I’m ready to remove fear from our conversations on pleasure. I’m ready to work to help others heal their trauma, to rewrite their scripts, to enter into relationship consciously, to both seek out pleasure beyond sexuality, and to dive into bliss within sexuality. To use eroticism to generate compassion and love. I’m ready to stop infusing my touch with Worry. I’m ready to live in world where every single persons autonomy is respected, valued, and all touch is touch that is desired, wanted and needed. I’m ready to take touch off the pressure cooker of Only Within Sexual Containers and even then Not The Touch I Was Looking For. I’m ready to bring consensual, enthusiastic Happy Touch into my life, into the world.
I’m ecstatic to be on the forefront of this new healing modality. I’m ecstatic to change the landscape of touch interactions in our culture. Let’s bring pleasure, delight and bliss back into our bodies. Follow the Happy Touch Movement on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“How would you like to be touched?”
The Happy Touch Movement is a global phenomenon. Pleasure is your birthright. Consensual and pleasurable touch is an inherent component of our wellbeing and thriving health. Every body is capable of experiencing ecstatic joy and abundant bliss. We are committed to changing the landscape of pleasure; in your body, in your relationships, in the cities and cultures around us.
With training and tools from The Somatic Sex Educators Association, the Institute of Sexuality Education & Enlightenment, the International Professional Surrogates Association, and the brilliant Betty Martin, Happy Touch offers workshops, services for individuals and couples, and group retreats; all with the goal of bringing more pleasure into your life.
Our work is client-centred, trauma-informed and encompasses one-way touch (the practitioner is always fully clothed and only uses their hands). We use research from scientific studies, the innate wisdom of the bodies biology and physiology, communication and boundary exercises, embodiment practices, playfulness, consensual touch, and relaxation techniques to aid you in building and enhancing your daily experience of pleasure and happiness.
I am sitting spread-eagled in a chair, my feet up against the walls either side of the mirror I am staring into, vulva exposed, tummy lines creased, boobs sloping to the sides. I am crying as something inside of me says aloud to myself “Your sadness is beautiful… Your loneliness is beautiful… What a magnificent gift to know what this heartache feels like.”
I am laughing while sobbing while talking to myself as I would my little sister, my clients, my best friend, my partner. I am caring for myself with the same love and intention as I would everyone else in my life… And doing it all while I’m rubbing my inner labia softly in a circle and using a vibrator to vibrate my calve lightly, just because it feels good.
I can only imagine it sounds like I’m attempting to describe the world’s worst porno… “Sad Girl Laugh-Crys Masturbating While Saying Mantras in a Mirror”.
It’s about 7 PM on a Tuesday. The deep and penetrating love I found for a human who lives on the West coast happened less than two weeks ago. This cellular, woven-into-the-air sort of love that filled us both with Lightness. In a threesome we had at the end of our time together, the third told us after watching us kiss, “I usually don’t particularly enjoy watching people, but watching you two is like watching you breath each other’s souls.”
I am sad because for the first time since part of my heart left to go back home, I feel the immensity of my longing for him. I am alone at home; I am not lonely, I am the opposite of lonely. I have just spent three full days with other people whom I love, I am Ecstatic to be alone. The thought of seeing anyone feels downright exhausting. Yet, here I am, alone on my couch and then I notice he is gone. And Oh Does It Make Me Feel my body. I feel my centre-brow release tension while my head gently sways slightly to the side and back, and there is this o-shaped hole in my chest that pulls outwards beyond me; the loneliness of heartache hits.
The sensation of my heart reaching out in every which direction and not finding what it is looking for; a waywardness; like trying to attain a goal in a dream and being wholly confused as to why it seems to be unattainable.
As I found myself melting into my couch, foreseeing the pattern of managing of this heartache with mindless staring into the abyss of my phone (infinite distraction that never quite leaves me feeling fuller) and also the ceiling. I am not enjoying this; it both feels like I am having a feeling and not having a feeling… In a state of non-feeling. So I run through my mind with the newly accumulated knowledge I have gained in my summer of Becoming Embodied.
Let the body have it’s experience. So I sit and look at myself in the mirror and tell myself: “These Feelings Are Beautiful. Look at How Deeply your Heart Can Love! What an incredible and powerful feeling to feel this sadness. What a blessing it is to know this love in this lifetime.” And out come the tears as I speak these mantras of assurance to myself (and then also laugh at how hysterical the whole experience is).
I am fully capable of self-regulation. I know that if I purposefully set aside time to be in a place of genuine and authentic pleasure and care that I am able to give my body, my brain, my nervous system the natural hormones, chemicals, neurotransmitters that will allow for me to come into a long-term place that equates to feeling as calm, steady, restful, reflective, flow-state as I usually do for the short-term space of being post-orgasmic. I am who I have been looking for.
