Tag Archive: safe sex

A Trans Sex Guide

I’ve been sitting back on Forever the Queerest Kids these past few months as my life has undergone some transitions—graduation from college, the start of a new job (that I tolerate), an internship with an organization that makes me excited for the next 10 years of my life, and the move to a new apartment (to come next month).  But I haven’t forgotten about you guys!  I’ve also been slowly collecting material to talk about, important things that I hadn’t gathered my thoughts on yet.

So here we go.

Looking through my bookmarked FTQK pages, I found that I suddenly had a lot of material on trans issues, and trans sex particularly, which is awesome, because I spent so much of last year trying to integrate more trans-friendly programming into my college campus.  I’m always on the lookout for intelligent responses to the incredibly difficult issues trans people face daily.  Here are a few.

My girlfriend recently alerted me to a really cool PDF Brazen: Trans Safer Sex Guide written by Morgan M. Page and published by The 519 last year.  The PDF is pretty groundbreaking just by the fact that it specifically deals with Trans issues AND sex specifically, but I thought the particular subtopics covered were even more interesting.  There’s a lot of stuff in Brazen that you just wouldn’t find in a safer sex guide aimed at cis-women.

For instance, Brazen devotes sections of each topic to dealing with people who engage in sex work.  Because the PDF is aimed at people in Canada, where sex work is technically legal (although there are a lot of restrictions around the trade), Brazen deals speaks to sex workers on amicable terms. There are concrete, specific tips for keeping yourself safe in the trade (don’t wear scarves or necklaces, as they can be used to choke you if a date goes wrong) and a no-nonsense approach to keeping yourself safe.  While it’s frustrating and sad that trans women are pulled into sex work out of necessity in inordinate proportions, I’m happy to see Brazen deal with that reality directly.  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen sex work dealt with in a publication of this nature as anything other than among a laundry list of threats and potential missteps to a healthy sexuality.

Brazen also directly confronts the reality that many trans people are also recreational drug users.  Again, a sad and frustrating reality, and one that is NEVER dealt with in safe-sex guides for women.  Drugs and sex are very purposefully kept away from each other, in an effort to elevate the status of sex (by demoting drugs and distancing their combination in real life) at the expense of information.  Brazen makes very important points about mistakes people can make with drugs that are particular to trans situations.  EX: needles used for hormone injections are a different gauge than needs used for drug injections.

And on top of all that, Brazen does an incredible job of dealing with the nitty gritty of safety, like which activities put you at risk for which diseases, and how you can adapt condoms and other forms of protection to a trans or transitioning body.

Aside from safe sex, A Queer Chick, one of the columnists over at TheHairpin, had a great column back in march about navigating sex with a partner who has transitioned when you have never had sex/been attracted to that gender before.  She has great suggestions, like hanging out with dykes and watching queer porn, but the crux of her advice is strong for anyone, LGB, T or partnered with someone T, straight, queer, etc.

Don’t think about “how to have sex with a woman.” Think about how to have sex with your partner, your special beautiful sweet unique partner you’re crazy about. You don’t have to be a good lesbian, or any kind of lesbian at all. You just have to be with her.

And isn’t that how we need to think about trans issues in general?  That people are not their identity, but a unique individual who has come to their place in their own specific way?

But alas, it isn’t always that simple, especially for people who identify as lesbian or gay and fall for a partner who transitions to a gender that allows them to present as a straight couple.  Aja Worthy-Davis,who guestposted this article on Racialicious, writes eloquently on the subject.  She shows how complicated the intersections between race, gender, sexuality, and transition can be in a world where we wear our labels not only through our own actions and presentations, but through those of our partner.

I’m a queer Black femme prone to dating middle-aged divorced hippie White guys due in equal parts to my upbringing, my personality, and my personal baggage. He’s a Black man who has dated more than his share of middle-aged divorced hippie White lesbians. And (I guess this is the kicker) when we met in our staunchly Catholic high school over a decade ago, he was a girl.

…[When he transitioned] My personal life sped up to where I thought it would slowly lead, and my mind was so wrapped-up in the practical questions (Where will we live? When will we go to graduate school? Who will do the cooking?), that it totally bypassed the more personal introspective question about how it would change my personal and relationship identity to be perceived as straight and be with a Black man.

