Tag Archives: sex positive

S-E-X (Americans are stunted adolescents)

This country has a sex problem. Our culture doesn’t have a healthy relationship with sex. We are obsessed with it, but ashamed of it, and only certain people (white men) are allowed to express their sexuality without an array of consequences. In the name of ‘decency’ we censor, and for the children we slut shame (meanwhile we leave our kids in the dark with abstinence only education that leaves them completely unprepared to deal with sex or intimacy.) We are not honest  about the realities of human sexuality in the 21st century.

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Unfortuately while we are all yelling about how shocked and offended we are, we are also watching an unbelievable amount of porn and demanding that celebrities give us salacious details about their sex lives. The latest example of this is a story that just broke: Nick Jonas ‘I’m no Virgin’.

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Stop the presses! This 22 year old dude with a rocking body and lots of money is sexually active?! How can this be?! Why do we cccccaaaarrrrreeee?

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We care because we forced him and his bandmate brothers to say they had purity rings when they were The Jonas Brothers because of the widespread assumption that Christian morality is the best/only morality. We really do love to sexualize teenagers as much as we love to make them tell us they aren’t having sex (Brit Brit, Timberlake, Miley, etc.) So now that (obviously) that purity ring nonsense is over, we feel entitled to an update. But we aren’t entitled to an update. The sex life of Nick Jonas does not belong to us, it is not ours to know or comment on. I know that sex is exciting and fun, and I don’t think we should never discuss it. But we discuss it in such adolescent, immature ways. The very idea that this is news reveals how very middle school our cultural conversations about sex truly are.

Now, lest we think this issue is too straightforward, it is also worth pointing out that we don’t talk about sex in the same ways when we talk about male and female celebrities. Nick Jonas is having a sex symbol moment right now (remember these), and this news will not result in any back lash (maybe some religious nuts, but his career won’t be damaged in any lasting way.) Let’s contrast that with another star who is having a pretty successful moment: Tay Tay. Ms Swift has the only platinum album of 2014, and just became the first women ever to replace herself at #1 on the Billboard charts.

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But Taylor’s career has consistently been undermined by a media who is obsessed with her love life. She draws from her life to write songs, as most folks do, but in Tay Tay’s case this results in constant speculation about who she wrote about and who’s she is with. She has even been ridiculed, called a man-eater. And most disturbingly, some religious conservative a-holes have denounced her as a slut and a harlot, saying she is a bad example for young girls.

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First of all, Taylor is an adult that can do whatever the fuck she wants with her body. So keep your slut shaming judgements to yourself. But what is even worse is that these out spoken fanatics are assuming that they know intimate details of her sex life. Being linked to someone in the tabloids doesn’t mean you are sleeping with them. Dating someone doesn’t mean you’re sleeping with them. Kissing someone doesn’t mean you are sleeping with them. Hell, even sleeping with someone doesn’t mean you are sleeping with them. So I wish these folks would actually get their minds outta the gutter (isn’t it ironic that those who rail against something the loudest are usually also doing that thing behind closed doors?) and stop assuming that they know Tay Tay’s life.

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I’m just over the media prying into the sex lives of stars and reporting all the salacious details. It’s like trying to peep through a locker room window. It’s not shocking or surprising that grown ass really beautiful people have sex. It’s not a surprise that underneath their clothes, celebrities are naked. They have bodies. Whoa! There is no way that we are going to be able to teach ourselves and the next generation how to have a healthy and positive relationship with our bodies and sexuality if we don’t cool it with this kind of journalism. It may be fun to watch Nick go from curly-headed boy band teen to uber-hottie, but we don’t need to pry into his love life to enjoy his music (or his abs.) Taylor’s romantic life may inform her music, but the real story is her catchy songs and her record breaking new album, not her past paramours. Luckily, she knows how to one up that haters and make an amazing video for her record breaking single that shows you exactly what you want. Enjoy, and stop being such a perv.

 

Sex Spreadsheets are Bullshit. Grow Up.

So recently this spreadsheet went viral. A spreadsheet.

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I’m already annoyed.

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First of all, what kind of passive aggressive bull shit is this? Are we 12?

