The Beaver Whisperer and the Love Glove

Q: Hi, I know it’s not nearly as serious as herpes (thank you for scaring the pants on me, by the way), but I wonder if you could say something about gloves? I got yeast infections twice after being fingered, and have been thinking that more serious diseases could be spread through cuts to the hand. Also, do you have any advice on negotiating safe sex? Thanks!

A: I hate gloves. 

There you go. It’s probably not the answer that you were expecting, but I hate them. OK, I lied. They’re fine for clitoral stimulation, but as far as penetration goes, I detest them. I might be alone in this, but I’m probably not. When someone is wearing gloves and has two or more fingers inside, I can hear the gloves rubbing against each other and squeaking.  ::shudder:: 

But, Beaver Whisperer, you just said that barrier protection is important! How can you hate gloves?

Well, my dears, I have a revelation for you. Condoms. Anyone who grew up with actual sex education probably remembers some funny teacher or performer putting a condom on their head to prove that no guy is too big to wear a condom. Well, if it fits on his head, it’ll fit on her fist. Stuff your fist into a condom and then you can use as many fingers as you (and her) like without the squeak! Brilliant!

As for yeast infections after fingering, well, this would be a possibility even with the use of a condom or gloves. Vaginal infections can be caused by irritation of the tissue along the vaginal walls. Sometimes, fingernails are the culprit. Keep ’em short. Remember, a long-nailed lesbian is a single lesbian (or someone being fucked by a stone dyke of some flavor). 

Vaginal infections can also be caused by allergies. Don’t let your girlfriend pet her cat and then fuck you without washing her hands first. Also, check allergies to any food substances she might have been handling, your lube, her nail polish (if it chips, it could also be an irritant), and even the latex from the gloves or condoms themselves.

Any fluid-borne infection can be passed between a vagina and a hand with an open wound. This is the #1 reason to wear gloves or a condom during digital penetration. 

Your last question is actually the easiest to answer. How do you negotiate safe sex? You don’t. You don’t negotiate, that is. If your would-be sexual partner refuses to utilize the safer sex practices that you desire, refuse to sleep with this person. There are plenty of girls who want to fuck you safely. Don’t sleep with the girls who don’t even care enough about you to slip on a glove (or a condom).

The Beaver Whisperer and the Lesbian Safe Sex Puzzle

Q: First off, I absolutely love your work! You’re informative and hilarious. Unfortunately, I tested positive for genital herpes (HSV 1) two days ago and I’ve been extremely depressed about it. Normally, I’m a very positive person but, this has really made me feel wicked shitty. Obviously, I did the responsible thing and contacted all my partners fortunately, only myself and the woman who infected me were affected. Right now, I’m trying to come to terms with being single, 21, queer, and having genital herpes for the rest of my life.

Is it possible for you to write an entry on STIs, dating with STIs, and proper queer safe sex techniques? 

A: If consent is sexy, informed consent is even sexier. Unfortunately, our partners don’t always care to or know to inform us of their STI status in advance of playtime so that we can make informed decisions about our sexual health. While at the lowest risk for STIs of any sexually active group, lesbians have got to also be the worst at practicing safe sex. We all know what we’re supposed to do, or at least we think we do, but we rarely do it.  

If we are having sex (digital, oral, or anal) with someone with whom we are not in a long term sexually monogamous relationship where we’ve both been tested for STIs at least twice, we should be practicing safer sex.  

Testing for STIs more than once is important. Some STIs have latency periods, meaning that you may have been infected, but the infection won’t show up yet on an STI screening. So, even if you’re clean on your first test after becoming monogamous, you still want to use barrier protection until you and your partner have both been screened a second time at least 3-6 months later and are still found to be infection free.  

What does safer sex look like for lesbians who don’t want to pass HSV 1 (oral herpes) or HSV 2 (genital herpes) to their partners? The first step is to recognize that we need to practice safer sex. 46% of lesbians (so assume 46% of the women that you will sleep with) have oral herpes, and 7.9% have genital herpes.  

