Warning to Performers/Sex workers in New York


Cherrystems.com and Cinesinclaire.com have been the victim of an impersonation scam that is at least active in New York, and could be active elsewhere. There is a man posing as a casting director or recruiter for our websites in order to lure sex workers to his home in rural NY. We are not and have never been affiliated with this person.

If you receive a text or email out of the blue asking you to perform with Ciné Sinclaire or Cherrystems, it is likely a scam. We do not typically make first contact with performers and models. Instead, we post casting calls directly on mskatesinclaire.com – Kate Sinclaire’s professional blog. If you are chosen as a performer for one of these calls, you will only be corresponding with someone with an @cherrystems.com or @cinesinclaire.com email address. No gmail! No hotmail! Nothing else!

The laws in America are sadly not in the favour of sex workers, but if you have been a victim of this scam or have been contacted by this man, please fill out our contact form asap to give us a heads up. A similar case to this was recently brought to court and the impersonator was convicted of rape in the second degree for his lies. If we are contacted by enough people, we can look into this.

Remember, only communicate with people with OFFICIAL email addresses when working out a gig with a reputable porn company. Reach out to people that have worked with the company before, reach out to the owners of the companies if you have to/can, and keep yourself safe!

Thank you so much for reading and spreading this information.

Kate Sinclaire

The Making of: Femmes

I’d worked with Samantha Leigh twice before. Once, she met me in a hotel room and we snapped pictures and chatted and got closer and it was wonderful. I’d known her from various bits of my life – mainly from a conference she runs in Toronto. The second time, we shot some adorable photos in her bedroom while I was out in the Tdot meeting with a few fun toy companies.

But she decided that it was time to maybe move beyond just still photos, into the fancy future of moving pictures. There was a lot of talk around doing it, about insecurities, about body love, and about who to shoot with.

I made up a casting call for Samantha, but ultimately we decided that the best and most comfortable way to ease into the porn world would be to shoot with someone she knows and loves, Jessica Sinclaire (we share no relation, though I insist we’re long-lost porno sisters). We brought Jessica on board, set up a date, and I rented an Airbnb. I was coming out anyway for the Feminist Porn Awards, and getting shooting done around that time of year is one of my favourite things. There’s an energy there. Everyone’s excited – more excited than usual.

Jessica and Samantha arrived in the late morning to my (rented) condo. We chatted, snacked on hummus and carrots and crackers, berries, and an assortment of other goodies. It was then that the bags of accoutrements the two had brought along got dumped out on the floor and we began to plan the shoot for the day.

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It’s like candy.

The femmyness of this pile of pleasure was fantastic. The pearl-encrusted hitachi magic wand was a craft project. The candy pink cuffs and collar. Heels. Bras. Underpants (I’m sorry, I’m just incapable of saying panties and taking it seriously). Everything was lace and pearls and pink and fucking perfect.

We added a few toys to the pile from the Fuze lineup, including the Tango specifically, at which point I take over the conversation and bring in the legal bits and whatnot. By that, I mean all performers sign a 2257 (proof of age) form, a Ciné Sinclaire performance agreement, and I have to witness a conversation about STI status and barriers. I basically ask each performer to disclose their status to their partner with me present, and then to talk about which barriers they would like to use (if any), and ways to check in throughout the shoot to see if things have changed. It’s quite wholesome and lovely.

With all of that out of the way, Jessica and Samantha got themselves dressed and ready. As producer/director of a tiny company, I also do things like straighten straps, apply makeup, refresh water in glasses, and ensure that everyone feels comfortable. My assistant that day, Dayna Danger, also helps out with all of these things. It’s a little family, and I love it.

We’d discussed that the scene would start very casually. It’s my favourite way to shoot, honestly. We’d just start hanging out in the bedroom while Dayna and I synced up our camera settings, and then we’d just kind of start rolling. This is pretty much exactly what we ended up doing on this shoot. I love it because it means that the performers are more at ease – there’s no hard and fast “ACTION” moment, and I get a lot of really great B-roll of the performers just being themselves. I feel like it’s the kindest way to start shooting a scene like this one (that has no scripted dialogue).

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Testing the settings on my camera, but also catching amazing moments.

This was a very free form shoot. That presents so many challenges and also allows for so much creative freedom. Basically, myself and Dayna work hard to be flies on the wall as much as possible during a free form shoot. We just let the action unfold in front of us. And so we did.

Samantha and Jessica were amazing to shoot. It was so perfect to watch both of them giving each other so much pleasure. But the part that really sticks out to me is the moment that Jessica asks if she can squirt all over the bed (it’s the bed I was sleeping in while out in toronto). Of course the answer was a resounding yes, and there’s a bit of behind the scenes footage to show the moment where we cut for a bit in order to hide a towel underneath the duvet. With the towel in place, we pick back up and keep rolling.

Moments later, I notice myself biting my finger behind my camera as the scene intensifies, Jessica’s legs curl up and back, and she gets ever closer to the edge. It’s in that instant that my camera barks a command at me from the screen: “CARD FULL”

Oh god.

“STOP! Shit!” I yell.

Jessica has probably rarely looked at someone with such a look of fear and confusion as I tear off to grab a backup card I have on a dresser a mere 7 feet away from me. Yet my trip there and back, flinging the old card out and the new one in, seemed like it took a year.

Thankfully, Dayna kept rolling, and as soon as I got back to my spot and motioned that I was good, it happened. The Money Shot. Through the magic of editing, none of you will even know the moment. But know, in the back of your head, that it happened.

Watching these two have sex was epic, intimate, and glorious. I truly feel that this hour-long feature captured the essence of the fun that these two have together. I’m so incredibly happy that I get to share it with you.

Check out the trailer and rent/buy the film here on Ciné Sinclaire. 

See you soon, porno connoisseur!

❤ Kate


Porn in Public?!: Notes on attending porn screenings

So it finally happened. You got an invite to a film screening – but this one is different. It’s for *adult videos* (read: porn).

Instantly, your mind may be filled with the seedy adult film houses of the past. Dank theatres with sticky floors and tissues scattered about. A wash of shame might come over you as you realize that other people might see you go to this thing.

But. You really want to go.

I’m not saying that porn theatres don’t still exist. They do, in pockets, here and there. But largely, the porn that we consume today is consumed in private. Away from the eyes of strangers. The advent of the home VCR really brought this about. Before they were common, folks had to go out of the house to see their adult films. The Golden Age of Porn began in approximately 1969, with huge directors like Andy Warhol having their explicit works screened in theatres. The film Deep Throat pulled in 600 million dollars at the box office!  These were not small productions, and many many folks went to see them at local theatres. Unfortunately, laws in the US changed in 1973 after a short-lived Golden Age, and obscenity legislation dictated that pornographic films could no longer be played in mainstream movie houses – relegating the films to the above-mentioned seedy theatres. This created a needless stigma on seeing porn in public that has really stuck with North Americans for more than a generation at this point.

