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Prescription for a Porn-Positive World

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One of the enduring hot-button issues in our culture (and every other culture) is sexually explicit material. Everyone has an opinion on what we, as a society, ought to allow—and what should be prohibited.

Everyone has an opinion, but not all opinions are formed through sound reasoning. More often than not, our opinions are visceral responses to things that frighten us, or that we don’t understand. And if we don’t like it, don’t understand it, or it puts us off, why, that’s reason enough to have it banned!

It’s no surprise that people on both ends of the political spectrum can comfortably join forces in a pogrom against porn. It’s the great boogieman, after all: the corruptor of youth; that which erodes family values and degrades human sexual expression. What’s not to hate about porn?

I suppose if all that were true, there wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry cranking out everything from soft-core erotica to extreme hardcore. But there is, and it reflects the simple principle of supply and demand. If so many people honestly believe that sexually explicit material is bad for us and our society, why the huge demand?

Case in point—19-year-old Alex from Indianapolis writes:

Hey Dick,
I noticed from your bio that you are a pornographer. How do you justify that? Isn’t pornography basically an insult to human sexuality? How do you square that with being a sex therapist and believing, as you say, that you affirm the fundamental goodness of sexuality in human life, both as a personal need and as an interpersonal bond?”

Wow, Alex! You actually took the time to read my bio? I’m impressed! You bring up a very interesting point, albeit with a bit of a jab. You’re right; I have been a pornographer. If that’s the only word you can come up with to describe what I did at Daddy Oohhh! Productions. I like to think that the adult material I produce is not in conflict with my basic, overall philosophy about human sexuality. (By the way, thank you for quoting it as accurately as you did.)

Admittedly, porn is a thorny issue in our sex-negative culture. Lots of people are hostile to the notion that there could actually be something uplifting and life-affirming about the depiction, in any medium, of sexual behaviors. Lots of people believe that even nudity, let alone full-blown sex, is bad and that it corrupts the consumer, especially if the consumer is a youth. I don’t happen to share that perception. But this is such a touchy subject for most that it’s very difficult to have a civil discourse about the place pornography has in our (or any other) culture. Since we find it so difficult to talk about sexual issues in the public forum, it’s no surprise that pornography—i.e., the public exposure of sexual things—continues to be the big, bad boogieman for even otherwise enlightened people.

I hasten to add that, for the most part, the adult entertainment industry richly deserves the dubious reputation it has. There is an enormous amount of content in the marketplace that degrades, dehumanizes and exploits. And I’m not just talking about the stuff that doesn’t suit my tastes. Because there’s a lot of good stuff out there that doesn’t particularly appeal to me.

Therefore, I caution you in your youthful zeal not to reject everything that depicts sexual behavior as worthless just because a good portion of it is indeed shameful junk. That would be like discarding all religion because a good portion of its practitioners degrade, dehumanize and shame those who don’t share their belief system.

You apparently also think there is an inherent contradiction between being a sex therapist and a pornographer. I don’t agree. For nearly 30 years, I’ve been involved in all sorts of cutting-edge sex education and sexual enrichment projects. So why not attempt to bring a fresh, healthier perspective to adult entertainment? Sounds like the perfect role for a sexologist to me.

Humans have been depicting sexual behavior, in one fashion or another, since we were able to scratch images on the walls of our caves. Some of these depictions are intended to titillate, others to educate, even others to edify, but all are expressions of the passions of the person who scratched, painted, wrote or committed to film (or videotape) the images they did. I think that if you were really interested in getting to know my thoughts about pornography, you’d do well to check out some of my work. And let’s not forget that in more sex-positive societies than our own, sexual practices were and are integral parts of worshiping the deity.

Porn, like most forms of human expression, has both gold and dross. And just maybe, we need the crap in order to appreciate the treasures. Also, today’s porn may be tomorrow’s art. Ask Henry Miller or Anaïs Nin. A lot of stuff that hangs in the Louvre museum today was, upon its creation, considered scandalous and pornographic as well. Happily, we, along with our perceptions, evolve.

The definition of what is ‘pornographic’ changes with the times. Community standards also play a part. A lingerie catalog that showed women in bras and panties might be “pornographic” in one place, but no big deal in another.

I argue that there is a purpose to sexual depictions, pornographic or not. Otherwise, why would these depictions be so pervasive and appear in every culture? And it’s not just because it’s art. Most pornography is decidedly not art. So if it’s not art per se, what is it? Most pornography is simply designed to arouse sexual desire. And that, generally speaking, is a really good thing. It’s precisely this pursuit that probably brought you, young Alex, to me in the first place. Am I correct?

