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Posts Tagged ‘sex’


For a long time, dating was kind of the center of my life. I always had someone I was interested in, usually someone I was emotionally invested in to some degree, but I haven’t even gotten laid in close to six months. This is an all-time record for me. Honestly? I had never counted more than a couple weeks between hump days since losing my virginity. Between December 2009 and February 2011, I started and ended four separate relationship with people I cared deeply for. And actually, as I begin to type this, the reasons for my not getting any should become more and more glaringly obvious–dating was the center of my life. And I needed to fix that, fast.

I’d like to think that this is a realization most people will come to at some point or another. Forgive me as I go on something that will undoubtedly sound completely jaded, like it’s being written by someone who has been single for way too long (which it probably is): I see a lot of people, regardless of age, who have their lives built around and subsequently destroyed by a constant goal of receiving romantic attention. When things are good, they’re great, but when the going gets tough, well, the world is over. And I get it. I’ve been that person before and I can’t say I won’t be that person again. But, I can’t help but feel that it gets a little frustrating to see people I care about get hurt over and over again for the same reasons (often by the same people). And, again: I get it. I’ve been that person before. But honestly, I hope a lot of people get their wake up calls before I did, because it took a lot of time wasted for me to reach the six-month mark–and to be quite honest, I have never felt more fulfilled, confident, and less alone ever before in my life. How the fuck does that work?

Step 1: I stopped putting up with bullshit. Easier said than done, right? And, well, this isn’t a fool-proof rule, either. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when to draw the line, whether it’s a long-term partner or a friend bearing benefits. No one is perfect. However, I did come across this quote from The Crunk Feminist Collective recently which I will probably reference from here on out in life as my words to live by when it comes to dealing with lover’s haterade:

‎”Patriarchy conditions men to use emotional extortion and passive aggressive behaviors –saying hurtful things and then claiming them as innocuous opinions … then accusing the woman of picking fights or being emotional; demanding your silence in the face of offensive behaviors in exchange for love and affection–as a way to gain control over women who intimidate them.”

Okay now, this quote in context relates to a much more complex issue of WOC with educations dealing with egos, but I think that a lot of people–regardless of gender, race, or education–can relate to the above sentiments. You know when someone gets mad at you, even though they’re only mad as a reaction to your emotions and their anger serves as a means to manipulate you in place of a legitimate apology? Yeah, that’s what I’m getting at. That’s some Bullshit with a capital B.

Step 2: I claimed my body as my own. This is probably usually where the Pop Psychology blogger will start talking about the glories of masturbation, physical exercise, and getting in touch with some sort of spiritual obligation that involves meditation and consuming copious amounts of tea. I’m not knocking any of those practices, but my approach was a little more straight forward–I got over the pressure to have sex, and I stopped measuring my worth by how recently a dick had been inside me.

I think this is something that a lot of people–especially those around my age–struggle with. Sex is everywhere, and when we’re not seeing it on TV or in magazines, we’re listening to our friends disclose their recent erotic adventures. Even in the feminist community, there is so much going around about being sex positive and not letting anyone judge you for making your own choices that it’s easy to forget that you can choose to be choosey. It’s not about who you should and shouldn’t sleep with or how often–it’s about what feels right, acceptable, and deserved.

Step 3: I got over my fear of rejection… that is, rejecting other people. This goes into Step 2 to some degree. Sometimes it’s easier to be compliant and say “yes.” Avoiding confrontation is often the easier option, especially if it’s someone with whom you already have a sexual history. And I’m not going to lie, denying romantic attention to those who wanted it in the past couple months has often led to some really uncomfortable situations. But here’s something that sounds simple yet is easy to forget: You are never obligated to sleep with anyone, or go on a date, or indulge someone’s flirtations. You have the right to call them out on causing your own discomfort. And even if it’s not a matter of feeling uncomfortable or objectified, if it’s just a matter of it not being the right time/place/person, you are entitled to your feelings moreso than the other person is entitled to your compliance.

Step 4: I learned how to be patient. This is probably the most important thing. It’s not that I want to be single, or think love is a waste of time, or don’t enjoy dating. Based on my previously stated history, it should be pretty obvious that I find all of these things to be important in my life. However, especially after going through so many serially-monogamous relationships, I’ve come to accept that holding out for someone who fits my standards is going to have a way bigger pay off.

