Laugh About Sex, Humanely

This post is actually an article I wrote for my sex column in the campus newspaper. I wrote it directly after the editors ran two guest columns to test potential writers for after I graduate. Because the editors felt it was a response to the previous two columns (which did in fact rely rather atrociously on sexual stereotypes), they decided not to run it. I think my point is important despite my slightly vindictive motives, so I'm posting what I wrote here:
Anybody can talk about sex. Anybody can have sex. I mean, much as we might not want to think about our parents or grandparents or other people we’re not attracted to getting all sweaty in the sack, it probably happens. Your folks had to do it at least once, right?

We’re all repulsed by some people, just like there are traits in others that make us want to tear off our clothes, throw ourselves on the floor at their feet, and starting panting that Nine Inch Nails song about doing dirty, dirty things with them.

There are also sex acts that make each of us hot and bothered, and those that make us want to gag ourselves with a fork. While some of us might get a little thrill in our loins at the thought of wearing an adult diaper, others might think that’s gross.

Some people are really into oral sex. Others have a reaction like I did when I was nine and my mother explained why I shouldn’t publicly sing the Alanis Morissette song about going down on someone in a theater. “That’s what it means? People do that? Ew!”

A lot of people have a tendency, though, to fall back on stereotypes of sexual norms when they’re talking about sex. Oh man, the fat people have sex. What a laugh! Ugly people get it on. Ew! Some people are kinky weirdos. Oh, no! There are folks that take money for sex. What dirty sluts! Old people do it!

It’s easy to get a laugh by exploiting sexual stereotypes, but it’s not always the best way to have a chuckle with your friends. You’ll never know if one of them is secretly into public sex or pegging. Maybe they like German scat films.

If you’re making their tastes into a mean joke, they’ll probably never tell you about them. They may even learn to feel bad about their perfectly harmless desires. The last thing anybody needs is another reason to question and distrust their sex instincts.

There’s so much shame surrounding sex in our culture, and these kinds of jokes only add to it. I’m not suggesting that you can’t joke about sex, or even make fun of stuff that people do in bed. It’s just important to do it from a place of acceptance.

It’s so easy to joke about sex without relying on disapproval or discrimination to do it. Sex is damn awkward, with fluids everywhere and high tension and so much potential for feelings and body parts run amok.

There’s farting and too much lube. Things squirt places. There are queefs. You know, the noise a vagina makes when it’s been so well taken care of that there’s air in it? Then the air comes out. It sounds like a fart. Queefs are funny.

There’s always the hazard of falling out of bed, the pitfall of trying to stick it in the wrong hole, the possibility of poop coming out in the middle of an intense anal moment. Yes, it can happen, and it’s funny!

One of the most important skills in talking about sex, and in having it, is the ability to laugh about it in a humane way. Laugh with your partner. Laugh with your friends when you tell the story later. Giggling is a way of having fun, and it’s a wonderful addition to any kind of naked frolicking. Just do it humanely and it’s a surefire push in the direction of a better sex life.

Rough Week

There's been so much going on this week that I can't even begin to talk about it coherently. My social interactions have turned awkward once more, and I've got so much work to do that I feel panicky and nauseous whenever I think about it too much. I've got a knot in my left shoulder the size and texture of a baseball. You can actually see it when you look at me straight on; my left shoulder at my neck is slightly higher than my right one.

For the last few weeks I've been letting things pile up and not working efficiently. I didn't want to deal with the stress of it all, and I couldn't even think of it except as a giant cloud looming darkly over me. I finally wrote a to do list and I've been taking my ADD meds, which both have helped. It's still a lot of work, and there legitimately isn't enough time in the week to finish it.

I'm also just feeling really shitty about letting it get backed up like this. I haven't been attending to some of the responsibilities that are actually important to me, like leading the sexual health club or working hard enough on my thesis. I feel really disappointed in myself. I feel like I'm incapable of living up to my own ideas of what I want to accomplish. It's an awful sensation.

