Archive for the ‘ Sex ’ Category

Sunday Share: Sexual Freedom Day

Thursday was Sexual Freedom Day sponsored by The Woodhull Freedom Foundation. I totally missed the ball on blogging in a timely fashion, though plenty of other bloggers posted some great commentaries (check out Sugarbutch, Sexuality Happens, Naked Confusion, and this list for some of what other people had to say). Then watch this video.

Then, join in on the Sunday Share. What does sexual freedom mean to you? Where do you feel you, or we, need more freedom?

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I’ll go first. Sexual freedom, to me, means the ability to participate in sexual behaviors that I want to participate in, with the partners I wish to be involved with, in a consensual manner. It means the choice to do what you want in bed.

I think freedom is needed in sexual education. Abstinence only doesn’t work. We should know that by now. We need the freedom to teach young people what they need, and want, to know. Also, I think the queer community as a whole needs to be more free when it comes to talking about safer sex. And I think we need to be more free to talk about kink and BDSM.

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Sunday Share: Everything you always to know about sex (but were afraid to ask)

At a recent garage sale, I picked up the book Everything you always wanted to know about sex (but where afraid to ask) by David M. Reuben. While I have since learned that an “updated” edition was published in 1999, this copy bore the original 1969 copyright.

I excitedly showed it to my mother. “Look what I found,” I said, “This is going to be awesome.”

She picked it up, flipped to the front cover, and laughed,  “My mom and step-dad had this on the bookshelf. My sisters and I would steal it and look things up.”

I expected some major differences. After all, this book was written in the pre-AIDS era. It was published the year of the Stonewall Riots. Sodomy laws were still on the books in every state except Illinois. It was before Roe v. Wade. The pill had been on the market for less than a decade.

In some ways, I was impressed. Reuben said that sex was three different experiences: a means f  procreation, a means of expressing love, and fun. Throughout the text, he encouraged sex for pleasure as a natural part of the human experience.  He argued that there was nothing wrong with the elderly having sex, and that it might, indeed, be beneficial. In some ways he was incredibly progressive, for example, suggesting that prostitution be legalized and monitored. He called modern sex education a joke and called for sex ed that included information not only on the physiology of procreation, but the physiology of orgasm. He viewed masturbation as a normal part of life, saying the only problem with masturbation  is our shame in it. Furthermore, he adamantly supported the availability of medical abortions and a strong supporter of a variety of birth control methods. Indeed, he even predicted the future, saying:

“What is needed is a retrospective method of conception control. In Japan, where birth control pills are not available, legal abortion fulfills that need. Modern chemistry is struggling to come up with a better way. The ideal drug is a morning-after pill. Taken anytime up to a week or so after intercourse, it would prevent the implantation in the uterus of the fertilized egg. With seven days to think of over, reason might prevail, parents might be a little happier, the children who are born might be loved a little more, and the world might be a little less crowded.”

But that is where my positive review ends. Even for being written forty years ago, some of the information is quite offensive and biased, not to mention downright wrong. I dog-eared the corners of the pages that hit a nerve. Probably half of the book is marked.

The male-bias is un-ending, the anti-women comments are rampant, and all homosexuals are promiscuous, danger-seekers who want to be women.

A few favorite bits:

“If the woman finds that achiving orgasm is only a matter of finding the “right” penis, she may decide to do something about it. The common name for this is nymphomania. The woman, unaware of the real nature of her problem, goes from man to man, cocktail party to cocktail party, looking for “real satisfaction.”

“Homosexuals thrive on danger. It almost seems part of their sexual ritual.”

“There is even a subcategory of homosexual know as the “S and M.” This is the one type of gay guy the others fear. Rarely will any homosexual knowingly pick up an “S and M. (“S and M” ? What does that mean?) Technically, sadist and masochist. Literally, trouble. These who combine homosexuality with sadistic and masochistic aberrations are among the cruelest people who walk this earth.”

I could go on with racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks from the book, but I will stop.

While I have not purchased the updated edition, and likely will not, I did browse through it on Google Books. While there is far more accurate and updated information on some topics, like abortion and STDs, the homophobic and sexist language remains. Clearly free speech is free speech, and a book can be biased against homosexuality. From an academic perspective, the 1969 text and the changes that have and have not been made say a lot about our society.

