Posts Tagged ‘sexual freedom’

In Honor of National Sexual Freedom Day

September 23, 2010  |  essays  |  1 Comment

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is hosting the first annual National Sexual Freedom Day today, and along with in person events in Washington, DC, there is a blog carnival you can participate in if you feel inspired to write about sexual rights and freedom.

The questions are: What does sexual freedom as a human right mean to you? and What legislative or social changes would you like to see to promote sexual freedom?

There are very few things we humans have in common. Our cultures clash, we speak different languages, we hold opposing values, we worship contradictory gods—but all of us have a body. All of us have a body with similar patterns, something vaguely person-shaped, with variable configurations of skin and size and style, with varying degrees of stamina and strength. We don’t all like to do the same things with our bodies, but we are all born, and we all die. We all experience the world through the confines of this corporeal flesh, these five senses, these minds, this aging process, these fascinating ways that our various systems—digestive, nervous, circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, endocrine—constantly work to maintain.

What we do with our bodies while we are here, while we have this lifetime to explore this world, is our choice. It is, in fact, our defining choice; what makes our lives truly ours.

The details are as variable as there are people on this planet—our genders, our sexualities, fashion tastes, what we do for work, what we do for fun, what sensations are enjoyable, how our senses function, what pleases our eyes or ears or mouths or fingertips. But that’s the fun part, isn’t it? That’s the part we get to make up as we go along, that’s the part that we get to change as frequently as we like, that’s the part we get to constantly be curious about and explore, every morning when we wake.

Some of us discovered young that we are sexual beings. That when we come, we tap in to energy beyond ourselves, we release through our muscles in ways that are inaccessible otherwise, we feel connected to ourselves, our lovers, the world around us.

The tantric belief is that this fire, this energy that we tap into when we are sexual is life itself, is life force itself, is not just sexual energy, but all energy. Sure, there are plenty of other ways to tap into that life force than to have sex—but for some of us, sex is the most fun, the most rewarding, the most liberating exploration or hobby that we can have.

Remember Dedee in the 1998 film The Opposite of Sex: “It was clever of God or evolution or whatever to hook the survival of the species to [sex], because we’re gonna screw around.” Screwing around is hardwired in these bodies of ours, especially when our hormones get going. That’s what our bodies crave, want, desire. I’m beginning to think that using sex to sell all that advertising isn’t solely as nasty or manipulative as the feminist theory says it is. Yes, this culture uses sex to sell irrelevant things, but there’s something else underneath that: everything really is about sex.

And for some of us, for me, for example, when I’m not having it, I think about it constantly. I want to know where it’ll happen next, who it will be with. I obsess, I write, I think. I crave the release that my body and mind goes through when relating to another person—another body—that way. I crave someone who is particularly aligned to my orientation so that we can fit together like puzzle pieces and start lifting each other up, taking each other higher, pushing each other’s boundaries, making it safe to do things and explore things that we haven’t otherwise done before, or perhaps that we have, but want to do again.

That’s where the body comes in: when we can strip away all of the crap that culture shoves on us about sex, all of the conflicting messages, all of the virgin/whore dichotomies, all of the macho masculinity size-king bullshit, all of the shame and guilt for our desires, we can start listening to our bodies, really listening, to what bubbles up from inside. What would feel good right now? Full body rope bondage? A Whartenberg wheel? Melting wax dripped all over your back? A really good, hard fucking, just taking your body, using it, with disregard to your pleasure? Impulsive, public displays of affection? Kissing, and more kissing, and more kissing?

What does your body crave?

I think most of us can barely answer this question honestly. Most of us would have to dig through too many layers of shame and symbols and bravado and performance to get down to what we are really craving, what we really desire, what our bodies are truly asking for.

To be able to get down to that craving, then to articulate that craving, then to have someone we could safely confide in about that craving, then to actually play with that craving—that is sexual freedom.

It could be as simple as knowing that my body is asking for a glass of water, or knowing that it’s time to rest, or it could be as complex as a type of relationship, or the physical location on the planet where I build my home. There are dozens of things related to our inabilities to listen to our bodies deepest desires, and yet so much of what keeps us from that skill is sexual shame.

What change would I like to see come of this? I would like to see people listening to their bodies. There is no way to put that through legislation, exactly. Perhaps there are more round-about ways, and for that I admire politicians who are capable of speaking the languages of government and instating laws of protection and celebration.

But the rest of us …

I think we need to keep listening, way down deep, letting desires bubble up, and practice speaking them aloud, or at least saying them to ourselves, writing them down. I want to see us all making choices which honor our unique experiences and move our bodies down the paths of our lives with less violence, less shame, less fear, less confusion, less suffering. I want to see us celebrating the deep knowing of who we are, where we’ve come from, where we’re going, who we are walking the paths with. I want to see us learn from BDSM groups and teachings about body safety, playing safely, teachings like Safe Sane Consensual or Risk Aware Consensual Kink. I want to see us learn from feminist theory about the sexualization of little girls and the commodification of women and the belittling of the power of our sexualities. I want to see us learn from trans and genderqueer communities about what is “real” and what is constructed, and keep unraveling what it means to be a human being in this world.