I'm also feeling lonely again. That's the part that just makes me feel stupid. Even confessing the details properly makes me feel like an idiot.

I've been having this friendship with a boy, S, who I met in person for the second time and spent week with over winter break in San Francisco. He's the one I was talking about going on a road trip with. I really like him, and we connected powerfully very quickly. That's extremely unusual for me; I'm slow to trust and open up. It helped that he'd been really great when I'd talked to him online about a crisis I had in the fall.

Anyway, after I came back to New York, I let myself rely on him a lot as a person to talk to. Sure, it was online, but it helped a lot. I didn't feel as much at loose ends, like I had all these emotional needs that weren't being met. I was able to go out and have sex with other people without worrying about my baggage coming along. I felt a lot happier.

Recently, though, he's started having sex with a lot of different women, which takes up about eight tons of his time. It's also really emotionally consuming, which I totally get. I'm happy for him, and I'm really glad that he's poly. It's another thing we relate on.

He also, though, has stopped really talking to me. These days, he doesn't even usually ask how I am in conversation, and he's so happy and busy that I don't know how to bring up the fact that I'm as stressed as a horse at a glue factory. I don't feel like I can demand his attention when we only spent a week together and I'm so far away.

The result of all of the above is that I feel really stressed out and pretty disgusted with myself. I also feel terribly alone, like not only can't I deal with my life right now, there's no one to help me. I really just want to be cuddled and soothed, but I have no idea how to make that happen. I can't just turn on the trust and comfort with the next random person that comes along.

So that's been my week. I'm hoping it gets better soon.

We Have to Stop Now

I've been fairly religiously watching the new web series We Have to Stop Now. It's about lesbians and therapy and is hilarious. It's on Jill Bennet's website, and I hope you'll check it out. The episodes are fairly short, and well worth watching.

Here's episode 1:

We Have To Stop Now: Pilot Episode from DynaKit Productions on Vimeo.

I've watched a few of Jill Bennet's other videos; she's got a vlog series called The Violet Underground. While I did really like We Have to Stop Now, I was a little saddened at the interview Bennet did where she and Dalila Ali Rajah discuss bisexuality. It was clear they were coming from a good place of trying to understand, but it was also hard to see them blithely trotting out a lot of the stereotypes.

That said, please check out and support We Have to Stop Now. I agree with Bennet that it's important to have media representations of all kinds of people and lives, and we can support those online.

The L Word and "Cheaters"

Okay, I'm watching the last season of The L Word in a serious procrastination effort. Yes, the show jumped the shark when Dana died, but yes we all still watch it because it's one of the only TV representations of lesbians. All that's been said before.

One thing, though, that's been driving me crazy about the show for years is that the idea of polyamory never comes up at all. You've got Shane who's happily sleeping with the entire female population of Los Angeles, and then bam she's in a relationship and that ends. She gets all tortured about it, sleeps with someone else, the relationship ends.

Then there's Bette, the "cheater" who "can't keep it in her pants even when she's in love." Bette, too, is in and out of relationships and can't help but fall in love with someone new when she's committed.

Both of these women would clearly benefit from some sort of open relationship situation and yet it never, ever comes up. It's just "oh, let's watch them torture themselves by trying to turn off their perfectly natural attractions to people other than their primary partners. Schadenfreude! Schadenfreude! Let's feel good because they're so bad at being faithful and we're better than that!"

Sure, it's typical of TV not to even hint at other options besides monogamy, but this is The L Word. It's queer TV that makes a point (however ham-handedly) to handle every issue that faces the women-loving-women community. To the point of absurdity. Where is the polyamory? Where's the compassion for those who don't fit so well into monogamy? Where is the workable solution?

