6 Questions to Ask Before Sex

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By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Despite how we see it portrayed in the media, sex is a very personal act – with both emotional and physical consequences. So, it’s extremely important that you approach it with the serious thought that it deserves. This includes asking yourself and your partner some key questions.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Does having sex fit with my core values? At a very basic level, it helps to be clear about the extent of emotional intimacy and commitment you believe there should be in a relationship before having sex.

There is also the question of whether being physically intimate with a particular person fits with your morals or values. If either you or your potential sexual partner is in a committed relationship with someone else, pause before acting on your desires. There are also other situations worth thinking twice about, such as sleeping with your boss. So whatever your circumstance, consider the problems you might be creating by acting on your passions.

Is this person a wise choice for me? Even if you are incredibly attracted to someone or they look great on paper, you may know in your heart that they are not right for you. Or, you may have some nagging doubts. Maybe they treat you poorly, are insensitive to others (even while they idolize you), struggle with an anger or alcohol problem, or raise concerns in some other way. In all of these situations, you may want to, at least temporarily, override your libido. When you have sex with someone, you are bringing that person more into your life and heart – a choice you may live to regret. 

Is the timing right? Sex can increase emotional closeness, so if you’re not ready to get closer, you may want to hold off. For instance, if you have just gotten out of a long-term relationship, having sex too soon could interfere with developing what could have been a good match. Similarly, acting on sexual attraction before getting to know someone might feel good in the moment, but also create problems in developing a deeper connection.

3 Questions to Ask Your Partner

What are we to each other? You want to know whether you are on the same page so that you don’t set yourself up for heartache. To clarify your situation, you might directly ask about whether they are single or romantically involved with someone else; and whether they are looking for a fling or a committed relationship.

When were you last tested for STDs and HIV? This may be an uncomfortable question to ask, but you need to be sure that you’re safe from these potentially serious health risks before you move forward.

What will we use for birth control? Whatever you decide to use, make an informed choice to prevent a possible unwanted pregnancy or disease.

These questions are just a start. From there you might want to get to know each other better, deepening your emotional and sexual intimacy. But these basic questions are an essential starting point for any new sexual relationship.

Complete Article HERE!

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What is autosexuality?

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A growing number of people are pledging undying love to themself

A newspaper interview by a woman who is planning to marry herself has triggered fresh debate about this growing phenomenon of self-love.

Talking to the Metro, self-described autosexual Ghia Vitale, a writer from New York, said: “I’ve been attracted to myself for as long as I’ve been cognisant of attraction.”

The newspaper notes that this sexual identification has been “seldom talked about” – so what does it mean?

What is the definition of autosexuality?

In 2013, Psychology Today blogger Leon Seltzer described autosexuality, or autoeroticism, as “one of the ‘fuzziest’ concepts in the entire field of human sexuality”, with “little consensus on what it actually means”.

The Medical Dictionary defines autosexual as “characterised by sexual physical self-contact (e.g., masturbation, erotic fantasies or rituals)”.

According to Seltzer, autosexuals “are attracted primarily – sometimes exclusively – to their own bodies”, and autoeroticism “involves a whole range of sexual behaviours and attitudes”.

“Many individuals fitting this designation might self-stimulate only when other alternatives aren’t feasible,” he adds. “Some might find themselves turned on both by themselves and others. Others might be aroused (or arousable) solely by themselves – whether through sight or touch.”

It may involve “being autoromantic – experiencing the relationship with yourself as romantic”, says Metro.

“It can mean being turned on by your own look and nudity, getting butterflies when you think about yourself, being excited to spend time alone, and masturbating to the idea of yourself. It’s all the feelings we get for a potential new suitor but for ourselves,” the newspaper continues.

Is it a new concept?

No. In his book Freud and Autosexuality, sychoanalysis researcher and professor Michel Herve Bertaux-Navoiseau writes that although “the Greeks didn’t have a word to designate autosexuality”, philosophers of the time “did not make any difference between making love with one’s clitoris or foreskin or with two sexes”.

Psychology Today’s Seltzer also cites the Greeks. “As the original Narcissus of Greek mythology became enamoured of his own image (as reflected in a pool of water), so can pronounced autoerotics be physically attracted to – or titillated by – themselves,” he says.

What else do psychologists say?

Seltzer argues that autosexuality “isn’t a one-dimensional phenomenon”, adding: “Moreover, it cannot be overemphasised that very few individuals do not – to whatever degree – exhibit certain autoerotic elements in their sexuality.”

Dr Michael Aaron, author of Modern Sexuality, tells lifestyle site Refinery29: “It is very common for people to be aroused by themselves [to varying degrees]. Some experience it more like an orientation, in that they feel more aroused by themselves than by others.

“In fact, if you bring a mirror into your sex life, you can transition those feelings of arousal into an experience that you can enjoy with partners. And if you’re really into having sex in front of mirrors, there’s actually a name for that fetish – katoptronophilia.”

Self-outed autosexual Vitale claims that sex researcher Bernard Apfelbaum was the first to coin the term. In an article on blogging platform Medium, Vitale argues that the true number of autosexuals is underestimated and understudied.

She asks: “Is it because it’s still so stigmatised nobody ‘believes’ it’s real and thus, never sincerely studies it? Or is it because autosexuality is actually quite rare and there aren’t enough folks who manifest behaviour in the same way to properly qualify it?”

Complete Article HERE!

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Let’s Stop Ignoring the Truths of Puberty.

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We’re Making It Even More Awkward.

Sex education in U.S. schools is lacking, but new efforts to broaden its scope are bubbling up.

By Maya Salam

“I’d rather they just don’t teach anything if they can’t be honest.”

— Susan Lontine, a Colorado state representative who introduced a bill that would mandate teachings about safe sex, consent and sexual orientation in the state’s public schools

By the time I was 15, most of my knowledge about puberty was gleaned from one-dimensional tales on TV and in movies. I learned what it meant when a pubescent boy carried a book in front of his body (cue laugh track) and that when girls develop breasts, boys (and men) “can’t help but” ogle them. That’s about it.

In the last year or so, TV and film have made strides in representing pubescent girls as complex and awkward beings who also happen to be sex-obsessed (a trait normally reserved for adolescent boys), my colleague Amanda Hess pointed out in a recent piece about the shows “PEN15” and “Big Mouth” and the movie “Eighth Grade.”

“The lustful adolescent girl is having her moment,” wrote Hess, a Times culture critic. “It is not, to be clear, an altogether glorious time,” she said, adding that “girls’ feelings matter, too. And these girls feel so much.”

Such nuances and acknowledgments of female sexuality are largely missing from sex education in U.S. schools, where curriculum is lacking over all.

The majority of states don’t mandate sex ed at all, and just 13 require that the material be medically accurate. Abstinence education remains a pillar of most programs. And that is saying nothing of more complex issues like consent, sexual orientation and gender identity. (In seven states, laws prohibit educators from portraying same-sex relationships positively.)

Simultaneously, the influence of pornography is growing. “Easy-to-access online porn fills the vacuum, making porn the de facto sex educator for American youth,” Maggie Jones wrote in The New York Times Magazine last year. Her article pointed to a study in which high schoolers reported that pornography was their primary source for information about sex — more than friends, siblings, schools or parents.

“There’s nowhere else to learn about sex, and porn stars know what they are doing,” one boy told Jones.

But to keep up with the times, new efforts to broaden the scope of sex ed are bubbling up.

A pornography-literacy course, titled The Truth About Pornography, was a recent addition to Start Strong, a peer-leadership program for teenagers headquartered in Boston and funded by the city’s public-health agency.

In Colorado, a new comprehensive, student-supported sex education bill is working its way through the state’s Legislature. It would require the teaching of safe sex, consent and sexual orientation, as well as bar abstinence-only sex education. If passed, Colorado would be the ninth state to require that consent be taught.

And today, the first guide to gender-inclusive puberty education was published by Gender Spectrum, a nonprofit organization that works to create gender-sensitive and inclusive environments for children.

Among other principles, the guide — intended to give educators tools they can incorporate into existing course materials — stresses the complexity of gender as the interrelationship between one’s body, identity and expression. The point, according to Gender Spectrum, is to “ensure that no student’s passage through puberty is stigmatized or made invisible.”

Perhaps leading the way is the British government, which last week announced a major change to the nation’s sex education curriculum, the first revision in decades. Starting in 2020, it will cover topics including same-sex relationships, transgender people, menstruation, sexual assault, forced marriage, pornography and sexting.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sexually Submissive Men Have Something to Say

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Learn About the Complex and Varied Experiences of Sexually Submissive Men

by Aysha White

It’s pretty much unquestionable that BDSM is having its 15 minutes of fame culturally.

The massive popularity of the book 50 Shades of Grey and it’s inevitable, on-screen adaptation prove that the public is eager to learn more about the world of BDSM, which commonly stands for bondage, domination, sadism and masochism, though there are variations under that moniker.

It’s not surprising that BDSM is enjoying more mainstream success; a study revealed that 51 per cent of men and approximately 39 percent of women were sexually aroused by the idea of having a dominant or submissive sexual partner. These results also reveal that more men than women are attracted to the idea of having someone be sexually submissive to them.

What is lacking about the mainstream depictions of BDSM is variety. 50 Shades of Grey centres around the love/sex story of two characters, the naive/innocent student journalist Ana and the mysterious and damaged businessman Christian Grey (the namesake of the movie).

A lot of cultural dialogue around the subject, including mainstream media sources, have imposed a heterosexual idea that reinforces existing gender binaries, where the man is the dominant partner and the woman the submissive.

