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Slut Shaming

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Name: Martin
Gender: Male
Age: 50
Location:
Thanks in advance for your assistance, Dr. Dick.
Here’s my dilemma; I’m so in love with my partner, he’s actually the man of my dreams. We met much later in life, he being 45 and I’m 50.
I was married before w/children, out now as a gay man and all is well with my children’s relationship.
My partner has always known he was gay, has had numerable relationships, and was a sexual addict. He has wanted me to understand his past in relationship to his level of happiness now, stating that he was a bottom slut only because he was never truly in love or satisfied.
He wants me to believe that “I’m the one” that has changed his life-long addiction to strange dick up his ass.
I can’t seem to get past his past slut behavior, and oftentimes get so pissed off because he wants me to meet and develop friendships with many of these past fucks (primarily because they were military buddies also).
Why can’t I accept his slutty past and stop the suspicions?
Why do I get so upset just knowing that he was a total bottom slut??
How can I get him to understand that I have no desire to know any more about his sexual past and just focus on creating our lives???
Thanks,

Martin, Martin, Martin! How you do go on, darling.bullshit

Take a look at your language, why don’t ‘cha? Could you possibly be any more pejorative when speaking of the sexual experiences of someone who has lived a different lifestyle than you? I doubt it. Look at how many times you use the word “slut” to describe the man you say you love. I’m gonna call you out on that. You simply can’t tell me you love someone that you have so little regard for.

Your man wants you to understand his past, but you won’t take it at face value. You belittle his experience, possibly because it doesn’t match your own very limited, sexually exclusive, predominately heterosexual lifestyle.

circle jerkListen, lots of gay men (and some straight men) have loads of sex for lots different reasons. Sometimes just for the fun of it…or, as your man suggests, just to be a big old bottom slut. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. One can be happily sexual without loving each and every one of his partners. And the sex can be really good too. Just as one can have very unsatisfying sex with somebody one loves deeply. Sex, intimacy, and love are not necessarily dependent on the one another. No need to make such a tangle of it all, Martin.

I also want to reinforce my belief that there’s no such thing as a sex addict. Compulsive behavior? Sure! Out of control behavior? You betcha! Self-denigrating behavior? Absolutely! Sexual addiction? No way!

Try for just a minute to extricate yourself from your sex-negative mindset by exchanging the notion of eating when you talk about your friend’s sexual exploits. Would you have the same revulsion if your guy said he had shared food with lots of other guys? Some of it was fast food that didn’t satisfy all that much. Sometimes he ate just because he wanted to, not because he was hungry. And now he wants you and he, as a couple, to be friends with some of the men he ate with. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me!fingering his ass

Your man is inviting you to open yourself up and see life and sex as most openly gay men do. This is fundamentally different from how some formerly closeted men see life and sex. If you let him, he just might help heal you of your sex-negativity.

Finally, jealousy is one of the worst human emotions. It’s actually a kind of hatred, you know. Sometimes it’s hatred of another, but it is always self-hatred. You say you love this man; again, I challenge you on that. It’s clear to me that you have a much greater love of your provincial notions about sex then you have for this guy.

Here’s a tip, Martin. Jettison the unhealthy attitudes about sexual expression and give your guy a chance to be himself, not the idealized man you’ve made him out be, or think he should be. You’d be well served by working with a sex-positive therapist to help you get over this. Do it now, because if you hesitate you will surely ruin the very relationship you claim to treasure.

Good luck

IS THERE A SPLINTER IN MY EYE?

Today, we visit with a pair of very disgruntled correspondents. How nice!

Have you ever noticed how some folks have an inordinate amount of time on their hands? Time they use to poke around in the lives of the rest of us poor, unfortunate, benighted souls. They love to point out the errors of our ways. Whatever would we do without these guiding lights? It’s always been curious to me how the least capable among us are always the first to set himself or herself up as the arbiter of proper and wholesome living, especially when it comes to sex.

Who was it that said, “remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye”? Oh yeah, now I remember. I am in really good company today. 😉

And today, dear readers, I’ll not bother tidying up my correspondents’ spelling and punctuation. I want you to experience the fullness of their brilliance for yourselves. Besides, I’m too busy trying to dislodge this plank from my eye.