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Here’s a newsflash: if there is something going on in your relationship, the quickest way to make it worse is to place the blame entirely on your partner and then EMAIL them a document you made specifically to shame them. How about being an adult and having an actual conversation with your partner about why you’ve been going through a dry spell? Because here’s another newsflash: your partner doesn’t owe you regular sex. Sex is a collaborative, cooperative experience. Your sex life is not static and it is not guaranteed. Just like other aspects of your relationship, it changes and evolves  and will require effort to be maintained. It’s an important aspect of any relationship, sure, but it’s not the only one. And given that the sex is dwindling and their communication obviously stinks, I’d venture to say that this couple has lots of other issues. I’m just so freakin’ annoyed by this guy I can hardly stand it! Have a conversation! Think seriously about why this may be occurring, including how you yourself may be contributing. Grow the fuck up. (Note: this goes for all people creating sex spreadsheets, cause apparently it’s a trend happening now ew gross come on guys, seriously.)

one more eye roll. cause ugh.
one more eye roll. cause ugh.

Speaking of how you may be contributing: some responses to this story have tried to maintain the pernicious myth that women are less interested in sex than men. I’m here to tell you that this is nonsense. Many have pointed to the orgasm gap to help explain women’s perceived disinterest. The orgasm gap, according to a recent study, is the fact that women are having 1 orgasm for every 3 that men have. Which just makes me so sad. And before you start with me, let’s clear some things up. Women are not ‘more complicated’ than men, anatomically speaking. Women are able to achieve orgasm at the same rate as men when they masturbate, and indeed women in same sex relationships have orgasms at the same rate as heterosexual men. It’s also not true that it takes women longer to achieve orgasm, because when masturbating it takes women and men the same time on average: 4 minutes. All it takes to make a woman cum is willingness, and basic understanding of female anatomy (because the clit isn’t hard to find, but it is absolutely necessary.)

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translation

Alright so we’ve cleared up the myth that women are harder to please sexually. So the orgasm gap isn’t natural and it’s not acceptable (or is shouldn’t be!)  As it stands, this gap can explain part of why women may seem less interested in sex than men. But another important factor is how we raise men and women differently when it comes to sexual self expression. Boys are allowed to be outward in their expressions of sexuality, and in fact expressing sexual desire is seen as a sign of a healthy young man. Men can brag about their sexual encounters, and their orgasms are an assumed part of ‘sex’ in the accepted cultural narrative. Girls, on the other hand, are raised knowing that for them, sexuality is shameful. Not only is too much desire or too many partners evidence that they are slutty, it can also be used to justify sexual violence. For women, one of the first ways they learn about sex is to fear rape. And it is crystal clear that they are partly responsible for preventing rape, by controlling their own behavior; not dressing too provocatively or getting drunk or “leading men on”.  All of this adds up to confusion, because we also teach girls that their worth can be measured by their perceived ‘fuck-ability.’ They must be available to give pleasure, but they must not want or seek pleasure too obviously. And there is not a single piece of sex education that teaches about women’s pleasure, so we don’t learn to make our pleasure a real priority. Add that to the lack of value we place on women’s bodies overall, and the picture is bleak.

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Listen guys. Sex doesn’t happen like in the movies. Two people, even if the chemistry is great, don’t always hit a home run the first time. Or the second, third, etc. And sometimes, if you’ve had the same partner for awhile, your sex life can hit a slump or a drought or whatever. Because sex is about more than just orgasms, it’s also about intimacy and communication and closeness. And your sex life doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and real life can get crazy. Awhile back I was working 2 retail jobs and my schedule was insane. I was working 6 or 7 days a week, often 10 or 12 hour days. And indeed, my sex life with my partner took a hit. I was exhausted, and I also didn’t feel good about myself (no yoga, crappy eating, no sleep, you get it.)

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How did my partner respond? (HINT: it wasn’t by blaming me passive aggressively with a spread sheet of entitled anger.) He asked a simple question, over drinks: What’s up with our sex life? And I’m not saying that was an easy conversation, but we kept drinking and throwing out ideas, we laughed a lot, and we were willing and honest. We didn’t yell, or blame each other, we didn’t take ourselves to seriously and we never for one moment assumed that it should be easier. It meant a great deal to me that he was able to be vulnerable about how he was feeling, and that he wanted to work together to keep this part of our relationship vital. That conversation was the first big one we had about sex, but it wasn’t the last, and we will need to keep talking and laughing over drinks from time to time so we can keep the spark alive. And hopefully we won’t only check in when things get rough, because even when things are good there is room for improvement (*wink*), and when times are good the pressure is off. It shouldn’t feel like torture. Communication can even be sexy! Take a deep breath, retain your sense of humor, and remember that you’re on the same team.