It ignores the experiences of sexually submissive men and dominant women, arguably because they flout social customs. We live in a sexist patriarchal culture that promotes and profits off the physical and emotional submission of women.

Men who are sexually submissive are essentially giving the finger to social norms, and that isn’t comfortable to people who promote a mainstream, church-on-Sundays, mashed-potatoes-every-Wednesday kind of existence.

Pseudonyms have been used for the people interviewed, to protect their privacy, as well as their current and future employment opportunities.

Calvin Hobbes

Hobbes is a submissive latex-loving man,] who loves to serve his Mistress. “I feel complete when I’m submissive—whether that’s in a sexual context or in terms of being obedient to my partner in day-to-day life,” said Hobbes.

He views his sexuality as kinky or submissive, though he can often enjoy vanilla sex. Vanilla, in the context of the kinky community, is meant to describe sex that doesn’t have any BDSM elements to it, but it can also be used to describe people who don’t practice BDSM.

Hobbes described himself as essentially straight, but does experience occasional attraction towards other men.

“I think a lot of submissive people, of whatever gender, find that being submissive is a release from responsibility in other aspects of their life—whether it’s work, family, or just being responsible for your own behaviour and emotional state,” he said.

Hobbes began to realize he was interested in being dominated by a woman around the age of 16 or 17. “I think that from a fairly early point in my adolescence, I felt that women were more in touch with their sexuality than men. That awareness came across to me as a type of power that I found very appealing,” he said.

As a teenager, he felt confused about all of the new things he was feeling, and by the conflicting societal messages he received about how to behave. “The idea of a woman who knew what she wanted and unambiguously asserted that was delightful.”

“For over a year now I’ve been in love with a beautiful dominant woman who loves having me as her slave. The connection there, and how happy and proud she makes me feel to be her slave, makes me want to be completely open about the nature of our relationship,” he said.

Catiya Kass, his Mistress, described being a female dominant as an empowering kinda of experience. She said the intimacy it created between her and Hobbes led her to fall in love with him quicker.

“We’re socialized to defer to a man’s needs, and this relationship style flips that on its head. Through prioritizing my pleasure together we’ve discovered my body is capable of more than I ever thought possible—hands-free orgasms, orgasms from inflicting pain, multiple orgasms (current record is 54 in one day!). This has made me appreciate and love the body that I live in, and given my slave even more reason to worship it,” said Kass.

Believing in destiny is a personal choice, but if you do believe in it, you might see these two as an example.

Kass reached out to two online profiles in one week, one kinky and one vanilla. Long story short, they both belonged to Hobbes, which he subsequently revealed to her. The two have built a successful sexual and romantic relationship, built on open communication about their interests, needs, wants, and boundaries. The full-time domination that they engage in together has been a new experience for both of them.

“I like challenging and pushing my sub to explore boundaries, such as wearing his collar or latex in public.”

Hobbes likes employing latex in his sexual practices, describing it as the most sensual material he knows. “I find that the way it stretches as you move makes it feel almost like wearing a lover that caresses you all over at once. It’s sublime,” said Hobbes.

Hobbes noted that the process of getting dressed in it, including the application of polish to make it shine, can be a be a sensual form of foreplay as people run their hands over each other’s bodies. “I find that wearing latex makes my sense of stimulation less penis-focused and more of an all-over bodily experience,” he explained.

Hobbes pointed out that while for women being objectified is a form of misogyny, for men, not used to being seen for their appearance, the experience can create the opposite feeling. He feels like in the context of sexual submission, being treated like an object, “to be used and admired,” and the feeling of being completely and totally wanted provide him with an ego boost.

“I feel that being submissive is really part of how I was born. But I do think there’s something to the idea of submission being a release from being smart all the time, and from overthinking things.”

“There’s definitely a threshold one crosses into ‘subspace,’ where you stop thinking about what’s happening to you and how it could go next, and reach this mindful or meditative state of complete acceptance, let go of responsibility, and just enjoy existing for your partner’s pleasure,” said Hobbes, pointing out that the feeling can be especially strong if his Mistress is flogging or pegging him, or else having him placed in full body, restrictive bondage.

Flogging means being whipped. Pegging is a gender flipping sexual act, of a woman penetrating a man anally, usually with a strap-on.

Afterwards, he explained that the dominant will release the submissive, a practice known as aftercare. It’s meant to ensure they are physically recovering from the scene, as well as emotionally supporting their process of re-attaching to responsibility and being in charge of themselves again.

“Mistress and I don’t have a relationship where we ‘play’ occasionally. I’m always submissive to her, she’s always dominant over me, sometimes it just becomes more intense. I find that the more intense the dynamic between us becomes at any given time, the more I crave for it to become even more intense, and I slip deeper into submission,” explained Hobbes.

“Women who are self-assured, smart, know that they’re capable of taking care of themselves, and know what they want have always made me melt,” he continued.

Hobbes said that he derives a lot of fulfillment from serving women and knowing he’s making someone he loves happy. He feels that being submissive removes some of the guesswork out of relationships, as he’s comfortable following orders, trusting that his Mistress wouldn’t abuse her power over him.

“Dominance isn’t about abuse, or manipulation. It’s about care, and earning authority. And submission isn’t about weakness, it’s about confidence, dependability, and trust,” said Hobbes.

He pointed out that many people who are not a part of kinky society may not understand the amount of time, effort, and negotiation of boundaries that gets put into establishing a healthy kinky relationship.

Hobbes doesn’t believe in the idea of divine powers influencing life on Earth. “There is no cosmic judge who wants us to avoid certain foods, wear certain clothes, or gets angry if we fuck or fall in love in certain ways.”

He said that having an open-minded yet rational attitude has made him more open to alternative life choices, like BDSM and polyamory. “We’re on our own, but we’re free to live our lives how we see fit, and find meaning and value in our relationships, our work, and our communities,” Hobbes explained.

“Letting someone else be in charge is really nice. It’s a strange irony I suppose, that politically I identify as an anarchist—the pacifist type, not the Molotov cocktail type—and believe very strongly in egalitarianism and individual freedom. But I feel so happy being owned, commanded, restrained, and objectified by the woman I love, where that power imbalance is consensual,” he said.

Logan Roland

“I’ve never been a leader or anything. I like following a lot more” said Logan Roland, a cross-dressing submissive man who works at a John Deere factory where the overt masculinity contrasts with his private and overly feminine desires.

Roland describes himself as a straight man. “I like it in the back for sure [but] I don’t think I’d let a guy do me,” he said “I’m straight but also really feminine. I don’t mind plugs and toys with [male genitalia], but wouldn’t want to be with a man.”

He likes using toys such as butt plugs to give him that feeling and likes to leave them inside his rectum, experimenting with different lengths of time, or vibration. He also really loves being restrained.

Roland explained that he had always been curious about the act of cross-dressing since childhood, when he first started to try on women’s clothes.

He began understanding how he was aroused by BDSM practices. He enjoyed seeing girls tied up in cartoons and movies. He began to experiment with touching himself and tying up his ankles with belts or long socks, until “I got better things like actual ropes and cuffs.”

He began to understand more about BDSM and the way his own sexuality fit into that by watching related porn on the internet.

Roland is a practitioner of self-BDSM, meaning he experiments with putting himself in bondage positions. He describes the feeling of being tied up as being very comfortable and natural for him, even relaxing enough to fall asleep in.

So far, actually having a Mistress and being her slave remains a fantasy to Roland, but one he is eager to make a reality.

“I would definitely consider being a full-time slave as long as I got to see my family and friends,” said Rolland. “I’ve definitely been getting more into it and wanting a dominant partner.”
“[Following] excites me a lot more. I’d like to not be in control and have someone else controlling everything.”

He is open to the idea of trying to find one on a site like Fetlife—consider it Facebook of the BDSM community—but he lives in small town in Tennessee, meaning he doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of options in close proximity.

“I try to be careful about who I tell about it honestly. I’ve slowly been opening up to more people about BDSM and [my] girly side.”

He thinks that if more people were aware of his interest in submission and cross-dressing, they wouldn’t accept it, and pointed out that dominant men are seen as more acceptable in the mainstream than submissive ones.

Roland has a fondness for women’s skirts and capri pants. He recently tried shaving his legs, which was a positive experience as he continues to experiment with his sexuality in relation to cross-dressing.

He said his ideal outfit to cross-dress in would be “capri pants, a cute top with flip flop sandals, or flats.”

“I honestly love how girl clothes feel. They are so much more comfortable than guy clothes, and it’s also exciting, kind of like a forbidden fruit in a way because of it not being accepted really in the norm of our society now, but I do really love how they feel honestly and I love how cute they are and how [many] more [styles of clothing] girls have over guys.”

Some of Roland’s friends know he likes to cross-dress and are supportive of it. No one in his family, apart from a cousin and his brother, know about his feminine side. When his parents leave town for the weekend, he’s able to dress up in women’s clothes while hanging around the house.

“It definitely sucks hiding my girly side but I’m happy with the time I get to be myself, like at my friends houses or my cousin’s. They both let me dress girly and I’ve done self-BDSM around both. So it’s definitely a nice escape from hiding it a lot and it feels amazing when I get to let it out,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

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A Dating App for Three, Plus

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Nonmonogamous coupling — and “thruppling” — has been lubricated by the internet.

By Haley Mlotek

Feeld is a dating app with options that put the Kinsey scale to shame.

If you’re single, you can set up an account stating your preferences and curiosities, as you might with any other service. The app lists 20 possibilities for sexuality alone, including heteroflexible (straight-ish) and homoflexible (gay, for the most part).

But couples and partners can sign up, too, in service of finding a third — or a fourth.

