Sexual Fluidity

April 28, 2014

As a society, we like to label ourselves. From what kind of music we like, to what kind of clothes we wear, and to who we like to have sex with or have romantic relationships with, there are categories for all of it. When it comes to sexuality, these labels (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, etc) can be an important part of a person’s identity, especially when it comes to the fight for equality. With these labels though, come certain narrow definitions, judgements, and confusion. For example, a woman might identify as a lesbian but is still attracted to men, either sexually or romantically. Some say, “she’s not a lesbian then, she’s bisexual.” I posit that one’s sexual identity has more to do with their personal, social, and political identity than who they have sex with or have relationships with.

Alfred Kinsey was famous for his 1-6 scale which suggested that few people are actually 100% gay or 100% straight. The problem with this is that it assigns an identity to a behavior, when an identity should be something a person establishes his or her self. How we feel about ourselves and out communities should not be dictated by a social standard of behavior, because that defeats the purpose and serves to limit and control sexual expression.

Another issue is that people tend to make assumptions based on how a person identifies, which is due to the narrow definitions society has applied to these identities. Stereotypes are applied which are ultimately harmful to societal growth. For example, I am sexually attracted to people of any gender or sex. Male, female, transgender, intersex, genderqueer…I don’t care. Bisexual as a term is heteronormative and limiting and a common stereotype is that I’m a straight girl who likes to make out with other girls when drunk. If I say I am pansexual, most people don’t know what that is and just kind of stare at me blankly when I try to explain it. I choose to identify as queer, because it’s more inclusive and most relevant to my sociopolitical identity. People are always going to make assumptions and apply stereotypes (at least in the current climate), so I chose an identity that is meaningful to me, and that is open to interpretation.

I believe that sexuality is fluid. Our attractions and our identities can change (or not change) throughout our lives, depending on our experiences and the people we interact with. The label attached is just a sexual identity that is relevant to that person’s life, views, and social location.

 

If you would like to submit a question for the monthly Q&A post, please feel free to email me at perspectivesonsex@gmail.com

Articles about how to get a girl off are all over the internet, in books, even television. One major flaw with these is this very simple fact: they generalize based on basic anatomy and don’t account for varying sensitivities and preferences. Every woman is different, and likes different things. So all of these guides and tips and tricks perpetuate certain myths about female sexual pleasure.

First, and I think the most common, is the myth that women don’t get off from vaginal intercourse. Sure, a lot of women don’t (some sexologist even say the majority of women don’t), but a lot of women can and do get off from it. The reasoning behind this line of thinking is that there are no nerve endings deep inside the vagina. Well, this much is true, but if you think about it, what is really being stimulated here? We have the vaginal opening, which can be very sensitive for some women, depending on the shape of the penis, and the position you’re in, the g-spot, and of course, when a woman is aroused, and especially when she orgasms, her vaginal muscles contract, which enhances pleasure for both parties. How is this not pleasurable? Oh, well, let’s say the majority of women don’t “climax” from intercourse. Emphasizing climax is very flawed and sets people up for disappointment. Women can experience a lot of pleasure and even have some pretty good orgasms without a full-on climax. It’s not a requirement. That being said, climax is very possible from intercourse. To discount it, would be to invalidate anal sex and manual stimulation of anything other than the clit as ways of reaching climax.

That brings me to my next point: the clit. This is considered the holy grail of the vulva. Me? I think it’s way overrated. Yeah, it’s highly sensitive and can feel pretty amazing, but the thing is, it can be TOO sensitive, especially when really aroused. I actually prefer oral stimulation of my clit because the tongue is soft, and usually won’t be too intense. Use a finger or a vibrator, and I’ll be on the ceiling (which isn’t necessarily a good thing). Now, at this point, you may be thinking, “but Stephani, if it’s that intense, wouldn’t it be awesome? Why would you say that’s bad?” Let me explain–too much stimulation or sensitivity can take away from the experience, and even confuse the brain into thinking it’s not a pleasurable sensation, but perhaps a painful one. Guys can think of it like if someone keeps stroking or sucking your penis after you’ve already cum.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me an intense orgasm, but sometimes, it does get to a point where I will have to say “stop for a minute” because I need to relax and breath so I can fully enjoy the experience, and so my brain isn’t trying to make sense of all that is going on down there.

