Friday, December 30, 2011

Yes Means Yes: Female Submission Fantasies

I am currently reading Yes Means Yes, and my favorite chapter (and probably most relevant to this blog) is the chapter on female submission fantasies. I actually thumbed to this chapter when I first picked the book up from the library, and I have been excited to write the post on it since.

The title of the chapter said it all to me the first time I read it: "The Fantasy of 'Non-Consent': Why the Female Sexual Submissive Scares Us (and Why She Shouldn't)."

The title captures so many of the feelings I have had since realizing that I love being submissive during sexual encounters. I can definitely be an equal part to sexual decision-making, and can definitely be assertive and enjoy being so, but there is nothing quite like being told what to do or being handled in a way that capitalizes on my submissive side. However, I have felt since realizing all of this that this part of me scares me. What does this mean for how I identify as a feminist? Does this mean I have bought into a culture that says woman are supposed to be submissive and men are supposed to be dominant? Have I internalized a deep sense of sexism, which now turns me on? The last part of the chapter title made me relieved: I shouldn't be scared of my own desires and fantasies, and I don't have to be. Thank god.

The central idea of this chapter is similar to Dan Savage's idea of "suspending disbelief." I am not really giving up all of my power during a sexual encounter, and I am not really "not consenting" to an encounter. It is more about buying into a fantasy for a short period of time so that I can live out that fantasy in a safe and consensual way. 

Stacey May Fowles (author of the chapter) discusses how, in the BDSM community, a "non-consensual" scene has parameters set before the scene is acted out: there are clear boundaries and rules, each person has a role to play, and safe words are set. In this way, a "non-consensual" scene is quite the opposite, and person acting in a submissive role (the one "giving up" all of his/her power) is actually the one holding the power during the scene. 

Fowles argues that mainstream porn, as part of a larger rape culture, is partly responsible for the belief among many feminists that the image of a female submissive is horrible: you simply cannot be a feminist and believe that rape is wrong while also believing that female submissiveness can be a consensual part of female sexuality. 

I think that if we critically think about our fantasies, accept the fact that our fantasies are influenced the families, schools, religious institutions, and cultures that raised us, and can plan thoughtful fantasies that include clear boundaries and roles for those involved, then those fantasies can be healthy parts of our sexual experience. Which is good news for me, since being submissive is such a turn on for me and a huge part of many of my fantasies. Not only that, but I can still call myself a feminist! :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Power of F.E. & Merry Christmas!

Well, it's happened. I officially broke my computer, and it wasn't from watching "gangbang" porn.

J and I were camming with our sexy Alaska friends, and he decided to have them watch me FE. Mind you, we have tried this once before and my FE screwed up J's mousepad on his computer. Using rubbing alcohol on the mousepad seemed to fix it that time. BUT THIS TIME, we are pretty sure my FE flew across the keyboard and landed in the tiny crack separating the keyboard from the hinge of the laptop, frying some RAM or something. Who knows. My computer made some high-pitched squeeling noises for a while- it sounded like a pig dying :-( At least it was really hot, and our sexy friends said it was a beautiful money shot!

Anyways, we will be off the day after Christmas to go to the Mac store... and hopefully we can dodge the question of "So what exactly happened to your computer?"


Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all of our sexy friends! And go enjoy some sexy times! (But try not to break any expensive electronics while doing so :-)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Open, by Jenny Block

I just read Open by Jenny Block- read and finished it in one day. It was that good (and yes, I am on break, so I have nothing else going on, but I would have read it that quickly anyway). This book complemented The Purity Myth; I had gotten less than 20 pages in before she quoted Jessica Valenti, and discussed the issue of virginity and hypersexualization of young women.

I can't believe the similarities in our stories. The differences in our stories is nothing new to me; no one's open relationship is the same as any one else's. But her sentiments toward growing up with double-standard and conflicting messages (virgin-whore), toward enjoying casual encounters with a variety of people, and toward her realization of her attraction to women resonated with me. Another topic that she discusses at length, because it is central to why she needed to open up her marriage, is that of her and her partner/husband's vastly different sexual libidos. I could relate immediately with this, as J and I have fairly different needs when it comes to touch and frequency of sex. Our libidos have been more in sync since opening up, but there are still times when I feel wanting more touch; the way that Block described these feelings was so similar to how I would describe them. Reading her book felt at times like looking at myself in a mirror. I felt like many of the words she wrote regarding her path toward an open relationship were very similar to the words I would have written.


Her story is so simple and yet so complicated at the same time. It is yet another variation on the open relationship concept; J and I have yet to hear of another couple whose open relationship is modeled exactly like ours, or was motivated by the same reasons. Reading Block's story, however, increased my sense of security and comfort in doing what J and I are doing and my sense of community.

The one thing I disagreed with was Block's attitude toward talking about her intimate relationships with her daughter. I realize that at the time of writing, her daughter was 8, and I agree that she probably doesn't need to know about her mom's sex life. However, I don't think there is anything wrong with her daughter knowing that both her mom and dad love other people like they love each other. Block expresses relief at the realization that her daughter doesn't think of Block and her girlfriend as anything more than "best friends" who sleep over at each other's houses because they are best friends. I think Block may be missing the boat on reshaping the way a younger generation views normalcy in intimate relationships. Maybe her philosophy has and will change as her daughter becomes older and doesn't fall for the "mom sleeps over at Jemma's house because they're best friends" story. The reason why Block and myself and so many others that we have met have had such interesting journeys is partly because of all of the work that we have had to do in unlearning so many cultural myths and stories about love, sex, and relationships. It has no doubt been interesting, but why force the next generation to figure it out on their own? We teach our children values around so many other things; if we ourselves lead open and honest sexual and romantic lives, why wouldn't we also impart those values to our children?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Virginity Definition Update

As J and I were talking today on our way to the gym, he helped me with my definition of virginity. He ascribes to Dan Savage's point of view on virginity: that you can be a vaginal sex virgin, an oral sex virgin, an anal sex virgin, an S/M virgin, a D/S virgin, a "kink" virgin, etc. According to J, if someone told him that s/he was a "virgin" he would automatically ask some more questions to get at what exactly that means. What have you done/tried? What haven't you done/tried? How do you feel like a virgin?

Part of my discussion from my post yesterday was concerned with demystifying virginity, making it part of normal human growth and transition. Practically, though, I like J's understanding of virginity better. In fact, it makes the idea of sex more exciting in a way: I have done X, Y, and Z, and I haven't tried A, B, and C. It also allows for a nuanced understanding of what virginity is, and that it can take many more forms than just penetration that breaks the mystical hymen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Purity Myth

I just finished reading Jessica Valenti's The Purity Myth (thank you L for letting me steal that from you over break!! And here is the post you asked for!). It took me just a few days to finish it; I basically tore through this book. It spoke directly to my experience, growing up in a liberal household and religious community and in a conservative Christian town, while also receiving popular culture messages surrounding sexuality. I received the very message Valenti discusses throughout the book: "good" girls wait to have sex until marriage, "bad" girls don't wait. I did receive a more nuanced message from my parents (wait to have sex with someone that you love and loves you back), but the overall attitude in school among my peers was pretty black-and-white. Girls are no longer to be admired if they have sex; you are now a slut/whore/easy, etc. Girls who remained in Christian youth group, who attended church, who had the jock boyfriend, but who stopped sexual activity before it reached vaginal intercourse were still "pure" and "good." I remember hearing about girls who had oral sex or who were fingered in movie theaters or who had sex, or who got pregnant, and they were severely slut-shamed in whispers. However, I recognize I had a somewhat different immediate peer group: band dorks. Tina Fey's Mean Girls got it right: band dorks are probably some of the most sexually active kids that I knew in high school. My best friends in high school were in band (like I was), and they had sex around the same time I did. It was something that we went through together, although it did take me a while to disclose the information to other close friends for fear of slut-shaming.