Quick but Excellent Link on Masculinity

Really, really good post on masculinity and what it would take to create a more egalitarian gender structure. I really like Hugo Schwyzer's blog; he says some really wonderful things about masculinity and parenting. Here's an excerpt from the post:
The feminist project is, in the end, about men too. Women’s liberation can’t be dependent upon men, of course; women don’t need men’s blessing in order to become autonomous agents, freed at last from the chains of custom and the bonds of biology. (Sorry, I’m tired, and the prose gets purple when I’m underslept.) But the benefits of feminism are undeniable for men: a chance to be full and complete human beings, capable of courage and tenderness in equal measure; a chance to be loved for who they are rather than what they can perform. That’s precious stuff indeed. But men raised on the noxious elixir of traditional manhood will find it difficult to adapt quickly to this new paradigm, even when the old model has proved so unsatisfactory. What’s needed is a continued cultural revolution, aimed at redefining what it means to be male, aimed at liberating boys and young men from the masculine straitjacket.
Read it. The whole thing. It's spot on.


I very rarely use the word "slut" to describe myself.

There are a lot of people who have decided to reclaim it and try to recast it in a positive light. I'm all for that, and I don't think a word that describes someone who has a lot of casual sex should be so negative. I support the efforts to reclaim the word slut.

I just can't do it myself.

It makes me really uncomfortable. I think it's mostly because it's still so overwhelmingly a negative word. It connotes someone who's diseased and irresponsible, as if anyone who has lots of sex is either of these things. (As if people who don't have a lot of sex can't get diseases. Great, double stigma, on sex and disease.)

Slut conveys a complete sexual availability. This is of course not a problem in and of itself. I'm very sexually available, and I think it's great. I like being open to do whatever I want with whomever catches my fancy. "Slut," though, suggests availability to the point of passivity, of loss of choice. A "slut" is someone who "will sleep with anyone." They just go along with whoever wants them. It suggests someone who is often and can easily be taken advantage of.

I think it's a disempowering word. I don't like all the negative and sexist ideas about sex it carries along with it like eight tons of baggage. I can't divorce it from those things in my mind.

It's also just because it's been used against me and hurt me in the past. Its use can completely change someone's life. Women who are labeled sluts get abused and generally treated poorly all the time, just because they're somehow considered subhuman. I don't want that for myself or anyone else.

I recognize that this could be like the word "queer." People in my generation don't have the same negative connotations for it and so we like to use it as an umbrella term. I find it empowering. Older folks don't like it because it was a very negative slur in their youths. Maybe (hopefully!) the same thing will happen for "slut," but I'm okay with not embracing the word for now.

Birth Mother

There's an anonymously written post up at Shakesville about the trauma of being a birth mother.
I have given a baby up for adoption, and I have had an abortion, and while anecdotes are not evidence, I can assert that abortions may or may not cause depression - it certainly did not in me, apart from briefly mourning the path not taken - but adoption? That is an entirely different matter. I don't doubt that there are women who were fine after adoption, and there is emphatically nothing wrong with that or with them; but I want to point out that if we're going to have a seemingly neverending discussion about the sorrow and remorse caused by abortion, then it is about goddamn time that we hear from birth mothers too.

Believe me when I say that of the two choices, it was adoption that nearly destroyed me - and it never ends. The only comparison I have is the death of a loved one. The pain retreats, maybe fades, but it comes right back if I poke at it. Writing this has taken me nearly two weeks. Normally, I can write this amount in about thirty minutes, with bathroom breaks. I started to type, and stopped only to reread, then go wail into my pillow. There is no such thing as "over" with this.
My mother gave up a baby for adoption (also through a Catholic service because she was Catholic at the time) when she was my age. It was just one month over thirty years ago exactly, the spring of her senior year in college. It's so unfathomable that if we were to somehow trade places, I'd have just given birth.

My half brother found our family when I was fifteen, so we know him now, but I can see on a daily basis how much it hurt her to give him up. When he showed up six years ago, she went into something of a tailspin of resurfaced depression over it. I think she's just now getting her life back on track with her health and work and writing, and it's been hard to watch.

