Tag Archive: dialogue

What I Love About Polyamory

During the most recent months of my blog-scouring and self-reflection, I’ve been honing in on a lot of material about the polyamorous community and all the wonderful growth and learning experiences that living in a poly relationship can bring.  So here’s my list (and a number of awesome articles  to go with it!) about what polyamory can bring to the table for personal improvement and interpersonal intimacy

1.  Living in a poly or open relationship forces you to be an amazing communicator.

The top priority for every poly person is to love while doing no harm.  Just because people are in open relationships doesn’t mean jealousy doesn’t happen, feelings aren’t going to be hurt, or problems won’t arise.  Because it does, they are, they will.  Polyamory has so many pitfalls if you aren’t being completely, 100% honest with your partner.  They need to know what you are thinking and feeling and needing not only in regards to their relationship with you, but in regards to their relationship as it relates to your OTHER relationships.  Tricky stuff.

One of the biggest aspects of polyamory among couples that date separately is the question of “negotiating permissions.”  For an illustration of how this works, but also why it can be tricky, I direct you to The Ferret, a blog on polyamory, and his explanation of “The Butterfinger Metaphor.”  

“Look,” I said. “Imagine that we’re going out to see a movie. You know I love movies, because movies are awesome. But imagine, if you will, that there was a chance that at this movie theater, on any given night, the cashier might also give me free Butterfingers. …[But] you care about the Butterfingers so much that I have to make sure you’re aware of every Butterfinger I eat. So every time I head to the movies, I’m all like, ‘Hell, if there’s a chance at Butterfingers, I’d better clear it with Gini – because if it turned out there was someone willing to give me Butterfingers and you would have been okay with that, I’d hate to miss out.’” 

“So we spend a lot of time discussing Butterfingers,” I boldly continued, “But the actual amount of time I spend getting Butterfingers, or even deeply caring about Butterfingers, is pretty damned slim. I just want to make sure that if Butterfingers are available, it’s okay with you.” 

 Maybe the metaphor is terrible, but it’s also an adorable way of illustrating the importance and difficulties of negotiating permissions.  If you want to spend time with another partner, but not hurt your primary partner, you end up asking a lot more often that you end up receiving, which can in turn, irritate your primary partner because you spend so much time asking to sleep with other people.

HOWEVER, I would argue that the hyper-developed communication skills which led to the Butterfingers problem also allowed it to be solved, because both partners were able to talk about why there was a disconnect in the way they were interacting and feeling.   And creative, constructive dialogue is awesome!

2.   Being in a poly/open relationship allows you to experience things sexually that another partner is unable to give, and/or offer the variety you feel like you’ve been missing.

One of the major boons about poly life in the kink community is that it combines the emotional commitment and trust that many kinky people need in their sex lives without needing to put all your eggs in one basket, as it were.  Many kinky people have a variety of practices that interest them, but have a life partner that is either not kinky at all, or that is drawn to different varieties of kinks than them.   For example, a male/female couple may both like domination and submission play, but the man also likes fire play or other practices too extreme for his partner.  Likewise, the woman may like to switch and play with other women in the opposite role from when she plays with her husband.  This kind of variability is incredibly useful to kinky people, and is much safer- physically and emotionally- than playing with strangers at parties or in the club scene (not that there’s anything wrong with that- but it is more dangerous).

This is equally true for vanilla relationships and single people who fear “getting tied down by true love” before they’ve experimented and satisfied their curiosity with people who aren’t “the one.”  Dan Savage talks about this brilliantly in “What Does Marriage Mean,” where a young couple with three children ends up separating because they realized that they hadn’t had enough sexual experiences of their own before settling down with each other.  But because they were unprepared to acknowledge the potential for a non-monogamous, yet committed relationship, they had to leave each other, which I think is a frustrating and un-productive endgame.

3. Poly/open relationships take the stress of dependency off of a diadic partner relationship.

The swinger’s blog, Life on the Swingset, provides a great explanation of this in their post, “All Things Re-Considered.”

“In every aspect of a modern life, we’ve become interconnected and interdependent with others. Every aspect except sex, that is. Most still expect themselves to be everything for their partners in the bedroom….And with all of those expectations comes pressure. And feeling insufficient, which may just be the root of all jealousy….All of us in different open relationships, whether swinger, poly, or in some custom-built arrangement, share a comfort level in having another human being provide for our partners. In purely sexual terms, there are certain types of orgasms that [G] can’t have with me. “

4. Poly/open relationships give us the opportunity to explore ourselves emotionally- to better understand why we feel the way we feel about certain things, and to make us better people in general.