Porn is now, however, experiencing another renaissance of sorts. With smaller production companies producing porn that is feminist, queer, ethical, etc, we’re seeing more and more art house porn screenings. Trouble is, with this long of a gap between 1973 and 2016, how are we supposed to know how to act when seeing pornographic films in public?

To help you out, here are 4 things to do/expect when you go to a porn screening near you:

  1. What am I getting myself into?
    You’re going to watch movies with a big group of people, and those films are going to have some adult content in them. The group putting on the screening will generally give you an idea of what to expect, trigger/content warnings if applicable (this means that if there are events that happen in the films that might trigger someone in a PTSD type reaction, organizers will generally post what those triggers might be. ie: fantasies of non-consent, restraint, etc).

    There is no contract to enter into when you walk in the door. You are free to leave at any time if you feel uncomfortable, and organizers generally make sure to say this at the beginning of the event.

    All that said, watching porn in public isn’t all silence and heavy breathing. The first event that I attended was a screening for the Feminist Porn Awards in Toronto. I really had no idea what to expect – and it turned out to run the entire gamut of emotions. There were moments when the crowd would burst into laughter, fits of giggles, or gasps. There were moments when the entire crowd fell silent and few folks dared to breathe. There were sweet smiles, bitten lips, and hands grasped. Everything.

    It really is an amazing experience to be immersed in a crowd of people doing something that is normally such a private thing. It brings out the honesty of the whole thing. A porn film can be appreciated just as a film – with the ability to evoke emotion and spark conversation.

    So really, expect to watch some films! But do be prepared to experience the energy of an entire crowd of people just kind of letting go!

  2. What do I wear?!
    Ah, the age old question of what to wear. In my personal life, I tend toward cute dresses, black tights, and a standard pair of little booties or flats. Hardly kinky, hardly edgy, hardly anything I would have considered sexy. When I started attending porn screenings, I thought I really had to look the part. I put on a tight dress and some heels and wiggled my way to the screening.

    Surprisingly, even some directors that were in attendance were wearing my usual uniform. Some were even wearing jeans! JEANS! And a tshirt! Maybe with a scarf!

    Since going to public porn events, I’ve learned that it’s a very come-as-you-want situation. Some folks like to get dressed up, and some people just don’t. And all of those are fine. Nowadays, I own exactly one faux leather dress for times that I am attending specific kink events, but otherwise, this is how I go to screenings/the grocery store now: 12348014_942934639119821_7408034664679722403_n

    All that said, no two porn screenings are going to be exactly alike. Check into the event to see if there is a dress code.

  3. Am I expected to get touchy? What are the rules around this?
    In general, these are not sex parties unless explicitly described as such. Many of these events take place in regularly licensed bars, theatres, or art galleries. There are a lot of folks in the same space, and generally respecting their boundaries and the situation they agreed to get into is awesome.

    I’ve definitely held people’s hands at screenings. Sometimes it’s because they’re getting all hot and bothered, sometimes it’s because something has triggered them, sometimes they just want to feel connected in this vulnerable situation. But I’ve also sat alone and chilled out.

    As always, consent is huge in this setting. Don’t reach out and grab someone’s hand without asking, ya know? And if someone is getting too touchy near you and you feel violated, well-organized events will back you up in getting those folks to tone it down.

  4. I’m really just in this for the films, how do I make myself feel comfortable?
    So you’re here because your friend made some films and you really want to support them. That’s awesome. Here’s how to make yourself feel comfortable.

    Go, and have fun. Leave your expectations at the door, and maybe you’ll find something that you didn’t know you liked! It’s really that simple. Remember that you can leave anytime, and everything will be alllllllright.

Let’s get Productive: 4 tips to get to it and get shit done

This is a post in my dildoholiday series. If you’d like to read the whole shebang of what happened while we were out there, you should totally start out here.

Moving right along.

Day 2 in the #dildoholiday household started at a reasonably late hour, with a few cautious tweets from a couple of us around noon. As we stumbled about in our sleepy bodies, we found the Cherub of Shame juding our food choices from inside the refrigerator. Jerk.

Photo by Girly Juice

Photo by Girly Juice

The day had one main topic to be touched on at some point: productivity. Trouble was, we’d all stayed up so late being excited and settling in to the house that we’d all barely slept. I’ll touch on why that’s shitty for productivity later, but I imagine you can draw a correlation in your own life beteween those nights that we get 4 hours of sleep and the amount of work you (don’t) get done the next day.

We all eventually gathered around the big kitchen table with our laptops and ideas, and Girly Juice led us in a chat about productivity. Her output is amazing, and we all particularly adore her for it. Her dedication to a regular release schedule, and the amazing content that she throws out shows that not only does she write a lot, but that she does work to make that writing turn out so well.

Look 'ma, we got off the couch!

Look ‘ma, we got off the couch! photo by Reenie

So, without further ado, here’s Kate’s tips for productivity, inspired by #dildoholiday and Girly Juice:

1) Make more effective lists

I live by lists. I can’t concentrate on any one thing for longer than half an hour generally, and so I really need to write down all the shit that I need to get done in a day or none of it will happen.

I also know how I handle stress, and how I let myself get defeated by tasks. For example, if I have the list item “Clean your office”, I might start that task but will quickly get distracted and move on to some other thing that is either on my list or just something shiny nearby that catches my attention. At the end of the day, my office still looks like shit and my list has just as many things on it as it did before, since I didn’t really finish cleaning my office.

So instead, here’s an example of my lists:

-Pick up papers off bed and sort them
-wrangle sex toys
-dust desk
-take out the garbage
-replace bag in the garbage bin

Can you see the difference there? I’ve made all kinds of little list items based around cleaning the office, but I get to check off way more shit way more quickly. It really helps me to manage larger tasks by listing the steps involved.

The exact same thing goes for work tasks. For example, I’m in the middle of planning an East Coast screening tour with a colleague on Evernote (which is great for coworking). Obviously the list could include something like “Get venue”, but there are so many steps hidden in that one step. The list, as it stands, for the venue in each city contains the following types of steps:

-research venues via locals
-find contact person
-email re regulations on screening nudity
-settle date
-book venue

Break it down into small, manageable tasks that you can check off easily and, more importantly, keep track of super easily.

2) Make yourself get out of your comfy spot

I never do anything but this in bed.

I never do anything but this in bed.

I have a super comfy spot on the couch in my living room, and also I have my bed. I’ve spent a long time perfecting both of these spaces so that everything around them calms me and makes me think gleefully of the past, present, and future. While that’s awesome, I often find myself just sitting there, thinking, for literally hours. I can’t be stopped.

I like to physically put myself in a space that is built for my productivity, or in a space that is quite simply not my fucking couch. While my couch is great, it lacks a place for me to put my mouse and use it in any useful capacity. Most of the work that I do require some serious mouse use, and I primarily work from a laptop since I travel so much.

