Personal Growth

Hello, I am Clare. Some of you know me. I transitioned male to female in 2002, and I have a gender recognition certificate. However, for the purpose of gender balancing this weekend, I am a man. So, if you are a woman, and asked to find a partner of the opposite sex- Hello! And if you are asked to find a man- Hello! I feel my Y chromosome is as good as anybody’s.

I am not the most macho of men. I rather like women who “wear the trousers” in a relationship, and if you know a way of expressing that which is not contemptuous, please let me know. So, if there are any viragos, termagants, harridans or hoydens here,

Hello!

I have done HAI before. I went this time with the specific purpose of exploring my own sexuality as a-

there’s an adjective needed there, and I don’t know what it is, qualifying the word “male”. Someone asked me what I meant by “wear the trousers” and I had to say I don’t know how to explain it. I have just read this on cognitive dissonance. Grossly generalising, if you want to see yourself as a good person, you will not change your mind because you cannot admit you had been wrong; and once you commit to a course of action, you will never alter to a different goal. If I do not see myself as a good person, I am able to change my mind but have difficulty taking action towards clear goals (except that of transition). So the adjective could be something like, “supportive”. I can back you up but not take decisions. Thoughts: is that what people mean by “co-dependent”? And- Hooray! That’s what makes me a Woman! Of course I am a woman!

Um. A radical feminist might not like that one at all. Onywye.

There is an adjective there, and I don’t know what it is. Someone said to me she felt safe with me, and that frustrates me; would I like a frisson of risk? I am not sure of that either. However, people did praise my felicity with language, and I explained what a “hoyden” is.

Exploring my own sexuality is particularly difficult. I live in the country and rely on bicycle and buses, so dating is difficult to start with; I may be a minority taste; being unemployed is unattractive. My anatomy is as it is. I have little experience, and am better able to say what I don’t like. Opening up is necessary yet makes me feel vulnerable. I really don’t like feeling vulnerable, I associate it with getting squished. I am inhibited, though there comes the hack:

Oooh!
Disgusting, humiliating, ridiculous, shameful!
Yum!

And- Here are an accepting group of people, and one gave me a cuddle. Hooray for cuddles. I don’t like the idea of coming back here again and again for connection with other people with no strings, and no ordinary life getting in the way, but people do, again and again. I am here to learn and grow, I insist, with my best Puritan face on; and a little pleasure is OK. Cuddles. And I chose someone because I found her attractive. The task was to find a person you would not normally choose, and I gained what I wanted by the twisted logic that I would not normally pick someone I really wanted to be with (for fear of getting rebuffed). Oh well.

At the end of that I am a little reassured: there is no cause for complete despair, there is the faintest hope, I may see things I want to do to make my situation better. I know I want to make my situation better. I am on my own side.

Fulfilment

I understand some people get pleasure from sex. Not everyone, and not all the time, but some people occasionally. It is not only a source of shame, self-loathing, misery and isolation.

My strongest term of condemnation has always been “self-indulgent”. It is the height of wickedness, the sin against the Holy Spirit from which all other sin proceeds. One could reframe self-indulgence as self-care, exploring or accepting.

“It is being creative,” says Tina.

Then again, some people find sex a burden, a compulsion they wish to escape. I escaped the compulsion with surgery. And then I found myself masturbating to climax. It took over an hour, and it did not happen often, but it happened. I used pictures of women in the trappings of Domination- leather, pvc, whips etc. I find my choice unobjectionable- everyone has quirks, “normal” is a moralistic not natural concept, ought not is. I like the DSM idea that a sexual predilection is only pathological if it disrupts the person’s life, or the lives of others.

Have you ever been to a kink session? she asked. She tells of an asexual colleague who went to a weekend gathering, with seminars on consent or techniques, and stalls. One had a “Wartenberg wheel”, used for stimulation. “Turn round,” he said, and ran it over the back of her neck- and “though I am asexual, I tingled all over,” she recounted.

The thought of being passive and vulnerable terrifies me. It makes me freeze.

