Tag Archives: Alternative Lifestyles

A 101 Guide to Knowing Thyself (And Understanding Everyone Else)

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By Rahel Neirene and 
Jacob Anderson-Minshall

Where society once only recognized homosexuality and heterosexuality, there’s a growing awareness of — and terms for — a much larger, ever-expanding galaxy of sexual orientations. The same can be said for genders: While many only recognized male and female, and masculinity and femininity, we are witnessing an explosion of terms and identities, often coined by those who find “LGBT” too narrow. Many of these other labels have been around for decades or longer, but are only gaining broader attention now. Here’s a short guide to our fabulous new world.

SEXUALITY:
Beyond gay, lesbian, or straight.

Androsexual: Someone attracted to masculinity, whether in men, women, or others.

Asexuality: An orientation characterized by an absence of sexual attraction or desire for partnered sex. Asexuality is different from celibacy. Some asexual people do have sex and/or masturbate. There are many ways of being asexual.

Bisexual: Someone attracted, romantically and/or sexually, to people of more than one sex or gender. Their identity remains bisexual no matter who they are in a relationship with — their orientation does not vacillate from gay to straight based on the gender of their current partner.

Demisexual: Someone who can only experience sexual attraction after forming an emotional bond.

Graysexual: Someone whose sexuality is between absolute asexual and sexual.

Gynesexual: An attraction to females or femininity, the latter in women, men, or others.

Heteromantic: A person with a romantic, but not necessarily sexual, attraction to members of another sex or gender.

Panromantic: A person who has romantic, but not necessarily sexual, attractions to people of all genders and sexes.

Pansexual/Omnisexual: Those who have or are open to having romantic, sexual, or affectional desire for people of all genders and sexes, including those who are trans or intersex. (Many bi people identify with this definition as well.)

Polyamory (or Poly): Being in or being open to having romantic relationships with more than one person at a time, generally with the knowledge and consent of their partners.

Polysexual: Attraction to multiple genders or forms of gender expression, but not all.

Queer: Nonconforming sexual attraction, may include to those who are trans or gender variant.

GENDERS:
Beyond male/female and masculine/feminine.

Agender: Having no gender identity, or having a gender identity that is neutral.

Androgynous or androgyne: Having a gender identity or expression that includes both masculine and feminine elements, often to the point where one’s gender isn’t readily apparent to others.

Bigender: Having two gender identities, which may be experienced simultaneously or at separate times. According to the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, which runs an “Identity a Day” online education series, “The two genders may be male and female, but they might also include other nonbinary gender identities.”

Gender Fluid: When one’s gender identification or presentation shifts between two or more genders.

Gender Nonconforming: Gender expressions or roles that are outside those expected by society. They’re not confined by conventional definitions of male and female, and can include people who identify as trans or genderqueer.

Genderqueer: A person whose gender identity or gender expression falls outside of the dominant societal expectation for their assigned sex, is beyond genders, or is some combination of them.

Gender Variant: Varying from the expected characteristics of one’s assigned gender or sex.

Intersex: Those who have a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit medical definitions of female or male. This happens in around one in every 1,500 to 2,000 births, according to the Intersex Society of North America, making it about as common as red hair. An intersex person might be born appearing female but with male chromosomes or internal anatomy, or born with genitals that seem outside defined male and female types. Many who are intersex have been forced, as children, to undergo surgeries that attempt to make their sexual organs conform to medical expectations. They may identify as intersex, male or female, or any of the other gender IDs here.

Neutrois: Similar to agender — a neutral or even genderless identity.

Trans or Transgender: This has become somewhat of an umbrella term for anyone with any type of gender variance. But for some it is more specific, representing those who identify or express a gender at opposition with the gender they were assigned at birth. While some trans people merely alter their identification or external expression, others pursue medical interventions like hormone treatment and gender affirmation surgeries. People who are trans often identify as either male or female, but may not do so.

Transsexual: A gender identity that is generally specific to those who are trans and undergo medical intervention to transition from the sex (male or female) they were assigned at birth to the sex they identify as being authentically. Transsexuals often view gender as binary, identify as male or female, and may accept more traditional gender roles.

Two-Spirit: A person of Native American descent whose body simultaneously houses both a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit. As an umbrella term, it may encompass same-sex attraction and a wide variety of gender variance, including people who might be described as queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, genderqueer, or having multiple gender identities.

