Archive for May, 2010

marble arse
This was originally written for the official ‘fauxmos’ blog: We Haven’t Kissed Enough Pretty Girls http://fauxmos.wordpress.com/ ‘Fauxmos’ simply refers to anyone who rejects fixed sexual and gender identities. But also it relates to the group blog we set up in that name.

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It is fast becoming a ‘Fauxmos’ catchphrase. I have to admit it is as good as any I have heard: ‘Bumming up the arse anally’ does have a nice ring to it.

But actually, when it comes to sexual and gender identity, and specifically, control of and limiting of those identities, bumming is a very serious business indeed.

My first experience of anal sex felt like my first time of any kind of sex, all over again. The slight fear and anxiety, the pain when his cock entered my unmarked territory, the shock of being so utterly attached physically to someone. The way he held me and shook, when he came. The strange sensation in my arse afterwards, the sheer intensity of it.  It opened my eyes and made them sting a little all at the same time.

But I never talked to my friends about bumming, not the way we might casually laugh and joke, and share details of the rest of our ‘sex lives’. This suddenly felt taboo. I remember a mate of mine saying she didn’t like ‘fetish’ things, such as anal sex.  It’s not a fetish I thought, it’s just something else to do.

But anal sex has become fetishised in our culture. It signifies male homosexuality, and not in a positive way. If you call someone a queer or a fag, or a sodomite, or a bugger, or a bummer, you aren’t really giving them a compliment are you?

I am not an expert, but I know that historically, the laws around homosexuality have fetishised bumming too:

http://gaylife.about.com/cs/gay101/a/sodomylaws.htm

I feel like I could go on about this subject at great length, not because of my vast experience, but because it sheds a little light on why sexual identity is so ridiculous. Does it matter if you are a man fucking another man with your dick in his ass? Or a woman with a strap-on fucking a man? Or a trans man fucking a woman with a strap-on? Or a woman fucking her girlfriend with a finger, or a fist, up the ass? Do these separate yet really quite similar acts warrant being classified into whole types of people? I don’t think so. I don’t think Melissa Gira and her friend think so either:

http://melissa.tumblr.com/post/643996264/via-dersammler-via-me-via-dwam-in-the-great

I have introduced anal sex to a number of men. I have enjoyed their eye-watering, intense, exciting ‘first time’ as much as I enjoyed my own. I loved especially their wonder and slight discomfort, at doing something with a compliant (yet assertive) woman, that they probably only really imagined men did with other men. This  implied being gay, which they weren’t, so they tried not to think about it at all. I like to believe that I have done my little bit to break down the barriers between sexuality typologies,  and got rid of some of the assumptions and prejudices that make us all so unhappy.

Don Paterson is the only writer I know who has written about anal sex in a heterosexual relationship. He captures something of the sadness I feel at no longer knowing my first bumming partner – who would have loved fauxmos. Paterson’s poem also captures the sadness of doing something that means you don’t get to look in your lover’s face, and you don’t get to feel ‘normal’ and safe.  But what the fuck is the point in normal and safe anyway?

and though I know it’s over with
and she is miles from me
I stay a while to mine the earth
for what was lost at sea

as if the faces of the drowned
might turn up in the harrow:
hold me when I hold you down
and plough the lonely furrow.

A Confession #2

Posted: May 31, 2010 in Desire, Writing

I have just realised: the sex blog is a confessional.

It is just that the confessor and the priest keep switching roles.

I love that image, two people in isolation, speaking so intimately, like lovers. Sworn to secrecy.

If we could just get rid of the concept of ‘sin’ it might be a very therapeutic process.

I absolve you of your sins. Now tell me everything.

Extreme Pornography

Posted: May 30, 2010 in Porn

In my real life, I am much better known for being political than for being kinky.

My blog leads to many more conversations about  its kink/erotica than its politics.

On a friend’s erotica  blog, I was drawn to the only post that was very political. I found that post incredibly sexy.

People try their hardest to seperate sex/arousal from thought/serious action.

I am going to continue to do my damdest to make that separation impossible.

Call me Foucault’s disciple. Call me whore. Call me Jeanette Winterson’s biggest fan. Call me a rubbish pornographer.

Pornography is defined in America as material with no artistic merit with the sole purpose of achieving sexual arousal.

Artistic merit is not defined. The purpose of making profit is not mentioned.

In the UK it is illegal to possess extreme pornography. But not to make it, if you are participating in the extremities.