All of that said, your space to work in should be comfy. My office in my house is a space that celebrates the accomplishments of my reasonably short time here on earth. I keep framed copies of newspaper articles about me, awards I’ve won, etc, all around just to remind me to keep at it. But it’s a space that’s specifically meant for work. The couch was not meant for work, for me. If it was for you, then by all means work on the couch. But try to separate your comfy relaxing spaces from your work spaces, whatever they look like.

3) Get fancy

Here I am, getting fancy for a day of productivity.

Here I am, getting fancy for a day of productivity.

This tip definitely won’t be the same for everyone, and I understand the classism inherent in getting fancy for business. But this element really works for me, so I’ll talk about what it means to me in the context of my own experiences.

I started to like “dressing up” around the age of 24. I had previously been a very jeans and a t-shirt kind of person, and didn’t really do the femme thing. I think I owned two pieces of what I’d call makeup, no nail polish, and maybe one dress. I also didn’t have much disposable income. But even back then, I remember that getting up, putting on whatever made me feel good, doing my hair (it was short, easy to do, but even just the act of *doing* it was important), and sitting down to work on whatever was in front of me really got me started.

Since then, I’ve amassed a lot of “fancier” items, but the ritual itself remains the same. Now it includes things like earrings and fancy nail polish (I cut the waiting time involved in this by using Julep’s Polymer Topcoat, which dries super fast). The trick is to get a bit fancy, feel good about yourself, but also not spend the entire morning/afternoon/whatever getting fancy. I try to limit myself to about 20 minutes, and I should also note that the idea of getting dressed is actually a thing that motivates me to finally get out of bed. Maybe this is a way that I can pitch to myself that buying all the clothes I buy is actually an investment in my business. Yeah.

For me, it’s a dress, earrings, brows, lipstick, putting my hair up, and a nice set of underpants. For you, it could be your best sweat pants and a top that makes you feel awesome about yourself. The idea of the whole thing is to make yourself feel really good about yourself before you start working. As a few #dildoholiday participants pointed out, feeling good about yourself can also mean feeling *super* comfy. Harness the power of clothing, however you like!

4) If you work from home, try leaving home every now and again

It's my laptop working on things from a college campus in Winnipeg.

It’s my laptop working on things from a college campus in Winnipeg.

This is more important than you’d think. Getting out of your space can stimulate creativity in ways you didn’t know it could. Being in a new environment kicks you out of your habits and into new ones.

I tend to either rent space at 245 McDermot, which is a coworking space in Winnipeg owned by ACI (Creative Manitoba) that rents hot desks for $30/day, go to an hOffice, or go to a local haunt that serves frosty beverages, since I don’t drink caffeine at all. I have a magical productivity spot that lives around 1.5 drinks and then sharply drops off, and so I do have to make sure that I pace myself with great discipline. I imagine this is the same for coffee drinkers. (and please don’t think this means you need to consume alcohol or caffeine or any other drug in order to be creative or to focus)

Stay tuned for the next episode of #dildohoilday on my blog, where we’ll talk about making our own glass dildos!!

And if you haven’t read part 1 of the #dildoholiday series, go read it right now!! 

Dildoholiday: 7 people and the sea.

And the sex.

Where do I begin?

#dildoholiday was a bunch of friends from the internet getting together in a beach house on the Oregon coast. We’re all internet personalities in some way, but we’re all definitely involved in sex blogging. Epiphora, Aerie, and BexTalksSex were the main organizers of the whole thing. The rest of us just came in from 5 other cities across the continent to join in the fun.

Flying into the Pacific Northwest always floats my boat.

Flying into the Pacific Northwest always floats my boat.

What I didn’t expect from Piph, Aerie and Bex was just how prepared they were for us, and all the amazing things that they had in store. They’d asked companies that they regularly work with if they could help make our vacation even more exciting, and ended up creating quite the experience for us.

I arrived in Portland in an airplane for the first time. Previously, I’d driven down from Vancouver (I’m a Canadian), but as such had never really experienced the glorious Portland airport. I, of course, took a snap of my shoes and the famous carpet, then got on my way to Piph’s house in a rented autocar.

Portland PDX carpet feet

The notorious carpet at PDX.

And then it was right in to the family. I was the last to arrive, which means I found everyone happily hanging out at Epiphora’s place. I met Girly Juice and Reenie for the first time, but I’d met Penny, Piph, Bex, and Aerie before. We all got settled in and gave each other some hello gifts. Maple candy and personalized drawings from Reenie, coasters with original photography from Penny, and I gave everyone a Naked on the Internet shirt from cherrystems.com (my soft porn company), perhaps in anticipation of seeing everyone naked that weekend!

Girly Juice models one of the Cherrystems shirts like a professional.

Girly Juice models one of the Cherrystems shirts like a professional. (photo links to her original tweet)

Starting off by playing a few rounds of Concept, then moving on to watching the classic film, 50 Shades of Grey. Most of us hadn’t seen it, but decided that in order to keep up with pop culture’s idea of BDSM, we should probably give it a go. We got about halfway through before we had to get on to the next thing of the night, but there will be more on this later.

Next up, we headed over to SheBop for a hello! I made sure to thank the staff for selling so much Fuze, and you should probably also go to their shop (or their website) to purchase some of our super awesome silicone toys. I did make a few purchases, which I’ll definitely note because I loved them so much. First was a card to be mailed off to my husband back in Winnipeg from Foulmouth Greetings. I absolutely love her cards, they’re just the most adorable. I definitely picked up the one with the house on it! I also finally picked up the 2014 copy of Smut Peddler, an amazing anthology of sexy graphic smut.

The last item I picked up was a bottle of Good Clean Fun lube. I’d actually never encountered it before, and bought it on the recommendation of Bex. I’ve only used it a few times now, but so far I’m really loving it. It has a tiny hint of vanilla, and is aloe based, which my crotch seems to absolutely love. I’ll keep using it a little more and report back on my experiences with it!

Following that, we headed over to Salt and Straw which, for those unaware, has amazing ice cream. I filled up a waffle cup with two flavours – Olive Oil, and Black Truffle. WHAT?! I’d had the olive oil ice cream before, and knew that it has a light, subdued fruity flavour with a texture like fucking butter, but I was trying the truffle for the first time. I was a bit concerned that it might taste mushroomy, but daaaamn! It was perfect and earthy.

Epiphora took this cute photo of me taking a photo of myself and my iced creeeam.

Epiphora took this cute photo of me taking a photo of myself and my iced creeeam.

The rest of the night was spent eating at food trucks, drinking cucumber lime soda, and then heading over to Devil’s Point – a strip club in Portland. Now, I’ve seen people take their clothes off in many a city. Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, New York, and more. This? This took the fucking cake. The dancers were amazing, approachable, and totally pros. Their floor work was just as impressive as their pole work (WHICH BLEW MY MIND), and I adored being there.

Well, you certainly can't take photos while you're in there.

Well, you certainly can’t take photos while you’re in there.

