Our trip to San Francisco is coming to an end. We’re on the plane back to Seattle now and I’m thinking about what a good time we had. Harold’s sons are amazing people. I’m glad that we got a chance to visit them and see how well they are doing in their different ways.
We spent the most amount of time with Ned and his partner, Maggie (a.k.a. Miss Maggie Mayhem). They also do a lot of work around sex, so we spent a lot of time comparing notes. Maggie is brilliant and really knows her stuff. She’s been a great resource for me. Together, Ned and Maggie are an unstoppable team. I can’t wait to see what they tackle next.
But hanging with family and talking about sex and the sex industry woke up some things in me I didn’t know were there. I spend a lot of time talking about how I want to normalize sex and how I really appreciate good porn, but it somehow goes out the window around family. It’s not intentional. I don’t want any artificial double standards, so I have to look at my shit and ask questions where necessary. Since I’m working outside the box, I have to take my brain with me when figuring out how to interact with family members around sex.
For example, I recently looked up Ned’s movies and I was disturbed by the content. No, the content was actually fine, as long as it was someone else. I was worried that Ned was trying to work out some hurt that we didn’t know about. Or something, I’m not sure. He is not my child, but he is my partner’s child and I suddenly started thinking about my children making porn. I have a knee-jerk reaction that I don’t want my children involved in the sex industry in any way. I have to stop and unpack that hypocrisy. Why not? Isn’t porn great? Don’t I want to make good porn? Isn’t every porn star someone’s child? Wouldn’t I be proud of my kids for doing anything that they were good at and they loved? I’m proud of Ned.
I had a chance to talk to Ned about it while we were visiting. He was great about answering all of my questions, even when I felt awkward and embarrassed for being so biased. It only took a few minutes for him to allay my fears. He wasn’t forced into doing anything, but he just played the roles that were given to him. He’s having fun.
As I mentioned before, Ned and Maggie decorate in sex toys, computer parts, condoms, books, and souvenirs from their work. I felt totally comfortable about that, but I had moments of wondering where boundaries ought to be. Harold and I tried to be quiet when making love, but that was more good guest behavior than the kids being in the other room. I took a few pictures of Ned and Maggie while they were topless, but I was working as an artist trying to capture a moment. They are sexy people who project a sexy image, but my relationship to them is not sexual.
I grew up with sexual abuse so I’m very conscious of wanting to protect my children. There are lots of rules and boundaries that make that fairly easy. The trouble I have is that many of those rules make sex seem shameful and secretive, I want for people to be more open and honest and that means with their children as well, in a manner that is appropriate. It is this appropriateness that I am struggling to define.
It comes down to this: Ned and Maggie, and in fact all of our children, get to be the very sexual beings that they are. I will not interfere. I will even support their decisions on gender, orientation, kinky inclinations or vanilla leanings, relationships, and expression of sexuality – as long as they are happy and healthy. While there is a huge difference between adult and underage children, I trust them all to make choices that are good for them. I don’t want to ever inflict my sexuality or judgment on them. I assume that means making sure that I’m not giving them too much information about my sexuality as well. Even the adult children may not want to know what we’re up to in any detail.
I’m going to have to keep questioning my assumptions. If I am really serious about changing the world, I need to catch myself in these ingrained social mores. Anything worth changing the world for is good enough for my children.
Thank you Ned and thank you Maggie for a lovely time, gracious hosting, sweet pets, being incredible people, and the space for me to figure this stuff out. It’s been fun!