Being with more than one person at a time, and having to negotiate the complex cultural baggage and your own mental hoops about  what it means to care for multiple people IS HARD.  But it’s also rewarding.  You find different kinds of intimacy from different people;  they uncover new aspects of your personality and push you to learn more about your own limits and expectations.  There’s a reason Zachary Karabell refers to open relationships as “Sex as an extreme sport.”

5.  So that’s a lot of articles I just threw at you, but here’s one more- “Where We Are” by Lust and Confused.  They explain my favoritereason why poly relationships are awesome: because it means more love for everyone.  ❤

Stay cool, queer kids.


I’ve waited long enough now that I think it’s fair for me to comment on Rhianna’s S and M video which caused so much media fervor when it was released.  I’ve seen many different critiques on the video and the responses to it, ranging from the mainstream arguments about perversion and the degredation of women inherent in BDSM practices to the feminist counter about male vs. female privilege in addressing sexual issues in music to those who simply hailed Rhianna as visionary and daring.  But what I want to look at the self-awareness in the S and M video which I find so impressive, and attempt to deconstruct its ideas in a way that makes sense to be people who watched the video and simply thought “WTF???”

So, for those of you who haven’t seen it already, Rhianna’s video is available here:

Rihanna – S&M by jimihubabua

First and foremost, I want to breakdown the references that Rhianna used in the video, because she did a fabulous job of showing diversity of expression within the BDSM community.  For simplicity (and because I’m a bit Type-A), I made a list:

  • Submissive roleplay

Rhianna’s video actually starts out with a fairly common role-playing scenario, both within the self-identified kinky community and the rest of the world: the office submissive.  Rhianna holds a press conference and is surrounded by dozens of office underlings following her every word, nodding along to her singing, silenced by ball gags.  It’s really a brilliant opening image because of the more universal aspect to this kind of roleplay.  Many people have thought about how wonderful it would be to force that uppity Executive Vice President in their office to sit down, shut up, and start taking notes from them.  There isn’t necessarily a sexual relation to it, but the element of power play in the reversal of office roles is definitely an S and M dynamic.

  • Mummification (plastic wrap)

In the same scene as the office submissives, Rhianna is displayed behind a barrier of plastic wrap, reminiscent of the S and M practice of mummification.  Mummification, as explained by Wipipedia, is “a BDSM bondage practice involves restraining a person’s body in a non-damaging way by wrapping it head to toe in materials like clingfilm, cloth, bandages, latex or linen sheet, rubber strips, plaster bandages, sleep sacks, or strait jackets. The end result being a person completely immobilized and looking like an Egyptian mummy. They may then either be left bound in a state of effective sensory deprivation for a period of time, or sensually stimulated in their state of bondage, before being released from their wrappings.”

  • Puppy play

More than anything, I like S and M because Rhianna gets to walk Perez Hilton (that pretentious little snot) around on a leash and treat him in the condescending manner he deserves.  This is her nod to another kind of roleplaying relationships, wherein one partner takes on the mannerisms of a dog (although variations of this exist for many other kinds of animals) and the other is the owner.  Sometimes these scenes are based on a loving, affectionate interaction between owner and puppy, but others manipulate scenes primarily with the objective of giving their partner orders, as one would “train” a puppy.

  • Leather girls/boys

Leather fetish is probably the most established trope about the BDSM community in the books, probably because it establishes such a strong visual image and there’s such a large commercial market for leather gear.  Thankfully, Rhianna touched on leather fetishism without dwelling on it too long, allowing time in the video to explore other, less well-known aspects of S and M.

  • Robot/futuresex fetish

Who doesn’t want to see Rhianna dressed up in white latex robot costume, taping her underlings to the wall and doing whatever the heck she feels like?  This scene was a great incorporation of robot/futuresex fetishism with dominant and submissive undertones and….

  • Bondage!

My favorite!  Bondage shows up a couple of times in S and M- not only in the dark context of Rhianna the robot and her helpless future-world slaves, but also in the lighter, more playful scene where she is bound up in a bubbly, pastel-colored Japanese manga-esque dress and jokingly bites at her restraints.