First, let’s talk about how to protect ourselves when we don’t know that our partner is infected (or when she’s not having an outbreak). In some cases, it’s essentially “the price of admission to the party” (to quote Dan Savage, whom I adore). Oral herpes can be spread by kissing, and short of foregoing it, there’s no safer sex practice that I can think of to help out with this. If you know your partner is infected, you can avoid kissing her while she has sores or lesions (think cold sores) on or around her mouth. However, she is still infectious the rest of the time, and that hot femme you met last night on okcupid might not even know that she was infected by the hot butch she met last week.  

Genital herpes can be spread through oral sex; use a dental dam or split a condom or latex glove in half and use it as a dental dam. It can also be spread through grinding, scissoring, or any other term you want to use for mashing your cunt up against hers. In this situation, I recommend saran wrap (and not the kind with the holes for use in the microwave!). It, or sheets of latex that you can find at kink-friendly retailers, is about the only thing that will cover enough surface area to offer any protection. Both oral and genital herpes can be spread through the sharing of sex toys. Use condoms on dildos and vibrators and change the condom every time you change who the toy is being used on. This does not have to be unsexy – just keep a pile of condoms by the bed and take turns picking them out and putting them on. When it becomes a sexual habit, it becomes just a part of sex.

If you know that you or your partner is infected with herpes, taking medication to suppress outbreaks can help to protect the uninfected partner, but it should not replace barrier safety.

Now that I’ve given you the medical details, it’s onto being 21, single, and dating while knowing you’re infected with a virus that nobody wants. It’s here that I really invite our readers to chime in because as an HSV-negative femme, I can only relay what I’ve heard and offer advice that may or may not be useful. If you are living, dating, and fucking with HSV, please comment and tell us what you wish you’d known when you were first diagnosed.

My advice is to be yourself. You are still the same awesome and worthy person that you were before you were infected. Give girls the chance to get to know you before you inform them of your status, but make sure you inform them before you’re in bed. We all know that we make bad decisions when we’re wet and waiting. Inform your partner in a neutral setting. This means that you will probably not be having sex on the first date anymore, but such is life.  

In some communities, like the kink community, up-front fully informed consent is expected with people that you might not know very well. If you’re kinky, people might not be so surprised to hear about your status in this setting. If you are meeting girls through more mainstream channels, just let them get to know you first. Herpes sucks, but it’s also something that you can live with, and if a girl falls in love with you, she may be willing to live with it, too. It’s a big deal, but you’re aren’t dying. A “hey, I really like you, so there’s something I need to let you know. I’m HSV-positive, and I hope that’s something that we can work around together” over a nice dinner might go over a little better than a quiet room and a “we have to talk.” If you treat it like something that she should be able to deal with rather than something that you don’t expect her to even want to try to deal with, she might be a little more willing to try.  

 Good luck!

I’m As Free As My (Butch) Hair

You know, for a blog with the term “buzz cuts” in the title, we haven’t had much discussion around a subject that is rather sensitive for many queerfolk: hair. Allow me to change that right now. See, I am currently obsessed with my hair, because it really needs to be cut. It’s way too long and looks crazy and is in turn driving me crazy. The deliciously gay irony here is that my “long” hair is still shorter than the regular hair of many cismen I know. So why am I so desperately looking forward to my haircut appointment on Thursday, as if my very life and the fate of all that is good depends on it?

It’s my theory that for many dykes, our power lies in our hair. We’re like the biblical Samson, if Samson wore plaid and listed a “passion for social justice” in his OKCupid profile. Alternative lifestyle haircuts are among the most basic of lesbian mating signals. Shaved head? Buzz cut? Dyke. Mohawk? Fauxhawk? ‘Frohawk? So dykey. Striped rainbow-colored buzzed mohawk? Dykey McDykester. And femmes, using their femme magic and fairy dust, somehow make both long and short cuts look simultaneously sexy, girly, and queer.