I decided to use Valenti's questions for discussions at the end of her book to talk about the themes I read about. So much of the book was shocking and overwhelming that it will help me give some structure to this post. While I already "knew" much of what she discusses, the clarity of her writing and severity of case examples overwhelmed my initial brainstorming for how I wanted to respond to the book.


Defining virginity is difficult for both J and I. I think I would define it as the period of pre-pubescence, when the idea and/or practice of sexual activity has not become a part of day-to-day mind activity and/or physical activity. I realize this is pretty open and perhaps vague, but it makes so much more sense to me then claiming virginity is somehow linked to the first time one engages in some sexual practice. I would liken virginity and loss of virginity to passing through puberty. I think defining virginity this way takes away a lot of the power that the virignity movement has ascribed to virginity. If virginity was thought of as a similar biological, physiological, mental, emotional process as puberty is, it no longer has some religious, mystical, and powerful hold over a very real and inevitable transition that humans go through. I think before opening up our relationship and critically thinking about so many different aspects of sexuality, I most likely would have answered this question very differently. I probably would have defined virginity as the state before one has vaginal intercourse, even though before I would have thought this was a ridiculous definition. I just didn't really know how to have a more nuanced and creative definition.


Valenti is big on the idea that women should be brought up to recognize that many other values, besides purity, define them as human beings. Women in our society are seen and judged in terms of their sexuality: virgins are good, sluts are bad. If you have had sex, you are dirty, and that's that. If you wait to have sex until you are married, you are a pure and moral woman. Being respectful, open-minded, community-minded, optimistic, and hardworking are values that I would hope young women have instilled in them. I would hope that women can grow up to be critical thinkers and reflectors, capable of engaging in thoughtful dialogue and creating meaningful relationships. None of these values or abilities are dependent on sexual activity; sexual activity and one's sexuality is one part of one's experience as a human being. And although I would argue, and I think Valenti would argue as well, that sexuality is a hugely important aspect of being alive, it should not be the sole defining factor in judging a person's worth.


The idea that female sexuality is "dirty" is something that still affects me. Every time I discover a new fantasy of mine, I have to actively work through the validity of that fantasy: is this okay? Is this wrong? Should I be allowed to do this? And every time I go home or talk to my mom, I realize that topics come up that make me feel guilty or ashamed of exploring my sexuality. Most recently, while visiting for the holidays, J and I went to a new sex store. When we came home, my mom asked what we had been up to and I told her. She said, "Oh, oh, I don't know want to know." It made me feel like sex is something that polite people don't talk about, that respectable people don't talk about, that good girls don't think about. Critically thinking about this concept of female sexuality as "dirty" has been important for me in my path toward sexual fulfillment and happiness, and being able to understand the need for others to seek out sexual fulfillment.

One really interesting aspect of Valenti's book is the idea of the virginity fetish (fetishizing young girls and women). According to Valenti, this fetish with young girls and women as "pure" is just as dangerous as the hypersexualization of girls and women. Both fetishes are consumed with female sexuality and controlling and molding it to fit a certain image: virgin or whore.


Creating a more positive vision of women's sexuality, while not sexualizing youth, means giving youth and young women accurate and sex positive information so that they can decide for themselves whether or not to have sex. It means treating the topic of sex as a normal part of the human experience: it can be positive, negative, mistakes can be made, and lessons learned (although we need to continue to work to dismantle the system of patriarchy that still allows the pairing of violence and sex). It means teaching all youth how to safely have sex, how to prepare for both emotional and physical consequences of having sex (both positive and negative), and how to maturely and appropriately negotiate sex- and not only birth control usage, but learning how to communicate what kinds of sexual activities are wanted and needed to make the experiences enjoyable. Creating this kind of sex positive culture means engaging both men and women, and not only creating a positive image of female sexuality but dismantling the stereotypical image of masculinity. It means getting rid of abstinence-only sex education, which is based on treating female sexuality as dirty and wrong and something to be saved for a husband, and telling legislators that laws should uphold and strengthen the legal and medical rights of women.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I Was Tied Up All Afternoon...

Read this on my new site, SexualityReclaimed!

***

was J's joke all day. "Haha, did you tell your supervisor that you didn't finish grading the finals because you were 'a bit tied up'??" Haha, very funny J!

I had one of the most amazing experiences a couple of days ago, and I am still on a high from it. I modeled for a professional Portland rope artist and photographer. It took about 4 to 4 1/2 hours, and was one of the best ways I could have spent an afternoon. I wish the shoot, and my rope stamina, could have lasted even longer!

Originally, I planned to take J with me; I wanted to feel safe and comfortable during my shoot, and I also didn't want to go to some person's house by myself so I could be blindfolded and tied up. Because J had to take finals (damn you, finals!) I asked one of our very sexy friends to accompany me (thank you so much again, L!!!). By the time the day arrived for the shoot, I was not concerned about safety because this particular photographer is well-known in the Portland kink community and is reputable, but I still wanted someone with me to increase my sense of comfort. I was more nervous about this because I had been tied up at our sex club the week before and experienced some panicky feelings, and had needed J to sit right next to me while my breathing normalized. So I am really grateful (and so is J!) that we were able to ask a sexy friend to go with me :-)

The setting for the shoot was at first perhaps a little creepy... down in his basement. Extremely cold concrete floors and a solitary beam that I was often in front of. He used cross-lighting to make a sort of gloomy lighting that contrasted with my body, and the raw pictures I saw on his camera were pretty spectacular.

He was an excellent communicator, highly respectful, understanding, and very patient with me. He was also of course an excellent rope artist. The poses and ties he made were beautiful and amazing to be in. I had four successful poses that he took shots of, all of which made me feel vulnerable and beautiful. One I was sitting in front of the beam with my arms tied above my head. Another I was kneeling in front of the beam, leaned forward, and with a piece of bamboo acting as a spread bar. The third I was on my stomach in a hog tie (J's favorite!!). The last one I was on my back with my arms tied behind my back, one leg bent and tied to itself and the other leg straight. I loved posing for this one; I loves arching my back and letting myself feel so exposed and cold. We tried a couple of suspension poses (a side suspension and a hog tie suspension), but they were too intense for me. It is an amazing amount of pressure to be hanging from the ceiling by rope! I cut myself some slack since I have only been tied up a few times, and all of those times they were arms-behind-the-back sort of ties, not suspension or full-body ties. I definitely want to be suspended at some point and I definitely would shoot for this artist again. 

I have been on a such a high, not to mention extremely turned on, since I did this. I can't believe this is such a thing for me now, but I love it, and I can't wait to keep exploring what rope play does for me!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Excellent Guide to Understanding & Managing Jealousy

I found reading the following post by Kathy Labriola, a Berkeley counselor, amazingly helpful in my continued work on jealousy:

http://www.cat-and-dragon.com/stef/Poly/Labriola/jealousy.html

Reading this made me feel strong; sometimes confronting and managing jealousy can make me feel small and little and weak. But reading all of her advice, tips on communicating, and successful stories of people who work through jealousy made me feel energized to continue working through jealousy. Sometimes I feel like jealousy issues are hush-hush, like it's such a "nasty" feeling and we just don't talk about such things. But it is so helpful for me to talk about it, and hear how other deal with it. When people pretend that it doesn't exist or that they have never had jealousy issues come up, I feel lonely in my process. Kathy's guide made me feel in community again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Female Condoms!

First watch this: 

"It felt really good!" Haha! I have been repeating that, British accent included, all day! It cracks me up :-D
J and I tried out a female condom- it actually did feel really good! It felt good to insert it (I liked the feeling of J gently pushing the ring and condom inside until it hit my cervix), and it felt better than a male condom for J... the first couple of times we used them, it did feel a little awkward (maybe even a little like an insertion of something at a hospital, haha), but after it was in, I could hardly tell the difference between a male and female condom.

