Interview to Janet W. Hardy – Sex Educator

Through your BDSM movie : Its Not What You Think , can you managed to break many stigmas and stereotypes ? And the general public saw the BDSM with different eyes ?

I think people who saw the movie definitely learned a lot about how real-world BDSM practitioners are far more varied and ethical than the stereotypes would indicate. None of us who were interviewed look much like the heartless sadists or cringing masochists many people imagine – and that’s because, in 30-plus years in the BDSM scene, I’ve never met anyone who is much like those stereotypes.

It passed six years since the making of this film, in general considers that there has been progress in the elimination of prejudices?

There’s a lot less prejudice than there used to be – especially among younger people – but we still have a long way to go. It doesn’t really matter much how people feel privately about BDSM; they can be prejudiced against it or not, and if they don’t like it, then they don’t have to do it. But when it matters is when someone who has been abused during BDSM is afraid to go to the police because they’re afraid nobody will take their complaint seriously, or when someone loses their job or custody of their children because the courts don’t understand the difference between abuse and consensual BDSM.

Along with Dossie Easton created The Ethical Slut . This book attempts to break the idea that anyone who has more than one person is not a bitch/bastard, given the profoundly monogamous society? You can break up this prejudice, label?

There’s been a huge change in attitude since we published the first edition of The Ethical Slut back in 1997. Our book is part of that, of course, but I think it has a lot more to do with the Internet – now people who are interested in alternatives to traditional monogamy have ways to find each other, to compare their experiences and share their wisdom. That’s led to much greater visibility for polyamorous and non-monogamous people – to phenomena like the Newsweek cover story a year or two ago, and the reality series featuring a long-term triad, and so on.

Do you believe that, with this and your other books, was able to help many people to open their horizons and live their sexuality without fear and with respect?

There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t get letters from people telling us how important my books have been in helping them feel okay about their desires. Because writing is a very solitary pursuit, this kind of feedback is hugely important to me – without that sort of support, it would be very difficult to keep sitting at the keyboard cranking out books.

The role you had and have is very important for having published this book. What has been the practical result of people learning about your vision of a free sexual life with multiple partners? There is still a long way to go in the discussion about polyamory and respect for this way of being in life? And the alternative sex?

I think part of the reason Dossie and I can help people is because we’re not young or rich or good-looking or any of the popular stereotypes about sexually liberated people. Dossie’s in her seventies and I’m about to turn sixty – we’re both old enough to be the grandmothers of many of the people who read our books. So I think a lot of people think of us as sort of their kinky slutty fairy godmothers, the older mentors that their moms and grandmoms can’t be for them. And they can look at us and see that they can achieve their sexual dreams, they can be kinky or polyamorous or play with gender, and still reach a healthy happy old age.

Can you explain your work about vaginas on the book The Portal? Your interest lies in the fact that it is a taboo to speak of vaginas, prejudice women in touching them and knowing little about the vagina?

“The Portal” – which was an essay, not a book, and also appeared in slightly altered form in my book Girlfag – was an attempt to question the whole idea of the vagina as the essence of femaleness. Can one have a vagina and not feel female? Can one penetrate a vagina and not feel male? What does it mean to feel male or female, anyway? If I penetrate a vagina with my hand, what is the difference between a hand and a penis? If I don a strap-on and it feels like my own penis, what does that make me? Those are the kinds of questions I wanted to explore.

My favorite line in the piece is “I do… like men. And since they don’t have cunts, we use mine.” The idea that during sex, both partners share both genitals and it doesn’t matter which is attached to whom – that comes very close to the core of what I was trying to say.

How was exploring a woman ‘s life and the taste she has for gay men, and dress the skin of a man and a male lover ?

Throughout my life, I’ve been attracted to gay male culture and to gay masculinity; the majority of the men I’ve dated have either identified as gay or have come out as gay later. I can remember telling someone when I was in my late teens that I felt myself to be “a gay man in the body of a woman,” but beyond that, it wasn’t something I felt very safe talking about until recently. But eventually I felt that it was worth talking about – for what it says about queerness, about gender, about different ways of being a woman – and so I wrote Girlfag.