I did have to move to the back while Bex, Piph, and Penny got private dances – but I made use of it and got a few people to buy me tumblers full of whiskey.

I fucking love Portland.

The rest of the night saw Bex, Piph, Penny, and me catching up like the oldest of friends. We went to bed a little late, considering that we needed to be up early enough to get on our way to Lincoln City. Still, we managed to get out of bed and on our way on time.


This “Captain my Captain” donut actually made me shake from sugar overdose. It was horrifying (and tasty).

We hit Voodoo donut, payed a great visit to JoEllen, and got on the road at a reasonable hour. A quick grocery shopping trip (which was amazingly a treat of SheVibe!), a two hour drive, and a whole lot of French folk songs (ask Girly Juice and Reenie about this one) and we arrived at the house!

As soon as we arrived, we were in a bit of a rush to make it to the SUPER SECRET SURPRISE. Bex, Piph, and Aerie were all in on it, but Penny, Girly Juice, Reenie and I had no idea what was going on. I did have a moment of anxiety around this super secret surprise, as all we’d been told was to wear closed toe shoes, pants, no flowy clothing, and that it might make us sweat. Because, like many, this conjures up ideas of gym class, I got a little freaked out – I won’t lie. This was actually one of the first times I’ve been surprised in my life. I’m usually the planner of surprises, so who surprises the surpriser? Dildoholiday folks do! We hopped in our cars again for the quick ride to the surprise. As we turned corners, with Bex and Piph in my car, I saw us going toward the ocean. My mind automatically went to boats. “OH MY GOD ARE WE GOING ON BOATS?!” I asked. I was wrong, but definitely got laughed at for being so restless about the surprise. Two turns later, however, I saw a building with writing in the window. It said: Blow your own glass! HOLY SHIT WE ARE MAKING DILDOS AREN’T WE?!


Photo courtesy of Penny!

Yes, yes we were. (and on behalf of the good folks at WeVibe and Tantus, no less) Or, we thought we were. Bex had prearranged with the owners of the glass studio to have us come by at 6:30, when the shop was closed, so that we wouldn’t scare off the tourists. Sadly, Kelly, the person we’d coordinated with, spaced it and forgot that we were coming. We hung out for half an hour, then went to pick up some margarita supplies and headed back to the house where we ate food that we so badly needed. So ultimately, it was probably good that it didn’t work out that night. Luckily, we got a hold of Kelly the next day, and we rescheduled for 6 the next day.

We were all asked at that point to retire to our rooms to allow for the setting up of a surprise by Bex, Aerie, and Piph. There were doin’s a-happening. I used this time to move in to my room, on the same floor as Bex, Penny, and Girly Juice.

Moving in for me includes the Buckinator Glow, my journal, a paddle, lube, and earplugs. Because reasons.

Moving in for me includes the Buckinator Glow, my journal, a paddle, lube, and earplugs. Because reasons.

When we were called back up, we couldn’t believe our eyes! There was a bag of treats for each of us, chalk full of surprises hand picked for us. Bex, Piph, and Aerie worked really hard on all of it to make sure that we’d feel super special and welcome, and it worked! I’ll run through a list of some of the amazing bits we got, so you can be sure to support these lovely companies in the future.

So many great things! So many thanks!

So many great things! So many thanks!

With that all settled, we moved on to the next part of the evening: Popcorn, Pyjamas, and Porn. This was an evening of porn curated by yours truly (that’s me) for all of the #dildoholiday folks to watch and enjoy. I’ll post the list here because if you don’t know about any of the films, you really should:

It was amazing! I opened with Taken, which actually features essentially no pornographic video content. Instead, it’s like a spoken word erotica piece. And I love it, so so much. If you have a chance, you should check it out. I’m really into it for so many reasons. I won’t break down every other film though. I really think you should check all of them out (and pay for them too!).

Taken by Penny - Porn cuddles among internet friendsies.

Taken by Penny – Porn cuddles among internet friendsies.

But what I will talk about is the magic of watching porn in a group that is so sex positive. We cuddled and watched the scenes with colourful excitement, and really got to know a lot about each other. Popcorn came out, wine was poured, and we ended up staying up til far too late. It’s around this time that we made a new frienemy in the household – The Cherub of Shame.

There he sits, in his home.

There he sits, in his home. Photo by Aerie.

We found him perched above the windows to the sunroom as we were starting the porn night, and decided that he maybe shouldn’t be exposed to the sins we were about to unleash. I pulled him down and stowed him away. While we thought it was over, he was soon found peeping on us in the washroom by Epiphora. Shouts of discomfort rang from that loo as she pulled him out and commented on his presence. Suddenly, we noticed, he HAD A TWITTER ACCOUNT.

As the porn played on, we tried out toys – new or old to us. I spent some quality time next to Girly Juice on the couch, both of us fully clothed and trying out some vibes, having casual orgasms.

The sun started to rise as some folks paired off. I tiptoed my way gleefully to bed and couldn’t wait to find out what tomorrow would hold.. I MEAN, DILDOS GUYS!!

For more dildoholiday updates, keep up with me here on mskatesincliare.com! Next up: Productivity tips from #dildoholiday!

It’s June!

It’s June! And maybe you’ve noticed that Cine Sinclaire is not launched yet. I’m going to take a sec to let you know what’s going on.

Cine Sinclaire is run by a small group of folks –mainly myself and my husband, Aaron, who does the programming for the site. We’d been on track to launch in May, but Aaron got a new job pretty much on May first. The adjustment to the new position has taken a lot more of Aaron’s energy than anticipated. It’s a remote position, which means he’s been working from home – which is awesome! But without a laptop at his disposal, he’s basically been stuck in our basement for up to 12 hours a day, working on his job or on Cine Sinclaire.

Seeing that this was pretty shitty for his wellbeing, I decided I’d much rather delay the launch of the site. Our minds and lives are worth so much, and with my experience with anxiety in life, I don’t want to inflict that kind of work on anyone.

This is a decision that I do not regret in any way. I really do want the site to launch ASAP, and as soon as things have balanced out, we’re only about 2 weeks from launch. Ideally we’ll launch in June now that Aaron has a laptop and can work outside of the basement. Working on the front porch is certainly more refreshing than not seeing daylight, I’m sure you can understand that.

I’m so excited that you’re excited for the launch too! And I can’t wait to share all of this hard work with you!!

Ciné Sinclaire’s Curated Clip Store – Call for submissions!

Do you make porn? AWESOME! Are you Canadian? EVEN BETTER! Not Canadian? Read on, you may also fit in here.

CinéSinclaire.com is a porn site with emphasis on the experience of fucking/sex/intimacy. Performers guide shoots through their own boundaries, wants, desires, and consent. We are launching this Spring with a catalogue of our own films produced by Kate Sinclaire, and a clip store of content produced by others. We are intersectionally feminist, and prioritize the inclusion of groups of people that are traditionally underrepresented in porn, or that are traditionally not given space for their own narratives.