In group situations (for example, FMFs or GWs) we see the female condom (versus a male condom) as potentially a superior condom to use. It would make it easier to switch between partners in an FMF, and may lesson performance issues during a GW. Also, we think that using female condoms might lesson performance issues for men in general, especially in group situations, since sometimes simply the act of putting on a male condom can turn an erect or semi-erect penis into a flaccid one. Bonus: the female condom is made of polyurethane and so it's safe for those with latex allergies, and has a thinner, more sensitive feel than latex condoms. J thinks that the sensation of the female condom feels more natural, but also has some added friction and heat making it feel highly pleasurable.

The female condom protects against STIs and pregnancy, and it seems like it would protect against even more skin-to-skin transmitted STIs since more of the vaginal area is covered. The outer ring lays outside of the vagina and covers the lips.

We tried stopping by one of our local Walgreens to buy some: they didn't carry them!! So we went through Amazon to buy a couple of packs, and also found them at one of our other Walgreens... where they were placed near the register, with the candy bars instead of with all of the other contraceptives. There were only two packs left, too! It is really surprising to me that they aren't in more widespread use, given their level of protection, usability, and feel. Go female condoms!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dating as a Bi Girl on OKC...

Sucks!

No, no. It doesn't suck! It is a lot more difficult, though, to actively seek women out than to find a dude. I thought for a few days that it would be as difficult for me to find a girl as it is for J. I changed my identity on OKC from "straight" to "bi" a couple of weeks ago, and thought I would give girls a week to message me back before I wrote off the OKC explorations. I messaged about 10 women and didn't receive a message back from any of them.

But... on Monday, I was contacted by a gorgeous woman. So I can't write OKC off just yet!

And, yes, I have now gone on a solo date with a woman. And it was incredibly awesome and awkward at the same time.

I was having dinner with someone J is seeing right now. I explained to her my apprehension about going on a date with a woman, and her advice? "Wellll... it's kind of like going on a date with a guy... except it's with a girl."

I say: easier said that done. Especially since I am still a leetle unsure about how I truly identify. If I knew "I am bi, I love being with women, I am sexually attracted to women, etc., etc." then I don't think it would be as strange for me. But my thought process is more like this: "I have had a lot of fun being with women in group situations. I have had one sort of one-on-one encounter which was amazing. I get turned on thinking about specific women I know. I think I have a type I am more attracted to. But I'm not really sure. Am I actually attracted to the idea of being alone with a woman and engaging in a relationship with her and kissing her and having sex with her?"

Short answer: I don't know.

I do know that all week long, in between the time this lovely person contacted me and the actual date, I did fantasize about talking to her and taking off her shirt and making out and more. Starting the night before, though, I became extremely nervous. What the hell am I doing?? I don't know what I want! An hour before I was supposed to meet up with her, I started getting a stomach ache and I lost my appetite. Yikes.

Thankfully, she was very sweet, very respectful and intelligent, very pretty, and just as nervous as I was. Her nervousness put me more at ease. It was her first date with a woman as well, and so we were able to experience that newness together. I think I do want to see her again, and I am also apprehensive about feeling so nervous and jittery. I don't know if it is because it is just so new, because I know somewhere deep down that I am not that attracted to women, or if I am actually really attracted to her and like her...

I ultimately decided that I didn't feel the right "click" with her to pursue a relationship. After talking with J and sexy friends about the situation, I decided to craft a rejection email as nice as possible. And, I received a similar email back from her. At least the feelings of off-chemistry were mutual...

K's bi adventures continue! :-)

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Raunchy Birthday Morning

Happy Birthday to J! 

It was J's birthday a few days ago... And awaiting him when he woke up was this:


Awesome, right?? :-D A little GW porn, his favorite sleeve, and some nice lube make for a wonderful solo morning! Especially on a birthday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

We Got HUMPed!

I can't believe we almost missed HUMP (The Stranger's amateur and locally-produced porn festival) because I got food poisoning the night before. It was unbelievable! (HUMP, not the food poisoning.) I loved it. So did J. We just sat there the whole time, enraptured. We laughed, said "what the hell?!?," cringed, and got turned on. It was awesome. Not to mention, Dan Savage was at our screening to introduce HUMP. He is so cute!!!

Both J and I loved "Centaur." It was completely made-me-cry-hysterical. We want to share it with others so badly, because it was just so darn funny. However, one of HUMP's mottos is "Porn star for the weekend, not for life," and so the video is gone, gone, gone. The women in the film had the best dead-pan faces and the best lines. Some of our favorites (note: not actual quotes. We did the best we could from memory!):
"I shimmy up his back and sit on his face. . . He likes this."
"His cum tastes like mountain spring water. Which is good, because there's a lot of it."
"His penis gyrates and the end of it vibrates. . . I guess it's a little like my vibrator."
"He is in the great room preparing for battle. I try to seduce him, but he yells at me 'No, woman, I am preparing my sword for battle!!'"

I wasn't surprised at all when I was turned on the whole time. Not because I was attracted to all of the videos or the people in them. In fact, some of the videos didn't do anything for me. But again, I think it might be related to the whole notion of women being more easily turned on by sex in general; even watching sex in claymation between centaurs and women turned me on.

Which is why I was not surprised at all that one of the videos that turned me on the most was called (I think) "Sex on the Beach." It was a cartoon for god's sakes. But, it featured two things that turn me on a ton: gay sex, and GW sex. And, baby, it worked for me.

One that I thought was particularly well done was "Pedal to Pleasure." It featured a beautiful woman who rides her bike into the countryside and masturbates. It was one of the most, if not the most, authentic orgasms I saw in the festival.

Our friends had told us to watch out for the piece called "Knife." I was nervous for this one. But... while I was on the edge of my seat the whole time as the woman's partner traced a knife around on her bare skin, I understood the power play. And I liked it. I didn't like it when he put the knife in her vagina. But that's just me.

J got turned on by far fewer and a different bunch of videos than me. He liked the Furry sex video, largely because the woman was hot. Yeah, she was. He also really liked the Miller's Daughter because the figures were ambiguous but also attractive and featured young, possibly experimental, and therefore, probably exciting, sex. This was really interesting to me; this was one of the videos I did not like as well because of the animation. But I understand better now why he liked it.

Of course, the video "Teenage Dream" was awesome. It was clearly very-well done and looked like a professionally-made piece. Even though it never showed actual sex, there were plenty of naked men rubbing each other in the shower to make me happy.

"Don't Call Me Missy" was also one of our favorites because we have a personal connection to the film. I honestly don't know how I would view it if I didn't have that connection to it because the fighting and intense physical power play doesn't turn me on. But because I know what it does for the people in the video, it makes me really happy. Because it was our second time seeing it, we weren't shocked to see the slapping, body slamming, and crazy wrestler moves. But it was so much fun to see it on the big screen and hear the reactions and laughter among the audience. And I am pretty sure I fell asleep that night with the song used in the video playing on repeat in my head.

We don't want to "out" our good friends without their permission, but they got a really high award for their entry! We are so proud of them!

I never thought I would say I was "proud" of friends winning an award in an amateur porn film festival... But there you go. I am very proud! Very proud and very happy! :-D ... I can't wait until HUMP 2012!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sheldon the Wonder Schlong

J named my Avatar cock Sheldon. "When Harry Met Sally" anyone?? :-D

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sexual Violence & Rape Culture

I was recently hired as an intern for a small nonprofit working on sexual violence prevention. I am really excited to work with them on their awareness campaigns, fundraising, curriculum development, and starting a local chapter. Being hired has given me pause to reflect on sexual violence and how it relates to my experience negotiating and navigating our open relationship.

