Sacred Sexuality

How interesting that I am posting this on Easter, which some contend results from Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility and sexuality and love. 😀

I recently came across this post on Life on the Swingset, and then J saw this one. Both deal with the ideas of sacred sexuality and spiritual sex.

The first post is basically a rant- the author is frustrated that within the alternative sexualities community, and that even within the sacred sexuality community, people refer to sacred sexuality practices as “woo woo.”

“So when you reduce what we they do, arts of many different wondrous varieties, down to this ONE derogatory term, does no one realize how much it devalues what they HAVE done, are doing, and hope to continue to do for sex positivity and sacred sexuality in the future? And it’s happening publicly on a massive scale, in front of listeners who are looking for authorities on what is worth trying or not. That’s not being sex positive and GGG to me, my fellow sex travelers.”

I understand her complaint; I have also complained about folks in the alternative sexualities community “othering” one another. And even I used “woo woo” in my post a few weeks ago about Reid Mihalko’s tantra workshop. I understand why she is offended by the term, when it feels demeaning or belittling to practices that have been an integral part of her expression of sexuality, love, and relationships. 

The second post was really cool to read- the author connects her experience delving into the world of Unitarian Universalism with her experience swinging. She uses some of the UU principles, like recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and letting each person discover their own path of truth of meaning, to describe her revelations at a recent swing party. Her big light bulb thought: “As I listened to the minister– the earnest and thoughtful minister– an epiphany hit me: swinging can be a path to discovering not only my own sexuality, but it can also be a model for how I want to interact with all people.” I think that line of thought is exemplary. I have typically used other models, frameworks, and theories to guide my behavior in my open/poly journey (for example, the evolutionary psych stuff in Sex at Dawn or Taormino’s or Labriola’s frameworks for creating an open relationship), which would be analogous to the author of this post using UU principles to guide the way she treats play partners. Instead, she identifies swinging as the model which can direct her future interpersonal behavior, with not just other swingers, but with her broader community. I think it’s pretty neat!

Say No to the Dress?

In the midst of our party planning (I am calling our wedding a commitment ceremony, but I prefer “party” to everything else because of the celebration aspect of it!), J read this opinion piece on the New York Times: “Say No to the Dress.” 

I was intrigued by the title; I thought it would be a metaphor for saying no to having a wedding or the wedding establishment, or no to a long-term, committed relationship, or no to something else. When I got to the end and realized it was a metaphor for growing up and speaking your mind, I was a little disappointed at how shallow the whole piece seemed. Instead of going with the dress that the author’s mom loves, the author finally “says no to the dress” and opts for the one she really loves. Yay! (Bleh)

But, as many people close to me probably know, I have had my own challenges sticking up for my values when planning this party. I wanted a smaller guest list (inviting maybe 100 people instead of 200, or whatever the hell number it is). I wanted a same-site ceremony and reception. Those factors significantly increased the cost of our party, and it was/is important to me to keep the costs down as low as possible. While I want to party with friends and family, I also know that everyone in our lives already knows we love each other and I think it is silly to blow so much money on one day of our lives when we clearly have loved each other every day for the past 6 1/2 years.

Here are the things that I have been able to advocate for though: a Mexican buffet for the reception dinner (instead of “fancy chicken” dinners); cupcakes (instead of the traditional cake); Friends of Honor (instead of a wedding party, and with mixed gender friends); a knee-length dress (instead of a T length or longer one); brightly colored shoes (probably red or purple); simple flower arrangements (with local and seasonal flowers); a really low-key “rehearsal”/night-before dinner (probably BBQ or pizza! yum!); and funds set aside to pay for our Friends of Honor sleeping accommodations (since they are all so poor, like us. haha). So, I haven’t been completely subsumed by the maternal whirlwinds. Other things that J and I have done that have been intentional: telling our officiant that we have an open relationship, and planning on writing our own vows.

I am excited that I have consciously and happily said “yes” to so many things about our ceremony and party. And that I am not only advocating for myself and what I want out of this process, but that we are able to celebrate our relationship with so many people that care about us.

Lubrication & Breast Size

I have noticed that I am not as wet as I used to be. J heard on one of his podcasts that this can happen as a result of taking oral birth control; supposedly, it can throw your natural testosterone levels out of whack. I took oral BC for two years before getting my IUD, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the systemic hormones, and even if the local ones in my IUD, have affected my natural lubrication.

It was surprising for me to feel somewhat inadequate once I consciously realized that I wasn’t very wet during sex. I have noticed more dryness with new partners, due to be less comfortable, but when I realized that I almost always use lube with J, I felt self-conscious. I am extremely turned on when I have sex with J, and so I don’t want him to perceive it to be an indication that I’m not into our sex. I also feel like there is a lot of cultural messaging that wetness is extremely sexy. And from personal experience, it seems like many people consider wetness to be sexy and a clear indication that the person is turned on, and being turned on is sexy. And I think all of that is fine, if the person is truly turned on, and if we remember that our bodies change. I think it is part of sexual intelligence: wetness/dryness does not automatically equal being aroused or not; lube is a perfectly amazing tool for going about the sex that you want; and our bodies change (especially as we age) and so our cues of what being aroused meant as teenagers does not translate into our cues as we age.

