Welcome to my contribution to the Sex Positivity Blog Hop! Thanks to Grace R. Duncan for organizing it and everyone else for participating. Take a look at http://www.grace-duncan.com/sex-positivity-blog-hop/ to see who has posted already or will be posting in the last week. There have been some well-crafted, thought-provoking posts so far.
I am an unrepentantly sex-positive person. In my eyes, sexuality and sex are natural parts of the human experience. I am all for people having as much (or as little) sex as they want, with whomever they want, so long as everyone involved is able to and does consent to all activities. I’m a proponent of comprehensive sex education in schools, encompassing everything from STI and pregnancy prevention to discussion of healthy sexual relationships. I want the variation of sexual orientations among people to be acknowledged and respected. I’m hoping for a cultural shift where more people will see sexuality in a positive light, and at the very least accept that it’s okay for people to be sexual beings. A much-desired bonus would be people not having to hide that fact about themselves.
Unfortunately, in my home of the USA, there’s a frustrating dichotomy that’s persisted for many years. I can only speak from experience about this country, but some other countries have similar issues, I’ve read. Here, we have a sexually repressed society where (in my opinion) far too many people, especially people in positions of power cry out against underage and premarital sex, and try to restrict people’s sexual freedoms. And yet we have hypersexual representations of people both of age and underage in all facets of mainstream entertainment – movies, television, music, and books. A good deal of the sexual repression I’ve encountered is religiously, or at least morally based. In “polite society”, sex isn’t talked about. I’ve seen so many instances where sex is spoken of in whispers with nervous giggles instead of among close friends, or talked about in raunchy detail as a way of boasting. None of that is conducive to seeing sex as just a normal part of life.
I think most people reading this are at least somewhat familiar with those issues, and other posters in this blog hop have touched on them in more depth. So I’m not going to rehash that any further other than saying in my eyes, it’s a problem.
A good part of my sex-positive views started in childhood, due to my upbringing. I’m an only child, and I’m not sure if that has anything to do with it, but it’s part of my story. My parents raised me in a household without any particular religion, and the moral code boiled down to “do your best to be a good person”. My parents are body-positive and somewhat sex-positive. Casual nudity in our house was often the norm. They taught me that bodies were nothing to be ashamed of, and though nudity in public was not appropriate, in the privacy of our own home, it was ok. Naked bodies were not seen as inherently sexual in my home. So when one of us moved from a bedroom to the bathroom to take a shower for example, clothing was not a necessity. Sometimes one person would brush their teeth when another was in the shower in the same bathroom, no big deal. As I got older, when friends would be about to come visit, sometimes I’d have to warn a parent so they would be wearing more than just underwear when my friend arrived.
In terms of masturbation, my mom told me when I was a teenager that as a kid I’d fiddle with my genitals in public – kind of a precursor to masturbation – and she had told me that I could do it in my room or the bathroom at home, but not in front of other people. So, I grew up knowing masturbation in private was ok.
Every time I asked my mom a question about where babies came from or about sex, I got a slightly more detailed answer. The first time I asked, I was apparently two or so, and got a very basic response that satisfied me at the time, and I didn’t ask again until a while later. By the time I was on the verge of puberty, my mom gave me the book her mother had given her about babies and sex, and she also bought me a wonderful book called It’s Perfectly Normal, which I recommend as an excellent sex-positive, informative, accessible text for pre-teens and beyond. I’m not sure what ages it’s recommended for but I believe I would have been ready for it at about nine.
At some point I learned my parents were not against premarital sex – they’d lived together and been having sex for years before marrying. This made sense especially since neither of them had belief systems telling them premarital sex was wrong.
I was taught early on that there’s diversity in sexual orientations and that gay, bi, and straight are just different ways of being. A close member of my mom’s side of the family has been in a relationship with someone of the same sex for many years and they have children together. One of my dad’s closest friends and some people he worked with when I was growing up are gay.
All that, plus somewhat comprehensive sex education starting in my public middle school made me comfortable having sex for the first time when I was ready late in my high school career. Since then, I’ve become what I consider increasingly sexually liberated, and have found places in which I can discuss sex and sexuality openly: in LGBTetc groups at college, on writing and art websites, and in other online communities, as well as with some friends.
I consider myself fortunate to have been brought up in a relatively sex positive environment. A good number of people aren’t though, and were raised in cultures where any sex outside of marriage for any purpose other than reproduction is seen as wrong or dirty, for one reason or another. Posy Roberts talked about that on her blog (http://posyroberts.com/2014/11/13/kissing-sex-positivity-blog-hop/) and provided this resource for people recovering from growing up in purity culture: http://nosmamemovement.com/post/65361252152/the-purity-culture. I encourage passing this link along publicly to anyone you think it might help.
