Tag Archives: Alternative Lifestyles

My Complicated Relationship With Religion and Sex

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Religion and Sex

Religion and sex have been intertwined for thousands of years. Religion often inspires guilt about sex. That guilt needs to go away.

I was raised Christian, which involved Catholic school, Baptist church and consecutive nights at Bible study. The recurring message throughout all of the teachings was that sex is wrong, wrong, wrong – unless you’re married.

When I’ve written before about the complicated relationship I have with religion and sex, people have messaged me that it’s possible to be religious and fuck. While I’m sure this is true, and there are absolutely liberal churches out there, where I was raised the rules were staunch on this: you don’t have sex until you’re married. Full stop.

Letting Go of My Guilt

I’m an atheist now, for a variety of reasons, and I’ve been working to let go of the guilt I’ve attached to sex for as long as I can remember. The guilt was a combination of my own sensitivity (I’ve always taken things to heart), and the teachings that spanned my school education and social activities. Having dated several committed Christians as a teenager, none of whom believed in sex before marriage, I’d become accustomed to not fucking. I wasn’t one of those “anything but” religious types, either. Sure, I’d engaged in plenty of dry humping, fully clothed, but I was beyond sexually frustrated well into my 20s. When my lon- term boyfriend decided that even making out was sinful, I started to wonder if this was the kind of relationship I even wanted to be in anymore.

More Than Just Teaching Abstinence

Abstaining from sex wasn’t the only thing that religion taught me about sex. Time and again in Bible study and Youth Group, the leaders got majorly specific about what was OK and what wasn’t OK. For instance, one workshop I went to in college told everyone that men could masturbate because they needed the physical release, but that women should abstain altogether. As a massive feminist, this should’ve been the only wake-up call I needed that perhaps religion was not for me, but it was years before I gradually moved away from religion and the rules that went with it. The fact is, letting go of rules that have been programmed into us from an early age can be incredibly difficult. (Read more about the author in How I Became a Sex Positive Feminist.) Friends of mine balked and broke the church rules time and again. When one got pregnant at 16, her family decided in conversation with the church that the solution was simple: she’d get married. Once she was married, she was instantly absolved of the perceived sin that had occurred. Despite the rules, people have sex. They just get shamed for doing it. (Read more in The Worst Analogy for Premarital Sex Ever.)

The Rules Totally Affected My Life

In hindsight, abiding by the rules of the church was no mean feat, and completely fucked my head up. Telling my body to deny itself, and constantly being denied the physical affection I so craved, gave me a bit of a complex about relationships. That being said, I respect anyone whose decision it is to not have sex for whatever reason. It’s all down to personal choice and being respectful of your partner’s wishes. Because religion is often an inflexible set of rules, personal wishes get lost, and this can be problematic. I didn’t have sex until I was 24. I’d previously been in situations where it was offered, but it took me a long time to untie myself from the associated guilt. Even when I stopped going to church and chose to start moving in a new direction, my old habits stuck. It was difficult to shake the thoughts, feelings, and teachings that I’d held for 20 years. It was important for me to reclaim sex for myself and separate it from the shame that so often gets applied to it by religion. Religion has a lot to say about sex. It dictates when, how, with whom, and, to some degree, how often people should have sex. As a feminist, I couldn’t live this way anymore. And I absolutely couldn’t stand the sexist doctrine that set different rules for men and women. I’m pro-masturbation, and don’t think that it should ever be separated out by gender. Repression shouldn’t rest more heavily on women, and any doctrine that says it should isn’t one I can abide by.

Breaking Free From Religious Guilt

There are some religious and spiritual traditions that have a more positive view of sexuality. In fact, in a number of cultures the moment of orgasm has been described as a transcendental experience in which one is momentarily elevated to a divine level of awareness. Instead of designating sex to an off-limits area, only talking about it in conjunction with sin or marriage, and refusing to recognize that it’s a natural and enjoyable part of life, we should celebrate it.

I don’t want outsiders dictating who I can sleep with. I’m ready to discard the shame I’ve been layered in like butter. I want to peel off my guilt and make choices that feel right for me. And I want to encourage you to do the same.

Complete Article HERE!

Would you try rope bondage for meditation?

The word bondage usually has connotations of latex, domination, and sexual deviancy. But some young Australians are turning to rope bondage for meditation and relaxation. DISCLAIMER: Seek professional advice in the art of Shibari; do not attempt independently.

By Lucinda Kent

Rope bondage enthusiast Teneil Zerbst says it can be practised almost anywhere - even from a tree.

Rope bondage enthusiast Teneil Zerbst says it can be practised almost anywhere – even from a tree.

Teneil Zerbst’s life looks pretty normal from the outside.