On another note of (sexual) body image, I have blogged before about breast size and size envy… I think I have finally am able to admit that my tits are a full A cup (maybe a small B). I am pretty sure I have been wearing the wrong size bra most of my life (or Victoria’s Secret bras have recently become bigger. Which may be possible, because I swear a B bra from there fit me really nicely in high school. Now I swim in them. Or now I just notice the extra room). Tit size is hard for me (much, much harder for me than natural lubrication), but I am committed to living a life journey where I honor my natural shape and size. It is who I am. And also- who doesn’t love tits? Sure, people can have preferences. But really, all tits are pretty amazing. And that includes mine.

Monogamy versus Open Relationships: Pros & Cons

My third post went live today on DatingAdvice.com.

I had a difficult time writing this one (on the pros and cons of monogamy versus open relationships). I feel like a lot of the pros and cons for each relationship style can apply to one another; it just really depends on the people involved in the relationship. For example, I know that some monogamous couples allow quite a bit of freedom within the relationship, and some open couples have quite restrictive boundaries and rules. There is a spectrum of freedoms and honest communication I think.

If you are a regular and loyal reader of mine, I would love it if you took a minute to go read my post on DatingAdvice.com and leave a comment. I would really love to see some of DA’s regular readers commenting on my posts, but I think they may be tentative in starting the conversation. Thanks! 🙂

Single Male Swingers

I am a good looking, single, fit, down to earth guy that wants to be more involved in the swinging lifestyle. I find it hard as a single male though. Can you give me any advice? 

I can try! As a partnered female, I definitely have a different experience in the swinging community than a single male (most likely) does. Here are my thoughts:

Put yourself out there: Use lifestyle sites (examples: SwingLifestyle, Lifestyle Lounge, Lust Lab, Kasidie; there are tons of sites, and many of them geography-specific), Craigslist, and other online resources that you are comfortable with. Use the profile to demonstrate your intelligence, sense of humor, charm, sense of adventure, desires, and fantasies. Post pictures that truly represent yourself (remember, you will meet people eventually and you don’t want to have posted photos from a decade ago). Show up to in-person events if you have them in your area (clubs, parties, and other social gatherings). This is an especially great way to get to know people in your local swing community. If you live in a small area, take advantage of the community online to begin exploring and meeting other swingers. Cultivate your social skills, which leads to…

Respect relationships, boundaries, and rules: Respect the couple’s relationship. You are not there to “replace” the male partner, make up for any of his inadequacies, or break them up; quite the opposite. Communicate with potential playmates about their rule and boundaries. These could include sexual boundaries like no kissing, no penetration, or recent STI testing. These could also include relationship boundaries like no phone calls or dates. Or they might include logistical boundaries like play dates only happen at parties or clubs, or only every other Friday. It is important to know what you are getting yourself into so that you can make an informed choice as to whether you will be satisfied (sexually, emotionally, etc.) interacting with potential partners.
This also includes other common points of etiquette, like:
-Always ask before touching, and
-“No” means “no”

Expand your sense of sexual intelligence & sex positivity: This means learning about and keeping an open mind about different sexual behaviors, expressions, acts, and different erotic activities. You don’t have to be into them (or even understand them), but it is important to stay open-minded. This is especially important when you are mingling within a sexually open and adventurous crowd. Also, swinging is a pretty heteronormative space (for males); that is, while female bisexuality is highly encouraged and admired, men are not given the same space to explore same sex sexual activity. (I think this is my single biggest gripe with swinger spaces. What the hell is so threatening about men exploring their sexuality? I know so many women that find it incredibly hot. I think men police each other, à la internalized homophobia. Just my little bit of ranting and theorizing.) Even though (male) heteronormativity is the norm, I would highly encourage you to examine your own comfort levels and desires around same sex interactions. I would encourage you to reach a space where you are truly comfortable being naked around other naked men (who wants to be uncomfortable in a group sex scenario, especially if you are intentionally putting yourself in those situations?). What I am really trying to say is: homophobic attitudes are not cool. Don’t be homophobic, even if you don’t want to engage in any kind of sexual activity with another guy. Be an ally, and be open to the fact that some men are heteroflexible (will play with other men if it’s right and fun for them), some are bisexual to varying degrees, and some are gay. Be respectful. Respect is sexy.