While it’s easy, in theory, to acknowledge that the transition has not changed anything of substance in their identities, the way that a trans man and cis woman are seen is very different than the way two cis women are seen.  And I think it’s legitimate for there to be an element of mourning for the cis woman—the way she expresses her sexual identity has been changed.  She will, to most strangers, be forever read as a straight woman, and there’s not a whole lot to be done about it.

So at the end of the day, it’s a little stickier than just, “Well, this is the person I fell in love with, not the gender I fell in love with.”  Transition will affect many aspects of your life, and embracing that takes a lot of thought and work personally.  From the outside, it’s very easy to sing Love Makes the World Go Round, but inside a relationship, it’s more difficult.  But I would argue, inside that relationship is a complexity and strength that is a lot richer.

Get talking, get yourself tested logoUnlike most 9th graders, I actually paid attention in health class.  I can tell you that trichomonaisis is one of the only STDs that can live outside of the human body for more than an hour.  I can tell you all the terrible things that will happen to you if you don’t get treatment for syphilis early enough.  I also THOUGHT I knew everything I needed to know about herpes

  1. You get it through skin to skin contact when you have an outbreak
  2. Like most STDs, condoms and other latex barriers will help prevent it, although they are not 100%
  3. There’s no cure for it, only treatment for the sores when you get outbreaks.

But I didn’t even realize how much I didn’t know until I read an article by Mollena (of The Perverted Negress– y’all better check her out)  about coming out about having herpes.

“I discovered that many people who have Herpes are asymptomatic. In other words, they never have outbreaks. I also learned that between 65 and 80 percent of adults are seropositive for HSV-1, the virus that causes oral herpes, or cold sores.

I learned that the statistics as they apply to HSV-2, the strain that usually causes genital Herpes, are a bit more troubling.

The CDC Says

The latest HSV-2 data – announced at CDC’s National STD Conference in Atlanta on March 9, 2010, and published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) – indicates that overall national HSV-2 prevalence remains high (16.2%) and that the disease continues to disproportionately burden African-Americans (39.2% prevalence), particularly black women (48.0% prevalence), who face a number of factors putting them at greater risk, including higher community prevalence and biological factors that put women of all races at greater risk for HSV-2 than men.”

My mind was a little blown.  Over half the population has one or both forms of herpes?  Is that for real?

The great thing is, even if you contract herpes, you’re likely as not to be asymptomatic.  Many people don’t react to the viral infection with outbreaks, so lots of Americans have herpes but have no idea.  The terrible thing is, even if you contract herpes, you’re likely as not to be asymptomatic.  That means lots of Americans have herpes but have no idea.

It bears repeating because that means, if you have sex with a partner who swears s/he/ze isn’t infected, they might not know any better.  And that puts you at risk for exposure.

There’s also a lot of misinformation and lack of education  around herpes.  When I got my STD tests done at Planned Parenthood, I asked to get tested for herpes, but the nurse practitioner said that they couldn’t test without an open sore to swab.  I figured, since I hadn’t had an outbreak, I couldn’t have herpes.  I still haven’t been tested for it, because I really only realized a few weeks ago that I should be tested.

most people infected with genital herpes do not know they have itThe terrible thing is, even though such a large portion of the population has herpes, there’s still immense amounts of stigma around the disease.  This Scarleteen article by Leah Berkenwald does a great job breaking it down.

Ever notice the only time we hear herpes mentioned in movies or on TV is when it’s the butt of a joke? Genital herpes is an easy target for humor because it’s not fatal and the people who suffer from this STI are not usually considered victims. Unlike HIV/AIDS, genital herpes is a relatively mild condition that does not usually warrant the seriousness or sensitivity that society grants fatal illness. Instead, genital herpes is understood to be a punishment, or something you “bring upon yourself.” People with genital herpes aren’t thought of as victims; they’re thought of as sluts, monsters, lepers, or just stupid.   

And she’s right.  I started paying attention, and it’s abominable how many herpes jokes there are on TV and in movies.  No other disease gets the kind of attention herpes does.  And yet almost everyone has it!

So what do I know now that I didn’t know in 9th grade?

1. The majority of Americans are carriers for one of the two herpes simplex viruses

2. Most of them will never know it.

3. You can pass herpes on to a partner whether or not you have an outbreak (it gets passed through saliva, mucous, or skin-to-skin contact when you have an outbreak)

4. You will almost never have a doctor recommend a herpes test.  You have to ask for it yourself.

The good news is, as Mollena’s article ALSO pointed out, finding out you have herpes is not a death sentence for your sex life.  It pays to be careful, use condoms, dental dams, and gloves, but being open and honest about your infection can lead other people to feel more at ease and talk about their STD status too. 
“So I have herpes,” I said.

