What I Learned About the Sex Blogging Community from a Cross-Stitch Convention
In August 2018, I attended my first ever cross-stitch (a form of needlepoint) convention. Even though I’ve been stitching for 30 years, I felt completely out of my element. During it all, I learned a lot about myself, sex blogging, and communities.
The first thing I learned is that there’s a convention for everything, including cross-stitch. The second thing I learned is that no matter how different one community may seem from another, we have more in common than we think.
Sometimes it takes being on the outside of one community to better understand your own…and to remember how newcomers may feel. That weekend I was a complete outsider, and it opened my eyes to things in the sex blogging community that many of us take for granted.
Longevity Doesn’t Equal Community Membership
I haven’t felt like I’m on the outside in a long time. Sex blogging has been my thing since 2012, and while I have plenty to learn, I know my way around. Maybe I don’t know everyone, but I know enough people to no longer feel like a stranger. I might not know every available tool and trick, but I know enough to be able to share hard-won wisdom.
On the other hand, cross-stitch has been a thing I’ve done since I was eight years old — 30-plus years. And for a solid weekend, I felt like an outsider. Thankfully, my aunt brought me and so I was never fully alone, but so many people knew each other from Facebook or previous conventions that I was on the outside looking in. I’m a natural introvert, so without her there, I probably wouldn’t have attended, and if I had, I definitely wouldn’t have spoken to anyone.
How many people are on the fringes of the sex blogging community that we don’t see or hear? They’ve been blogging forever but don’t know how to join the community and aren’t sure if they should? We can always use more voices and perspectives, even if we disagree with them. The people we know on Twitter or Facebook don’t equal the entire community. Keep your eyes and ears open for those who aren’t in the thick of the community. They may need to be asked and encouraged to join in.
Encourage new bloggers or those who are new to you. Some people may decide they don’t want to be a part of the “community” in general, and that’s okay, too. But we never know until we invite people in.
Communities Have Our Own Language
Image via Pixabay
For four long days at this cross-stitch I heard words and terms I didn’t understand like ORTs (old ratty threads, if you’re curious). People talked about their starts and their finishes. I did hear “WIP” and knew that one immediately (work-in-progress) which made me feel better. Because I didn’t want to feel stupid, I nodded a lot but kept my mouth shut. Even my own deductive reasoning couldn’t figure some of these things out.
Thankfully at the end of the day, I could look at my aunt and ask, “What was THAT?” Each day I came back in feeling a little more comfortable because I knew what people were talking about.
How many times have we assumed people would know what we mean because we’re using a term that’s familiar to us? This isn’t just in the sex blogging community. We do it in sex and gender educational conversations all the time. Not everyone understands terms like cis, AFAB (one of I’ve had to look up), ENBY, and others. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use them, but remember that others might be lost and confused.
In my own sex writing, I try to make a habit (although I forget) of explaining a term that I might use a lot but isn’t necessarily common. This is a good way to give people knowledge without forcing them to ask for it. They might be too uncertain to do it or afraid they won’t get an answer. And relying on Google to teach people things is tricky at best. A Google search might show sites you trust or it might just show porn. Is that really the best way for people to learn?
Not Every Tradition is Obvious
In the sex blogging community, we have weekly memes, erotic photography, blogging challenges, and fun with hashtags. It’s the same in the cross-stitch community…sort of. They do stitching challenges, share their finished work, talk about their next project, and follow groups and hashtags.
We all also have certain ways many (but not all) of us do things. I spent the weekend explaining to people that yes, I stitch from the bottom left corner of the fabric and make my way up. Apparently, that’s weird. But it’s how I learned 30 years ago, and I have zero desire to change how I do it. It works for me, but it gave a lot of people pause.
I had no idea there was even another way to stitch, so it doesn’t shock me that there are people who have no idea there are multiple ways to sex blog. It’s not always a sexy story or a naked picture of yourself. You might know you can, but not everyone does. You might know that blogging memes are a great way to drive traffic, but someone else might not.
Every community has traditions and “ways we do things” but not everyone is going to follow that tradition or thinks they should. In 99.9999 percent of cases, they’re probably right. Maybe their method is “weird” to us, but if it works for them (and it’s sex positive and inclusive), we should support them.
Make People Feel Welcome and They’ll Come Back
Image via Pixabay
I had an amazing time at the cross-stitch convention and hope to go back in 2020. While there were things I didn’t always understand and terminology I was confused about, the community as a whole was great. They made me feel like one of them and most had no clue I was a total outsider. By “outsider” I mean I wasn’t part of the website where they gather or the Facebook group where they meet regularly. They were my people in a sense, and it was an amazing experience.
The same has always been (for me) true of the sex blogging community. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet amazing bloggers who cheer me on, read my work, and offer advice (when asked). The community has been a resource and a source of support for several years. I wouldn’t be here without the encouragement of community members from the beginning.
We can all be that for someone else. It doesn’t mean we have to take them by the hand or watch over them. Sometimes it means sharing a blog post we loved or offering a heartfelt and personal comment. Encouraging and helping other sex bloggers lets people know they’re not alone in this. It makes them feel like this a space where they’re welcomed. Which they should be.
And we can have small communities within the larger community. The people at this convention represented a single community within the cross-stitch world. We do that in the sex blogging community, too.
We Forget To Notice Who Isn’t There
During my cross-stitch adventure, I quickly realized I was in a very white space. To my knowledge, there were three women of color at the event…out of 125 people. I was happy to meet them all, but I wished that it was a more diverse space. Obviously other women of color stitch. Did they not feel welcome? Does this not feel like a space they can join in? I can’t answer that because I’m not them, but it’s worth asking.
The same is true of the sex blogging community. Yes, there are people of color out there. Of course there are. But if they’re not in the mix of things in your part of the sex blogging community, what do we need to do as a community to encourage and invite them in? To make them feel welcome?
I don’t have many answers, and I’m trying to learn by listening. I think we need to seek out sex bloggers who don’t look, think, or act like we do or have the same experiences we do. Most importantly, we need to listen and pay attention. And promote their voices. Encourage them to join in. Invite them to participate. I can say I’m open and inclusive and committed to diversity, but it’s not enough to say something. I have to do something about it, too.
Y’all, I’m still a work in progress and figuring it out. It’s hard for me to reach out to people I don’t actually know and talk to them. But that can’t be an excuse I use forever. If we like content, share it. When we agree with what someone says, share it and respond to them. People only feel as welcome as we make them feel.
What’s It All Mean?
Whatever this long, winding comparison means to you as a member of the sex blogging community is up to you. Do you remember your early days as a new blogger when you were nervous and shy? Are you wondering what terms you use all the time that others might not know? Have you thought about who you don’t see in your community space?
And if you are thinking of things with a different perspective, what will you do about it?
Sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zone to see things in a fresh way. I don’t have all the answers, but I know that it never hurts to champion blogs we enjoy, listen more than we speak, ask questions when we can, and welcome new voices. And remember that there was a time you weren’t as comfortable as you are now…if you’re comfortable at all. What did you need during that time? How can you help someone else who might need it too?
Feel free to comment below or talk to me on Twitter with your thoughts on this. Are there things you’ve noticed about our community with a fresh perspective?
Have you learned something new, been inspired, or moved forward with your goals after visiting The Smutlancer?