Of course there are also dozens of micro-identities too, like subcategories of gay men (bears, twinks) or lesbians (AGGs, femmes — and others detailed at bit.ly/20LezIDs).

Complete Article HERE!

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The Science Behind Sexual Fetishes

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BY: Anthony Bouchard

When it comes to sexual fetishes, many different processes take place inside the brain that triggers the attraction. Most people are obsessed with individual parts of the body, while non-living objects sexually arouse others.

It can be difficult to study sexual fetishes because people are naturally shy about discussing them, but by studying search queries crowd-sourced by online search engines, researchers can learn quite a lot about what people won’t share in person.

The search query data hinted that it wasn’t just body parts that triggered sexual desires in people, but even objects associated with said body parts seemed to fit the bill. Worthy of note, the infamous foot fetish was one of the most popular searches from the crowd-sourced data.

Studies also illustrate how a phenomenon known as sexual imprinting impacts a person’s sexual desires throughout life. In this process, a person “learns” what they would prefer in a desirable mate through their life experiences, so the way a person grew up can influence their sexual desires.

While sexual fetishes are often thought as taboo and were once considered mental illnesses, modern science argues that it’s healthy to have one if it doesn’t harm the person or their partner in the process.

Complete Article HERE!

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Are you a pervert? Challenging the boundaries of sex

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Are you a pervert?

I believe you are.

This statement might offend you. Perhaps you wonder what would compel me to say something like that about you, especially since we’ve never met. However, a voice deep down inside of you might wonder if I am right. Maybe that voice is telling you that thing you did or liked may make you abnormal.

Whatever your take on this may be, I invite you to open your mind and explore what might be beyond your comfort zone. Let me entice you with a little bit of what I research as a neuroscientist of sexual behaviour.

Throughout history, those who have not lived under the conformity of social standards of sexuality have been tortured, ostracized, convicted and, in general, have lost their social standing.

In fact, non-conventional sexual practices – and fetishes – are not deviant. Yet there’s a well-established tradition of judging them as if they are. The repercussions of this societal judgment cause the social stigmatization of people we most likely don’t know at all.

One of the most common targets is the Bondage, Domination/Submission, Discipline and Sado-Masochism (BDSM) culture.

Why has society condemned certain intimate practices between consenting adults but not others? The answer possibly lies in wherever our society sets moral standards — generally biased, limited and sometimes political. Instead, normality should be derived by scientific and quantified results.

The Victorian church set sexual standards

The word pervert did not originally mean sexual deviant, but atheist. Pervert described someone who would not ascribe to the normal (church) rules. People who resisted the morality dictated by the church were people who debauched or seduced.

Additionally, the word contains the suffix ‘vert’, meaning to turn, as in, convert. Therefore, pervert described a person who turned away from the right course. The word changed from the moral heretic to the immoral sexual deviant in the Victorian era, when scholars used it to describe patients with “atypical” sexual desires. I imagine in the Victorian era that even a foot fetish would have been considered a perversion.

When it comes to bedroom activities, we often believe that most things we don’t do are wrong and sick. We often judge other people’s realities and behaviours from our limited and biased scope and experience.

Let’s talk about sex and bondage

BDSM is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide range of consensual sexual or erotic practices. BDSM communities commonly welcome anyone who identifies with their practices. Consider it akin to a book club if you like to read, or like an orchestra if you want to play classical music.

You may imagine or know some of the BDSM practices. But what makes you part of the BDSM culture? Well, there are no rules, but there are three fundamental principles that guide any BDSM practice: consent, safety and respect.

Physical and psychological well-being are a priority over anything: There is no pleasure in a sexual act when one of the parties is not enjoying it.

BDSM practices may require painful and risky stimulation carried out with extreme care. Just as in several other fun activities, such as playing a sport, practice makes perfect. There is only one way of doing things — the right way — and anyone who engages in these practices within the community knows health and safety comes first.

A vintage illustration from the 1950s for an erotic tale, Bizarre Honeymoon.

Normal and sexually satisfied

BDSM and other non-conventional sexual practices are more familiar than you may know. Research has shown that fetishes and BDSM-like practices are very common in the general population. Normal, everyday people commonly fantasize about BDSM-like experiences.

As well, BDSM practitioners and submissive-identified females in particular appear to be more sexually satisfied than the general population. Other studies have revealed increased pleasure, enjoyment and positive effects during BDSM versus non-BDSM sexual experiences.

