The other day, I walked into the lunchroom at work and found that somebody had left a box of chocolates with a note reading, "Help yourself!". A female colleague was standing over the box holding the lid with descriptions of the various offerings. Making her decision, she reached into the box and picked up a piece and bit into it. She scrunched up her face in an expression of pleasure and uttered, "Oh! Mmmm." I said I must try one of those so after she pointed out which one she had taken, I did the same. I bit into the chocolate and followed suit, making an expression of pleasure then saying, "Oh yes. That is gooooood!"
It occurred to me that in the company of somebody else, anybody could express pleasure over any one of a number of things: food, drink, or the feel of a nice fabric, and nobody would say anything. We would all accept this person's pleasure and we may smile at their reaction. I would add that we enjoy pleasing another person so we would feel a sense of gratification if we had managed to elicit such a reaction by supplying the food or drink.
But what about sex? What if the woman in saying, "Oh! Mmmm," was actually talking about sexual pleasure, not the taste of chocolate? I think my initial reaction would be to leave the room embarrassed that I had interrupted a supposed private moment. Expressing pleasure over chocolate is okay in the company of somebody else but expressing pleasure over something sexual is not.
What if somebody walked in on me expressing sexual pleasure? I have no doubt they would dial 9-1-1 feeling threatened. I can say, "Mmm" about chocolate, but "Mmm" about sexual pleasure scares people with the idea of man as a sexual predator.
As odd as this sounds, I'm asking, "Why?" I'm sure anybody would feign disgust. But why? I'm sure anybody would reply, "That is not right." But why? Sex is dirty. But why? Sex is private. But why? Don't I sound like a six year old kid questioning everything? I feel confident that if I asked 99.999% of the people, I would get similar reactions. These ideas are so persusive in our culture, we all know it; we all feel it; and we all live it. All without knowing why exactly. We understand the rules of the game but we do not know where the rules came from, whether the rules are valid; and whether or not the rules can be changed or dispensed with so we can all have a different game.
In my blog "Sheila Kelley: Let's Get Naked: TED Talk", I report on this Amerian actress who has become a motivational speaker and fitness guru. In 2012, she gave a talk at TED about her sexuality and her place in society as a woman.
Ms. Kelley talks of the negativity towards female sexuality and goes on to recount a personal and poignant story of when she was 7 years old. She and two neighbour boys, on a hot summer day, all took of their tops and laid down in the cool grass. The mother of the boys yelled out the window to the 7 year old Ms. Kelley to put her top back on, that she was a naughty girl and that she should be ashamed of herself. Mom then sent the 7 year old girl home. And so it starts the suppression of female sexuality.
Alyssa Royse (The Danger in Demonizing Male Sexuality: May 28/2013) addresses the issue of viewing male sexuality in a negative light by saying, "We have a tendency to demonize male sexuality." She goes on to explain how she and her daughter attended a sex ed class where the female presenter talked about how girls must learn how to say "no" to boys.
"It starts that young. Yes, girls are told that boys are predatory and somehow out of control. The corollary there is that boys are told they are predators, and out of control. Therefore, not a desirable thing, but a thing to defend against. From the get-go, we are teaching our kids to fear male sexuality, and to repress female sexuality."
How insidious are these subliminal messages? How affected are we? How are our behaviour and our attitudes formulated according to a social model we do not understand and have no control over? How much are we passing on from generation to generation without any rational analysis as to its validity?
We date. We have a relationship. We have a partner. We get married. Are we open? Are we honest? Could you take off all your clothes and stand stark naked in front of another human being? Could you explain to another person what sexually turns you on, what sexually satisfies you? Could you masturbate in front of someone? You can eat a piece of chocolate in front of somebody else, scrunch up your face in a pseudo-orgasmic expression of pleasure and say, "Oh! Mmmm," but could you actually have an orgasm in front of somebody else?
My grandfather lost his wife in 1937. My mother and her sister lost their mother. After a couple of years, Grandpa remarried. Unfortunately, he did not know that Heather had been brought up in a puritanical environment which instilled in her the idea that men only wanted one thing from women: sex. All men were perverted degenerates to be avoided at all costs. From what I understand, Grandpa and Heather had sex once, just once, which led to a son. I would remind you that in this era, people did not divorce. Ever.
On the day of my mother's wedding to my dad, Heather took my mother aside and launched into a diatribe against men and the evils of their libidos. This was the only time Grandpa ever raised a hand to Heather. He slapped Heather then pulled my mother aside and explained to her that sex between a man and a woman can be a wonderful thing. My mother told me this story when I was older.
Later in life, Grandpa had an affair. Everybody knew it and everybody accepted it. She apparently was a good woman. It is unfortunate that when Grandpa died, Heather refused to allow the woman to come to the funeral.
Heather lived twenty years after Grandpa. Being the dutiful grandson, I visited regularly and we played a lot of Scrabble together. I slowly began to understand that she didn't "get it." She was the classical "harpy", a cold bitch. She didn't understand why men and women got together. Oh, she understood the idea of relationships and marriage from an intellectual point of view but she didn't understand the underlying motivation. I am convinced Heather never experienced an orgasm in her life. Imagine eating a piece of chocolate and you had no taste. What's the point of anything if there is no payoff, no pleasure?