The app was released in 2014 by Dimo Trifonov and Ana Kirova, two graphic designers living in London, as 3nder (pronounced “Thrinder”). They hoped to appeal to individuals and partners looking to join or have threesomes. But after Tinder filed a lawsuit and the company rebranded as Feeld (as in “playing the”), the founders said they welcomed the opportunity to expand the mission of the app.

“Feeld is a platform for alternative dating, for people who are beyond labels,” Ms. Kirova said in an interview. “They can meet each other without the necessity of coming from a very defined place with a very defined requirement.”

According to the company, the majority of Feeld users are between the ages of 26 and 32, and they cluster in major cities: New York, London, São Paulo, Los Angeles and Paris. About 35 percent are on the app with a partner, and 45 percent identify as something other than heterosexual. (Gender options include nonbinary, intersex and two-spirit, as well as gender-nonconforming, genderqueer and gender-questioning.)

Feeld facilitates types of sexual attachment that are not exactly novel, but are often described in novel terms. (See “thrupple,” a term sometimes used to describe a romantic partnership for three people.) And it’s certainly popular, or at least, of growing interest to many. The company did not provide the most up-to-date download information (in 2016, it reported 1.5 million downloads), but says there are currently 12,000 connections made on Feeld and an average of 100,000 messages sent on a daily basis.

It’s not just the vocabulary of sex and sexuality that has evolved.

The rhetoric of relationships has become increasingly about labor (a lasting romance takes work), and the rhetoric of labor has become about relationships (each company is a family). Consequently, start-up origin stories are often expressed as love stories — the result of passion and ambition, open communication and ready collaboration. For Mr. Trifonov and Ms. Kirova, who began dating six years ago, those semantics are true in every sense. They made Feeld as much for their users as for themselves.

Mr. Trifonov said that they had been together for two years when Ms. Kirova revealed she also had feelings for a woman. “She felt really bad about it, like she was doing something wrong,” he said.

The two met in London, though they were both raised in Bulgaria, an environment Ms. Kirova described as rigid. “If you’re not straight, you’re not normal,” she said. Ms. Kirova considered herself and Mr. Trifonov to be open-minded — “artistic” is how she put it — but it took her a long time to question her own straightness. “That moment when things started shaking and changing, I was like, I’m losing my identity,” she said.

Mr. Trifonov and Ms. Kirova wanted to stay together while also giving Ms. Kirova space to try other relationships, but they didn’t like the options available to them. (They decided to search as a couple.) They felt unfairly judged by the label “swingers,” and recall users on other dating apps reaching out to say they shouldn’t be in spaces intended for single people.

Thus, Feeld was born.

The company struggled to find funding at first: Mr. Trifonov said many prospective investors considered the app “adult entertainment,” which venture capitalists tend to avoid for reasons as legal as they are moral. (On that, Mr. Trifonov said: “How come you can’t differentiate pornography from sexuality? These are two different things.”) Apps like Tinder and Bumble don’t advertise their utility when it comes to polyamorous exploration, but they can be used to the same end. (OkCupid recently added a feature that allows couples to link their accounts in their pursuit of a third.)

Eventually an angel investor swooped in to save Feeld, but the fact that the business is sex-related has presented other challenges.

An attempt to build a Feeld integration for Slack, which would allow co-workers to anonymously confess their office crushes, was, unsurprisingly, shut down — a human resources complaint waiting to happen (the company told Mr. Trifonov it was a violation of their developer policy). The money transfer app TransferWise temporarily blocked Feeld’s ability to collect money for paid memberships (which offer more privacy) because Feeld was considered “adult content.” Mr. Trifonov also claims he was refused an office rental because the landlord didn’t approve of the nature of their business.

Now, the company is up and running more or less smoothly, with some 20 people employed. In the tradition of small businesses everywhere, all workers do multiple tasks, and titles are given more for the benefit of people outside than those within it. (The company also runs an event series on nonmonogamy and put out a magazine.) Ms. Kirova describes herself as being responsible for general product leadership, long-term conceptual ideas, as well as much of the hiring and personnel decisions. Mr. Trifonov, the founder and head of the operation, believes she’s just being modest: “She’s like the unicorn of the company,” he said.

If they had stayed simply a threesome app, Mr. Trifonov believes it would have died as a threesome app. “When I started Feeld I thought — like every other founder, I guess — this company isn’t going to be like other companies,” he said.

I asked if he thought that there was some overlap between the two expectations: that social mores, from business to the bedroom, are better overthrown than followed. “I guess they overlap somehow, don’t they?” he replied. “When you have the mind-set of questioning things, it applies everywhere. We questioned our relationship. We questioned the way the business will work.”

Complete Article HERE!

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When Sex Workers Do the Labor of Therapists

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BY Carrie Weisman

Sky is a professional escort. She’s been working at Sheri’s Ranch, a legal brothel located in Pahrump, Nevada, for a little under a year. A few months back, a man came in asking for a group session with Sky, who prefers to be identified by her professional name, and one of her colleagues. He had come around a few times before. He made it a point to keep in touch through Twitter. This time, however, the session took a dark turn. He came in to tell them he was planning on killing himself.

“We see a lot of clients who have mental health issues,” she tells In These Times. Though, this experience was markedly more dramatic than her usual run in with clients who going through a depressive episode. She and her colleague were eventually able to talk the guy down. They sent him home with a list full of resources that specialize in matters of depression. They asked that he continue to check in with them through social media. 

Research suggests that upwards of 6 million men are affected by depression every year. Suicide remains the seventh leading cause of death among men in America. While it’s impossible to gauge exactly what percentage of that demographic frequents sex workers, the experiences of those in the field can offer some insight. During Sky’s last tour at the Ranch, she scheduled about seven appointments. Out of those bookings, only one involved sex. “We do a lot of companionship and intimacy parties,” she says. “The clients who sign up for those bookings are the ones struggling with loneliness.” 

And people with depression aren’t the only neurodivergent individuals sex workers encounter on the job. Those suffering from anxiety, a common accompaniment to depression, show up frequently. They also see a lot of people who fall on the autistic spectrum. In fact, Sky says she sees men who fall into the latter demographic relatively often. 

Sky first got her start in the industry working as a professional dominatrix. While she has since pivoted her position in the industry, she’s found ways to incorporate that expertise into life at the brothel. Sure, she offers standard escort services, but she also books sessions dedicated to BDSM, an acronym that can be broken down into three sub categories: Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission and Sadism/Masochism. Each dynamic refers to a specific form impact play that participants can find deeply pleasurable. That kind of tactile experience, she suspects, might offer a certain special appeal to men with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). And she might be right.

Among the many symptoms of those diagnosed with ASD is a resistance to physical contact. According to the CDC, early signs of the disorder may present in the form of an aversion to touch. At the same time, touch is an important sensation to experience. A lack thereof can lead to loneliness, depression and even a more secondary immune system. Researchers have determined that therapies designed to nurture regular sensory integration can help in this regard. 

Goddess Aviva, who also prefers to be referred to by her professional name, is a lifestyle and professional dominatrix based in New York City. Like Sky, she sees a good amount of clients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and also men dealing with depression and anxiety. She takes certain measures to screen clients. After all, violence against sex workers is an ongoing issue in the United States, and the wavering legality of the trade doesn’t exactly help combat the issue. In the wake of new federal legislation that has largely kicked sex workers offline, and with them, the ability to vet clients from afar, sex workers must be more vigilant than ever about whom they decide to take on. The clients who are neurodivergent or live with mental health conditions don’t seem to be the ones sex workers are worried about.

“You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to be a shitty person, and some of my clients who do deal with mental illness are wonderful, kind people with good intentions,” says Aviva. “I’ve never felt unsafe with a client that makes it all the way to a session. What matters most to me is that someone is respecting my boundaries, time and protocol.”

Sky, too, has encountered a number of undesirable clients throughout her career in the industry. But, similar to Aviva, these experiences don’t seem to be driven by those suffering from mental health or neurodivergent conditions. “My most uncomfortable moments in the industry have always come from men who would be told by a professional that they were completely sane,” she explains.

Fortunately, for Sky, it’s much easier to weed out problematic clients in places where prostitution is legal. According to her, the brothel has a security team monitoring the property. She also says there’s a sophisticated screening mechanism in place. Before booking a session, all clients have to provide ID and agree to an intimate screening to rule out immediate potential health risks. These aren’t typically privileges those operating independently have access to.

Throughout her career, Sky has encountered clients who have been pointed to the brothel by concerned friends, or family. She even knows of a few who have come by at the suggestion of a therapist. Though, not all mental health professionals would advise that kind of thing.

“Certainly, there are individuals that struggle with social anxiety, which prevents them from finding a real-life partner, and in those cases engaging with a sex worker can be both therapeutic and pleasurable,” says Dr. Michael Aaron, a sex therapist, writer and speaker based in New York City. “But the best option for a therapist that is looking to provide a patient with real-life experience is to seek out surrogates, who are trained and certified by the International Professional Surrogates Association.” The organization he’s referring too, also known as IPSA, operates around a triangular model of therapy involving a patient, a surrogate and a trained therapist. Together, the three work to improve the patient’s capacity for emotional physical intimacy through a series of structured, sexual experiences. The legal status of the practice is largely undefined in most of the United States. 

And maybe it’s not just in the interest of clients to see someone trained to provide the level emotional support they may be after. “It can be heavy,” says Sky. “I’ve had days where I have to take a minute for myself and get myself back together.”

Still, it seems as though few in the field shy away from providing the emotional labor that clients demand. “There’s this huge misconception that at the brothel we just have sex all day,” Sky explains. “But there are a lot of people who come in to work out some serious emotional issues. It’s really a good chunk of what we do.”