Talk about prostitution and transsexuality were two themes that interested you discuss and address for the general public?

I haven’t written extensively about either one because I don’t think they’re really my topics to discuss – I’ve done a tiny bit of sex work (a very brief stint in a massage parlor, and one session each of professional domination and professional submission, both with the same client), and I don’t identify as transsexual, although I think it is accurate to call myself genderqueer. However, my circle of good friends includes quite a few sex workers and quite a few trans people, and I have enormous respect for them – I think they’re brave pioneers in the forefront of the movements to own our own bodies and our personal narratives.

[It was a piece about non-traditional marriages, featuring a master-slave relationship and gay men married to straight women.] This one’s work may seem very strange to the public, but where did it come this interest for more alternative relationships, polyamorous relationships and unhindered/limits? To address these issues and meet these realities, do you attempt to open the horizons of society thinks, it’s possible that it is prepared ?

That piece has actually never been published – where did you see it? I hope someday to develop it into a book. I’m very interested in cross-orientation relationships because I think they say a lot about the way we can redefine relationships if we let them evolve organically instead of trying to force them into a societal mold. Who says we have to choose the same person for sharing a household that we choose for having sex? Or that the other parent of our children has to live under the same roof as us? Or that a household has to consist of only two adults? When we look at the different ways people arrange their lives once they break free of the social pressure that only one person will meet all our needs (romance, sex, affection, companionship, coparenting, business arrangements like home ownership) till death do us part, we begin to see the ways in which our own lives might work better if we freed ourselves of those expectations.

Why is there so much resistance from the LGBT community for your work ?

I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of resistance, but there’s definitely some. We’re seeing a schism opening up between people who believe there are only two genders, and those who see gender as a spectrum. If you’re a person who believes in only two genders, the kind of writing I do – which is explictly about life between genders, and bridging the gender binary in the way one lives and loves – can seem very offensive. Such people often find the idea of a “girlfag” completely impossible, since it’s obvious to them that a female-bodied person cannot be in any way a gay man. (Many of them are also upset by the word “girlfag,” which I agree is a problematic word – one of the peculiarities of English is that we have no single, non-vulgar word that means “gay man.” Members of our community have spent a lot of time trying to come up with a better name for ourselves, but we haven’t found one yet.)

There’s also concern about the idea that people like me are objectifying gay male sexuality. Well, of course we are. My belief is that all sexual fantasy is inherently objectifying – I mean, nobody has sex fantasies about a whole integrated human being; we fantasize about appearance, or a particular sexual behavior or kink, or a fetishistic image. So I really don’t think it’s possible or advisable to censor someone’s fantasies for being “objectifying.”

Behavior, of course, is another matter, and I understand that gay men and lesbians do not want to be pestered for sex by people of a gender that doesn’t interest them. I don’t know any self-aware girlfags or male lesbians who do that kind of thing – it’s just as rude as straight men who pester uninterested women for sex. And of course, the idea of a female-bodied, non-trans person trying to enter male-only space without invitation, because she feels like a gay man inside, is beyond rude. (Most such stories I’ve heard involve non-queer women who go to gay bars as though they were theme parks – which is a whole different issue.)

In your opinion what it’s needed to have more people to speak of their memories as girlfags . Addressed the issue of inter – orientation and, according to his testimony , there was not much demand, why does that happen ? The fact that there are not interested in this topic may reveal that it is a non issue ?

I think there just isn’t enough awareness around these liminal identities yet. In the slash and yaoi communities, thousands and thousands of women write and enjoy stories of male/male sexuality, and it’s clear that many of them lead an active fantasy life in which they are male and being sexual with other men. They simply don’t know that there’s a word and a community for such people.

So far what have you learned about sexuality and what do you think is more important to convey to people ?

The most important thing I know about sexuality is that it pervades everything – it’s not possible to set it off from everything else we do. Eros is a tremendously powerful force; learning to recognize and embrace it is a lifelong task.

Thanks for your time, votes for a good work.

Thank you.

Project Genesis by Pleasure

Interview: Pedro Marques
Correction: B.T.


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