I have found myself seriously crushing on a couple people during my sex drought. But even when I knew the attraction was mutual, I’ve come to recognize that you can’t really fall in love with someone if you don’t know them all that well. And often times, taking the time to get to know some of these objects of affection has proved that they weren’t right for me or had different expectations. If someone isn’t willing to meet you in the middle and make some effort before jumping the gun into sexual or romantic territory, chances are it isn’t going to be worth it.

It’s not that I’m not totally awesome and have a body I love and kick ass at everything I attempt and couldn’t get it in every night of the week from someone totally delicious and equally as badass if I wanted. I just got over that and decided that I had done enough of rushing into things before feeling out the situation enough and getting totally burned (or doing the burning) because of it.

Instead, I remembered how the best relationships I ever had happened when I least expected it or, more accurately, felt that I needed it. RuPaul’s twist on the old cliche rings very true: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” What’s more, the most important thing to remember is that this expression goes both ways–and unfortunately, not too many people are often in a place in their life where they are willing to love as freely as they can.

In the end, remember when enough is enough, when it’s time to say no, and that no matter how much you want it, you have to prioritize your own needs, boundaries, and standards if you want to find happiness. That way, it won’t matter if you’re alone or not–you’ll have your own happiness to keep you satisfied.

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I’m lucky to live in the wonderful city of Chicago. It’s my favorite place to live, my adopted hometown, and an important city for poets as the hometown to the Poetry Slam. Recently I traveled to New York and took part in the slam at the world-famous Nuyorican Cafe (the former home to Def Poetry Jam) and noticed a key difference between their scene and ours–feminist poetry was pretty much non-existent, and in fact some openly misogynistic poems scored pretty well. Meanwhile, in Chicago feminist poems are prevalent at pretty much any poetry slam, and often come from unexpected sources.

I like the Chicago poetry scene because political poems are encouraged to be shared from all prospectives, even when it’s a white woman talking about race issues or a black man talking about domestic violence. I’d like to share some of my favorite poems about issues of gender, empowerment, and female oppression that belong to big-time poets and newcomers from the Chicago area. Watch the videos to let the poems speak for themselves, and then let me know what you think.

1. Tony Denis, “Mothers”

One of the few poems that’s made me cry, read by a classmate of mine at Columbia College. He got a perfect score in the slam but, in turn, got slammed by the time restraint (still placing fourth overall despite the 4 point deduction). It still remains a memorable poem, and I was impressed by the insight and empathy young Tony demonstrated. Mothers are understated heroes and I admire that he made an attempt to pay his dues with this poem.

2. J. W. Baz, “Anointing the Hand”

This poem is a poignant statement on what could be called “masculinism” but is nevertheless important in the context of a larger discussion on gender and violence. Baz is a former Def Poet who slams Hillary Clinton (rightfully so) for being old money and equating soldiers to barbarians. I like this poem because as a feminist, it’s easy to forget the everyday struggles that people face other than women, and this poem totally made me see the world differently.

3. Robbie Q. Telfer, “2002 Silver Chevy Cavalier”

Okay, so, this is a feminist poem, huh? Well, maybe not. But I still love it for its hilarious satire of manliness equating to how many “bitches” you fuck and how nice your car is. Robbie Q. is probably my favorite poet, not just for his mad skillz, but also because he’s made a career working with at-risk youths through his efforts with Young Chicago Authors. Respect.

4. Marty McConnell & Tristian Silverman, “The Female Body”

My favorite poetry power couple. I loved them both separately before realizing they were dating, and had the pleasure of hearing them perform this piece in person during class called Queer Poetry. They both are stellar poets apart from each other who are perfect examples of “the personal is political” without being boring, overstated, or pretentious, using their personal stories as vessels for a range of topics from confused sexuality to checking their own privilege. They never isolate anyone with their poems. I think in the context of that conversation, this poem largely speaks for itself, and I like the juxtaposition between Marty’s rambling definition of “the female body” and Tristian’s nervous apprehension when seeing a naked lover for the first time.

5. Andi Kauth, “Orchestra of Bones”

Andi is another old classmate of mine from Columbia who has recently propelled herself to National acclaim as a slam poet (go girl!). This is her signature poem and for good reason–it addresses issues of body image and self-esteem in a completely original way, one that takes gigantic risks through exposing the ways bulimia had failed her and the way the bodies of starving people are commoditized through photographs. It’s a controversial favorite, but one has to admire the fact that she was willing to share her very human story and prospective, even when unflattering, on a national stage.

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On September 25, 2010, I was raped.