The practice of mindful masturbation has endless positive effects on my life. In saying this I would first like to remove the relegation of masturbation as genital touch to orgasm. I would like to reframe masturbation as deep and committed self-love. The self being the body from toes to crown, the emotional and psychological capacity contained within this body, and whatever framing of consciousness or soul you are privy to.
My mindful masturbation is sometimes just me dancing in the sun at the park for 30 minutes with myself. Sometimes it is pouring myself a coconut oil and lavender bath and gently massaging my entire body for an hour in the dark. Sometimes it is moments on the bus when I am feeling dis-embodied and will just lightly touch my arm, my leg, my face, to bring myself back into myself; to come home to myself. And then yes, sometimes it is a wild adventure with every toy in my toy box, sexy music and animalistic sounds and movements.
There’s this neat new science out that talks about how we are naturally pre-disposed to negative experiences (here are the references from the book I got this info from). The way our human brains have evolved are to be like velcro for bad things; we notice them, we feel them, we become immersed in them and our brains fire off a bunch of neurotransmitters that form pathways that, over the course of time forge deeper and deeper ways of existing. Positive experiences to our brains are more like throwing ping-pong balls against a wall. They hit, they make a sound, you may even notice that it has happened, but they don’t make any sort of lasting impression.
Rick Hanson’s book “Hardwiring Happiness” talks endlessly about our capacity and ability to create and notice positive experiences in our minds and our bodies using the acronym HEAL:
“Have a positive experience: Notice a positive experience that’s already present, such as physical pleasure, a sense of determination or feeling close to someone. Or create a positive experience for yourself. Help these ideas become emotional experiences; otherwise it’s merely positive thinking, which is usually wasted on the brain.
Enrich it: Stay with the positive experience for five to 10 seconds or longer. Open to it emotionally and try to sense it in your body, let it fill your mind, enjoy it… get those neurons firing, so they’ll really wire together.
Absorb it: Intend and sense that the experience is sinking into you as you sink into it. Let it really land in your mind.
Link positive and negative material: While you have a vivid and stable sense of a positive experience in the foreground of awareness, be aware if there’s something negative in the background. For instance, when you are feeling included and liked, imagine this experience making contact with past feelings of loneliness.”
When we make a dedicated effort to have, enrich, absorb positive experiences and override the negative ones, we are giving our brains a natural neurochemical bath that puts us into a calm, happy, blissful state of being On The Regular.
Here’s the kicker… In his entire book, the Entire book, there is not one single mention of the immense physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual pleasure derived from sexual and erotic pleasure. I’ve spoken to a few people who have confirmed that it is difficult to get hard science on this, as measuring sexual pleasure in the brain involves being strapped down in an MRI machine. BUT: IT MAKES SENSE. Take the most immersive pleasurable experience our bodies are capable of, ENRICH IT, ABSORB IT, and LINK IT.
As a culture so far we have just been coming to terms with Being Okay. Even in the brilliance of Gabor Mate’s “When The Body Says No” the focus is on what’s happening to our health when we ignore the body. My question to you is, what happens when we not only listen to the body, but treat it as lusciously and delectably as we would our idols? What happens When The Body Says YES?
This might feel overwhelming. Your cup may be past empty; it may be difficult to notice it filling. Like a bank account in overdraft; you may deposit $200, but if you are $2,000 in debt, it will be hard to feel the difference. You aren’t going to stop making deposits though, because even if it takes a long time, you will eventually hit $0 and the moment you make a $5 deposit you will finally begin to notice what it feels like to not be in debt; maybe even a whisper of what it feels like to have abundance, perhaps.
Your body, your nervous system, your brain may all be in overdraft; this is beautiful and okay. If the idea of sitting down and trying to find pleasure in massaging yourself is Too Much; amazing. Listen to that. Pleasure won’t be pleasurable if its not pleasurable; go figure. I learned and laughed many times when I realized I was quite frequently enduring my own touch because I thought I Had to do this (Who’s it for?!). Start small, but start noticing.
Here are the suggestions:
Break your patterns. The goal is to create as many neurological pathways in our brains for understanding pleasure; the more pathways, the more normalized pleasure becomes in our brains, bodies and nervous systems.
Seek out your pleasure; if something you’re doing doesn’t feel good, make changes to see if you can find what does.
Practice mindfulness in your self-love. We practice presence with our work, our friends, our partners, our projects. Be fully present with yourself and your pleasure. If you notice your mind wandering, just be like “I see you, sneaky and playful monkey mind, I know that’s fun for you but let’s come back to this again.”