So, if you want to get a girl off, ask her what she likes, how she likes to be touched or fucked, and respond to her feedback (verbal and nonverbal). Oh, and please stop asking women how many orgasms they had. You’re not asking for her benefit, you’re asking to stroke your own ego. Sometimes we have one or two, sometimes we have a lot, but we don’t really keep count because that would be very distracting!

 

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

Updates

April 19, 2014

First, I’d like to thank those who have commented on and followed my blog. I really want to get this blog out there, because I want to share my perspectives with the world and have open discussions about sexuality. It’s a great outlet for what I am truly passionate about. I am currently in the process of brainstorming for a book, which I will self publish and allow people to download for free, and make a donation if they wish. My hope is to become more visible so that I can kick-start my career in sexology.

In other news, my sex life has been fantastic, though I think I have reached my limit of sex buddies for now because boy can it be exhausting! It’s been fun though and I am really enjoying life and the sexual experiences I have been having. I think my partners have been enjoying themselves as well.

I have finally created an email address specific to this blog: perspectivesonsex@gmail.com so if you want to submit questions for the monthly Q&A post, please send them there. Seriously, send me questions! They can be general sex stuff whether it be clinical or advice, or you can ask personal questions about my own experiences. Once I get enough questions, I will actually do a Q&A post. I am also working on a facebook page for it, which I think will be fun.

That is all for now, folks. Have fun, be safe, and have lots of great sex!

Keeping it casual

April 16, 2014

Casual sex, especially for women, seems to be a big social taboo. Between social stigmas, fear of STIs, and the love/sex paradigm, engaging in casual sexual relationships can be daunting. A lot of people think of casual sex as one night stands. This is not always the case. I’ve had a couple of one night stands, but the best sex I’ve had, in my experience, has been with people I know. I am friends with everyone I am currently having sex with, and enjoying every minute of it. Now, sex with friends CAN be a bad idea, so it’s important to understand what it is you’re doing, why, and what the boundaries are.

First, there is understanding the difference between sex and (romantic) love. I consider my sexual relationships to be very emotionally connected because I am friends with my partners, but I am very clear and honest about the fact that a relationship is not an option. You can have an emotional connection with someone you’re having sex with and not be in love with them and no fall in love with them. It’s about knowing what you want, and how you’re going to go about it. Being friends with my partners also helps with trust dynamics, and reduces fear of STIs.

Of course, with casual sex, comes slut shaming. I am not shy about my sex life, and know that not everyone is going to approve of my sexual choices. But they are MY choices to make. I am enjoying myself, and the people I have sex with are enjoying themselves, so what other people think is irrelevant. Allowing myself to be ashamed because some people think what I am doing is wrong, “dirty” or otherwise immoral is allowing myself to be controlled by a patriarchal system of sexual repression.

Obviously, there are downsides. Nothing and no one is perfect. Sometimes I feel exhausted because some of my partners are really intense. Sometimes I am sore for days. And yes, sometimes, I think it would be nice to be in some kind of relationship. However, I know what I want right now, and if I decide I want a relationship later on, I have already discussed with all of my partners what kind of relationship I would that would be (more on this in another post).

Like with all sex, it all comes down to communication. I talk to my partners about what we’re doing and what I want and don’t want out of it. I am not worried about romantic feelings, because let’s be real here, sex doesn’t cause romantic feelings, they just happen. So I am not going to try to avoid the potentially inevitable, I am just not going out of my way to find it. If romantic feelings on either my part or someone else’s go unrequited, we can discuss it and stop having sex for a while. I’m not saying no one gets hurt that way, because they might, but at least we’ll have been honest and open with each other instead of playing silly mind games.

For now, it’s casual, it’s fun, and I am very happy with my life and have more confidence in myself (physically and emotionally) which very much goes against the myth that casual relationships cause depression and low self esteem.