Sexual desire can stimulate an array of thoughts and behaviors from tender, intimate and passionate to raw, fierce and cruel. The mood of the consumer also plays a part. If your libido is raging, you might find a certain depiction stimulating, while the same depiction can cause disgust when your hormones are more in check. Porn tends to imitate what people fantasize about, rather than what actually happens in the lives of most of us. As a result, nearly everything is exaggerated in pornography: body parts, sexual situations, as well as sexual responses. Everything is staged and a lot is faked. Exaggeration is a time-honored way of calling attention to something that is otherwise pretty commonplace…you know, like sex.

In the end, Alex, you will have to decide for yourself what merits pornography might have in our culture. I suggest, however, that you approach porn with a slightly more dispassionate eye than you are currently using. You may find that it has something to teach you about yourself, your culture and the history of humankind.

Good luck!

Fighting Fair — a Tutorial

I have just the thing for all you folks out there who are in a relationship. If you’re like every other couple I know, you have your share of tension. And let’s face it—tension leads to fighting. And fighting, if not done fairly, can lead to hurting your partner—even if that’s not your intention.

Here are Cheryl and Vern; they have a problem:

Doc,
We’ve been married for 11 years and have two great kids, ages 4 and 7. We both have full-time jobs, so family life is at a premium. Lately we’ve hit a rough patch and we seem to be fighting more than usual. We still love each other very much, but the sniping and bitchiness is getting us down. I know this is not specifically a sex question, but do you know how we could cut down on all this bickering or make it so we don’t lose it with each other?

Every relationship has its bones of contention. And it’s natural and healthy to want to hash things out. I think it’s so much better to get things out in the open, rather than let them fester all bottled up inside. Of course, there is a danger of exploding and letting things just fly in every direction. Someone is liable to get hurt. But if you give your venting some structure—fair fighting technique, for example—you’ll be more likely to get your point across with out bludgeoning one another.

First thing—we tend to fight more when we’re irritable. Stress and sleep deprivation make us cranky. And from the sound of it, you guys are definitely stressed, if not also sleep deprived. Your lifestyle is setting you up for confrontation. So no amount of fair fight training is gonna make a difference until there’s some change in your lifestyle. In fact, I suggest that you not even attempt to embrace these techniques if you’re not serious about integrating them into your lifestyle. It would be like committing to non-violence while you’re stocking up on guns and ammo.

Let’s take a look at some of the basics. The way you word a complaint will make a big difference. For instance, avoid “you” statements as much as possible. “You” statements tend to make your partner feel like he/she is to blame. “You make me angry.” “You don’t trust me.” “You’re not making sense.” “You never take the time to compliment me anymore.” “You are always to busy for me and my needs.”

I suggest that you use “I” statements instead. “I” statements reflect the way you feel. “I feel angry when I hear things like that.” “I want you to trust me.” “I don’t understand what you are saying.” “I don’t hear compliments from you anymore.” “I feel like I’m not important to you anymore.”

You see how in the first instance, the “you” statements blame your partner. They also assume he/she should know better, and that they’re doing this to you on purpose. The problem with assumptions like these is they only make things worse. They also put your partner in a defensive posture. “No, I didn’t.” “That ridiculous.” “I am, too!” “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In the second instance the “I” statements are more open-ended. They invite a response without putting your partner on the defensive. This is also a useful way of soliciting your partner’s feedback. “I’m not trying to make you angry.” “I want to trust you too, but how can I?” “Let me put it another way.” “I know I should try harder to compliment you.” “I’m so swamped; I have a difficult time prioritizing everything these days.”

Another basic to fighting fair is giving concrete examples of what you are talking about. Let’s say you’re talking about money matters. That’s always a big bugaboo in any relationship. Use “I” statements along with an example: “I felt like you just blew off the family budget when you made that purchase. I know you were thinking of the whole family when you bought it. It’s just I would really like some input on major expenditures like this. How are we going to adjust the budget for next month to pay for this?”

You see how the concrete example demonstrates your concern without clobbering your partner? You also suggested that you understood why the thing happened. And, most importantly, you offer a solution—that the two of you pull together as a team to resolve the budget crisis.

You know how sometimes you know exactly what you want to say, but it doesn’t come out right? This is more likely to happen in the heat of an argument. To short-circuit this dangerous hazard, I suggest that before either of you launches into a tirade against the other, you take the time to plan out what you want to say. Jot down some notes, bullet points, if you will. This, of course, also creates a natural cooling off period. The goal of fighting fair is to make the situation better, not worse.