Love the journey. It will be hard to break your patterns, frustrating even. How we feel about our feelings is the most detrimental to our growth. If you feel Sad, Feel Sad. When you feel ashamed or guilty about feeling Sad, the Sad can’t come out. A thought that has been useful for me here is: What a joy that I get to be completely aware and present for this discovery of my body, in learning what feels good in ways that I never knew before. What a wild ride it is to discover new erogenous zones as an adult, like Who’s Body Has This Been???
The suggested practice is 30 minutes for 30 days. Just like, you know. Try it. And see. You can incorporate intentions, breathing exercises, movement (dancing/stretching), sound (music/your own voice), PC muscle clenches.
End each self-love session with 5 minutes of stillness. Just like in yoga’s Shavassna, give your body the time and space to let these positive, glorious feelings imprint in your nervous system and brain.
I have developed a new practice of masturbating in a chair in front of this full length mirror. In the plan to break my pattern of needing to be lying back down, legs spread on the bed in order to masturbate, I had explored variations of positions, and this one in the chair, feet up against the wall, legs spread, staring myself in the eye has become one of my ultimate favourites.
This juicy self-worship that was almost Too Good for me to even do it; as soon as I started I had this overwhelming sense of “Oh, no, that’s definitely not allowed. I’m definitely not allowed to enjoy my own image, my own body, my own pleasure Quite This Much.” And then I noticed my thought and realized this is the sort of feeling I train other people to obtain, so I Lean Into It, smirking at myself in the mirror, lock eyes, and reach orgasm with the thought of self-worship. Wow wow wow. How powerful to be thinking about self-worship while fucking yourself to yourself. Orgasm is a POWERFUL REINFORCER.
You are who you’ve been waiting for.
Masturbation coaching is one of my favourite things to do. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a Skype or phone session.
If you are curious for more, here is a video of my journey with mindful masturbation:
*Presented at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Pleasure Week, February 2017
Kink has been a part of my life longer than I have understood what kink is.
Things I wish someone would’ve told me:
That I would not become a raging, hedonistic, deviant shadow-version of myself. These were my mother’s whispers of her past partners and their ‘dark’ and ‘secret’ selves that they kept hidden in a cupboard in the basement. She would tell me she always had an inkling that those shadows were there and knew that her partners were struggling with their demons. The demons, I wish someone had told me earlier, were not because of the demons of whips and chains, or latex and knives, but the demons of guilt, shame and fear surrounding the symbolic whips and chains of whichever kinks we are drawn to.
I wish I knew sooner that ‘being kinky’ is a far reaching spectrum that can range from something as simple as the sensation of someone whispering in your ear, a hand on the back of your neck directing you as you walk, following a direction from a friend without question: Go put the kettle on, choose your tea and wait for me to get back from the store.
That kink is not only relegated to sexual relationships, but can touch into any interaction in whatever way you might like it to. That my inability to be dominant in my sexual relationships allowed for me to be dominant in my friendships with friends who are indecisive, friends who are going through a hard time and need someone to walk them through certain situations, colleagues who overwork themselves. Sometimes the only thing I crave when I want to fall into submission is for someone else to take the reins, and take my body through the motions so that I can turn off my brain for a period of time. Kink can be an excellent way of building intimacy in non-sexual relationships.
I wish someone had told me that the kinks we are drawn to do not define us as moral or immoral humans. I wish someone had told me that while it might be fun to ponder about some of the origins of my kinks, in reality it is often futile to nail it down to either nature or nurture. That while it is totally possible that my first consumption of porn may have shaped my desire to be more submissive in sexual relationships, I can point to even earlier recollections of being drawn to men in power, older men, and I have no clue where those desires came from.
At this point I’ve resigned myself to just accepting my weird brain as it is and just roll with it; it is far more fun this way.
I wish I knew earlier that if I am kinky one way with one person, it does not mean I have to be kinky in the same way with every person. And that while I am a queer woman, my submission specifically comes out only when I am around certain cis-men, and I become more dominant with partners of other genders.
I wish someone would’ve told me that kink is really just play time for grown ups. That the physical playground of childhood turns into the desires of the mind and the sensations of the body. That sexuality is dynamic and you get to choose your own limits. And when you find someone who likes to play the same games you like to play, it is super duper fun.
I wish someone had told me that I didn’t have to prove my kinkiness to anyone, to prove how sex-positive I was, how in charge of my sexuality I was, how bold I was. That I didn’t need to lay everything on the table for anyone who asked. So many countless men insisting on knowing whether or not I liked to be tied up or choked before finding out what my last name was. Not that this can’t have it’s own place in time, I just wish I knew sooner that I am the gatekeeper of my own desires and I am the only one that gets to choose who I share those desires with.
I wish someone had told me just because someone calls themselves ‘kinky’ does NOT mean that they are good at it. There are aspects of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadomasochism) that require heaps of research before you go ahead and write your paper. And while it might sound fun and dandy if someone says they want to tie you to a post, blindfold you and treat you like an object, it does not necessarily mean that they have any idea what they are doing, or if they are doing it safely.