“I love my job,” she adds. “But there are certain parties that make us feel like we’re actually making a difference in the world – that we’re actually doing good things and not just providing a good time. And that can be super fulfilling.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Lube, Butt Plugs, and Bondage, Oh My!

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Just another day at your friendly neighborhood sex shop

By: Emma Chekroun

Having a part time job in college isn’t uncommon. Some students wait tables, others have jobs through their university, and some, like Haydin Wellens, a junior at the University of Minnesota, work as a cashier at a sex shop. Similar to other students, Wellens goes through his week’s worth of classes before working eight to nine hours on the weekend. Wellens fights exhaustion and tries to keep up with homework while working his late night shifts. The highlight? Much better party stories.

Wellens revels in the opportunity to talk about his job. “People will be talking about their jobs, and I usually start out with I work at a sex shop and…” pause for reaction. What usually comes next is smiles and stares of anticipation.

That anticipation lingers. There is something exhilarating in talking about and going to sex shops. Staring wide eyed at all the toys and tools that decorate the walls is enough to make anyone feel eager and anxious. 

While customers may only dedicate a few hours to browsing a sex shop, for those maintaining these glimmering palaces of self-love, it’s a lifestyle. 

Not Just a Job

Vincent Valcroft, assistant manager at Bondesque near Uptown, said he loves building people up through his work at the BDSM and fetish wear specialty shop. “I get to contribute to something that helps people,” he adds, “to bring greater wellness, meaning, and pleasure into their lives and relationships.”

Wellens, cashier at Lickety Split, and Cat Charles, website manager at Smitten Kitten, both said the best part of their jobs was answering questions and giving customers a safe space to ask them.

Charles said it’s “delightful and fun” to have sex as the subject manner of work. They enjoy making sex a normal and comfortable topic for shoppers.

Education also takes an important role in working at a sex shop. At Smitten Kitten, every employee is trained in the store’s sex ed curriculum. The shop also holds periodic free sex workshops, such as “Anal 101.”

Bondesque also holds workshops centered around BDSM, which Valcroft hopes contributes to a “holistic kink experience” in the store. Meanwhile, Wellens takes on an informal education outside of work, utilizing the internet to be better informed.

“I love figuring out how the different toys and interests work,” Wellens said. “Doing research into products on my own time doesn’t really feel like work.”

Education is a major way these sex shops pay it forward to the community. A shop’s attitude also has a big impact on its workers and the community. Wellens described how his manager created a position for him when he applied to Lickety Split back in June of 2018 and how that contributed to the family-like workplace he enjoys so much.

Valcroft went as far to say at Bondesque it’s “not a sale, it’s a celebration” and described the fun and explorative setting he strives to achieve at the store. When the community you and your store are a part of branches off into a spectrum of gender identities, orientation, and age groups, it’s important to “celebrate people,” Valcroft said.

Funny Moments

Even a community saturated with pleasure and support has its occasional negatives. From drunken shoppers to more dangerous exchanges, it’s not always easy being the purveyors of pleasure.

Wellens has had his fair share of run-ins that range from hilarious to horrifying. One particularly frightening story involves a knife and customer named Jelly; “we learned he was called Jelly after the fact,” Wellens clarifies.

Jelly became irate, yelling slurs at Wellens’ co-worker. Wellens went on to say, “He got super frustrated and pulled out a knife.” He adds, “It was more funny after the fact,” although that seems hard to believe.

Wellens’ stories only get wackier from there. At one point, a man came in waving around a sizeable chunk of marijuana for no apparent reason. Drunk frat guys have played leapfrog, Wellens added. “One time a guy bought a cock ring,” Wellens continues, “and tried to put it on in the store.” This patron wasn’t drunk or high—just “very excited,” Wellens clarified.

For Valcroft, there hasn’t really been one defining hard part of his job, except maybe when “the gimp gets loose,” he explained, only half kidding while a devilish smile spread across his face.

But all laughs aside, the world of sex shops, is just that: a world.

There’s a Whole World Out There

Even sex shop workers encounter kinks they’re not familiar with. A resounding response from all three sex workers, no matter the kink, is that sex shops are a judgment-free zone. Don’t be afraid to have questions, just leave the nitty gritty personal experience out, according to Wellens.

Your kink isn’t that weird, Charles assures. They also encouraged beginners to be open to new experiences and not be discouraged if something doesn’t work out for you.

Valcroft described BDSM and fetish as a “journey,” which the other sex workers agreed with—it’s a journey to find what you like.

Lots of communities are included, so there is a good chance you can find what you are looking for. Smitten Kitten specifically identifies as “queer-centered.” Every shop mentioned here has some form of gender expression or cross dressing inventory, gender expression involving toys, and other items for persons in the transgender community to express their identity. This can include strap-ons or realistic artificial penises.

A tour of Bondesque illuminates several kinks that fall under the radar of popular culture, such as sex toys for electrosex, which involves electrostimulation, and is surprisingly safe. There are also tools/toys for medical fetishes and latex fetishes.

And yes, for those interested in feet, Lickety Split sells silicone feet, according to Wellens.

Aside from kinks, a few new things discovered this week through interviews, an anal workshop, and a sex shop tour: silicone lube is not good for silicone sex toys, fetish parties are like raves mixed with fashion mixed with latex, and there is something out there for practically everyone. Most importantly, sex shop workers make a rewarding career not only out of selling toys but also out of making comfortable environments for sexual deviants and newbies alike.

Complete Article HERE!

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3 Reasons You Feel Sad After Sex & What To Do About It

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By Kelly Gonsalves

After having sex, most people usually experience a host of positive physical, mental, and emotional feelings—a sense of euphoric high, satisfaction, relaxation, and perhaps a warm intimacy with their partner.

But sometimes, a person may instead feel the opposite. Immediately following sex, they’re hit with a wave of negative emotions: They feel suddenly sad, irritable, or isolated, and they may even start inexplicably crying. The phenomenon is known as postcoital dysphoria, and it’s actually way more common than you’d think.

What is postcoital dysphoria?

“Postcoital dysphoria (PCD) is the experience of negative affect following otherwise satisfactory sexual intercourse,” a team of researchers explained in a 2011 study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health. “Under normal circumstances the resolution phase of sexual activity elicits sensations of well-being along with psychological and physical relaxation. However, individuals who experience PCD may express their immediate feelings after sexual intercourse in terms of melancholy, tearfulness, anxiety, irritability, or psychomotor agitation.”

Importantly, PCD refers to when there is no discernible reason for the person to feel negatively about the sexual experience that just happened—it was consensual, pleasurable, and perhaps even induced some orgasms, and yet the person still feels upset afterward without a clear understanding as to why they’re feeling that way. It can happen to someone even when the person they slept with is someone they’re in a serious, committed, and loving relationship with, just as easily as it could happen when it’s with a first-time or casual partner.

There has yet to be much substantive research done on PCD, and so it’s still not a well-understood phenomenon even among sexual health professionals.

“We unfortunately don’t really understand postcoital dysphoria very well,” Vanessa Marin, a psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy, tells mbg. “We really only know that it exists. It doesn’t seem to have any relationship with the type or quality of sex that you have, or your relationship with your partner.”

The few studies that have been done show that PCD is a fairly common experience: A 2015 study found 46 percent of straight women had experienced it at least once in their life, and 5 percent had experienced it a few times in the last four weeks. Another study released last month found 41 percent of men (most of whom were straight) experienced PCD at least once, and 20 percent had experienced it in the last four weeks. (Side by side, these two studies suggests PCD happens at fairly similar rates between men and women, but the latter study actually found women were about twice as likely to have experienced PCD in the last four weeks compared to men and nearly three times as likely to have experienced PCD in their lifetime.)

What causes these negative emotions after sex?

A lot more research is needed to fully understand what causes postcoital dysphoria, but scientists have posited three main theories for what could be behind the otherwise inexplicable emotional response:

1. Your brain chemistry.

According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, it’s possible that “bonding with a partner during sex is so intense that breaking the bond triggers sadness.” Sex therapist Ian Kerner tells Health that having sex can trigger the release of oxytocin, the so-called love hormone that makes people feel attached and connected to another person. But after the sex is over, the sudden recognition that you’re not actually as connected as the hormones made you feel (either because it’s a casual sexual encounter or because there may be underlying issues in your relationship) can make you feel sad or frustrated. You go from feeling incredibly close, both emotionally and physically, to feeling alone, rejected, or yearning for what’s not really there.

2. A history of unexplored trauma.

The few studies that’ve been conducted around PCD have found a history of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse is correlated with a higher incidence of PCD, both among men and women. Essentially, it’s possible that having sex—even terrific, pleasurable, consensual sex—is simply a triggering experience for you because of your past traumas. It’s well-known that having experienced sexual assault and/or abuse, especially as a child, can have lasting psychological consequences as a person grows older and tries to engage in a normal sex life.

3. Feeling vulnerable.

The truth is, sex is a pretty vulnerable thing in general. You’re totally naked with another human being, sharing the most private parts of yourself that you generally don’t show to most people. That act alone can afterward trigger emotions, too, that you normally keep to yourself.

“A vulnerability hangover is most often triggered by going too fast or doing too much for what the psyche or body can handle,” sex coach Irene Fehr tells Bustle. “It is often exacerbated by a cocktail of consciousness-altering substances such as alcohol or drugs that relax and allow the drop of inhibitions, enable going faster than might be comfortable, and make crossing boundaries that would otherwise hold in a conscious state possible.”

How to handle the post-sex blues.