I'm very glad that whoever wrote this post is speaking out about this. I've heard so much about it from my mother. She too tries to bring it into dialogue by talking about it, and she's heard some of the most heartbreaking stories from other women who shared because she did. It's hard for me to write about this because it's my mother's story, not mine, but I just wanted to thank the anonymous poster for bravely putting her thoughts out there.

First Troll

I got my first troll the other day!

I got to be called a whore and hear about how all women are whores (because getting paid for sex is like totally the worst thing ever, right?) and feminism is bullshit. Woot.

Seriously, though, I knew it would happen eventually. It's ironically in the same week as the first time I've been called a (fuckin') whore at my university. I'm more perturbed by name-calling by someone I actually know, but it feels all of a piece.

In writing and talking about and having sex a lot, I've always known I practically invite these kinds of backlashes. I got slut-bashed in high school by people I'd considered close friends. That was very hard and hurtful, but I know it's a nearly universal experience for women. I'll bet that all women have been called a slut (in seriousness not in jest or reclamation) at some point.

I've actually been pretty perplexed that I hadn't gotten more of it since I came to college. I write a sex column, I founded a sex discussion group, I'm open about being very sexually active, I'm an out stripper, I'm queer. I've gotten very little negative feedback, even though I am known as "the sex girl" around here.

The person who called me a whore is someone I slept with once two years ago and haven't spoken with since. It was a generally baffling 4am Facebook message, but I'm not particularly worried about it. A close friend basically told me he's got a serious drinking problem and I shouldn't take it too personally, and I'm not.

Getting trolled, though, online and in person, makes me feel like I've arrived. Like hey, someone thought I was being sexually transgressive and felt the need to punish me. Hey, enough people are reading this blog now that some asshole was able to find it and felt the need to comment negatively. I'm a REAL blogger, now! (Like Pinocchio, but without the growing and shrinking phallus on my face.)

So yeah, I am kind of celebrating it. My attitude is kind of like, bring it on! I don't need to be hurt by these things and maybe it can even be a part of having a larger discussion. Let's go! Have at! Dukes up! Here I am, ready.

Time for Activism

I don't mean that in the "What time is it? Time for activism!" way. I mean it in the "I don't have time for my life and I'm trying to figure out how to be an activist and also a person" kind of way.

I recently got sucked into the student segment of a state budget campaign. The irony is, of course, that I'm not working in the state where I vote, but I am supporting a cause I think is important. I'm blogging for the campaign and it's all fairly time consuming.

I've also got all my usual queer activism and I'm the president of the sexuality club I just founded at my school. I've been involved in our college's diversity task force (although I skipped the last meeting) and I get invited (read: pressured) to help with various feminist clubs and progressive groups. I write my column for the school paper.

Then there's my online presence, which I very much value and want to spend time on. I really like reading and writing blogs, I like the community here, and I want to keep up with it. It's pretty fulfilling for me, and my mind is boggled by people who seem to be able to have a huge online presence and do the rest of their lives, too.

Then there's school. I've got an independent study project that I could probably contentedly work on to the exclusion of all else. If I'm going to do it well, I'm going to need to devote a lot of time. I've just had a serious rethinking of how I'm structuring my thesis, so I've got lots of catch-up to do. There are also all my other classes, in which I am behind as usual.

Then there's work. I'm only dancing once a week right now, but I'd very much like to be doing more. I could use the money and frankly the exercise, but I just don't have the time or energy.

Oh yeah, and I want to have a social life. I want to spend some time with my friends. Having sex is pretty important to me, too. I'm not such a fun person when I'm not getting it. It improves my outlook on life and my mood. I want to have time for that, too.

I was thinking about it, and there are plenty of people who seem to do work and school and blogging, but I wonder if they're doing as much in terms of activism. Don't think I'm minimizing how much work it all is without the added activisming (yes, that is a word now, because I said so). I know firsthand that it's a lot of work. I'm just starting to fold and get burnt out. That's clearly the last thing I need.