I wish someone told me that BDSM and forms of kink play can cause trauma, in both the head and the body. I wish someone had told me that as a submissive person, I have ALL of the power, and any dom who believes otherwise is one helluva a giant red flag. BDSM without the research and prep work is nothing shy of assault. Assault covered up in kink.
I wish someone had told me how to have the conversations about my submission so I didn’t have to rely on other people shaping those experiences for me. It was not enough to say to someone older than me, someone stronger than me “I want you to be rough with me.”
I also really wish I was able to forgive myself sooner for pushing myself beyond my own boundaries and not speaking up about them. I wish I knew how empowering it was just to say ‘no’ without any excuse or reasoning; you do not need one, the no suffices.
I wish someone had told me that the best play partners are the ones who hold the most respect for you and put your needs and requirements on the highest pedestal. The ones who ask what your safe words are before any play starts. The ones who negotiate boundaries prior to getting naked and then continuously during. The ones who want to keep learning and growing and recognize when they fuck up, too, so that you know and feel comfortable in them being able to see their own strength and their own boundaries. It is one thing when someone chokes to hard and you tell them, it is another when they continue to do it without change.
There are many times where I wish someone had stopped after starting something I was no longer comfortable with but believed I had to sit through it because I had already consented.
The best play partners are the ones who create containers that allow you to feel safe to communicate. The ones who, after getting your permission, will slap you across the face and then ask you “Where was that from 1-10?” and wait for your answer and then ask again “How hard are you okay with me going?” And if you say “don’t go harder than a 3” they hear that, respect that, and don’t go harder than 3.
The partners who check in, read your body language and ask “Would you like to use a colour?”
The colours, respectively, are Green, Yellow and Red.
Green, as you might guess, means All Systems Go, Keep Going, Don’t Stop, I’m Really, Really Enjoying This even if it looks like I’m in a great deal of pain or distress. Green is the ever joyful: I’m on board with this, whatever ‘this’ is.
Asking for a colour is a moment of stepping back into reality to ensure that everything you are doing continues to be consensual.
Sometimes, when in sub-space, you don’t even know where you’re at or how you’re doing unless someone comes and pulls you out for a moment to bring you back into the present: how is your body? how is your head? Sometimes this doesn’t even work…
“During the scene, the intense experiences of both pain and pleasure trigger a sympathetic nervous system response, [… a] part of the fight or flight response, produc[ing] the same effect as a morphine-like drug, increasing the pain tolerance of the submissive as the scene becomes more intense. Since the increase of hormones and chemicals produces a sort of trance-like state, the submissive starts to feel out-of-body, detached from reality, and as the high comes down, and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, a deep exhaustion, as well as incoherence. Many submissives, upon reaching a height of subspace, will lose all sensation of pain, as any stimulus causes the period to prolong.” – http://www.submissiveguide.com/encyclopedia/subspace/
Yellow hits pause. Yellow is the beautiful space of taking a moment to check in with each other. Yellow can mean various things to various people so always requires a conversation, no matter how small. Yellow might mean ‘less pain’ or ‘loosen your grip’ or ‘slow down’ or ‘we need to move onto something else’ or ‘I’m done with the paddle, but I’d be really into the whip’ or ‘let’s do you now.’
Attention to someone’s yellow is when kink play benefits both people. Attention to someones ‘yellow’ is attention to the details of their reactions, their bodies, their mental state. Whoever is momentarily in charge (the person acting as ‘dom’) is held to paying a great deal of mindfulness to a situation that might take you away.
Red is the immediate STOP. This is it, this is all. Release your hold, cut your ropes, stop your movement. Do not do ~one more spank~. Do not ever continue whatever it is you are doing. BDSM play can only function enjoyably if your partner KNOWS that their hard lines will be respected. Red is a good safe word. “Safe word” is also a good safe word. My partner and I made up our own safe word because it was romantic. I was supposed to say ‘dust bunnies’ but in a moment of panic, not able to breath properly, unable to recollect what stupid word we had romantically settled on, all I could say was “safe word.”
Safe words are also good for many other things. Like being tickled. This has been a good way to practice with my partner.
I wish someone had told me it isn’t always quite as simple as you might hope it would be. Just when you’ve become comfortable with exploring a certain area or realm of kink, something new sparks interest in your brain that confuses you just as much as the first one did. I wish someone had told me that this is totally normal and completely fine.