1. Develop an aftercare ritual.

Among people who practice BDSM, a concept known as “aftercare” is commonplace following a sexual encounter. Aftercare refers to caretaking activities in which the dominant partner offers affection, gentleness, and support to the submissive partner (and sometimes vice versa) to make sure both people avoid any negative psychological effects from the intense power play they engaged in together during sex. In an interview with mbg, clinical sexologist and psychotherapist Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., recommends a similarly soothing post-sex practice for people who suffer from PCD, even if it’s something you do alone.

“Participate in some type of self-care ritual,” she suggests. “Whether it’s a bath, reading a book, taking a nap, or meeting your friends, do something to nurture yourself.”

2. Track your experiences.

“You can always try tracking your own experience and see if you notice any patterns,” Marin suggests. “It may be that you tend to feel PCD in certain types of avoidable situations. Or you may be able to find patterns in what helps you move past your reactions faster. For example, maybe taking a shower afterward or snuggling with your partner makes you feel better.”

3. Talk to your partner about it.

Research shows a person’s connection with their partner has nothing to do with whether they experience PCD. In other words, you’re most likely not feeling sad because there’s something wrong with your relationship. That said, having one person have a negative emotional reaction after sex can be stressful and confusing for both people, so it’s a good idea to keep your partner in the loop about what’s going on, especially if you know PCD is a common occurrence for you.

“If you’re with a partner and feeling embarrassed, you can simply say something like, ‘This is something that happens to me after I have sex. It’s not tied to the sex that I’ve just had. It’s just a thing that happens. I’ll be over it soon,'” Marin says.

4. If needed, don’t be afraid to seek help.

If you can’t talk to your partner about what’s going on for whatever reason, make sure you’re talking to someone, whether a trusted friend or a therapist. Dr. Overstreet says it’s important to make sure there’s not another underlying issue (such as trauma, sexual dysfunction, or something else) that might be causing your emotional response, which a therapist or health professional might be able to help you treat.

5. Allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel.

“The best thing you can do is give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel after sex,” Marin says. “If you can be gentle with yourself and allow those feelings to exist, they’ll go away on their own faster. It’s when we try to fight against our feelings that they get much stronger.”

If you need a real outlet, Dr. Overstreet suggests writing down what you’re feeling to help you acknowledge and process those emotions in a healthy way.

Whatever you do, just know that you’re not alone in your feelings, and you’re not abnormal for having them. Many people struggle with postcoital dysphoria from time to time; what’s important is developing an appropriate and healthy way to respond to your emotions and take care of yourself (and your partner) as you go through it.

Complete Article HERE!

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When Brooklyn was queer: telling the story of the borough’s LGBT past

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In a new book, Hugh Ryan explores the untold history of queer life in Brooklyn from the 1850s forward, revealing some unlikely truths

The cover of When Brooklyn Was Queer.

By  

For five years Hugh Ryan has been hunting queer ghosts through the streets of Brooklyn, amid the racks of New York’s public libraries, among its court records and yellow newspaper clippings to build a picture of their lost world.

The result is When Brooklyn Was Queer, a funny, tender and disturbing history of LGBT life that starts in an era, the 1850s, when those letters meant nothing and ends before the Stonewall riots started the modern era of gay politics.

The book grew out of Ryan’s other project, The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, a sort-of travelling museum that creates installations celebrating the histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Ryan and his friends had done shows about local queer history in other cities but never in Brooklyn, where many of them lived. When they decided that they should do a Brooklyn event, they put out a call for information and got little reply. “People just didn’t know Brooklyn’s queer history,” says Ryan. “I thought I’d just go to the library, get the book about queer Brooklyn history. It’s probably from the 1970s and all of 10 people have read it. There wasn’t one.”

Ryan started collecting information and then got a grant from the Martin Duberman Fellowship in LGBT studies at the New York Public Library. “They said to me when you are done with this grant you should have your book proposal written.”

One recurring theme in his research that fascinated Ryan was how Brooklyn’s rise from rural backwater to New York’s second city mirrored the rise in interest in sex and gender studies and – sadly – the rise in homophobia, bigotry and abuse.

Construction on the Brooklyn Bridge started in 1869, the same year that human rights campaigner and journalist Karl-Maria Kertbeny first used the terms homosexual and heterosexual.

Shortly before that, the Erie Canal finally connected the city to the Great Lakes, bringing jobs and the urbanization that allowed queer life to flourish – especially along Brooklyn’s waterfront.

“Brooklyn’s growth runs along the same timeline as the evolution of our modern ideas about sexuality,” says Ryan. “You could chart the two against each other. I used Brooklyn as an example of how things were developing in the world and America generally.”

The poet Hart Crane.

The book is studded with the stories of Brooklyn-based A-list gays of yesteryear: Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Truman Capote. Then there is The February House – a Brooklyn townhouse that was once home to WH Auden, Benjamin Britten, Carson McCullers and Gypsy Rose Lee and which also hosted Salvador Dalí, his fearsome wife and muse Gala, and the writers Paul and Jane Bowles (a cast that would make the most cerebral Celebrity Big Brother house ever).

But the book also excels in uncovering what life was like for “ordinary” queer folk such as Loop-the-Loop, a trans woman and sex worker from Brooklyn at a time when “trans” was not part of the vocabulary (Loop preferred “fairy”) and Coney Island’s working-class gay bath houses.

Much of the information Ryan gathered was from sources who hated the LGBT community – and increasingly so as it was studied and categorized.

One of those groups was the Committee of 14, a group of morally righteous New Yorkers who drove for prohibition, then against (straight) prostitution and, on discovering the queer community, went after them, too.

“They were crazy,” said Ryan. “On the one hand I am glad they existed because otherwise the records they kept wouldn’t have existed but at the same time it’s shocking. They were a very strange group of people.”

One of the fascinating aspects of the book is how accepted the queer community was in Brooklyn at certain periods (and by certain people). During prohibition, gay and straight bars merged while during the war, queer life flourished as sailors poured into town, categories were looser than today and – again with caveats – there was acceptance.

Hugh Ryan.

“Before World War II, especially in 1920s, there were a lot more spaces where queer and non-queer people mixed,” says Ryan. “There was even this period ‘the pansy craze’ where it was fashionable to have limp-wristed men in movies who may have been gay or trans or entirely outside that in movies.”

But as queer profiles rose, so did the backlash. The repeal of prohibition drove gays and straight apart and the queers went underground where the police – and the mafia – came after them.

America’s love affair with eugenics, the “science” of improving the population by controlled breeding, caught up with the queer community as it had with people of color. Queers were dangerous to the health of the nation, easily blackmailed, not to be trusted. They were driven out of public life, academia, the movies; society turned against them.

By the 1940s, thousands of men would be arrested each year for “degeneracy”. In 1942, Senator David Ignatius Walsh’s career was destroyed in a sensational sex scandal that involved rumours that he had frequented a gay Brooklyn brothel that was being used by Nazi spies. The New York Post, which had fought for the US to join the war against Germany when Walsh was set against it, broke the story which became known as “Swastika swishery”.

Ryan thinks Walsh was probably gay but that the claims he attended the brothel were dubious.

The brothel’s owner, Gustave Beekman, and several others were arrested. Beekman cooperated with the authorities but still received a 20-year sentence in Sing Sing for sodomy and wasn’t released until 1963.

“The legacy of all of this is when we get this turn towards homophobia – 45 to Stonewall or the early 80s – there is this really negative idea that gay life is sad, small, limited, dirty, painful, persecuted. And I think that we have internalized that. Anytime before Stonewall that was what gay life was, when really it was just what gay life was like when gay life was becoming speakable in most of America and was getting its history written,” says Ryan.

“We have this ahistoric idea that what life was like in 1957 was ‘What Life Was Like’ for gay people.

An image from Brooklyn Pride 2015

“Well, it’s not like that now. Today Brooklyn is arguably the epicenter for queer New York culture, vibrant, diverse, out and proud. It’s awesome,” says Ryan. “It’s exciting, it’s more diverse than it’s ever been. More powerful. I think people are paying attention. what happens in Brooklyn sets the tone – and not just in queer culture.”

But is it sustainable? Can we keep the gains we have while we strive for more?

“It’s very hard to tell. There is an amount of retrenchment that happens anytime there is progressive gains. We are always on a pendulum. I worry about that but I do think that some things have changed forever.”

There’s probably no better time for us to relearn Brooklyn’s queer history.

Complete Article HERE!

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Why — and how — parents should help teens develop a healthy understanding of sex

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By Ellen Friedrichs

Recently, I attended my 12-year-old daughter’s instrumental concert. The group sounded lovely, and you could tell how much work the kids had put into their performance. My daughter has been playing viola for five years. She has an ensemble class twice a week in school and takes weekly private lessons. She is also supposed to practice on her own.

When it comes to learning an instrument, or mastering driving, cooking, playing a sport, or becoming fluent in a foreign language, this type of training is the norm. We would never expect someone to instinctively excel at, let alone enjoy, these things without at least some routine instruction or study.

Yet when the topic is sex, something that is arguably more nuanced and complicated than many other life skills, we often assume that putting similar structures for instruction in place will be harmful to young people, or will encourage risky behavior. Or we’re just too uncomfortable to talk to them about it at length. But having worked as a health educator for the past 15 years, I have seen how harmful this misguided approach can be.

The United States’ high rates of adolescent pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections are well documented. But what isn’t discussed as often is that the actual experiences of teen sex can be really negative. Frequently, teens hook up in secret, without a committed partner, maybe under the influence of substances and often with the fear of getting in trouble. Many are pressured into things they would rather not do. Others are having experiences that aren’t consensual. And even when it’s consensual, a lot of the sex happening among teens doesn’t feel great, particularly for girls with male partners.

