Ask Bex

Ask Bex- Gender Expression and Book Recommendations

Hi Bex! I am in a poly relationship and I struggle with my bisexual role with my girlfriend. I want to explore being more “butch” as it feels right with her but that isn’t my day to day identity with my husband or my boyfriend/Dom. I can’t get my brain and social norms to stop influencing my behavior when I am with her. We have talked about this before and she is understanding and wants to help me explore – it is just that silly brain. Any advice?

– Susie

Hi Susie!

I think the first step here is to try to take a little bit of the pressure off, you said it yourself, this is just something you’re exploring so don’t go into it with the expectation of creating the perfect new identity right off the bat. As someone who has played a lot with how they present, I can guarantee there will be times you’ll look back on things you’ve tried and wonder what on earth made you think that was a good idea. I spent a year in high school trying to be femme and I wound up with a lot of pastels in my wardrobe… and a pair of pink corduroy pants…

That said, experimenting is fun! Because for as many times as you’ll find something that doesn’t work, there will be times when you find something that does. Times when you try on a new style of shirt and can’t stop taking selfies, or you’ll find an outfit that makes you feel like a total boss. So play with they way you look, start out just wearing it around the house, then maybe go out for a low key dinner with your girlfriend, just to get used to presenting that way in the word.

One of my favorite ways to play with new presentations are to find archetypes that speak to me, and try to emulate them. Are you dapper like Lea Delaria or S Bear Bergman, a scrappy androgynous bad boy like Shane McCutcheon or Ruby Rose, or clean cut like Ellen Degeneres and Rachel Maddow? Trying on someone else for a change give you a little guidance in your experimenting and takes some of the pressure off, then you take what you like and use it to create your own style.

At the end of the day I’m just a huge bundle of the media I consume and the people I know. My inner charming flirt is a whole lot of Jack Harkness with a dash of Agent Seely Booth, and just a hint of Greg House for that acerbic wit. Meanwhile my fashion sense is an amalgam of all of the skater and scene boys I had crushes on in high school. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, there are thousands of queers who have come before you and thousands more that will come after you, look to them and see what works for you.

Good luck!

Hi Bex, I’ve been reading your blog and enjoy your frank unapologetic writing style.
I’m wondering if you can recommended some books. I just finished reading the Boudoir bible by Betony Vernon. It changed how I thought about sex and expanded what I’m open to. Next on my list is Midori’s Japanese knot book (referenced in Vernon’s book). I’m looking for a whole bunch more non fiction/how to thought changing books. Could you recommended some?

– Jane McCarlos

Hi Jane!

Why, I’d absolutely love to!

If you really want to change the way you think about sex, grab Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, she is by far one of my favorite sex educators and this book absolutely blew my mind. From responsive desire to arousal non-concordance to the dual control model, there were SO MANY new concepts this book introduced me to and it is a must read for anyone looking to learn more about how sexuality works in the human body.

For a more hands on, how to guide, grab Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon, another of my favorite educators. The art by kd diamond makes the nearly 400 pages of content fun easy to read (and the tips easy to understand). The content itself is some of the most inclusive I’ve ever seen, covering how to have sex with all types of women (including trans women) and including advice from 16 other sex experts. Allison says she plans on releasing even more 201 level books in the future and I absolutely cannot wait.

If you’re looking to explore kink, The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton are fantastic, albiet a bit outdated, resources for offering insight into the headspaces that go into D/s play (although they don’t cover a lot of practical skills).

Do you have a book to recommend to Jane (and me!)? Leave it in the comments!

Have a question you’d like me to answer in my next column? Email me at BexTalksSex (at) gmail with “Advice” in the subject line and I’ll answer it in a future column!

About Bex

Bex talks about sex, a lot, and feels this is the only way to reduce the stigma and lack of education surrounding it. When they're not trying to save the world, talking about sex to strangers, typing frantically, or sticking things in various holes they are usually indulging the other facets of their geekery.

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