on the soapbox again

When laws become ridiculous, they’re repealed. Or at least, they should be. Case in point: in Arizona, it’s still against the law to have oral sex, anal sex, or (even more ridiculous) any non-procreational sex act. Hmm. Instead of removing these items from the books, the politicians down there are saying it would cost too much to have the law repealed. Or somesuch. Read the whole story if you want. Point is, there are lots of states and provinces in North America who still have ridiculous laws when it comes to sex. Why, why, why? How can we possibly become an evolved society if our laws are 100 years behind our practices?
Is it me, or are we beginning to see a radical swing back(wards) toward puritanical thoughts and beliefs? I’d like to think it doesn’t have anything to do with the newest US president, partly because I just hate it when politics mixes in with my sexual thoughts (kills the mood) but gosh, it’s starting to look that way.
First, Bush declares that there will be no more mainstream Hollywood smut played on Air Force One. Which I find hilarious. Edited films. Maybe they’ll get edited copies from that place in Utah I wrote about a few months ago. Here I thought that governments were supposed to be of the people and by the people… meaning that they represent the people, in all their varied and multicolour splendour. Seems to me that Mssr. Bush is instead trying to be like the clergy – holier than the people they represent. Holier-than-thou indeed.Next, in the NYC’s Kennedy airport, construction workers complained about a new piece of artwork that depicted Jesus, on the cross, naked. The artist actually had to go in and paint a loincloth on her artwork in order to keep the peace.
Other items include crackdowns on Internet porn in Indiana libraries and funding cuts to Pennsylvania State University’s budget because they ran Cuntfest last year.
Arrrrgh.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Politics and sex should not damn well mix!

laughter is the best medicine

We all get too serious about ourselves sometimes. I’m an offender, just as bad (if not worse) than your average Jill. But laughter has also saved me in times of stress or emotional upheaval. I’m naturally a smart-ass, as some of you may have guessed already. This facet instrinsic to my nature just comes out, bubbles to the surface when I’m getting too stressed, or too upset. I laughed the day my husband and I separated. I laughed and cried into my cell phone the day I stood in the next room from my grandmother’s deathbed. Laughter has helped me through the worst of times.
But I also find myself laughing with friends, laughing alone in my apartment, laughing even during the most intimate moments with my lovers. In these settings, laughter is an expression of joy, a rueful acceptance that I am human and fallible, or even a wondrous combination of both. Laughter is also a celebration of the best of times.
And laughter in our most intimate moments can be wonderful.
I guess that’s why I like Hoot Island so much. It’s a wonderful combination of joy, sex, and our own very human foibles. It says that sex doesn’t always have to be a driving, serious force in our lives. It says that it doesn’t always have to be sweet and soft and slow and romantic either. Sometimes it can be silly, just like us. I think that’s one of the best messages I can think of for a positive outlook on sexuality.
Case in point: 50 things to do to an imprisoned lover. This list of tips is a wonderful medley of things that make you say

    oh, I’d never do that but how hilarioushow silly and fun, I wonder if that would work?that’s so damn mean it’s funny, and evenoh, yum, I’d love it if someone did that to me!

Read the list, add to it your own ideas, try it out with a partner every once in a while. Remind yourself that sex can be messy and funny and silly and awkward at times, and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

experimentation or crime?

