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Sex addiction is a serious mental illness that makes the lives of people who suffer from it difficult.

[TW: sexual assault and addiction] By Sami Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, among dozens of other powerful men, are being exposed for  sexually harassing and abusing people. Each have left a trail of victims and tears. Survivors of their violence have come forward and risked either their careers, a peaceful life, their privacy, or all three to speak up. It takes courage for a survivor of sexual violence, whether they’re victims of famous people or not, to speak their experiences. To name and challenge your abuser is to upend your life and risk any semblance of peace you may have. For the first time, powerful men are being held accountable for their actions. Harvey Weinstein has been stripped of his positions and some of his power; Kevin Spacey has lost roles and House of Cards may go on without him. They’ve lost their shine across the globe. Further, they may even get criminally charged for their actions. To be expected, though, they’ve tried to trigger their own redemption arcs. In their effort to make themselves look like hapless victims, what they’ve done is try to hide behind the very real issue of sexual addiction. Sexual addiction is a serious mental illness that makes the lives of people who suffer from it difficult. In fact, research has shown that the brains of the sexually addicted when exposed to sexual stimuli, were seen to “light up” in the same way that the brains of drug addicts lit up when they used drugs, despite no chemicals being used in the study. But what these men have done is turned it into a justification for sexual abuse and violence, when previously it had been stigmatized as a joke among men and a “daddy issue” amongst women.

Fat, Black people with bodies like mine are ignored, fetishised or an unfortunate burden.

By Mary Brighton I write this piece as someone who easily (and painfully) passes for cis, as a transmisogyny exempt nonbinary person. I write as someone who is neither very fat nor very dark-skinned, but is often the fattest/darkest person in the room. I write as an able-bodied person, as a naturalised British citizen and native English speaker. I write as someone who grew up in a decidedly middle-class home. These privileges, and doubtless many others that I have not considered, will inevitably shape my experiences. I was a devout and traditional Catholic until my late teens, with many of the sexual attitudes that would suggest. Therefore, my early sexual imagination was shaped less by porn than by TV shows and advertising. It was formed in the extrapolation from the fade to black in a 12A rated film, or the racy scenes in YA fantasy novels. Long before sex itself interested me, I knew what sexy looked like. I knew this just as surely as I knew that unremarkable brunette white boys are destined for greatness or being liked meant having no emotional boundaries. I knew that people like me, the fat Black people with bodies like mine, were either ignored, fetishised or an unfortunate burden taken on out of pity or desperation.

Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

Dear Cam, I'm exploring my sexuality and experimenting with different kinks, but I'm getting kind of worried about the kinds of things that I've been interested in. I'm not hurting anyone or anything, but some of the things that I find through online or in my imagination are... not as typical to what other people are into. But they turn me on. Am I a freak or what? -Turn Me On Turn Me On, Your question immediately made me think of a Dear Sugar columns [trigger warning: mentions and slight details of rape, incest] to which Cheryl Strayed responds to a reader concerned that her interest in submission means something with a line that stands out completely: icky thoughts turn me on. The thing about what turns us on is that it's both connected and independent from the rest of us. The things that turn us on, like everything else, don't exist in a vacuum. Your curiosity and interest in them could be coming from a subconscious pull or it could simply be the sensation of something — the feeling of leather on skin, the look in a domme's eye as they train their pet, or something else entirely — that just speaks to you. You're not necessarily required to dive deep about the why of what turns you on. If it's something that you are consciously consenting to, are ethical about, and aren't harming another person (or yourself) with, then I say that you're free to explore to your heart's content. What turns you on doesn't need to fit into a box for others to consume neatly.

Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

Dear Cam, I'm not quite sure how to navigate this. I have a white partner (we're polyam) and I feel like he gives his white partners more space, patience, and consideration to feel insecure or needing validation to feel safe in a polyamorous relationship than he gives me. Am I imagining how big of a problem this is? Why is empathy something that's used so often against Black folks in relationships? How do I talk about this?   -Deserving of Empathy
Deserving, Whew, this question has been on my mind for a while and I'm glad that you brought it up. By no means is this a unique problem to your relationship. In fact, I've heard this question raised over and over by the BIPOC in my life, no matter what kind of romantic relationship they have. I believe that in every relationship — romantic or not — everyone involved has to commit to performing labor for the betterment of the relationship. But when it's done evenly (i.e., both parties commit to doing labor for each other and themselves), the relationship itself is healthy and balanced. It's when this labor falls unfairly on one party that this balance is thrown out of whack. And because nothing exists in a vacuum, we can't separate the fact that this imbalance of labor almost always falls on the shoulders of marginalized people. There's a rising interest in non-monogamy, which is great, but I think a lot of people who are first learning about or are new to non-monogamy often forget that there's work that goes into these relationship structures as well. We're still interacting with other people, and that means that we still have to take care in treating them with respect, love, and understanding and not just project our own assertions and demand they fulfill our needs without considering what effect that will have on them. So much of this creates violence and unnecessary hardship — especially when we take identities like race into account. There's also an assumption here, it seems, that your partner thinks that there is an equal dividing of care he gives to you and his other partners. Care and work that goes into a relationship doesn't come with an on/off switch; it isn't neatly divided between "yes" or "no", "all" or "nothing". It's highly unfair of him to assume — not even ask — that you would need "less" support in the relationship with no evidence other than the assumptions he's making on your identity as a POC.

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