If you guys are prone to fighting, I suggest that you take a cue from those in the kink community. In negotiating a BDSM scene, the participants always agree on a safeword before the scene begins. This safeword is a word that will be out of the context in the scenario, or in your case the argument. This safe word is used when someone is reaching his/her limit in the scene, or in your case, when your fight is veering toward emotional violence.

For example, let’s say you guys decide on the word “pickle.” You find yourself in a spat; things are heating up. You are dangerously close to saying some very hurtful things, things you know you will regret later. This is the time to employ the safe word. Or, let’s say, you are being browbeaten and harangued and you feel emotionally vulnerable. You don’t want to react or turn up the volume, so you use the safe word. If you commit to a safe word and one of you uses it and the other one ignores it, then that person is not only breaking the rules of fighting fair, he or she is guilty of domestic violence. And that ought never be tolerated. Get it? Got it? Good!

Here are some other things to consider when structuring your arguments so as not to devastate your partner. The time to commit to fighting fair must happen before there is a row. So I suggest that you sit down one quiet evening and pound out your own guidelines. You’ll also need to give these rules teeth. If there are no consequences for breaking an agreed upon rule, then what’s the point?

1. Pick the right time and place for the fight. Don’t bring up problems when you don’t have time to talk about them (like right before you or your partner has to leave for work). Don’t fight when you’re drinking. If things are coming to a head, but there’s no time for a fair fight, commit to a concrete time later to take on the issue. Be sure you honor that commitment and not just avoid the fight.

2. State your feelings honestly, without sarcasm or insults. Jot down the points you want to make. Delete anything that is intended to hurt or humiliate your partner.

3. Stick to the issue at hand. Don’t go bringing up things that happened in the past, even to make your point.

4. Fair fighting is not about placing blame. It’s about solving problems.

5. Stick to “I” statements and stay away from “you” statements.

6. Avoid words like “always” and “never.” “You always do that.” “I never get what I need.” This will help you avoid criticizing your partner’s entire personality.

7. Don’t mind-read. If you don’t know how your partner feels or what he/she thinks, then ASK.

8. Incorporate positive statements and compliments along with your complaints. Make a sandwich: complaint—compliment—criticism. Like this: “You’re a lying sonofabitch!” “I love your shoes!” “You should eat shit and die!”

Okay, I’m kidding on the last part up. But you could say something like: “I sometimes feel so alone. I know you’re trying to be more present. Is there any way we can work it that we have more quality time together, to love and nurture one another?” This sandwich technique will soften the blow of any complaint and your partner will be less defensive.

Remember, you are not alone. All couples have their share of problems. No couple will see eye to eye on everything. But if you know how to fight fair when fighting is called for, you’ll be able to structure your arguments so that you can resolve the issues without damaging your partner’s ego.

Good luck!

Come As You Are

Name: Valeri
Gender: Female
Age: 38
Location: Dubuque IA
Dr Dick: I just went through a very painful divorce. My husband of 18 years up and decided that he wanted to start over…in a new job, in a new state with a new girlfriend, someone 12 years his junior. I must be completely blind, because I didn’t see any of this coming. Sure we had our problems, what marriage doesn’t? I want to move on too, but I feel so stuck. I feel like this big loser. The few tentative forays into dating have been horrible. Every guy I meet is this lying sack of shit. Sorry, does that sound too bitter? HELP!

Damn girl, that’s fucked…big time! It’s hell when relationships go belly-up, and I don’t care if they are business relationships or relationships of the heart. If there’s an established bond of trust that is broken it’s gonna smart. And when the bond is broken unilaterally, it’s even worse. But what can you expect when you’re dealing with humans.

Surviving a break-up is not unlike surviving a death. In fact, the demise of a relationship is very much a death in every sense of the word. I believe that any relationship worth talking about has a life of its own; you see, it’s greater then the sum of its parts. I gotta tell ya, I see a lot of this in my private practice. A couple drags in their relationship and it’s immediately apparent that it’s on life support. They’ve actively throttled the relationship to within an inch of its life, and they want me to fix it. Most of the time the option to “fix” has long passed. All we can hope to do, at this point, is preside over the death of the thing, providing its passing with as much dignity as possible. But to tell the truth, when a relationship is in such grave condition, and there is very little good will left between the partners, sadly there’s not gonna be a lot of dignity when the thing finally expires. It breaks my heart, but what are ya gonna do?