This bleak picture contributes to an understandably common view that teens are just too young to have sex in a healthy manner, and that the best choice is for them simply to abstain. Certainly that assumption is fair for many.

But this view ignores the fact that plenty of these negative experiences are not the byproduct of youth, but rather the result of the conditions under which many teens are having sex. In a culture where abstinence-only programs have taken the place of real sex education, and where many teens lack the resources to prevent pregnancies or STIs, let alone the ability to deal with these situations if they occur, it is common for teens to feel shame, fear and anxiety about sexuality. And many feel like they cannot turn to adults for help when they need it.

So what would it look like if we gave teens the tools to help them succeed? For one thing, we know that accurate information about sex and access to reproductive health care makes teens less likely to become sexually active in the first place. Then if they do have sex, these supports mean they are far more likely to use condoms and contraception, and are at significantly lower risk of having nonconsensual experiences.

It might feel counterintuitive, but parents who want to help teens grow into sexually healthy adults are going to need to step up to the plate. Here are six ways to do that,

Actively support comprehensive sex education in your community and oppose abstinence-only programs. Attend school board meetings where the issue is being discussed, and share your opinion with school officials. Many studies (including one published last month in the American Journal of Public Health) have found that abstinence education has not only failed to prevent teens from having sex, it has also put teens who receive it at greater risk for STIs, pregnancy and even sexual assault than those who get comprehensive sex education.

Make sure teens understand consent. They need to know that sex can’t be truly consensual if there is pressure involved, or if either person is inebriated. It should be clear that if they aren’t completely certain that someone wants to have sex, or if they are questioning how far someone wants to go sexually, they don’t have consent. Teens should also be aware that while many people assume that a lack of a verbal “no” constitutes consent, that is not the case. Teens should be encouraged to clearly state their desires and boundaries.

Support healthy teen relationships. Get to know your child’s boyfriend or girlfriend. If you have concerns about their relationship, share them. But if the relationship seems solid, make it comfortable for the couple to spend time in your home and allow them privacy. Doing this won’t cause teens to have sex if they otherwise wouldn’t, but we do know that if young people choose to become sexually active, doing so in the context of a loving relationship is far safer than a casual hookup. In fact, studies have determined that for older teens, being in a respectful sexual relationship with a caring partner can help them develop better social relationships in early adulthood, can increase self esteem and decrease delinquent behavior.

Teach them to communicate. Make sure teens understand that they should express their limits, likes and dislikes to a partner, and that the expectation should be that both people enjoy the experience. That means that in opposite gender encounters it isn’t only about a boy’s pleasure.

Create an environment in which your children can talk to you. Many parents fear that a conversation about sex will be uncomfortable or will make them seem overly permissive. But letting these fears prevent open dialogue tends to do more harm than good.

Help teens access reproductive health care. Putting barriers in the way of teens’ health care can be dangerous, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has advocated for all teens to have access to confidential reproductive health care, saying it greatly improves health outcomes for adolescents. If you live in one of the many places where teens cannot independently access health care, help them make appointments and ensure they have time alone with their doctors.

The idea of helping teens develop sexual skills may feel like parents are condoning something that they should actually condemn. But American teens face a lot of hurdles on the path to developing healthy sexuality, and when we look at the research, it becomes clear that the best thing we can do for our kids is to help them become sexually informed and proficient long before they become sexually active, and then to help them stay safe and informed once they do.

Complete Article HERE!

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Gay Sex And Censorship:

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How Gay Spaces Are Being Changed By “Family Friendly” Standards

By Devin Randall

As gay society continues to be accepted into the mainstream, its sexual identity is thinning out.

Gone are the days where a gay man could experience an establishment full of other gay men. Instead, the gay man is losing the place he so greatly needed. Spaces of self-expression where attraction and inclusion were guaranteed.

Now, our gay bars have become mainstream. The place to be. Now, a gay man will enter “the straight man’s gay bar” where female friends will feel comfortable and safe, and straight male friends will complain about having their butts groped.

Of course, some spaces do still exist. The occasional sex shop with a backroom used for unspoken exploration, the remaining bathhouses that pale in comparison to the social hotspots of the past century, and the leather bound clubs stationed in plain sight but covered with a “need to know” front. But these spaces don’t speak for all queer men.

Then there are, of course, gay apps. Apps like Grindr, Blued, and Scruff have become the calling card of gay men. They are the digital spaces where men can converse and, more likely, hunt for their next sexual adventure.

But the distance from our screns has created distance in our hearts. We have devolved into dehumanizing each other in preference of jockstraps and headless torsos. While gay men have always been overtly sexual, this digital age has made us less empathetic than ever before.

And worse of all, even these digital gay spaces are under attack of the mainstream eye. Social media apps like Grindr, Scruff, Tumblr, and Facebook are under attack from censorship.

Grindr is fighting a court battle with a man named Matthew Herrick. Herrick’s ex created several fake accounts of him. These accounts then pointed strangers to the man’s home address and place of work. But instead of suing his ex, the man is suing Grindr. He claims the app and company are negligent in monitoring its users.

If found guilty, Grindr’s case could change the face of the tech industry and apps in general. Companies will then increase their monitoring of users in fear of also being sued. While this result might, at first, seem appealing, it ultimately will lead to stricter rules and more oversight on apps.

We’re already seeing how that can be a bad thing with Scruff, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Last month, Scruff released an update to its policy on profile pictures. Users are no longer allowed to post pictures of themselves in jockstraps, underwear, or bikini styled swimsuits.

While some may celebrate this change as an effort to humanize and de-sexualize users/the app, the real effort was made to fit in with family friendly standards. Scruff made the change after its app was taken off the Apple app store. They want to appeal to the mainstream program’s regulations and are thus changing this gay space to do it.

Then there’s Tumblr with a very similar story. Tumblr got taken down from the Apple app store because child pornography had slipped through its censors (never mind the fact that the site was riddled with porn bots for years).

To fix this, Tumblr banned all adult content. Their very sloppy way of enforcing this is by flagging any pictures, videos, and gifs that can seemingly appear sexual in nature. If a post or picture includes too many flesh colored pixels, it’s flagged down.

In the process of this NSFW visual crackdown, LGBTQ users have found their accounts and posts flagged for deletion. Some with reason, but many without.

And then there’s Facebook. Ever since the site was used as a tool for influencing US voters, it has been changing its algorithms and policies left and right. Then late last year, the site updated it’s Community Standards Policy.

Now, gay users on the social media app have been flagged and outright banned for sharing LGBTQ content. In this case, even the inclusion of certain words and terms can incite a ban.

It’s not just everyday citizens who are getting banned or flagged for sharing gay content. Gay publications and sites are also feeling the pressure. Perhaps even more.

Due to Facebook’s constant tweaking of its algorithm, posts from gay sites get flagged and are shared less. Facebook will make it so fans and page-likers won’t see posts about gay content. This is partially because they are gay in nature, and partially because Facebook wants to avoid the spread of fake news.

In a business where clicks equal pay, the inability to reach your audience is a punch to the stomach.

But speaking of advertisers, there’s another problem here. Advertisers are pushing for more “family friendly” content from gay sites. That means tweaking the way that gay stories are told and presented.

On top of that, mainstream sites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed have dedicated separate staff and sections for LGBTQ stories. Some believe that gay sites like Instinct, Queerty, and more will soon disappear. Then, queer citizens will have to go to these mainstream sites to find their news.

Clearly, there’s a change in the air. As gay men become more accepted by the mainstream, we are being forced to work under their restrictions. Our spaces, real and digital, are fading into theirs. Meanwhile, our self-expression and sexual exploration are being pressed down or outright banned in order to fit a global standard.

But here’s the thing, is all of this bad news? Not every gay man finds comfort in the gay sex scene. Once idolizing the gay club and sex scene through shows like Queer as Folk and movies like Not Another Gay Movie, I too have found the gay sex scene to be tiring. As I wrote last year, the hyper sexualized spaces no longer excite me but discomfort me.

It appears that specifically for gay men, this mainstreaming of LGBTQ culture is focused on watering down the heightened sexuality that we’ve indulged in for decades and centuries.

And as much as it’s a shame to lose the clubs and the sexual history, we gay men have evolved beyond it. Even further, we are not beholden to sex.

Gay men can be gold medal winning athletes, business men, singers, actors, politicians, teachers, lawyers, construction workers, drivers, and more. Sex is only one factor of what it means to be a gay man.

It’s a difficult issue, because gay men should fight to maintain our existence, our safe spaces, and our right to sexual expression. But, are we still only defined by our love of sex in dark and secluded spaces?

We are under attack by censorship, and we certainly should fight back. But, our pursuit of happiness is not determined by merely our right to sex but by our right to sex, love, and life.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to Make Sex More Dangerous

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Refusing to provide children with medically accurate sex education isn’t ideological — it’s negligent.

By Andrea Barrica

I cried the first time I saw a naked man. As a young woman growing up in a conservative Catholic household, I couldn’t even look at my own genitals, and thought I would go to hell for masturbating. The abstinence-only education I received — at school, at home, in the church — left me with years of shame, isolation and fear.

I’ve watched the recent battles over allowing comprehensive sex ed in Colorado, Utah and Idaho, and I know how much is at stake for children. As a sex educator and entrepreneur, I’ve spoken with thousands of similarly miseducated young people, and I know the mental and physiological damage it can inflict.

Americans laugh at the embarrassment parents face in talking to kids about sex. But it’s not a joke. Fewer students now receive comprehensive sex ed in our country than at any time in the past 20 years. Since the late 1990s, conservative activists — often with the help of conservative presidents — have steadily chipped away at sex education by funding and mandating abstinence-only policies in schools.