Office job, cute pet, happy relationship. She likes art and going to gigs.

But Teneil’s preferred method of relaxation in her spare time is a little… unconventional.

Teneil likes to be tied up (or tie others up) in a style of bondage known as Shibari, based on a centuries-old Japanese practise that Samurai once used for restraining prisoners.

It takes around 30 minutes to suspend someone with Shibari knots, or even hours for more elaborate styles.

It takes around 30 minutes to suspend someone with Shibari knots, or even hours for more elaborate styles.

While there is definitely a sub-culture of rope bondage for sexual pleasure (Teneil’s rope venue The Salon has a stall at Sexpo), she says getting tied up and hung in the air it is much more about relaxation than gratification.

“Shibari has deep origins in utility and practicality, but is also incredibly aesthetically pleasing and over the years has morphed into something of an art form; combining restraint, deep connection and power exchange between model (or bottom) and rigger (or top),” she said.

Teneil Zerbst (right) says passing control over to the rigger is a key reason why many people find suspension relaxing.

Teneil Zerbst (right) says passing control over to the rigger is a key reason why many people find suspension relaxing.

When she is ‘modelling’, Teneil is routinely bound and tied up in elaborately knotted and tied ropes, then suspended in the air for up to hours at a time.

“Being suspended is an incredible feeling. When I first started modelling, I was somewhat nervous about feeling constricted and helpless; claustrophobic even! But as soon as I left the ground, I felt an immediate sense of deep relaxation and a wonderful calm come over me,” she says.

“Modelling is not the same for everyone, but I’m confident that most models at one time or another experience ‘sub space’ – a level of relaxation or high as a result of endorphin release through the body.

“It’s something that is hard to explain to those who haven’t experienced it, especially considering ‘bondage’ and ‘relaxation’ aren’t terms that are usually associated!”

While Teneil was first introduced to Shibari through Brisbane’s BDSM scene, she says the key to converting people to the wonders of the rope is to bring it to a more pedestrian environment.

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She is just as likely to tie up a fully-clothed friend from a backyard tree on a Sunday afternoon as she is a scantily-clad bondage enthusiast in the dark of night at The Salon.

Teneil has introduced people from every part of her life to rope bondage, and has been surprised at how accepting people are of her unusual hobby.

“I’ve tied up my brother in front of my entire family at Christmas-time, and I have even suspended my mother in my family backyard,” she says.

“My family and friends are incredibly supportive of what I do and I’m glad to be able to share it with them.”

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She says she hopes one day rope bondage will be as normal as yoga for relaxation.

“Being tied up is not something most people would think would be synonymous with being relaxing, but to me, there is a freedom in restraint that I have not felt anywhere else; not at yoga, not during traditional meditation, she says.

“I think what makes rope bondage different is that it is pure connection. It’s connection between your mind and your body, and your body and your rigger. It is relaxing, challenging, meditative and intimate, whether you’re tying yourself or being tied by someone else – even when you’re tying someone else.”

“I have two friends that I tie regularly, and I self-suspend every now and again. My passion, however, definitely lies in modelling for others. I love to fly!”

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Complete Article HERE!

How is sensory deprivation used in BDSM?

By Ken Melvoin-Berg

sensory deprivatio in BDSM

Q:

How is sensory deprivation used in BDSM?

A:

Sensory deprivation is a commonly used practice in BDSM (and sensual sexytime, too) that makes us focus on our other senses by depriving us of one or more senses. For example, blindfolds are commonly used to deny us sight, but that forces us to rely on touch, smell, hearing, and taste to guess what is coming next. This is a fun way to make us focus in an unnatural way due to our reliance on all five senses. If we have a blindfold on, our sense of touch feels more intense, we have greater depth in our ability to hear, our sense of smell is more keen, and we can taste things to greater degree.

Sightsensory deprivatio in BDSM2

The sense of sight is the most common form of sensory deprivation because sight is the one sense we rely on more than any other. We have already mentioned blindfolds, the number one go to device in sensory deprivation. There are also ways to limit vision by getting rid of peripheral vision, like a horse with side blinders. Using a mask narrows the scope of our vision to what is in front of us. Hoods are also a common theme in BDSM. They are great for limiting both sight and hearing.

Taste

The sense of taste can’t really be taken away, but we can overwhelm it using foods with an intense flavor. Onions, bitters, sour candies, or mouth wash is a great way to mask the next taste detected in your mouth. Taste and smell go hand in hand. So, if you plug the nose, taste is slightly hampered. For extra fun, learn what parts of the tongue detect what flavor and sadistically overload it. Extreme sour candies placed near the center on the sides of the tongue can overwhelm someone to he point of tears if left long enough.