Many years ago a therapist working with sick and dying people wrote a book called, On Death and Dying. In it the author, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, identified five stages of dying — 1. Denial: The initial stage: “It can’t be happening.” 2. Anger: “Why ME? This is so unfair!” 3. Bargaining: “Just let me live to see my son graduate.” 4. Depression: “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” 5. Acceptance: “It’s going to be OK.”

I find it helpful to use these same identifiable stages to talk about the end of a relationship, particularly a relationship that ends unilaterally. If you don’t mind I’d like to walk through these stages with you so that you can see how applicable they are to someone in your situation.

Grieving the death of a loved one, or a relationship, involves the whole of us — our physical, emotional and social selves. We have to relearn, or cognitively adjust to, our new self without the loved one or relationship. Moving through the end of things is hard to work. And to survive it; we need be patient with ourselves. You, on the other hand, seem to be having a particular problem with this since you say you feel like a loser. That kind of mindset is not going be particularly helpful. So, if you can please jettison that kind of thinking. Or at least try to have a bit more compassion for yourself. Maybe you could shelf that self-deprecation for a while, until you get your bearings once again.

A person is faced with a fact that is too painful to accept and so she rejects it instead, insisting that it can’t possibly be true despite overwhelming evidence. This is Stage 1 — Denial! “Honey, I’m moving out. I’m getting a new job in a new state. Oh, and I have this new, much younger girlfriend too.” “This can’t be happening! Sure we’ve had our troubles, I’ll grant you that. But so does every relationship.” Denying the reality of the unpleasant fact may actually serve a purpose. It’s a coping mechanism for dealing with something overwhelming and too shocking to take in at once.

We have a gut-wrenching emotional response to the injustice, humiliation, and betrayal. This is Stage 2 — Anger. Depending on the kind of person we are, we may actively express our anger by lashing out verbally or physically. Or we may passively express our anger — turning it inward becoming silent, sulking or passive-aggressive. We may even consider harming our self as a way of punishing the other.

We try to fix what’s wrong. This is Stage 3 — Bargaining. “We can make this work! I’ll change, I promise! I know I can make you happy. Stay for the sake of the kids. What will the neighbors say? This will kill your mother! What does she have that I don’t have? You’ll never be able to show your face in this town again.” Hmmm, does any of this sound familiar, Valeri?

All our efforts to reverse the inevitable course of things leave us emotionally drained and exhausted. This is Stage 4 — Depression. Why bother with anything — family, friends, work, personal appearances, whatever — life as we knew it is over. We can’t seem to project ourselves beyond the ending of things. In the bleakness we often begin to self-medicate. A little too much food, booze, drugs? As if depression is not punishing enough, we often pile it on. I’ve heard some many people say; “hurting myself is the only thing that makes me feel I’m still alive.”

Slowly we begin to regroup. Maybe it’s through sheer willpower, or the interventions of friends and family, or maybe it’s just time itself. But we stop resisting and move toward acquiescence. This is Stage 5 — Acceptance. We stop resisting what we cannot change. Even if the end was un-chosen, undesired and inescapable, we can still willingly choose to accept it.

I hasten to add that these stages are guidelines. They are not presented in the order that they always happen. Nor is one stage predicated on the other. How long a person is in one stage or another is situational. However, I do hope this was helpful. What is certain is you will experience a wide range of feelings and emotions.

Some suggest the therapy of keeping yourself busy as a means of healing and moving on. This may sound elemental, but it’s not as easy as it seems. Most of us tend to wallow in our misery. We are way too indulgent with sitting on the pitty-pot. While you definitely need time to recover from the divorce, this period of heartache will have an end. And ends of things always led to beginnings of other things.

You now have certain freedoms that you may not have had while you were married. Once the initial period of grieving is over, it is important to jump back into life. Become more involved in your social group. Going out might seem unappealing at first, but it’s better than staying home and feeling sorry for yourself. If you’re only dating assholes, I’ll bet you’re fishing in the wrong holes, so to speak. The internet makes it so much easier to connect with quality people of ever stripe. Use this tool wisely. May I suggest that you start by connecting with people with similar interests as you, rather than posting a profile and photos on a dating site.

Of course, it is necessary to have some time with yourself to realize that you can survive and even be happy without your dick of a husband. The secret to successful grieving is that you need to feel the pain in order to get through it. Therefore, using drugs (prescription or recreational) and alcohol to numb yourself only make things worse.

You might consider working with a therapist to help you understand why your relationship ended. With a little luck you’ll learn how to avoid blaming yourself for the demise. No one is without fault, and your husband definitely has more than his share. But blaming him for everything will do you no good. You are neither totally to blame, nor are you the helpless victim. Lingering at either extreme will rob you of your self-esteem.