  • Daddy/girl play

That same dress may have also been a nod to another kind of roleplaying relationship with a similar dynamic to puppy play- daddy/girl relationships.  Rhianna, dressed as a bratty little girl in her infantilizing dress, illustrates the kind of “punishment-style” daddy/girl interactions that stand in opposition to more caring, loving, incest-play.  (This is a style of roleplay that many people outside and inside the BDSM community have trouble with because of its undertones of incest and child abuse, which is why I will once again take this time to note that this is first and foremost a form of PLAY.  If you want examples of how a healthy daddy/girl relationship works, I implore you to read some of the writing on Sugarbutch)

So, having semi-dissected the video, let me tell you why I really think it’s interesting and useful relative to the BDSM community.  First and foremost, S and M is a form of exposure to the community that most people would otherwise never have.  That being said, a lot of people don’t understand the video and/or are offended by it, so this can often be a two steps forward, one step back approach, but I appreciate Rhianna touching the issue at all.

Second, I am so happy, as another blogger- Vanilla Edge– brought up, that S and M doesn’t focus exclusively on the “dark images” associated typically with BDSM (chains, whips, leather, etc.).  Her video is colorful, playful, and exposes people to a spectrum of BDSM practices, which is awesome!

At the same time, however, the video is very self-aware of the way it would be perceived by the general public.  There are a few quick cut-scenes of Rhianna with newsprint running behind her questioning her sexual ethic, calling her a whore, etc, which is a very ingenious way of breaking the fourth wall with her audience.  She is acknowledging both the practice of S and M as taboo while simultaneously noting the fact that her own video will then incur those same taboo associations.  In a way, such an approach pre-empts any negative press the video would receive and makes a very eloquent artistic statement.

Last but not least, I want to look at the content of Rhianna’s video as a composite piece.  Whether she did so intentionally to make a statement or simply to avoid further censorship by the media, there’s no ACTUAL SEX in her video.  I’ve heard this used as a critique of the video because for men, it’s no problem to include much more provocative images that Rhianna utilizes and this double standard caused her to shy away from any explicit images, but let me offer an alternative explanation: the lack of sex in S and M was a purposeful statement about the manifestation of S and M relationships.  Not all BDSM scenes involve sex.  Many people get off on S and M practices exclusively, such as spanking, roleplaying, or electrical play.  There doesn’t need to be sex for something to qualify as BDSM, so the absence of sex in Rhianna’s video can be interpreted as an acknowledgement of that fact.

As you can probably tell, I really like this video, and I honestly didn’t expect to.    I expected it to feed the popular misunderstandings of the BDSM community, vilify it moreso, other it even farther so that it becomes one step more removed from “the normal world.”  Lauren Berlant wrote in her article for the Nation about sexual scandal a few words which I think are intensely applicable:

“..when a sexual scandal happens, people indulge in projections of what makes them uncomfortable about sex: its weirdness (I was just standing up and talking and now I’m doing this?), its sloppiness, its awkwardness, its seeming disconnection from so many other “appropriate” drives (to eat, for example). Then there’s the fear of becoming a mere instrument of someone else’s pleasure, in a way that one doesn’t want.

Nonetheless, I’m just saying, I really like sex. We have no idea what sex would be like in a world that saw it basically as a good. A weird good. A good that can tip you over and make you want to do strange things. A good that can reveal your incoherence, your love of a little disorder, your love of a little control (adjust the dial as you like). A good that can make you happy, for a minute, before the cat starts scratching the corner of the bed, or the phone rings, or the kids mew, or you’re hungry and sleepy, or you need another drink or the taxi comes.” (You should also read the whole article, because it’s excellent)

This is what Rhianna has done for the BDSM community, in a highly literate and entertaining way- made BDSM and those weird, awkward, uncomfortable parts of sex a little more connected to the world we know.  If a popstar can sing about them, can’t we at least acknowledge them?

I would never go so far as to say that the world will take Rhianna’s S and M video as a justification for experimentation with BDSM- in fact, I highly doubt that it truly swayed many people’s opinions at all.  But it did provide exposure, and S and M did so in an impressive and balanced way.  To get people talking is the first step towards changing opinions.

So get talking, queer kids.

*NB: More information about any of these BDSM activities can be found at http://www.londonfetishscene.com/wipi/index.php/Main_Page.  Furthermore, a must-read for anyone interested in practicing BDSM is this safety manual from  ACT Toronto.