Only about half of all school districts in the United States require any sex ed at all. Of those that do, most mandate or stress abstinence-only instruction. No birth control. No sexually transmitted infection prevention. No consent

In fact, 18 states require that educators tell students that sex is acceptable only within the context of marriage. Seven states prohibit teachers — under penalty of law — from acknowledging the existence of L.G.B.T.Q. people other than in the context of H.I.V. or to condemn homosexuality. Only 10 states even reference “sexual assault” or “consent” in their sex education curriculums.

And in districts where comprehensive sex education is provided, parents are largely allowed to opt out of such instruction for their children.

Conservatives often frame sex ed as government overreach, arguing that lessons in sexuality and relationships are best provided by parents. But most parents can’t or don’t provide such guidance. Refusing to provide children with medically accurate information about their own sexual development isn’t ideological; it’s negligent.

It’s not even effective. States that place a heavy emphasis on abstinence-only sex ed have seen much higher rates of teen pregnancy, even when studies control for factors like income and education levels.

During the Obama administration, funding for abstinence-only sex education was shifted toward more comprehensive sex education — and teen pregnancy dropped nationwide by 41 percent. The Trump administration, embracing an abstinence-only approach, has reversed course, cutting more than $200 million in funding for the program.

Despite the dreams of social conservatives, few teens actually practice abstinence. Nearly 60 percent of students have sex before they graduate from high school, according to some surveys. Many do so without any instruction from parents or schools on condoms, infections or consent.

Perhaps that’s why one in four American women will become pregnant by the time they turn 20.

Or why a quarter of all new cases of sexually transmitted infections occur in teenagers — and the number of S.T.I.s has been at all-time highs.

Or why only 41 percent of American women have described their first sexual experience as wanted.

When we refuse to teach students about sex, we don’t stop sex — we just make it more dangerous. And it’s not just because of S.T.I.s.

Kids who lack information and ownership over their bodies are more likely to be taken advantage of. When children are taught that all premarital sex is negative, it’s harder for them to fight, or report, abuse or coercion.

Abstinence education negates the possibility of consent. When I was a teen, I was taught that men would try to get sex from me, and that my job was to say no. That made me feel as if the coercion and violations that happened to me were my fault. All sexual acts are equally wrong, so if a boy went too far on a date with me, it was my fault for letting him touch me at all.

Keeping children in the dark allows predators to set the narrative. They count on the culture of silence and the sense of shame. When virginity is prized as the highest honor, those who are assaulted can feel even more worthless — and may avoid reporting abusive or predatory behavior out of shame and confusion.

For L.G.B.T.Q. children, things can be even more bleak. A lack of inclusive sex education contributes to feelings of isolation and shame, while enabling bullies. L.G.B.T.Q. kids have even fewer resources, and face more drastic consequences — from physical abuse to homelessness — when they attempt to report assaults.
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When we promote abstinence over medically accurate sexual health, it inflicts a lifetime of physical and psychological harm on young people.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In many countries, the right to accurate information about sexual health is deemed essential. Children raised in the Netherlands, for example, begin sex ed in kindergarten. American teens give birth at a rate that is five times higher than that of their Dutch counterparts. Most Dutch teens report their first sexual experience positively.

We joke about sex because it’s difficult for us to talk about. And in part because our parents weren’t able to talk with us about it, we’re unable to talk with our kids. We can break the cycle for the next generation of young people by fighting for accessible and comprehensive sex education.

Their safety is more important than our shame.

Complete Article HERE!

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What is it about feet that some people find such a turn-on?

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Why is foot fetishism so popular among gay men? And how do people incorporate their passion for feet into their sex lives?

Foot fetishism may be more common than you imagine

By

Are you into feet? One the the great things about the internet is the way in which it connects people with niche interests.

Through sharing online, people are able to explore their sexuality and gender with others around the world.

In fact, the net reveals what many may have considered ‘niche’ are actually not so. This could be applied to foot fetishism.

Scroll through Grindr, Scruff or any other popular gay hook-up app, and you’ll soon discover someone with a passion for feet or footwear.

The world’s most common fetish?

‘I regularly meet people who report being “into feet”, alongside other things like trainers, socks, etc,’ says psychotherapist and clinical sexologist Dominic Davies, founder of the UK-based Pink Therapy network of therapists.

‘I would say it’s a fairly common interest.

‘People can be into feet for many different reasons,’ he continues. ‘It should be borne in mind that sexual interests vary massively across, time and place. There are cultural contexts to take account of. In some cultures, feet are considered unclean and should not be touched, one must sit with one’s feet facing away from others.

‘In our cultural contexts, some people find being at someone’s feet and worshipping them quite a submissive or humiliating act so it may occur in BDSM [bondage, discipline and sadomasochism].

‘But aside from that our feet have many nerve endings, they have both sensitivity and sensuality; so the receiver of foot worship may derive a great deal of pleasure from having them licked or sucked or nibbled.

‘Nerves on the feet respond to touch’

Davies’ view is backed up by a London-based, club promoter, Andy. He runs a monthly fetish night devoted to foot fetishism called Feet on Friday, and another called Sneax on Saturday.

‘Nerves on the feet respond to touch’ he says. ‘The part of the brain where they end up is a similar part to the brain where people’s erogenous zones are kept. So there’s a bit of relationship between the two.

‘It’s a bit like why some people like having their nipples played with. There’s a physical reason.

‘And for a psychological reason, for a long time in the 80s and early 90s, before the days of PrEP, it was seen to be an activity that lots of people enjoyed that was very safe. Just a sensual thing to do. I think that’s also part of it.’

His night, Feet on Fridays, attracts 70-80 guys each month. Andy says it’s a very mixed crowd with a wide range of foot-related interests, beyond just toe sucking.

Many people have a fetish for sneakers and other sports shoes.

‘It is really super diverse. The thing about the foot fetish thing is that you get people who are into so many different things. You get people who are into clean feet, or who like sweaty feet. Men who like hairy feet. People who like smooth feet. Then you get the guys who are into socks and footwear, whether it be boots or trainers or smart shoes.

‘Then you get people who are into doing things with feet, like tickling or guys into trampling.

‘Everyone has their own sort of things that they’re into, and I think that a lot of people are into more than one thing. But it’s just a very diverse spectrum of feet related things. There is one guy there who’s into giving pedicures.’

Trampling

Mark (@crushmyguts), a 37-year-old gay man, is one such foot worshipper. He has a particularly interest in being squashed and trampled under another guy’s feet. He says he first became aware of it during secondary school.

‘Those adolescent years, when boys are becoming men, all of a sudden I found myself curiously interested in what those men had on their feet! I was certainly into it in time for my first school crush.’

Mark says when he spots a guy he’s attracted to, the first thing he look at is his footwear.

‘What peaks my interest? Nikes more often than not, but sneakers generally. Solid rough boots can do it for me too.

‘Once the footwear is off, I’m usually more attracted to white sports socks, and if they have nice feet, then I’m up for them naked as well.

‘Some guys just find it too unusual’

When it comes to incorporating his attraction to feet into his sex life, Mark says, ‘I’ll be honest, it does pretty much dominate my play, and in a dominant way too. I like to go under my guy’s hot sneakers, boots, socks and sexy feet – literally have him walk over me, trample me.’

Are most guys he meets happy to indulge his interest?

‘To varying degrees. Some guys just find it too unusual. It freaks them out. Others will be like, “here’s my feet”, maybe get me to massage them for a bit, possibly even step on me for a few minutes, then it’s back to something more vanilla, back into their comfort zone.

‘And of course relationships and play often involve indulging your partner – on both sides – with some common ground in the middle.

Turned on by certain types of feet

Other guys who talked to Gay Star News expressed a strong interest in certain types of feet.

‘I am attracted by chubby men feet, the feet need to be chunky,’ said one.

‘One thing that drives me crazy is tanned and hairy feet with delicate soles,’ said Vinicius Ribeiro (who shares some of his feet-related interests via his Instagram @mr_boytoy). ‘But the aesthetic part is not the main thing. What really appeals to me is the whole package. I prefer executive daddies with black socks or sweaty bad boys.’

Another found long toes a particular turn-on. Several mentioned the submissive-dominant aspect of foot worship.

More common in men than women

According to Davies, it’s not surprising that many guys in dating apps express an interest in feet.

‘In Justin Lehmiller’s survey of 4,175 Americans’ sex fantasies from his book Tell Me What You Want, he found the following results with respect to whether people reported having ever had a sexual fantasy in which feet or toes played a prominent role: 4.7% of heterosexual women, 18.4% of heterosexual men, 10.9% of non-heterosexual women, and 20.9% of non-heterosexual men.

‘For non-binary individuals, it was 18.7%. So these fantasies are most common among men and non-binary folk.’

Why do we develop fetishes?

Why foot fetishism is more popular with men remains unknown. However, Davies also has plenty of thoughts about why we develop fetishes generally.

‘Sexologist John Bancroft proposed that there are two periods in our life when we’re especially likely to develop fetishes. Around the age of eight or nine we might have some kind of intense emotional experience – probably non-sexual. It could be excitement, or fear or anything pretty intense.

‘And whilst in that hyper-aroused state, we have a powerful sensory experience that unconsciously hooks the two things together.

‘An example I often cite is a little boy being taken for a spin in his Dad’s new car: the smell of leather, the warmth of the sun, Dad’s excited mood and a special bonding just between father and son.

‘Years later, he wonders where his interest in leather comes from, and his first recollection takes him back to this innocent and yet highly charged emotional experience.

‘The second active period is usually puberty when curiosity and experimentation and burgeoning sexuality can give some peak experiences. I’m sure there are other ideas around too, but in my clinical experience of exploring these things, I’ve found a remarkable correlation with his theory, even though correlation doesn’t equal causation!’