I am participating in the extremities. But these are only words so how can you be sure?

Currently, sexually extreme words are still not illegal. This may not always be the case.

My pornography is just another form of resistance.

I hope you came.

It All Starts Here

Posted: May 29, 2010 in Kink, Porn
Tags: ,

Dawn bathed the mountains in a cool blue light. The sun touched snowy peaks with pale yellow fingers. Ice glistened and snow began its slow build-up towards avalanche.

At the house, wooden shutters kept us in darkness. I woke anyway, to the sound of the stream rushing and gurgling past, as if it had an urgent appointment with the sea, and was running late. I heard another sound that I was struggling to recognise in my semi-conscious state. The clink of metal against metal. It reminded me of the sheep’s bells. These were rusty make-shift tin things, attached by the ‘bergers’ around the necks of the unsuspecting creatures to signify their march down from the higher slopes onto the grassy hillsides. But the clinking sound was closer than that; it was coming from me.

I didn’t need to look. In a sudden flash of clarity I knew the source of the sound. I had been lain there all night, naked apart from two thick metal chains, padlocked to ankle and wrist cuffs. Every time I moved in bed, the clink of metal against metal gave me away. Next to me someone was sleeping. I listened to his breathing and tried to keep still so as not to wake him. Outside the stream paid no attention to our situation; it had more important things to do.

So much for freedom, so much for independence. So much for my theory, long-held and much-discussed with whoever would listen, that I needed my personal space. Not least when I was abed, tossing and turning in my private domain. I preferred to sleep alone, I moved and dreamed on my terms, and I would not compromise for anyone. The heavy chains between my legs and arms, and the man sleeping peacefully beside me knew different. Between them they had blown my theory to pieces. I lay there trying not to breathe, suddenly feeling sheepish.

Before I had time to really compute the implications of this paradigm shift, before I could find a new theory to replace the old, a new but equally acceptable way of asserting my autonomy, the man beside me stirred. ‘Good morning’ he said, contentedly, as he turned and touched my arm, and the metal that adorned my skin. ‘Morning’ I mumbled in reply, attempting to remain statuesque, as if that was the dignified thing to do. But dignity had long gone from this room, and was tumbling towards the sea on a wave of abandonment. The man, alert and sure of himself, didn’t waste time with watery metaphors. He had already got out of bed, moved around the room,opened the shutters and returned with something clinking in his hands.

As he added more chain, and padlocked my arms to the metal bedstead, and I clinked and chimed like church bells, as he pushed my arms behind me and went down to part my legs to take what was his, just before all hopes of rationality were lost, as the water rushed over my head, as the sheep scattered and stumbled down the mountain, as everything went dark, I had one last tiny helpless thought: it all starts here.

Academic

Posted: May 29, 2010 in Porn, Writing
Tags: ,

I have recently been in receipt of some mindblowing academic porn. I am open to all sorts of methods and media for turning me on. But nothing beats a full-on, intellectual analysis of my favourite topic of enquiry: sex.

I have come over all Dr. Ross of Scrubs fame, because I want to have sex with these ideas, this argument; it makes me want to cheat on all the other ideas and arguments I  have been dating all these years.

We live in anti-intellectual times. We live in very prescriptive, censorious times. Our bodies and minds are not respected as the beautiful, free, intelligent organs that they are and could be.

So writing and thinking about, and analysing sex has the potential to be a revolutionary act.

Except for one small detail.

If we don’t actually fuck, this whole subject becomes completely academic.

The second Sex In The City Movie has just been released, and judging by my little corner of the interwebz it seems to be causing something of a furore.  I keep being sent links to article after article, blog after blog, all wailing about how utterly awful it is. If the majority of the (feminist in the main) detractors of the film are to be believed, SATC2 is the worst misgogyny to come out of Hollywood since Roman Polanski. The main thrust of these feminist writers’ arguments is that what was once an entertaining, empowering, feminist TV show about independent, career minded women, has now descended into a turgid shopping and fucking fest. With a little bit of racism sprinkled on top for good measure.

I don’t understand these tirades. It feels to me like these people have been watching a completely different show from the one I have. I thought SATC had always been about shopping and fucking. Oh and eating, and drinking cocktails, and most of all talking. Women talking about shopping and fucking. The careers of Samantha, Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda were merely backdrops to their decadent sex-filled lifestyles. A private view at Charlotte’s gallery for example, was just an excuse for the girls to pick up men between the canapes. A new male PA at Samantha’s firm was a lead-in to some hot on-the-desk fucking. And perhaps the iconic image of the show, Carrie typing away on her laptop, wearing only a bra and pants, was always about the bra and pants not the writing.  But I didn’t think we watched SATC for stories of empowered women, making it in the male dominated professional world. We have The West Wing for that don’t we?