Sex and Strangers

I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to blog while I was in Nairobi, but it’s my free day and this helps me decompress (but don’t come to expect it!)

The wonderful thing about the American University study abroad program is the manipulation of group time in the orientation week activities.  There are 12 of us total, and about half of the activities are for all of us together, with the other half having us split into constantly rotating groups of 4, which is meant to help us get to know everyone.  I’m finding that both sides of these group arrangements are very beneficial in understanding where people are coming from, and it also tends to lead to very amusing conversation.

Now you’re thinking, ok, Bianca, that’s cool, you’re studying abroad, but what does that have to do with sex, sexuality, or any of the stuff you’ve been writing about for 4 months?  Well, thing being, when you get a certain number of women together, they’re inevitably going to start talking about sex and relationships- their pains, their triumphs, their dirty secrets and whatnot.  These conversations are also the time when the group seems to bond the most.  And me, being a person who thinks a lot about thinking, can’t quite figure out why that is.  What about sex talk brings people together?

My first thought was universality.  Everyone has either had sex with someone, wanted to have sex with someone, or felt the societal pressure to have sex.  It doesn’t matter who you’re attracted to and what kind of context you interact with that person (or persons) on, everyone’s felt it.  Somehow this universal understanding of a force makes it easier to connect to people, because everyone has a story.

But… being hungry is universal.  As is friendship.  Or school.  All of these are topic areas which have universality, but don’t draw half the conversation that sex tends to.

My second thought was excitement.  You don’t get much of a thrill by talking about being hungry.  What you and your best friend did this past holiday can be amusing or interesting, but it probably won’t send chills down your spine or make your eyes grow wide with intrigue.  Sex, on the other hand, being the taboo and infinitely complex societal interaction that it is, has enough dimensions, twists, turns, and surprise endings to keep people constantly interested.

And yet, that doesn’t seem sufficient either.  There are plenty of exciting things to talk about- the antics that people get into drinking, the sports and travel adventures that others have taken, etc.

I think what it truly comes down to is the depth of the questions involved.  The truly engrossing things- sex, religion, love, philosophy, fate- are exciting and unknown, they’re universal and fundamental, but more than that, they reveal the deepest part of a person’s self understanding.  The way you frame sex can be indicative of the way you conduct your life, or it can be purposefully opposite.  The relationships you’ve had can fundamentally shift who you are as a person, and they will almost always reveal something about who you always were.  Sex is dirty, but it’s evocatively dirty.  It makes us remember that we’re all human and that we’re dealing with similar questions in very different ways.  And I think all of this is compounded by the fact that so many people are telling us not to talk about it.  Because so many of us have had to find answers on our own because of society’s stifling silence, there’s an even greater sense of camaraderie built around the sharing of these struggles, these heartbreaks, these laughable snapshots and the inevitable comparisons we so desperately need in order to validate our own experiences.

I’m open to being proved wrong, though.  I especially would like input from the asexual community- is what I’m saying valid for you?  Does sex talk matter, and is it interesting?  Does it help you bond with people or push you farther away?  Do you have any alternative suggestions, or is this whole philosophical musing a big N/A ?

I don’t have all the answers, you know.

I wanted to wait a little while to post about the rash of gay suicides because of all the media attention that was suddenly focused on them that obscured so many of the details in their stories.  So now that it’s “over” and most of the world has forgotten about Tyler Clementi and Billy Lucas, I want to return to the real problem associated with gay bullying, and it has little to do with bullying at all.

I will admit that in a way, I used the gay suicides media blitz for my own benefit.  Capitalizing on the sudden outpouring of support that world gave to these teens, I submitted a proposal to my local high school aimed at creating a more tolerant and thoughtful student population through a 18 week Gender and Sexuality studies elective for juniors and seniors.  While the response was positive (my curriculum will be recommended the next time the Social Studies dept. undergoes curriculum review, probably in 2013), many people in the school’s administration cited ongoing anti-bullying campaigns as a way of helping promote tolerance of LGBT students.

This strikes me as slightly laughable.  Though my high school has one of the most comprehensive anti-bullying programs in the state, it didn’t stop my peers from tearing down GSA posters and putting up homophobic slogans in their place, nor stop them from complaining to the principle of “gay propaganda” during Gay History Month announcements.  Our anti-bullying program never once mentioned LGBT students as a population not to pick on, and so, it seems, they’ve been exempt from protection.

