When many people think about having sex, they think about having orgasms, and they feel orgasm is the ultimate goal. This is flawed thinking. Orgasms are overrated.

Now, you might be thinking, “hold on, wait a minute, orgasms are the best part of sex, how can you call them overrated?” Orgasms are great, in fact, they can be some of the most amazing and intense feelings a person has. But they are not necessary for great sex, and an alarming amount of people have a hard time achieving orgasm with a partner. One reason for this is because people stress out too much about having an orgasm and giving their partner an orgasm. They focus so much on making sex go they way they think it should, and not enough on the sex and intimacy itself. If you make orgasm the point of sex, the entire reason for having it, you’re depriving yourself of the experience as a whole, and possibly setting you and your partner up for failure.

Marty Klein, an experience sex therapist and marriage counselor, has much to say on this topic. In his book Sexual Intelligence, he outlines many of the hangups people have about sex including the desire to be “normal,” the need for their bodies to cooperate and function properly, and the ability or inability to have an orgasm. He states, “…sexual function is a means to an end, not an end in itself. People talk about erections, lubrication, and orgasm as if those are the point of sex. But this vision of sex is way too limited.”

If you or your partner are having a hard time climaxing, relax, get out of your head, and if it just doesn’t happen, that’s okay. Sex can be extremely enjoyable even without climax. This applies to people of any sex or gender. If orgasm doesn’t always happen, it is not a failure or reflection on either party, it just didn’t happen and it doesn’t mean the sex was not good or enjoyable. Try again another time, and try relaxing more and realizing that if it happens, awesome, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay too.

 

If you would like to submit a question for the monthly Q&A post, please feel free to send me an email to gwendolendashammy@gmail.com. All submissions will remain anonymous.

Virginity doesn’t exist

March 28, 2014

If your sexual choices are dictated by a social standard, or to please others, or to validate your own self worth, that is not taking control of your sexuality and you are doing yourself a disservice. The decision to have sex or to not have sex should be for your own enjoyment and gratification and no one else’s. Virginity is a myth perpetuated as a way of controlling sexuality and maintaining a false sense of morality.

Virginity is a social construct. There is no medical standard for virginity and there is no medical way to prove a woman is a virgin. Many girls break their hymens from masturbation, using tampons, or even from horseback riding. I remember when I was young, and I really had no idea what a hymen was. The euphemism that is most commonly used for it (cherry), makes it sound like it’s somewhere deep in vagina, that only full-on penetration can “pop.” This misconception is what leads to putting in “just the tip” (it’s never just the tip) so the the cherry isn’t popped, or so that you can say you didn’t really have sex. The hymen is actually a very thin layer of tissue that covers, partially or fully, the vaginal opening. It is so thin that even the slightest bit of pressure can tear it. The fact is, I don’t remember even having a hymen, let alone it breaking.

So what is virginity? Well, if you do a Google search you’ll get a great many answers, usually revolving around three common themes:

1. Never having had sexual intercourse

2. Never having had sex

3. Being pure or unused

The first is problematic because it dictates intercourse as the be-all and end all of sex. And in most definitions, we’re talking vaginal intercourse, not anal intercourse. The second is ambiguous because it leaves interpretation wide open for what constitutes sex (though in our society, vaginal intercourse seems to be the standard). So let’s focus on that. Vaginal intercourse. It is not and should not be the standard for “real” sex. Oral and anal sex are just as valid, just as risky, and just as enjoyable (if not more so) as vaginal intercourse. Many women don’t even climax from intercourse. The third theme of virginity is purity. This is extremely problematic and dangerous thinking. This is where controlling sexuality comes in. The idea that our value as human beings, our moral integrity, our ability to love and have fulfilling relationships boils down to whether or not we’ve had sex just appalls me. It’s sexist, it’s wrong, and it’s putting shame on something perfectly natural and healthy. As Jessica Velenti states in her book The Purity Myth, “It’s time to teach our daughters that their ability to be good people depends on their being good people, not on whether or not they’re sexually active.”