I had nocturnal emissions as well, and then a couple of times, including a day or so ago, I have awoken after what I think is an erotic dream even though I have forgotten it, with no emission but a painful sense of pressure in the bottom. I understood the prostate gland drained into the urethra. I wondered if scar tissue from my slowly-healing neo-vagina was blocking its exit, and if that could cause a health problem. I should see a doctor, I hope to set my mind at rest.

Though “Will bad things happen?” is never a good question for expert or ignoramus. “Possibly, but not certainly” is usually the best answer. “Worry if they do.”

I think deferring gratification is a good thing, and can talk sensibly about it. One should just enjoy onesself sometimes. It is a balance, and which is right at any time depends on circumstances. One can be right enough- mistakes are often acceptable, as they do not have terrible consequences. I put a very high premium on talking sensibly.

I had deep pain and shame around sex, expected and experienced. There have been a few moments when I liked something, when I might have found a way into enjoyment- holding hands that time, that evening… To imagine that sex could be pleasurable, but that I could have no possible path to that pleasure, and that scar tissue might take even my faintest hope from me! It is alright to like what I like– only to realise that when it is too late! Finding a path could be impossibly complex and difficult! Only now do I see myself at all clearly, rather than repressing…

I value moderation. Moderation is not enough, she says, all parts of you need space and a voice and time. You cannot be moderately self-indulgent. It makes me think of the quote from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground (1864). The nameless narrator says,

I, for example, would not be the least bit surprised if suddenly, out of the blue, amid the universal future reasonableness, some gentleman of ignoble or, better, of retrograde and jeering physiognomy, should emerge, set his arms akimbo, and say to us all: ‘Well, gentlemen, why don’t we reduce all this reasonableness to dust with one good kick, for the sole purpose of sending all these logarithms to the devil and living once more according to our own stupid will!’ That would still be nothing, but what is offensive is that he’d be sure to find followers: that’s how man is arranged.

Moderation could be rational, and imposed from outside- a prison you would do anything to tear down- or organic, arising from within.

I value understanding, and being able to talk of these things intellectually.

I got that quote from the New York Times. I love the NYT, and read it a lot- fascinating topics and good writing style, with the occasional gorgeous sentence or trick of article construction.

Integrating the self

I have not spoken to my counsellor for over a month, so have a lot of material to work with. I tell her of my dispute with Quakers, lunch with my friend, my holiday.

-I did a little light bullying.
-I don’t think anyone has ever said something like that to me. “How was your holiday?” “Oh, I did a little light bullying.”

I worked quite hard to make sure my friend had as good a holiday as possible, and when I could not find a way threw my weight around to make sure I got what I wanted from it. In particular I was not going to do boring things because conventionally they are supposed to be fun, especially as my companions had such limited ideas of what those were. And because he values my company so much, my friend has to take a certain amount of shit from me.

-You are very hard on yourself.

Yes. “Bullying” and “giving shit” are harsh words for me. I was kind. I was reasonably self-assertive. I was as creative as I could be. My judgment of myself is harsh, and I am allowing the judgment and trying to stop it preventing me doing what I want. Bullying is wrong. My inner critic calls my action bullying, yet I do it anyway. In unsatisfactory circumstances I am happy enough with my conduct.

At one point we reach a stop, and she says she has a question. Fire away.

-You said your internal policeman tasered you for not being sufficiently manly. Did he not get the memo?

We laugh. Apparently not. It is good to be conscious of him, though, rather than just being paralysed. I love the way I make her laugh. I am telling my stories as elegantly and quickly as I can, wanting to get the meaning over, but enjoying how I word them well.

Before lunch, H told me a coat would look good on me. I am playing control games. I like them. If that is her controlling me- what does that do for me? It is what I want. It gives me a sense of connection.

-Would you have bought the coat yourself?
-No. Never. But I love it.
-So she is appreciating a part of you which is usually silent, and giving it a voice.