Surviving *TW

April 14, 2014

I have been making an effort to share my story of abuse over the last couple of years, because it helps with healing, and I also hope it will help other survivors know that they aren’t alone, and that there is support out there. So since it is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I will share my story publicly.

I feel like I should put another trigger warning here. I will be going into detail of my abuse…

I have talked about it, but mostly in a safe space context like Take Back the Night. Or, if I’ve discussed it with friends, I leave out details for fear of making them uncomfortable. But here, you have a choice. If you don’t want to know, stop reading now, because I am about to describe the events of my sexual assault (this will also be a long story)…

 

In high school I befriended a boy named Sean Corwine. Today, that name makes me want to cringe.

Sean didn’t have many friends–he was somewhat asocial and had Spina Bifida, so he walked kinda funny and wore leg braces. He didn’t seem to want to be my friend at first, but eventually we became really close. I would go to his place, we’d hang out, play video games, listen to music, things friends do. He eventually developed a crush on me. I wasn’t particularly interested in him as a romantic partner, but eventually we did develop a non-exclusive sexual relationship.

Fast forward about a year, I graduated high school, and we being the close friends and sex buddies we were, we got an apartment together. Things became very complicated. Because of his disability, we didn’t have intercourse a lot, maybe twice in the 2+ years we were having sex. Mostly he would finger me or perform oral sex on me, which he seemed to enjoy.

 

He was working at a cigarette shop really close to our apartment. His manager, we’ll call him J, was this sarcastic, rude, brash idiot who I disliked, and who disliked me. But Sean liked him, so whatever. He’d come and hang out. Eventually, J and I learned we actually had a lot in common, and we became friends. More on that later…

 

So Sean started becoming really clingy and possessive. I told him flat-out we were not boyfriend/girlfriend. I decided it would be good to stop the sexual aspect of our relationship. He didn’t like it, but agreed. At some point, I think before we got our apartment, I had dated a girl named Leah who I met at Pride Project. We didn’t get to see each other much, so we eventually broke it off. I think that was the first time I had stopped the sexual stuff with Sean. When he got all clingy, that was the second time. Well, some time passed, things seemed normal again, so we started back up our sexual relationship, only by this time, he had worked is psychological manipulations on me. He was very discreetly possessive, used my, for lack of a better term, pity, toward him, and basically made me feel pretty numb. There would be times when I wouldn’t want to have sex, I would say no, and he would force his fingers inside me. I remember feeling very confused, but not really thinking of it as rape. I would go along with it because I was afraid of making him mad. He was, in essence, emotionally abusing and manipulating me while also physically abusing me.

 

Then J and I started hanging out more. He and I developed feelings for each other. One time, he kissed me behind Sean’s back (he could see how possessive Sean was, but didn’t really know the situation) and it felt like electricity coursing through my body. We eventually talked and decided to start dating. Of course, I ended the sexual stuff with Sean.

 

But it didn’t end for him. I would frequently take naps on the couch in front of the TV. Sean would use this opportunity to fondle me, touch my vulva, even put his fingers inside me. I knew this because I was only half asleep. I pretended to stay asleep until he stopped. I was scared. I felt betrayed, and I didn’t know what to do. I thought, “maybe he won’t do it again.”

 

Wrong.

 

The next time he did it, I laid there frozen until he stopped, and I finally got up, and started grabbing some things. Tears were rolling down my face. He asked what was wrong, and I just snapped back, “I was only half asleep!” before I stormed out the door. At this time, J and I were both working at a coffee shop really close by, so I walked there. I called J and just told him he wasn’t going to be happy. I got there, and Sean had followed me. I ran inside, and told J I didn’t want to see Sean’s face. J told Sean to leave and he did.

 

I told J and the other manager, Margie, what had happened (just this last instance). Margie immediately called the police. I was angry with her for doing this, because I didn’t think it was “that bad” I just mostly felt like Sean broke mine and J’s trust. The police came, I gave a statement, but told them I didn’t want to press charges, just to get the rest of my things without interference from him. So they escorted me over there, I got my things, and stayed with J.