Become familiar with MFMs, gangbangs, and hotwifing: These are common configurations when couples add in single males. MFMs are threesomes with two men. Gangbangs are single female-multiple male encounters. Hotwifing may involved the women’s male partner present or not, but regardless of his presence, you should remember that hotwifing implicitly involve a hot husband. Generally speaking (but not always), these configurations involve you being naked with other men around, who are often naked themselves. Also, it may be interesting for you to read up a little on sperm competition so that you can understand some of the possible reasoning behind why multiple male encounters can be such a huge turn-on for men. I know a couple of single men who truly, genuinely enjoy being the third to a couple in sexual encounters; they are turned on most by experiences with couples, and thus have a lot of success in having hot encounters. They are able to explain their desires clearly and genuinely, and have ideas themselves about positions, behaviors, and activities that they want to try with a couple. There is definitely a difference between a guy that just wants to get laid and will settle for playing with a couple so he can have sex with a girl, and a guy that actually enjoys the group sex dynamic that playing with a couple (or a group) creates.

Remember you are a whole person and deserve to be treated with respect: Traditional swingers tend to focus on sexual encounters and shy away from emotional intimacy. “Progressive swingers” tend to desire some level of friendship to accompany sexual intimacy. Think about what sounds best to you, and experiment with different encounters to find the right mix of sexual and emotional intimacy for you. It is important to remember that many partnered (traditional) swingers find that swinging kicks their partnered sex life into overdrive, and so other partners they have may fulfill fantasies or desires. This can, I think, be a double-edged sword: you may find it very hot to be the single person that adds some serious heat to a couple’s sex life, and you may also feel somewhat discarded after the encounter is over. I think it is really important to know why you want to be involved in the very couple-centric swinging community, so that you are emotionally and/or mentally guarded against unintentional hurt. And remember that regardless of the situation, you deserve to ask for a sexually satisfying experience and be treated with respect.

Does anyone else have any good pointers for single men in the swinging community?

Hard To Get

I recently started Hard To Get by Leslie Bell. I have not yet finished it, and I will be sure to post an updated review once I have.

I was skeptical at first of her premise; I have heard arguments before about the mixed messages women get about independence versus interdependence within in a relationship, and how that is detrimental to young women’s success in relationships. I have been turned off by those messages, because they have seemed so black-and-white. However, I was wrong about her premise, and I am really enjoying reading it so far.

She argues that since the early 70s, women have received very mixed messages about how to explore and demonstrate their gender and sexuality due to the various waves of feminism and increasing equality of women in American culture (workplace, education, media, etc.): you can do and be anything you want to, don’t let a relationship get in the way of your education or career, stay in control of your life, you should know what you like sexually and be comfortable getting it, if you’re not married by the time you are 30 you are at risk of never getting married, have kids by 35 if you want them, etc. She contends that this has resulted in young women (and by “young women” she is referring to her study subjects, which are college educated, more liberal, less Protestant, more queer, more of color, and higher class than the national averages) being very confused about how to square their desires around sex and love. She refers to this process, which results for many women in choosing between sex and love, as splitting. It is basically a psychological process of either/or decision-making; women decide that they are able to either have heir sexual desires fulfilled or their relational desires fulfilled.

She mapped out three archetypes that stood out most among her participants: The Sexual Women, the Relational Women, and the Desiring Women. Women who were very comfortable expressing and investigating their sexual desires, but not with intimate relationships, acted as Sexual Women. Women in the reverse, who were comfortable engaging in intimate relationships but not in expressing their sexuality, acted as Relational Women. There were a small number that Bell interviewed that were able to effectively have both without splitting, and she refers to these women as Desiring Women.

I am excited to continue reading (I am really at the very beginning) and learn what she did from her participants.

Lesbian Camp?!

I don’t know how I hadn’t ever heard of Autostraddle. Thank goodness for my sister’s GF 

[and by the way, yes, she is adorable and I love her!!! And quick aside, because this story is too good:
So my mom had been freaking out for the past few weeks. All of us were going to be home for spring break, and she was having a really difficult time thinking about my sister and her GF spending the night in the same room. And yes, sis and GF stay together all the time while they are at school. My mom said to me a couple weeks ago “I think I’ll just put an air mattress down on the floor next to sis’s bed… pause pause while I don’t say anything because it was completely ridiculous… I know, I know! It’s superficial and stupid but I feel awkward!” Why? I ask. She never responded. Then, the day J and I were heading home, she tells me, as she is in the car, “Oh so you are coming tonight? Okay. We are just trying to figure out our basic arrangements. Our sleeping arrangements. Sis said she would just sleep in the living room on the couch.” Pause pause pause as I don’t say a word because I find the whole thing insane. “Well I guess we’ll just see you in a bit.” “Yep.”
We see sis and GF the next day. Apparently while they were all in the car together, my mom decides to talk to them about it. “It’s really none of my business if you have sexual relations. You can sleep in the same bed.” Bahahaha!! GF was so funny! “What is this?? The Monica Lewinsky scandal?!” Jesus. I can’t imagine having that kind of conversation with a new partner present like that. In a car. With no way to escape. In typical Dad fashion, all my Dad says during the conversational ambush is “I’m just driving!”]

ANYWAYS: Autostraddle puts on a queer women’s camp. Their third one is coming up in late May. I WANT TO GO. SO BAD. Ugh. It sounds so amazing!! Look at this agenda from a past A-Camp:

Please, oh, please??? I would love to figure out how to get myself there…