God knows there is enough to criticise the TV show for, let alone the films. Its representation of anyone who doesn’t belong to the whiter than white, middle to upper class, all-American Hamptons set was pathetic. The constant refrain from the main characters of ‘I need a fuck/boyfriend/husband’ to complete me, got boring after a while. Though the programme was made by Gay writers and producers, the portrayal of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters was cliched and grating. But I forgave it all that and more, because this was the first time in the history of mainstream, primetime TV that women had been shown in leading roles, seeking out, enjoying, and talking about orgasmic, pleasure-filled, exhilarating sex. This is the revolutionary aspect of SATC, and its legacy for feminism. No Hollywood feature length moneyspinner can take that away from us, can it ladies and gents?

Ah, but wait. I am not sure everybody does agree on this one. In reading these diatribes against SATC2 (which by the way I am sure is a terrible film), I have noticed something. The sexy, exuberant, experimental sexuality of the characters in the TV programmes, was not what these feminist critics enjoyed at all. They actually seem to have found it kind of vulgar. Take this quote from a review by Lindy West that has been Retweeted to notoriety on twitter today

‘Samantha, being the prostitute (< crossed out)  sexual revolutionary that she is, rages against the machine by publicly grabbing the engorged penis of a man’

What was that word you crossed out in this new, faux ironic way Lindy? Prostitute. Oh. That word.  Now I am a supporter of sex workers and I would love to see a sex worker character in a hit TV comedy. But Samantha Jones is in no way shape or form a prostitute. Her character has always been based around someone who has assertively sought out sexual experiences, on her own terms, for their own sake, and she has dated men from a range of economic backgrounds. She is the type of woman you could imagine hiring a rent boy for the night, and think nothing of it. Samantha’s longest most serious relationship was with Smith, a young out-of-work actor, whose career she boosted with her PR contacts and marketing know how (and cash). This is not the narrative of Pretty Woman.

Samantha is a feminist hero to me. She is sexy, intelligent, funny, independent, a bit guarded emotionally, but also vulnerable, sexually adventurous and fearless. What’s not to like?

Underneath the veneer of outrage at feminine stereotypes, objectification of women, and needy female heterosexuality, these critiques have revealed themselves to be just another attack on women like Samantha, who enjoy, speak openly about and experiment with their sexuality.

Another feminist hero of mine, Zoe Margolis, has recently won a libel case against the Independent on Sunday newspaper, who, in an article about her latest book: Girl with a one track mind: exposed, called her an ex ‘hooker’. When she won her case, Zoe said that she was celebrating her win as  ‘a small victory for feminism’ because it was a successful challenge of a sexist media, which ‘conflates female sexuality with prostitution’. It is depressing to find that it is not just the media, but also influential feminists, who are making this same, sexist conflation between women’s sexuality and sex work.

I support sex workers. And I support women who want to enjoy and discuss their sexuality, without being labelled prostitutes or hookers. I am sure sex workers themselves do not want to be defined only in terms of their job, and that they would like also to be treated as women with sex lives,  women who watch SATC  maybe, and laugh and talk about sex with their mates as we all do.

So basically, what I am saying is, fuck you neo-puritans. Samantha rocks!

A Confession

Posted: May 26, 2010 in Writing

Dear friends,

I have a confession to make. I suspect the more perceptive amongst you have noticed already. But I thought I would come clean.

I am one of those bloggers who thinks before she thinks before she has a cup of tea, before she writes (often in…gasp!… Longhand) before she types before she drafts before she posts before she edits before she finally publishes her work.

This, on the whole, I believe is beneficial in terms of the quality of my smut and the clarity of my arguments.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I feel like sitting down in front of the computer with a glass of wine and… letting rip. Writing about how I feel. Now. In this moment.  I want to describe the strange, familiar yet not-often felt feeling of butterflies in my stomach. I want to tell you how I think I sometimes deny myself certain pleasures for the sake of being ‘strong’ or ‘principled’.  I want to describe a fantasy I had earlier today, that was as far away from kinky debauchery as you could get. That involved me, lying on the grass in the sun, my lover lying next to me with his hand on my belly. The rush of warmth and excitement that flowed through me, my body pressing down into the earth…

I guess I want to use this blog as an outlet, like all those other ones I read, sometimes in horror, sometimes in utter utter boredom, but occasionally with great admiration and respect. For opening up about personal feelings and insecurities in a public arena, I think is a very brave act. Whether or not you identify yourself in the URL.