It is this vague notion of virginity and purity that leads to young women having oral and anal intercourse because it “doesn’t count.” Well, guess what, if you have oral or anal sex, you’ve had sex. Are you not a virgin? I don’t think so, because I simply do not believe in the notion of virginity. To buy into the concept of virginity or purity is to succumb to outdated and patriarchal ideals and standards of morality and how women should behave.

Another common theme with virginity is the concept of self respect. If a girl “gives it up” too soon, she somehow has devalued herself and had little to no respect for her body or her relationships. This is simply not true. It is because I respect my body that I fight for the right to bodily autonomy and choice. It is because I respect my body and relationships that I value consent and communication. It is because I respect my body and relationships that I make my own sexual choices.

Next time someone asks you when you lost your virginity, tell them you didn’t. There was nothing to “lose” or “give away” because virginity doesn’t exist. It is imaginary. It is not a physical state of being and it does not define who you are as a person nor does it define your morals or integrity.

 

If you have a question you’d like to ask for the monthly Q&A post, please send me an email to gwendolendashammy@gmail.com. All submissions will remain anonymous.

On body acceptance

March 25, 2014

Within the body positive movement, there is a lot of talk about “real” women and those “real” women being of average size and having curves. But there isn’t a lot of talk about “real” men, because the idea of hegemonic masculinity is so rampant in our culture, that many people still perceive a “real” man as a man who is muscular, “in shape”, and athletic. Why is a “real woman” plus sized, but a “real man” a macho, ripped, tough guy? How about we stop judging other people’s bodies and realize that no matter a woman’s and a man’s size, shape, or body type, they are real.

Invalidating anyone’s body is to dehumanize them, and no one deserves to be made to feel as if they are not a real person. This type of thinking leads to rape culture and bullying. If you say a skinny woman is not real, you’re saying she is not a person and ultimately, sending the message that it is okay to bully, rape, or beat her. If you say a scrawny man, or a fat man is not a real man, you are sending a message that it is okay to bully, rape, or beat him.

This kind of dehumanizing is also closely linked to transphobia, I’d I like to take a small side-step here and talk a little about that.

Trans* men and women are very often the targets of body shaming. The most common, and the most disgusting, in my opinion, is the idea that Trans* people are trying to “trick” or deceive people into sleeping with them. This is seen all too often in media, where (usually a Trans* woman) is approached by a Cis male at the bar, and he later finds out she’s “really a man.” No, no no no no. As a result, Trans* people are all too often victims of rape, assault and even murder. If you are not comfortable being with a Trans* person, own up to your transphobia, politely decline any further advances and move on. A Trans* man is a real man and a Trans* woman is a real woman, regardless of their biological sex (I will cover the difference between sex an gender more thoroughly in another post).

Back to body shaming as a whole–calling anyone too skinny can be just as damaging as calling someone too fat or too muscular. This is bullying and it can trigger intense emotional reactions that may lead to eating disorders, self harm, or even suicide.

This is not to say the media is not guilty of portraying an unrealistic standard. When I complain about the media not portraying “real” men or women, I am complaining about the excessive Photoshopping going on, not thinking that a woman who is truly a size 0 is not real, or that a man who is muscular is not real. They are just as real as a fat woman or fat man, and that’s okay. What is not okay is assigning any standard of beauty or attractiveness to any one body type for either sex or gender. It’s okay to have preferences, it’s not okay to  invalidate and dehumanize someone because they don’t fit what you find appealing.