Hey Dickhead
I would really like to know who you are and what are your qualifications in sexual matters. I was just reading one of your replies to a young person whose lover is 17yrs older than her. I am so saddened by your reply. You advised her to have extra relationship affairs which we all know that relationships that incorporates a third party is destined to ruin and the couple is inevitably be living a lie. I do not know what sort of sexual development you had and how you’ve come to separate love and sex but you are surely promoting a negative in this case.
Sex is something that is for the relationship and that relationship alone, not to go all around town giving out at free will. Being a slut. Im sure there are different things that they together as a couple can do with out the help of somebody else. And like slutting around is actually gonna save somebody’s relationship, yea i see that happening every day.
Even if this is a hoax and not a real problem, I’m afraid it is in bad taste. I do not know you from Adam but please think before you answer any of these questions. The gay communities in many places and the gov’t have spent a lot of money in the fight with Aides. One of the things that was being promoted is finding one partner and sticking to him. The more partners one has the higher the risk. There is also the aspect of using another for selfish sexual gratification. Yes you may say It’s Ok if there is consent but really, Is it? After all we all know what happens to our feelings once we have had orgasm. You are a bad person. You shouldn’t be telling anybody anything.

Whoa, what a charmer!

What a dangerous and disturbing thing it is to be so judgmental about the sex lives oft21.jpg others. Isn’t it possible for well-meaning people to have a genuine disagreement on such matters without interjecting all the disparaging and rude remarks?

As I review my response to the person in question, I see I offered her a number of sound suggestions on how to deal with her sexual frustration. The thought, that she might discuss an accommodation with her primary partner, allowing her to seek sexual fulfillment outside her relationship, was just one of the ideas I had. Why did you focus only on that? And would you really characterize that as “slutting around”?

It’s been my experience that many long-term loving relationships continue to be successful precisely because the partners make adjustments for the inevitable disparity of sexual interests that develops between them over time. After all, accommodations and a healthy give and take are hallmarks of a well-adjusted relationship. And who says fidelity is a genital issue? Not me!

As the resident sexual advisor on this website, (you can check out my substantial qualifications in my bio) I offer advice on the problems that my correspondents present me. I stand by my advice. The people who write to me are adults. They can choose from among the helpful hints I offer, or disregard them all together. But it is certainly not my role to choose for them. So, if I had omitted the option that gives you such offense, I would have, at least by default, made part of her choice for her.

You defend your point of view from a position of fear. You claim that we should be sexually exclusive with one partner because there is a higher risk of being infected with AIDS if we aren’t. Is that the best you can come up with? Is that really why we should pair off with just one other person, because we’re afraid of disease? And then there’s this other curious comment: “After all we all know what happens to our feelings once we have had orgasm.” What are you insinuating about “us”? Me thinks you disclose more about your personal prejudices then you intended.

My advice to you, deary, is to sit down and take a deep breath. Your undies are in such a bunch, you’re beginning to screech. I also suggest that you suspend judgment, particularly as it applies to the manner in which others live their lives, or at least till you have more information about the intricacies of life, sex and love.

Good Luck,

Dr. Dick,
I am a 27 year old male that has never had sex or been in any kind of a relationship. I’ve looked but all I’ve found is that every guy I’ve met seems only to be controlled by his dick. I’ve come to the conclusion that all men my age are the same. It’s gotten so bad that not only do I hate my own kind but I hate sex because of what it stands for. I have even lost the need to please myself and I think of others as weak and pathetic for not being able to use their hearts. I know that sex is a healthy part of human life but why (especially in our community) is everything based on sex and/or crammed down our throats? Even the simplest of ads has to have some dude brandishing his schlong just to get attention. I can’t even enter a chat room without somebody asking me what my cock size is. I’ve come to hate everything we stand for and it’s left me cold and I tend to shut myself out of any function that is sexually related. Friends tell me to get off my high horse but I can’t see any reason to. Just by observing from up here all I see are a bunch of HIV infected rabbits that have reached the end of their evolutionary path because they no longer communicate with word but only with sex. I thought I’d grow out of this but that was seven years ago.
Cold, Clinton J.

Dear ClintonJ,

How in the world did you get to be so incredibly bitter and jaded at such a tender age?

jockbutt.jpgYour friends are right, puppy, get off your high horse. The observations you make about us mere mortals are more than a little skewed, coming as they do from your angelic vantage point.