I grew up with very clear ideas about sexuality from my mom. Because she (and her siblings) was molested for a number of years by her stepfather, she had a very clear message to send to me and my sister about sex: it should always be consensual and caring. Consensual sex was the only kind to have; if I didn't want to have sex for any reason, then I shouldn't have it. I should never feel pressured for any reason to have sex. Interestingly, I found out last weekend that my mom and dad did not have premarital sex. They dated for two years before getting married, and while my mom would sleep over at my dad's apartment, she always slept on the couch. When my dad first told me this, I thought he was lying because he was embarrassed to be talking to his daughter about sex; well, he wasn't. My mom's traumatic childhood forced her to vet her future partner for as long and as best she could before allowing her body to be open to someone else again.

My experiences with sex, thankfully, have never been on the negative end of the spectrum. I have always had consensual and caring sex, and it has always been a clear choice for me to have sex or not (an exception to this is if I count my first anal sex experience as non-consensual, which I do some days). Opening up our relationship was easy in the sense that I have had only positive experiences with sex; I have never worried about my psychological or physical safety or health when getting naked and inviting someone to touch me and sharing my body and self with someone else. My positive sexual past has allowed me to explore other positive sexual experiences. Unlike my mom and others close to me, I have not had to do the difficult and painful work of confronting a non-consensual sexual past or experience to move forward in order to have positive experiences. This recognition is partly why I am so determined to help re-shape our culture around patriarchy and sexual violence.

Critically thinking about my fantasy for multiple men-single woman encounters (which I refuse to call a "gang bang" for much longer- it reminds me too much of gang bang rape; thus, my insistence for people to call it something else!! Goddess Worship works!) through this lens of sexual violence is so interesting. I am just so curious about where this fantasy came from. Is it our rape culture? (Rape culture refers to our cultural acceptance and tolerance for violence-physical, emotional, psychological- against women, sexual objectification of women, etc.) Or is it more related to my growing awareness of my sexual role as a sub? I definitely would not like or want a goddess worship experience where there was violence or disrespect involved. My attraction to the goddess worship experience seems to be from being a major sub, and just wanting to get a bunch of guys off in the same night. I get totally turned on thinking about giving all of the power in that situation to J (however, this is in the vein of the "suspending disbelief" that Dan Savage talks about- I know I could still totally stop anything I didn't like. But suspending belief for an encounter, and playing into the power play, definitely turns me on). But I wonder how media messages around men being dominant and women being submissive, and the cultural acceptance of that traditional relationship between men and women, have affected me. I am also curious about how porn and erotica have influenced my perception of this fantasy.

I got quite an extensive reading list from my supervisor, and I am excited to read through some new books, and report on related ideas. Some of the titles are: Yes Means Yes, The Purity Myth (this is the one I am most excited about!), and Transforming a Rape Culture.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Talk Dirty to Me Baby!

Since opening up, J and I have had more sex, better sex, and expanded our sex to include other partners, which has also led to more and better sex, both for us individually and together as a couple.

One thing has spiced up our routine in particular: talking during sex. And I am not talking about the kind of talk we used to have during sex (Hey! Did you see that article on NPR today??... Oh wait! Did you remember to turn off the porch light?... Oh shoot, I just remembered something I was supposed to do before bed)

I am talking about dirty talk. After reading The Ethical Slut, I realized how important it was to be able to name body parts and actions during sex, so that my partner could know what I wanted. I wanted the same communication in return; tell me what you want, using the words and phrases that turn you on. Engaging in this has led to more satisfying sex for both of us, because we are no longer embarrassed to say what we want. We actually turn each other on more by saying out loud what it is we want and like.

We have since decided on the words and phrases that we like to use: Pussy. Ass. Cock. Go down on me. I want to swallow you. Cum on me. I like it really wet. 

We also share our hottest fantasies during sex. We talk about Goddess Worship almost every time, or at the very least, MFMs. We talk about tying me (K) up, about J going down on my avatar cock, and power play. We talk about our anal play and fantasize about double penetration (DP). We fantasize about having partners that we are so extremely comfortable with that we don't have to use condoms with them (which, we have found out, is a fantasy for other couples we know well...)

It is crazy to me now how we never talked about these things, and hardly tried new things during sex. When I moved into my first apartment in college, we were really turned on all the time for various reasons: I went on the pill so we started having sex without condoms (which was awesome), and we had more space and privacy. We bought my first vibrator, bought a couple of books on erotic massage and tantra and sex positions, and had a lot of sex. But our sense of adventure and excitement about sex together certainly dwindled between then and when we opened up. It was certainly never bad sex; it just became less frequent and our routine didn't change much from time to time. Now we have so many things to say and do that I know I haven't been bored with the sex we have since early April! 

Dirty talk. I highly recommend it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Going Home & Not Coming Out

I (K) am home this weekend. Being in my old bedroom, here without J, has given me pause to reflect on opening up. 

Here was my first moment: at dinner, with my parents. I mention casually, without thinking, that I was telling J that he needs to take more clothes to school with him so he looks presentable; I am looking out for him because there are cute girls in law school. My mom gives me this look. "Well, I'm sure they're not cuter than you. He better not be lookin' at them!!!"

I had this very intense moment of silence within myself. What? This is how far I have come. I want J to look at cute girls if he wants to. I don't want him to stink, for fear of scaring off said cute girls.

Up until that moment, I was debating whether or not to come out to my parents, and tell them about our open relationship. I kept thinking, maybe they will understand, maybe they won't. I want to tell them, I am scared to tell them, it will be a long conversation, I don't know what to do. In that moment, I think I pretty much decided not to tell them. Just yet, anyways.

I feel so weird; I can't answer questions honestly. Why were you up until 2am the other night? What is J doing tonight? Uhhh...

Being open and not open at the same time is causing me some internal distress. More on this to come, I'm sure!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Anal Sex Experiences

This is a post partly inspired by the work of James Pennebaker, who has done a lot of research on writing as a means to express emotion, and to ultimately lower stress experienced from past events. I also wanted to explore my thoughts more on how anal play fits into my present and future sex life.

My first serious boyfriend in high school was sort of a jerk. He was one of those jerks that made you feel special if he was talking to you. My mom liked him; she thought he had an "open" face. He was generally respectful and considerate. His mom made us fried rice. He never had a curfew. He spent practically all of his time, money, and energy on his teal Chevrolet truck, which, incidentally, had its own tiny version of itself. The miniature teal Chevrolet truck sat on the dash, reminding me every time I got inside to go to a football game or to a movie, that perhaps this person I was dating was not the most mature person in the world. (But then again- I was in high school)

This was the person I first had sex with. It was very cliche. After prom. In his uncle's Escalade. He bought condoms on our way home from prom. We parked in a public park's parking lot and had sex in the back seat. I was 15. He was 16. 

I remember feeling so turned on, and so ready to do it. My mom and I had talked a couple of months before. She told me that if I needed birth control when I was in college, that she would be able to help me with that. I thought to myself, what a cool Mom! I felt supported, which also helped me feel ready with my decision. I felt like I was being safe, I was having very consensual and loving, respectful sex. I felt positively about my decision, and looking back, it still feels like a positive and healthy experience.

Anyways, after our first time, we couldn't wait to do it again. (duh) But finding the right time was always so difficult. I had the strictest curfew of anyone I knew. I could hardly go over to a friend's house without getting five phone calls from my parents. We had to design an elaborate plan: I would get permission to spend the day with him going on errands. We really did do those things, too. Visiting relatives, going to the bank, grocery store, etc. Except we stopped by his empty house in the middle of the day. 

We started in his bedroom, where we started with vaginal sex. Because he had a small bed, we moved to his parents' room... I remember feeling guilty and ashamed for lying to my parents. I remember feeling uncomfortable with how sneaky I was being. So I probably was not turned on. I wanted to have sex, but I think that those negative feelings definitely impacted my experience.

