Why are people afraid of me?

A brief exchange with a fellow blogger got me thinking about this topic. It’s not about him in particular, but it was the final piece that mentally fell into place for me. Why do we have to be so afraid of articulating our interests and experiences that fall outside of what the world perceives to be mainstream?

I’d long forgotten about being “Freshly Pressed”, that coveted WordPress publicity that says to the blogging world you are not just a good writer, but you say something worth reading.

I remember when I first started blogging I would read those who were Freshly Pressed and notice with longing others who had that badge on their pages. I told myself I wasn’t a writer and would never achieve such a blessing from the blogging powers that be. It didn’t stop me from wanting it, however. It’s taken me a long time to get more comfortable with doing something knowing I won’t be the best at it.

I was therefore somewhat relieved when I learned I could never actually be Freshly Pressed. Having adult content on my blog prevents it. Even if I wrote the most brilliant commentary on my feelings about the attempts to clean up the plastic in the ocean, it wouldn’t matter. My sex stories keep me off the radar (in other ways as well, but it doesn’t matter).

I’m self-hosted now, so am protected from what happened to other sex bloggers a few years back – one day their blogs were completely shut down and erased by WordPress. The company has every right to do it if we are violating their terms of service, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

If you follow some of my blogging friends on Twitter and Instagram you’ll have seen a lot of commentary about the various ways those platforms try to limit access to content they feel their readers shouldn’t see. I can’t show a nipple on Instagram if it’s not art, and even then, it could be taken down. Oh, but men and celebrity accounts can get away with pretty much anything. It’s a gross double standard and it’s tiresome.

Several bloggers have started a “Share Our Shit Saturday” (#SOSS) campaign in response.

It’s a great campaign but doesn’t address the root cause of the issue. Which takes me back to the exchange the blogger and I had.

Before I continue, I will say I have no issue with him. We’ve communicated off-blog before and he’s a decent human and a good writer. But this exchange got me thinking. It’s not so much about him as it is the broader issue I deal with every single day.

Like others, he occasionally promotes other bloggers on his blog. In his last post, he offered that anyone who wanted to be highlighted should make a comment to that effect. I made a sassy comment about never being Freshly Pressed or promoted because I’m R rated, but he could expose me if he wanted. He made an equally funny remark about a pending presidential race and how it might not be wise.

It’s not the first time a mainstream blogger has made such a comment to me. At varying times in my blogging life, great male writers with large audiences have told me I’m a good writer and they like my content (and they weren’t trying to get into my pants) but stop short of promoting me, as they may with mainstream writers they’ve built a connection with. The same phenomenon occurs on Instagram – I’m not followed by all of those who view my feed, because I can’t show up in their “follows” list.

What about my blog makes some people uncomfortable? The reality is out of almost 1,000 posts, there are a handful of pictures. Many explicit sex stories. But the vast majority is about navigating personal growth, dating, and relationships. I have a lot of sex, sometimes with men I don’t know all that well. But everything in here is legal and consensual. Never mind that I’m an intelligent and professional grown-ass woman.

I still can make people uncomfortable.

Have YOU ever thought “I like Ann’s writing, but I wouldn’t want all of my people to know that I read someone who writes so explicitly about sex sometimes” (or whatever things I write about that seem to be on the fringes)?

If so – welcome to my life EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I constantly have to think about how much of my “whole self” I can bring to a discussion. I need to be super careful about if and when to let a date know that I have a sexual appetite that may surprise them. I can talk about a few dating disasters at work and with family and most friends, but would never breathe a word about anything else.

I have written about dating on my personal media accounts, but you wouldn’t know my variety of interests by looking at the people and groups I follow. Those are safely segregated in my Ann St. Vincent accounts.

I know that not everybody shares my proclivities, my approach, or my transparency, and that’s completely expected and completely fine.

But wouldn’t it be great if people weren’t afraid of acknowledging interests, let alone experiences, which are deemed to be even slightly outside of the mainstream?

Perhaps then, we could have better dialogue about sexuality. Less shame over interests and kinks. Understanding that women fall into more categories than just virgins or sluts. A better understanding of consent. And far less judgment of anyone who falls outside what we traditionally believe is acceptable behavior.