Although BDSM practitioners were previously believed to have a history of sexual abuse and trauma, studies by medical researcher and professor Norman Breslow in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality showed these initial ideas were based on hypothetical case studies and not empirical evidence.

As well, more recent studies show that BDSM practitioners do not generally report sexual abuse or childhood trauma. BDSM practitioners also display less depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms compared to “normal” population standards. Furthermore, BDSM practitioners also report significantly less benevolent sexism, rape myth acceptance and victim-blaming attitudes compared to college students and the general population.

Even male and female rats have been known to develop fetishes.

A universe of possibilities

All these differences do not necessarily mean one needs to embrace more BDSM-like practices. Instead, it’s an invitation to stop judging others, and instead, embrace and enjoy our sexual lives. Fetishes can simply be the expression of our experiences and versatile sexuality in terms of practices, toys or objects that can be incorporated into our intimacy.

It’s up to each individual to choose what is right for themselves. The notion of abnormality in sexuality — with its medical and psychological labels of illness — came about to explain a deviant pattern in the reproductive aspects of mating. But humans, in general, engage in sex because they like it, not necessarily because they want to reproduce. Thus, in the eyes of those who may believe sex only serves for reproduction, any “deviation from reproductive sex” may be abnormal.

There is a universe of possibilities out there to which only you should set the boundaries. Our time in this world is too short and uncertain to deprive ourselves of the pleasures of the flesh and senses simply because someone has a negative opinion about it.

So, let me ask again, are you a pervert?

Complete Article HERE!

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Threesome Tips: 6 Things You Should Know Before Having One

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By Sophie Saint Thomas

Yes, “unicorn” is a problematic term for a person who joins a couple for a threesome (they’re a person, not a sex toy or prop). But the title gets one thing right: Like unicorns, enthusiastic guest stars in couples’ sexual adventures are hard to find. (I refuse to accept that unicorns do not exist at all. They’re probably somewhere in Alaska or Iceland, and the narwhals just won’t tell us where.) The person who is eager to show up and fulfill both your and your partner’s sexual fantasies and then disappear without a trace is likely, well, a fantasy. Hot threesomes happen, but they take preparation and communication, and not everyone is ready to successfully venture into the mystical land of group sex. For all those in relationships considering having a threesome, here are six things to know before you dive in.

1. A threesome will not “fix” your relationship.

If your partnered sex life is suffering, you could have an adult conversation about how your needs aren’t being met. You could see a couples therapist. You could carve out a night for absolutely nothing except an oral-sex marathon. (Actually, maybe do that no matter how good your sex life is.) What you shouldn’t do is expect a new sexual experience to magically solve your problems. David Ortmann, a San-Francisco- and Manhattan-based psychotherapist and sex therapist, says couples who turn to threesomes often do so in an effort to put a Band-Aid on unresolved intimacy issues. “If you’re having a threesome because sex is boring, you need to address why the sex is boring before you bring in the third,” Ortmann says. When the third leaves, your intimacy issues will still be there.

2. Your pre-threesome communication with your partners should be exhaustive.

Before you and your partner have a threesome, you should have talked about it so much that you’re tired of talking about it. “The couple needs to be on solid ground sexually and communication-wise. They need to know what they want to happen and why,” Ortmann says.

Do you feel more comfortable sleeping with a mutual acquaintance or creating a couple’s Tinder account to find a third? If you’re an opposite-sex couple looking for a female-bodied third, can the male partner have all kinds of sex with them or, for example, only manual and oral? Does the third get to spend the night? Does the third want to spend the night? Have you discussed what you want out of the group sex, both sexually and emotionally? What’s your exit plan if someone gets uncomfortable and says the safe word? Do you have a safe word? (You should.) Are you tired of reading these questions? Conversations around sex and intimacy can feel tedious, but they’re the foundation of a positive experience.

Unless you, your partner, and your third are on the same page about everyone’s boundaries, expectations, and desires — and you understand things might not go to plan — you’re likely not ready for a threesome. Talk with your partner about what you don’t want to happen, what you’d like to happen, and what you’re expecting to get out of the threesome experience. Then, when you’ve identified a potential third, discuss all of the same with them, too. A threesome should be like a carefully planned trip to a foreign country you’ve never visited: Prepare with an itinerary, but also expect the unexpected.

3. Someone may feel left out at some point — and if you can’t bear the thought of it being you, you may not be ready for a threesome.