And so, this brings me to my Sunday Share. This book was a huge hit in its time. According to the all-reliable Wikipedia, it was the most popular non-fiction book of its era. For those of us in our 20s now, our parents would have been older children or teens when this book came out. How do you think the sex education your parents grew up with differed from the sex education that you received? How does this help explain, or complicate, the differences in you and your parents sexual  attitudes?

Note: The Sunday Share is a new idea of mine. I want to hear your thoughts, and this is to encourage you to share, whoever and wherever you are. Share publicly, share anonymously, or share under a fake name. I don’t care. Just share.

Are you a good sexual citizen?

With election season upon us, there is lots of talk of citizenship. Good citizens education themselves on the issues and the candidates. They vote. They share their opinions in a polite way.

However, the mainstream media isn’t talking about how to be a good sexual citizenship. Thankfully, Carnal Nation is. Check out the article “Random Acts of Sexual Citizenship.”

Do you follow any of their suggestions? What else should a good sexual citizen do?

Reconciliation (addendum)

In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to say that began drafting my previous post several weeks ago. Between the time that I finished drafting it and found the nerve to post it, Sinclair Sexsmith of Sugarbutch Chronicles posted an article entitled “Reconciling Feminsim & Sadism.” Like all Sugarbutch posts, it’s amazing and way more articulate than my own thoughts.

I especially like this sentence, “So that’s my last prescription for reconciling feminism and sadism: Ask yourself what your definition of feminism is. If you start digging to discover that you think feminists never, ever hit someone, or humiliate someone, or call someone a bitch, or shove a cock down a girl’s throat, well then, you are going to have some trouble reconciling those two identities.”

I guess what it comes down to, for me, at this stage of my life, is this: I have to remember what feminism means to me. It’s not always clear and simple, but when I boil feminism down to it’s purest forms, reconciliation is a hella of a lot easier.

Reconciliation

The major reason my posts have been so few and far between is that I am seeing someone new. She is amazing, intelligent, sexy as hell…and lives five hours away. Between the time I set aside daily for communication in a long-distance relationship and frequent visits to see each other, this blog has taken a back seat. Additionally, I’ve been thinking about things with her that I have been wanting to express, but unsure where to begin.

Now, we are having amazing sex. I swear she has my body figured out better than I have it figured out. Sometimes she’ll discover something I love that I never knew I would love. Or, she’ll discover something I love that I thought I would love, but I would never have shared.

That said, as our sex leans towards the kinkier side, we’re both struggling a little with the “I shouldn’t like this.” For me, it is a “I shouldn’t like when she hurts me like that” or “I shouldn’t be okay giving up control like this.” For her, and I’m speaking from my understanding, it’s a “Why am I okay doing this to her?” or a “I shouldn’t be okay hurting someone I love.” I’ve always know that I’ve had a submissive side, and she’s tended to prefer being a “top,” but I feel like I’m watching her dominant side appear and evolve. (She might say I’m giving myself too much credit here.  Either way, it’s sexy as hell.)

I’ve always believed that sexual pleasure can come in many forms. With informed consent between adults, I think almost anything flies. I’ve explained this to her and she understands. Still, we both have two decades-plus of societal conditioning. You shouldn’t hurt another person. Especially a woman. Especially if you’re a feminist. Sex should be loving. People who want to experience pain have mental problems. As a student of Women’s Studies, I’ve read scathing criticism of BDSM, especially BDSM within the lesbian community. All of this has influenced how we express our sexuality.

She has explained that she feels more okay hurting me than past partners because I “like it for the right reasons.” In other words, I like varied sensations in sexual play. I do not feel I am a lesser human being that deserves to be hurt. I feel like there is a huge difference between rough sex and self-harm, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that just because I can be sexually masochistic, does not mean I must also be self-injurious. (And this suggested correlation is what made me most uncomfortable with the movie Secretary, but that is an entirely different blog post.)

I came across the Lesbian Sex Mafia’s guidelines entitled “BDSM is NOT Abuse” and they succinctly stated what I both believe to be true and am struggling to fully articulate.

The Difference Between SM and Abuse

A Statement from the Lesbian Sex Mafia

SM: An SM scene is a controlled situation.
ABUSE: Abuse is an out-of-control situation.