Graduation is so close, and that's part of the problem. I'm fantasizing about working and writing and being an activist without having to do school. I actually had a dream about it the other week, about summer and being finished. I'll have a degree. I can just live. It's just a question of getting there.

Yes, I Went on It's a Small World and Yes, it Was Annoying

Okay, I should probably have mentioned before I left that I was going to Disney World for a week and most likely wouldn't be blogging. I should probably have realized that I'd have to pay buttloads for the internet in our hotel room and would therefore be sans connection for eight days. I should probably have gone into my dad's room on the one day he paid for the net and updated everything.

But I didn't. And now I'm well fed and have a teeny tiny tan. So that's that. The world will live.

Links Because I Read Too Many Blogs Not to Share

About Time I Take a Stand
Jem writes another great response to the whole BDSM kerfluffle (yes, that's how I spell that word) going on in the blog universe. It seems like she has a nicely balanced perspective, and I appreciate her respect.

Speech on Innovation in Sex Education
Heather Corinna of Scarleteen includes the full text of her inspiring speech on sex ed and innovation. I think she's an amazing person, and while the speech is long it's well worth reading. She talks about how she got to where she is as a sex educator, reaching tens of thousands of people each day.

25 Things About My Sexuality

I'm sure you've all seen the 25 things meme on Facebook or wherever, given that the New York Times wrote about it. There's a new blog up where folks can anonymously share 25 things about their sexuality. It's an interesting read and I figured it'd be fun to join in. I'm posting my 25 things on here, since this blog has enough anonymity for me.

1. I'm a stripper (duh, if you read this blog) and I've dated/had sex with exactly one man that I met at work. It was when I first started and he was very cute and nice, but terrible in bed. After our first time, I stopped seeing him.

2. My first clue that I was interested in women was when I was 12. I had a sex dream about my sister. I was pretty horrified and upset, but also suddenly realized that I was seeing women in a sexual way. This was quite separate from my sister, but it's always bugged me that she was in the dream that brought me to that realization.

3. I "came out of the closet" at the exact moment that I realized the label bisexual could apply to me. I was on the bus on the way home from school and discussing what bisexuality meant with some acquaintances. I said "I know I'm attracted to guys, but I'm pretty sure I'm also into girls. So yeah, I guess I'm bisexual." Thank you, California upbringing.

4. I once gave a boyfriend a blow job in front of a pack (flock? gaggle?) of wild turkeys. Really.

5. I almost never masturbate with my fingers. I went from rubbing myself against a stuffed animal for years to using a vibrator. Fingers are generally too rough for my very sensitive clit. I can make it work, but it takes a LOT of effort and lube.

6. The first person I fell in love with was an emotionally abusive asshole. The only good things he did for me were teach me how to drink and give me lots of good sex. He also made me feel bad, though, about sex, as part of the whole abuse thing. I'm proud of myself for getting out of it before he became physically abusive, as he did with his next girlfriend.

7. I took naked pictures of myself when I was a teen and sent them to at least one person I was having random cyber sex with. My mom found them on my computer and chose to believe me when I told her they were just for me. I deleted them. It makes me feel kind of awkward (and scared, given recent prosecutions) that they may still be out there.

8. I didn't have sex with a woman until I got to college. This made me feel a little like a fraud saying I was bisexual, but I knew it was true. I didn't tell my first few female sexual partners how inexperienced I was. I wish I had, so I could've spent that time learning from them.

9. When I was young I used to have fantasies about being tied up by a male figure and put in cold places or deprived of food and then fed grapes. They were vague fantasies and not exactly sexual as I'd mean the word now. They were arousing, though, in a not-quite-sexual-yet-but-almost way.

10. I keep a list of all the people I've had sexual encounters with. If I didn't, I'd have trouble naming them all, particularly in order. I like to look back at it and remember.