The preoccupation with hair perhaps runs deepest on the butch side of the spectrum. When you think of butch dykes, what do you picture? Does your imaginary friend have a short, dude-ish cut, or is she rocking Pippi Longstocking braids? Chances are, it’s the former.  A masculine-of-center person who wants to express her/his/hir gender identity is probably going to do so by choosing physical indicators – hair being a big one – that society has deemed to be masculine. Somewhere along the line, we (and when I say “we” I mean “the Western culture that I was raised in”) decided that short hair is for boys and long hair is for girls. There is, of course, some (not much) wiggle room here. I mean, I don’t think anybody considers Hulk Hogan to be the picture of femininity, yet he sure has some pretty flowing blond locks. And Natalie Portman went for the total shaved-head-radical-womyn look in V for Vendetta (note: forget the movie and read the graphic novel instead) and she still shows up on like every “Hottest Rich Straight People Who Are Better Than You” list ever. So when even hetero beauty standards offer a little flexibility in the top-o’-your-head department, why do we butches feel the need to hair police each other?

I’m about to reveal a deep, dark, shameful secret, friends: I, Bren, didn’t always have short hair. In fact, my hair used to be rather long (or as long as a lady Jewfro can get). I’m sorry, do you need a minute to recover from the shock? Maybe get a paper bag and breathe into it. I’ll wait.

Back in my greener college days, I remember having a conversation with an older (but not wiser) butch. Said butch told me, “If you cut your hair, more girls would like you.” That pissed me off big time. It wasn’t so much that I actually liked my longer hair (I found the curls annoying as hell, actually). It was just that I wanted people to like me for who I was; I didn’t want to have to change myself to get a date. Also, change was hard and scary.

Another blockade standing between me and hair I liked (which would become shorter hair) was the challenge of finding a stylist who actually knew how to give butch haircuts. In our depressingly gender-divided world, women are expected to go to hair salons and men are expected to go to barber shops. So where, pray tell, does a masculine woman go? Do I go to a salon, where hetero soccer moms read Cosmo and ask me if I have a boyfriend, or do I go to a barber shop, where hetero men look at me like a space alien from the planet Whatshedoinhere? My solution for much of my life was just to go where my mom goes (Cosmo-reading straight lady land) and see the same stylist she sees and pretend that I was someplace else when the conversation would inevitably turn to men or what dress so-and-so was wearing to the Oscars.

Then, one day, I said to myself, “Self, this is ridiculous. You live in big gay Boston, but you get your hair cut in West Bumfuck, because you’re afraid of change.” And I was so right (as I often am). So I set out to find a new, lesbo-friendly place. The problem with living in a city and having hair that grows and needs to be cut is that everything is fucking expensive and I can’t afford expensive. My search was going pretty poorly, until I got the brilliant idea to ask my favorite drag king where she gets her awesome butch ‘do. And that’s how I found the first hair salon I’ve ever been comfortable in, one full of queers and friends-of-queers. It was like coming home, except home had disco balls hanging from the ceiling and leopard print wallpaper (so way cooler than home).

With newly found confidence, I started experimenting. I abandoned my split-end-creating attempts at chemically straightening my curls. I started going shorter. The shortness was slow-going, losing a half an inch or so each time I had an appointment. I was still holding back, for some reason. It took a new relationship and the support/hair style options research of a femme to give me the final push to just cut it all off already. The first time I looked in the mirror with my new, super-short butch cut was something I’ll never forget. It was (corniness alert!) like finally seeing myself on the outside and having it match the way that I saw myself on the inside. I felt powerful. I felt like a force of nature that could take on any obstacle of oppression the world could throw at me. I felt like I had emerged from the cocoon as fully formed butch me, and it felt awesome. 

The world noticed the change, too, and I don’t just mean my shocked/confused/horrified/amused family and friends. Other butches started nodding at me on the street in that subtle gesture that says, “I see you there, doing your thing.” Femmes smiled at me more (but isn’t that always the case when one isn’t single?). I started getting “Sir’ed” or otherwise mistaken for a dude on a regular basis.

(Sidebar: The whole being read as a guy thing doesn’t bother me, but it does confuse me. Even with short hair, I still have a noticeable chest. My GF’s theory is that, once my face has been read as male, the ol’ “check out her rack” glance down never happens, so my boobs go unnoted. Makes sense to me!)

I want to close this post with a disclaimer (I know those usually go at the beginning, but I’m a rebel). Just because having short hair has helped me feel more connected with my butchness, that doesn’t mean that having short hair is the key to butchness. Let me say that again, in bold, because it’s important: Short hair does not a butch make, nor does long hair make someone not butch. There are plenty of butches out there who totally rock long hair and that is awesome. They are just as butch as I am with my short hair (also, BUTCH IS NOT A CONTEST). You just do you, dear readers. As Gaga, Our Lady of Queerness and Glitter, reminds us: you are your hair.