Listen, it’s true what you say about our community’s obsession with sex. Kudos to you for pointing out the obvious. But hey, it’s not just us homos. Look around and you will find our entire culture is fucked up in this way. You can have a full and life-affirming sex life without participating in or being co-opted by the madness that abounds. You can, like others do, choose a life path that is both sexually enriching and adventurous without succumbing to a preoccupation.

You claim to be 27 and say you’ve never had sex? And you make this proclamation like it’s something to be proud of. I wonder, how much of this bitterness is just sour grapes? Like Bette Midler is fond of sayin’: “You’re crackin’ up from a lack of shackin’ up.” You need to get laid, doll. It’s as simple as that.

And what’s up with this? “…all I see are a bunch of HIV infected rabbits that have reached the end of their evolutionary path…”? Shame on you. Try pumping some life-affirming blood into those icy veins and see what happens. Do not stand in judgment of something you cannot or will not participate in. It makes you look like a bounder.

Good Luck

Don’t Be Afraid of Your Vagina

By Nell Frizzel

001

Lying across a turquoise rubber plinth, my legs in stirrups, a large blue sheet of paper draped across my pubes (for “modesty”), a doctor slowly pushes a clear plastic duck puppet up my vagina and, precisely at that moment, Total Eclipse of the Heart comes on over the radio and it’s hard not to love the genitourinary medicine, or GUM, clinic.

I mean that most sincerely: I love the GUM clinic. It is wonderful beyond orgasm that in the UK anyone can walk into a sexual health clinic—without registering with a doctor, without an appointment, without any money, without a chaperone—and get seen within a few hours at most. It brings me to the point of climax just thinking about the doctors and health professionals who dedicate their life to the nation’s ovaries, cervixes, vaginas, and wombs.

And yet, not all women are apparently so comfortable discussing their clitoral hall of fame with a doctor. According to a recent report commissioned by Ovarian Cancer Action, almost half of the women surveyed between the ages of 18 and 24 said they feared “intimate examinations,” while 44 percent are too embarrassed to talk about sexual health issues with a GP. What’s more, two thirds of those women said they would be afraid to say the word “vagina” in front of their doctor. Their doctor. That is desperately, disappointingly, dangerously sad.

In 2001, I went to see a sexual health nurse called Ms. Cuthbert who kindly, patiently and sympathetically explained to me that I wasn’t pregnant—in fact could not be pregnant—I was just doing my A-Levels. The reason I was feeling sick, light-headed, and had vaginal discharge that looked like a smear of cream cheese was because I was stressed about my simultaneous equations and whether I could remember the order of British prime ministers between 1902 to 1924. My body was simply doing its best to deal with an overload of adrenaline.

Back then, my GUM clinic was in a small health center opposite a deli that would sell Czechoslovakian beer to anyone old enough to stand unaided, and a nail bar that smelled of fast food. I have never felt more grown up than when I first walked out of that building, holding a striped paper bag of free condoms and enough packets of Microgynon to give a fish tits. My blood pressure, cervix, heartrate, and emotional landscape had all been gently and unobtrusively checked over by my new friend Ms. Cuthbert. I had been given the time and space to discuss my hopes and anxieties and was ready to launch myself, legs akimbo, into a world of love and lust—all without handing over a penny, having to tell my parents, pretending that I was married or worry that I was being judged.

My local sexual health clinic today is, if anything, even more wonderful. In a neighborhood as scratched, scored, and ripped apart by the twin fiends of poverty and gentrification as Hackney, the GUM clinic is the last great social leveler. It is one of our last few collective spaces. Sitting in reception, staring at the enormous pictures of sand dunes and tree canopies it is clear that, for once, we’re all in this together. The man in a blue plastic moulded chair wishing his mum a happy birthday on the phone, the two girls in perfect parallel torn jeans scrolling through WhatsApp, the guy with the Nike logo tattoo on his neck getting a glass of water for his girlfriend, the red-headed hipster in Birkenstocks reading about witchcraft in the waiting room, the mother and daughter with matching vacuum-sized plastic handbags talking about sofas, the fake flowers, Magic FM playing on the wall-mounted TV, the little kids running around trying to say hello to everyone while the rest of us desperately avoided eye contact—the whole gang was there. And that’s the point: you may be a working mum, you may be a teenager, you may be a social media intern at a digital startup, you may be a primary school teacher, you may be married, single, a sex worker, unemployed, wealthy, religious, terrified, or defiant but whatever your background, wherever you’ve come from and whoever you slept with last night, you’ll end up down at the GUM clinic.