 

If you wish to ask a question for the monthly Q&A post, please send me an email at gwendolendashammy@gmail.com

STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) are scary. Some more so than others, but with Gonorrhea becoming resistant to treatment, they are becoming scarier than ever. The fact about STIs is that some are curable, many are not, and  they are becoming more and more common. But they are all treatable. Sex is risky, casual sex is riskier, and unprotected casual sex can be playing Russian Roulette with your sexual health. The important thing to remember is that your sexual choices may have consequences, you are responsible for your sexual health, but if you do get an STI, it is not the end of the world, but in a huge hassle (and yes, sometimes life threatening). Besides the obvious “use protection” mantra you may hear all the time, here are some other things to consider…

STIs carry a huge social stigma, and often times, that is the hardest consequence to deal with for people with STIs. Disclosing your STI status to sexual partners is incredibly uncomfortable, but necessary because everyone deserves the right to make an informed decision. For some, it may not be a deal breaker. If you do not have an STI, and someone you’re about to have sex with discloses they have one, try to remember that this is a person who has feelings and does not deserve to be made to feel dirty, shamed, or wrong because they have an STI. If you don’t want to take that risk, even with condoms or dental dams, then simply tell them you are not comfortable proceeding, and if you really want a gold star, let them know that their status does not make them undesirable or dirty, but that it’s just your own hang up (because it usually is your own hangup, if you don’t directly ask every partner their status, you’re taking risks).

Get tested regularly if you’re sexually active. This is a good idea even if you’re in a monogamous relationship (and you can get tested together to support each other). This is the most important thing with maintaining and staying informed about your health.

Remember that oral sex, while not as risky as vaginal or anal intercourse, is still a risk if unprotected. I get it, going down on someone with a condom or dental dam isn’t as fun. The good news is, unprotected oral sex is fairly low on the risk scale, especially when it comes to HIV. However, it’s important to reiterate, you can get STIs from oral sex. They can live in your mouth and throat. It’s not pleasant.

If you have an STI, do what you can to get treatment. Not only can treatment prolong your life, but it can reduce your risk of spreading it to others.

Whether you choose to use protection or not is up to you and your sexual partners, but it is important to understand what risks you are taking. While an STI may not be the end of the world, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to avoid getting one, because there are consequences such as dealing with symptoms, treatment, emotional impacts, social stigmas, and uncomfortable conversations.

Be informed, and be as safe as you can.

If you would like to submit a question for the monthly Q&A post, please send me an email to gwendolendashammy@gmail.com

Pubic hair removal

March 16, 2014

Shaving of the genitals has become more and more mainstream, and as with any trend, some people oppose it. I would like to shed some light on some of the issues that have been brought up in regards to shaving and waxing pubic hair.

*Disclaimer: This is not an attempt to devalue or shame people who do not shave or wax, it is simply to offer an explanation as to why people prefer to shave or wax or prefer partners who do.

Pedophilia

There are some who argue that preferring a partner with shaved/waxed genitals is a sign of pedophilia or that it somehow is making pedophilia more rampant. This is blatantly false. Shaving and waxing pubic hair can reduce humidity, sweat, and minimize unpleasant smell as a result of said humidity and sweat. A preference for shaved or waxed pubic hair has nothing to do with fetishizing children or making genitals appear pre-pubescent, even if the preference is aesthetic in nature. Some people simply feel that when their partner’s pubic hair is shaved or waxed it looks neater, cleaner, nicer. For some, it makes oral sex more pleasant (both giving and receiving) and can even help some people develop more confidence in their genitals. There is nothing pedophillic about it.

Porn

With the raging popularity of porn, and the popularity of porn stars who remove their pubic hair, porn is often blamed for the popularity of shaving and waxing. It may be a contributing factor, but this kind of goes back to the pedophilia argument because there are anti-porn activists who feel that depicting porn stars with no pubic hair is fetishizing young women. This argument does not take into consideration that mainstream porn is all about aesthetic and that a bushy vulva makes things like the penis thrusting and and out, the “money shot”, the oral stimulation, all the acts in and around the female genitals more difficult to see. While porn may have contributed to the popularity of pubic hair removal, it has nothing to do with anything as sinister as some may think.