Only a couple of years ago did I finally feel safe and welcome entering into the kink community: I am a bold personality, I am assertive, I am probably a little too confident. I did not feel that I was allowed to call myself “submissive,” because I am not and did not want to be known as such. I had to hear from another, powerful and impressive woman, that she held her submission in her own way, just as her soft-spoken and kind partner held his domination in his own way. There is room for me in this community; no one will define your role or what you want and how you want it, but you. I can be stubborn and assertive and confident, and still want to be pushed into submission. There is room for you if you want it.
Jessica Simps has created a win-win exchange: send a picture of yourself voting to votes4nudes (on Instagram) and in turn receive a picture of a naked so-and-so because bewbz. You can also follow their tumblr (which is less likely to be taken down by the man). I will be enthusiastically participating in this campaign as a slut who believes sexuality is a positive thing and if nudes are the incentive to get our political system into vaguely better shape, I am proud to be a Canadian.
This is a recent article I wrote for the upcoming gutterbird NEST zine (an awesome publication that promotes artists in Toronto). They will be having their next issue release party on May 1st. You should be there. I will be there.
When I was eight I was having sex dreams. I also humped my teddy bears. Yeah. I said it. No shame. BUT I WAS EIGHT.
Our current understanding of anything to with children and sex is that, to them, it is explained in a manner that is all very mechanical and logical and maybe connected to this distant non-understandable concept of ‘love’ that our parents talk about, blushing and stuttering all the while.
The dreams I had were comprised of rather obvious symbols and images that would depict what the subconscious of a hypersexual eight year old might resemble; enlarged genitalia that you traveled through to get to other realms – but needed a password before entering – and strange naked games in which there were always boys, naked, jumping on top of me.
To be frank – I have no idea if I understood any of this. I knew it made me feel all tingly and happy and excitingly naughty, so I didn’t complain, because, why WOULD you complain about something that made you feel all those things… Not that I could control what I dreamt about anyhow… Sex was just running rampant in my randy, young subconscious mind.
What also happened when I was 8: I found my mother and her boyfriend’s underwear on the couch one Saturday morning when I went to go watch the Weekenders and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It was mind-boggling. What on earth would they be doing taking their underpants off in the living room? Let alone taking them off TOGETHER?!
I knew this likely meant that I should recognize my mother and her boyfriend as sexual entities in their own selves (as they seemed to be reenacting the naked games I was having in my dreams) – but quite like how my mother did not want to imagine her young, innocent daughter as a being with a libido, I was in denial about every adult having a libido.
When my parents divorced, my grandmother bought my father about 200 different types of condoms for Christmas. I looked away and chose to ignore the fact that my father may have been a sexual creature.
Which is hilarious, because I was eight.
What is sexuality to an eight year old?
I remember watching a girl very gently, softly and carefully focus on braiding another girl’s hair and feeling ‘funny’. I remember doing ‘back tickles’ late at night with my female cousins, extracting pleasure from the sensitivity of light fingernails on the skin from our necks down to the waistline of our pajama pants. I remember seeing a flash of testicles in grade one when a fellow classmate was doing sommersaults and again, feeling ever so ‘funny’. I remember trading candy hearts with a boy named Luke and thinking we would get married.
This is not dangerous stuff. This is nothing that we need to be terrified of for our offspring. To me, these instances strike me as moments of intense sensuality that derive not from genital stimulation, but an ability to appreciate and experience pleasure.
I feel the need to paint you a picture: I was the quietest, shyest girl in my class. No boys had crushes on me. I became a flaming red ball of blushing embarrassment if ever asked to speak in front of more than one person at a time. I didn’t keep up with the latest fashions – at ten, I tip-toed around the schoolyard in purple velvet pants and an over-sized pink teddy bear sweater to hide the swollen nipples mother nature hatefully handed over to me.
What I am hoping this characterization of myself as a child will do is to negate that image of a half-naked, extroverted tomboy who went around asking if she could see down every 9-year-old boys pants, and her hand always between her legs regardless of the fanciness of the restaurant.
Something is okay to recognize: children are sexual beings. Not just the flagrantly obvious horny little boys – but also the quiet, shy timid girl in the corner.
SHOCK GASP APPALLING DISGRACE HOW DARE YOU SAY THIS CAITLIN?!
Now I’m not saying we should toss away all thought patterns we have on the subject matter. Throwing in the towel and just letting our kids masturbate all over the place likely won’t solve any of their internal sexual reservations that most of them will have when they reach adulthood.
However, it would solve a lot of our future generations psychological turmoil if we acknowledge that children are already pre-programmed for sex long before we even have a chance to explain to them that it has to do with a bed, two individuals who look at each other longingly and lovingly, and with mushing our genitals together.
VULVA Original is the smell of a vagina in a small vial.
This product came out a few years ago. I am just discovering it now. My reaction?
No. Just no…
I mean, they get like maybe five points for the sake of hilarity and that fact that this is actually in existent out there in the world. But mostly just lots of no.
I’m into people liking weird shit.