How can we make this happen, people?

41 thoughts on “Why are people afraid of me?

  1. Yes please! Can we all be a bit more honest and open! Thank you for this. I get angry at the “married with kids” box I get shoved into – that for some crazy reason says “not interested in sex”
    I keep this separate but it shouldn’t have to be a secret.
    Missy x

    • It’s hard to be open – I’m becoming more transparent with many of my friends, but not all of them. I write under a pseudonym so I could be completely honest and free, something I can’t be in “real” life. There is so much fear and shame that we all wear, and I can’t help but think it would be much better if that wasn’t the case.

  2. Ann, “Straights” as we call them are often uncomfortable about things that don’t follow all of their guidelines. Being a swinger means that we are subjected to a lot of the same incidents that you experience. Some people are just afraid of anything that is different or doesn’t follow their moral code. For us it’s a lot of fun to push their buttons when they rag on us! LOL

    Ignore the Haters and they just need something to hate. Always remember that we love you. F&L

    “You call me a slut like it was a bad thing!”

    • Larry – thanks for the love! But this wasn’t about “haters” at all, and I think it’s fair to say that many people are afraid of what is different or doesn’t follow their moral code. Some of us just have a wider experience (so less to fear) or definition of what is moral. If we were all unafraid, we wouldn’t write with pseudonyms. And I certainly have no anger against someone who feels like they can’t follow me openly – I just wish it wasn’t the case that it’s the world we live in.

  3. We can make this happen by writing what we do, challenging what we can, sharing what and when we can. Submitting work to main stream media is also important. It will get knocked back but increasingly that is changing.

    I am constantly getting messages from people who have found my blog, asking for advice or mostly just wanting to tell me something I wrote resonated with them. No they are probably not going to share my blog in their FB page etc but I don’t need them too. I reached them, I helped them in some tiny way and I know that is a good thing and that in some even smaller way I am changing how they think about things.

    Mollyx

      • And that’s what I wish would be different – I talk about it but do so under a pseudonym because I can’t be fully open. Even with everything out there in the world, we’re still in an environment where sexual ideas or desires outside the mainstream are very risky to talk about. How wonderful it would be if we didn’t feel alone in these things.

    • I need to find some more time in my day to try to share what I write more broadly. It’s partly why I’m working on a book, but since I’m back to work after the holidays I have no time!

      I have no doubt, with all the amazing things you do for the community and how much you publish your content, that people are reaching out to you constantly. It happens to me on occasion and I’m always humbled that I’ve been able to make a difference in that person’s life. You’re right, I don’t need them to share me on FB – but the fact that most people would be afraid at some level to do so is what I wish wasn’t the case.

      If more people were able to have the conversation, perhaps we wouldn’t feel as alone in our thoughts and feelings in this arena.

  4. I agree with you 100%, I couldn’t share with my family what I follow, hence the name. Women will be judged unfairly until the mentality is changed, I look forward to all your posts, I created a Twitter account so I could get to your posts since your IG went dormant. Keep up the great writing and change will come.

  5. I only worry what my employer will think, but I don’t think much of them nowadays, so whatever. Sex happens…well, not for me, but for a lot of people!

    I will say, don’t get too hung up on the FP publicity thing (though it sounds like you aren’t). I was a few times when I had a blog and it can lead to another set of problems. It also showed me how cliquey this world can be at times (not WP for who they choose but in how others react), which is part of why I walked away.

    • I’m not hung up on publicity at all. I didn’t start the blog to be “famous” and in some ways, the more people I reach the more worried I get that the few people I want to keep this hidden from will find out.

      And yes… it sucks if you feel like an outsider when you’re supposed to be in a community! I’m sorry it felt that way to you.

  6. It is a very important question. Your blog has to some extent go me thinking about what I really want. There are some potentially interesting stories developing but I’m not yet comfortable sharing on my blog

  7. All my people (including coworkers) know I write erotic romance, so their knowing I read your blog wouldn’t faze me the littlest bit. It took me a while to get to this point, though, so I understand what you’re saying. People need to understand sex isn’t dirty/wrong/something to fear, and I think the best way toward that is to raise the next generation to be sex positive.