Ortmann puts it bluntly when he tells me, “Three people is actually the most problematic of all of the configurations.” Considering the emotional and physical needs of one person during sex (while also expressing your own) is hard enough. Adding an extra person compounds the complications, whereas in “moresomes,” or groups or partners larger than three, it’s often less likely an individual will feel left out at any given time.

Here’s a heads-up for those in \relationships: Be ready to awkwardly sit on the bed questioning what to do while your partner goes down on the third with a hunger you haven’t seen from them for months. Maybe you’ll end up realizing, “Oh! I get to touch some boobs,” but you might also find yourself wondering, “Wait, why is no one’s face in my delicious genitals?”

These moments happen, but one way to make it less likely anyone will feel extraneous is to meet a potential third in a non-sexual setting before inviting them into your bed. Once I convinced my ex-boyfriend to go on a date with me and another woman with the goal of facilitating a threesome. We matched with a woman on Tinder who accepted our invitation for drinks. My ex and this woman vibed, and while I liked her as a person, there was no chemistry between us. I felt like the third wheel on a date with my own partner — a great sign the dynamic in bed wouldn’t have been rewarding for me either.

4. Safer sex precautions are non-negotiable.

Safer sex devices, such as condoms and dental dams, are crucial in a threesome. Your souvenirs of the experience should be hot memories, not STIs or unintended pregnancy. And condoms aren’t just for penises: Any threesome that features sex toys should incorporate them too. Perhaps you and your partner are in a monogamous and fluid-bonded relationship, meaning you’ve decided to exchange bodily fluids and start having unprotected sex, but you’re bringing in a third who is likely sleeping with other people. It’s important to discuss everyone’s safer sex rules before any action takes place.

Your souvenirs of the experience should be hot memories, not STIs or unintended pregnancy

In terms of etiquette, when it comes to threesomes, I feel about condoms the way I feel about appetizers: If you’re hosting the party, you should be the one providing them. Talk as a group about what other items you’d like to have at the ready: Will lube enhance the experience? How about toys? And P.S.: Even if you’re not having penetrative sex, or even oral sex, keep in mind that STIs such as HPV and herpes can be spread by skin-to-skin contact.

5. You could catch feelings.

Once my traveling ex-boyfriend said it was cool if I dated other people while he was out of town with the sneaky hope I would find a third for when he got home. He and I broke up, and the woman I met on Tinder while he was away had hot sex on our own and eventually became best friends. (Hey, he said I could date and I took him at his word.) Going back to communication, it’s important to be crystal clear with your partner about what you’re looking for. If you are both in pursuit of hot sex via a threesome, great. But if one of you is secretly looking for an extra-relationship emotional connection and the other isn’t, things could get messy.

And even if you and your partner are both just looking for hot sex, it’s important to understand all three people in a threesome have emotions that can’t be completely predicted. The third could leave with a desire to see one or both of you again, or your partner could want more and end up hitting up the third on the DL — when you open a sexual door, emotions may creep in too. It might feel awkward to bring this possibility up with your partner in advance, but you’ll be that much more equipped to deal with the eventuality if you do.

6. A threesome will likely change your dynamic with your partner.

Now, this isn’t always a bad thing. If you’ve communicated well and put due diligence into finding a third you’re both comfortable with, you could have a satisfying threesome that inspires more wild sex between the two of you long after you’ve kissed your third goodbye. In my experience, locking eyes with your partner as they penetrate your new friend from behind while said friend goes down on you is about as sexy as Earthling existence gets.

Threesomes can be enticing and exciting, and you and your partner could both really like the experience: You may want to integrate it into your regular sex life or consider even dating a third person. Then again, the sex could suck, you could feel left out, or your partner could develop feelings for the guest star — it’s all possible. If you’re in a healthy relationship based on strong communication and shared desires, you should be able to weather these risks. And if not, you probably have a few things to work on before you’re ready to welcome a guest star to your bed.

Complete Article HERE!

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No, Open and Nonmonogamous Relationships Are Not Just for White People

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By Monique Judge

Show of hands: Who here was raised to believe that the only healthy, positive relationships are ones that are monogamous, just one-on-one?

Now a show of hands: Who here thinks monogamy is bullshit?

Many of us were raised on the idea that we would grow up and find one person whom we would marry and be with forever until death do us part. We would have children with this person, buy a home with this person, build a life with this person that would look like some combination of all the “perfect” families we watched on television and live happily ever after in monogamy.