There. I said it. So what? Well, I really haven’t spoken much about the experience since it happened. Because I’m knowledgeable about issues of violence against women, I knew exactly what to do in this instance. I called a crisis hotline to calm me down and give me advice. Then I went to the emergency room and did a rape kit. I spoke to an advocate at the hospital who further helped to calm me. I was required to file a police report; a week later, after much deliberation on my part, I decided to go ahead and press charges against my perpetrator. I sought out free counseling at my school, and when that wasn’t enough, I started seeing a counselor at Rape Victim Advocates. I told those who were closest to me about what had happened. But still, despite the existence of this blog and the fact that there is very little about my personal life that’s off-limits in terms of discussion, it’s been excruciatingly difficult for me to speak about the experience. The only thing more painful than my own experience is the fact that once I did open up to people and talk about what had happened to me, so many women I spoke to in private in turn confided in me about their own experience with sexual assault. However, although they all recognized what had happened to them as non-consensual sex, none of them were able to use the word “rape” to describe what had happened to them, in part because of trying to repress the memories surrounding the event, but also because of the blame they had placed on themselves for not being able to stop it.

Let’s back track a little bit. In my first semester of college, I took a little class called “Service Learning: Women’s Issues.” I didn’t know exactly what the class entailed, but already being a raging self-proclaimed radical feminist at the time, I signed up. The class, taught by Michelle Sayset, a wonderful woman who deserves more credit for all the work she has done with students and survivors, focused specifically on educating us about rape and domestic violence through direct action in protest and volunteer work, reading and critical responses, class discussion, and lectures given by guest speakers. It was there that I learned about the sobering statistics surrounding rape, as well as what to do in situations where you or a loved one have been assaulted. In a world where college women are 25% more likely to be victims of sexual assault, the importance of such a class is not to be understated.

The semester culminated in facilitating The Clothesline Project along with featuring student performers. It was at this event, more than three years ago, that I met my perpetrator, who was bandmates with a classmate I had befriended and would come to be a part of a large group of friends who I’ve subsequently all lost in the aftermath of the assault. He came to be my best friend, my confidant, my collaborator in terms of my art work, before he drugged me and took advantage of me while in a semi-unconscious state. If the fact that someone who had enough insight to speak out against rape would also have the balls to do it themselves wasn’t enough of a unpredictable twist in the epic of my life, I was coincidentally wearing a free t-shirt I had gotten through doing volunteer work with a women’s shelter as part of the class at the time of my assault. So, last week, when someone from this semester’s class stopped by my student poetry organization’s meeting to invite us all to read at The Clothesline Project’s open mic, I had a feeling of my experience coming full circle. I made the decision to get up in front of a room full of people–some strangers, some colleagues–and speak about my experience through my poetry and through discussion, not only because I felt it was an opportunity to exemplify how to combine the knowledge gained from the class with artistic craft to a room full of art students, but because I felt it was necessary in the process of healing myself.

(Here is a video of an older version of the poem I read; you can read the version from the event here.)

Although I was personally motivated in my performance, something happened after the event that had already occurred too many times–someone I had known for several years opened up to me about her own experience with rape. Apparently she had never thought of what had happened to her as an assault; her perpetrator was her then-boyfriend who was sleeping next to her. And apparently, like all the other women who had opened up to me, she had never considered it as rape because she blamed herself for not stopping it. I had, apparently, inadvertently lifted the blame from herself by recognizing my own experience as rape. As with all the other women I had confided in privately about my experience who in turn shared their stories with me, she didn’t use the term “rape” to describe what had happened to her–and who am I to label her experience–but the fact that I could take my traumatic experience and use it to help someone else somehow has made everything I’ve gone through (which, believe me, could be an entire blog in and of itself) completely worth it.

I can’t say that everyone who has ever been raped should speak to a room full of strangers about their personal experience. Doing so doesn’t necessarily exemplify strength or help in the healing process of such an experience, as it did for me. But I will say this: because I mustered up the courage to speak about what had happened to me in a safe space, I felt a huge sense of fulfillment. Using my experience and my art to reach out to people, and, hopefully, help them, while in turn helping myself, made me feel that some justice had been served. The legal process of prosecuting someone for rape is a strenuous thing (something that’s all-too topical given the charges surrounding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange)–I’ve made almost no process in my own case, and even if my perpetrator is behind bars, it won’t undo the damage that has already been done. We can, however–as survivors, as women, as people who feel the need to do something about it–speak out about these issues and educate men and women as a form of prevention against rape. Although these issues are something I’ve come to know all too well, unfortunately most people don’t realize how common place rape is. Not all men recognize their actions as rape even when it’s clear to the victim, and not all victims know not to internalize their blame. As I already mentioned, being educated about what to do when it came time to deal with being raped myself has helped a lot. Unfortunately none of the women who had confided in me were provided that privilege.