    • How did you get to the point where you became comfortable sharing? I’m working on it, I’ve told almost all of my close friends that I write, although only a few know the blog name. Raising a new sex-positive generation is absolutely the way to do – I hope I can do it with my son!

      • I don’t know, to be honest. It helped that I was always cool with talking about sex with my sis and friends, I guess. Also, I met my husband through writing–he read my smut online back when I wrote fanfiction–and since he didn’t mind, I started mentioning to family and friends that I write, but it’s better that they stay away from my books unless they want some really awkward dinner convos.

        Last May, I looked my kid’s (current) kindergarten principle in the eye, and told him I’m looking for an open-minded school that’s okay with my writing erotic romances. He shrugged it off. I’m happy with our choice of school. Heh. My sister read one of my books, back when she had time to read, and she loved it. A couple of my friends have read them and say they’re hot, but since the novelty wore off, my writing mostly comes up in terms of whether or not it makes me enough money to ditch my day job (not yet, but fingers crossed…), or if someone has a really fun sexy story I threaten to use in a book. The more confident I sound when I tell people about it, the more easily they take it in stride.

  8. I recommended your blog to a divorcee friend who just started online dating after a long marriage. I have to admit I was on the fence if I should do that because of the sometimes juicy bits but I thought the advice and experiences are far more important for her than me feeling selfconscious about reading your sexy posts.

    • Amy, I’m so pleased you thought to share my writing with a friend of yours. Thank you. And your initial reluctance is exactly what I was referring to in my post – how crazy is it that we live in a world where you had to worry about judgment as a result? It’s so difficult for us to be open in this regard and I wish it wasn’t this way.

  9. I hadn’t considered that WordPress could shut you down because of sexual content, certainly not in this context. I’ve been reluctant to share the graphic details of my encounters because I don’t think that this is what it’s about for me. I know that this would probaby increase my hit rate because of the entertainment value but I am far more interested in the journey and not interested in climbing the internet rankings.

    I love reading your blog and others about their experiences with online dating and how that changes us and our perceptions of life, relationships and men. If I want graphic content I’ll find myself some porn that turns me on. I’m not interested in erotic fiction. When it comes to porn it needs visuals for it to work for me but I’m very specific about what I like.

    So thank you for this. It’s been very interesting to read.

    • It only applies to people blogging on wordpress.com sites… I’m now self-hosted so although I use WordPress for publishing, my content is hosted elsewhere. I don’t always write graphic details, in fact I don’t think I write about sexual acts very well at all. But I do write about sex because that journey is important to me. Ironically, at least with WordPress, it reduces your rankings because you don’t show up in the WordPress search results.

      Thank you for the compliment, I’m very pleased you’re reading!

  10. The religious, god-fearing, shame-based dogma which underpins our Western cultures has a lot to answer for. And don’t even start me on the Patriarchy still trying to control women’s bodies and pleasures. I say fuck all that! Be who you are, do what you want, behave with integrity (whether you’re having a first dinner date or in an orgy), and support other women to be as empowered and liberated as you. Raise your boy to be a sex-positive feminist too, G xO

    • Shame, yes. That’s a great word for this context… why should anyone feel shame about reading someone else’s content, even if it’s sexual? It’s okay to be curious, to gain pleasure, whatever the reason and response.

      I’m working at being my whole self. This blog has helped me get there. I’ve met people who are similar to me in many ways, and had some readers tell me they find my story inspiring. It’s allowed me to accept myself as I am, and I hope to support other women in the same journey. Thank you!! xo

  11. The main issue is that mainstreamers write under their own name, so their content, their activity, their social media is visible to everyone in their lives so what you are asking for is a *very* different thing from what we do in our little sex blogger enclave.

    We (sex bloggers) *aren’t* transparent. At all. There are very few of us who write under our real names, who share ‘who we are’ with family, friends, work colleagues etc. So we can’t reasonably ask *others* to do what we won’t (well, unless you’re going to tell me that you comment/share/promote sex bloggers under your social media using your real name as well as under Ann St Vincent).