He smiled, and that only got me hotter. “Its cool. I’ve had partners before with Herpes.”

He then disclosed to me that he’s been recently treated for Gonorrhea, which involved an initial injection of antibiotics, then a course of antibiotic pills. We discussed our safer-sex protocols, broke out the condoms and lube, and then he shagged me halfway off the bed and sideways into next week.

Yep, sex is better when you’re an expert. But most importantly? There’s nothing like fucking when you trust someone and feel good about being able to be honest.

Hell yes.  Stay cool, queer kids.


Hey all,

Sorry I’ve been so out-of-touch with the blog.  My computer died on me and I had to go on an epic quest for a new laptop and to get my bookmarked sources back to start writing again.  So, here’s what I’ve been waiting to write about for a while:


Now, according to this article (from which I stole the title of my post) by Carnal Nation, if you are an American, you probably have a very negative view on condoms: that they’re uncomfortable, awkward, desensitizing, or even downright painful- and that sex is WAY better without them.

However, apparently men in the UK have very different cultural feelings about this- wearing condoms is just seen as the normal, responsible thing to do, rather than a chore or an unpleasant barrier between partners.

Likewise, the differences between the US and the Netherlands are stark.

In the research I’ve been doing for my Sex, Gender, and Culture class, I’ve found that the condom is the most common form of birth control when young people are losing their virginity, even among couples where both people are virgins (and thus, there would be no risk of STI transmission).  To me, this means one of two things: one, that the correlation is circumstantial based on the fact that almost all of the respondents were under 18 and thus could not get other forms of birth control without going to their doctor, which would mostly likely require them to consult their parents.  Or two, that the condom is a simpler means of birth control that was merely more convenient than taking the pill every day or getting a Depa-Provera injection, and more effective than inserting a diaphragm or cervical cap.

There’s also the question of hormones- the aspect of the pill, NuvaRings, and other hormone-based birth control methods is the chemical alteration of the body which inevitably comes with them.  The excess levels of estrogen and progestin that enter the body from these forms of birth control can cause mood swings, depression, and any number of other unpleasant psychological and physiological side effects.  Progestin, a variant form of progesterone, has also been shown as a link to breast cancer.  So, all in all, I’m not a big fan.  However, hormonal treatments are the MOST EFFECTIVE forms of birth control (short of abstinence and vasectomy/tubal ligation) out there, so I did use the pill for a little less than a year.  It alleviated so much worry when it came to sex, and was fairly convenient.  Even now, I’m not sure I would recommend otherwise for my daughter or any woman who asked for my advice.  

Granted there are other options- the most appealing healthwise and costwise is a combination of spermicide and a cervical cap, which when used together have a similar protection rate against pregnancy as a condom.  Spermicide is cheap and a cervical cap is reusable, so they are cost effective and neither have negative health effects for the body.  But almost no one uses them.  For me, it was simply because I didn’t know where to find a cervical cap, and I didn’t 100% trust them.  Now, of course, I know that they are a fairly legitimate option, and cervical caps can be ordered through any doctors office.

So since I got such great feedback from the circumcision article, I’d love your input again.  Men and women, please.  Do condoms change anything about your sexual experiences?  Why did you choose to use a condom when you lost your virginity?  If you use a different form of birth control, why do you use it?  Does anyone use cervical caps?  Why or why not?  Any and all input is appreciated.  But please keep comments courteous and as inwardly reflective as possible.  Do not attack other people’s views or practices.  In the name of research, thank you!


Also, if you have a few seconds, fill out my survey about losing your virginity:  https://spreadsheets.google.com/gform?key=tzkdh9orTagQy8uDaUlaqKw&pli=1#invite

This one goes out to all my male readers, because I have a conundrum and I want your input.

When I was younger, I never really had a philosophical or moral “problem” with male circumcision.  It was just a personal or religious decision made by the parents of a male child based on what seemed right to them. In the long run, it posed no serious medical risk and didn’t seem like a big deal.

