Sinclair reviews Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Untamed by Glennon Doyle Amazon Affiliate link

I was skeptical about this book. Remember back in May 2020 when nearly the entire bestseller list was taken up by anti-racist titles such as How To Be An Anti-Racist, Me & White Supremacy, and My Grandmother’s HandsUntamed was also on there, and I felt skeptical about a white woman’s voice being amplified so loudly during such a critical time. I knew it was a memoir, but someone told me it also addressed her personal journey with her own whiteness and coming to an anti-racist identity.

Hmm, I thought.

I was disappointed to see so little of that in the book, but that’s not Glennon’s fault — I had bad information. It does have a little bit about it, but it’s just one medium-length essay among dozens of others — not even a major theme, really.

I was skeptical because I knew who Glennon Doyle was: a white, feminine woman with a conservative Christian background who fell in love with a (famous, queer) woman (soccer player Abby Wombach — who also wrote a book, Wolfpack) and left her husband. I knew she had quite the social media following, and my impression was that she was in that category of inspirational speakers and motivational self-help that is usually geared toward white wealthy mainstream women, and of which I tend to be very critical for the ways it reinforces capitalism, hegemony, beauty standards, and even patriarchy.

I struggled to relate to a lot of her work because she is so mainstream. I have been out as butch and queer since 1999 — more than half my life now — and my entire adult understanding of myself comes from counter culture, activism, being critical of the overculture, and and being very actively against indoctrination. I not only came out into counter culture, I grew up in it, outside of the contiguous US, and have never had a mainstream US world view. So when she describes her process of expanding and transforming outside of her mainstream world view, I applaud her — but parts of it are not all that radical or even all that interesting to me. Those things seem kind of like a baseline, not a revelation.

What was really interesting — fascinating, moving, and even inspiring — was the ways she describes that transformative process.

I am so impressed and have much respect for her process in general, and how much she had to trust herself in order to re-build her life, going against almost everything she’d known. So many of the short essays that make up this book are about how she trusts herself, the personal process of naming her inner Knowing, the consequences, the social expectations of placing trust somewhere outside of one’s self in order to know what’s right.

The major takeaway for me was about the cost and construction of abandoning one’s self. I know from early childhood development theory that our attachment styles, and sometimes relational trauma, are wrapped up in how we abandon ourselves to seek outside approval. For some of us, we have a pattern of others overriding what we know to be true and right for ourselves, and that often, for me personally, when resentment brews and gets directed at others, it is a clue that I have not been being true to myself at some deep level.

I am surprised to be so moved by this book. If you like personal transformative reflections, parenting, spiritual seekers, truth seekers, you may enjoy this book. I found it very easy to read and digest, with many profound moments.

Krait reviews Sweet and Rough: Queer Smut by Sinclair Sexsmith

sweetandrough-cover

Sweet, sensual adoration and dirty, rough sex meet in this anthology of queer smut penned by Top Sex Blogger Sinclair Sexsmith. The complete collection includes sixteen of Sinclair’s best queer erotica short stories, full of dapper dates, femmes in pretty dresses, flogging, bondage, flirting on the subway, bold moves, and (of course) strap-ons. From ongoing lovers to one-night stands, the kinky queer butch top protagonist delivers heart and dominance, over and over.

Sweet and Rough opens with an introduction discussing enthusiastic consent, in both erotica and real life. An introduction talking about such a serious topic could have been a mood-killer, but Sexsmith handled it very well. There’s an excellent touch of humor and I left the introduction with my curiosity piqued.

The stories all feature Sinclair and a variety of ladies, some newly met, some long-standing lovers. Sinclair describes themselves as “a cock-identified lesbian-feminist queer dyke,” and most of the stories (all but the last three) majorly feature their strapon. There’s all sorts of bondage, an excellent rope scene, and impact play. I really enjoyed how thoughtful Sinclair is as a dom – the narrative makes it very clear that they’re enjoying figuring out what their partner needs. They also do a great job of establishing enthusiastic consent – everyone’s having fun and boundaries are respected.

In the moment, Sexsmith relies on stream-of-conscious writing that really feels visceral and hot. I think the one thing I would’ve liked out of this particular book is a little more variety. Each individual story is hot, but they start to blend together a little when read straight through. This might not be a problem if you take the book one story at a time, or if you really enjoy strapons as a kink.

Otherwise, be aware that there’s a lot of language that would more commonly be found with male characters (hardening cock, that sort of thing), but once I got over my surprise, it’s easy to adjust to. In general, I really enjoyed Sweet and Rough – “All Five Senses” is definitely going on my to-be-reread list – and I think it’s an excellent addition to queer erotica.