I am not necessarily going to like it with you, unless I really like you and choose to go there with you, but otherwise – here’s to you! Let your freak flag fly as long as you aren’t hurting anyone and it’s consensual.
If you’re into smells and sniffin’ things – that’s cool. I love stickin’ my nose into a man’s armpit and inhaling like my life depends on it. No shame. Man pits smell like a delicious mixture of lumberjack and old spice.
Smell fetishes are actually a thing, too: Olfactophilia.
(But they pretty much have words for every fetish imaginable… Just find the latin name for the thing and add ‘philia’. Here’s a decent list of fetishes.)
So cool. Whatever, you’re into the way pussy smells. Like, big time. So much so that all of your dreams have come true when you discover that there is a company called ‘viva eros’ that has dedicated time and ‘cost-intensive research’ into creating a product that will allow you to PURCHASE the scent of a woman in a small vial that you can get off to at your desire. For your desire.
I could be okay with this. Really. I’d high five the company and be all “You guys are pretty epic and I cannot believe someone funded this project….”
But here is where it all goes downhill:
Knowing this, not only men, who intensify and satisfy their own sexual pleasure by their own smelling pleasure are our main target, but also women, who use VULVA Original to make themselves even more attractive by using the perfect vaginal scent.
Labiaplasty is becoming one of the most popular and wanted types of cosmetic surgery in North America. Doctors and specialists refer to it as ‘vaginal rejuvenation‘ – removing portions of ones genitals is also called ‘female mutilation‘.
To be clear – yes, I am very against any type of surgery to alter/’fix’/rejuvenate ones privates (unless it is reassignment surgery). To be clear – yes, I am against cosmetic surgery (unless it is for physical health purposes)/(this is the purpose of my Body Pride workshops, for every single woman who comes into my home to recognize how completely amazing they are AS they are).
You can watch a documentary called ‘The Perfect Vagina’ here if you’d like to get a better understanding of what I am talking about.
So when we are faced with another product that provides women with another way to hold disdain against their bodies – something for which they have no control over – I, for the life of me, cannot get on board.
If you gave 16-year-old Caitlin an open wish-list of the things she could change about her body… I don’t even know where I would’ve started. Tummy tucks to get rid of the ‘dip and rise’ factor of my midriff (my stomach is not ‘flat’ – nor will it ever be), liposuction on my arms and thighs, collagen for my lips, pubic bone reduction (because my pubic mound does not just flatly transition into my lower stomach) – the list goes on.
Thankfully, I began the ‘fake it till ya make it’ methodology of living very early. If you asked me when I was 16 what I’d like to change about myself, I’d have said: “Nothing”, because I wanted to be the confident, courageous woman I only imagined, and I wanted people to think that WAS who I was.
Which is the part that tears me apart inside, because I have had a few comments along the lines of “Well, yeah, if I looked like you I’d be naked on the internet, too.”
The ‘fake it’ method, it works. Use it. Because the place I never thought I would reach – I’ve reached it.
But I would’ve said the same thing six years ago. (Probably another HUGE reason why young women should not be allowed to receive cosmetic surgery – again, unless it is for physical health purposes or reassignment.)
If, at 16, I had known about this product that advertises the ‘perfect scent’ of a vagina… I likely would have never let a man gone done on me. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LIKE ORAL SEX?!
Not too mention, HOW CREEPY IS THIS GUY?!
As a side note, I did try to think of a possible plus of this product other than a fetish thing, and one of the options I thought might be useful would be for post-op trans-women. If you are a post-op trans woman, and are comfortable speaking frankly on such topics, I would love to speak with you.
The beautiful thing about Body Pride parties is how quickly every girl forgets she’s naked.
Welcomed with warm smiles and open arms, Caitlin offers a glass of vino and seats you in a circle among girls just as anonymous as you; the atmosphere is quiet but full of anticipation. The floor is cozy with a soft spread of blankets and the twinkling white lights adorning the walls provide a level of security that can only be attained with a nurturing intent. In the middle of the circle lies a fantastic spread of munchies (all of which are pro-veggie and health conscious – most of which I generally wind up chopping and plating), as well as the book with veteran Body Pride sisters smiling up at you from the clean white pages, their love-filled manifestos to their bodies hand-written beneath their photographs. Continue reading “Body Pride: A Letter From Your Photographer”→
I know, right now, you are having a lot of trouble digesting the idea that you are actually capable of love. I know certain people have instilled in you recently that you may want more than random sexual excursions – and you do, and maybe you won’t admit it to them because your path is the path you are on right now, and these random sexual excursions are teaching you things of incredible value.
I know, right now, that love is really hard for you. Not being in it, but the idea of getting there. It seems that you have great difficulty just placing it anywhere, and this is fair considering your history with the thing… Love, that is.