 

A few weeks later, I confronted Sean. I told him how betrayed I felt and how he broke my trust. I asked him if that was the first time he had done that. He looked me straight in the eye and told me it was. I knew this was a lie, but for some reason, I was so afraid to tell J because I thought he would be mad at me for not coming forward the first time. So we hugged, which was kind of painful, and remained “friends” for a while.

 

Eventually, realizations hit me. How abusive he was in general, how he had actually raped me on several occasions. I started having flashbacks, nightmares, and random crying spells. It was then that I cut off all contact with Sean. I didn’t say anything, just stopped calling and texting altogether.

 

I still to this day, struggle with what happened, and more importantly, how I handled it. Obviously, there is no “right way” to handle being sexually assaulted, but I hate how dismissive I was at first. I even blamed myself. I consented at first, I didn’t come forward when it started, I didn’t do this or that. And most of all, I hate the attitude I had that it wasn’t “rape” or even that it wasn’t “sexual assault.”

 

I could have still pressed charges, but decided against it. Because we live in a culture that does blame victims, I knew all that would come of it would be my sex life being put on trial, my prior relationship with him, and, the fact that he was visibly disabled would have gotten the sympathy vote. Nothing against the disabled, but I can say with certainty, someone who is physically disabled is usually the last person most people would expect to be a rapist. It’s just a fact. The defense would have used his disability. Big time. And of course, it would have been my word against his. I didn’t want to go through that.

 

Thankfully, J was super supportive. we had only been seeing each other a few weeks, and he let me move in so that I wouldn’t have to live with my mom (not that there would have been anything wrong with that, but I was almost 19 and didn’t want to go back home). We were together for 6 years, so it ended up working out, even though it was so soon.

 

The point is, sexual assault happens in different ways and forms for different people. And it’s hard to deal with no matter how “minor” one may think it is. It fucking hurts. If you know a survivor, support them, no matter what, and let them know that all those bad feelings about themselves that they are internalizing are totally valid and normal feelings, but that they aren’t true. But NEVER invalidate a survivor’s feelings or make them feel stupid for feeling them.

 

And also, DON’T call the police on behalf of a survivor unless THEY want you to. It is up to them to report, if they want to. They have enough to go through without someone else making decisions for them about what happened. You may not like their decisions, but they are theirs to make. So just be supportive, give them helpful advice even (like reporting or going to the hospital), but do it coming from a place of love and support and know when to back off.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and it is important to have conversations about sexual assault, consent, and why conversations about sexual assault tend to center around men assaulting women.

First, it’s essential to point out what rape and sexual assault is. When most people think of rape or sexual assault, they think of some overtly violent act, but that is not always the case. Sometimes there is no imminent physical threat involved, except the sexual assault itself. It’s not always explicitly violent, but it is always emotionally painful.

A common mantra in evaluations of rape and sexual assault is, “rape is not sex.” This is true in that sex, as most people interpret it, involves consent. But rape is sexual in nature, however, and the motives and the connotations behind the act are what separate it from what we like to call sex. Some key elements of rape that remove it from the sexual category are:

  • Dehumaniztion–if someone is not perceived as a whole human being, their attacker can rationalize the assault.
  • Power and control–this is a common theme that is discussed and it rings true. Rapists want to feel in control and over power another person.
  • Entitlement–this is most common with date rapists, and one of the most dangerous. They feel entitled to sex or entitled to someone else’s body. They use this entitlement to justify their actions and unfortunately, this is often what leads to them getting away with it. Gender norms that dictate how men and women should behave sexually are what lead to this sense of entitlement and victim blaming. It’s what drives rape culture.
  • Emasculation–this is usually applies to male victims. Most commonly by other men, but sometimes, by female perpetrators (99% of rapes, whether the victim is male or female, are perpetrated by men). The idea is to strip away the victim’s masculinity and/ot their sense of their gender identity. This paradigm can also be applied to many transgender victims of sexual assault.

The fact is, men can be and are raped. In fact, about 3% of American men, or 1 33, have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. However, if we look at the emasculation and power/control models, even when rape is committed on men, it is still very much a gendered crime. This affects people of any gender, and it is systematic and societal sexism that impacts it most. This is why rape culture is such a huge theme in feminism and why feminist spearhead the anti-rape movement.