In his parents' room, I can't exactly remember what happened, and what was said. I don't particularly remember his asking me if he could try anal penetration, but he might have. What I do remember is him penetrating me anally, me feeling a deep sense of shame, and him pulling out after 10-30 seconds. I was shaky and guilty. I didn't know what had just happened. We took a shower to rinse off. I know I didn't orgasm at all from our second experience, and I remember really intense feelings of remorse.

I started reading Tristan Taormino's The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women this past week. Since J and I have opened up and had so many explicit and honest conversations with one another about our desires, fears, boundaries, and fantasies, I have felt exponentially more comfortable with the idea of trying anal sex again. I honestly want to try it again, and reading Tristan's book has been a liberating experience. For example, this paragraph spoke to me since it is pretty much what I experienced:

"Some people's fears may be about anal sex being difficult, uncomfortable, painful, or impossible to enjoy. Women especially often veto anal sex because of a negative experience in the past. If a past partner tried to go from zero to sixty in five seconds by sticking his dick in your ass without warm-up, lube, or communication, then chances are it hurt a lot and you never want to do it again. Bad sexual experiences are difficult to overcome: who'd want to repeat something awful? Your partner needs to reassure you: this time, with him, it will be different. He'll take his time, use plenty of lube, and work your ass up to his cock. You will be in control of the pace, and he'll stop if you say so." (p.21)

Since starting her book and having more conversation with J and our other partners about anal, I am so excited to work on warming up my mind and body to anal sex. J and I have tried a little anal fingering, and some slow full penetration. It feels good, and I also know that taking even longer to warm up, getting really turned on, and practicing to relax my muscles and mind will make it an even more enjoyable experience. I am so grateful that J and I have been having the conversations and experiences that make it possible for both of us to more fully process and move forward from our past experiences.

Monday, November 7, 2011

One of My Favorite OKC Messages

You have a favorite sex club? Isn't that unusual for someone your age? 

Couples Counseling: Communication

J and I recently had our second couples counseling sessions. We decided to talk mostly about communication issues, especially surrounding how we communicate with one another when one or both of us is upset.

It's an interesting topic for us, and an issue that we have both come a long way with. We are sort of like polar opposites when it comes to communicating when, and why, we are upset. I like touch and emotions and hugs and to be soothed, and that is my natural instinct for how to act when someone else is upset. J likes his own space and to process things on his own first, before having a more rational and logical conversation; this is also his natural reaction to someone else who is upset.

It took us a couple of years before we really figured out how we naturally operate, and how that was causing us more issues. If he would get upset, he would want his own space, and I wanted to hug him and soothe him, but he wouldn't want that, which would hurt my feelings and I would get upset, which would make him more upset. Or if I would get upset, he would give me space (too much space by my standards), which would make me more upset, and so he would give me even more space.

In the past year or two we have both come a long way in bridging that divide. I am better about giving him space when he needs it, and trying to not prod him too much with questions. He is better about touching me and letting me be emotional when I am upset.

When we are both upset is a different situation. It's as J described it to our counselor- like trying to push two opposite magnets together. We came up with a possible solution to try next time we are both upset. J can have his space, and let me know that in about 10 or 20 minutes (or however long) he will come back, give me a hug, and talk with me about whatever the issue is.

We realized that we may actually need a counselor who works primarily with clients in open relationships, since often (especially in the past seven months or so) the issues that make one or both of us upset is related to something that is part of our open relationship. I can safely say that they are often my issues- jealousy or insecurity issues related to dating or playing separately or minor tweaks resulting from group situations. It can be difficult, we realized, to know how much of those situations to bring up with a counselor, who says that she believes open relationships are valid and viable, but from what we can tell, is very much monogamously married. If we said, "I felt hurt when you did X when the four of us were having sex" we think she might just drop her jaw and not know what to say. I guess we are just not sure how explicit we can be during our sessions with her, and that it might be more beneficial for us to engage with a counselor who can offer specific solutions and proactive ways of dealing with the issues arising from being in an open relationship.

It was helpful to actively reflect on the work we have already done with how we communicate. I have gotten better at actively communicating my feelings, being assertive, and understanding J's boundaries when he is upset. He has definitely gotten better at empathizing and touching, and learning that when I am having irrational moments, that all I need him to do is listen. We both believe that continuing to build our communication skills is invaluable, and continue to work on strengthening that part of our relationship.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Christopher Ryan in Person!

Christopher Ryan was in town this past week! And we got to go see him, along with 600 other fans. He was down-to-earth, funny, and knew his audience. He even said, You all didn't come here for me! You came here to meet each other!! How adept, C.R.! J and I did notice a lot of attractive and young couples, and a lot of fit and attractive older couples (where are all of you??)

It was an awesome way to brush up on some basic Sex at Dawn facts, buy a new copy of the book, and have the author sign it for us. I loved seeing the other Sex at Dawn paraphernalia. I was tempted to buy one of the shirts that read "Wake up to Sex at Dawn," but honestly didn't know where I would wear it, except for going to another one of his lectures... or when going to bed.

With our new copy in hand, I think I may have to re-read all or parts of it. One of my favorite lines: "If fear is removed from jealousy, what's left?" (p.148) I am looking forward to hunkering down with this book again, in our 58-degree apartment, with our electric blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. Because nothing is sexier than that. :-)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Avatar Cock: First Experiences with a Strap-On

J had been wanting me to get a strap-on ever since I had realized that I am turned on by sex with women. I decided it was a good idea, too. I haven't had a lot of sexual experiences with women yet, but I thought having one more possibility of how to please another woman sounded like fun!

And so last week, we went together to a nice sex toy shop to investigate the different kinds of dildos and harnesses. I am so glad I got the advice of a couple of friends first (thank you H & C!!), because I literally had no idea what kind to get. The person working at the shop was also very helpful. After about 40 minutes of perusing the different kinds, we ended up with a double-ended dildo with a vibrator, so that the penetrator also has some physical sensations and pleasure associated with using it.... Basically, it is awesome. And blue. So it looks like I have an Avatar cock!

Which just totally adds to my dorky enjoyment of the whole experience.

Anyways, J convinced me to get a really nice harness, which also added to the enjoyment. Really soft red leather. Mmmm, delicious!

Dan Savage is totally right when he says women should use a strap on at least once, to understand what men are doing. OH MY GOSH. It is work!! I am used to laying there and hardly doing any real physical work (I mean, some work, but not compared to using a strap on for penetration!!). My arms got tired from holding myself up! I actually started to sweat a little, my heart rate went up, and it wasn't just from being pleasured!

I definitely also experienced a new feeling of vulnerability, in the sense that I really had no idea what I was doing with it on. I am not used to thrusting like that, and when J had me practice the motion, I felt like a total dork, and I looked like one too! We laughed a lot. Thankfully, I think I got the hang of it fairly well, considering I had never used one before. Communicating with my partner about what felt good was key; I couldn't feel what was going on at the other end! All I had were verbal cues to know whether to go faster, slower, harder, softer. It was a constant check-in process, and one that I think will have to continue because of the lack of nerves in my Avatar cock. I will always have to check in about how it is feeling for the other person, and when we switch positions, I will have to be communicative about how it feels for me.

I also have to talk a little about my seemingly uncontrollable reaction to putting the dildo in and walking around with it... I felt powerful. And I really wanted J to... well, go down on me. That is, I wanted to see him bend down and suck and lick on that thing! Is that a crazy, weird, some sort of penis envy, power play thing??? I really don't know, but it felt so different. And cool. And I highly recommend it. And I can't wait to use it again!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Flow


The idea of "flow" comes from Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, a Hungarian positive psychologist. I have come across this idea a few times since I started grad school, and I think it is worth a post. It is a state of consciousness so focused that you are totally absorbed in an activity and lose track of time. It is a state of complete engagement with life in which you feel strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and at the peak of your abilities. You are highly challenged by a particular situation, but also highly skilled at experiencing it, resulting in a peak level of confidence and satisfaction. The idea is to try to figure out which activities in life you feel like this, and to try to spend as much time as possible doing these activities. It is also worthwhile to try to re-frame everyday responsibilities and tasks as ones where flow is possible. 