Given my history, and the fact that I like to be a very open person, the current societal mindset around sex causes some challenges in my daily life. I have multiple identities that I juggle and shift between. There’s often the question of “what can I share with whom?” because so much of what I do is related to sexuality, directly or indirectly.
As Sara the employee, it’s neither appropriate nor safe for me to bring up anything related to sex and sexuality at work. That is part of professionalism, yes, but also telling of general societal issues. I don’t want to talk about sex itself at work anyway, but the fact that I have to hide things about myself from my coworkers is somewhat interesting. Some of what I hide is about my personality, like my pansexuality, and the fact that I’m a kinkster. Some is around my views on topics such as LGBTetc rights, polyamory, and casual sex. Some is about my activities, such as my writing, beta reading, and editing erotic romance, or my activism related to sexual practices like BDSM and kink, and LGBTetc rights. A lot of my social activities outside of work are within my local kink community, so when I’m asked by a coworker what I did over the weekend, I have to reshape the truth so that I don’t reveal too much information that’s inappropriate for the workplace. I don’t mind this so much, really, and am okay separating my professional identity from my personal one. But I wind up with a lot less I can share with my coworkers than they can share with me. One coworker got engaged and we congratulated her. My partner and I collared each other with collars that can be worn as necklaces in vanilla settings, and that’s not something I can tell my coworkers about and expect congratulations.
As Sara the friend, I have fewer issues. Thankfully, my closest friends are sex-positive for the most part and I can at least talk a bit about topics related to sexuality with them, if not revealing details about my life in the world of kink or my sex life. I’ve grown apart from less sex-positive friends, and made a lot of new sex-positive friends in the kink scene and in the community of authors and readers of romance, erotic romance, and erotica. I remember feeling hurt years ago when telling one close friend from childhood, who had seemed more interested in sex than me years ago, about a new experience and being surprised and hurt when she said “woah, TMI, TMI”. I had thought this was someone I could talk about anything with, but apparently she had changed. And change happens. It was just a sad surprise that we no longer could talk about that sort of thing.
As Sara the family member, I’m closer to my parents than any other members of my family (I have parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins remaining, plus some more distant relatives). I don’t talk about anything related to sexuality beyond my activism and my writing/reading/editing with my parents and a few other close relatives. I did tell my parents when I started having sex with a boyfriend I’d been with for quite a while, and they were wary due to my age, though I was of the age of consent in our state. When I asked them how old they had been their first times, one parent had been a year older than me at the time, and the other had been a year younger. And though they weren’t thrilled about me being sexually active, they understood more where I was coming from, and were glad I was using safer sex practices. More recently, for some reason I felt the urge to tell my mom about getting into kink, and she was a bit worried about me – not because of the practices, but because she was wondering if my “thrill-seeking behavior” was a sign of mania, and correlated to my mental health issues. I managed to reassure her but we haven’t talked about sex related things since then.
I think I’ve gotten pretty good at not revealing too much information when I shouldn’t, but it’s been really freeing to have an increasing proportion of friends who are sex-positive and happy to talk about sex and kink. I am hopeful that efforts like ours in this blog hop, and those by others, will help bring about the shift for a society where humans sexuality is just seen as another part of the human experience. I don’t know how long it will take, or what efforts it will take, but I’ve seen more people speaking up just as I’ve seen more people speaking against it. Activism is hard work, but any little bit can help.
Thank you for reading and please be sure to check out the other posts on the Sex Positivity Blog Hop!
I’m a spoonie (spoon theory info here if you’re not familiar or need a refresher http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/ ). But sometimes I forget about spoon management since my depression and anxiety are so well managed most of the time. But even though they’re well managed, I cannot function like an average able bodied person. I still need to work on balance and taking care of myself.
I’ve been very bad at spoon management lately. I’ve been not taking enough quiet me-time, and as an introvert (albeit a very sociable friendly one), I need at least a little of that to recharge, even if it’s only a bit every few days (though on weekdays I get built in introvert time on my commute). Even time with just one other person is more recharging than what I’ve been doing the last five days.
Thursday night after work, I attended a discussion group. I went to work Friday and had a friend over that evening. I attended my weekly eating disorder recovery meeting and two social gatherings Saturday. I attended one gathering Sunday, and two gatherings Monday. I also didn’t sleep enough Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday nights, and didn’t nap when I had the chance.
I had a fantastic time at all gatherings, but fell into bed emotionally and physically exhausted Monday night. I dreaded going to work the next day, even though the work that awaited me has a far off deadline and isn’t hard. I texted my boss, told him I needed the day. He was concerned and said we need to talk about this when he’s back from vacation next week. He knows my situation, and he’s thinking I need to take better care of myself. I don’t think my job is at risk – at least, not if I turn things around. But I felt guilt for worrying him. I also felt guilty for not being able to earn money on a day like today, since I only make money for hours I work at my current job. But I’m feeling positive this morning, and will make the most of today.