    We do exactly what ‘mainstreamers’ do: We hide this part of our lives from most people we know. And we already know all the (very valid) reasons why we do that.

    So this is less a question of ‘why won’t they’ and MORE a question of ‘why won’t/don’t/can’t WE’?

    And then the answer is a lot easier and I don’t think it’s as simple as ‘society tells us sex stuff is bad and dirty’, though that’s TOTALLY a thing (I’ve been shadowbanned on twitter since 1995 :/).

    Once you add the *personal* on top of the social (imagining my dad, or Bob from accounting reading about my sex life: aw hell no! Or having that creep who sends threatening emails and dick pics knowing where I live and work: nope!) we have some big issues to tackle.

    Ferns

    • Ferns, you absolutely 100% nailed it. I wish so badly that I could “come out” and shout to the rafters about my writing and all of you, but I am always pulled up short. What if a friend reads a blog I recommend and notices a comment that “Hy” left, clicks on it, goes to my blog and sees my breasts or reads intimate details of my life? It’s less about me being exposed as it is that someone in my life had no choice in learning about me on that level. It’s a consent issue in that case.

      If I were to tell my friends about about the blog (including the URL, for example) I would warn them that they would be seeing me nude and learning extremely intimate details of myself that only formerly lovers had ever known.

      And that’s just one of the many reasons I don’t share part of this world with people I know. :-/ It fucking sucks.

      Ann, I am always flummoxed about our predicament (“our” being all of us sex bloggers). We would have to be virtually independently wealthy in order to fully come out and spread our news or use our professional clout to connect more with the mainstreamers. I would tell everyone if I didn’t need my job safe.

    • What I was asking for is for a world where none of us felt we had to hide, if we didn’t want to. That if someone wanted to talk about their sexual interests, fears, experiences, they could. Women generally can’t even talk about sexual conquests without being labeled, let alone kinks.

      We all own that. My point was that I’m not even terribly on the fringes but a mainstream writer can’t comfortably admit to following me for fear of judgment. Let alone living that way all of the time! You’re quite right – I write under a pseudonym and almost all of the sex-positive stuff I follow on social media is done with my ASV account. For the exact same reason, that underlying fear.

      I said in the post that I too keep these lives separate. Although most of my friends now know I blog and most of my very close friends know the URL. I’m getting more comfortable with being my “full self” with people. I’m increasing my transparency bit by bit – but it’s risky.

  12. Love this post!
    Keep talkng about our stories?
    Sorry it’s bothering you. Being private helps me feel confident that I shouldn’t see my bolg disappear out of the blue. But my story doesn’t get shared as wildly.
    Sigh!
    XO

    • It’s only bothering me because it’s prevalent – it isn’t personal. I’m working on speaking my whole truth with people and finding it very rewarding. But it’s not easy.

      I don’t have to worry about being shut down, since I’m now self hosted.

      • I know.
        I’m not private because I’m worried about being shut down. I’m private for other reasons, relating to the person I’m divorcing from.
        Plus, I don’t have your IT skills and would miss the community I got to create on WP, and the ease with which I am able to exchange with them.

  13. I’m going to be honest here and say that a lot of it is your age group. My generation it is getting where sex isn’t as taboo where my oldest sister (She is approaching 50) is a very sexual, sensual person, a professional belly dancer, yoga instructor, and burlesque dancer has made her a target for sexism, ageism, and slut shaming. She doesn’t look a day over 37-38 and really have just seen her begin to age at all. So I seriouosly think that it’s that people know how old she is as opposed to who she is. I think they feel she should be at home, wearing yoga pants and sweaters, baking cookies for her very well loved and looked after children.

    On the opposite side I am wearing the yoga pants and tee shirts, playing with everyone’s kids (mine too), but I used to be poly and frequent kink events so I think people assume that means I am a “slut” when though I have a sexual appetite I am too reserved and shy and prefer the company of few. I almost feel I am expected to fit this mold and I don’t.