Smell

The sense of smell can be blocked simply by plugging the nose. As mentioned before, this also affects taste to a minor degree. Using a hood that blocks sight and sound in conjunction with a clothespin on the nose will force your lover to focus all their attention to what they feel on their skin. This intensifies both the good and the bad.

Hearing

sensory deprivatio in BDSM3Hoods, earplugs, and headphones with noise cancelling or loud music are all great ways to limit hearing. To really use hearing to its best effect, pick the same music to use time and again while delving in kinky fun. This does two things. It blocks the sound via loud music. It also trains the mind and body to crave sex or kink when that music comes on. Discordant electronic music has the added benefit of causing mental confusion to the loss of hearing. This is particularly useful during interrogation scenes when you want the submissive to be a bit confused and focus their attention to the other senses.

Touch

Depriving someone of their sense of touch is a bit different compared to the other senses. Skin is the largest organ in the human body. The only way to effectively decrease the sense of touch is to either create a barrier (liquid latex, plastic wrap) or through a topical anesthetic that will numb the skin. Both of these have potential risks you should watch for (low blood pressure, latex allergies, seizure disorders, etc.) before utilizing.sensory deprivatio in BDSM4

Try playing with one or more of these forms of deprivation and then start with some great sensory play to tantalize the senses that are not dulled. Having a blindfold then tickling someone with a feather might just be a little more adventurous than you thought! Have fun and have great sex!

Complete Article HERE!

A Brief History of Homosexuality and Bisexuality in Ancient China

By Zachary Zane

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Bisexuality and homosexuality in Ancient Greece is (relatively) well-documented and understood, but same-sex love and romance in Ancient China is a little more complex and speculative.
Still, there is recorded documentation of same-sex relationships in each of Ancient China’s many dynasties, and there are many things we know about how bisexuality manifested itself during those times. Similar to Greece, there wasn’t a strict divide between “gay,” “straight,” and “bisexual,” and in Ancient Chinese times, it’s believed that same-sex relationships were more commonplace.

To increase your knowledge of queer history, here’s some factoids about bisexuality and homosexuality from the time of Ancient China. (Unsurprisingly, many of the historic accounts of homosexuality take the form of stories/myths, so we’ll share some of those too.)

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Ancient Chinese Terminology

Let’s start with some Classical Chinese terminology, which is quite fascinating. There were two common phrases for men who engage in same-sex relationships in Classical Chinese, which are sometimes (though not often) used today: “The passion of the cut sleeve” (斷袖之癖)  and the “divided peach” (分桃).

Modern Chinese slang is equally as interesting, with Baboon (狒狒) being the literal translation of what Westerners call a bear-chaser and monkey (猴子) being the literal translation of what Westerners call a twink. 0 is also a symbol for bottom (0 is supposed to reference an anus) and 1 is a reference for top (1 being a symbol of the penis). So naturally, .5 means vers.

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The History of the Cut Sleeve and Same-sex Relationships and Intimacy among Emperors of the Han dynasty.

We can probably guess your response when you first read the term “the cut sleeve,” (Is it a euphemism for a circumcised penis?! What does it mean?!) but there’s actually a heartwarming story that explains it. Emperor Ai of the Han Dynasty who ruled from 7 to 1 BC took the throne when he was 20. He was very much known for his homosexual, proclivities, we’ll call them. One morning, Ai’s lover Dong Xian was still asleep in bed, lying on Ai’s robes. Instead of waking Dong Xian, Ai cut off his sleeve to let his lover continue to sleep peacefully.

But Emperor Ai wasn’t the only emperor of the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) that had same-sex sexual relationships. The Han records show that nearly every emperor that ruled during the Han Dynasty had same-sex lovers (10 of the 13) in addition to their wives and female concubines.

After the Han Dynasty, ancient Chinese people were more tolerant of same-sex relationships, assuming it didn’t get in the way of eventually marrying (a woman) and starting a family.

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The Tears of Lord Long Yang

Another passionate same-sex love story comes from Lord Long Yang who was lovers with the King of Wei. The two men were fishing, and together they caught an impressively large fish. Then, they happened to catch an even bigger fish, so the king threw away the first one. Suddenly, Long Yang broke out into tears. When the King asked him what was wrong, Long Yang replied that he was afraid he would be treated like the first fish. When the king found someone newer and more impressive, he’d be thrown away too. Moved, the King of Wei issued a decree stating that “Whoever shall dare speak of beauties in my presence will have his whole clan extirpated [destroyed].”

(Isn’t that adorable? I mean, possessive and nuts, but also adorable?) Anyway, that’s why “Long Yang” is a another reference to same-sex love in China.