I outgrew the fantasy of a “perfect marriage” in my 20s when I realized that most people can’t or don’t function well in long-term, monogamous relationships. The fact that my parents were my primary examples of this reality didn’t help; their marriage ended in a series of horrible fights and alleged infidelities on both sides, and we kids got to witness it all.

There is an argument to be made for monogamy being a social construct. In my personal experience, I’ve found that not only have I been able to feel romantic love for more than one person at a time, but as I move along this path, I have also found more and more people who think like me and are willing to engage in consensual, nonmonogamous relationships. Most of the relationships have actually been very healthy.

It’s no secret that nearly half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce, and the number of people who report being cheated on continues to climb steadily. What is it about long-term monogamous relationships that makes them so difficult to maintain, and why do nonmonogamous or open relationships seem to be on the rise?

For me, the decision to be nonmonogamous was an easy one. As I have said before, I have been the unfaithful one in a relationship before. I have known what it is like to love two men at once, both romantically. What was missing was a way to pull those things together and be honest with the people I was dealing with about what I was feeling and experiencing and doing.

I have to tell you that the most freeing part of my nonmonogamous experience is being truthful with all my partners and potential partners. I have also been on the receiving end of dishonest nonmonogamy. A partner lied to me about his new love interest and lied to her about his level of involvement with me, and that shit cut like a knife. It took everything I had in me not to destroy her trust in him the way he had destroyed mine, but I realized it wasn’t her fault, and ultimately not my place to tell her what was going on.

I moved on. I grew up. I licked my wounds and I vowed not to be that person. I vowed not to be dishonest and to be forthright with everyone, because it is the right thing to do. People deserve their choices. They deserve to be able to decide if they want to continue rocking with me while knowing that it may not always be their night.

So what, exactly, is consensual nonmonogamy?

Consensual nonmonogamy, also known as an open relationship or relationships, can describe many types of arrangements that people in love partnerships, committed or otherwise, can participate in.

Those include polyamory, which is being in love or romantically involved with more than one person; polyfidelity, which is a polyamorous arrangement in which a group of people treat all the members of the group as romantic equals and agree to have sex only with people within that designated group; and swinging, which describes the practice of individuals and/or couples meeting up in safe, sex-positive spaces to engage in sex openly and consensually with other people.

Whenever I say that I am nonmonogamous, some people immediately equate that with being a swinger, and while I have participated in the swinger lifestyle, nonmonogamy for me is more about me being open to the idea that there are some people I am going to love and some people I will only want a sexual relationship with, and the two are neither mutually inclusive nor mutually exclusive. They can, and often do, exist in the same space.

Nonmonogamy also doesn’t mean that I am currently having sex with everyone I have romantic feelings for. One of the lovers I feel closest to, to whom I bare my soul on a daily basis, is someone I have never had intercourse with. I love him, and there is a level of mutual respect between us that keeps him at the top of my list as far as “lovers” go, even though we have never been intimate. He knows, understands and respects the lifestyle; he is also openly nonmonogamous.

We are sexually attracted to each other, and we agree that it will eventually become a sexual relationship, but right now it is simply a mutual admiration society with lots of long, deep conversations that we never want to end. He gets me, he listens to me and I can be totally myself around him. That’s enough for now.

Then there are the ones that I want only for sex. The sex is not detached or without emotion, but it is a contract entered into knowing that this is what we signed up for: the intentional rubbing together of our pelvises for mutual satisfaction and nothing more. We may converse, we may text throughout the week and we may even attend social gatherings in public together, but the understanding is always there that we are not looking for it to move beyond what it is right now, and that’s OK.

The bottom line is that at the core of nonmonogamy is honesty and mutual respect. You and your partners have to decide how you will navigate the open relationship waters, and once you have agreed on those terms, it is important to stick to them or renegotiate if you think there needs to be a change.

It is not a sexual free-for-all; while a lot of sex may be involved, it is important to remember that safety, consent and honesty play a big role in making this work.

I don’t pretend to be the expert on nonmonogamy. I can only speak on my own lived experience.

I can also provide you with links to more information if you are curious.

In the end, I wrote all this to say that contrary to what Molly said on last night’s episode of Insecure, open relationships and nonmonogamy are not just for white people. More and more black people are discovering and embracing the lifestyle.

I am out here living it, and when I tell you that I know for a fact that I am living my best life right now, it is no exaggeration.

Free up and be open to the possibilities.

Complete Article HERE!

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