Chicken Wings: A Clumsy Metaphor About Race

Note: This post is in part a response to some of the issues of white privilege, fragility and paternalism in the sex ed community which are expressed super eloquently by Dirty Lola, Jimanekia Eborn and Sunny Megatron in this episode of the American Sex podcast. I wanted to introduce the slightly clumsy race metaphor that I’ve used in the past amongst friends in the hopes that it’ll help other people wrap their heads around the topic.

In the interests of staying in my lane, this post is primarily aimed at my white readers, because they’re the ones who need to hear this. However, if you’re a person of colour and you’d like to give me criticism on it, you can do so in the comments, in my Twitter DMs or at contact@akinkyautistic.com – I would hugely appreciate your feedback.

Additionally, this post makes mention of “my black best friend”, who very kindly gave me her permission to refer to her as such. I wouldn’t usually, but her race is actually relevant here, and I did check it’d be okay with her. Don’t worry.


At high school, we had a hot food vendor that sold potato wedges and chicken wings at lunchtime.

Bear with me here.

One lunchtime, I watched my black best friend point out to our mutual white friend that she’d left meat on the bones of her chicken wings. And she said, memorably, “White people never eat chicken wings properly.”

As another white person at that table, I had two choices. I had the option of assuring myself, or even arguing aloud, that not all white people leave meat on their chicken wing bones, and that I’m not one of those white people. I could have, at fourteen, soothed my white ego by distancing myself from my friend’s statement.

Or I could have, and did, look down into my own grease-stained cardboard box to examine my own chicken bones. And, wouldn’t ya know it, there was still meat on them. Not a lot, but enough – I took the point and quietly, without asking for a Good White Person Brownie Point, picked off and ate the remaining wing meat.

This story is important for two reasons.

The first, and more obvious, is that I did have meat on those bones. My friend was right. There was no use in arguing whether or not all white people did the thing my black friend was criticising them for when I had done it, moments ago, unthinkingly. There was value in examining the truth of her statement as it had applied to me. And even if I had eaten all the meat off those bones, that didn’t guarantee I’d always done so with every wing I ever ate, or that the vast, vast majority of white people ate all their wing meat. It wouldn’t have added anything of value to the conversation to have thrust my picked-clean bones under my friends’ noses and to have proclaimed, “But I’m white, and I’ve eaten all the meat off of my chicken wings!”

The second reason is this: in this story, as with so many stories about POC making “white people” statements, my black friend was trying to help us.

She wasn’t just making a broad statement about white people to be mean. She wasn’t trying to suggest that our whiteness made us inherently bad people. She certainly wasn’t being reverse-racist, whatever the fuck that means. She was pointing out an aspect of our behaviour, presumably picked up from our white and English culture, that was prohibiting us from enjoying all the meat that our wings had to offer. She was being constructive.

This extends to other criticisms of whiteness, or behaviours common in white people. When POC are calling white people out for something, not only is it useless and obnoxious to respond with “Not all white people!” or “I’m white and I would never,” but it’s churlish. When you do a white people thing like leave chicken on the bones of your wings and a POC points it out to you, they’re trying to help you make the most of your overpriced high school cafeteria lunch. Similarly, when you do a white people thing like argue that sometimes the cops are good, actually, and a POC points it out to you, they’re trying to help you gain a richer and more nuanced understanding of an issue that will help preserve your relationships with other POC and make you a better listener, activist, ally and friend.

This isn’t to say that POC criticising white people is only valid because it helps us. That line of argument annoys me when it comes to feminism (as in, “Feminism benefits men because patriarchal masculinity is toxic!” being lauded as equally important to, “Feminism stops women getting harassed and murdered”). It’s important to listen to POC when they criticise white privilege because white privilege directly hurts POC every day in complex and often horrifying ways. But if your argument against “white people” statements is “not all white people” or “your tone is mean”, you’re ignoring the fact that they are expending their limited emotional energy trying to help you be a better human being. They are offering you a kindness, even if that kindness is interspersed with swearwords and angry emoji, and you should accept it graciously.