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It’s true there should be magic, but the magic can’t be taken for granted. You need to work to maintain it. And nothing kills the magic like taking your partners body for granted, or feeling like they ‘owe’ you more than they’re giving. Sexual pleasure isn’t a right you automatically have in a relationship. It’s a gift that partners give to one another, through practice and empathy and consideration and enthusiasm and vulnerability and creativity and collaboration. If you aren’t getting it, you might wanna reflect on whether or not you are giving it.

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it takes effort. nick names. lingerie. whatever works for you, plus enthusiasm. get ’em Bey.

Stick to that Letter: Key & Peele cunnilingus skit

I laughed out loud, at my desk at work, while watching this. Before we discuss it’s pros and cons, lets just enjoy the comedy, brought to us by Key & Peele on Comedy Central.

Alright, alright alright. Catch your breath. Let’s start with the good stuff. First of all, any entertainment that portrays a sex education class for men with the goal of encouraging enthusiastic partner pleasuring is a WIN. Using humor to encourage mutual satisfaction is great. And some of that advice is actually quite accurate (don’t focus only on the clit, make letters with your tongue, gauge your partners response and stick with what is working). If you have an aversion to a particular act, maybe explore why that is. You of course have every right to say ‘not for me’, but especially in the case of cunnilingus, the issue deserves some thought, since culturally we aren’t taught to appreciate female anatomy or pleasure. Sex should be fun, and it should feel good, for all parties involved. There is no set script to stick to, no correct order, and no limit on what you can do (besides consent. It’s gotta be consensual.) Let your imagination run free and have fun!

get hype!
get hype!

But. It fell short for me in a few places. The word ‘bitches’ is just so jarring, when it’s used so often in such a short clip. I know they are playing characters from a very specific cultural segment, but I thought it was a bit much (although ‘learn your bitch’s snowflake’ was PRICELESS.) It’s a harsh word that doesn’t evoke respect or caring, and I think using ‘woman’ or even ‘lady’ could still have worked within the character’s universe. The only other moment I wish hadn’t happened was the line ‘Penises are easy. Vaginas are hard.’ Because that is just not true. The anatomy is different, sure. And it is true that penises are external, so visually they are easier to see and handle. But vaginas, labia, clits and g-spots are really not difficult to navigate. It may be true that female-bodied folks need more stimulation time, but I don’t have actual stats to back that up, and if they do THEN SO WHAT?! Take your time. Vary from the oh so boring script that is disseminated in mainstream porn. Act with care and enthusiasm, and notice to your partner’s response. Don’t assume all your partners will want the same choreography or timing, be ready to switch it up pay attention to everyone’s cues.

omg PREACH
omg PREACH

EPIC ADDENDUM: That advice works for all gender variations, so I think we all need to grow up a little bit and block out sexy fun time and freakin’ GO FOR IT. Don’t be scared to make mistakes, be open to feedback and trying new moves, and most of all up your enthusiasm. Pleasure for pleasure’s sake is a worthy endeavor, so broaden your horizons/challenge yourself to be a better partner/leave shame at the door/wild out. It may take time, and serious work, but I’m hopeful a more sex positive world (free of shame and violence) will emerge in the near future. *Note: This ending paragraph applies to everyone everywhere regardless of sex/gender/sexuality/any other demographic factor. Get. Into. It.

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**2nd Note: I know how optimistic/idealistic/borderline nuts that last sentence sounds. But hey, a girl can dream.

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‘Yonce All On His Mouth Like Liquor ;

First post back and I’m about to go hard about what has already been well tread territory for a few weeks now: the goddess Beyonce and her surprise new album. Lots of people, especially the feminist media, have weighed in, and now it’s my turn to add to the convo.

Here’s the thing about this album. We could talk about how brilliant it is to drop it with no notice (because she is BEYONCE and needs no introduction), to create a visual for each song because she understands how visual the current technology driven culture is, how those videos further give her control over her image and brand (a control which she is often criticized for, but which I think is incredible and empowering), and how generally savvy this move was.

But that’s not why I’m so hype.

We could argue about how enraged I become at some of the criticism leveled her way. That she is too cold and controlling, when a woman so completely in control of her public image is actually quite a slap in the face to patriarchy and the male-controlled music industry at large. That she doesn’t write her own songs, and so she is an ‘entertainer’ not an ‘artist’. First of all, she does write. Second of all, writing songs vs performing as the marker of true artistry is a completely arbitrary distinction. It is not the case that one is more authentic or difficult than the other, and to say so reeks of all kinds of weird prejudices.