    • Sorry to hear that’s what your sister is facing. I’m not surprised, unfortunately.
      I don’t think it’s restricted to an older age demographic, although hopefully sex positivity increases with each generation. I can tell you many very young men still think it’s fine to reach out with cock shots on my IG account (and those with similar accounts), just because I’m sexually forward. Consent is a huge issue – which means there are still fundamental misunderstandings about sexual preferences and presentation.

  14. I dont write under my public name though funnily enough May More (Moore) was once my name – maybe i will explain it one day in a post. I have no problem with anonymity but as time has gone on i have shared what i do with a few people in my normal life. I am proud of my site and what i have achieved, i didn’t want to hide my light under a bushel! They have been great about it – even admiring. So it is certainly an “us” issue and trusting that those you tell wont judge you.
    As long as censorship continues to invade our society our readers will also remain anonymous. In Roman times – nobody would have been scared of admitting their kinks – Society wasn’t putting a lid on it.
    Great post Ann

  15. You’re absolutely right Ann. The conservative judging is unfortunately part of the American culture. I have often thought about having a second blog for a different audience.

  16. For me it is a complex issue. I had a lot of shame around my sexuality and writing anonymously and via my eye persona allowed me to move that and change my relationship to it. I wrote an honest piece about mothering published under my own name and that led directly to my estrangement from my eldest daughter and so I am cautious about who I let know about my blog from my RL. It is also a consent issue for me in that people who know may may not want to see intimate pictures of me. I no longer feel ashamed of my desires but I am under no illusions of how my online activities might be viewed by those who feel no desire to explore this part of their lives.
    Anonymity is compromised by RL meeting but it is so good to meet thosr you can speak freely with. This is why conferences like Eroticon are so wonderful for me. I have no answers except to say add in aging to being sexually active and writing about it and anonymity remains a no brainer as external judgement becomes even harsher around that.