I hesitated to put this piece on my sex blog because I was frightened I’d phrase it wrong or that it would otherwise hurt, rather than help, my readers who are POC, but I knew it was important to write. Unfortunately, issues around white privilege and the erasure of people of colour are evergreen in the sex blogging community, as they are in every other walk of life, and it’s crucial for white bloggers like me to acknowledge our privilege and do the work to counteract it. Again, if you’re a POC and you think this post could be written differently to be more helpful, please feel free to get in touch. If you’re a white person and this post resonated with you, please share it.

If you’re a white person and this post didn’t resonate with you, shut up and eat your damn wings.

Help Wanted: How Does Service Space Feel For Me?

Image is a green Philips brand iron lying on top of a white item of clothing.

This post is part of a miniseries exploring the nuances of different headspaces I access through kink! You can find all the other posts in this series by clicking here, and I hope this one serves you well. (Get it? …I’m sorry.)


I grew up assigned female, disabled and queer in a misogynistic, ableist and queerphobic society. I also attended a fee-paying high school solely because of some inherited money that was tucked away in a trust fund, which did not automatically equate to living in a wealthy (or even, uh, financially comfortable) household. Society and my peers made it clear to me from day zero that there were aspects of my life and my identity – of the very foundation of my being – that were undesirable, unworthy or wholly unacceptable.

This did not make for a very sturdy foundation upon which to build self-esteem, as I’m sure you can imagine.

One of the most harmful concepts that our capitalist society presses upon us is that our value as human beings is directly and inextricably linked to our “productivity”. I’ve read a lot of leftist theory and done a whole lot more psychotherapy, but I don’t think it makes me a bad anti-capitalist punk to admit that it’s going to take me a very long time to truly unlearn this particular faulty concept. It’s everywhere.

I’ve already talked a fair bit about the relationship between my disability and my service, but I haven’t actually unpacked what service space feels like for me, or why I enjoy it. It starts with all of the above: in a society that values “productivity”, whatever that means, and with disability already holding me back from being productive in any sort of traditionally capitalist manner, I was desperate to be worthy.

This manifested in my vanilla life first. Some of the things I was doing were all well and good, like donating blood regularly and knitting for charity… but others, not so much. I continued emotionally draining, outright harmful friendships wherein I acted as an unqualified therapist and/or crisis worker because I was desperate to make a difference. I took on responsibilities I couldn’t or could barely carry out because of my disabilities, like staffing a bake sale (which my joints, anxiety and autism all prevented me from doing) and helping my mum redecorate her house from bottom to top. As a pattern of behaviour, it was unsustainable.

Enter service submission. I stumbled across the term during one of my many blog binges and realised I was already kinda-sorta enacting it in the relationship I was in at the time – when I visited my then-boyfriend, it made me feel a great deal less anxious and burdensome to tidy up a little, do some dishes or massage his back. I slowly came to notice that I was deriving a sense of satisfaction from these acts of service that was similar to that which I experienced when doing helpful things in vanilla life – but it felt more profound.

When I’m in service space, I often hyperfocus. In other settings, hyperfocus is a double-edged sword, because I can end up overexerting myself, or forgetting to attend to other things. Under the watchful eye of a dominant partner, though, I can hyperfocus for the length of time it takes to complete a specific task, and then be gently pulled back into reality. It borders on hypnotic. I can immerse myself in the minute details of a task with the safety net of being ordered to stop if it seems like I’m at risk of exhausting or hurting myself.

Within a 24/7 dynamic, my Daddy and I have been able to account for my tendency to hyperfocus even when he isn’t supervising. Sometimes, this involves him being very specific about the level of energy he wants me to put into a task – he might explain that he wants the kitchen “quickly cleaned”, which means that I load the dishwasher and wipe down the countertops – but only the countertops, not the microwave or the toaster or the cupboard doors, etc. Sometimes it also involves him reminding me to check in with myself about whether my joints are hurting and how many spoons I have left, and he specifically tells me that stopping when my mind and/or body want me to stop is included in the service task.

