The Feministing Five: Sinclair Sexsmith

ss.jpgSinclair Sexmith is a sex blogger who writes the Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Sex, Gender and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top. She’s been blogging about sex and gender for several years now, and at Sugarbutch she blogs about everything from getting past old heartbreaks to sex with her current girlfriend to her own evolving masculine identity. When I asked her about how she manages writing for a public audience about such private things, she said, “the sex is actually easier to write about than the emotional complications.” When I asked if she adheres to any ground rules for she discloses about her sex life, she said “there are no hard and fast rules,” at which point I giggled, revealing myself to be twenty-two going on twelve.
Aside from her numerous blogging projects and contributions of erotica collections, Sexsmith also writes a column called Radical Masculinity for Carnal Nation. This month she writes about the search for icons in masculinity, and observes that “things are changing. That is my entire premise of this series of articles on Radical Masculinity: that we are at a precarious time, in transition, finally studying what it means to “be a man” in this culture, much like feminists and gender scholars have been studying femininity and women in the past forty years. Underneath the question of what it means to “be a man,” as queers and butches and trans and genderqueer folks are also asking, is what it means to be masculine.” It’s very thought-provoking stuff, so if you’re interested, I encourage you to go check it out.
Also, if you’re at SXSW this weekend, don’t miss the Engaging the Queer Community panel at 3:30 today, where Sinclair will be speaking!
And now, without further ado, The Feministing Five, with Sinclair Sexsmith.


Chloe Angyal: What led you to start blogging about sex, gender and relationships?
Sinclair Sexsmith: I started the Sugarbutch Chronicles almost four years ago, to write myself out of a lesbian bed death relationship with my ex. We had been together for four year s and we just weren’t having sex at all and it was driving me crazy. So I was sort of writing about sex all the time, as something to do with all the sexual energy that I was not doing anything with. And it kind of worked, actually. For a while it was writing fiction, and about things that I wanted to do, and I started hanging out with sex bloggers, and I started making friends with people who had opinions that were similar to mine, and it wasn’t too long after I started the website that the relationship ended, actually, but that’s another story. And it’s been a personal exploration of sex, but also of gender, which has been a really big piece of it, too, because I knew that I wanted to explore more of it than I had. In a longer range, I’ve been writing online in journals and blogs since about 1996, and I started a blog called Feminist Media Watch a couple of years before Feministing started, and it was a collaborative blog with about twenty people, and it was a very similar thing to Feministing, you know, talking about what was going on in the media and the news and making feminist commentary on it.
CA: Who is your favorite fictional heroine, and who are your heroines in real life?
SS: I just saw Inglourious Basterds, and it made me think about Kill Bill, and about how much I fucking love Uma Thurman in that film. Just her revenge, her badassness, her very specific, pinpointed badassness. It’s not “I’m going to take out an entire culture” or anything, but “these are particular individuals who have done me wrong. I love that film; I think it’s brilliant on so many levels and I love Uma Thurman in it. I also love True Romance, which is also written by Tarantino. The lead in that is Patricia Arquette, and she plays Alabama Worley, and she saves the day ultimately. And there’s this horrible scene where she gets beaten up, really badly, but she fights back and wins, and brutally kills the guy. I also just love her heart in it, and her cuteness – she has this adorable giggle, but she doesn’t sacrifice any badassness for having a cute little giggle. They don’t cancel each other out and I love that.
As for real life, the spoken word poet Tara Hardy, who teaches at the Bent Writing Institute in Seattle. I spent some time there and it was really influential and I really look up to her. And I’ve been thinking about my favorite feminist writers, but heroine, those are big shoes to fill.
CA: What recent news story made you want to scream?
SS: All the tween texting shit is driving me nuts. So much of sexuality and especially young girls’ sexuality, and especially in the media, is about control. And I think there’s a fear of the power of young women’s sexualities, and I think that there can be so much value and power, in a really good way, like empowerment, in the experience of women’s sexuality, but it’s completely left out and squashed under someone’s heel. The panic about texting is not about the safety or empowerment of these young women – it’s all about controlling how sexuality is expressed and experienced. I understand the need to be safe, and I also think that there’s a very high percentage of young women who have pictures of themselves naked on the internet, and there is a sense of appropriateness that is a factor, but I don’t know how to teach that without teaching that you should be ashamed of your body and that you should never put yourself out there like that. And the consequences of being caught get my boxers in a twist. The gay marriage stuff gets me down a lot. I follow politics, but I don’t necessarily consider myself a political activist these days. I try to stay involved, but I’m much more of a social activist.
CA: What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge facing feminism today?
SS: From the perspective of gender queer masculine-identified borderline sex worker, which I kind of am, I think both the inclusion of men and the inclusion queerness – queer people, gender queer, trans – and also, sex positivity, are all things that spring to mind. And I could talk about each of those forever. But I come at masculinity from a feminist perspective, and sometimes, the men I talk to are like, “I love feminism and I believe in what feminism does, but I don’t feel like my perspective is included or welcome.” And I would like to see that shift. I would like to see more allies in masculinity. We’ve done so much work in femininity and feminine expression and revaluing the ways that that can be empowering, but we have not done a lot of that in masculinity. When I started coming into my own masculine identity and then five or six years later started writing this column on masculinity, I had to answer these basic questions: What is masculinity? What does it mean to the people who embody it? What is masculinity without misogyny? How can you have a feminist masculinity? All those things seem like such big question marks to me and I hope we can seek out the answers.
CA: You’re going to a desert island, and you get to take one food, one drink and one feminist. What do you pick?
SS: Tofu panang curry, bourbon and Audacia Ray.

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One Comment

  1. Comrade Kevin
    Posted March 13, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I find this particular interview totally fascinating.
    Sexsmith reminds me of myself when she talks about how she’s arriving at masculinity from a feminine perspective, except that in my case I am viewing femininity from a masculine perspective. I recognize that there is much I seek to learn about the feminine parts of myself, though I am much more comfortable analyzing those than my own masculinity. I was, of course, socialized as a man but often feel very uncomfortable in that identity. Perhaps I ought to eventually put aside those reservations in the hopes of finding intersections and helpful comparisons between the genders.
    And I do seek to be a strong male ally within the movement and have found that honesty, self-reflection, and above all listening to the insight of other people have been invaluable resources. This has been a very empowering experience, but I honestly wish for the courage to put myself in spaces that invoke lots of unpleasant memories, for the sake of the movement, certainly, but also my own growth as a person.

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