Furthermore, pubic hair removal did not begin with porn. People have been removal pubic hair since around 30,000 BC. It was popular among the ancient Egyptians, Romans, Native Americans, and many other cultures in varying time periods.

Personal Preference

Often times, a major contributing factor as to why someone shaves or waxes is because it feels nice. It’s more comfortable. Sure there are downsides, but for those of us who do it, the downsides to shaving or waxing outweigh the downsides to not. It’s a personal preference. As for people who prefer a partner who removes their pubic hair, it’s just a preference like any other when it comes to selecting a sexual partner (and for most, it’s not a deal breaker if that preference is not met). It’s just like having a preference for a particular physique or hair color or preferring people who dress a certain way or people who do or do not wear makeup.

The attempt to shame people for removing pubic hair is an attempt to control their sexuality. It’s most common in women, and female sexuality is something society loves to heavily control and restrict. If you prefer not to shave or prefer people who do not, that’s okay, and it is just as okay to prefer to shave or to prefer someone who does.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions for the monthly Q&A post, please send me an email to: gwendolendashammy@gmail.com. All submissions will be anonymous.

 

http://www.nerve.com/features/nsfw-beautiful-agony-project-shows-real-orgasm-videos-0

 

Very interesting and honest project.

Slut Shaming

March 7, 2014

I am very open about my sexuality , and this intimidates some people, as usually happens when a woman not only enjoys sex, but is outspoken about it. Like most women I have been called a slut and been shamed for doing things people considered “slutty.” Slut shaming is the act of outwardly judging a person (typically a woman) for her sexual choices, activities behaviors, or even perceived sexual behavior. It is not okay. Ever. Society has a stronghold on female sexuality that dictates behavior that no woman alive can live up to. We’re supposed to be virgins, but of course we’re obligated to marry and serve our husbands sexual needs. But we cannot enjoy it. But we need to know what he likes and wants, of course never having done it before. This is often referred to as the virgin-whore dichotomy.

Slut shaming also happens in the feminist movement. Sometimes, if a woman is demonstrating sexual liberation in the “wrong way” she’s a slut who is hurting feminism. This seems pretty hypocritical to me. So what if a girl likes to take naked pictures of herself and post them on the internet? And god forbid if she actually gets turned on by the idea that men might be masturbating to those photos. Becuase doing anything sexual to please a man is totally anti-feminist right? Wrong. We sexual things to please ourselves and sometimes our partners, whether they be male, female, transgender, gender queer, non-gendered, or intersex. It’s fun, it’s exciting. None of it is wrong if it’s consensual.

My point is, there is no wrong way to express your sexuality. Whether you’re a private reserved person, or like to proudly tell your friends about how many time you got laid last weekend, it’s okay. I only hope people will one day stop trying to limit sexual expression and sexual behavior, because it’s really holding people back from having the best sex of their lives. Stop worrying about whether if you hook up with a guy on the first date it’ll make you a slut, or what other people might think of you if you sleep with a particular person. It’s YOUR sex. Have it. Enjoy it. Talk about it or don’t. Sex is meant to be enjoyed, without having all this pressure about whether what you’re doing is “normal” or socially acceptable.

So the next time you think about calling a woman a slut, really think about it. What is a slut, really? And try thinking about how your definition of slut may have changed since the last time you called someone a slut. If enjoying sex with multiple partners makes me a slut, then so be it. Because really, a slut is anyone having more (or better) sex than you. I love sex. I love to talk about it, I love to read about it, study it, research it, and most of all, to do it. It’s that passion for sexuality that made me get my degree in Sexuality, Gender and Queer Studies, and it’s the reason I made this blog. Sex feels fantastic, and I don’t care what anyone thinks about my sexual behavior, so why should anyone care what it is I’m doing enough to insult me?

Have fun, be safe, and if you have questions for the monthly Q&A post, shoot me an email at gwendoledashammy@gmail.com (all submissions will be anonymous).