A Women’s Conference + Strip Club Stage Dance = ?!?

Okay, so I have been letting all of this roll around in my head for the past week (or “marinate” as one of my friends would say!). And I am still not sure where it all sits.

I attended a women’s conference all day last weekend. Full of feminist fun, as I have been saying. I learned more about sexual violence prevention programming, how masculinity is constructed in the US and its negative effects, feminist porn, and sex ed. I enjoyed it, and it left me excited.

And then, that same night, I had sexy friends over and we all went to my favorite strip club, and I got a stage dance- that is, two strippers danced on me on the stage, spanked me, took off my shirt and bra, and told me I could get naked with them any time I wanted to (and believe me, I totally want to!). Being with women, getting (at least partially) naked, and doing it in front of people (who PAID to get in!) are all things that completely turn me on and put me in a state of bliss. Needless to say, I was in heaven. I absolutely loved it. Gah!

But I also feel like I am having a mental tug-of-war. If the body is political, if what we do with our bodies is political, than did I undermine women’s rights or further support a patriarchal social structure by getting up there and participating (or, obviously, just by going and financially supporting a strip club?)? That seems so harsh and inflexible to me. And I know plenty of women who enjoy going to strip clubs, and I have talked to strippers and formers strippers who genuinely enjoy and enjoyed their work… But am I letting myself off too easy if I claim that I can’t control what turns me on, and thus I should just enjoy it (given responsible, respectful, and consensual relationships)? Or is it really just that simple?

The L Word

J and I have been watching “The L Word,” the 2004 Showtime series. I honestly don’t know who likes it more- me or him. I guess the main thing is: we both love it!

We realized why we both like it so much. The downside to traditional, free porn online is that there is hardly a story or plot. You don’t get to know the characters, and if there is any storyline, it is cheesy and embarrassing at best. The downside to written erotica is that you don’t get the added pleasure of seeing the action visually (although there is definitely something to be said for having the freedom to visualize characters and scenes however you please). The L Word is the best of both worlds: developed characters and plots, hot actors, and hot sex. It’s like erotica come to life!

I just can’t believe how turned on we both can get from watching this show. I think it’s pretty dramatic, and sometimes cheesy, and I also am a bit annoyed that there isn’t much size difference among the actors on the show (most of them are rail-thin!). But, it is entertaining enough, and when sex does happen on the show, it adds to the plot and characters. I also think the show does a decent job of showing different kinds of sex- while the passionate scenes turn me on the most, I like seeing slower and more sensual sex, and sex between long-time partners.

Yay porn, yay erotica, yay The L Word! And yay for the fact that we are still on season 1, and each episode is like 45 minutes long… we have a lot to get through 😉

Happy Weekend!

Sexual Intelligence

I loved, loved, loved Sexual Intelligence by Marty Klein. His paradigm of sex is one that J and I had reached on our own, and he articulated the concept so clearly and applicably: sex is so much more than “penis in vagina” or an orgasm, sex requires flexibility and adaptability and an open attitude, and sex is a new experience every time, regardless if it is with a new or familiar partner.
His main points are: don’t start sex before you feel close or ready, understand the process of initiating sex, take and make time for sex, focus on the process of sex and not just on the “end result” or orgasm, and talk about sex (what you want, what your partner wants, fantasies, techniques, etc.)- before, during, and after sex. He essentially argues for communication about sex, because many people simply “expect” sex to be good, all the time, without much forethought, planning, or communication. In addition, our conception of what sex is may have to drastically change over the course of our life; sex at 60 will probably not be what sex was like at 20.
He discusses how body image and self confidence issues can detract from one’s own pursuit of sexual pleasure, and also can detract from your partner’s enjoyment of oneself. One thing that he mentions that stuck with me is the idea that deflections from compliments that my partner gives me actually increases the distance between my partner and I. If the point of sex is to increase closeness and a sense of enjoyment, fulfillment, or intimacy, than deflections from my partner’s praises has the opposite effect. 
Another part that I loved about his book (and which I have already mentioned) is his focus on sex as a process and not as a means to reaching orgasm. This concept is especially useful for older adults, who may have a more difficult time getting hard, getting wet, or experiencing orgasm. However, it also resonated with me because J and I have met a small number of people who take a very narrow view of what a sexual experience should be like in order to be satisfying: if someone doesn’t have an orgasm, the experience was a failure. This in turn can put a lot of pressure on the partners for the next sexual encounter, and may even make it more difficult next time to achieve orgasm. If we focus instead on enjoying our partner’s body, pleasing our partner, and communicating about what we want and how, the whole process is enjoyable, regardless if whether orgasm occurs. He mentions how orgasm is generally about 2% of the entire time spent on sex- why would we place so much emphasis on such a tiny portion of sex and disrupt the other 98% of the process with anxiety and fears about not “performing” adequately in the other 2%?
This book is a quick and enjoyable read- I recommend it to anyone looking to expand their views on sex and increase their own sexual intelligence!

Happy Anniversary to K & J!

Happy Anniversary of Opening Up to K & J! We first read Sex at Dawn last March, and our first foray into nonmonogamy was April 1, 2012, as we ventured to a sex club. Last spring changed our lives.