I have tried brainstorming when I experience flow: baking, jogging (sometimes! when I have great energy), swimming, biking to school, dancing at our club (especially in the cage!), and having a spectacular night/weekend of sexiness, cuddling, eating, and sleeping with sexy friends.

I have noticed that since J and I have opened up, we have spent a lot of time with new friends, doing both sexual and non-sexual activities, and almost always lose track of time. We are both just having so much fun getting to know new people, emotionally, mentally, and sexually- I know I feel like myself and confident and happy. And we have definitely invested a lot of energy into making these situations happen as often as possible, because we have so much fun! It makes me even happier that we opened up, reflecting on how good we both feel spending our time and energy on getting to know other people and cultivating those relationships.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Relationship Counseling

J and I decided to start seeing a couples counselor, mainly to help ask questions we perhaps haven't considered with regards to getting married and the negotiation of our open relationship. We wanted to find someone who supported people in open relationships, especially since I has had some less-than-supportive comments from my individual counselor. For example, my counselor has said a few times that I should be prepared, because of our open relationship, that J will meet someone else he likes better and leave me. However, everyone, regardless of being in a monogamous or open relationship, has to be prepared for that possibility! J would also argue that because of our open relationship, we are at less of a risk for that, because we are both more satisfied with our relationship and feel more strongly connected to each other. My counselor had also assumed that our open relationship was an "experiment" until she finally asked me if we were planning on carrying it into a marriage, at which point I felt some more judgement from her.


Anyways, J and I decided that finding a counselor who specializes in LGBT counseling would be a good place to start. It took calling down the list, but we finally found someone who could see us soon and also was comfortable with and supportive of open relationships. I had one counselor who I called who, after explaining to her what we were looking for, said, "I'm sorry, that's not my forte" and hang up. Yikes!


The counselor we saw decided after our first appointment that we will basically walk through premarital questions, but not make our open relationship the focus of our sessions since it isn't causing any problems for us. I think that approach makes sense; our open style is one, although a fairly huge, part of our relationship, and we can negotiate and answer premarital questions as they are informed by our open relationship. Our main concern with this particular counselor is that she hasn't had a lot of experience working with people in open relationships. Hopefully she can still be as supportive as she says she is!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rope Play: An Update!

Here is our long-awaited update to our first rope play post....

We finally got K tied up!! 


There is an older man who frequents our sex club who has been tying up women for years. He is actually the same person who did the initial rope-on-wrist demonstration for us, and showed us that we might actually like it. Well last night, he offered to tie K up so that J could play with her that way! It was AWESOME. We even did it on the orgy bed, adding a thrill to K's exhibitionist side!

I (K) was nervous. I didn't know if I would feel suffocated or claustrophobic. But J was there and of course I trust him and we communicate well, and this man is very experienced and always keeps scissors on hand. So I went with it!


I could see in J's eyes how exciting it was for him, too. It was almost animalistic, the glean in his eyes. It turned me on so much to see that! Every time some of my skin was pulled or a new twist to the rope was made, he got excited. He was also involved in tying me up, helping hold rope away from my body, and watching his face while I was kneeling on the bed getting tied up was completely satisfying for me.

I got tied up with my arms folded behind my back, and rope supporting and crossing my chest. I even had some rope in my mouth for a little bit. A "handle" was made on my chest so that J could grab, pull, and push my body however he wanted to. He also had a piece of rope that could be hung from a hook above and I could be forced higher up (I wasn't hanging but could be pulled up to my tip-toes). It felt exactly like how I had romanticized Jasmine feeling in Aladdin when Jafar has made her his princess/slave (weird? maybe I should look up some erotica like that...)

Anyways, after I was all tied up (I'm not even sure how long it took- I felt like I was in a timeless space!), J and I made out, he fingered me, and then I went down on him until he came. We wanted to have intercourse doggy style, but we couldn't figure out this first time how to have my head and neck supported (next time, we are planning on having my arms tied up above my head and doing at least missionary!!) It was all so different without the use of my arms and hands, and feeling totally controlled by J (although, of course, I could have stopped it at any point by saying our safe word). Being so submissive definitely turned me on, and I also loved the feeling of the rope tight against my skin. Letting myself feel that vulnerable and exposed was truly amazing. The whole experience spoke to our intense level of communication and trust; I felt completely safe and was so excited to be in the position I was in. Not only that, but the exhibitionist aspect completely turned me on! I loved that people were watching us.


Our only disappointment is that we didn't get a picture of the beautiful job our friend did.... It was an intricate and lovely design and would have made a nice addition to our sexy photos! But we are planning on exploring this more, and know there will be a next time when it comes to rope play!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rational Emotive Therapy

I have been seeing a counselor for about six months, and started seeing her for body image issues. I have a tendency to ruminate, and thoughts become easily ingrained in my head. Thoughts will go round and round, in an automatic and cyclical fashion, and I often have a hard time breaking the pattern.

My work on body image thoughts has come a long way since then, and I credit rational emotive therapy. RET is the process of analyzing thought patterns to identify irrational thoughts, and to consciously and actively address the root irrational thoughts to create healthier and more rational thought patterns.

Unsurprisingly, I have found that this same RET process is helpful for me when I have jealousy issues come up. Often for me, jealousy and insecurity issues are related to irrational beliefs like "I'm not good enough," or "I'm just ugly" or "he likes her more than me." Even when I know a belief is not irrational, per say, it can help to address them in a more rational manner. Beliefs like "He will leave me for her" are not irrational: many people in both monogamous and open relationships leave their partner for someone they like more. J and I believe, though, that we are taking a lesser risk with our open relationship, because we are both more satisfied with our relationship than before, making it less likely that either of us will leave. Even though a belief like "He will leave me for her" is not irrational, because it could happen, RET helps me to address is calmly and reflectively, and to look at how feeling that way affects how I think and act and also how it then affects my relationship with J. I can then choose a different feeling, and a different way of thinking and acting.

In any case, the following series of questions have been extremely helpful for me in getting past certain situations that trigger jealous and insecure thought patterns. They are helpful in many other contexts, and I suggest the exercise to anyone who gets stuck in a rut with unhelpful thoughts!

Write down the following:
A. Triggering Event
B. -Rational Thought
-Irrational Thought(s)
C. Consequences of the irrational thought(s) (how does it make me feel, think, act, etc.)
D.-Choose the irrational thought
-Is there any truth to this idea? (my answer is pretty much always "no" to this question; otherwise I am not confronting the root irrational thought)
-What evidence exists for the falseness of this idea? (what rational thoughts and other things do I know to be true that contradict this irrational thought)
-What evidence exists for the truth of this idea? (the evidence for truth often lies in what I have convinced myself of, or from what I have chosen to believe taught to me by society, media, etc.)
-What is the worst thing that could happen? (i.e., if I continue to believe this irrational thought)
-What are some good things that might happen? (i.e., if I choose to not believe this irrational thought)
E. -Alternative thoughts
-Alternative emotions


I keep a journal of these exercises, and it is so interesting to me how my thought patterns are stubborn and static; they hold on fast and change very little from time to time that I write. However, it was amazing to me how quickly, relatively speaking, my negative body image self-talk reduced after doing these exercises every day. It makes me hopeful for reducing any jealous or insecure self-talk that I run into. I am able to rationalize my feelings, and consciously weigh the costs and benefits of feeding or cutting off those feelings.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Judgements

J and I have noticed a couple of related odd trends among some people that we have talked to in the "open relationship" community.