Kids are curious about sex. Every kid you know is curious about it. You, as a child, were likely curious about it. I was very curious about it, from a very young age. I remember hearing these words – dick cunt fuck and learning what power they held. Parents would freak when you said it. Classmates would giggle. What power!And like many kids, I experimented here and there as a child. Remember playing Doctor? We were curious. It’s normal.
My experimentation didn’t come from playing Doctor; rather, it came from playing Truth or Dare with Susan, a girl in my public school class. I’d go over to her house one summer, and she’d always want to play the game. And her “dares” to me got increasingly sexual over time – starting out by “daring” me to kiss her on the lips, then kiss her with my tongue. Then touch her breasts. Then take off her panties. Over the course of the summer, she got me to “touch her between the legs” once (we’d not yet learned about the concept of “orgasm”) but when she “dared” me one hot summer afternoon to kiss her between the legs, I balked. We never played the game again, and come to think of it, I didn’t go over to her house that much anymore either.
Not the point, though. The point is we were experimenting. And as much as I would sometimes squirm over the memories as I got older, I do realize that it was perfectly normal. Embarassing, perhaps, if “the adults” had figured it out. But normal. In my opinion.
When I read this article about a 12 year old girl being convicted for sexually assaulting her playmates, it brought me right back to my memories of Susan. I didn’t always want to do what she dared me to, but darn it, it was a dare. Add to that the natural sexual curiousity in kids, and it’s understandable why I buckled under, at least until things went further than I was mentally willing or able to go. But I definitely do not consider myself to have been abused or assaulted in any way, no matter how much more aggressive Susan was, or how often she instigated it.
This, I really do think, is going too far. Am I crazy here? I just don’t see how the only recourse the “establishment” felt they had in this situation was prosecution. Sure, if what this young girl was doing was force to these other girls, then they should have been separated, no question. Perhaps even a little counselling to make sure that everything’s OK.All I could think about was how terribly screwed up this young girl is going to be about sex. Talk about sending a very definitive message about sex being a bad, wrong, dirty thing. This could have been handled with so much more finesse, and so much more consideration for all the young girls involved. These girls are at an age when the messages they receive will live with them for a long time. I’m not condoning sexual assault. I’m just wondering if twelve year olds are really at the best age to start sending criminal and prosecutorial messages. This is the time (am I not correct?) to send them messages about sex being wonderful when it is consensual, when it is wanted by both people. Richer when tinged with emotions and often times, easier to handle as an adult. Wouldn’t these messages have served the same role, but with a less devastating effect on sexual identity and self-esteem?
And finally, I was going to write a huge rant on Yahoo. They recently admitted to selling adult products through their online stores, to adults only, and then buckled under the fierce, radically “family-oriented” specialty groups and decided to do away with their adult lines altogether. But as luck would have it, Andrew Stroehlein said it all for me.
Sexual politics of the worst kind, all around. Argh. These people would all be so much better off if they went home, slicked up with some oil, and twiddled or pounded their frustrations out rather than foisting them on the rest of us.

breaking the rules

Ellen Fein, one of the authors of The Rules, is getting a divorce. This event occurs (not without irony) as her newest book, The Rules III: Time-Tested Secrets for Making Your Marriage Work, hits the shelves.
If you’re not familiar with The Rules, look it up online. I’m not going to deign to link to their web site here, but look around and you’ll find it. It’s a book for women who want to learn how to play the game of dating and marriage, and be a success. The original rules include gems like “don’t sleep with a man till the fourth date”, “do not date a man for more than two years”, and “on all nonbusiness e-mails, responding once for every four of his e-mails is a good rule of thumb”.
My problem with this is simple, and it’s not just these rules in particular I’m rebelling against; all this makes the interaction between men and women into a game. A dishonest one at that.The Rules suggest that you don’t act needy; don’t call him, don’t ever initiate sex, be busy. Which of course does not mean that you aren’t in fact needy, just that you’re pretending not to be. In time, though, the truth will out, and then where will you be?
I hate games. I hate the idea that women shouldn’t act interested, when they are. I hate it when men don’t act interested, when they are. These piddling, useless, dodging games that men and women play are silly. They’re hugely dishonest, which is why so many partners seem to “change” after you’ve known them for a number of years. They haven’t, in fact, changed at all. They’ve just, at some point, given up on the charade.
My (to-be) ex-husband is an excellent case in point. Somewhere in the second year of our marriage I asked him why he was so different from the way he’d been in the first year or two together. Very little sex, no sweet surprises, he was (suddenly, I thought) unwilling to initiate anything more than laying about the apartment watching movies. Why?
His answer: “Because I don’t have to any more. We’re married, I don’t have to impress you any more.”
And yet it still took me another year to leave him. Go figure. Well, never again.
I get this from the other end as well – most of my girlfriends at some point or another have advised acting against my feelings or intuition, and basically suggest that I begin playing the game. They even suggest, at times, that it’s neccessary in order to find some kind of lasting and meaningful relationship.I hate games. I hate playing them (and refuse to do so, for the most part – well, at least I’m honest) and I hate people playing them with me. Honestly, if being romantic, sexually agressive – whatever – with the woman you’re dating isn’t your thing, just act that way from the get-go, OK? I may still decide I like you, and stay with you if for no other reason than your honesty. Either way, it will prevent me from feeling lied to and deceived months or years in the future.
And since I feel this way, I try very hard to not ever make someone else feel that way. I’d never want someone to walk away from me feeling deceived. I’d rather they think I was a bitch from the get-go. Which, of course, I can be at times. [shrugs] I’m not denying it.
And the news story on Fein’s divorce seems to bear out my reasoning: playing games does not work. Why not just be yourself and let the other person decide if they can deal with it?Nobody can keep up the charade for life. Eventually, you relax and let go of the rules, and then where do you find yourself? Starting over from scratch, and your partner has to decide if they like this whole new person.
My opinion only, of course. 🙂