I feel useful when I serve, in the exact ways I was seeking to feel useful in vanilla life. Service space also feels a lot more psychologically safe because it’s so predictable and the parameters are so clear: I am given a task. My job is then to complete this task to the best of my ability, and/or to communicate with my Daddy about any difficulties I’m having with its completion. My Daddy commends me for my execution of the task and/or my insight and communication, and I glow with pride at having done a good job. My experience of service space is almost entirely psychological – the sensory components (like wiping things til they shine, or the smell of citrus dish soap) are a bonus, but entirely incidental to the headspace itself. With a partner giving me specific, achievable goals, I feel like the embodiment of that capitalist myth: a cog in a well-oiled machine. And because my service submission is entirely removed from capitalism, I feel like I’m at liberty to set boundaries and I can even run the risk of “failing” without worrying about the loss of my livelihood. I feel intensely, deliriously safe in service space.

I also feel genuinely pleased with myself for my tangible impact on my dominant’s life. Formalising acts like a back massage or loading the dishwasher by doing them within subspace can help to keep their significance in the forefront of both our minds, meaning that my partner rarely overlooks my labour and so I rarely feel taken for granted. My tangible impact on him and his praise in response to it starts to fill in the cracks in that foundation I mentioned earlier. It’s not a substitute or a replacement for self-worth, but it gives me somewhere safe and reliable to start rebuilding my self-worth all on my own.

Fucking Dysphoria

I stand in front of the full length mirror my Daddy has opposite his spare bedroom. He’s in his office, only a couple of feet away from me, working on something important and grown-up. Sensing me in his periphery, he twirls in his spinny chair and sees me poking at the squishier bits of my body, frowning intently at my reflection.

“Hey,” he says, stern but caring. “Stop that. You’re beautiful.”

Pouting, I ask, “Am I handsome?”

Understanding, he gets out of his chair and moves to stand behind me, putting his big hands over mine – helping me to squash down my chest. “You’re Daddy’s handsome little boy,” he murmurs, kissing my hair. “You’re so cute.”

It doesn’t make the dysphoria go away, but it helps.


Being genderfluid is weird, because sometimes I love my curves. Sometimes I wear things with plunging necklines to highlight my cleavage, or I find the tiniest skirts my local charity shops have to offer, so my butt catches people’s eyes everywhere I go.

Sometimes, though, I hate them.

On those days, it’s hard not to feel hopeless. I know that in a week, or a day, or even a few hours, I’ll swing back around to feeling femme – which means that I don’t consider HRT or top surgery as options for me. I’m even reluctant to bind, worried about harming my breast tissue, making my boobs saggier (as though saggy boobs matter – of course gravity is acting upon them, when they each weigh the same as a small melon). On my masculine-of-centre days, I hate my body, and I hate my changeable identity that leaves altering anything permanently off the table.

 

I only found the vocabulary for my Gender Feelings™ two or three years ago. Before then, I didn’t feel that I had permission use words like ‘dysphoria’, because I believed myself to be cis – just kinda butch, and only engaging selectively with femininity. Being autistic complicated things further – lots of autistic people struggle to perform their assigned gender, or are simply uninterested in it, because performing gender involves understanding a lot of unwritten rules and having half a clue how other people might perceive you. Plus, performing femininity in particular involves a lot of sensory inputs – tight clothing makes me itch like fuck-knows-what, and foundation and concealer make me wish I didn’t have a face at all.

When I came across a definition of the term ‘genderfluid’ after seeing someone identify as such on Tumblr, my first thought was, Wow, I wish I was genderfluid, so I didn’t have to be a girl all the time! It took me an embarrassingly long time to register that that thought alone probably indicated I was genderfluid. If you passionately hate performing your assigned gender and you’re desperately searching for reasons to opt out of it, you might not be cis.