There seems to be a tendency for some open folks in general to look down at people in monogamous relationships, and also a tendency for people in polyamorous or polyfidelitous relationships to look down at people in open relationships who have more "casual" ties to their other partners.


The first tendency and trend is weird to me, because up until six months ago, I had lived a life of serial monogamy. I know what our society, media, families, and religious institutions teach in terms of what a healthy relationship is (monogamous, long-term, etc), and I remember not questioning any of that. (J, however, had questioned these ideas). I don't think most people will question the issue of monogamy unless there is some catalyst that requires them to think about it. I do not think that I (or anyone else for that matter) am in a position to judge our friends and family in monogamous relationships for how they form their relationships. As long as relationships are healthy and satisfying, it doesn't matter what form they take. I can still judge other relationships in the sense that I can differentiate the values that those relationships are based on, but I don't think I have the right to form and hold harsh opinions about other relationships.


The second tendency and trend is frustrating on another level. People in open relationships are already a minority in our society. Why must we divide into even smaller groups? Just because people in polyamorous relationships have different boundaries and rules than people who "swing" with their partners, and different boundaries and rules than people who have a group of friends with benefits, does not mean that any one group of people is "right" or "wrong." They are just different. And again, as long as relationships are healthy and satisfying, it doesn't matter what kind of boundaries and rules dictate the form open relationships take.


Part of my excitement about building a community of sexy friends is the opening up of a quiet minority group. I feel proud of where J and I are, and I am proud of all of our friends that have gone through similar conversations to be where they are with their relationships. I feel aligned with almost everyone we have met who are also in open relationships. Even if other people have very different rules and boundaries for themselves and their relationships, I respect and value learning about other open relationship styles and teaching others about ours. I in turn expect respect from others, and it disturbs me when I hear and see other people in open relationships de-value and disrespect what we, or others, do because it doesn't exactly match up with what they do.


These trends remind me of how broader minority groups in our society sometimes team up and sometimes don't, and how it always makes more sense to me for minority groups to align themselves even if there aren't the same exact values at play. It just doesn't make sense to me for people in open relationships who identify as one way or another, or who have different rules and boundaries, to focus on our differences versus our similarities and strengths as a community.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Helen Fisher TED Talk on Romantic Love

Alright, so I know that I (J) have not posted anything on this blog for over a month, but that doesn't mean that I am not constantly thinking about open relationships and non-monogamy. I just don't have time to post my thoughts as often as I would like.  

I often listen to and read articles that present opposing viewpoints in order to deconstruct the messages and remind myself of the societal messages that reinforced my societally expected monogamous life for 22+ years before embarking on the difficult but rewarding journey of creating an open relationship.

I recently watched a TED Talk by Helen Fisher that stirred up a powerful emotional response because I was just so taken aback by her point of view.  The TED Talk is available at http://www.ted.com/talks/helen_fisher_tells_us_why_we_love_cheat.html and I strongly encourage anyway who follows this blog to go and watch the TED Talk because it is fascinating. It is fascinating not because of the ideas that Ms. Fisher presents but rather the manner in which she presents her ideas.

To get the most out of the remainder of this post you will almost certainly need to watch Ms. Fisher's TED Talk. Ok, so now that you have watched that. . . here we go. I am going to list off the problems that I see with Ms. Fisher's TED Talk.

1) Ms. Fisher is an ANTHROPOLOGIST. I expect an anthropologist to more carefully consider the way that science is impacted by cultural ideals and values. It seems to me that Helen Fisher set out to prove specific things rather than conducting research and then drawing conclusions based on what she found. Helen Fisher seems to want to prove that 1) romantic love exists, and 2) it exists as a means of bonding a man and a woman who can then have sex and raise a child. Ms. Fisher's entire TED Talk merely reinforces long-believed scientific theories about men and women and relationships and the reasons for them and does not add anything new to this discussion or present the information in a new or thoughtful way. Even if Ms. Fisher is not a cultural anthropologist (I don't know what kind of anthropologist she is) I would at least expect her to acknowledge the impact that her beliefs and that society at large can have on the research that she chooses to conduct and the conclusions that she ultimately draws from the research she conducts.

2) Adultery. Ms. Fisher makes a comment about how women often ask her, "Why is it that so many more men than women are adulterous?" Ms. Fisher responds to this comment by saying (paraphrasing here), "Who is that these people think that men cheat with? It is simple math that if all these men are cheating then there must be just as many women cheating. It is simple math!" I find this comment disturbing in several ways. First, it is not simple math that just because a man cheats there is necessarily a woman cheating.  Many men may be cheating with the same women who are cheating or perhaps men are cheating on their partners with women who are not cheating (either because they are single or in open relationships) or, perhaps, men are cheating with other men! It is disappointing to me that Helen Fisher so greatly simplified and misused statistics because I expect more from a professional researcher.  

3) Orgasm and Oxytocin: Ms. Fisher has a brief discussion about the fact that men and women experience a release of oxytocin into their bodies upon orgasm. This is absolutely true and there is significant evidence to back her up on this point. Her conclusion from this is that men and women are not really capable of having casual sexual experiences with people because the release of oxytocin will cause a bonding whether or not they are prepared for that. I think I can safely say to our readers. . . SERIOUSLY?!?! K & I have experienced lots of very deep and meaningful sex and we have also experienced amazing orgasms where we would not be distraught/depressed if we never saw the person again. Once again, this seems like an attempt by Helen Fisher to draw a conclusion that supports her worldview rather than questioning all of the evidence that suggests that the release of oxytocin really is not a very powerful bonding agent (think for example of the high rate of divorce, people who have casual sex partners, swingers, etc.). What Ms. Fisher ultimately concludes from her discussion about the release of oxytocin being associated with orgasm is that it is meant to bond a man and woman together so that they are able to raise a child. However, Ms. Fisher acknowledges in a separate point in her TED Talk that the strong initial feelings of being in a new relationship (often called New Relationship Energy) usually fades in 1-2 years. Considering a gestation period of 9 months for humans, it hardly seems that the release of oxytocin being associated with orgasm supports the idea that men and women will be bonded long enough to raise a child at least in terms of how we view child-rearing today. (Generally it is not considered sufficient for a man to help raise his child until the child is 3-15 months old before leaving.) I think this is yet another point in the talk where Helen Fisher takes solid scientific data and uses it to support her view about relationships and the "purpose" of romantic love.

4) The part of the TED Talk that inspired this entire blog post is the part that follows. However, I must preface this part with a little information about Helen Fisher's theory of love. Fisher believes that humans have three different brain systems at play when people are in love: lust, romantic love, and attachment. She explains that the three brain systems are not always aligned and that it is possible for people to feel intense feelings in one or more areas for different people at the same time: "You can feel deep attachment to a long-term partner while you feel intense romantic feelings for someone else, while you feel a sex drive for people unrelated to these other partners. In short we are capable of loving more than one person at a time. In fact, you can lie in bed at night and swing between deep feelings of attachment to one person to deep feelings of romantic love for someone else. In short, I don't think that we are an animal that was built to be happy. We are an animal that was built to reproduce." Ahhh! Oh no, Helen Fisher, WHAT HAPPENED?! I thought Fisher was about to make a profound breakthrough about how our society doesn't support our natural urges, but instead, she concludes that we are not meant to be happy! Instead of questioning the societal norms that make this unacceptable, she concludes that humans were not "built to be happy." It is because of this statement that I argue that Ms. Fisher is caught in a paradigm; she has conducted scientific research that causes her to conclude that humans are capable of loving multiple people at the same time but instead of questioning the societal norms that make this unacceptable she merely concludes that humans were not built to be happy. Why does Ms. Fisher (an anthropologist) so quickly jump to the conclusion that simply because humans are capable of loving multiple people, they are also not meant to be happy?  I would like to use the research that Ms. Fisher has gathered which has caused her to conclude that humans are capable of loving more than one person and then ask the question, "If we are capable of loving more than one person at a time, then why is it so frowned upon by society to act on those urges?"