But, as the more perceptive among you will be well aware. I’m not going to.

Partly because I am thinking of you. I want you to continue to enjoy the more thought-out prose I post on these pages. I don’t want to turn this into a confession booth. But I feel like it. Just this once I feel like it.

Dear Father, please forgive me for I have sinned.

And the award goes to…

Posted: May 26, 2010 in Feminism

Yesterday I found the best comment on my blog so far. In honour of the person who posted it, Kim Boo San, I am going to establish an award. ‘The Quiet Riot Girl post of the year award’. It is a rolling competition, so the winner can be toppled at any time. But this one is going to be hard to beat. Thank-you Kim. Your prize is knowing how much you have heartened this jaded feminist in her struggle to keep arguing her corner in a hostile (‘feminist’) environment.

Here is the comment in its entirety:

‘I really enjoyed this article; I’ve had issues with the whole “rape culture” concept but I’ve never been able to pin down why. I think you brought up some of the problems I have with it, as a term.

What I really want to say is how much I love the “opposite of rape is not sex, it is no rape” concept. I am very frustrated in the rape dialogue because the confounding of rape with sex hyper-victimizes the victim. Rape becomes the WORST THING EVER and something the victim cannot – indeed, should not! – ever recover from. To me, the disempowers rape victims.

Rape is about violence, and like getting hit in a fight or mugged on a street corner, it is traumatic. But society doesn’t stigmatize the mugging victim – “Oh, she’ll never be able to walk home from work again!” – the way it does a rape victims. Rape victims are supposed to immediately suffer huge, insurmountable issues in their sex life, it’s almost a cliche.

Now, I’m a victim of date rape. It was not fun. I hated myself for “allowing it to happen” even though I was incapacitated by alcohol at the time, so yeah, I had issues about that I’ve taken a long time to confront. But you know what? It was not the end of my sex life. I did not suddenly distrust all men. No really, I kept having sex! Even after rape! I know, it’s crazy talk! *rolls eyes* Women who suffer violent rape have different issues, of course, and certainly have reason to experience trust and personal space issues. But it is NOT about sex; it’s about being violently attacked. And until that differentiation is made the stigma of being a rape victim will continue to deprive such women the right to recovery.

This mythologizing of rape is still rooted in the whole “pedestal” complex, IMHO, and thus rapists are EVIL and women who get raped are spiritually/psychologically disfigured for LIFE and blah blah blah. The “rape culture” paradigm, while clearly meant as helpful critique and containing valuable cultural insight, seems to carry on that tradition.

Not that I have a viable alternative, mind you. I just liked what you had to say. Thank you!’

No, thank you!

Variations on a theme of rape

Posted: May 23, 2010 in Feminism

Thanks to the media circus surrounding Roman Polanski, and the depressing announcement that the government intends to grant anonymity to defendents in rape cases, rape is back in the news again. I find most media discourses on the subject irritating at the least. But I welcome debate and I think overall it is better that people discuss this difficult, emotive subject, than don’t. I believe that language is a vital part of the context in which rape is so endemic. And, I think that changing the way we speak about and conceptualise rape could be part of the solution to the seemingly unsolvable social problem of violence, including rape and sexual assault against women.

Here I would like to discuss some of my findings which have emerged in part from my participation in and analysis of discussions of rape on online forums, including the F-word, Twitter and other websites.  In particular I want to offer a critique of certain terminology that tends to be used uncritically, in discussions of rape and gendered violence.