Right now you are trying to shape in your mind what it might be like for you to fall in love. You imagine how absolutely madly passionate it will be. You do not doubt for a moment that you would be capable of some form of monogamy if you tried.
Dear Caitlin of a year ago:love is a lot harder than that.
A year from where you are, you will try to be a girlfriend.
People around you will convince you that love takes on this peculiar form that involves delving into your own history and pulling out all the potentially damaging memories that occurred in your past and calling them ‘issues’, so that when you cry at the movies, your partner will understand that is because of a deep-seated fear of abandonment from your parent’s divorce when you were five…
People will convince you that relationships are built upon conversations. How do you feel? Tell me what you’re thinking. Are you okay? How was your day? Why won’t you talk to me? You will be in constant state of frenzy because you aren’t sure you recognize how screwed up you actually are…
You will love all other boys while loving this one boy, but you will keep it in your pants and call it determination. You will think you can do this out of sheer willpower to prove you can be monogamous, to prove you can be the girlfriend.
You will drink two glasses of wine in order to ‘pour your heart out’ because you have no idea if you really want to start connecting your ‘Daddy Issues’ with your partners financial status, but this is what monogamy is. This is how people interact.
And you lie in bed with this person, sleeping soundly with your orange earplugs sticking out from your head, and you will think “Look at me go! I’m doing it! I can be a girlfriend.”
And you will listen blankly to stories about your partners day and then try really hard to remember the names of the people he just mentioned to prove that you were listening. And you can mark ‘plus one’ on that wedding invitation and wear matching colors and introduce him as your ‘boyfriend’… Boyfriend… What an icky word. But you will use it anyhow.
And then. When everything is going smoothly, there will come a point when you are sitting across from someone you love dearly with all your heart. And this someone is not your boyfriend, and all of the rules of monogamy are marching around your head with picket signs reminding you of how to stay in line, how to be a decent member of society. But the moment is so intense and incredible that you cannot hold back how important this person means to you… and you whack down the pickets and aim for his lips and then… you don’t know what rules to follow anymore.
You don’t want to hurt anyone.
But you will.
You will really wish that someone was here telling you what to do. You will wish this so hard even though you know, somewhere in your head, it is there.
You will wonder if you will feel trapped in six months time. You wonder if you will be okay being alone. You will wonder how hard you should have fought. You will wonder if you are worth it.
Dear Caitlin of a year ago:
It is okay to be wherever you are at whatever phase you are at.
Because it happens as it happens. Life will give you what it gives you and trying to rearrange the order of things just won’t work. Desire will come galloping through your barriers and kiss you softly and you’ll remember why you love it all over again and get swept up in sweaty beds and wine drinking and dousing yourself in the essence of someone just for one night.
It is okay to stop and question the pre-arranged relationship constructs that society has built up for you before you were even born. It is okay to love multiple people. It is okay to hold one person’s hand and mean it, and then hold another person’s hand and mean it just as much. It is okay to have sex. It’s getting to the core of someone. Seeing them naked. The dichotomy between who they are when their clothes are on, and when their clothes are off. It is also okay to like sex just for the delicious carnality of it.
Mostly, want I am trying to tell you, is that it is okay to be a slut.
I mean, we all know I like to put myself on a pedestal when it comes to the information I hand out in my sexy time blog. But seriously, this one thing I learned and have been stewing over since I have learned it, has impacted not only my sex life, but everything to do with relationships. Most of this information came from a woman named Betty Martin, who is way more experienced and bucketloads more appropriate to be teaching you things about sex as opposed to some chick who’s your friend on Facebook…
What is it?
Oxford dictionary online thingamobob:
permission for something to happen or agreement to do something:
no change may be made without the consent of all the partners
What it’s not?
It is not the same thing as permission. Although the definitions of each ‘consent’ and ‘permission’ might make you think they are the same, they come with different emotional and mental constructs when used in everyday conversation. How Betty put it:
When you ask your mum for permission to go to the movies, she won’t say ‘yes’ because she WANTS you to go (most likely), she is saying ‘yes’ because she DOESN’T MIND if you go.
Which is when we need to learn the difference between these words:
This is when things get sticky and a little bit confusing. But if you trust me (which some of you must… for some reason you keep coming back here and that the reason you’d come back is obviously for my sharp writing talents and wondrous thoughts[ignoring the fact that there are naked chicks all over my website]), then PLEASE, keep reading.
When your partner says:
“Hey, I’ve never been to a strip club,” while drinking his coffee and glancing back and forth between his phone and a newspaper, you, as his/her partner might take this as:
A request: OH, He/She would like to GO to a strip club! This means I must be a compliant and awesome boyfriend/girlfriend and take him/her to one even if I don’t really like them!
