I have half a dozen posts started – wonderful, dirty stories filling with filthy fucking. Instead tonight, inspired by conversations I’ve had with a friend today as we made our way to a radical bookshop where I spent lots of money and they showed a lot of self restraint, I’m talking about small, quiet ways I am – just maybe – making a difference.
I have been known to say before that I want to change the world. I am a sex-blogging superhero with ridiculously big dreams. Some of you might have seen me tweeting in the last few weeks about my Big Exciting Adventure. While I can’t share what this is here, it is essentially another step towards being making a living from my words and maybe – just maybe – changing the world.
There’s a few moment’s recently when I’ve wondered if maybe I will make a difference with my writing. And maybe – just maybe – if I already am.
A few months back, the situation arose where myself and a fellow volunteer had to run a training and briefing day for a team of young people that included a quick discussion on safe sex. My colleague asked me if I minded her giving the talk. I agreed, but said I would add any additions that I felt were necessary to make the talk inclusive. I knew there was at least one person there was non-binary, and I certainly was going to have no part in a discussion – however short – which assumed a heteronormative default for sex.
Maybe – just maybe – the fact we used gender neutral pronouns and I reminded everyone that safe sex materials can include dental dams, gloves and lube as well as just condoms… maybe that little attempt at inclusivity meant something to someone listening.
A few nights ago, a discussion with a new flatmate about the pill, intimacy in relationships, and feeling ready to sleep with a new partner. Honestly, this is the one where I hope I did best. I might have shocked her with some of the things I said, but I definitely made her laugh too. If I remember correctly, she said it was nice to have this kind of open honest conversation with someone else – and she left me wondering how long ago I’d have been equally baffled if I’d heard someone casually using the term PIV and if I’d have been brave enough to admit I didn’t know and ask for a definition.
Maybe – just maybe – some of that conversation will stay with her in a positive way.
I’ve spent a summer carefully not swearing at people who use slurs like “faggot”, “pussy”, or “retard” in their language, and instead trying to stay calm while I explain why those words are offensive. I’ve reached the point where I am sick of biting my tongue and trying to be polite… but as awful as it is to have coworkers who use casual sexist, homophobic and ableist language, it’s sometimes harder to speak up among strangers. I hope that these last few weeks have given me the strength to speak out and call out people: until we challenge these things, I don’t think they will go away.
And maybe – just maybe – challenging them will make a difference.
(I’m pretty sure there is also a post on its way about my new tactic of using agressive sex positivity to combat the misogyny I encounter on a daily basis.)
I’m a million miles away from where I want to be, publishing queer YA fiction filled with gay, non-binary, trans, bisexual characters who are black, have disabilities, or live with chronic pain or mental illness. And the list of characters whose stories I tell only seems to grow – feminism is always a topic I knew I wanted to explore, but I keep opening my eyes to new issues I encounter as I do my best to learn how to be an intersectional feminist. Diversity is important, and maybe one day my writing will give a scared, lonely fifteen-year-old the language they need to describe themselves and their sexuality.
Sometimes I get frustrated, because there is so much utter fucking shit in the world right now, and I don’t know how to solve it. I don’t even know how to start. All I can do right now is keep writing, keep having conversations that maybe – just maybe – are my efforts at sex education. Baby steps, I have to remember, is the only way to change the world, especially when my own mental health and self care have to come first. It’s important not to feel hopeless.
And maybe – just maybe – I’m already making a difference.
Image sourced through Pixabay.
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a freelance journalist, sex writer, and professional transsexual. His work focuses on dismantling shame and queering sex.