So many problems, including the suicides of these young boys in the past months, stem from this silence.  The Nation’s correspondent Richard Kim wrote an amazing piece about this phenomenon– how “gay bullying” isn’t a villain contained by the school yard, but one that’s fed by our insecurities in talking about LGBT issues.  And the response to these suicides shouldn’t be a push to punish the students who precipitated them by bullying, but to tackle the society-wide silence which allows them to bully.

“When faced with something so painful and complicated as gay teen suicide, it’s easier to go down the familiar path, to invoke the wrath of law and order, to create scapegoats out of child bullies who ape the denials and anxieties of adults, to blame it on technology or to pare down homophobia into a social menace called “anti-gay bullying” and then confine it to the borders of the schoolyard.”

Harry Potter Stands Up for Gay Rights, Won't You?

Harry Potter Stands Up for Gay Rights, Won't You?

As if I hadn’t said it enough, the problem is so easily solved by TALKING.  Gay intolerance seems like an insurmountable problem until you break it down into component parts.  Even if your child is bullied at school, told by the media that he/she/ze is inadequate or moral wrong, if you- just you, the parent- can reach out, say it’s OK, be a pillar of support at all times, then suddenly there’s a ray of  hope in the world for that child.  This is exactly the kind of issue where just one person can save a life.  If you are a student, reach out.  If you are a parent, reach out.  If you are a teacher, administrator, store clerk, employer, day-care worker, REACH OUT.

Gay teen suicides may come in rashes, but they don’t disappear.  If a child identifies as LGBT, they are 400% more likely to attempt suicide in their lifetime.  Even when the news isn’t covering it, it’s happening.  Don’t turn a blind eye.

The Rainbow Phase

At a discussion group last semester, a fellow group member touched upon the phenomenon known as “the Rainbow

Phase.”  This occurs, the group explained, usually 3-5 years after a person comes out as LGBT and is marked by intense association with and fixation on anything related to being gay.

For some people, this just means their wardrobe gets a little more colorful- maybe they’ll splurge on a pair of rainbow socks and actually wear them in public.  But as someone currently going through their “rainbow phase,” I can attest

that it often becomes something much more.

My rainbow phase began a few months before the end of senior year, and I think just now, writing this blog, it has hit its

peak.  For me, this project springs from an intense thirst for information, for understanding of the community I belong

to and the issues that affect it.  That means political decisions, legislation, personal struggles, theoretical perspectives, and everything in between.  But more than anything, my rainbow phase has been about processing and re-distributingmy new-found knowledge to build community and help others.  I want being LGBT to be a positive part of people’s existence and my rainbow stage is all about figuring out how to make that happen.

So here’s what I’ve got so far:

  1. Learn where you came from- I read the mammoth book Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History 1869 to the Present last summer in an effort to fill in the huge, looming gaps in my gay history knowledge.  I highly suggest this book, or at least a look at some of the more interesting chapters about Boston Marriages, the German Weimar Republic, and Russia’s Article 121.  The more you know about gay history, the better you can defend your own inherent equality and explain the customs, traditions, and culture you inherit through the LGBT community.  (Didn’t know we were a tribe with dances and ceremonies, did you?  Well, what do you think the Disco Era and The Hustle were all about!)
  2. Write.  Write ferociously and with abandon.  Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, keep records for yourself.  Make note of your thoughts, feelings, observations, and expressions.  Journal.  Use fragments and bullet points if you need to.  But mostly, just write.  You are creating an archive of the greatest, most vibrantly diverse and unique of human experiences.  People will want to know!  And you may want to look back someday.
  3. Talk.  Like with sex or religion, the worst damage is done by a lack of discussion and understanding.  Open yourself to other people’s questions and refuse to be offended by ignorance.  There is room for everyone (including yourself) to learn and grow, but the process is infinitely easier through talk, questioning, and exchange.
  4. When you are ready, come out with poise.  Be confident in the person you are and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  People who know a specific LGBT person are twice as likely to hold positive opinions of gay people in general.  Your bravery and openness can help pave the way for more rights, acceptance, and understanding for LGBT society as a whole.