Which is why it seems such a vulvic shame that so many women feel scared to discuss their own bodies with the person most dedicated to making sure that body is OK. “No doctor will judge you when you say you have had multiple sexual partners, or for anything that comes up in your sexual history,” Dr. Tracie Miles, the President of the National Forum of Gynecological Oncology Nurses tells me on the phone. “We don’t judge—we’re real human beings ourselves. If we hadn’t done it we probably wish we had and if we have done it then we will probably be celebrating that you have too.”

Doctors are not horrified by women who have sex. Doctors are not grossed out by vaginas. So to shy away from discussing discharge, pain after sex, bloating, a change in color, odor, itching, and bleeding not only renders the doctor patient conversation unhelpful, it also puts doctors at a disadvantage, hinders them from being able to do their job properly, saves nobody’s blushes and could result in putting you and your body at risk.

According to The Eve Appeal—a women’s cancer charity that is campaigning this September to fight the stigma around women’s health, one in five women associate gynecological cancer with promiscuity. That means one in five, somewhere in a damp and dusty corner of their minds, are worried that a doctor will open up her legs, look up at her cervix and think “well you deserve this, you slut.” Which is awful, because they won’t. They never, ever would. Not just because they’re doctors and therefore have spent several years training to view the human body with a mix of human sympathy and professional dispassion, but more importantly, because being promiscuous doesn’t give you cancer.

“There is no causal link between promiscuity and cancer,” says Dr. Miles. “The only sexually transmitted disease is the fear and embarrassment of talking about sex; that’s what can stop us going. If you go to your GP and get checked out, then you’re fine. And you don’t have to know all the anatomical words—if you talk about a wee hole, a bum hole, the hole where you put your Tampax, then that is absolutely fine too.”

Although there is some evidence of a causal link between certain gynecological cancers and High Risk Human Papilloma Virus (HRHPV), that particular virus is so common that, ‘it can be considered a normal consequence of sexual activity’ according to The Eve Appeal. Eighty percent of us will pick up some form of the HPV virus in our lifetime, even if we stick with a single, trustworthy, matching-socks-and-vest-takes-out-the-garbage-talks-to-your-mother-on-the-phone-can’t-find-your-clitoris partner your entire life. In short, HRHPV may lead to cancer, but having different sexual partners doesn’t. Of course, unprotected sex can lead to an orgy of other sexually transmitted infections, not to mention the occasional baby, but promiscuity and safe sex are not mutually exclusive. And medical professionals are unlikely to be shocked by either.

We are incredibly lucky in the UK that any woman can stroll into a sexual health clinic, throw her legs open like a cowboy and receive some of the best medical care the world has ever known. We can Wikipedia diagrams of our vaginas to learn the difference between our frenulum and prepuce (look it up, gals). We can receive free condoms any day of the (working week) from our doctor or friendly neighborhood GUM clinic. We can YouTube how to perform a self-examination, learn to spot the symptoms of STIs, read online accounts by women with various health conditions, and choose from a military-grade arsenal of different contraception methods, entirely free.

A third of women surveyed by The Eve Appeal said that they would feel more comfortable discussing their vaginas and wombs if the stigma around gynecological health and sex was reduced. But a large part of removing that stigma is up to us. We have to own that conversation and use it to our advantage. We need to bite the bullet and start talking about our pudenda. We have to learn to value and accept our genitals as much as any other part of our miraculous, hilarious bodies.

So come on, don’t be a cunt. Open up about your vagina.

Complete Article HERE!

Death Is Way More Complicated When You’re Polyamorous

By Simon Davis

death become her

Screencap via ‘Death Becomes Her’

In February, Robert McGarey’s partner of 24 years died. It was the most devastating loss McGarey had ever encountered, and yet, there was a silver lining: “I had this profound sadness, but I don’t feel lonely,” McGarey told me. “I’m not without support, I’m not without companionship.”

That’s because he has other partners: Jane, who he’s been with for 16 years, and Mary, who he’s been with for eight. (Those are not their real names.) And while his grief for Pam, the girlfriend who died, was still immense, polyamory helped him deal with it.