sex positivity

Carol Queen shares some thoughts about being sex positive in this month’s issue of Good Vibes magazine. She says – if I may quote her:
If sex-positivity is Utopian–and in a way, it is–we have to be willing to envision the world we want, wherever we are, and start figuring out how to create it: who our allies and appropriate partners are, how to challenge the internal and external voices that say, “You can’t do that.”
Absolutely. This is something I try to remind myself of every single day.It’s not easy trying to create a sex-positive life. There are so many negative influences, both inside and out. Body issues you’ve carried around with you since you were a kid. How your family may have felt about sexuality, and how they chose to express it to you during your formative years. The frown on people’s faces when certain areas of sexuality enter into a conversation. Gender issues. How the model on this month’s Cosmo looks. Friends’ attitudes and opinions. The automatic judgement that most of us carry around to one degree or another – this is acceptable behavior, but that is not.But truly, if you’re going to create an environment for yourself within which you can safely explore your sexuality, it has to be sex-positive, IMO. Tough as it is to shut out all those voices clamoring for attention.
I’ve found, for myself, that there are two phases to becoming a more sex-positive person (though I’m far from being finished with my work in this regard). Both are tough, really tough, and they get harder as you go along. For me, the first phase is applying the axiom “Judge not, lest ye be judged” to the outside world. Looking at all consensual sexuality, no matter how “alternative”, no matter how foreign to my own understanding or experience, as healthy expression of self. This is not easy. No matter how far I get, I’ll still occasionally run across something that people do to or with each other that freaks me out, pushes the “Judge!” trigger button inside me. The voices say, “Eww! That’s sick!”. Oops. So much for progress.
One way I find of getting myself past these moments is to stop in and read some entries from Diary of a Slut. The diary’s owner, Peter, is into all kinds of fun and kinky things, and also some things that stretch the imagination and push it to the limit. But he’s so completely enamored of his playtime, so jubilant and exuberant about the way his life has progressed in terms of sexual exploration and expression, that you can’t help but smile at the end and just love ‘im. And his writing, inevitably, helps to remind me that while all play may not be for me, it’s beautiful and meaningful or just plain fun for someone. And good for him!
If I thought phase one was tough, phase two is even harder: shutting off those internal voices that still carry around words like “slut”. The voices that aren’t always so confident about my looks, my sexuality, my viability. Everyone has those voices; most women I know have those voices ringing loud as a bell a great deal of the time. They’re the voices that have trained you to only examine certain body parts in the mirror; only taking the picture one piece at a time, like a color by numbers. Tough to shut them off. But I do what I can; have a long, silky, sensuous bath with lots of candles and music, and think my way into being sexy. Enjoy the way my skin feels – the softness of my inner thigh, the pebbly hardness of my nipples. Enjoy the way my eyes haze when I’m feeling particularly aroused. Enjoy the small, soft feel of my hands, their incredibly sensitive fingertips running over my body. And remind myself that sexual exploration and expression are not something I just want; they’re something I need. A little bit every day.
In time, I hope to shut the voices off completely. What about you?