However, having immersed myself in a lot of random, sex-positive literature, I’ve found that there is a large community of people who are strongly against male circumcision, citing reduced ability for men to self-lubricate, lessened sensitivity, hygiene issues, and a sense of bodily violation by men who were circumcised.  Thus, while I don’t fault people for circumcising their kids (after all, they probably aren’t versed in the theoretical or medical arguments that led me to oppose the practice), I feel like the better option is to leave what nature created alone, and would suggest as much to people who were on the fence.

But Carnal Nation brought up an interesting question regarding circumcision in Africa, where HIV prevalence is so high.  Apparently, the WHO recommends circumcision as a means of reducing HIV transmission.  I am sketchy on the science of this, but you can read more about the general dialogue here.  The good thing is, most African men are getting circumcised later, around age 15 or so, when they have the agency to decide for themselves about the procedure.  But I imagine they have very little information on the subject, and have simply been told that it will prevent them from getting AIDS.  Does this present a moral hazard- making kids feel even more invincible against the disease by circumcising them?  And what about their own sexual and hygiene needs?  Is the potential for preventing AIDS worth trading off the general health benefits of having the foreskin?

Granted, it is AIDS.  And AIDS is a scary disease, and a prevalent one, so I am inclined to think the trade is worth it.  But something inside nags at me….

Your thoughts?

Also, for guys who are comfortable sharing- are you happy, upset, or ambivalent about being circumcised?  Has it affected you in any significant way?  Looking forward to your input.

Stay cool, queer kids.

As a special treat, I’m pulling out two of my favorite sites from my collection of sex-positive/philosophical/borderline erotic articles and videos so that I can talk about gender roles and submission.

I think I’ve talked before about false dichotomies, but this bears repeating: society likes to pair certain attributes together, especially when it comes to sex.  If you’re a top, you’re dominant and usually butch; if you’re a bottom, you’re submissive and femme.  This is TOTALLY LAME AND INCORRECT.  Now that is not to say that these pairings cannot be fun, interesting, and worthwhile- I identify as closer to femme and frequently play the submissive bottom.  HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that the roles should be restrictive.

Cherry Bomb, a webcast by these 4 incredibly awesome lesbians who sit around, drink wine, and talk about sex, did one of their vlogs about gender roles in the bedroom, which you should totally watch so you can laugh with them.   But it also makes you think.  They touch on the concept of the “pillow princess” and the “stonecold butch” as terms for only feeling comfortable or aroused when giving or receiving.  This is an especially interesting concept to discuss because I think one of the greatest misunderstandings about sex (espcially lesbian sex!) is how both partners can be getting pleasure when only one of them is  “receiving.”   That kind of understanding of sex, I think, leads to bargaining and guilt when it comes to giving/getting head or fingering/handjobs, as if because the one person is acted upon, it is a chore for the other.  Silly.  Specifically silly because it assumes that there’s nothing to be gained erotically from seeing your partner happy, which makes no sense in any context, not just the bedroom.

Think about it… If you give your partner a Christmas gift and she throws her hands up, squees, and runs around in a circle with happiness, you probably feel pretty good too.  Because you like to see him/her/hir happy.  Same thing goes in the bedroom.  Feeding off of your partner’s energy is a HUGE part of having sex.  There are so many other dynamics that go into all of this, like when you consider one-night stands and other non-monogamous forms of intimacy.  Which is why you should watch the video!!

The other linky-link is an erotic piece by Sugarbutch about submission.  For context, the writer is a butch lesbian who is almost always the dominant in her relationships, and in this instance she is writing about being topped by her new femme “lover.”  Actually, she writes about that whole context thing here.  Yeah, read that first.  In the second article, she talks about being a butch top who has played submissive, which is actually rare in a lot of circles, but it isn’t her “default mode.”  The second piece is much more of a mental landscape- how it feels to submit (whether you’re normally a dom or a sub).

You can have me. My body is all nerve endings and convulses at every touch: your hands on the backs of my thighs. No need to open me further, this is all there is, this is all there is. Take me so I can only ever be taken by you. Take me so I wake inside myself screaming your name. Take me to where I feel again, where I feel anything, all of it, open, receptive, receiving, submitting.

That’s pretty much the best description of heavy S/M (from the submissive point of view) that I’ve come across to date.  I think its most indicative because it takes you right to the primal-ness of submission and sex in general- the desperate, unquenchable need that can be awoken within us.  Which is also, of course, why trust and aftercare are so important in S/M relationships or scenes.