There’s not a lot of research into how poly families cope with death—probably because there’s not a lot of research about how poly families choose to live. By rough estimates, there are several million poly people in the United States. And while polyamory can bring people tremendous benefits in life and in death, our social and legal systems weren’t designed to deal with people with more than one romantic partner—so when one person dies, it can usher in a slew of complicating legal and emotional problems.

“Whether people realize it or not, the partner to whom they are married will have more benefits and rights once a death happens,” explained Diana Adams, who runs a boutique law firm that practices “traditional and non-traditional family law with support for positive beginnings and endings of family relationships.”

Since married partners rights’ trump everyone else’s, the non-married partners don’t automatically have a say in end-of-life decisions, funeral arrangements, or inheritance. That’s true for non-married monogamous relationships, too, but the problem can be exacerbated in polyamorous relationships where partners are not disclosed or acknowledged by family members. In her work, Adams has seen poly partners get muscled out of hospital visits and hospice by family members who refused to recognize a poly partner as a legitimate partner.

McGarey and his girlfriend Pam weren’t married, so the decision to take her off life support had to go through Pam’s two sisters. The money Pam left behind—which McGarey would’ve inherited had they been married—went to her sisters too, who also organized Pam’s funeral.

This kind of power struggle can also happen among multiple partners who have all been romantically involved with the deceased. The only real way to ensure that everything is doled out evenly is to draft up a detailed prenuptial agreement and estate plan. Adams works with clients to employ “creative estate planning” to ensure that other partners are each acknowledged and taken care of.

Adams is a big proponent of structured mediation as a way of minimizing post-mortem surprises, like when families discover the existence of mysterious extra-marital partners in someone’s will. It’s much better to have those conversations in life than on someone’s deathbed, or after death.

But many poly people remain closeted in life and in death, according to sociologist Elisabeth Sheff, who has studied polyamorous families for 15 years and authored The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families. A person might have a public primary partner—someone they’re married to, for example—plus other private relationships. That can make it harder to grieve when one of the non-primary partners dies, because others don’t recognize the relationship as “real” or legitimate in the way the death of a spouse might be.

Take, for example, something like an employee bereavement policy. Guidelines from the Society for Human Resource Management spell out the length of time off given in the event of the death of a loved one: a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, in-laws, aunts, uncles, grandparents. Unsurprisingly, extra-marital boyfriend or girlfriend is not on the list. (Actually, “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” aren’t on the list at all.) It’s possible for an employee to explain unique circumstances to an employer, but in her research, Sheff has found that some poly people prefer not to “out” themselves this way. People still disapprove of extra-marital affairs and some poly people, according to Sheff, have even lost their jobs from being outed, due to corporate “morality clauses.”

It’s similar, she says, to the experiences of same-sex couples who are closeted. “It’s much less so now because they’re more acknowledged and recognized, but 20 years ago, it was routine for [the family of the deceased] to muscle out the partner and ignore their wishes—even if [the deceased] hadn’t seen their family for years and years,” Sheff said. “They would come and descend on the funeral and take over. Or when the person was in the ICU. That same vulnerability that gays and lesbians have moved away from to some extent is still potentially very problematic for polyamorous people.”

Legal recognition of polyamorous unions could provide some relief. After the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 and legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, calls for legalizing plural marriage have only become louder. Adams noted that an argument put forth in Chief Justice John Roberts’s 2015 dissent may provide a legal foothold for legalization advocates. “As Roberts points out, if there’s going to be a rejection of some of the traditional man-woman elements of marriage… those same arguments could easily be applied to three or four-person unions,” she said in an interview with US News & World Report earlier this year.

In 2006, Melissa Hall’s husband Paul died at the age of 52. Both were polyamorous, but Paul’s death presented “no special problems,” since they were legally married and Hall had all the rights of a spouse. Instead, she found unexpected benefits in dealing with her husband’s death: In particular, she told me that “being poly made it easier to love again.” Since they had both dated other people during their life together, Hall knew her husband’s death wouldn’t stop her from dating again.

In traditional relationships, it’s not uncommon for people to impose dating restrictions on themselves to honor the desires of their dead spouses, or to feel guilty when they start dating again. Of course, you don’t win if you don’t date either, as people eventually get on your case to “move on with your life.” All this goes out the window when you’re polyamorous, where dating doesn’t necessarily signal the end of an arbitrary acceptable period of mourning.