11. I used to read and write erotic short stories and romance and erotic novels. I got teased at school for reading "porn for women," which actually didn't bother me at all. I was kind of proud.

12. I've never watched that much porn although I find it very arousing. It's too much effort to find what I like to see, and I can get off just fine without it. Lately, I've been trying harder.

13. My first time having anal sex was when the afore-mentioned abusive boyfriend got me drunk on his birthday. I was open to the idea sober so I didn't mind. However, the only time we'd talked about it, I'd said I wasn't sure. I'm pretty certain that he was getting me drunk so I'd do it, which is really rapey. It's a weird situation because I was actually willing despite the alcohol, but he didn't know that.

14. I love group sex. I want to have much, much more of it. I've had a few really good threesomes, a foursome with all bi folks which was fantastic, and one of my favorite sex experiences was a lesbian orgy in San Francisco I was lucky enough to be invited to.

15. I have had sex in all kinds of ridiculous places. I've posted here before about how much I love public sex. It's definitely something I've done a lot and will continue to do.

16. I'm just starting to really experiment with BDSM. I've been interested in it for a long time, but the community's focus on pushing boundaries was really intimidating. I'm finally at a point where I'm comfortable negotiating exactly what I want so I can feel okay with someone topping me. Boundary pushing can come over time.

17. I really like being spanked. I'm not sure why this is as I was never spanked as a kid and it's arousing in absence of any role playing. I just like the way it feels; it turns me on.

18. I go through phases where I'm more attracted to one sex/gender than others, but normally I'm pretty pansexual. I don't identify as pansexual because most of the people I've met who do are kind of annoying. Growing up, being pansexual was the cool, non-conformist thing to do and I still associate it with that.

19. The more sex advice I give, the more I realize how little I actually know about sex and the more comfortable I get with that fact. There are always more questions and new things to learn!

20. I like sex outside of committed relationships, but not really "casual" sex. I want to have a connection with someone I'm sleeping with, even if it's just once for forty minutes. Otherwise it's not particularly satisfying to me, even if I have fifteen orgasms.

21. I almost always masturbate before I go to sleep. I often also masturbate at random moments during the day when I'm reading or bored or just horny. It's been a very long time since I've gone more than one day without masturbating.

22. I sometimes get aroused during lap dances. It has a lot to do with how respectful and responsive my customer is. If he or she is both, I'll get turned on.

23. The only things I can think of when my mom asks me "What do you want for your birthday?" are more sex toys. They're some of the only things I want that are too expensive to buy for myself. It doesn't seem appropriate, despite our good relationship, to ask Mom for them.

24. My best friend calls me "Little Nelly Bottom." I worry sometimes that by being more of a bottom I'm not contributing enough to sex. I know that bottoming for me is as much about giving and wanting to please, but I still wonder sometimes if I'm being lazy by wanting my partner(s) to take control.

25. I'm hugely orally fixated, in a not-just-a-joke kind of way. I love giving head and kissing and using my mouth as much as possible during sex. I have a candy problem. I chew on things. When I masturbate, I do things with my mouth like bite my pillow, suck on my fingers, or go down on a dildo.

Road Trip

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When I was at home in San Francisco over winter break, I got together with a guy I'd been talking with online for some time. I met him once over the summer, but we'd gotten to know each other over the internet and have a lot in common. He'd been really sweet to me when I had a (serious, depressing) issue with a friend in the middle of the night and had no one else to talk to.

He's straight, but also works as a stripper at a gay male club in San Francisco. He almost never wears shirts, likes women's underwear, and is totally adorable. I like him quite a bit; he's such a delightfully queer straight man!

Anyway, we were just talking about great it would be to go on a road trip across the country, stripping our way from San Francisco to New York. We've got friends to stay with along the way and a great way to both fund and fuel the trip. I have no idea whether it'll actually happen, but I'd love for it to. Doesn't it look like fun?
On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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