We will be implementing a curated clip store section of our site. We’re paying specific attention to Canadian producers, but are happy to view work from anywhere in the world! If you’d like to submit some of your own work to be hosted on our clip store, we need a few things from you:

-The file in final high res quality: 1080p is great, or whatever the largest file size you have is. Please send in MP4 (H.264+AAC) format.
-A 20-40 second trailer to promote the piece, again in the same formats above.
US 2257 forms for all performers featured in your work. This includes everyone that appears in the film, whether they are active participants or not.
This form, filled out, giving Cine Sinclaire permission to distribute your film, and stating that you have the rights to distribute the film. If you did not produce the film personally, you must obtain permission from the original producer. Cine Sinclaire and Cherrystems Media will not claim responsibility for distributing films that are not owned by the person that submits them, and legal action can be taken against the submitter if the rights do not belong to them, for misleading Ciné Sinclaire AND for violating copyright of the original producer.
-Send all information to kate@cherrystems.com, and send all files to the same dropbox. Not all films will be eligible for the clip store – we will select films based on quality. In doubt? Submit and see! Anything not accepted will be politely returned with encouragement to create more, and the work will not be featured in any way on Ciné Sinclaire.

Hooray! It’s that easy! Now, how does the payment work?

Payment will be distributed to the party that submits the film to Ciné Sinclaire when a certain profit level is reached. To begin, this pay out level will be in $50 increments or monthly (if film is making more than $50 profit per month, that month will be paid all at once. If it takes a film longer than a month to make $50 profit, pay will be sent out when the film makes $50) and will be online-based. Ciné Sinclaire will take a 40% cut of the sale of each film to cover bandwidth, maintenance, processing fees, and customer service. The remaining 60% will be given to the party that submits the film. A minimum price will be suggested based on length of the film, but producers are free to otherwise name their own price for their work.

Can I have my own store?

This option is coming down the road, but for now, users will indeed be able to search the Ciné Sinclaire clip store by production company/producer, as well as by performer and various tags! You can host all your own work in one spot without worrying about all the time and cost of building a website! Yay!

When does it launch?

We’re just finishing up final details of the design now, so the rest is really just waiting on various things to be implemented/go through. We’re ideally hoping for April/May 2015 at this point! Speed bumps happen. 😉

Let’s make amazing things happen together!

My Journey Through Porn

TW: sexual assault, rape

Spoiler: Porn is the good guy.

I’ve been working in some kind of porn in some kind of way since I was roughly 20, which was 10 years ago. You can look into my projects here and here. I won’t get into them now, but know that they’re awesome and you should totally check them out if you’re over 18.

This is more about the years in between than where I am now, though. It all really starts years before that, growing up in a working class household in a white suburb of a mid-sized city in the middle of nowhere. A city most recently named Canada’s most racist, which is an interesting thing to note but of course isn’t the subject of this. Or not so much directly.

I grew up in a household that encouraged a positive relationship to sex and sexuality as children, mostly due to my mother’s openness. My puberty wasn’t really full of questions as I moved through sex ed. I’d already read it all in books by the time I was 10 and hitting sex ed for the first time in 5th grade.

Shit was honestly pretty idyllic and lovely.

And then I got my period. My curfews stalled, and I was no longer allowed to hang around with boys. My life became super scrutinized, and I had no idea what happened to the open conversations we used to have around sex. My bedroom and personal items were routinely rifled through looking for evidence of penis in vagina, drugs, drinking, anything.

I was a developing woman myself at around 12, and I found that drawing the female form in the nude helped me to understand my own body and that of others. By creating images, I was rejecting ideals and body types that were so frequently presented to me as a young woman with eyeballs. I got to explore what I thought people’s bodies looked like under their clothes, which always fascinated me. It still does.

I threw out a few of the drawings that weren’t as awesome, as one does. One day, my parents found a drawing that I did of a naked woman, lying on the floor, an arm draped across her body. I’d thrown it out because it just wasn’t good enough, or I’d drawn her arms too long, or something, and it wasn’t going to be right. I thought literally nothing of it, because my history of talking to my mother about bodies was so open. And I was throwing this in the trash, so who gives a shit, right?

A few days later, I was called to the kitchen table to have a talk with my parents. There lay the drawing. I was confused as to why we were having a meeting. My mother, to her credit, did reassure me that if I were attracted to women, then that was fine. But overall, the message was clear. I was not supposed to do this. I was not supposed to draw naked people. It made my parents uncomfortable. I remember them asking why I had drawn it. I replied simply that I thought the female body was beautiful. This wasn’t a good enough answer. There was shame, there were instructions not to do it anymore. It was made clear to me that naked women’s bodies were primarily not mine to enjoy since I said I was not gay, and here I was, a 12 year old human with a vagina, drawing naked women. It seemed logical to my parents that I was possibly a lesbian – because bodies are for sex, not beautiful in their own right.

I tore up all the drawings of naked folks I’d done. I internalized that shame, that nudity was supposed to be shameful, and, mostly, that naked bodies were not mine – not even my own body.

Skip forward about 4 years, and I became sexually active at around 16. I suppose I still had my virginity, but that’s just by some societally-accepted version of things. I’d actively decided that I was not going to have p-in-the-v sex until I felt ready to navigate everything that came along with it. I did everything else, because I knew from my still-voracious appetite for sexual knowledge which actions carried a lower risk of STIs and pregnancy.

My first sexual experiences were with complicated at best, and not that amazing. Mostly. There is a certain level of sloppiness in human interaction, and I get that. And we’re talking about a bunch of young folks that only have basic sex ed (mostly anatomy, and mostly internal anatomy in terms of what we learn about those with uteruses) and have had nothing but mainstream porn and media to inform them of what sexual encounters should be like. It’s a lot of fumbling, and it was mostly based around some fucked up things based around access and rights to women’s bodies. But I don’t feel like any of it was out of the ordinary. It was exploration of bodies, consent, and emotions.

All of these experiences came to a head while I was in my first long-term relationship. Rights and access to my body were reinforced as not belonging to me in this relationship. We moved in together. I was fresh (two months) out of high school and 18 years old, and here I was living with this guy in a two bedroom apartment on a notoriously rough street North of Portage Avenue in Winnipeg. I honestly loved the idea of the freedom that came with it, but hadn’t bargained for the intricacies of living with a partner – and all the issues around porn that would surface because of it.

I’d had issues around porn since I was about 10 and had walked in on my father using the early internet to slowly download photos of naked women. I’d mentioned it to my mother, and it nearly caused a divorce. The choice to have or not have the divorce, however, was actually placed on me. My two other siblings had hard answers to the idea of divorce, yes and no respectively, and my mother did not want to make a decision. I remember sitting on a blanket at one of my brother’s football games and being given all the information and told to make a choice. Clearly, porn was the cause of all this stress (and not my parents’ inability to fucking communicate or make decisions like a goddamn adult), and so I associated porn with destruction of relationships.