More partners in a relationship can certainly mean more support. It can also mean more people dying, and with that comes more grief. In an article about loss among polys published in the polyamory magazine Loving More, one man wrote: “Those of us who have practiced polyamory through our lifetime must be grateful for the abundance of love in our lives. But having those wonderful other loves means we must accept a little more grieving as well, when our times come.”

Is the trade off worth it? McGarey certainly seems to think so. “There is more grieving, but… we are held and cradled in the love of other people at the same time.”

He compares his relationship to the Disney movie Up, which starts with a guy falling in love and marrying his childhood sweetheart. “And then [she] dies, and he turns into this grumpy old man because he lost his love,” McGarey said. “I don’t see myself turning into a grumpy old man. I don’t know if I can attribute that to poly, but maybe that’s why.”

Complete Article HERE!

Awakenings

And now for something completely different. I’d like to welcome my friend and colleague, Vivian Slaughter, who has some interesting things to say about becoming the brilliant young sexologist she is today.

Becoming a feminist was a big deal for me; in high school I was very anti-feminist, I was the Cool Girl, I didn’t like doing my hair and felt giddy when people told me I “wasn’t like other girls” (the today me would have snapped back: “What’s wrong with other girls? Who are these mythic other girls you speak of?”) I would smile cruelly at people when they used the term, laugh a wide-open mouthed, high-pitched laugh. “No,” I’d correct them. “I don’t hate men!” Then, I’d usually follow with something like, “I’m not a feminist, but I believe (in something that literally fits the definition of being a feminist).”

Vivian SlaughterWhen I packed up and moved further South for college I found myself drawn to a sexual health education group that presented interactive workshops on sexual assault, dating violence and enthusiastic consent. This was a sex positivity group. This was a feminist group. It was a hard transition, and my first term with my new colleagues left a bitter taste in my mouth. What was happening to me? I’d come home from our meetings and rant to my roommate. “Ugh, it’s like…I agree with everything they say but do we have to call ourselves feminists? No one is going to take us seriously!”

I hate to say that I had an epiphany – because besides sounding cliché, it also mitigates the months of mental anguish and cultural upheaval I went through – but one night while I was walking home from a workshop late at night someone who had sat in the audience approached me.

“Uh, hey,” he said, running up behind and motioning with his arm that he wanted me to stop. “Can I tell you something?” I nodded, looking around to see if any of my group mates were around, I was used to being approached after workshops and asked disgusting, personal questions. Back up from my mates would have helped me feel safe. “I’m not a bad person,” the guy continued, “but I’ve done a lot of bad things. But I never knew they were bad. I didn’t know there was anything wrong with everything that I was doing, the way I acted. Thank you for coming tonight. Thank you for making me realize that I was wrong, and that I was behaving like a turd, and that feminist isn’t a dirty word.”

Me! He thought I was a feminist? I wanted to correct him – “I’m not a feminist, but I could see how you think that! I just believe that men and women should be treated equally, and that we have in place long standing and deeply rooted infrastructure that puts women at a systematic disadvantage – but! Whoa? Feminist?”

I realized then that I was a feminist, that I had been duped into believing falsehoods about the word, the movement, the people who identified as such. I realized in the dark, smiling up at this stranger whose name I never knew but who had credited me with changing his mind, that I was a feminist and it felt good and I was going to help people realize they were too. We changed each other’s mind.sex-positive-feminism

Almost immediately after that night I started working at an adult store. I was a sex positive feminist! I annoyed all my co-workers by asking all our guests their preferred personal pronouns; I put cards up on our counter with the information for a local crisis line; a local doctor who specialized in working with survivors of sexual assault. Couples would shyly slink into my shop and I would joyously greet them, stretch my arms to embrace them, help them pick out a pair of pink handcuffs, a soft whip made of braided silk, crotchless panties. “I love helping people love sex!” I would think to myself, naively thinking that all the world’s problems would be solved if only we used the word sex more openly.

Then one day a woman came into my shop, her face red from tears and her bangs matted to her temple from sweat. “What can I help you with?” I inquired.

“I don’t like having sex,” she began, her words coming out in short gasps. “I don’t like having sex,” she repeated, looking at everything around her, taking it all in. “My boyfriend says there’s something wrong with me because I hate it and can’t orgasm, and that you need to fix me.” She fixated on me, her eyes angry but her bottom lip trembling. “Can you fix me, please?”