An offer: Does he think that I want to go to one? He must be offering to take me. I better say yes so he knows I appreciate him.
An invitation: Is he/she saying that he wants to go and he wants me to come with him because he thinks I enjoy them?
Here’s the thing: Very few of us are mind-readers. A lot more of us make really vague comments that we expect everyone around us to interpret in the way we mean them, without actually giving any information.
This can be as simple as a co-worker saying to you, “Man, I really don’t want to work tomorrow.”
What do you want? Me to come to work for you? Do you want to call in sick? Are you just complaining? VAGUE COMMUNICATION GETS US NO WHERE.
But Caitlin! I hear you exclaim, sighing of confusion and asking yourself if you were mistaken and this is a philosophy blog rather than one filled with smut and boobies, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH SEX?
Fucking everything, is what. What I going to tell you right now is going to fix all of the mis-communication happening between boys and girls, girls and girls, boys and boys. Whenever there is someone who wants one thing, there is someone who wants it a little bit less. It’s the power game. Once a boy stops pawing and kissing at me, I quit ignoring him and I immediately start pawing and kissing at him.
In this situation, I am hereforth going to refer to the specific personality that generally wants to go further, as the male personality. BUT WHY, CAITLIN?! ARE YOU NOT A FORWARD THINKING FEMINIST WHO REALIZES THAT CHICKS CAN BE JUST AS DOMINANT AND AGGRESSIVE IN BED AS MEN CAN BE?!
Yes yes yes. Don’t get your knickers in a knot. BUT, I just so happen to be a straight female who has experienced more boner-happy-‘lets-fuck’ boys than I have girls. And it’s my blog. So. There.
THE BIGGEST PART OF MIS-COMMUNICATION IS THAT NO ONE SAYS WHAT IT IS THEY WANT. We all want to know what the other person wants so we can make them happy and please them, but we never stop to think about what it is that WE want.
Betty, in her lecture about consent that I listened to five times, works with a woman in sexual therapy healing type of thing and she asks the woman, “How would you like me to touch you for two minutes?” (Or something along those lines) and the woman lies on the table for 45 minutes not saying a word. Near the end of the session she says, “I want you to put your hands on my feet”. Betty does so. After the time is up, the woman tells Betty, “I never knew it was my choice before…”
When you are about to touch someone and you can’t tell if they want it or don’t want it, SAY what it is you’d like to do to them. And then ask them what they want or if it’s okay if you follow through with your intended actions.
If you are on a first date and would like to kiss this datee, but they are shy and reserved and you can’t quite tell if they are into you: lean into them slowly, not touching them yet (if they don’t back away this is usually a good sign), bring your lips close enough to their ear so that they can feel your breath hitting their skin, and say: “I would really like to kiss you right now. Would you be okay with that?”
If you are in a long-term committed relationship and you would like your partner to give you a back rub, say “Pookie Pie, I had a really long day, I would really love it if you rubbed my back for ten minutes. Would you be okay with that?”
Granted, the former is much sexier than the latter, but I just wanted to show you how it works in different settings.
By stating what it is you want, you have filled your part. You have taken full responsibility for your end of communication and have now opened the line for the other to take responsibility for their communication and any actions that follow.
This is when the ability to say ‘No’ becomes crucial. What happens if you say ‘yes, of course’ all the time, even if you don’t want it? Because even if you don’t want it, you will receive it, because you have allowed your partner to believe that it is okay to do, but you will then hold resentment for your partner for not recognizing that you really meant ‘no’.
YOUR ABILITY TO SAY ‘NO,’ GIVES YOUR PARTNER THE ABILITY TO ASK FOR WHAT THEY WANT
When there is a CONSCIOUS CHOICE and VERBAL CONSENT, each party takes responsibility, each party releases resentment. Each party is happy with THEIR choice and we can all go on being sexy, life-loving monkeys.
But Caitlin! My girlfriend comes from a family where she grew up thinking that she was just supposed to please everyone else. Even when I ask her what she wants, she never knows. How is it my fault if I accidentally do something that hurts her when she has never said it wasn’t okay.
A) Wait for her to say that it IS OKAY.
B) Keep waiting.
I’m not saying don’t continue to move forward in your relationship, but be patient. All of us started out with having someone else touch us in ways we didn’t give consent for. People changed our diapers, people bathed us, people clothed us and fed us and held us without us saying “I want to be fed Cheerio’s, now please”. Intrinsically, we are wired to accept other peoples touch, and it will take time and awareness to find the ground of how YOU, as an individual, WANT to be touched. And don’t want to be touched.
So. Patience. Ask the question, don’t force an answer. In fact, don’t say a fucking thing until in your partners mind, they have come to some form of decision and verbalize their answer.
It’s harder to stop a moving train than it is to decide where you’re going once you’re on the track.