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In Classical Chinese, the pronouns he, she, and it were written with the same gender-neutral character, tā (他). If only English learned from Classical Chinese, instead of differentiating gender with obnoxious pronouns…

Because of this, there’s more ambiguity with regards to same-sex relationships occurring in classical Chinese texts. Many stories can be read as either homosexual or heterosexual depending on the reader’s desire. Also, many ancient writings were written by men with a female voice (or persona), further complicating as to whether the work was intended to be heterosexual or homosexual.

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The switch of attitudes against same-sex relationships in the 19th century

Ancient Chinese attitudes towards same-sex couples were pretty relaxed (assuming it didn’t interfere with heterosexual marriage and procreation), but of course, that’s not the case with China today. It’s unclear what exactly caused the attitude shift toward same-sex couples, but many scholars credit modern China’s homophobia/biphobia and disapproval of same-sex relationships to the country’s adoption of Western viewpoints of homosexuality.

In the 19th century, the idea of the “modern homosexual” was born in the West, and with it, the birth of the “modern heterosexual” whose behaviors and sexual activities were opposite of the modern homosexual. It’s believed China picked up some of the new Western perspectives concerning homosexuality in the 19th century, which dichotomized sexuality, eventually demonizing same-sex relationships.

Complete Article HERE!

STIs may have driven ancient humans to monogamy, study says

The shift away from polygamy to monogamy with the dawn of agriculture could be down to the impact of sexually transmitted infections in communities

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Computer simulations show monogamy helped establish a steady population while in communities where polygyny was rife population plummeted.

Computer simulations show monogamy helped establish a steady population while in communities where polygyny was rife population plummeted.

The clam, the clap and the pox are rarely linked to romance. But new research suggests they may have helped drive humans to monogamy.

Based on insights from computer models, scientists argue that the shift away from polygynous societies – where men had many long-term partners, but women had only one – could be down the impact of sexually transmitted infections on large communities that arose with the dawn of the agricultural age. Agriculture is thought to have taken hold around 10,000 years ago, although some studies put the date even earlier.

“That behaviour was more common in hunter gatherers and it seemed to fade when we became agriculturists,” said Chris Bauch of the University of Waterloo in Canada who co-authored the paper.

Writing in the journal Nature Communications, Bauch and his colleague Richard McElreath from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, describe how they built a computer model to explore how bacterial STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis that can cause infertility, affected populations of different sizes. The authors considered both small hunter gatherer-like populations of around 30 individuals and large agricultural-like populations of up to 300 individuals, running 2,000 simulations for each that covered a period of 30,000 years.

In small polygynous communities, the researchers found that outbreaks of such STIs were short-lived, allowing the polygynous population to bounce back. With their offspring outnumbering those from monogamous individuals, polygyny remained the primary modus operandi.

But when the team looked at the impact of STIs on larger polygynous societies, they found a very different effect. Instead of clearing quickly, diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea became endemic. As a result, the population plummeted and monogamists, who did not have multiple partners, became top dog. The team also found that while monogamists who didn’t ‘punish’ polygamy could gain a temporary foothold, it was monogamists that ‘punished’ polygamy – often at their own expense of resources – that were the most successful. While the form of such punishments were not specified in the model, Bauch suggests fines or social ostracisation among the possible penalties. The results, they say, reveal that STIs could have played a role in the development of socially imposed monogamy that coincided with the rise of large communities that revolved around agriculture.

“It’s really quite exciting,” said evolutionary anthropologist Laura Fortunato of the University of Oxford who was not involved in the study. While there is little data to be had on the prevalence of STIs in either hunter gatherer populations or in early communities that embraced agriculture, Fortunato believes that there are opportunities to explore the idea further. “You could see if that mechanism is in operation in contemporary populations,” she said.

While the authors acknowledge that other factors might also have influenced the shift to monogamy, the research, they believe, highlights an oft-overlooked aspect of human behaviour. “A lot of the ways we behave with others, our rules for social interaction, also have origins in some kind of natural environment,” said Bauch.

But others describe the authors’ theory as “unlikely”. “I don’t think it is necessarily wrong but I think the basis for their modelling may be,” said Kit Opie of University College, London. Opie argues that early human society was not likely to be polygynous. “Looking at modern day hunter gatherers who provide some sort of model for pre-agricultural societies, ie any human society prior to about 10,000 years ago, then polygyny is very rare,” he said. “Hunter-gatherer marriage is a much looser affair than we are used to and polygyny may be allowed but very rarely is it actually practiced.”

Bauch believes the argument doesn’t detract from the authors’ conclusions. “I don’t think it affects our hypothesis because our hypothesis and mechanism concern general trends,” he said. While the authors note that further work that clearly distinguished between marriage and mating could add further insights, Bauch believes the new study shows the power of simulations. “Our research illustrates how mathematical models are not only used to predict the future, but also to understand the past,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

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