SM:  Negotiation occurs before an SM scene to determine what will and will not happen in that scene.
ABUSE: One person determines what will happen.

SM: Knowledgable consent is given to the scene by all parties.
ABUSE: No consent is asked for or given.

SM: The “bottom” has a safeword that allows them to stop the scene at any time should they need to for physical or emotional reasons.
ABUSE: The person being abused cannot stop what is happenning.

SM: Everyone involved in an SM scene is concerned about the needs, desires and limits of others.
ABUSE: No concern is given to the needs, desires and limits of the abused person.

SM: The people in an SM scene make sure that they are not impaired by alcohol or drug use during the scene.
ABUSE: Alcohol or drugs are often used before an episode of abuse.

SM: After an SM scene, the people involved feel good.
ABUSE: After an episode of abuse, the people involved feel bad.

Now Linds and I have not said “this is SM.” It might be leaning towards it, but we haven’t used that phrase. Still, our sex occurs in a controlled situation where we’ve discussed our limits and desires. Consent is always requested. We have a safeword. We’re aware of each others triggers and genuinely concerned about each other. And most of all, we feel great after. As our relationship progresses, I think we are becoming more and more comfortable with the fact that how we feel is what matters most. Not only do we feel good after sex, we feel great. And it keeps getting better and better. If feminism is about empowering women to make their own choices and have equal opportunities (as I believe it is), then there is nothing wrong with making choices that make us happy. In fact, it is totally right to make choices that make us happy.

Speaking of Sex Education

When I turned on my computer this morning and opened my internet browser, the first thing that popped up was a news article entitled “DA’s sex ed warning befuddles Wisc. teachers, kids.”

So, what’s going on?

The District Attorney for Juneau County, Scott Southworth, sent a letter last month to area school districts warning that “health teachers who tell students how to put on a condom or take birth-control pills could face criminal charges.” What sort of criminal charges? Well, they could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, facing up to nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

I looked it up. The age of consent in Wisconsin is 18. According to the linked news article, children under age 17 who have sex with each other can be prosecuted as juveniles, while seventeen-year-olds who have sex with one another can be convicted as adults of a misdemeanor.

While, as the article states, Wisconsin schools are not required to teach sex ed, under a new law passed in February and backed by Planned Parenthood, schools that do must teach sex ed must adopt a comprehensive approach. They are to include “the benefits of abstinence, the proper use of contraceptives, how to make responsible decisions and the criminal penalties for underage sex.”

This puts Health teachers in sticky situation. If they teach sex ed, they legally need to include information on contraceptives, but, they are being told by the DA that including such information could result in criminal charges. Now Scott Southworth sounds like a bit of  nutjob, and I can hardly imagine that a teacher following state law and recent legislation would actually get jail time or a fine. Still, the implications are broader. Don’t our kids need accurate information? Aren’t most of us left sorely lacking, trying to figure it out on our own, for better or for worse?

Sex Education

The other day, one of my friends send me a desperate message. She’s nineteen, and she doesn’t want to be a virgin anymore. To simplify drastically, she was asking me, “How can I lose my virginity quickly and easily?” She’s is tired of being teased, or as she put it, “not considered adult.” She feels like her “queer cred” is constantly in question.

As you can imagine, this led to a conversation on sex and virginity. Ultimately, it became apparent that she has no idea about sex. She admitted it herself. I’m not just talking about sexual position or how to be a good lover, this 19 year old college student didn’t know her own anatomy. She didn’t know that you could have an orgasm without penetration. She didn’t know that muscular contractions come with orgasm.

There is something wrong with this picture.

I don’t care if you think sex before marriage is the greatest sin one could ever commit. I don’t care if you are asexual. Everyone, by the time they a teenager, should know about their own body parts. This knowledge is necessary for your own health.

She explained to me that she never had a good relationship with her mom. She had no female, adult role-model to teach her these all important things. She was sheltered. She didn’t learn it in school.

This got me thinking. Where do we get our sex education?

I had very open parents. They were always asking me if I had any questions about sex or sexuality, but I never took them up on the offer. Instead, I rolled my eyes, and said “Ew, gross!” When they pressured me, saying, “But you must wonder about something,” I’d reply with a quick “I know what I need to know. Thank you very much.” I was a smart ass.

So where did I get my sex education, if not from my well-intentioned parents?