So, here are my plans for today. I think doing them will not use all today’s spoons and will help me replenish those I’ll need to work tomorrow.
– Sleep well – already done. Feeling physically good.
– Eat my 3 planned healthy meals – already had breakfast.
– Walk the dog – just needed to get done. Easy and fun.
– Write my gratitude list on facebook – Easy and helpful.
– Reply to some social emails – these have been making me feel guilty because I keep procrastinating on them, but will be fun to reply to.
– Talk to Grace R. Duncan online – fun and helpful.
– Spend time with my partner when he gets home from work around 5 – fun, bonding, and helpful!
– Stretch goals if I have enough extra spoons – draft cover letters for jobs I’m interested in. Do some small things for my writing career.
Well wishes are appreciated! Feel free to share your own experience with similar stuff in the comments.
Last minute post, before the blog hop is over!
I thought was done writing posts for the BDSM Blog Hop, until I noticed a comment on my first post that I thought warranted a more in depth response than the reply I gave.
Disclaimer: Unless attributed to someone else, all of this is my personal opinion, based on being an active member in my local scene for 16 months (which is not a very long time). You can take it or leave it, I just wanted to share my opinions and experience.
The commenter said, ” I guess I’m curious about electrical play, since the safety issues always give me pause…”
This commenter made a very good point. In BDSM and kink (when writing, I often interchange the terms), one of the most important things is consent to any activities between all parties involved. Another thing that is just as important, in my opinion, is informed consent.
I first learned the term Informed consent when watching medical TV shows. Here’s how it works, in a nutshell. Before a doctor performs a medical procedure on a patient, the doctor is obligated to inform the patient about how the procedure works and the risks and benefits involved. The patient then gets to decide whether they want to go through with the procedure.
With informed consent in BDSM, practitioners of BDSM are analogous to the doctor and patient, and whatever kink activities are being discussed are analogous to the discussion of the medical procedure.
So, what about safety?
A lot of people practice SSC BDSM, which stands for Safe, Sane, and Consensual BDSM. The general idea is that all parties involved consent, are in a sane state of mind when they decide to play and when they play, and that they play safely.
But what is “playing safely” anyway? The only types of BDSM play that I personally consider inherently safe (just thinking off the top of my head) are sensation play with non-sharp objects, some forms of roleplay (including power exchange – D/s and M/s), and sexual play with maximum safer sex practices.
Many of the other types of BDSM play do have the potential to cause injury, if not done properly. Accidents happen. Even if done properly, some activities can still cause injuries of varying degrees. Are these activities safe or not? I think that’s subjective. Spanking, caning, paddling, and flogging can lead to bruising and soreness, for up to days, depending on the intensity of the play. Does that mean these activities aren’t safe? Again, that’s somewhat subjective. Rope play, something that many people I know practice, can cause nerve damage if someone is tied too tightly, kept bound in one position for too long, or suspended, no matter how competent the top and how experienced the bottom.
And that’s not even getting into more extreme, risky forms of play, which many people consider edge play – fire play and needle/sharps/piercing play, for example. Certainly, those things can’t be considered safe, can they?
Words are powerful things. We use them to convey meanings. I like to say what I mean and mean what I say.
That’s why I say I don’t practice SSC, I practice RACK.
RACK stands for Risk Aware Consensual Kink. Remember the analogy with the doctor and the patient discussing a procedure and deciding whether to perform it? That’s how RACK works for me. For any kink activity I am thinking about doing, I learn about it. I learn how it works, learn the risks, and how to do it right. I do this through online research, talking to others who are more experienced than myself, and watching others do the activity. I make a decision what risks I am willing to accept, and what risks I am not willing to accept, and I act accordingly.
Some of the things I do are not generally considered safe. I play with electricity, getting shocked and shocking my partner. I have fire swept over my body by a trusted top (well, just the once so far, but I plan to do it again). I can’t in good conscience say that I am an SSC player.
But I can say that I practice RACK.
There are some risks I’m not willing to accept. For example, I don’t do anything that pierces the skin or draws blood. I also don’t do rope bondage that has a risk of leading to nerve damage (so, no suspensions for me). I don’t play with bodily waste (I wouldn’t be interested in that anyway, though).
On a related note, one saying in the kink community is YKINMKATOK – Your Kink is Not My Kink and That’s OK. There are some kinks that I am not interested in, and some that make me uncomfortable. But as long as all parties are practicing informed consent, I do my best not to judge them or their kinks. If something is happening at a party that I don’t like, I can always move to another area and let the people playing enjoy themselves.
So, that’s all I’ve got for you readers from me. If you’d like to read more about SSC and RACK, from a historical perspective, this is a great article by Cross, a kink educator: http://xcbdsm.com/2010/09/06/ssc-vs-rack/
Once again, please do check out the other people who have taken their time and experience to contribute to the blog hop, by clicking the button below and clicking on any participants. Thanks for stopping by!