There has been much change in the past ten years since I’ve been heavily involved in sexual activism and studying my own culture, trying to explain the reasons so many of us are so messed up about our bodies and about our sexualities. I know there’s more change to come, and I believe this work, organizing National Sexual Freedom Day or writing online about sex and gender or exploring some new toys to enhance your own sexual play or becoming curious about your own body’s inner desires all comes down to the tiniest of moments, the tiniest of changes, in listing to oneself, and taking one’s inner wishes seriously.

What say you, folks? What does sexual freedom as a human right mean to you?

Visions of Sexual Freedom

December 7, 2009  |  miscellany  |  10 Comments

Need a fabulous gift this holiday season? Don’t know what to get your (least) favorite boss or your Grandma? Well! Here ya go: the New York City Sex Blogger 2010 Calendar: Visions of Sexual Freedom.

You’re welcome.

This year’s calendar features 16 bloggers, including myself, Audacia Ray, Calico Lane, Abiola Abrams, Jamye Waxman, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Melissa Gira Grant, Elizabeth Wood, and plenty of other hot pinups, and benefits Sex Work Awareness, a fantastic non-profit organization that puts on the annual Speak Up! media training workshop.

This year, I was photographed with Audacia Ray by Amanda Morgan and featured in April – which has my birthday, Sugarbutch’s inception date, and Dacia’s birthday.

ss_cal
Me, my photo in this year’s calendar with Audacia Ray (photographed by Amanda Morgan), and Kristen (and her amazing princess dress) at the Sex Blogger Calendar Party in New York City. Photo by Nick McGlynn (thanks!), more photos from him in this set.

The theme for this calendar was “SEXUAL FREEDOM,” and while Dacia and I were discussing what to do, we both were inspired to feature something very New York-y, since New York has been a big part of sexual awakening for both of us. I moved here almost five years ago now, and my sex life and sexuality has changed significantly since I did.

We talked about iconic photographs and couples that we could imitate or reproduce, and eventually settled on the famous shot of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square. Amanda was totally game for it (though she insisted that we shoot early in the day so we’d have the best light), I hunted down a sailor suit, Dacia queered up her nurse outfit, and voila, there’s the shot.

Vj_day_kissThe original photograph, V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was taken just after the radio announcement that World War II was over – that the US had “Victory over Japan” – on August 14, 1945. This is a significant time period particularly for queers in the US, as World War II brought people massively congregating in coastal cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. For the first time in US history, more people lived in urban environments than in rural environments, and suddenly, queers were finding dozens, hundreds of others like us. This led to those sudden “oh my god I’m not alone” revelation moments, the increasing recognition of the systematic marginalization of us because of our sexuality, and, ultimately, activist organization and the birth of the gay rights movement!

Post-WWII and the subsequent activist movements – like the second wave of feminism – also gave rise to all sorts of new sexual activism, which is absolutely the root of the work I do today. Safe sex, STI information, sexual health, sexual choice, sexual advocacy, sexual agency, ability to have control over how many children we have and how far apart they are, birth control, knowledge, BDSM skills, gender theory, power theory … all of that is built upon earlier movements. And all of those movements, and their intersections, allowed me a significant study of gender and sexuality that has lead me here, to Sugarbutch, and to the 2010 New York City Sex Blogger Calendar.

I bet you can think of a couple people on your holiday list who have been nice enough to get a gift like this calendar, hmmmm?

All proceeds from the calendar, don’t forget, go to Sex Work Awareness which puts on the annual Speak Up! media training workshop. Help support the efforts of this wonderful and much-needed organization through the purchase of a calendar!

Calendars ship upon order and cost $20 a piece plus $3.25 for shipping. And – as a special holiday bonus – through the holiday season, when you buy the 2010 Sex Blogger Calendar you will also get a free MP4 download of the 25 minute director’s cut of Audacia Ray’s film Dacia’s Love Machine, which debuted last year in Berlin. (Link to download will be provided on checkout.)

Sexual Autonomy & Freedom

January 23, 2009  |  essays  |  15 Comments

Written for the 15th Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom & Autonomy. Thoughts in response and reflection to my own call for contributions.

Let me say this: I don’t think, in this culture which vilifies sex and punishes especially female sexuality, that I will ever be “done” reaching my own space of sexual freedom and autonomy. It is probably an endless task, a lifetime battle.

Let me also say this: I have crawled up out of shame by my bloodied fingers and I am not going back. I stand on my own two legs, strong-cunted, and I am not going back. I drive the engine of my body hard, glide it through passageways I have previously thought unnavigatable, and I am not going back.

Maybe ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is freedom.