I Solemnly Swear That I Am a Real Live Dyke

Trendwatchers! Have you heard about the latest cool thing to do? Nope, I’m not talking about naked hiking (which sounds like a great way to get mosquito bites in really hard to explain places); I’m talking about Straight White Cismen Blogging As Fake Lesbians. It’s like Dungeons & Dragons, except instead of pretending you’re a level 32 Paladin fighting Orcs in your mom’s basement, you deceive an entire marginalized community into believing you’re one of them, when you’re actually part of the most privileged community on the planet! LOLz, amirite??

FUCK. THIS. SHIT.

If you’re a sentient queer with access to the internet, television, or printed media, then you’ve probably already heard about the big reveal this week that Amina Arraf, the Syrian lesbian author of the popular blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus” is actually some random straight white American dude living in Scotland. Tom MacMaster, this hetero cisman in dyke clothing, was so very apologetic when he was caught in his unbelievable lie a pompous, defensive asshat, writing:

I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.

I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in this year of revolutions. The events there are beıng shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience.

Oooh, I get it now! He wasn’t trying to co-opt the voice of an oppressed minority whose struggles he could never even begin to understand. He wasn’t trying to create a completely fictional person that thousands of people felt solidarity with and admired. He wasn’t trying to steal the private photos of a stranger in London, nor was he trying to carry on a deceptive online relationship with an actual lesbian in Canada. And certainly, he wasn’t trying to waste the time, money, and concern of all the people who tried to find Amina after her “cousin” (spoiler alert: also MacMaster) posted that she was kidnapped by government security forces. No harm intended, people! MacMaster just loves Middle Eastern dykes so much that he needed to mansplain the “issues” of a group that he is in no way a member of or associated with. We little women just can’t handle the stress of blogging about our own lives, you see, so we need Mr. White Man’s Burden to come to our rescue and make shit up. What a prince.

In a new Guardian article, MacMaster admitted that he “liked the challenge” of writing from a queer WOC voice (hey buddy – for a real challenge, try living as one!) and also gave the absolute worst excuse ever for making up a fake kidnapping:

His post last Monday, in which he posed as a cousin of the blogger claiming she had been kidnapped by Syrian security services, “was, stupidly, my sort of ‘away message'”, written as he and his wife left for a holiday in Istanbul, he said.

BRB SMASHING STUFF HULK-STYLE.

At first, we all thought that this was just some isolated incident of douchebaggery, but it seems now that we have a FULL BLOWN LESBIAN E-CRISIS on our hands. Yesterday, it was revealed that all the digging around “A Gay Girl in Damascus” unearthed another turd: Paula Brooks, the editor of news site Lez Get Real since 2008, is actually Bill Graber, a 58-year-old married guy in Ohio who looks like someone I once saw on To Catch A Predator. THIS IS THE STUFF THAT MY NIGHTMARES ARE MADE OF. This newest outing is somehow even more disturbing, since Lez Gets Real has (or had, as the site appears to now be down) a whole section of user-submitted lesbian erotica and the thought of Billy Boy reading through those stories and doing whatever manner of unholy things makes me want to vomit up my Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Graber, like MacMaster, just wanted to write about gay girl stuff so badly that he had to pretend to be one, as he explained: “I thought people wouldn’t take it seriously, me being a straight man.” (Cue Sad Trombone.) My heart goes out to this guy, because we all know how hard it is for the oft-silenced voice of the straight white male to be heard above the powerful din of the ruling queer female voices of the world. OH WAIT ACTUALLY FUCK HIM. Fuck this married-with-all-legal-benefits dude who posed as someone who can’t get married at all because of who she loves. Fuck this ex-military douchecopter who wrote about DADT as if it had ever threatened his Air Force career in the least. Fuck this clown who betrayed the trust of so many lonely and afraid women who came to his site looking for support from others like them. I think Autostraddle’s Riese put it best when she wrote: “CHECK YOUR MOTHERFUCKING PRIVILEGE.”