My partner’s porn habits quickly became obvious. I shared my experience and asked what kind of compromise we could come to. To continue the shitty communication, he agreed not to look at it anymore (unrealistic – for both of us, actually). I inherited my parents’ distrust and frequently checked into his history, learning that he was indeed still consuming the porn. Then we sat down to talk about it. And it was completely the worst fucking thing.

Instead of “I see how you feel”, it was “why aren’t you as cool with it as the women in the movies and pictures?” The conversation went entirely that way, and then it was over. He told me that, even though we were having sex 2-4 times daily, I was not sexually open enough. He started to pick clothes for me that were much more revealing than I would ever have worn, and I kept trying harder to make him happy, by doing pretty much anything.

This is the lady we’re talking about, at age 19, in the second apartment my then-partner and I lived in.

I enjoyed sexual exploration, so I was mostly happy to engage in as much activity as there was to be had. The trouble is, that wasn’t really good enough for him. Being perpetually available was not good enough. There was a lot of emotional manipulation, specifically making me paranoid, and lots of things that I realize now were abuse – like waking up covered in cum, unbeknownst to me. He was expressing what he thought of me by using my body while I was asleep, without my consent. I’d wake up either from the icky sticky wetness feeling on my body or, if I managed to sleep through the night, I’d wake up with a crust to shower off while he’d already left the house. I did object. Every time.

This was a person who was actively involved with the U of W’s LBGT* and Women’s Centres.

I feel so disconnected from that story, even now. I have trouble picturing it or understanding it as a thing that a human would do.

The relationship dissolved along the way as he slept around, and insisted on an open relationship on his end and not on mine. He was to be allowed to sleep with anyone at all, and I was to wait around – because women’s bodies are property, and his penis had laid claim to that piece of land. I called bullshit on this, and we finally decided we’d call it quits. That night, he did not return home after dinner to decide who was moving out – instead, he hooked up with a woman that lived several floors above us, then expected to come back into the apartment to get ready for work. I lost my mind.

It was after my initial breakup with my partner that I decided to shoot for a website. I met some stranger at his apartment in Osborne Village, he filled me up with gin, and I took off my clothes. Something clicked in that moment for me. I felt powerful; in control. I was 20 at this point.

The first shoot – with not-so-great lighting, but lovely otherwise!

My motivations for starting in porn were definitely not ideal. There was a lot of baggage there, and much of the motivation was to show men how sexually available I was, and how I was just as cool as the women in porn – while still maintaining that I didn’t like porn, and that what I was doing was somehow better. Obviously, I was being a hypocrite, but we’ll get to that. However, there was also the motivation of body positivity, and giving other people that feeling of being powerful and in control of their own image. I was still just grappling with all kinds of shit.

I continued to sleep with people randomly, and I can say that a lot of it was exploratory and fun, but the way that I was doing it was still mostly based in the fucked up abuse of the first long term relationship. I used sex to get to people, and to try to have some kind of power. I also used it for fun, and as an outlet, but much of it came from a pretty dark and fucked up place.

It was around the age of 21 that I met a guy in a bar, which was not an odd occurrence. We decided to meet up after class one day, since we were both studying at the U of M. We went out for a drink, it was nice, and then we headed back to my place. I remember having the conversation, in which he asked me if we were going to sleep together. I’d been trying to give myself a bit of time to figure myself out at the moment, and so I’d actually used my own words when I said “Ya know, I don’t think I’m actually that kind of girl.” Which I meant to mean that I was realizing that maybe I wasn’t the kind of person that wanted to sleep around all the time – maybe I wanted to start being choosier and making the decisions for myself. (I should note that there is nothing at all wrong with being *that kind of girl*, just that I was reconsidering if I was or if I just thought that I should be)

Long story short, I got drugged that night in my own home and I put out whether I wanted to or not.

Cue the string of possibly even worse decisions and avoiding of even more realities. I did a lot of fucked up things to a lot of people. I dabbled in some super unhealthy BDSM-type activity (BDSM is not inherently unhealthy, but my topping was not from a positive place, and when I was being bottomed, I’d relive my various abuses in a negative way), dated guys who would routinely yell at me, and generally just did what I could to get by. But through all of this, the idea of Cherrystems blossomed. The body positivity, owning your own image, and being in control of how you are represented. It was the only thing that kept me from feeling the pain at a deep level.

Still, I refused to call Cherrystems porn. I felt it was something better, more thought out, empowering, and positive. The porn that I thought I knew ruined relationships and made men believe that they owned women’s bodies. What I didn’t realize is that porn can be all of those positive things too, and that what I was doing was really no different – it was just given a privileged narrative.

As I grew up and began confronting my demons, I started to realize the truth of the situation. It wasn’t porn that was fucking anything up. It was all people in my life. It was people avoiding real communication, compassion, and forcing me to make decisions that I didn’t want to have make. My parents couldn’t see eye to eye on it, and ultimately put their relationship on me. Being young, I couldn’t fathom my parents being wrong – and so the culprit was most definitely pornography. I brought this pain with me to my future relationships, came down hard on a lot of folks about their use of porn even though I was also consuming it in the same way – but I figured in my hypocrisy that the way that I was using it was not exploitative and was somehow better.

But then we get to the tricky bit. I started to do interviews for newspapers and radio in which I’d get the question – is Cherrystems art or porn? And what is the difference? I at first insisted that we were different because porn was inherently exploitative, and that it dehumanized people and broke them down into parts with functions rather than autonomous human beings with bodies that have parts. Indeed, there still is a difference between those two methods of producing porn, I just hadn’t realized that. I didn’t yet have the vocabulary and experience with feminist porn to realize that that’s all it was – a difference in production styles and values. As I started to become more exposed to the idea that porn could be positive, I slowly began to unpack my own hangups with it. Soon, I realized that porn and art are the same thing. A switch flipped, and though I still felt uncomfortable with it, I started calling Cherrystems porn.

Once I started calling it porn, I was forced to understand all of the moments in my life that had shaped my relationship to the *concept* of pornography. It was a challenge. A fuck of a challenge. But it was something so liberating. I was and continue to be constantly inspired by people that are so amazing, that have their own stories to tell.

I think ultimately, Cherrystems and Ciné Sinclaire are my story to tell. They’re the story of my own reclaiming and newfound understanding of my own sexuality.

Airports: who to actually direct your anger at.

I travel a lot. Like, a lot a lot.

I see people everywhere getting mad at everything, from having to take off their shoes, to boarding in the wrong zone, arriving too early, arriving too late, everything. And I get it. Going to an airport totally sucks. If I could avoid having to enter one of those things ever again, I probably would. But it’s rare that anyone actually *understands* the process involved in airports.