principles

I decided to rent The Contender this weekend. I’m not usually one much for politics in the movies (or out of them, for that matter) but what the heck, it was up for some Oscars. I nearly ended up turning off the film in the first half-hour because it was so slow, so political, so boooooring. I’m glad I stuck with it, though.
Yes, lots of political and moral and historic themes here, but that’s not what gripped me about the story. What gripped me was that a woman, a political leader, was being put on the spot to confirm or deny her past sexual behavior. Rumours abounded – about a gang bang in college, specifically – and the sharks were circling relentlessly. And yet Joan Allen’s character, Laine Hanson, took a moral stand based on her beliefs; she refused to answer them. Refused to admit to the allegations, or to deny them. Refused to discuss it in any way, shape or form; refused to discuss it with the press, with the hearing committee, with the President of the United States. Because, for Laine, it didn’t matter whether the allegations were true or not. What mattered is that nobody had the right to ask the questions in the first place.
My favourite quote from the film: “Principles are something you stick to even when it’s inconvenient.” Oh, that quote made me love her. It didn’t matter to Laine – and it doesn’t matter now – what the truth really was. Did she have a gang bang? Was the story true, just skewed? Or was it not actually her at all? Doesn’t matter. What matters is that regardless of whether you damn yourself further or exonerate yourself completely by telling the truth, no one has as right to question or judge your personal life, and most particularly not your sexuality. But making the decision to take such a stand, particularly when the most important career move of your life hangs in the balance, is no small feat. It takes incredible integrity and conviction to do so. Would that we all were as strong as Laine.
What fascinated me as well about this story was its (accurate, I felt) representation of the still-pervasive double standard between the sexual habits of men and women and how those habits are viewed by the general public. If a man has been involved in a number of sexual escapades and this knowledge becomes public, they are viewed as accomplishments, or at the very least dismissed as understandable acts of youth, vigor, or masculinity (or all three). If a woman has been involved in a number of sexual escapades and this knowledge becomes public, the very first (and I mean the very first) word to be thrown into the arena is slut.
<soapbox class=”gross generalizations”>
I still feel (and, admittedly, this opinion is mine alone and may be erroneous) that sexual escapades like these do not hurt a man’s public image. It holds little or no bearing on his ability to do his job, whatever that job may be. It does not affect the public’s opinion on his ability to have friends, to be a faithful husband and partner, or to conduct himself in his everyday life. Sexual escapades such as these would be an event in the man’s life, one small part. It would not define who he is or what he is.
But given the same circumstances with a woman, it does affect things. It affects people’s perception of her ability to do her job. It brings into question her ability to be a loyal wife, partner, mother. We have allowed a woman’s sexuality to define her. The image of slut comes first and foremost before any other abilities or qualities the woman may have. She is less likely to be seen as able to control her sexuality; rather, it’s often seen as something that runs rampant through her, damaging her ability to live her life as a moral and productive human being.
</soapbox>
Why? I think our culture is still afraid of women’s sexuality. Men and women both are afraid of it, tend to see anything above a “certain acceptable level” as rampant and almost as a handicap. Not everyone feels this way, of course, but many do, many do. I’ve seen it firsthand, met men who were very sexually aggressive and active; these same men were shocked and even revulsed by the same level of activity or aggression or even interest when harbored by a woman. I’ve been called a freak, an ice queen, a slut, and more, during the course of my life. All because I am a woman who is interested, open, and matter-of-fact about sex.
And I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that for these people, even if I were to meet them years later, I would be a slut first, and everything else second. These cultural attitudes still prevail, and will continue to do so until it is made absolutely and definitively clear that it is not acceptable to judge a person’s life by their sexuality.Sexuality is your business. You are the only person who may judge. You share it with whom you please. And while it may be a small or medium or large part of your life, it is still only a part, and no one may decide otherwise for you.
Good movie. Rent it. And think.

a book extravaganza

It’s official. I now have more sex-related books than I know what to do with, or have time to read. They sit in little piles on my dining room table, mocking me.
For some titles, of course, the prioritization is easy. I recently had two – two, mind you, a regular feast – Aran Ashe books delivered to my little mailbox. This guy’s work is incredible, and I devour it, though some might find it a bit ponderous. Frankly, I find it amazing that he can write such amazing and arousing books without ever once having to use the words pussy, clit or cock. And without reading like a badly written Harlequin; no throbbing manhood, either. His stories are set in a fantasy time, in a fantasy castle, where there are slaves and Lords and Taskmistresses. These slaves are rarely punished in a heavy physical way; rather, these slaves (male and female both) are trained to pleasure either through pleasure and denial, pleasure brought time and time again until the slave is exhausted, or both. And, needless to say, these books feature some amazing scenes featuring hands. You know me and hands. 🙂
I’ve also got a small pile (four or five books) of Ray Gordon novels. I’d enjoyed his book, Naked Lies (see review) so I thought I’d give some more of his novels a try. I’m halfway through the second, and have to say I’m grossly disappointed. His books don’t start out badly, but they end up ballooning into these incredible tales so quickly out of the gate that it leaves you, as a reader, incredulous. The female lead becomes so completely sex crazed that she’s shoving three-inch candles in every orifice during her many masturbation sessions in between the six or seven sex scenes that include other people, per day. I’m all for fantasy and suspension of disbelief, but let’s get real here. These read more like teenage male fantasies than anything that could ever be construed as truly erotic or stimulating. After the second or third chapter, he’s lost me.
There’s the nonfiction pile. I’ve got titles on BDSM, women’s right to pornography, the A to Z of penis lore and the history of the vibrator. Some of these are half-read, some just started, some still sitting with pristine spines waiting for the first words to reach my fevered and sick little brain.
And last, there’s the “I’ve finished it but have yet to write a damn review for the site” pile. This pile is huge; I’ve given up and put many of them in the bookshelf near my desk, hoping that their sheer proximity to the computer will get me off my butt and writing.
These are, of course, just the sex-related books on my todo list. It gets worse when you start moving into other genres.The problem is, I’m addicted. Like a masturbation junkie unable to walk past a toy store without needing a quick fix (yes, okay, so sometimes I’m addicted to those too – grin), I am literally incapable of entering a bookstore and not walking out with at least one book. Generally I’ll pick up a few. The addiction is a sad and expensive one, particularly given how little time I actually have to read. I remember being able to blast my way through five or six novels a week and still have a social life. Now I’m lucky if I polish off one a week. Less if the book is technical in nature – say, usability or web design or project management.
Addiction, thy name is books. Or sex. Whichever. 🙂