We’ve all heard the arguments against porn: it’s morally wrong, disgusting, degrading to women, it makes our men violent and prone to sexual assault, etc. etc. And in case you haven’t heard those arguments before (or if you want to review- that whole, know thine enemy thing), here they are again from Gail Dines, head of the Feminist Anti-Porn movement and author of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/02/gail-dines-pornography

Dines makes a lot of fair arguments about porn.  There is a lot of sexually explicit media which makes us squick (essentially go “ewww gross!”) – for more on that, check out this hysterical article from Carnal Nation: http://carnalnation.com/content/51896/999/sex-squicks.

A lot of porn does show women in subservient, sometimes degrading situations.  Porn is getting more violent.  HOWEVER, that doesn’t make the medium categorically evil or disgusting.  It doesn’t necessarily make it unhealthy.

Here’s the biggest thing Dines misses: women like porn too.  In fact, 30% of all internet porn site visitors are women, which means upwards of 13 million women in the US alone are looking at porn online.  Theresa Flynt, Vice President of marketing for Hustler video, says that women account for 56 percent of business at her company’s video stores.

So we arrive at a conundrum: how can it be that such a terrible, dirty, degrading form of media draws this kind of mass appeal?  Are the 39 million plus people who view porn every year just sick, disgusting, unfixable people? I don’t know about you moral imperialists, but I’m gonna go with a big, fat, queer NO.

What I think too many people don’t realize about porn is its ability to fill a creative gap.  Porn does not by default replace “normal” sexual practices and desires (whatever constitutes normal in your book…).  It is a supplemental form of stimulation which can occupy the mental creative space which a partner might not wish to fill.  Or, of course, if you’re single, it offers an outlet involving a personal element- because, admit it, masturbating with a sock isn’t that mentally stimulating.

In other words, porn is safe.  Porn is professional people doing things that everyday people cannot or will not do, while offering an enjoyable voyeurism for those who cannot be actively involved.

Dines brings up legitimate points about unrealistic or negative expectations brought on by porn.  There are an awful lot of women who don’t enjoy their men cumming on their faces or tying them up and leaving them helpless.  But again, these are problems associated not with porn itself, but with a society unwilling to give the medium context.  Our American society is so frightened of open and honest discussion about sexuality with teenagers for fear of encouraging them to do something unwholesome.  Yet this is absolutely the most crucial topic to bring up among teens who are beginning to develop sexually and experiment.

If parents and teachers were able to have legitimate, open conversations about expectations for sex and the role of porn, the violence against and/or degradation of women in these videos can be seen for what they are: play.

While calling violence against women “play” may seem a cruel assessment, we must always keep in mind that the sexual

preferences and practices of others are not ours to judge, as long as they do not hurt others.  In porn, as in real relationships involving BDSM, the subservience and humiliation of a partner is completely consensual and thus, not damaging to either couple involved.  On the other hand, there are many couples out there who are uncomfortable with

incorporating BDSM into their own physical relationship, yet one partner may still strongly desire that element in their

play.  Thus, porn is a safe and positive solution to the conflict between potentially hurtful practices and personal sexual desires, as it is done in a professional and safe setting and removes unwilling parties (like reluctant couples) from anything which might be emotionally damaging for them to perform themselves.

When put in the context of comprehensive sex ed, there’s nothing inherently harmful about porn.  In fact, it can be helpful.  It allows people to explore their own desires without putting their bodies or emotions at risk.  It affirms the idea that there is a kink for everyone and all kinks deserve to be honored and respected (and in this case, commercialized!).

At least, that’s this queer girl’s argument.  What are your thoughts?

((Also- a preview of what’s to come: looking at writing about erotic fiction with some suggestions for ya’ll, especially queer-positive stuff, as well as trying to fit in a beautiful piece on what it means to be female- and to love a female, and eventually a post on rape/the “gray area.”  I am DESPERATELY in need of someone to write about reconciling religion with homosexuality, because I simply can’t do it.  Being a Taoist, I just haven’t gone through that struggle, and I want the issue addressed in the most authentic and relevant way.  In fact, I’d love multiple viewpoints.  Please comment or email me if you’d like to write something!))

Whether you are gay, straight, bi, queer, or anything around and in between, sex has been a subject discussed either in the forbidding whispers and giggles or the clinical dryness of the health classroom.  And that’s a shame.  Because neither forum offers a comprehensive understanding of the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of sex.