Most of the guys who spoke to us for this article were unable to trace their interest back to specific events of childhood, with the exception of Ribeiro.

‘I remember always liking to play with feet since I was very young … my cousins spent the night at home and we slept together. We usually lay in opposite positions and their feet were close to my face, and this turned me on.’

Damaging or harmful?

If all involved are enjoying themselves, fetishes can add an extra dimension to sexual pleasure. But is there a point where fetishism can become unhealthy or damaging?

Only, says Davies, if it crosses lines of consent. Or if you feel it getting out of control. In that instance, he recommends talking to a kink-based sex therapist.

But if you find yourself attracted to feet but have never had the courage to mention it to a sexual partner, rest assured you’re far from alone. You may be surprised by how many other people are into the same thing. As the saying goes … if the shoe fits!

Complete Article HERE!

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What Having Sex With Women Taught Me About Myself

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By Tanya Compas

Until I was 23, I had only ever slept with cis men and always felt conflicted when it came to sex because on one hand, I love it – like, really love it – but equally I was scared to enjoy it because of the stigma attached to being a sexually active woman. From a young age, a woman’s sexual agency is policed by society and I found myself sleeping with men to validate my femininity – often men who would play upon my insecurities. After some unhealthy relationships with men, at 21 I consciously became celibate to find out what I actually wanted from relationships. At 23, I realised Hey, I think I might like women too.

Soon after, I went on my first date with an androgynous woman I met on Tinder. After a few drinks at a rooftop bar, we hit a club and I ended up in an Uber back to hers. My celibacy came to an end that night. From that moment, the way I viewed myself, my sexuality, my body, my sexual agency and gender changed.

The unwritten rules of dating and sex in the hetero world rob women of their sexual agency; I didn’t realise just how little agency I had over my own sex life until I began dating women. I realised I was either abstaining from sex out of fear of being seen as a ‘hoe’ or having orgasm-less sex because I prioritised a man’s pleasure over my own. I’ve since had to spend a lot of time unpacking and unlearning the toxic behaviour and language I inevitably picked up through my years of heterosexual dating, in order to have healthy relationships with women.

One of the biggest things I have learned since sleeping with women is that there is no shame in being a fluid person. My gender expression is both masculine and feminine. Yet when I was dating men, my femininity became a performance because in my head the man already ‘fulfilled’ the masculine role in the relationship, so I felt like I had to hyper-feminise myself and hide my masculinity. This continued to play out as I dated the first woman I slept with. She was androgynous and masculine presenting, so I found myself once again performing my femininity. Every time I saw her, I’d wear tight dresses and makeup, and during sex I became a ‘pillow princess’ – receiving, never giving pleasure. I’m not going to lie, it was a role I was happy to play because shit, I deserved orgasms after my years of having none

It was weird that having sex with a woman felt natural; it didn’t feel awkward and for once I wasn’t squirming to hide my body. But I was still trying to hide my masculinity. Not because I was told by the girl I was dating that I had to fulfil the feminine role or that she didn’t like to receive pleasure, but I couldn’t shake myself from the heteronormative gender roles or realise that relationships could exist outside of this binary, same sex or otherwise.

Having sex with women has also made me feel comfortable enough to explore sex and the various ways of receiving pleasure, from switching between dominant and submissive roles to different positions and the use of toys. While I’m now a proud owner of a plethora of sex toys, when my ex-girlfriend took me on a surprise date to a sex shop to buy my first toy – a strap – I did a double take, thinking Omg what if somebody sees me? I felt so embarrassed going into the shop; evidently, I still carried so much shame around sex. I was avoiding eye contact with absolutely everybody, while my ex was grabbing dildos, asking me which size and colour I wanted. I was just like, “Fam, I do not know”. She asked a shop assistant for help and I swear at that very moment I wanted the ground to eat me up. Which is ironic because here I am writing a very public article about my sex life. What do we call that? Growth.

As I grew more into my queerness and became more comfortable expressing my fluidity, I began to notice how misogyny, sexism and gendered thinking still exists within the LGBTQ+ community and how the way I presented myself dictated my own experience within the community. Now, as a more masculine presenting person, I have found that some women will assume I am the ‘dominant’ person in bed and adopt the role of the ‘man’. While there are women who are happy to play that role, I’m not one of them. A couple of years ago, a girl I was dating asked me to ‘strap’ her (have sex with a strap-on dildo) the first time we slept together. I had a strap but we’d never spoken about it – I’d only ever used it with my ex-girlfriend and to be honest, she strapped me more than I did her – so this girl must have assumed I had one and that I wanted to take the ‘dominant’ role in bed. Wrong. I like to throw it back, too.

Sex with women has shown me intimacy and reciprocity in ways that I never had with men and has given me levels of body confidence I never knew I could reach. I’ve had my naked body described in ways I’d never imagined; my vulva, which I’ve always been embarrassed about because it doesn’t look like the ‘perfect pussy’ you see in porn, no longer brings me shame.

It sounds really cheesy but I’ve never had my body complimented in the way I have had it complimented by women. My unfiltered naked body, appreciated in ways I didn’t know I deserved. Through seeing the beauty in other women, I was able to see the beauty in myself. Women have shown me compassion, intimacy and acceptance. I am my most vulnerable during sex and have seen my fluidity stripped bare. Without clothes, my fluidity is still valid. I’m now at a point in my life where I’m happily in love with a woman who has both affirmed my fluidity and allowed me to explore what it means to me, without shame.

Through sleeping with women I’ve learned that there is no shame in having sex and we should normalise speaking about it. During sex, you need to communicate. The moment I rid myself of shame, I was able to communicate what I liked in bed, how I liked to be pleasured and importantly, what I wanted from the relationship. Without the need to lie, manipulate or shame. Was it just sex? A one-night stand? A relationship? Communication really is key. The more I communicated what I wanted, the more orgasms I had. Sleeping with women not only gave me my voice; it gave me the orgasms I deserve.

Complete Article HERE!

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The clitoris is a gift…

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So why is there an ingrained fear of talking about it?

‘It’s time that we grow up and get over our fear of the C-word.’

If we want to make progress with FGM, we need to first tackle our outdated, misogynistic views on sex

The first UK conviction for female genital mutilation (FGM) this month was a milestone in the fight for the basic human rights of women and girls. But one of the things that stands out from the news reports of that case is how oddly furtive they were about communicating the key facts – in particular their avoidance of the C-word: clitoris.

In reporting such a prominent case, are readers unable to be shown the correct medical terminology? Why do the media carefully avoid mentioning what occurred, using highly generalised anatomical terms before quickly moving on? If this lack of detail was to spare the victim the indignity of having such a personal matter discussed so publicly, I would have sympathy, however I do not think that this is the case here. What I think is at play, is a deep-rooted fear of the clitoris.

Let us consider if a man were to suffer a similar injury: would we shy away from using the word penis? Of course not. A quick internet search is enough to reveal a whole plethora of penis-related news stories (not to mention non-news stories). In fact, there are so many that we seem, as news consumers, to be a little bit penis obsessed. Huff Post and the Independent have gone so far as creating a “penis” news keyword tag, for all your penis news in one place. To some degree, the media has also now acknowledged the existence of the vagina, and its linguistic appearance is reasonably acceptable in polite conversation (perhaps depending on the context). So why are we so reticent about the clitoris? Why is a mention of it seemed to be deemed too sordid for BBC news?

The big difference here seems to be that while the vagina has an obvious functional utility, the clitoris exists entirely for female pleasure. It seems that the issue stems, not from the provocative nature of a word, but our continued societal taboo regarding women daring to enjoy sex. Sure, we can see depictions of women shrieking with pleasure plastered all over any porn site. But that is exactly the point. Female sexual enjoyment remains exclusively in the realm of the forbidden.

This aversion to discussing, or even acknowledging, female pleasure is instilled early. As a teenager, I remember it being commonplace for boys to laugh and joke about masturbation; if anything, it was downright encouraged. For girls meanwhile, it was impossible to admit even to your closest friends that masturbation had ever crossed your mind, except as something disgusting and shameful. We were all doing it, yet no one would dare to ever admit it and risk being branded weird and somehow dirty.

In an age in which we’re revolutionising the debate around sexual experiences and consent, why are we stagnating when it comes to the discussion of mutual enjoyment? Rebecca Kukla, a philosophy professor specialising in practical ethics at Georgetown University, has written about the problems of a linguistic framework built around consent, with its implication that women are passive recipients of an act. Sex is framed as something a man asks for, which a woman may either consent to or decline, rather than an experience of mutual participation, agency and pleasure. This is not to say that consent is not important; on the contrary, it is essential. But to reduce our discussions of sex to this kind of dichotomy is to fundamentally misrepresent what is an active and reciprocal enjoyment.

It’s time that we grow up and get over our fear of the C-word. Even more than this, we need to cease viewing female enjoyment of sex as sordid and instead catapult it into the mainstream. Yes, a woman has a clitoris! Being able, at the very least, to talk about clinical aspects of female anatomy when reporting factual news is vital to accepting female bodies in their entirety. We must be able to mention a clitoris without feeling uncomfortable, without feeling like we’ve crossed some invisible line and left the realms of civilised conversation behind us.

Young girls around the world are suffering horrendous mutilation because of a deep-rooted cultural fear of female pleasure, and the same fear is preventing us from even articulating the problem. If we want to make progress on this issue, there are many positive actions we can take (I would recommend looking into the work of Forward UK among other FGM-focused charities). But we could begin by examining our own views and free our speech from the shackles of outdated and deeply misogynistic views on sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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