I am addicted to attention. Or at least that is approaching the truth, one facet of it.
-You are being attractive, and valuing that.
-Crying in public could be that addiction. Yet it seems to me that when I cry my unconscious communicates to my conscious how strong my feeling is, and if I can fully accept my depth of feeling I need not show external symptoms. That can be useful.

She does not demur to that.

I have known I am screwed up and at war with myself all my adult life. I am closer to finding the cause of that than I have ever been, and to finding ways round it. My father was feminine, my mother liked that, they both knew it was utterly shameful and no-one must ever find out. I had one honest conversation with my father about it, three months before he died.

This is my work. It is intensely valuable, because I am valuable.

Being controlled, and passive. My best experience of sex so far was with a man who let me lie back, doing nothing, and with gentleness, empathy and generosity opened me up. I was curled up and self-protective, and he got me to open myself to him. He licked me out. “You taste Goood,” he said. I want to do none of the work, and be accepted.

Bullying. It is a harsh judgment. I am crying.

She says it is difficult to integrate the self when it is so repressed. At her request, I show her my yellow coat. It is very yellow.

We arrange another appointment, and then I watch Star Trek Deep Space Nine. I like it. It is decades-old SF entertainment for teenagers, and I still like it. It is beautifully done. I pause it to think.

Do I need it to be in some way objectively good, before I am allowed- can allow myself- to like it? Now I am weeping hard. NO! I like it! Yet this is an exceptionally good episode, ep 3/7, “Civil Defense”. I love the clever ways they come up with to reduce the threat, always making it worse until the end. I love the way the characters respond in ways like themselves: Quark and Odo flirt together beautifully, subtly showing their regard and care for each other as they bicker. It is funny. At the end, there is surely the tiredest cliché- the computer counts down the seconds to Self Destruct- and the tension of it grips me. I love their heroism: continually knocked back, everyone keeps buggering on. I loved the sense of the characters, and see it is the only DS9 writing credit of Mike Krohn- his only other credit is one TV movie, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct: Lightning. I may watch that episode again, however ridiculous the whole world might find such a complete waste of time.

Labiaplasty

It is not necessary to have a vaginoplasty, unless you wish to be penetrated. The alternative is a labiaplasty.

When I was considering the operation, we called this the “cosmetic op”, as if vaginoplasty was not also cosmetic surgery. Surgeons competed to create the orifice- should they use penile skin, or scrotal? What about hair removal? How deep would they go? Dr Suporn of Chonburi, Thailand regularly achieved seven inches. A friend was angry at her psychiatrist for recommending orchiectomy more than a year before vaginoplasty, because she felt this caused her penile skin to shrink so that she could only get one inch. Then, colo-vaginoplasty is the option.

The neovagina needs to be dilated. There are no rules. I spent four hours a day with a stent in me, which I found painful and debilitating, and which was not enough. The body does not naturally cleanse the orifice, so you need to wash it out, and it can be smelly. I was told not to have my anus penetrated sexually, as that could breach the wall of my vagina. If you do not want to be penetrated, it may not be worth it. Yes, you may want to be penetrated later, but if you are not interested in a relationship with a man, consider labiaplasty.

Here there is a small orifice, about an inch deep, and labia are created from penile skin, which is more sensitive. Most or all of the glans can be retained, so that you may still be sexually aroused, and stimulated. You can make love.

You will no longer be able to swive. You will not penetrate another. And you cannot lie back and be ridden in the same way as you might have before. And, before, you could lie back and be stimulated- the glans has only changed position a few inches. It is worth considering what you gain.

I found my desire to be passive and receptive in lovemaking mindblowing and distressing. I knew that as a Real Man I should be active. It seemed to be what women wanted. A line from radio comedy- a woman asks derisively, “You want me on top, waggling my hips up and down?”- stays with me, as archetypal female contempt for someone less than a man. Well, now I can’t swive, though I could use fingers or tongue on another. Either operation frees me from that Manly role, though perhaps finding the right partner or accepting my desire might have freed me in a better way. Sex with another was unpleasant, and I did not see how it might be better. And when I was passive, and a woman played with me, I found it humiliating.