For LGBT teens, it’s even worse.  Our assumptively hetero-normative society American society not only totally dis-empowers and vilifies our personal attractions, but refuses to talk openly about the versions of sex that they do find appropriate.  I remember in 8th grade, I attended a school-sponsored overnight aimed at getting girls ready for High School with lectures and workshops on sex, drugs, body image, and media distortion.  One of the workshops featured an analysis of advertisements, including one of Britney Spears leaning over a soapy car, talking up some brand of Chevrolet or motor oil.  Point being, the instructor happened to mention that this ad was not only talking about [insert inane commercial product here], but also advertising a perverse form of sex aka anal.  Even at 13 this pissed me off.  Who is she to decide what kind of sex is perverse or not?  And yet we encounter this all the time- from protesters holding up signs that condemn sodomy to parents who tell their children that their effeminate classmates are “not normal” and do nothing to stop the teasing they encounter.

So with all of these silent, strictly codified rules making us second-guess our emotions and attractions, what do we as ambitious, hormonal, insatiably curious teenagers do?  Well, first of all, we do everything and then deny it.  But more importantly, we create online communities, blogs, confessions into cyberspace detailing all the things society tells us we’ve “done wrong.”

25 Things About My Sexuality is one of the more brilliant blog concepts I’ve seen: it offers online submission forms for anyone that desires to submit often lengthy and detailed “confessions” about their early sexual experiences, partners, and fantasies.

I put confession in quotes because of the completely artificial societal construct that makes 25 Things writers “guilty.”  There is nothing these bloggers have done that an open mind couldn’t fix.  Or better yet, an open dialogue.

FORRRRR EXAMPLE: Today’s post was from a woman who had grown up in a Catholic family where her parents were not very affectionate towards each other in public, nor did they ever talk about sex or masturbation.  She writes: “My parents didn’t talk much about homos at home, but all I remember hearing from them was that they were somehow weird and that it was not desirable to be one. We didn’t talk about masturbation either, I only remember one time when they told me that sex is something a man and a woman do together because they love each other. For a long time I thought masturbation was only for perverts, and I didn’t really try it at all until I was about 15.”

Now, understandably, in Catholic households, masturbation is sometimes considered unnatural and wrong, but this same stigma exists in thousands of non-religious homes too, because the taboos of sex and self-love have completely overtaken society.

This blogger writes further: “A recent post really made me think about how a lot of the people who write here think they’re weird and not normal, but really there are LOTS and LOTS of people out there struggling with very similar stuff.”  So if we acknowledge that there are many people in the world feeling just as guilty and awkward about perfectly normal things, what’s a society to do?!?

Bianca’s prescription is two-fold.

  1. Parents, teachers, mentors, peers- freakin’ TALK.  I know it’s embarrassing and awkward to bring up sex and sexuality, especially across generational gaps, but it’s so important.  Open discussions about what we feel as sexual beings will help smash negative stereotypes and stigma, as well as passing on positive attitudes for children who will grow up respecting people of all orientations and practices.
    1. Sidenote: Unitarian Universalist Churches have started a wonderful sex ed program that addresses these issues brilliantly. I attended one of the classes for a panel on LGBT issues this past year and found the kids very mature and comfortable with themselves.  The program features everything from safe sex practices to masturbation techniques to discussions on homosexuality and gender non-conformity.  I highly suggest that anyone who has this course available to them use it!
    2. Other teens- stop judging.  The terms whore, slut, cougar, perv, fag, cougar, etc. do not belong in our societal vocabulary.  Everyone is entitled to their own variety of sexual practice and you have no right to make arbitrary distinctions about the quantity or quality of their partners, the content of their encounters, or their personal feelings and fantasies.  If you have negative personal opinions about a certain practice, consider if they are grounded in safety or health concerns.  If not, consider re-evaluating.  Whatever makes a person happy is fine, as long as it goes without hurting another person.  Your recriminations only perpetuates a sexual elitism- and one day, the shoe may be on the other foot.

If the concept of sexual privilege in society strikes your fancy, mediate on Gayle Rubin’s “Charmed Circle” from the book Thinking Sex.  http://interalia.org.pl/pozycje/1194044411-533/1.gif

Also, another example of a good “Confession blog” is Queer Secrets.  It’s styled after PostSecret (also a personal favorite, but with exclusively queer material).  WARNING: it is very depressing, as it focuses on people who are forced to remain closeted.

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