This podcast from Realm of Bliss talks about the roles and duties of a dom and sub in BDSM relationships (although through the lens of hypodomination), and is a very interesting listen for anyone who is interested in learning more about this topic.

Enjoy!  Stay cool, queer kids.

Once upon a time, there was a country named Thailand.

And in the 80’s, Thailand found out it had a problem…

In 1984, the first case of AIDS was reported in Thailand, and with the abundance of sex trafficking across the Thai border and a lack of information about the disease, the country was rife for an epidemic.

BUT INSTEAD, the Thais got creative.

Condoms became an advertising campaign.  You could get them with your coffee, at the grocery store, at school, from traveling health groups, and pretty much anywhere else you turned.  There were condom balloon-blowing competitions held as school fundraisers, a Harvard MBA turned superhero-icon spokesperson known as “Condom Boy,” and even t-shirts with condoms in the shape of the olympic logo with the slogan, “Weapons of Mass Protection.”

And from this, something really awesome happened.  Not only was a serious epidemic averted, but a new idea for sex education was born- one that didn’t shy away from touchy subjects or try to gloss over serious issues.  Which is why I think this exhibit at the National Science Museum of Thailand is freakin’ fantastic.

“Teenage boys gape at a coloured photograph of a vagina, while girls give embarrassed smiles as they watch a cartoon that showed penises ‘talking’ about masturbation. Young girls crowd around a display panel about love and relationships, as a boy embraces a female mannequin with all his might in order to measure the strength of his hug. “

By embracing the various conceptions of sex, rather than avoiding it or censoring specific kinds of sex (see Rubin’s “The Charmed Circle” ), kids can better understand sexuality and make healthier decisions about their own practices.

And it hasn’t stopped with just this exhibit.  Thai sex ed in general is getting more and more progressive.  Anothergreat article about engaging students in honest dialogue about sex is available here:  http://ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=13448

So my question is, why is it so impossible to get this kind of forthright and legitimate education here in the supposedly more developed and socially responsible United States?

Let’s Get Kinky

Hey guys, we’ve got another guest blogger here to talk to you about kink and what it means to explore your sexuality through kink safely.  Give our writer some love!

So, as guest blogger of the day, I’m going to be talking about kink and fetishism (a subject quite dear to my heart).  Be warned: the sources I link to are NSFW!

At this point, pop culture has done a great job familiarizing the American populace with bondage, dominatrix dungeons, and sexual role play.  These well-publicized types of play are just the tip of the iceberg to the sprawling

world of kink and fetish.

A fetish is just about any sexual desire that doesn’t directly relate to sex.  If you’re unclear as to what it is, remember

that the most common fetish in the US today is large breasts – a fetish so taken for granted that it’s hard to even realize that it is one.  Another one that is frequently assumed to be universal is mud/pudding wrestling – for whatever reason, the sight of two women rolling around in a thick liquid is obviously sexy, which is puzzling if you’re like me and don’t

share that particular turn-on.

Being kinky is itself a tough experience.  Many cultures discourage any deviation from the sexual norms.  US cop dramas in particular love to skewer all the perverts with their crazy fetishes, with even the otherwise open-minded show Bones declaring that fetishism cannot lead to a happy, healthy relationship.  Even if you get past these harmful

cultural messages, there’s the way that some fetishes (like domination and submission) can conflict with one’s own ideals for sex and gender equality.  If you’re kinky, it’s important to remember that having a fetish is not a bad thing – it’s how you act upon it.  It’s all about finding out how to enact your fetish safely and ethically.

If you’re thinking about adding some kinky play into your relationship, then please, PLEASE do some research on what

you’re planning to do.  To take a common example: bondage is great fun, but it becomes significantly less fun if you tied the ropes

wrong and your partner gets dangerously constricted from additional pressure.  Make sure that you understand the risks (physical or psychological!) of whatever you’re trying, and do some reading to educate yourself on the safety measures necessary to ensure a fun and safe session of kinky play.

I recommend asking yourself the following questions before engaging in fetish play.  I hope you can forgive my implicit assumption that the relationship and play is confined to two people – it’s a grammatical convenience, not a condemnation of multi-person relationships.

1.       What am I getting out of this?
Understand what you want.  Are you looking for the adrenaline rush of dominance, the relaxing lull of submission?  Did you read up on something and decide you want to try, or is there some costume or action that just plain turns you on?  Knowing the essentials of your own desires will help you in the process.