I did not consider “the cosmetic op” a serious option, seeing it as less than vaginoplasty, as what an older person might choose, or someone with health difficulties restricting the time they should spend under anaesthetic. I wanted to resemble a woman as much as possible. If there is an option, think what might be good about it, however ridiculous it seems.

The other alternatives are orchiectomy, retaining the penis, and no operation at all.

What do you want?
Why do you want that?
How might it be achieved?

gwen-john-self-portrait-1899

Sexual organs

If I undergo transition one day, it will be to have female sexual organs, not only to look as a woman, said a commenter. Sadly, you can’t.

If your operation is successful, you can experience penetration rather than penetrating. However, your sensation will be less. Pre-op, you have the tip of your penis which is very sensitive, and manipulation, touching, licking or even movement within your clothes will stimulate it. Post-op, most of this has been discarded, and a part of it sits under a manufactured clitoral hood- so that it won’t be stimulated all the time. Constant stimulation is wearisome, but also reduces sensitivity over time, as found in circumcised men. If you want to be penetrated, using your arsehole may be a better solution. Penetration of a male arse stimulates the prostate gland, causing arousal. Post-op, you will retain your prostate gland, which gives you whatever ability to orgasm you retain, as well as being necessary to prevent incontinence. The nerves to that helmet-remnant may have been cut, and it is smaller, so it is at best less able to be stimulated than before.

You may be unable to experience penetration. Your cavity may not be deep enough. You have to dilate it with a plastic dildo. Initially I was told to do this for two hours, morning and evening. I found this painful and debilitating- I was lying on my back, but not resting. In 2004 I was told after six months I could reduce that to one session of two hours a day, and reduce it further later, but I found reducing the time reduced the size of the hole. I gave up, and now could be penetrated by a finger but not even the smallest penis. More recently a surgeon told me “There are no rules”- do as much as you need to keep the hole open, or let it close. It is a wound, and the body continually attempts to heal it by closing it up.

It is a hole, lined by skin, and if that skin had follicles then you may have hair inside. You could have electrolysis scarring the skin or you could spend a great deal of time under anaesthetic having the follicles removed as I did. A seven hour period of unconsciousness is a high price to pay- as is all of this.

The vagina expands to pass a baby’s head. The “neovagina” cannot. A friend who was penetrated- we jokingly called this “organic dilation”- said her partner complained of soreness after.

The vagina leads to the cervix and uterus. The neovagina ends in a skin wall.

You can’t have female sexual organs. Transferring human souls or essences between bodies, as in 1950s B movies, is not possible.

So having the operation to make yourself into a woman, or to have female sexual organs, makes no sense. You cannot have these things. Having the operation to reduce your sexual appetite, especially if you find sex embarrassing and confusing, makes far more sense, though it comes at a high price. With a penis, you might learn to enjoy sex, or at least get some enjoyment along with the misery. Without, it is much harder. Everyone finds sex embarrassing and confusing, producing unquenchable yearnings. A few people make sex work within a stable partnership which works in other ways, but they may be unusual, and lifelong examples extremely rare. More may give up on sex entirely as it is too difficult. Sex evolved not for your fulfilment, but for procreation. (This is a practical not a moral statement- sex may be delightful, and find that delight where you can as long as you do not break obligations to others.)

Having the operation to appear more like a woman makes far more sense. You can go swimming and wear tight jeans. If you are sentenced to imprisonment you are more likely to be sent to a women’s prison. Some feminists will find post-op transsexuals more acceptable than other trans folk in women’s spaces. A woman told me “I don’t feel threatened by you”- I did not ask if she felt threatened by most men, and with her born-again simplistic morality she saw me as a man.

I have not begun to process this. “I have been a fool” or “I have been fooled by bad people” seem equally unbearable.

Advances

He came in from the rain. He stood before me, and his hand appeared a few inches from my face. “Kiss the rain,” he said. I stared at the hand until it disappeared.