Having a host of sensory sensitivities and a very complex relationship with food and its effects on my body, I had shrugged off the panicky discomfort and bewilderment I felt when I looked in the mirror while presenting femininely. Nobody tells you how dysphoria is supposed to feel, just that it’s bad. Lots of media seems to portray it simply as a longing to look different, but having an eating disorder meant that I couldn’t find the source of my desire to be flat-chested and without hips.

It took me maybe a year to piece together my Gender Feelings™ into a coherent identity. I tagged my selfies on Tumblr as ‘they/them’ to see how it felt; it turns out I liked it a great deal more than ‘she/her’, which felt clunky, like a pair of shoes the wrong size. I borrowed clothes from my boyfriend at the time; he was six foot something, so they all swamped me, and I found I loved the invisibility it granted my boobs, with my little arms sticking out of sleeves and fabric draped over my arse.

At some point, I came across Bex (of the Dildorks, whose work I link to a lot in my posts), who was transmasculine and who was just starting to take testosterone as I was discovering their online presence. Looking at (and crushing on) people like Bex, who were wearing shorts and didn’t have enormous bushy beards and six-packs, I realised that I’d been buying into the same narrow, cis and heterocentric, and outright damaging ideals of masculinity that I would so vocally denounce when other people were harmed by them. I insisted on my tumblr that boys were allowed to cry and wear makeup, but I wouldn’t let myself do those things – because, I suppose, I didn’t really believe I ‘counted’ as a boy. Finding role models, especially transmasculine ones, expanded my understanding of gender expression and of masculinity.

Realising that I didn’t have to look like a PhotoShopped cis dude on my masculine days was liberating.

I Googled words like “twink”, looking for boys who looked like me. I found that there were ways to express my masculinity without trying to be a clone of my boyfriend, or of Vin Diesel, or Buck Angel.

I could be me.


I kept dating straight dudes for a while.

They insisted they respected, believed in my nonbinary identity. And they insisted that they were attracted to me – sexually and romantically. And they insisted they were 100% heterosexual.

It hurt a bit.

Actually, it hurt a fuckin’ lot, but I didn’t want to admit that at the time. They still touched me like I was a girl, no matter what they said about my gender. They cupped my breasts in their hands, kissed my neck softly, held me by my waist or my hips. They caressed me.

It’s difficult to explain this to cis people, especially straight ones. There’s just a very different vibe when someone thinks you’re a girl. Even if you’re having rough, kinky sex – the places people touch you are different. The language they use is different. The aftercare they give you is different.

Even when straight dudes are excellent at interacting with my front hole, they call it my ‘pussy’. They do deliciously evil things to my nipples, but I’m distracted when they compliment my ‘tits’. I know that when they call me a slut, whilst I like it, they mean a girl slut. There’s something in the way they say it. I spend the whole interaction a little sad, a little distant, feeling disconnected from myself and from my partner.

Sex with people who know I’m not a girl is just better. It’s not nauseating, and it doesn’t leave me feeling miserable, confused, hurt and unseen, and it’s so good because I’m actually in my body, enjoying everything that’s being done to it.


My Daddy slides his hand down the boxers I’m wearing, pulling me closer with the arm that’s around my neck. His fingers brush the thing a medical professional would label my ‘clitoris’.

“Look how hard your little cock is,” he teases me, as I squirm against him. “Does Daddy choking you turn you on, little one?”

I nod against his arm, whimpering. “I – um, I don’t think I want, um, PIV today.”

“That’s okay.” My Daddy’s hand comes out of my boxers, and he pushes his wet fingers into my willing mouth. “You have a vibrator, and you have other holes Daddy can use.”

I watch myself sucking on his fingers in the long mirror in front of us. My scrawny, pale legs are shaking a little from the strangling. My curvy body is dwarfed by my Daddy’s, but I’m focused on my face.

I look like a twink.

I look boyish.

And I look fuckin’ hot.