A ‘Rapist’ by any other name…

The term ‘rapist’ is one I am not comfortable with using at all, if I can help it. I know I am in a tiny minority, as I see the word splashed across the newspapers on a regular basis, and I hear it being used widely in conversations about rape. The reason I don’t like the word ‘rapist’, is that I think it serves to undermine our attempts to tackle rape and sexual violence. This is because it pathologises people who commit rape, portraying them in our culture as ‘monsters’ and ‘hate figures’. This leads to a situation where we place rapists pretty near the top of a hierarchy of evil characters (maybe just behind ‘paedophiles’),  so that in fact, it is actually very difficult to prosecute for rape. If ‘rapists’ are these inhuman monstrous characters, it is not surprising that courts up and down the country are reluctant to convict the thousands of (nearly always) men who commit rape each year.  If we look at the new proposals to grant anonymity to rape case defendants, we can see that the argument is based in part on how terrible it is to be labelled ‘a rapist’ and how damaging it would be to someone’s reputation to be falsely accused of being  such a thing. If  we didn’t use the term rapist and didn’t demonise those who commit rape, people might not be clamouring  to give people who do rape, special privileges in court. I have received criticism for my view, particularly from feminists who argue that survivors of sexual violence need the term ‘rapist’ to enable them to name their attacker, proceed with seeking justice, and ultimately to get over their ordeal. But I believe that just as we have changed our terminology from talking about ‘victims’ to ‘survivors’ of rape, we also need to change how we label perpetrators. When I hear the word ‘rapist’ I do not think of a man who is capable of change, of reflection. We have to speak about and talk to men as if they are able to change, if we want to reduce the horrific statistics on this crime.

Challenging ‘Rape Culture’

Just as ‘rapist’ generalises and stereotypes men, I think ‘rape culture’ generalises and stereotypes the society we live in. ‘Rape culture’ alludes to a world in which it is easy and likely for men to rape women. I know rape is endemic in our society, but I don’t accept the simplification of ‘rape culture’. In ‘rape culture’ apparently, pornography has been made mainstream, in the form of lads mags, adverts, fashion, music videos and film.  This it is argued, has a bearing on the widespread occurrence of rape and sexual violence. I think it also suggests that in ‘rape culture’ women are passive ‘victims’ of culture, whilst men (or their leader: ‘patriarchy’) is the oppressor. Also I think the term ‘rape culture’ discourages us from examining the specific contexts and situations in which men rape women, and other men. How do particular conditions in the military and prisons lead to high numbers of rapes?  Why do some husbands rape their wives? How can we work to reduce the numbers of sex workers who are raped by clients and employers and strangers?  I don’t know the answer to these questions. Talking about ‘rape culture’ as a blanket description of the whole of our society doesn’t help us to even ask them. my conclusion so far is that unlike ‘gender culture’ , ‘rape culture’ does not offer an analytic tool or a perspective for analysing how gender functions in society to cause violence by men against women and other men.

I recently tried to engage with some feminists who are prominent in promoting the idea of ‘rape culture’, in blogs and as journalists. When I read and made comments on a blog, my comments were not accepted and so I was unable to have the discussion with them.  I found their version of ‘rape culture’ actually seemed to go as far as being ‘misandrist’ a word I hate to use. But maybe if we are going to be honest and open in debate, it is only right to uncover hatred of men as  well as women. I found it ironic that this feminist who had blocked my comments and who spouted hatred for ‘men’ as a homogenous group, elsewhere wrote that more men should join the feminist movement.   I can’t even speak to her in the movement, as a woman and a feminist, so I expect men, no matter how feminist they are won’t be able to either.  My searches for academic references and critical media articles on ‘rape culture’ came up with nothing. I am posting this now, unedited and a bit rambling, in case any of you have got any documents on the subject.

The Opposite of Rape

Thankfully, my research has not been completely disheartening. There are some amazing projects that tackle not only sexual violence, but also the way we talk about and conceptualise it. An organisation and website called ‘Scarleteen’, which deals with a range of issues mainly to do with young women, came up with the phrase ‘the opposite of rape’ which I think has the potential to liberate us from some of the more pernicious ways of discussing the subject. ‘The opposite of rape’ , tweeted Scarleteen ‘is not sex, it is no rape’. This brings home how rape is a violent assault, and that even when we are trying to campaign against it, we end up discussing it as if it were related to sex and pleasure.  The focus by some feminists, on rape in terms of lack of sexual consent, I think, though accurate in a descriptive way, can bog us down into discussions about the sexual aspect of rape, at the detriment of our desire to end sexual violence against women mainly, but also men.