I’m just going to break down the process of airports to you so that you can understand who to *actually* be mad at when shit hits the fan. It’s too often that I hear people boarding a plane out of breath saying “I almost didn’t make it! JetBlue’s security attendants took FOREVER.” That’s not true. Yes, be upset that CATSA (in Canada) and the TSA (in the US) had a long lineup, sure. Here, I’ll break down the four main organizations in charge of your shitty time at the airport, to hopefully help you understand just what is happening, and why. It’s going to be largely from a Canadian perspective, but applies pretty nicely to the US.

1. The Airport Authority.

The airport that you’re flying out of isn’t just a building that the airline you’re flying with owns. This is essential to note. Think of the airport more like a mall. They’re renting space out to airlines, and they’re in charge of maintaining the facilities. Not enough seats in your boarding lounge? That’s the airport. Dining options suck? That’s the airport. The layout of the customs hall is labyrinthine? Airport. Gate numbering? Airport. Placement of departure/arrival screens? Airport. Perhaps you get the point?

People often walk into an airport knowing “I’m flying Air Canada, and to do that, I have to go to this building where Air Canada is, which means this is Air Canada’s building.” But it’s really really not. Airlines have to bid for gate and counter rentals in airports (especially busier ones), and it can cost a huge amount of money. Note that this also factors in to how expensive your ticket is, as airlines have to pay to rent that space. A gate is the place that you go to after security to board your aircraft.

When you go to the mall, you go to the Apple store. On the way in, you use doors and floors and maybe the washroom. Perhaps you need to take a break in a little seating area, but you can’t find one. There’s not enough seating! Does it actually make any sense to then take to twitter and yell “DAMN YOU APPLE STORE FOR NOT HAVING ENOUGH SEATING IN THIS MALL YOU DON’T OWN!!”? No. Airlines are stuck with what the airport gives them, and since gate bids are often competitive, airports don’t really need to do a ridiculous amount to their facilities in order to make money off of those gates. So yeah, if there’s a problem with a washroom, lack of seating, lack of dining options, or anything really effecting your time in the airport, complain to the airport.

2. Security.

The TSA, or CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) here in Canada. We’re not here to discuss the effectiveness or need for the TSA/CATSA. That’s another conversation for another person to have. What we’re here to talk about is what *they* do, and who *they* are not.

CATSA is just like an airline in that they are using space in an airport that they do not own. They need to be there by air regulations, but they are also not the Airport Authority. They are there to make sure that all laws and regulations of operating an airport are adhered to. They’re kind of like the police, I suppose. Again, the police do not own the streets, but they have to enforce laws on them.

CATSA searches your bags, scans your boarding pass, and does a personality assessment by having an interaction with you. They’re useful to airline and airport employees because they’re often someone’s first point of contact at the airport. Intoxicated folks cause a LOT of problems in airports and on airplanes, and security can catch those people and tell them to go sleep it off before they become a problem at 40,000 ft. It can be hard to go through security knowing that you’re under scrutiny, but remember that if you know you are not going to disturb shit, just get through it and you’ll come out the other side – back into the loving arms of the Airport Authority.

They also use a randomizer to select folks for additional screening, to avoid profiling people. I’m not saying they don’t ever do it (because they have), but that mat you step on that makes green or red or double green or double red or whatever arrows appear dictates which line you’re going to.

When your knitting needles get taken away by security (CATSA), your knitting needles were taken by neither the Airport nor the Airline. I hear countless folks saying this kind of thing – “JetBlue took away my lighter.” No, they didn’t. Security did. A totally different organization, renting space from a totally different organization took away your lighter. Directing complaints to the right place is *super* important. If you have a complaint that the TSA/CATSA mistreated you, you *need* to bring that forward to the right organization. Writing a full on complaint to an airline about your mistreatment by the TSA/CATSA is not going to change a single thing.

3. The Airline

Here’s the last part of our little jaunt through an airport. Your airline. They are the ones that own (or lease) the airplane you’re about to fly on, hurray! They also employ people in the airport, but these people do not work *for* the airport. They work for your airline. They are the Apple Store employees, so to speak. They work at the airport, but not for the airport. They’re the ones working the check in counters, helping you at the kiosks, moving your bags around behind the scenes (sometimes this is centrally handled by the airport, though, and specific airports have it written that when landing there, an airline MUST utilize its airport’s employees for things like baggage handling and other ramp activities). So I guess that would be like a mall telling the Apple store that they are never to empty their own garbage, and that mall employees MUST come around and do it for them.

Your Airline can totally help you with things like connections and carry on baggage and things like that. They’ll also be the ones to help you in the case of a delay (or not, as my experience with Air Canada and United goes – ohhhhh!). Your airline is in charge of following the rules too. They have to check ID during boarding up here in Canada, and have to obey all kinds of little rules put forward by Transport Canada (more on this in a moment). Your airline is the one that is late or early or cancelled. Your airline is in charge of keeping you up to date on all of these things, though the Airport Authority runs those arrival/departures boards, which are sometimes not super up to date. If in doubt, ask a question. If you’re asking a reasonable question about an airline-specific thing, you should be answered in a reasonable timeframe. If not, complain away about your airline!

All of this also goes for compliments, obviously.

4. Transport Canada/FAA

I specifically know more about TC, so I’ll speak more about my experience with that. TC is the regulatory board in charge of pretty much everything that goes on when you go to an airport. They regulate various parts of airports, they regulate CATSA, they regulate the airlines. They cover it all. Wanna know why you can’t turn on your cell phone on an airplane at certain times? TC does extensive reviews of interference for safety, to make sure that your cell signal actually will or won’t disrupt the safe operation of the flight. If your airline still makes you turn off your device, trust me when I say they’re probably trying to challenge that rule with TC. TC needs to specifically test the specific planes that the airlines uses in the configuration that they use them to see if the interference exists. This taskes months, and sometimes years. And it’s all paperwork. But until that rule has changed, they must be obeyed by everyone that they effect. The rules that they have are literally written in blood from air accidents and disasters of the past. When things went wrong, there were investigations into the incidents, and Transport Canada came forward with rules that would help to preserve life in the case of an accident or incident.

Everyone under TC’s umbrella has to comply with the regulations that they put forward. If they don’t, airlines can lose their operating licenses. That’s right, that flight attendant is asking you to turn off your phone again so that literally thousands and thousands of other people can continue to fly. If there is a TC inspector on board (and there are more than you’d think) and they watch a flight attendant let someone break a regulation, that *airline* can be fined by Transport Canada, and the fees are not small. And guess who pays for that, ultimately? You! So just turn off your phone for like 10 minutes, you’ll be ok. If airlines break enough rules, they can lose their operating licenses, as I mentioned. That means flights cancelled, and people who are WAY more inconvenienced than the person not shutting off their phone.

So that covers it, very generally. Understand that there are processes, take a step back to think about them, and know that air travel just sucks (while it is simultaneously awesome and super super convenient).

Hope you’ve come away with something here!

Why I didn’t change my last name.

I acknowledge that I am a Canadian white cis woman in a hetero monogamous relationship as I write this. This piece is to express how I came to my choice to keep my name, acknowledging that we all make our own choices.