This seems like a feminine way of dealing with it. I do not make a fuss, but I do not respond, and the man gives up. And-

I have been completely ashamed of myself. I sent a text, making an unwanted advance. I have also cursed my own judgment- for it seemed like a good idea at the time, and yet in hindsight I see that I should have known her better, that it took no account of her feelings or her likely response. I thought not being drunk was a sufficient defence against idiocy:

Most people get drunk
before texting like this- but
I wanted to word it well

Not being drunk
did not stop it being ill-advised.
I saw that, after

I do not know what I expected.
I hardly know what I wanted.
We do these things

In flailing desperation.
You would not even let me down gently.

Indeed she would not. Letting me down gently, not making a fuss, is the feminine response, but she has had her consciousness raised. All I considered was my own desires.

She warned me. I texted again; but then thought, Can I get anything out of this? I might have gone on if I thought she would be “feminine” and let me down gently. No chance of that so I backed off. And, after, I have been kicking myself. Why the fk did I do that? I cannot trust my judgment or my responses. I have been completely miserable with it.

And I feel completely alone and unloveable. I see no possible improvement in my situation. I have to deal with that feeling myself. After backing off, I have gone back to thinking obsessively of her, and have to deal with that too- it will go away in time.

A woman posted on fb about being followed home by a younger man. She crossed the road to check she was not imagining it, and he crossed following her. When he caught her up she screamed until he went away. My action was different in degree and not in kind. Do you harass women? Perhaps you do not realise it? I love about this sketch that, though he does silly things and is covered in sick, the man sees himself as reasonable:

What I want V

I want a mature industrial democracy, where the workers by hand and brain, in full control of their means of production, exercise that control freely and generously for the common good: where they may provide comfortably for their families, and then give from the abundance to anyone in need. Where their work is sustainable, and they live without exploitation, caring for the world and all life on it.

From each according to their abilities, to each according to their need.

-But that’s Utopian. “No-place”-ish.
-Well, I am a Quaker. We seek to build the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth. And there is just a chance that I might be able to help build such an industrial democracy, by co-operating with those with that aim, who have taken steps towards it, not to be reached in my lifetime but with clear progress visible.

And- there is the ultimate goal, the full beauty, and the step to be taken now. It is difficult to see.

So they built as men must build
With the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other.

There are no rules here. If I said, Do not look to the final goal- stare downwards, so that you may see the next step- that might seem sensible, and you might miss the next step. “We have faith that way will open,” say Quakers: we don’t know how, but believing that it is possible to make things better is necessary, in order to get out of bed. If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him- for knowing is possible but fleeting and uncertain, missteps are a constant risk, panaceas against missteps are so, so tempting illusion. That was the title of a book I read about fifteen years ago, amazed at its wisdom and how I was learning The Meaning of Life- but if I had kept it to read again now it would not give me the same feeling.

He quoted Godel, Escher, Bach which I have not read: you may be conscious, and conscious that you are conscious, and conscious that you are con- in endless iteration. I counter with something I read somewhere, that you may either be conscious of a thing, or conscious of your consciousness, but not both: you switch your attention, and the thing outside yourself disappears, so that you are only thinking of yourself. This is philosophy and psychology: we build a picture and an illusion of perceiving it all, but pay attention to constantly changing small parts all the time, like the scanning of a cathode ray tube.

There is a science fiction novel- I heard this, I have not read it- where the Invaders take over the bodies of politicians, military personnel, business executives, and use them to further their invasion plot; and the original owners see all their captors see, hear what comes out of their mouth, unable to influence it. A vision of Hell.

What do you Want?

The phone rings. Fxxk.
-Can I speak to Clare Flourish?
-Who is it? (angrily)
-The Blood Transfusion Service. (I should not be unpleasant to them.)

So I told him that the reason I have given blood is that I want to imagine that I am a good person; that this does not work; and that therefore I want him to remove me from their records.