Whoever raised Heather did so in a manner which deprived her of having a fulfilling life. My grandfather was a kind, loving man. But he was a man. And Heather never had the opportunity to experience life like a complete woman. She never got the why behind men and women.
Do we truly understand what's going on around us?
How influenced are we by society? Yes, there are our parents, but what about our peer group, our local community, but even more importantly media?
A TV network censored a sequence of John Steinbeck's The Red Pony, which showed a mare giving birth, but broadcast the rather hideous sequence from The Godfather showing a beheaded horse.
– Youth, Sex and the Media, CyberCollege
In my blog "May is National Masturbation Month", I discuss the origin of this movement back in the 1990's. Dr. Joycelyn Elders was the Surgeon General of the United States under the Clinton Administration and ended up being firing by a Conservative groundswell which took exception to this woman's advanced thinking in dealing with hot button topics like drugs and sex.
"We’re sexual beings from the time we’re born until we die, and we need to make sure we understand our sexuality and realize that sex is about more than procreation." – Dr. Joycelyn Elders
More than procreation? Sacrilege!
In 1995, California sex advocate Dr. Carol Queen with the assistance of Good Vibrations, held the first National Masturbation Day on May 7 while declaring May masturbation month. She wanted to fight back against the idea that sex is bad and to fight back against those who conspired to have Elders fired for endorsing the teaching of masturbation in high school.
Sexual pleasure is each person's birthright.
-Good Vibrations: May is Masturbation Month
How prevalent is the idea that sex is good?
People have organised masturbation events where people get together and publicly pleasure themselves. If you can eat a piece of chocolate and make an orgasmic expression in public, why not have an actual orgasm? The Masturbate-a-thon is an event in which participants masturbate to raise money for charity and increase the public awareness and dispel the shame and taboos that exist about this form of sexual activity. (Wikipedia)
People organise sex toy events where everybody swaps information about sex and pleasure. A sex toy party is a usually female-only gathering where participants learn about and buy sex toys. It is a type of party plan, similar to Tupperware parties. (Wikipedia)
How prevalent is the idea that sex is bad?
In my blog "Planned Parenthood: addicting children to sex!!!", I discuss how the American Life League, a Conservative organisation, is attempting to cut funding to Planned Parenthood because of their support for abortion and sex education. In a jaw-dropping promotional video, ALL compares Planned Parenthood to your neighbourhood drug pusher attempting to get kids hooked on sex using masturbation as their "gateway drug". It is a stunning display of a puritanical mentality that would have all of us hiding shamefully in the closet.
Do you know what's going? I don't think I know what's going on. But I do "interpret" what I see around me. And what do I interpret? Sex is bad. Sex is scary. Sex is confusing. Sex is dangerous. Say "Mmmm" to a piece of chocolate but don't you ever express pleasure over anything sexual. You're going to hell. You could go to jail. Or, at least, be criticised, ostracised, fired, shot, killed, burned at the stake, then shot again for good measure. As Sheila Kelley said, "You're a naughty girl and you should be ashamed of yourself."
Life can be beautiful if you look at it that way. Or, like Heather, you may never "get it." Grandpa "got it" but while any one person can "get it", it would seem a good relationship comes from having a partner who "gets it" too. Both people need to "get it."
Open. Honest. You like frozen yogurt. I like chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. I accept your choice. You accept mine. We both eat our cones together and occasionally we offer each other a taste of our own cone. Open. Honest. Accepting. Uncritical. Non judgemental. Stark naked before one another. Repress nothing. Accept no compromise. I certainly won't. Ever again.
Love Encore: An Intimate Talk Show with KarenLee Poter
LoveEncore is the #1 resource for advice on dating, sex and relationships the 2nd time around. KarenLee Poter, a widow with a master’s degree in social work, hosts this unique, racy, intimate talk show. KarenLee shares her personal expertise as she interviews both experts and guests on issues relating to being single again.
Published on Jan 30, 2013 by KarenLee Poter
Sex Toy Party Live Demo #1 by KarenLee Poter (LoveEncore) (4:34 min)
Part 1 – KarenLee discusses personal massagers (VIBRATORS) and their uses during sex with guests at the "50 Shades Of Fun" event at Romantika Boutique in Wheeling, IL. There are a lot of funny and racy moments in this episode.
Claire Litton: sexologist
After completing her undergraduate degree in sociolinguistics, she went on to study Counselling Psychology at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. She volunteered for Planned Parenthood of Allegheny County for ten years, developing educational outreach programs and doing clinic escorting. She also began personally working with a sex therapist, which allowed her to see how helpful and effective it can be!
Published on May 30, 2013 by Claire Litton
How to Run a Masturbate-a-thon (26:36 min)
Here is a short video I made for Queer Fest in Athens, outlining how to run a masturbate-a-thon event. This would also be a relatively helpful video for figuring out generally how to run queer-friendly, feminist, body-positive events.
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