Sweet and Rough can be found http://www.sugarbutch.net/sweet-and-rough/

Tag reviews Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica edited by Sinclair Sexsmith

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Reviews for this anthology abound, because it was a big deal when it came out, continues to be a big deal, and will be a big deal for a long time. I first heard of Say Please in an interview with Sinclair Sexsmith on Autostraddle in April of 2012, and while it seemed really interesting I definitely wasn’t ready for something that played with gender dynamics the way everyone said it did. Now that I’ve finally buckled down and read it, I’m exceedingly glad I did, particularly because of the play with gender dynamics. Sinclair Sexsmith had also gone under my radar until Say Please, and so far this is the only writing of hers I’ve read, but the quality of her writing and her taste leaves me sure I’m going to seek out more as soon as possible.
The introduction to Say Please is straightforward and functions to be both enticing and to warn away from kinks the reader may not be into (for example, even though I did read it, the vomiting in “Purge” is on my list of squicks to avoid and I appreciated the warning so I could brace myself). So if you have particular kinks you’re interested in or would like to avoid, the introduction is very clear for each story what the kink basis is.
What really makes this collection for me is how well each author ties everything together. It’s about BDSM, yes, but each character has the kind of depth that really draws a reader into every story. I don’t remember thinking at any point that any character was flat or boring, or that the pacing for any of the stories was off– just the opposite. The only way I managed to spread out my reading of Say Please was by only reading it on my lunch breaks at work, and even then it was over too soon.
The gender play and playing with what defines “lesbian” really resonated with me, though the emphasis most stories had on toys and referring to them as “cocks” rings differently with me on one day than it does on another. Anyone seeking only femme-identified lesbians in this anthology might be disappointed, but for a diverse selection of genderqueer dynamics, Say Please can’t be beat. For its being erotica, the writing and characterization for each piece is fantastic, making for a great collection.

Danika reviews Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica edited by Sinclair Sexsmith

I had high hopes for this collection, and I am very happy to say that it lived up to them! In any anthology, the thing I’m most looking for is consistent quality of writing. Every collection will have some I like more and some I like less, but that should be because of personal taste, not because the writing was sub-par. Say Pleasewas obviously very carefully put together. The stories definitely show a higher standard of writing than I’m used to in erotica collections. They also show a range, from light BDSM to heavier stuff. The relationships are loving and committed, completely fleeting, or in between.

In a conversation on Lambda Literary, Sinclair Sexsmith admits that this collection is labelled “lesbian” BDSM erotica for marketing purposes and that she considers the collection queer, and that she is seeking to broaden the definition of “lesbian” for collections like this. (I can definitely empathize with this–I chafe at calling this a “lesbian book blog” and in name excluding lots of people I want to include, but I can’t find a better word.) There is definitely a lot of gender dynamics at work in Say Please. One of my favorites was “Strong” by Xan West, which features a trans butch dom and a genderqueer sub that switches between playing girl and playing boy in a scene. As Sexsmith mentioned on Autostraddle, this collection is reflective of her taste. There is a lot of strap on use in Say Please: the vast majority of stories use one. There are also a couple “Daddy” stories, as well.

One of notes I kept writing while reviewing this book was “So short!” The majority of the stories show a very small section of time. As much as I was left wanting to see more from some stories, I appreciate it overall, because many erotica stories overreach and end up losing my interest. Luckily, lots of the stories are very succinct in establishing a relationship dynamic and personalities between the people involved. “Going the Distance” by Elaine Miller was another one of my favorites because I immediately enjoyed the playful relationships that so clearly shone through in such a short space.

Probably my favorite story, however, was written by the editor herself (“Not Without Permission”). Again, the small details quickly contextualize this night in the rest of their lives.

I really enjoyed this collection. I ended up reading it almost in one sitting in order to have this review up in time for the blog tour, and I don’t exactly recommend it. My partner said I had a “contact BDSM high… without the contact.” You end up vicariously experiencing all of these scenes. It was a little overwhelming, but definitely not unpleasant.

Check out what other people have said about Say Please on their blog tour! Link are listed below.

April 1      Say Please release party in SF
April 1 Viviane http://www.thesexcarnival.com
April 3 Rachel Kramer Bussel http://lustylady.blogspot.com
April 4 Giselle Renard http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com
April 5 Evoe Throw http://www.wholesexlife.com
April 6 Liz http://AlphaHarlot.com
April 9 Roma Mafia http://www.romamafia.com
April 9 Daniela http://www.thecsph.org
April 10 Official release date! Sinclair http://www.sugarbutch.net
April 11 Dede / deviantdyke http://deviantdyke.blogspot.com/
April 12 Helena Swann http://www.cuntext.com
April 13 Kim Herbel http://www.butchlesque.com
April 13   Say Please release party in NYC
April 14 Lily Lloyd http://theblackleatherbelt.com
April 15 Kelli Dunham http://www.kellidunham.com
April 16 Lyzanne http://sexpositive.tumblr.com/
April 17 Lula Lisbon http://www.lulalisbon.com
April 18 Ali Oh http://www.madeofwords.com
April 19 Jameson http://www.ftmbutchdude.com
April 20 Rhys http://girlfriendjunction.org
April 21 Charlie Ninja http://charlieninja.tumblr.com/
April 22    Say Please release party in Boston
April 22 Meredith Guy http://meridithguy.tumblr.com
April 23 Wendi Kali http://astrangerinthisplace.blogspot.com
April 24 Lolita Wolf http://leatheryenta.com
April 25 Audrey at Babeland http://babeland.com/blog
April 26 Seth B http://smokebellyscorner.wordpress.com
April 27 Danika http://www.lesbrary.com
April 28 DL King http://dlkingerotica.blogspot.com
April 29 Kiki http://kikidelovely.wordpress.com
April 29 Kyle http://www.butchtastic.com