That being said, I think that our conversations about consent are often all wrong. First, the “no means no” model is harmful because it can imply that the absence of no constitutes a yes, and can lead to some heavy victim blaming where a victim may have been too scared to say no. I am happy to say that a lot of feminists have adopted a “yes means yes” model where enthusiastic consent is being marketed as the best way to avoid any ambiguity and to ensure safe, healthy, consensual sex. I also feel that it is important to point out that conversations about consent can and should include men–and not in the concept of men getting consent from women, but men giving consent. Men are allowed to say no. Men are allowed to not be in the mood, and men are allowed to change their minds about a sexual situation and say “stop.” The standard that it always has to be women consenting perpetuates that myth that men always want sex and women have to be convinced (which leads to issues of sexual coercion).

 

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

 

I am an adamant feminist, and anyone who knows me knows that I am not shy about calling people out on sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. I am also very much a submissive in my sex with men. This combination does not tend to jive well in the feminist community. I can play a dominate role, but much prefer a submissive one. I like to be spanked, have my hair pulled, sometimes tied up, blindfolded, and various things that some people might consider degrading to women (not always acts, it can sometimes just be the general tone–the way my partner communicates with me and how we interact). I prefer my male partners to take the lead (I specify this, because the majority of my sex is with men). I’ve even described it to some by saying, “I want a man who will respect me as a person and degrade me in the bedroom.” This is not every sexual encounter I have, and it’s not a requirement for me to get off. It’s just something I enjoy. My tastes vary, but that one is pretty consistent. So why would such a passionate feminist want sex like that? Well, for me, submitting to someone, allowing him to treat me in ways I would never allow anyone to treat me in reality, is exciting. It’s also a nice change from my day to day where I am a strong, independent, take-shit-from-no-one feminist and activist.

Some feminists take issue with this concept. They often view it as women conforming to patriarchal gender norms, or an unhealthy way of dealing with sexual assault. Well, I can say with absolute certainty that I do not conform to gender norms, and more often than one might think, I do play a dominate role in the bedroom (usually when I engage in pegging). I also have been primarily a submissive since long before I was raped, so it has nothing to do with coping with trauma. It’s a kink. In a lot of ways, it is empowering, because while I am submitting and allowing a man to take control of my body and my sexual pleasure, I am also in total control. This is a very basic principal in BDSM (though my submissiveness isn’t always about BDSM, it’s just an intersectional aspect), that the sub can stop the action at any time. I am choosing to allow this to happen, and I choose what boundaries are in place. I communicate what I want to happen and what I don’t want to happen.

In an essay titled, “Submissive Scares Us (and Why She Shouldn’t)” Stacey May Fowles states, “…it’s pretty evident that the feminist movement at large is not really ready to admit that women who like to be hit, choked, tied up, and humiliated are empowered. Personally, the more I submitted sexually, the more I was able to be autonomous in my external life, the more I was able to achieve equality in my sexual and romantic partnerships, and the more genuine I felt as a human being.” This speaks volumes for how female submissives are viewed not only by feminists, but society as a whole and also illustrates that those assumptions have nothing to do with the sex itself, but sociopolitical hang ups about gender roles. She later writes, “Paradoxically, sexual submission and rape fantasy can only be acceptable in a culture that doesn’t condone them.” For any sub-dom play, there has to be boundaries of consent, or the play does not work, and can become dangerous. So for sub-dom play or rape fantasy to exist in a healthy fashion, it has to exist in an environment in which explicit consent is the most important thing and that anything less is unacceptable.

I personally, do not have a rape fantasy, and not all submissives do, but they aren’t bad and they aren’t indicative of any pathology. Most sex involves some realm of fantasy, and in my mind, creating a fictional scene of non-consent can be the ultimate form of consent for some people. To give themselves over to someone else, pretending it’s something that should not be happening, while knowing that it could stop at anytime with a single word can be empowering.

I am a feminist. I do not condone the mistreatment of women in society or media. I am also a submissive and sometimes, I like to be treated like a (for lack of a better term) “dirty whore” in the bedroom.

 

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