I didn’t know what to do, didn’t even know how to begin. Telling her that sex was natural and fun wasn’t what she needed to hear, because I knew that’s what she had always been told. “What do you mean you don’t like sex?” so many people had gasped at her. “You must be prude. You must not have been fucked properly. You must be weird. You must not know what you’re talking about.” I found myself getting angry imaging all the horrible things this woman had been told, I found myself angry because I thought I was open minded and didn’t know what to do.

sex+positive“There is nothing wrong with you,” I spat out, sounding angrier than I wished. “Please, I’m so sorry… there is nothing wrong with you, but there is something wrong with your boyfriend. You don’t deserve what he dished out, you don’t have to like anything you don’t want to like. I’m so sorry.”

A few days later a pimply faced young man approached me in the shop, pointed to a book on the shelf. “Will that tell me where the clit is? I don’t know where it is, I’m afraid my girlfriend will laugh at me if I ask her where it is, but how should I know? Like, what, I’m supposed to know everything about fucking?”

“I hate giving blow jobs,” an older man confided in me, a stack of DVDs in his hand and an empty shopping basket sitting at his feet. “I hate having to swallow, but if I spit they all think I’m being a baby. Can you give me something that makes it bearable? I don’t know, that would numb my throat or make it taste okay? Just something to make it less awful.”

Learning what it meant to be sex positive was even harder than learning to embrace the word feminist.

I had been lead to believe it meant just liking sex, liking sex a lot, and not being shamed of it. Sex positivity was a young, pretty face flashing small, white teeth and nodding enthusiastically at whatever you suggested: “Sure!”

I learned while crying with a stranger telling me she hated sex, sitting on the floor explaining to a red faced 18 year old what a vagina looked like, and holding a man’s hand in front of a movie that featured Jesse Jane in her first girl on girl scene that sex positivity meant more than liking sex; it meant not liking sex, it meant having boundaries, being able to say “no,” not being coerced into trying things (“You have to try it just once, come on!”), being respected. Sex positivity meant having a kink. Trying a new kink. Saying no to a kink. Saying yes! Saying no – don’t stop, our safe word is barnacle! Saying no.

I realized that as an educator I had failed.sex positivity

I began asking around at workshops; asking my co-workers, classmates, hallmates, wondering earnestly what “sex positivity” meant to them. Some were confused: “Uhh, being positive… about sex?” Others were excited to share with me what sex positivity meant for them, how it fit into their lives. I found everyone’s answers – so varied and all across the board – interesting, but in the end what stuck with me the most were the people who were “sex positivity” critical. “What does it mean?” one person sneered to me. “It means people feel better about sexualizing my body; it means people call me a slut when I’m at the bars and they look at me like I should be empowered by it.”

When I left school, I knew I wanted to stay in the field of sexual health education, but I didn’t know what that meant for me. Continue working on crisis lines? Go back to school? Explore a degree more centralized to education? Throughout my last term I pensively reflected on my four years and wondered what I should do next.

I remembered vividly all the people I helped in my shop, all the questions asked during workshops. I realized I wanted to continue reaching out to people on a personal basis and learn more from them. Feminism, sex positivity, kink positivity and LGBTQIA+ rights have been trending topics in the last few years, and I’m interested in exploring the aftermath of what some are calling our new sex positive culture.

And so it is: I come home from work and in the few hours before I leave the house again to pick up my partner (we both go to work at noon, he gets home close to 13 hours later, so it’s safe to say that we have both become the human equivalent of an owl) I sit at my desk and I write. I write about the experiences I’ve had over the last few years, the stories shared with me and how they’ve helped me grow. I conduct interviews, via phone or e-mail, with a wide array of personalities, all with the intention of sharing the unique perspectives passed on to me.

We all have our mark left on us from the culture we grew up in. What I want to know is: what impact has this life had on you? I reach out to you all and ask that you share your story with me, the story of what feminism and sex positivity (or: sex negativity) means to you, the impact it has had on your life and the mark it has left.

I would appreciate hearing from you. We all have stories to share, and my favorite thing to do is listen. Below is a link to my website, which explains more about my background in education, my goals in reaching out to community members, as well as outside links to my personal blog.

vivslaughter14.wix.com/sexpositivity

Take care,
Vivian

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