In 4th and 5th grade, I took “the class,” along with every other miserable 4th and 5th grader. We were separated by gender. I learned that because I am a girl, I have a vagina. This vagina can created babies, and thus, I’m going to get my period soon. I also learned that it’s going to suck and I’m going to smell. To make up for that, we were given a brown paper bag with a maxi pad sponsored by Always, deodorant sponsored by Teen Spirit, and a scary booklet outlining the changes I should be expecting.

I attended a small, charter middle school. During my 6th grade year, I remember extensive debate among our parents over what middle school sex education curriculum would be used. Someone had suggested the Our Whole Lives curriculum, apparently developed by the Unitarian Universalists and United Church of Christ. I wasn’t supposed to know that they parents were debating this, but I was a smart kid. I realized they didn’t want us to learn about masturbation, homosexuality, rape, and gender identity, so I went and looked all of these things up in the dictionary and encyclopedia.

They never agreed on a sex ed curriculum, so my math and science teacher presented a biology-based unit. I was absent the day of the lecture, but I do remember a list of 50 terms we had to look up in the dictionary and define in our own words. A few terms I remember: penis, vagina, ovaries, semen, gonads, puberty. That was a fun project for an eleven year old. I learned lots of words, but still had no idea how they fit together.

In 10th grade Biology, we also had a unit on reproduction. Once again, I was absent on the day our teacher lectured and they day we watched a human birth. I did hear that he drew a diagram of a penis and a vagina with an arrow indication how the former fits in the later. (Oh, so that’s how they interact!)

My high school was pretty liberal and wanted us to grow up to be responsible adults. One year, we had a “Healthy Decision’s Fair.” From that, I learned that I shouldn’t do drugs or I’ll end up like the burnt-out kid sharing his life story, I shouldn’t drink and drive or I’ll die, and I shouldn’t have unprotected sex or I’ll get some horrible disease. Technically, Florida schools can only present abstinence-only sex education, although my teachers told us in no uncertain terms that they assume most of us are sexually active and that we could go to the neighborhood health center next door for free condoms, as well as birth control and sexual wellness exams at low or no cost. So we went next door, got free condoms, filled them with water from the campus water fountains, and enjoyed some water balloon fights.

While I may have gotten more formal sex education than some, I tended to miss the important days. It took me a long time to transform my understanding of anatomy and biology into an understanding of how sex actually worked. How did I finally figure it out? The internet coupled with a healthy dose of HBO’s Real Sex on overnight school field trips.

I’m lucky that I was a smart kid. I had access to a computer and I was able to separate accurate information from total crap. I found useful sites like Scarleteen. I got a lot of my questions answered through the columns on woman-friendly, queer-friendly sex toy shops like Babeland and Eden Fantasys. I read a bit of erotica and figured some things out through internet kink communities.  I also had smart friends, were, as a whole, were pretty comfortable talking about sex. I finally knew for sure what sex was, and my thoughts on in were pretty positive and pretty open-minded.

As for my practical sexual education, that gets a bit more complicated.

My first sexual experience was at age sixteen. I had a girlfriend, and we were both terrified of our own bodies, let alone somebody else’s body. While we were intimate, I don’t think either of us knew what we were doing. It was a lesson in frustration and uncertainty.

After that relationship, I didn’t date for a while. I had enough to figure out, so I put sex and sexuality on hold. On my nineteenth birthday, my sexual desires kicked in to overdrive. I’d say that’s when I got my practical sex education. It wasn’t intentional (at least I don’t think it was…), but I discovered the joys of older women. They knew what they were doing. They were comfortable in their own bodies, and they made me feel comfortable in mine, not to mention sexy, beautiful, and confident. It might not have been the most “politically correct” thing, but I was legal (albeit barely) and they were legal, and we were consenting adults, and it was fucking amazing.

Back to the initial subject at hand, I managed to convince my friend that she need not go out and lose her virginity to prove anything to anyone. Although, I told her I could fully relate. I remember the desperate need to figure out my our own sexuality and sexual desires (it wasn’t very long ago). However, it seems to happen in it’s own time, when the time is right. And it seems to happen when you have the knowledge that you need.

That brings me to my questions for you: Where did you get your sex education, both theoretical and practical? Was it what you needed to know? Did you know it by the time you need to know?