I think that Ms. Fisher's TED Talk is a perfect example of the sort of scientific research that perpetuates a paradigm rather than questioning the underlying rationales of the paradigm. This statement is somewhat circular in the sense that a paradigm is exactly that; it is the underlying framework that merely perpetuates our worldview rather than questioning it. The research that Ms. Fisher does and the conclusions that she draws from her research is clearly influenced by her deeply held beliefs about romantic love and the goal of attaining long-term one-man-one-woman relationships.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow


I wanted to write this post after doing some intense, yet fun, research on the history and trends of hair removal. But I have a ton of (academic: read: not so fun) reading to do and papers to write. So my hair-removal-in-the-history-of-humans research will have to wait until perhaps my winter break.


In any case, I just think it is fascinating that there is such a craze to remove hair (and I am mostly interested in pubic hair removal, although those who would prefer to be hairless everywhere are also part of a fascinating trend). I definitely participate in this craze. I recently started laser hair removal for my Brazilian area. (Yes, it hurts! But my experience went MUCH BETTER than my Brazilian wax!!)

These are some of my questions:
Is this craze only a craze in the US? Is it a developed country (because of resources and ability to spend time and money on leisure hair removal), or worldwide, phenomenon?
When in history did humans start equating hairlessness with beauty?
Did this trend start out of a desire to be further removed from other animals? To convince us that we are somehow better, more divine, cleaner, more sophisticated, more civilized than our primate ancestors?
What are our motivations for removing hair? Are they primarily aesthetic? Practical? Sexual? A sense of perfection?
Are we (those of removing hair) selling ourselves to the cosmetic industry, and those who tell us we aren't beautiful the way we are? 


Hopefully I can make some time to look some of this information up! I am interested to see any trends, distinctions, and preferences throughout time and among cultures for hair removal.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Vulnerability

Just finished watching the following TED talk, courtesy of some long-distance sexy friends: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

Things that have been whirling around in my head are making a little more sense. Things related to being open to possibilities, being open to bad and good experiences alike, being an open person, and being open to both intimate and less-than-intimate encounters with people.


Being vulnerable means giving yourself up as the person you are: I am who I am, with all of my imperfections. And yet, I am deserving of wonderfulness and happiness. Being vulnerable means being satisfied with my imperfections, and letting others in to see myself for the wonderful person I am.

I have noticed that every time J and I decide to continue a relationship with other open friends (sexually or non-sexually), I have this moment (anywhere from five minutes to a few weeks) of "oh, shit." And it wasn't until I watched this TED talk that I realized that that "oh, shit" moment stemmed from intense feelings of vulnerability. And for the most part I think, I have allowed myself to feel vulnerable and to ultimately open myself up to new connections with other vulnerable, open, and happy people. That intense moment though allows me to sort of swim through an uncertain wave of: what if this turns out to be really bad? what if there is rejection or disappointment? what if it actually turns out to be really good? what if it's just sort of okay? I don't know what is going to happen by opening up to these people! 

Opening up and letting vulnerability be a part of life and forming new connections means letting in the bad with the good, and being open to not only the fear, rejection, disappointment, frustration, and anger but also to joy, gratitude, connection, love, and acceptance.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The (Un) Social Animal? Nah, just tired!

Before opening up, J and I didn't get out much. Like ever, really. We don't drink, so we never tried the bar scene, or even the club scene. Weekdays were school, work, schoolwork, Seinfeld, popcorn, dog walks, and sleep. Weekends were sleep, eat, sleep, Seinfeld, gym, study, sleep. 

Now....

I am tired! I have never juggled so much social activity with everything else. Skype date. Dinner with new couple. Strip club with new couple. Sex club. Five emails to draft, edit, send. Skype date. Travel and meet new friends. Texts from sexy friends. Emails. Dinner date... and school still? And work? And studying? Haha, the juggling is definitely worth it, but I can't really remember how quiet and boring our weekends used to be! And yet... I find myself a little tired from all of the social activity. Not tired in the sense that I want it to stop, but tired in the sense that I am mentally and emotionally a little tired. I just need a little quiet time, a little me time; just some time to be unsocial. 


It has been so interesting to see both myself and J in these new social situations. For the 4 1/2 years that we were exclusive, J and I saw each other mostly in one-on-one contexts, or during times with our families. Now, in group situations, I see more of J's exuberant and outgoing personality, and how other people respond to his intelligence and smile. I have also felt myself learning, and loving, being so open with other people and figuring out how to communicate with other people after working on communication for so long with J. It has been so energizing for me overall to engage in social settings, especially in those involving our sexy and open friends! I feel so grateful to have the ability to go out and be sexy with sexy friends, and to live in a time and place where fulfilling our sexuality can be done safely, leisurely, and in balance with our other commitments.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

GW Update!

We have been asked by many loyal readers and friends... what the heck happened with the Goddess Worship?!?!

It didn't happen. 

Many factors contributed to us canceling it. The main issue was the inability to find men who could provide STI testing paperwork from the past six months. (Side note: part of this is definitely related to our persistence in remaining STI-free. This is also related, however, to the level of honesty and transparency we expect in our partners. We now realize that is a lot to ask for and try to find!!) Another issue was finding men who were physically attractive and intelligent. Another issue was that our Craigslist ad was flagged and removed about ten times in two days, making it more difficult to find people who would be interested in this encounter.

We decided that this is a better fantasy to enact once we have accumulated a few more sexy friends who can lend us themselves or their male counterparts for an evening. Having that level of comfort and trust established first will make it easier for us to live out this fantasy.

Until then... K will continue to explore her exhibitionist side, dancing in the cage at our sex club!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Goddess Worship


Goddess Worship is our new term for the common phrase "gang bang." I do not like that term because of its connotations with violence, coercion, and rape. Goddess Worship (GW) more accurately reflects the spirit of a multiple men-one woman encounter for us: it is mutually desired, it is about one woman being pleasured by many men, and also about the woman's desires and fantasies (including her fantasy of getting many men off at once!).

J and I had no idea this was a "thing" for us before we started all of our conversations and opening up six months ago. Since our two MFM experiences, we have had sexy pillow talk about inviting more men into the encounter, leading to multi-amazing orgasms. We need to make this happen.

What? J wants to do it too? YES! J gets so turned on watching me with other men, and gets so turned on just thinking about it! Sperm competition theory may explain this reaction: evolutionarily, men want to get in on the action so their sperm stand a chance of impregnating the lucky lady. A Billion Wicked Thoughts did a decent job of discussing this theory, and how it explains the popularity of "gang bang" porn among straight men. Sex at Dawn nails its discussion of the theory as well.


The idea of this happening again brings up issues related to casual and intimate sex. We decided that our need to be comfortable with a man is greatly reduced in this situation. Unlike in an MFM where the second M is joining our play, in a GW, it is more about the numbers. I definitely wouldn't want to invite any skeaze-bag into our encounter; I definitely want and need a high level of respect and attraction. But I don't need to want to hang out with a guy or know what he does for fun on the weekend. You need numbers to make a GW awesome. And right now we are shooting for 5-8 other men.


I have gotten off so far on just the thought of this happening... now that it will happen soon I have been trying to evaluate my reaction. Will I actually like it? Will I feel bad turning someone away? Will I be able to effectively communicate what I want to do? Will I be weirded out with men I don't know very well? Will J be as turned on in the moment as he is when he thinks and talks about it? All signs point to a positive experience so far, and I am excited to see if it really is the fantasy I have made it out to be and what new things it brings up for J and I to talk about!