But I’m not here to argue. I’m here to talk about why we should all be amped about this release.

I’m hype because she continues to be a dominant female force in a world where many females, even if they seem dominant, and largely puppet-ed and exploited. I’m hype because she is a black woman creating a cultural moment that is undeniable, demanding of our attention, a show of total strength, control, and confidence.

And I’m hype most of all because this album is dripping with sex. But its not the kind of sex we usually see. When you look at other sex kittens of our time, from Brit Brit to Katy and even Tay Tay (though her whole appeal and genre are in a different category), the sexuality that is created and consumed is strikingly adolescent. These are images of young girls, who even when they are no longer teenagers cling to that aesthetic. Katy prances around amongst candy, with huge innocent eyes and lyrics about ‘teenage dreams.’ Brit came to rise in a school girl outfit and continues to wear skimpy clothes without convincing anyone that she is enthused about it (or about making music in general.) The music is about flirting, about boys and first love mistakes. And I like it. But this is the only kind of sexuality we are shown in pop culture, and it is stunted. Even Taylor, who I would argue pulls no punches and speaks truthfully about her experiences (which she is criticized needlessly for) is still talking about young love. She doesn’t really come off as in control. And there is never real talk about what women want, sexually, from men. It’s all batting our eyelashes and wondering what he’s thinking and does he like me and am I good enough and I’m totally the best girl for you look at how shiny and fun I am! To be fair, the portrayals of male sexuality are not any better (BLURRED LINES UGH) but that’s another topic for another day. This body of work that Beyonce has created is a different kind of sexy. She is a woman. A woman over 30. A mother. A wife, to a black rap icon/mogul. And she is at the peak of her sexiness. And she is owning it. This is nothing less than completely revolutionary. Sure, you may say, she is still trying to be beautiful and fits mostly within the confining and un-diverse beauty standards we force on women. But this isn’t entirely true. Her body isn’t typical, the variety of looks she can pull off isn’t typical, and the use of feminist voice overs and unapologetic strength while still being almost painfully sexy is not typical. Unlike the other ladies I’ve mentioned, there is nothing girlish about her. Her demands, and her ass(ets) are undeniable, forceful, and unapologetic. Complaining because she still looks amazing is to ignore the fact that she is still trying to sell a product in an industry whose main currency is image. But she is EXPLOITING this. She controls her image in a way that artists like Miley only claim to do. I don’t believe for a second that Miley feels totally in control of her career, her body, or her image. She is a kid making mistakes and trying to find herself, and that’s fine. But when the feminists come to her rescue against the slut-shamers while ignoring the ways that taking your clothes off is still problematic and so is appropriating black culture, they are missing the point. Beyonce lets you hear Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie define feminist in the song Flawless. Are you listening? (Ok I can only find the preview which doesn’t have the voice over cause she HANDLES HER CONTENT so enjoy)

 

 

That voice, over the image of her dancing fiercely and declaring herself flawless from the moment she wakes, is a fucking powerful statement. Moreover, her sexuality in the context of her marriage is extremely powerful. White feminists aren’t seeing the whole picture when she deride her for using the ‘Mrs Carter’ name. Black woman are statistically less likely to get married, and live in a world that portrays them as animalistically/dangerously sexy, single mothers, or as raising other people’s kids. You can’t separate her identity as a woman from her identity as a black woman, and in this context her marriage and motherhood are powerful cultural symbols. They don’t symbolize settling or limiting herself, which is crazy to even say BECAUSE FUCKING LOOK AT HER. She is at the top of her game. This is not a case of internalized misogyny or a lack of self awareness. She knows exactly who she is, and to come out with this album as a married women demanding to be idolized, fantasized about, and satisfied by her man, is so amazing and sex positive that I can hardly watch the videos without exploding from joy. This is truly a woman claiming and in control of her sexuality and sex life. Watching other artists prance around scantily clad and claiming to feel empowered looks silly after seeing this album. Hearing stunted claims like ‘Oh I got what you want, I got what you need’ is laughable after watching her expose herself, and be vulnerable, while demanding satisfaction. This is the kind of sexuality I want to see more of, and it should be celebrated. It is bold, and brave. It’s  fierce. She is setting a new standard for black female sexual empowerment, and we should all take note, listen, and admire. After all, she demands it.