2.       In the best case scenario, what will my partner get out of this play?
Remember that kink, like any part of a healthy relationship, involves more than just your own desires.  There is a flip side to every fetish, someone willing to receive what someone else wants to give – there’s an enjoyable side to each half of the encounter.  Figure out what that ideal enjoyable side is to determine how you can make your kinks palatable and enjoyable to your partner.

3.       What compromises and changes am I willing to make for my partner?
Let’s face it – chances are, your partner won’t necessarily be ready to engage in your ideal scenario down to the last detail.  Figure out what you’re willing to sacrifice to make the scene more comfortable, and also how you can incorporate your partner’s own desires.

4.       What risks are involved in this fetish, and what do I need to know to ensure my and my partner’s safety and well-being?
Is your intended fetish play dangerous at all?  Kinks like bondage, electrical play, and blood play involve physical risks – not even getting into high-risk kinks like suspension, which requires a high degree of skill and knowledge to prevent injury.  Kinks like dominance & submission, humiliation, pet role play, and doll play can delve right into mental cruelty if taken too far.  Some fetishes, like play rape, have the potential for both types of risk.  Not to mention the risk that you get too wrapped up in your kink and overly objectify your partner!  Do NOT take anything for granted – for example, hair-pulling is perfectly safe, but if you do it wrong you could be looking at unnecessary and unsafe levels of pain.  Get online and get an idea of how you can make your scenes and sessions safe and mutually enjoyable.

Above all – negotiate!  Talk with your partner about what you’d like to try.  Be open and honest, but don’t expect your partner to turn into a badass leather-clad dominatrix or a prancing pony overnight.  Set some limits and establish

rapport and trust before you step up to the games.

And for goodness’ sake, USE SAFEWORDS.  This goes for you non-kinky people, too!  Safewords are wonderful tools for

relationships that allow for strong, easily understood communication.  I recommend the “stoplight” system that is popular in the BDSM community – “yellow” to call a time-out in the event of a problem, “red” to put a stop to the encounter and re-establish safety and comfort, and “green” to say “I love that and want to do it again.”

Remember the two acronyms for kinky play: SSC and RACK.  SSC stands for “Safe, Sane, and Consensual” – this refers to fetish play that is well within the limits of safety.  Body worship, foot fetish, and role play are some common

examples.  RACK stands for “Risk Aware Consensual Kink” – this applies to fetish play that can have major physical

consequences, such as the ever-popular bondage and the much-publicized practice of breath play (erotic asphyxiation).  Both of these acronyms refer to the practice of creating a safe environment by making sure that you and your partner understand the risks of the kink inside and out to ensure informed consent.

So, as I keep imploring you to do some research, where can you go to find some info?

Wipipedia (http://www.londonfetishscene.com/wipi/index.php/Main_Page), the fetish wiki, is a great starter source –

as is Wikipedia itself, which to this day contains more up-to-date and detailed information on some fetishes that are woefully unrepresented at Wipi (I’m looking at you, erotic hypnosis).  Still, Wipi has some solid articles on SSC and RACK practices, among other great finds.

If you’re over 18, I STRONGLY recommend checking out Fet Life (fetlife.com), a social networking site for

kinksters.  It’s like Facebook, but without the creepy ads, violations of privacy, and annoying game ads – except that instead of your favorite books and movies, you list your fetishes and favorite sex acts!  Fet Life has groups dedicated to answering any questions you may have, with experienced kinksters on hand to give you advice and point you to more

specific sources of info.  And then there are the local munch groups, which provide open invitations to join fellow kinksters at munches (meet-and-greet dinner parties for kinky company), giving you both friendly encouragement and experienced advice when you proceed.

Special note: Even if you’re as vanilla as a white Tootsie Roll, munches are an awesome place to go to find open-minded and honest conversations about sex and sexuality – they’re set up to provide a safe, non-judgmental space for whoever chooses to enter.  If you keep an open mind yourself, you will probably have a great time meeting new people.  There

aren’t enough events and places where you can talk frankly about sexuality, and munches provide the right atmosphere to relax and be your sexual self.

So this has been a starter article to get you thinking and encourage you to look for as much information as you can.  I in

tend to follow this up with some exploration of some common kinks, such as domination & submission and bondage.  Have fun and stay safe!

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!))

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