  17. Your blog post certainly caused me “pause for thought” in so many ways. It answered a lot of questions, yet also produced even more regarding opinion, perceived ‘normal’ and how to take the major step of being able to blog and comment under your own name, personality without judgement.
    Almost three years ago I discovered sex. It didn’t mean I have not had an active sex life with spouses – I have, although, unfortunately, there are problems with my husband, which meant sex was not satisfying or really happening. However, I signed up to Ashley Madison (there in itself is a moral minefield) and discovered some wonderful lovers who remain a hugely important part of my alter life. To have the ability to discover sex outside the “norm” of PIV missionary, and lead into other fields, has made me a happier, contented person. Let me be straight here: it was not a case of not loving my husband. I do very much and we have an excellent life and relationship, but it was the fear of getting older without experiencing the whistles and flutes and flashing lights of orgasms and sex for pleasure.
    I have to say that it was through the Internet that I discovered this other world. After seeing an article in, all places, the Telegraph about Ashley Madison that I became curious. My curiosity grew with learning and I moved onto Pornhub and other sites that promoted sex. I always thought porn watchers were the proverbial “dirty old men” but I swiftly overcame those thoughts and outdated beliefs and enjoyed the wealth of online porn. The internet has provided fruitfulness but also censure in many ways; it is the opinion of multi-national, high-earning companies that the majority of their users do not want to see porn. Sad but true. Maybe the answer would be for some technical person to create an alternative twitter, where it is accessible (but policed against child abuse, child porn, bestiality etc), allowing people to freely choose to post and to be seen by people who freely choose to visit.
    I was asked to guest blog on one of my lover’s blogs and then, because of the wild adventures I was having, (think hand in the sweetie tin, before I settled on 3 lovers) it was suggested I have my own blog. This was set up for me, it took off and I had great joy in writing about my discovery of men and sex and alternative lifestyles to what was considered the norm. I, thus, discovered twitter because the person linked my blog to twitter and discovered the entire world of kink. This led to Sinful Sunday, Wicked Wednesday and Eroticon. I remain eternally grateful to the hard work the owners of these memes. They have, in a way, defined the happier person I have become; as my new feelings were ‘normal’, I was normal, and I was happy to shout out that I enjoyed sex, albeit anonymously.
    I do feel that, slowly, the wheel is turning. Anal sex, even ten years ago, was totally taboo but now it is discussed openly and has become mainstream in many ways instead of never mentioned or discovered.
    We still live in the world of generational gaps. The Before The War generation was bought up to respect the King/Queen and their elders, and sex was not discussed. Sex was to be endured and divorce was unheard of. Add into this cultural beliefs and it means the wheels do turn slowly. It will change but we can not rush change. The fact that there are so many blogs and twitter accounts, FetLife, swingers websites etc shows that it is changing. But we have to respect that, for some – whether it is generational or not – they don’t want to have sex, kink etc pushed into their faces. As much as we want it, we should accept that it not what some people want or agree with. Everyone has prejudices, whether conscious or subconscious, and we are wrong to force everyone to conform to our view. It will take years, but what we see today will become the norm tomorrow. In other ways, there are positive signs. I work closely with a charity dealing with FGM – inspirational people working together for a common aim, and they do believe that within a generation it will NOT be common practice. However, for us, we should not moralise on behalf of others, and this is a race that the slow and steady tortoise will surely win.
    Why anonymous? There is, on twitter and other platforms, doctors, dentists, teachers, police officers etc etc etc. For them, there is a certain expectation of behaviour and whether we agree or not, in the current climate, we have to acknowledge and accept that. Careers can be chosen and we accept the rules of employment. And for many public services there are offences that could lead to punishment, loss of income etc. And there is a certain expectation of behaviour. Nudity in public is generally frowned upon, and an Officer arresting a person who has seen their cock and semen over a womans cunt and tits may not give off the right signals at the time. Or a doctor seeing a patient knowing that their anatomy is easily accessible may feel uncomfortable. Social media platforms are not safe, no matter how safe you think you are being. There are slip ups and, unless you are on a 100% secure social media platform (I can’t think of any), you run the risk that you can be identified. Coincidences happen in life – you meet people in the most unexpected way
    So I remained anon on my blog post and twitter (both gone) but gladly met some wonderful people from those platforms to whom I was happy to disclose the real me. I continue to enjoy their company and discussions, which are even more pleasurable as I do not have to hide. However, I closed my blog to protect someone I love; to lose him was too high a stake and, although I miss it, I don’t regret my decision. I removed all photographs as well because as mentioned above, I ran too much of a risk with my livelihood to leave myself open to exposure. Many will be disagreeing with that decision, but in 2018 we are still not quite open enough……………………
    However I remain avid reader and looker-at of Blogs, Sinful Sundays, Wicked Wednesday and thoroughly enjoy the fact that, because of like-minded, open people, I am able to share their experiences. I love the thought that, through openness, discovery and expansion of knowledge, other females felt exactly the same, sexual freedom is liberating. One day I hope that we can all share our stories along with our identities.

  18. I think the current steam that women are building in our society is going to continue forward and allow us to move from the shadows and become – or BE – who we are, ALL of who we are – without shame or judgement. I’m excited by this possibility.

    I admit I haven’t shared your blog with anyone – though I have a handful of divorced women who I think might enjoy it, though some I have worried would become more discouraged by the challenges of dating over 40. I also – selfishly – wanted to keep it to myself – probably because of the content, but also because I, too, have been on the fence about sharing experiences that I’d rather they didn’t stumble upon through my own comments. No excuse, I know. And to that end – I am sharing your blog today with one person. I’ll start there.

    I appreciate the work you do. It’s enlightening and heartening and real. It makes me appreciate what I have, and also to live vicariously in a world I once dabbled in ever so briefly (which none of my friends know about). Anyway, my longwinded way of saying, Keep it going, my friend! You are encouraging others in ways you may not be able to see yet.

  19. I’m jet-lagged but can relate to what you’re saying. I’ve told a few close friends (all girls) I read your blog and about your content and a few have them read postings if they’ve been over at my house while I’m reading your blog. None have wanted to follow you. One friend says that it’s all made up and I said it can’t possibly be made up as it would fall apart from lies once time has passed. I live vicariously through you and hope someday you’re able to achieve what you’d like with your blog. Good luck!

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