Chaos of thought and passion, all confused…

-That’s Pope.
-Yes.
-From An Essay on Man, III. (Actually I have just looked that up, in a paperback- I told him it was from “Know then thyself- presume not God to scan”.)
-You beat me. A quote I did not know.
-Oh! I did not want to beat you! (But I did, obviously, to show off my erudition and taste, or I would not have looked it up just now.)

What do you Want?

I don’t know. There are conflicting motivations in my brain and psyche, which may surface in consciousness or not; which I may misunderstand, which conflict, which may present themselves as something other to my consciousness. I want heughmagandie, and that part which wants it, wants it with no heed to consequence. Sometimes I find what I want when I see what I do: the want is too difficult for the conscious self-concept to admit.

“Let’s talk next week.” Oh, God. Only if I can get something from it. Only if I can feel slightly less desolate than I do now. What do I want? Impossible things, and the seeming of taking a step towards them; and if I seemed to move towards them, I would want more, so that I may never be satisfied. From the desolation of my dearth I offer illusion and false hope, distraction from the reality that we will all die, and are all alone. I betray myself, doing what seems to be a step towards WHAT I WANT, but it is delusion leading to misery.

This is good, actually- honest! I am understanding more, conscious more. Step by step…

Arshile Gorky, the liver is the cocks comb

Non-free media rationale: I wanted to pinch Arshile Gorky’s picture, so I did.

Gayle Newland

“For us, that was what was normal”. In this case, always wearing a blindfold when with her “boyfriend”, putting it on before he would open the door to her, kissing and cuddling on the sofa before the television blindfolded, blindfolded during sex, blindfolded when going out together, riding in a car then being led through a building up some steps into a garden where they sunbathed. It was only when sucking her boyfriend off and finding that the scrotum “felt wrong” that she took off the blindfold and found it was her female friend in a strap-on.

Honestly, possibly. The jury believed her. The defendant, Gayle Newland, claimed that the unnamed woman victim had been her friend, meeting her as Gayle rather than as “Kye”, Gayle’s male persona, and confessing that she like Gayle was lesbian but deeply screwed up about it. There had been no deception.

As a trans woman, I find it wearing, that “sex with a woman” and “sex with a man” are held to be so different that trans folk might be criminalised for pretending. Don’t come here for legal advice: I am unclear whether the operation is what makes the difference, as I now have a vagina, or the Gender Recognition Certificate, as the laws of England and Scotland both consider I am a woman. As far as I was concerned, I was a woman when I ceased presenting male, and now am prepared to assert I was female from birth, though I would not have said so at the time.

I would make sure I had informed consent before sex. One way of considering me is “demi-sexual”, getting physical only after forming a romantic attachment; “demi-sexual” makes it sound like an orientation, but it could be having imbibed certain taboos and moral attitudes about sex. But I feel trans folk should be able to have casual sex on the same terms as anyone else- see someone through beer goggles, say “What the hell”, find somewhere quiet- without that conversation.

That was not what happened here. There was a relationship over several months.

If Gayle Newland was ashamed of wanting sex with women, being Lesbian, she still managed it. She said, “I had never spoken to any gay people and especially in those years you didn’t see gay people on television. It was quite a negative thing. I just felt that speaking to people [in real life] I couldn’t really be myself.” She is 25. For so many of us, internalised homophobia is as bad as it ever was. Could she not believe that anyone else would find her real female self attractive, or was Gayle the act, Kye the true self? Is she trans?

I don’t know whether to be pleased or horrified at the lengths someone will go, for affection. Someone who told me she was too ugly, and I had to wear a blindfold? I would want to be trusted, to see her inner beauty.

Two Guardian reports.

Angelo Bronzino, Venus, Cupid and Envy

Pornography debate

Pornography is not fitting, or respectful. It cheapens a beautiful, wonderful thing, the human body. It requires performers to degrade both themselves and human closeness: if they do not feel proper self-respect, and do not realise that the money they might receive is no compensation for the damage to their dignity, then they are immature broken or dishonoured, and perhaps violent, and not fit to make the decision whether to participate. Those who finance it and degrade both the watchers and the watched are wicked.

