, and that's okay, but I don't feel that way myself.)

I didn't expect to design a game like this for myself, but I had the idea for this one while talking to a friend last spring. Since I had the skills I needed, I went for it!

Without further ado, here's the main page for the game, Hexy Bondage.


– Eli

Consenting in Advance

When I talk about sexual consent, people sometimes say something like this:

“But it's sexy to just do things in the moment and go with the flow! If I stopped to talk about consent, it would kill the mood.”

Before I go on, I should say this: There are a lot of different sexy things. If we have to sacrifice a few sexy things in order to avoid accidentally abusing people, we should certainly sacrifice them.

However, we mostly don't have to sacrifice this one. All you have to do is talk about it before you end up being “in the moment”.

That's what I do. When I start doing things with a new partner, we obviously have a conversation about what each of us likes. That includes some things that each of us is okay with the other doing to them without asking every time. It's sort of like setting up ground rules, so we know which things could be a problem and which things we don't need to worry about.

As part of the conversation, you might say something like [...]

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Consent and Conflictedness

Suppose I have a friend who knows I'm interested in them sexually, but hasn't decided to do anything sexual with me before. One day, this friend comes up to me, obviously upset, and says they want to have sex with me. What should I do?

On one hand, I have an immediate feeling of this is wrong. I feel like, while they're in this emotional state, doing anything would risk hurting them in the long-term. On the other hand, I believe that people have the right to choose what risks to take for themselves, and it feels wrong to say “I'm refusing for your sake” when they clearly indicated consent. When I was younger, a lot of adults did things that hurt me while saying they were helping me. I don't want to act like that towards anyone else.

I came up with this post while trying to reconcile those two feelings.

Parts of self

A person isn't a [...]

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