There are plenty of folks out there that know that I got married this summer. I married a lovely dude with a lovely heart and soul that encourages me to do exactly what I want in life.

People have been full of congratulations to now, but as the months have passed (we’re at 4 months at this point), the conversation has shifted a bit. Folks are noticing something “important” (to them, I suppose). My name on Facebook has not changed. Often it takes a while for folks to get around to being, for example, Jane Smith (Knox) on FB, so I saw that I was being given a decent window in which to “get around to it”. Trouble is, I’m not getting around to it. My legal birth name is still my legal name, and will continue to be until the day that I die. And even then, it’ll still be written on things until the day that those things are too old to be read.

Why? WHAT?! You’re bucking tradition, you’re not being considerate of your partner, you’re making me uncomfortable

Sorry I’m making you uncomfortable by exercising my rights and making you think a tiny bit.

My decision not to change my name was one that I arrived at both through a lot of thought and none at all. I’m going to break this discussion down into a few main reasonings: Equality, tradition, choice, and identity.

I’m talking about straight up equality on the issue of taking a name. If society expects me to take my husband’s name with no question, that’s unidirectional, not equal. That’s an assumption that I will take someone else’s name.

For me, when Aaron and I were dating, I’d brought up the issue of taking names. I remember distinctly asking Aaron if he would take my name if we got married. He laughed at me. Straight up “HAH!” in my face. He did step back and realize what a shit thing this was to do, and how deeply our patriarchal society has effected him, to the point at which he would have a knee-jerk reaction to laugh at me for asking. Some of you may be a bit offended by this, and trust me when I say that I was too.

We unpacked the laugh over the next little while and came to some understandings about it. First off, we break down that women and men (or feminine vs masculine) are not regarded to be on the same playing field when it comes to names.

Men are typically brought up knowing that they will have their name til death (and beyond). Women, on the flipside, are brought up feeling that their last name will not be their last name forever. When women later say something like “Of course I changed my name, I’ve just never really felt that connected to it”, we have to realize that that statement does not exist in a vacuum. Women don’t feel that connected to their names because society teaches them that they are not supposed to hang on to them. It’s deeply rooted in Western culture, and its roots are very interesting and oppressive. Essentially, marrying into a name was all based around the concept of property. And we’re not just talking about the traditional “women have no rights” thing, we’re going back to as recently as the 1800s, where women became the property of the man upon marriage, stripping her of her right to own land, vote, or participate in contracts (known as coveture) even though unmarried women could do at least *some* of those things. Any children that woman bore were to carry on the name of the father, thus creating a stream of property heirs, insuring that any material wealth accumulated would stay in the family. It wraps everything up into a neat little package. Trouble is, women were part of that neatly wrapped package only as property themselves.

This is where our tradition came from. Marital rape, oppression of personal rights and freedoms, property bypassing women, inability to enter contracts or own land, the list goes on. Obviously, for some, this isn’t exactly a system that they would want to honour as a tradition. That’s their choice, and it’s fine because it’s theirs.

I understand that, today, women are granted all of those freedoms (though some often come under fire again and again, namely marital rape). Arguments against keeping one’s name are generally for tradition and for ease of family naming. Tradition, I don’t mess with. If that’s your choice and it makes you happy and you’re not forcing it on anyone or hurting anyone, do it ’til you can’t.  But if it’s really all about family naming, shouldn’t the woman’s name be equally considered in the conversation? If that’s *really* the reason folks pester me about changing my name, why aren’t they also pestering Aaron? Because that’s not really the issue here, is it? It’s back to tradition and the assumed idea that women will change their names. In fact, 70% of Americans think that women *should* change their names, with 50% of people thinking it should be law (NY Daily News).

So let’s think about tradition.

Tradition is something closely held by individuals, but can often vary from person to person. Around Christmas, I watch Muppet Family Christmas, and my father watches It’s a Wonderful Life. Arguments for which comes first are heated. Tradition!

Keeping that in mind, it’s assumed that everyone’s tradition is the same: that women take men’s names. It’s also assumed that tradition can’t ever be changed. For myself, I grew up in the province of Quebec here in Canada. In the early 1980s, Quebec introduced part of the Civil Code of Quebec that stipulated that women would keep their maiden names. My parents married in 1981, at which point the code was already in place. My mother kept her maiden name. When I look to the rest of my family, I see the exact same thing. All of my aunts and uncles have kept their names, save for one aunt and uncle that hyphenated. Among all of them, one family chose to assign surnames to children based on their sex (females take the mother’s last name and males take the father’s), and the rest went for the more traditional model of the children taking the father’s name. The latter situation includes my family. My mother has always had a different last name than her children, which is an interesting thing. I’ve asked her if she feels that this severs her connection with us, which she has always answered no to, seeing as she will always be linked with us by blood and experience. But really, she would have been free to give us all her name as well. It’s all super personal and based on the relationship(s) involved.

While the act in Quebec is problematic because it eliminates the choice of women to change or not to change their names, it did create a new tradition for me, and most importantly showed me that the world does not end if your last name does not match your spouse’s last name. I realized that, based on my lack of exposure to family members changing their names, I hadn’t really ever seen myself as wanting or needing to take my partner’s name, no matter their gender. My tradition is not to take my partner’s name. All it takes is one generation to flip that script, and I’m living proof.

There’s also the problem of writing into law that a woman must take a man’s name in marriage because, well, not every marriage is between a man and a woman. And also choice, preference, and, ya know, equality.

And a word (or 100) on identity. One’s last name can be a source of pride, of status, and of personal identity on so many levels. Offices, companies, products, all kinds of things bear the names of the people and families that invented, opened, or produced them. Traditionally, this was men – because, if you remember, women couldn’t really own things, so if you saw Sampson and co, Sampson was probably a dude. Women, on the other hand, are taught from a young age that their name is not going to be their name forever. There may be work already done to study the effects of being unable to fully connect with one’s own name, but I’d posit that it presents itself as yet another barrier to women in the professional workplace. If anyone has more information on this, please let me know.

As for my legal birth name, I’ve made it my own. I’m lucky enough that my own personal and family history lets me personally enjoy and own my own last name. I realize that, technically, my last name is what it is because it was my father’s name, but I’m not letting that stand in the way of my keeping it. We have entire generations of women whose names *are not* their own. They’re their fathers’ names until they have their husbands’ names. Knowing this, I’m claiming my name as my own, keeping it, and venturing forward into the world to create new traditions on my own terms. No, the answers are not written in stone anywhere as to what I’d do if I had a baby, but guess what? Not all marriages are focused on having babies either! If we got around to it, our communication level in our relationship now puts us in a place where we can have the discussion honestly without a knee-jerk laughing reaction.

So there’s my story. I’m sticking to it. Aaron’s sticking to it. We’re fine. Quit asking me when I’m going to “update” my name on Facebook, because it’s just fine the good ol’ traditional way it was throughout my life, IRL.