I would not have had the sexual awakening I’ve had if it wasn’t for feminism: the feminist health movement, the theories of consciousness raising, the lesbian sex wars of the 80s that produced porn and smut and BDSM with theories of liberation at their roots.

I am so grateful for all the things that have contributed to my gaining of sexual autonomy and freedom, to my sexual awakening. Nancy Friday’s book My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies. My high school boyfriend telling me kink was great and fun and he respected me, too. Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio and Cunt Coloring Book by Tea Corrine and Femalia and Nothing But The Girl; The Blatant Lesbian Image and the entire series of Best Lesbian Erotica (especially 1998). Kitty Tsui and that one scene in Breathless with a knife. S.I.R. Video and Hard Love / How to Fuck In High Heels and Sugar High Glitter City. Babeland, which taught me more than I thought there was to know. Body Electric, which woke me up to my own power, and still does. The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book. The Ethical Slut, which changed how I see relationships. Pink & White, which finally made porn I wanted to own and watch over and over again. My academic studies and my degree in women studies which taught me how social change works. Dan Savage and Savage Love.

The fucking INTERNET. From BBSs to chatrooms to the web to Wiki After Dark to Scarleteen to RAINN to the amazing sexblog communities. The connection to marginalized community despite distance and fear.

Let me say this: I don’t know how any woman grows up and develops her sexual autonomy and freedom, let alone a queer woman, let alone a genderqueer butch or femme. These are not things that are built into us, no matter how progressive our families, no matter how much our parents loved us. There are so many layers to the damage, and the length of the legacy is long and wide, the depth of those wounds are long and wide.

Let me also say this: for me, the first step had to be seeing those wounds, recognizing the damage. By beginning to feel what a “healthy sexuality” (uh, whatever that is) felt like in my body, I could more easily differentiate between the damage and the strength. And I learned to use erotic energy to heal those places in me still reeling, still healing.

Why do you think gender dynamics are so erotically charged for me? I was damaged as a girl. As a girl, I was damaged. And I don’t mean “I was abused when I was young” but rather, that this culture hurt my girlhood. That’s why I turned to feminism as soon as I began to understand the power of social conditioning and gender roles: to learn how to undo the damage.

And why do you think I love femmes something fierce? Our wounds run parallel. We are the same, but opposite; opposing, complimentary, full of traction and friction when we rub against each other. Lay your wounds here next to mine, they fill and warm and comfort each other.

Why is gender so erotically charged for me? Because it has been the site of so much discomfort, so much damage. Not just for me: for my friends and lovers, for my sisters, for my parents, for the one boy I ever slept with, for our collective unconscious. So when I take it and corral it and tame it, when I become the Gender Whisperer and see the thoughts in its head despite our different languages, when I learn its language and teach it mine, I become strong. I take the lead. I win.

I know, I’m supposed to be writing about sexual autonomy and freedom – so let me tell you this: I cannot untangle gender from sex from power. They are all the spiraling sugar-phosphate backbone in the DNA of my sexuality, and it wasn’t until I unlocked my gender that my sexual liberation truly lived in my body, that my sexuality was truly realized and in practice. It wasn’t until I had a cock – no: it wasn’t until I had a girl who knew what to do with my cock.

My gender is the language of my desire, my attraction. The ways I communicate physically.

Say gender is a drag, but also say this: I wasn’t me until I discovered my own gendered space. Butch – but not just butch, high butch – but not just high butch, capital-H High capital-B Butch. My body has never made as much sense as it does, now, in button-downs and ties, in sweater vests and cufflinks, hell, even tee shirts and jeans feel right now that I buy them in the department that cuts them to fit my body, square, even lines, corners, dark colors.

It’s not that I want society at large to treat me as male. It’s not that when I put on men’s clothes, I liked the way I was subsequently treated differently – though I was. But the difference was greater than that: I gained autonomy. I gained agency. I gained my own voice, my own stride, my own body, my own control. And I love the disconnect that most people see – female body, masculine presentation – I love witnessing the subtle struggle of random passers-by.

Just by living in the world, walking down the street, I set out a challenge. I work hard to make this masculinity, this presentation, an acceptable way for a woman to live.

Say gender is constructed, but also say this: something in me lines up and sees clearly when I get to express myself just the way I want to. I know how to deconstruct – I know how to break down and examine and look from various angles and research and consciousness-raise and bounce ideas around. And I’m learning how to construct, how to create, how to make myself anew from the inside, all the way out.

Call for Contributions: Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom & Autonomy

January 12, 2009  |  essays  |  11 Comments

The Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy, edition #14 is up at Silent Porn Star, and Sugarbutch is hosting the next Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy, edition #15, here. That means, I am on the lookout for links about sexual freedom and autonomy. Email them to me to submit your site to the upcoming Carnival, which will be posted - here! - on Monday, January 26th. That gives you almost TWO WEEKS! to write something. Get crackin'!

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