This blog post is a call to action. Whatever you know of rape, whatever you are comfortable speaking about, and whatever you can say without causing harm to victims, say it. Say it publicly outloud. Tweet about it or update your facebook status. Start a discussion at your school, workplace, or among friends. Do what I did and blog about it. You can’t always be there to physically intervene and prevent a rape from taking place, but you can raise awareness about the issues surrounding rape. You never know whose life you’ll be changing.

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We live in a culture that revolves around male sexuality; female sexuality is rather unstudied and warped by male view points. Young women are seen as attractive and passive, while older women are often associated with the “cougar” stereotype. Women who have sex too much are promiscuous and are contributing to the spread of disease, abortion, and the cultural demise of the “family.” Men are more likely to remain bachelors and sleep around; women need to marry because they depend on a man for income. Dr. Laura Berman has come forth from her own research into female sexuality to dispell four common misconceptions about sex & relationships:

1. A woman’s sexual performance peaks in her forties, while a man’s peaks in his teens.

Myth. While Planned Parenthood says that the sexual prime for males is around age 17, and that females’ sexual prime is around age 30, these ages actually reflect the genital prime, when sex hormones (testosterone in men; estrogen in women) are highest. But in general, both men’s and women’s sexual performance will peak when they feel most comfortable with themselves and their sexuality. Though this tends to happen between 40 and 60 for both men and women, it can really happen at any age, depending on the person!

2. Having sex more often can help boost your immune system and prevent illness.

Truth! Researchers at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., found that sex may help strengthen the immune system. According to their study, couples who had sex once or twice a week as compared to couples who had sex less than once a week had 29 percent higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an immune system protein that protects the mouth and upper respiratory tract against cold and flu viruses. Just another reason to get busy with your honey as often as you can!

3. Older people have less sex and/or less enjoyable sex.

Myth. According to a recent study of 27,000 people conducted across 29 countries, the majority of men and women studied had active sex lives past the age of 40 and well into their ‘eighties’! Couples in Western Europe who shared greater equality were more likely to enjoy their sex lives than couples in more male-oriented societies, such as those found in Asia and the Middle East.

4. Most American women who are 45 and over are married.

Myth. About 25 million of the 57 million American women who are 45 and older are not married, according to a recent study by the AARP. The study’s authors suggest that this may be because American women marry later, have high divorce rates, and tend to outlive their mates.

Source

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Every so often I approach the magazine rack of some store or another and take a healthy gander at women’s magazines. I’m shocked that most of the sex advice articles–when they aren’t putting women down for their poor body image or revealing over and over again that the best kept secret to sex is a vibrator–offer advice that applies to both men and women, whether you’re with someone of the same gender or opposite. I’ve decided to simplify it by offering a more cohesive, all-inclusive list of tips.

A mandatory disclaimer: Don’t ever force yourself to do something you’re uncomfortable with for your partner’s sake. If any of this advice is too kinky for you, don’t feel obligated to take it.

1. Tell Your Partner You Like It

Let your partner know they’re doing a good job–the more specific the better. Don’t be afraid to be a little dirty; if you let them know how hard you’re going to come, they’ll make sure you enjoy it to the fullest extent, not to mention it will drive them crazy.

2. Touch Your Naughty Bits

Whether you’re absent mindedly fondling yourself or working yourself down there, masturbating will show your partner that they’re driving you wild, plus they’ll be able to see what feels good to you. This is besides the fact that it will feel great for you! See if you’re able pleasure yourself while performing oral or during the old in-out.

3. Switch It Up

Even if you don’t have a big repertoire in terms of moves, rotating between different positions and sex acts will keep your partner’s attention.

4. Do It Somewhere New

Having sex in public places risks heavy punishment if you get caught (unfortunately the law is more likely to prosecute gay couples than heterosexual couples), but have you ever had sex on the kitchen table or on the dryer? Smooshing in places other than your bed adds spontaneity to what might otherwise be another Saturday night.

5. Take It Slower

What’s the rush? Got somewhere to be? No, you don’t, you’re busy getting busy, so why don’t you go at a comfortable pace and enjoy it? Rather than wearing yourself out trying to get it over with as quickly is possible, start slow and pick up–when you get tired, take a minute to go down on your partner, or vice-versa. Think of it this way: you’ll have more time to make each other completely satisfied.

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