In case you haven’t noticed, all this nonsense has got me pretty riled up. It’s (understandably) bringing into question the authenticity of other lesbian sites and bloggers (if Heather Hogan turns out to be a 50-year-old father of three in Michigan, I will go on a rampage). Deciding what to share and what to keep private is the eternal struggle of every online writer and blogger, and I’m no exception. I like to think that I’m pretty open with you all – you get to know my real first name, age, and location, and even get to see the occasional devastatingly handsome photo. But there are some things – my last name, my (paid) profession/employer, the names of my loved ones – that I just don’t feel comfortable posting here. Is that dishonest of me? In the wake of these scandals, should we be demanding more transparency from bloggers, especially those purporting to represent minority communities? I just don’t know.

I can, however, promise you all this: I am – cross my queer little heart and hope to die – a real, honest-to-gosh, lady-lovin’, masculine-of-center, butch dyke lesbian outlaw. For life.

The Beaver Whisperer and the Mystery of the Butch Bottom

Q: “Butch in the street, femme in the sheets” or the reversal: Is this more common than not? Does it matter? Do those who ID as butch freak out when femmes get on top? What is a “butch bottom”?

A: Unless a butch self-identifies as a stone butch, you can safely assume that you will be able to touch your butch in some way during playtime. However, it is the eternal job of the femme to figure out how you can touch your butch in a way that will be ok, or better yet, welcome. The best way to do this, of course, is to have a sexy chat with your butch before playtime. This shouldn’t happen when your shirt is already off and her face is planted firmly in your cunt. If you are beginning a relationship and see funtimes (TM) in your future, you should initiate a sexy chat about what your butch likes in bed, what your butch is interested in but has never experienced in bed, and what your butch knows that she doesn’t like in bed. This isn’t a one-way conversation, of course; it’s also your opportunity to share the details that always get you off, never get you off, really turn you on, and completely turn you off. 

If playtime arrives and you haven’t yet had this educational discussion, the best advice I can give you is to go slowly and watch your butch for reactions. If you really aren’t sure if something is ok, it is ok to ask, but keep your verbal questioning to a minimum lest your butch decide that you just aren’t ready to top (even if it’s always been your passion in the past!).

My response thus far has not even addressed the inherent — well, it’s not sexism exactly, is it? — something in the whole idea of “butch in the streets, femme in the sheets.” Stone femmes exist, too, no? Not all people of any gender presentation like to be fucked the same way, so no matter who you’re sleeping with, a conversation before you begin is going to get you the furthest. Remember, consent is sexy, k?

A butch bottom can be one of two things. The first is a butch who likes to receive sexual pleasure via their cunt. The second is a butch who is submissive during sexual activity. 

Does it matter if more butches like to be fucked than not? I can’t tell you that. I suppose it only matters if you want to fuck a butch and she either does or does not want to be fucked. It doesn’t matter how many do like it if the one you want doesn’t, right? 

In my personal experience, most butches do not freak out when a femme gets on top. Those whom I’ve been with who did not want to be touched or fucked would gently tell me so when I attempted to top them. A real butch is a gentleman and will not freak out at you if you are a good femme who treads gently until you know which paths you are permitted to take. 

Thanks for asking! Please comment and give us your take on these questions!

Butch-Femme Fashion: Don’t Hate Us Because We’re Beautiful

Happy Thirsty Thursday to all! Pride Week is in full swing here in Boston, and I am unacceptably sober and sitting behind a desk. (Sadly, my employer doesn’t accept “I’m a giant lesbian” as a valid excuse to miss work.) I’m having a difficult time staying focused for a number of reasons: the office vending machine has been restocked, today’s high is 102 (I’m wearing jeans and am in denial), I need to write this post so you all don’t think I’m a terrible and lazy blogger, and I have a huge crush – on a blazer. A tweed one. With elbow patches. Whoo boy. Is it just me, or is it getting hot in here?

Let me back up a bit. Last night, I attended FOUND, my (and, I believe, Boston’s) first ever queer fashion show and the latest lezstravaganza from the lovely ladies of Diffuse 5. It was an awesome night filled with sexy people and sexy clothes and sexy cupcakes (omnomnom @ Cakeology). The point of the whole sexy thing was to highlight designers who cater to the LGBT community and our unique styles. I think that is very noble work, indeed, because let’s face it: looking this damn good ain’t easy.  