At first, being single might seem weird or even unappealing. But being single has its perks. Being single allows you to focus on you and take better care of yourself. And what better way to do that then by reconnecting with your sexual-self. Masturbation is gonna be your best friend during this transition period. Lavish time and pleasure on yourself. You’re worth it! Indulge yourself; instead of chocolate, get yourself a supped up vibrator and kick that thing into first gear, maybe even second! By spending more private sexual time with yourself, you’ll reconnect with who you are and what you want. This will make it easier for you to later choose a partner who can and will satisfy your needs.

Good luck

The Erotic Mind of Jesse Belle-Jones – Podcast #224 – 08/09/10

Hey sex fans,

Do ya’ll remember several weeks ago when I interviewed John Woods & Cass King; they were in town to produce their stage production called SHINE: A Burlesque Musical? I mean, how could you forget that, right?

Well, at about that same time I began to follow the tweets of one the cast members of that show. I became so jazzed by her and all the brilliant stuff she was doing that I decided to hit her up to be my guest for the Sex EDGE-U-cation podcast series. But midway through our conversation I realize that we are discussing erotic art as much as anything else. And that’s when it comes to me; my guest, the exceptional burlesque talent, Jesse Belle-Jones, fits equally well into my The Erotic Mind series too.

So not only is Jesse’s appearance here today another wonderful twofer; she is also the first guest in this series that creates her erotic art using the medium of her very own body! Hot DAMN!

Jesse and I discuss:

  • Behind the scenes at SHINE: A Burlesque Musical;
  • Sinner/Saint Burlesque
  • Local burlesque critics;
  • Body politics;
  • What is “good” burlesque;
  • Naked Girls Reading
  • Her appearance at The Seattle Erotic Art Festival; http://www.seattleerotic.org
  • Will there be a Naked Boys Reading;
  • BurlyCon
  • The purpose of the convention and who’s invited;
  • Workshops and panel discussions;
  • Crossing cultural boundaries;
  • How she got her start in burlesque;
  • Her stage name;
  • Her favorite aspects of burlesque.

Jesse invites you into her world. Visit her on her troupe’s site HERE! You’ll find her at the Naked Girls Reading site HERE! And for all you burlesque aficionados there BurlyCon HERE!

See a slideshow of Jesse at work and play.

Click on the thumbnails below.

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BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for all my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously. Just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

Today’s Podcast is bought to you by: Fleshlight & FleshJack.

Sex EDGE-U-cation with David Lawrence – Podcast #223 – 08/02/10

Hey sex fans,

There’s more of the uniquely talented David Lawrence comin’ at ya today. He’s here again as part of both The Erotic Mind and the Sex EDGE-U-cation podcast series. As you recall from last week, David is a master of two art forms — photography and Shibari, Japanese Rope Bondage.

This is Part 2 of our conversation and David continues to thrill us with his exploits. But wait, you didn’t miss Part 1 that appeared here last week at this time, did you? Well not to worry if ya did, because you can find it and all my podcasts in my Podcast Archive. All ya gotta do is use the search function in the sidebar to your right; type in Podcast #221 and PRESTO! But don’t forget the #sign when you do your search.

David and I discuss:

  • His first book — BOUND;
  • His second volume — reBOUND;
  • Being his own publisher and distributor with the help of his patrons;
  • The switch to digital photography;
  • His City Lights Series;
  • His mentoring program and the workshops he presents;
  • His rope of choice;
  • His inspirations and sexual heroes.

Be sure to check out David’s astonishing photography, his brilliant rope work and his workshops and mentoring program, all of which are on his website HERE!

Enjoy another slideshow of some of David’s stunning images below.

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Click on the banner below to reserve your copy of reBOUND.

Enjoy a slideshow of some of David’s stunning images below.

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BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll fine me in the podcast section, obviously, or just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

I wanna take a moment to remind you to check out another great website in the Dr Dick family of sites. It’s my new PRODUCT REVIEW site — drdicksextoyreviews.com

That’s right, sex fans, now it’s so easy to see what hot and what’s not in the world of adult products. I review of all kinds of adult related goodies — sex toys for sure, but also condoms, lubes, herbal products, fetish gear as well as educational and enrichment videos. DON’T MISS A SINGLE ONE!

Look for the drdicksextoyreviews.com. You’ll be so glad you did.

Today’s podcast is bought to you by: Dr Dick’s Sex Advice.

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