Since opening up, we have emailed with dozens and dozens of couples, had dinner with around 40 couples and individuals, and met many more at our sex club. Meeting so many people has allowed us to have several ah-ha moments, grow as individuals, and grow as a couple. The lessons we have learned have been invaluable as we have journeyed through our first year together, and we have needed for one reason or another to go through each experience and learn each lesson. Here is a collection of some our thoughts and feelings from the various people we have met in the past year. Some are silly and light-hearted, while others are serious. A lot of them seem completely obvious now, but I guess we needed to meet people and talk with each other before having them cemented in our brains:

       It is probably better for kids to have more responsible and caring adults in their life than less
       If we ever decide to have kids, it would be amazing to have a solid and trusting relationship with another couple or individual that would want to co-parent
       K is definitely into women!
       Four-way chemistry is rare and hard to find
       The bisexuality spectrum is wide and variable
       Sexual attraction to someone can wax and wane, and there might not be a good explanation for it
       Having really close friends is just as satisfying as having other sexual partners
       There is infinite variety in sexual desire and fantasy
       It does seem possible for two couples with four-way chemistry to find each other
       It can be difficult for us to engage with really shy people- we are both a bit more extroverted than we thought!
       Casual sex can totally work, when there is good chemistry, a fun attitude, and respect
       Age isn’t that important to us if chemistry is there
       Don’t let anyone else’s ideas of sex, sexuality, and the expression of it control your own sexual desires
       Chemistry and attraction can build over time
       Narrow views of sex can make a sexual experience boring and unsatisfying
       Sex with an older person is not like having sex with your parent
       Older people are not necessarily super experienced and good at sex
       It works best for us when a couple has a whole range of activities open for discussion from group to separate
       There are other women out there who do have a sex-positive attitude, and who can make sex enjoyable and low pressure
       Don’t force the feeling of chemistry or attraction
       We never want to live in a super remote area because expressing our open relationship would be so difficult
       We actually can enjoy a camming relationship with a hot and sweet couple (we never thought we would enjoy or get into camming)
       Don’t waste time with people who approach sex as one thing (such as penis-in-vagina)
       If we are going to enjoy a purely sexual relationship with another couple or person, there needs to be a sex positive attitude; otherwise it won’t be a fulfilling experience
       Casual encounters can be enjoyable and fun, even without ever talking or seeing the other people again
       Lots of different people approach their open relationship very differently
       There are a ton of ways people think about and fulfill their ideas of what an open relationship is
       We gain so much satisfaction from simply meeting people who do approach and negotiate their open relationship differently from us and discussing our similarities and differences
       From K: Strip clubs are completely fun and awesome when you realize you are looking at hot naked women
       From J: Strip clubs are too loud and lap dances are boring
       Some people care that we are not married, and this surprises us and makes us a bit uncomfortable
       We are so glad that we decided to open up our relationship not as a result of cheating or moving away from each other, but as a result of wanting to grow our relationship and grow together; it seems so much more difficult to negotiate an open relationship when there is a huge time and geographic difference
       There is unfortunately a vocal minority of size queens- we find this attitude superficial and dumb
       You never really know when you will discover a new fantasy, whether that is rope play, domination and submission, exhibitionism, etc.
       Older people can be so hot, and the hot older people that we have met are so inspiring because they prioritize their physical health, sexual desires, and physical and emotional connections
       We both love flirting and seeing each other happy
       We have so much fun around happy and energetic people, even if we don’t want to have sex with them
       We do not connect very well to people who drink to get drunk
       We do not connect well to people who mix heavy drinking with sex
       Some people are just horny and will try to waste our time with inconsistent emails or dirty text messages without actually wanting to meet up; neither of us is particularly interested in relationships like this

The books we have read have been absolutely crucial in giving us the language to think about and articulate our own thoughts, feelings, desires, and fears in opening up. These include: Sex at Dawn, The Ethical Slut, Opening Up, Love in Abundance, Open, A Billion Wicked Thoughts, Sexual Intelligence, The Sex Diaries Project, The Erotic Mind, Mating in Captivity, Bonk, Romantic Jealousy, The Threesome Handbook, The Commitment, and A Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping With Chicks. J has also avidly kept up with several podcasts including: Dan Savage’s Lovecast, Life on the Swingset, Pedestrian Polyamory, and Sex Nerd Sandra.

Since opening up, our relationship boundaries and parameters have changed. At first, we started in the swinging scene, only playing with other people while we were together in the same room. After a few months, we opened up our boundaries to playing with others separately. A month or so after that, we opened up our boundaries to dating and playing separately. Since the fall, our boundaries have settled; we basically have many different things open as options, given some basic ground rules. These include keeping each other apprised of our feelings and attractions to other people and keeping each other updated with how a particular relationship is unfolding. We also want the chance at some point of meeting any other secondary partners to establish our own level of trust and respect with the secondary partner of our primary partner.

Learning how to communicate well has been essential, and we definitely are not perfect at it. Finding an open relationship positive counselor has been essential in giving us the resources to communicate more clearly and effectively with each other. Meta communication (communicating about what you want to communicate about; refer to our post on Kathy Labriola’s Love in Abundance) has been amazing in giving us the room to communicate well with each other. Miscommunication, lack of information, and other communication mishaps have shaped our path as well, and we continue to strive to do better than last time. 
We have come out to several long-time friends and select family members. We are so grateful for the support and love that we have received, and hope to continue living authentically as the months and years pass.

We have had a handful of pretty big fights. We have had several other really uncomfortable and difficult conversations. We have also had countless moments and experiences of pure joy, fun, excitement, and growth. We feel more connection to one another, are more attracted to each other, have more and better sex, and feel much more grounded in our plans to continue building a long-term relationship together. We love everyone we have met and connected with, whether is was through email, dinner, a kiss, a play session, or flirting. Everyone we have met has taught us something special and important, and we wouldn’t be the same without them! We can’t wait to see where our relationship takes us in the next year and beyond, and continually expand room in our lives and hearts for new experiences and partners.