I am sex-positive. Sex is a wonderful thing. And other things damage dignity: this is not a sin on its own.

I joined Heather and three friends, one a Quaker, in the concrete ravine to the side of the National Theatre by the bridge. I said, “We are Quakers. We do not agree about everything” (meaningful look from feminist friend) “but we listen to each other”.

Then a play. It is not a form of story-telling I am used to on stage, there are contrived impossible situations- two women tie the Queen to a chair, while offering her cakes from a sweet trolley, in order to get her to sign a decree banning pornography. “I’ve never made law like this before,” says the Queen. Then they dance what porn is, one shaking and hitting the rag-doll-like, unresponsive other, and then the Queen (having taken off her crown) solo-dances what sex is- the response of the whole body. I am sorry, I was puzzled by all this. Two scenes involved power situations I found unpleasant being subverted. There was some violence and some description of pornographic depictions of sex which I found distasteful and am glad to note I have forgotten.

Then the debate. The audience was passionate and engaged, and I did not get to make my point. Real relationships with trust where I may state my desires and want to delight my partner, giving her gifts, lead to knowledge and acceptance of self and other, but porn causes shame and fear. That was for Pandora, the “feminist” pornographer who is submissive and makes video of herself being spanked. The main points I have taken in were about the degradation of women in the films and the effect on the wider culture, including on children watching.

Oh, I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to think of the arguments. It merely revolts me.

The pornography industry lobbyist, facing a hostile audience, spoke with a stentorian monotone, not pausing or permitting interruptions, denying any problem with the industry and repeatedly characterising his opponents as “Anti-SEX”. I think him psychopathic. Kirsty thought he was not engaging with his opponents, and was saying silly things, so not worth listening to. I think he has a tactic: without respect for truth he denigrates and castigates his opponents, which might wear me out and demotivate me from arguing.

When I was at University, I read an obscene joke on a toilet wall, which I have never forgotten. It was elegantly written and repellent. I feel lessened by knowing it. So I have my argument, which suits me: fitting honour and respect for human beings- participants, watchers, and the wider society, make pornography disgusting, and to be avoided, though not banned.

Jan Sanders van Hemessen, Der kruisafneming

A party

I met a sex therapist- she has a boring day job, but that is what lights her fire. She said much of her work involves helping people realise that what they believe they want, or ought to like, is not what they really like, then find out what they really want from a partner, overcoming all their shame and taboos. Well, of course. I want to be someone else, and am not alone in this. Carl Rogers was right about the self-concept. I asked her for a hug, and she gave a close, warm hug lasting some time- a borderline cuddle. After, I noticed a man looking at us appreciatively. I pulled away when I felt I might get aroused, so there is my boundary.

I told her I am submissive, and she explored it with me. That could be a problem if- Well, my eyes are open. I want this experience for the experience itself, the other person, my actual feelings, and not for any imagined thing which should happen.

Most of the people there were actors. One is bowled over by working with [Famousperson]. Wow, I said. He has huge artistic integrity. And he has made serious amounts of dosh. That is important. The actor nodded, we are in complete agreement there. Someone called him up, and asked him to do his []. So he did, and he was invited to an audition, and then to another, and he met FP, in fact they had lunch together. And they could drop him at any time, and the project might not go ahead. I don’t know if this is superstition or managing expectations. It is a big break for him, and very important: but when playing the role he has to concentrate on the role itself, and not its importance to him, which is a mere distraction. Athletes will understand this, but it applies to everybody.

Another actor told me about recording audio drama. He gets only his own lines, and records them with an engineer/producer (I am unsure of the technicalities). M says, “Try it another way”, that’s his thing. If all the actors were present at once it would be far more expensive. The next actors will have his lines to interact with. For radio drama, they all stand round a microphone. He thought it quite brave of me to come to a party where I knew so few: I had just gone up to him and his wife, and asked to start talking. Brave, but it worked.

There were a hundred people there. Our host stood on a chair and spoke of his love for his wife, and how they had met, and she cried with happiness.

Charles Le Brun, the descent from the cross