I would like to think that ‘the opposite of rape’ is possible, not just on an individual level, but across society all over the world.  I know I can’t make rape go away just by refusing to engage with discourses of ‘rapists’ and ‘rape culture’ , but I strongly believe that part of our struggle against this horrible form of gender violence, has to be a challenge to the language we use to describe it.

crush

My first crush left me reeling like a punch in the stomach. I was fifteen, an awkward mix of mature for my age and completely innocent. Warren Chapman was a few years older. He played bass in my mate’s band: ‘Blind Alliance’. Tall, dark, troubled by acne, he was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. The crush began in autumn, on a coach journey to a demo in London. My friend Lizzy and I were sat at the back, playing tapes and giggling. When Mirror in the Bathroom came on, Warren turned round from further down the vehicle and asked me to turn it up. So I did and I was smitten. Later on he took off his top to reveal a red t-shirt, thinly covering his perfect torso. I thought I was going to be sick. Amazingly, over the months that followed, I got to snog Warren a couple of times. Drunk and dizzy, I was too overwhelmed to really enjoy it fully, and the next morning it always felt like it was a dream. Once he walked me home and I invited him back for coffee. He said ‘no’. This wasn’t like the movies. In the end, I put myself out of my misery and found myself a boyfriend my own age. He wasn’t nearly as attractive as Warren, but at least I could speak to him without wanting to faint.

‘Crush’ is the perfect word for what it describes. It’s not quite onomatopeia-but its sound is evocative of the feeling: the way your insides turn to mush and start swishing around, making it difficult to stand straight. Also in the word ‘crush’ lies the clue to the inevitable outcome: your hopes will be crushed; the story won’t have a happy ending. But it can suggest something more optimistic: a sunny afternoon, daydreaming, youth: raspberry crush.

Crushes on people you know and have to face in your daily life are horrendous; the potential for embarrassment and pain is too great. After pursuing a number of these, long after I lost the excuse of adolescent naiivety, I can honestly say I hope I never have another one again. My preferred forms of crush are on popstars, actors, even fictional characters. They possess an unreal quality, distant, unobtainable, working their magic up on the screen or stage. Jarvis Cocker, John Cusack, Martin Donovan, ‘Mike’ from My Own Private Idaho. I’m not so deluded to think these beauties will return my feelings. I love them all the more for that.

Being the type of person that has to excavate everything she experiences, I have uncovered some interesting analyses of ‘the crush’. Lacan seems to get to the nub of it when he says that ‘the first object of desire is to be recognized by the other. (Lacan, 1977 [1959], p. 58)’ According to psychoanalysis, desire is subconscious, and is actually quite simply our need to be known (and loved). So it is kind of irrelevant whether I am lusting after Warren Chapman, Vincent Cassell or Chloe Sevigny. What I am really doing is looking for recognition of my own self, my worth, my place in this world. ‘I am human and I need to be loved’. Morrissey got it.

Lacan tells us that desire is always to do with what we lack, or feel we lack. You can’t desire what you already have. This I find a little bit cruel, because it goes some way to explaining why actual relationships are so difficult. I’m an expert at mooning over a half-formed figure in my mind. Faced with the flesh and blood reality of someone who loves me and knows me, and wants me to love them and know them too I buckle under the pressure. I also, sometimes, lose my mojo in truly intimate relationships. I find it a regretful irony that my ex and I probably spent more time discussing Lacanian ‘desir’, than we did actually fucking. I often need distance, mystery, lack, to get my juices flowing. ‘I want the one I can’t have, and it’s driving me mad’ . Morrissey got that too.

Enter The Internet, stage left. Online communities are the perfect breeding-ground for the postmodern crush. Everything I learned so carefully, from Warren, from Lacan, from my own self-analysis, I managed to forget when I first ventured into the labrynth. Virtual reality gives us that perfect heady mix of the unknown and the tantalisingly available, the distant and the intimate, the real and the imaginary. I think I have a crush on The Internet itself. One of the reasons my desires are so fuelled by online communication is that I am a lover of words. And when it’s just you and someone else, typing away in your private worlds, the words take over. There’s no distraction from a noisy bar, an unexpected facial expression, or someone’s bad choice of jumper that day. And if the words are good then that’s it, I’m a goner.

I’ve met a few of my internet crushes, and inevitably have felt disappointed. Not necessarily by the individuals themselves, but by the depressing mismatch between my colourful imagination and the greyer reality. These days though, my appreciation of electronic desire is a little more sophisticated. Most of us realise we are playing, exploring the creative potential of virtual reality. And I still find it quite a beautiful thing when I stumble across a fellow ‘explorer’ on the internet. Someone who will share their words with me, offer a sexily fragmented, hazy, unreachable image of themselves. Let me get to work with my romantic, inaccurate, inventive imagination. I’ve got a bit of a crush on one of them at the moment as it happens. I wonder whether I should ask him back for coffee. I’m the one holding the keyboard so I call the shots. In this mini-super 8, he definitely says ‘yes’.