Most mainstream clothing companies aren’t crafting products with queer or trans bodies in mind. As a 5’3″ butch with hips and tits and all that junk, trying to find masculine clothing that fits my female shape can be frustrating as hell. I know I’m not the only one who’s felt the agony of trying on the Perfect Going Out Dress Shirt and discovering that it won’t button across my big stupid boobs. Or maybe you’re one of those vegan, organic, free-trade lovin’ dykes (is that redundant?) and you are totally bummed that the ass-kickin’ boots you want are made from the last endangered Amazonian baby cow on Earth. Never fear, you stylish beasts, because these designers are here to save the day:

Marimacho: A Brooklyn-based company that creates dapper masculine styles for women and transmen. Also, THEY MAKE THAT BLAZER I WANT/NEED/WILL DIE WITHOUT.

Proxy Apparel: They make super-hot clothing and accessories from a sweatshop-free, sustainable, and female-empowering environment. I approve of this message.

Let’s Be Brief: Underwear for the lesbian booty. All of the masculine style with none of the annoying banana pockets. Also, fun colors and patterns! Yay, fun!

Autonomie Project: Vegan. Organic. Sweatshop-free. Check out their sweet Converse-style kicks and rain boots.

Boomerangs: Boston thrift store with new and vintage clothes, books, furniture, and other goodies. It’s run by the Aids Action Committee and all proceeds go towards the invaluable work that they do for the AIDS/HIV-positive community.

(Do you know any other LGBT-targeted clothing designers out there? Be a good gay and share in the comment section.)

Despite the fact that it isn’t always an easy task, I have to admit: I LOVE BUYING CLOTHES. I’d go shopping every week if my wallet and closet allowed it. An outfit that looks great and fits great is the ultimate confidence-booster. Last night, I was rocking a crisp white button-down, a black vest, and my favorite dark wash jeans. I topped off the outfit with a black and pink plaid tie, picked out by my GF because it matched her pink dress, picked out by me. (Sidebar: A butch-femme couple in coordinating outfits is a powerful, uber-sexy force of nature that is not to be taken lightly.) I pretty much swagged from one end of the city to the other.

Truth be told, I used to be rather embarrassed to admit my love of clothing. “Buying clothes? For fun? That’s so femmey!” thought my babydyke self. Older, wiser me knows that not only is that line of thought totally misogynistic and regressive, it’s also totally inaccurate. Shopping is so butch, as in, butches love to shop. IN FACT, based on my experiences/not-all-all-scientific research, butches love to shop way more than their femme counterparts. Mind = blown, right?

Allow me to close this post by sharing with you a one-act play titled Our Butch-Femme Shopping Trip Named Desire:

My GF: I need a new dress for an upcoming event.

Me: ZOMG WE CAN GO TO THE MALL LET’S GO TO THE MALL RIGHT NOW THE MALL!!!

GF: *Sigh* Alright, get in the car.

Me: *Jumps in the car, hanging out the window and panting like an excited terrier*

[At the mall]

GF: There are too many dresses to pick from and I have no idea what would look best on me. This store is overwhelming and crowded.

Me: HERE TRY THIS ONE AND THIS ONE AND OH THIS ONE GOES GREAT WITH YOUR HAIR AND LOOK AT YOUR BOOBS IN THIS ONE!!!

GF: OK… I guess this one looks fine. It fits. Do you like it?

Me: IT LOOKS AMAZING YOU SHOULD TOTALLY GET IT AND THEN WE CAN GO LOOK FOR MORE DRESSES IN THE OTHER 75 STORES IN THIS MALL!!!

GF: Um, no, I’m just going to take this one; I don’t need any more.

Me: OK BABY I’M GONNA GO PAY FOR THIS GIANT PILE OF TIES THAT I PICKED OUT WHILE YOU WERE CHANGING AND THEN LET’S GET SMOOTHIES!!! FROM THE MALL!!! CAPITALISM!!!

GF: …OK.

[End scene.]