Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Honesty is Not an Ultimatum

This is fast and disorganized because I'm tired, but I'm inspired by two recent Internet interactions.

The first is this relationship thread on Reddit. Basically, a young couple has been together for 3+ years and discussed marriage. The dude told his girlfriend he wants to get engaged/married later than they'd originally planned. She responds that if their engagement/marriage timeline changed, it would hurt her feelings.

He described that as an ultimatum.


It's an ultimatum to tell a person that if they make a big, unexpected decision that changes your life, you're going to have feelings about it?!

No, it's not. That's called honesty. That's called communication.

The second is a comment reply I received. I commented (under my real name) on a blog post about women burning out from trying to do everything. It was pretty standard stuff about asking for help and learning to say no. So I commented that I'm pretty good about saying no unless Beau wants us to attend something as a couple. Basically his family (especially lately) invites us to do stuff with them all the time, often at the last minute. Our friends also invite us to parties and dinners and happy hours and whatnot. 

I said that occasionally I'll tell Beau that we can go to whatever social event he wants to attend in a weekend, but then I won't have time for sex that weekend.

It's really not that difficult to understand. In a typical weekend, we already have at least one thing on the calendar from well in advance, whether it be a party or a play or whatever. Then I need time to blog, especially if it's a weekend before or after a particularly demanding weekend. I also need time to do stuff around the house, like laundry. Add in time for daily chores (cooking, dishes), a proper amount of sleep, and sex, and the weekend is pretty full. If Beau then receives a last-minute invitation for the two of us, something has to give for us to go.

I want to be a writer. Blogging is not a hobby. I have one paid column already. My eventual goal is to quit my current job and be a full-time freelance writer. I cannot do that if I'm not writing at LEAST 3-4 days a week. My blog will not grow if I do not spend at LEAST 7 hours a week promoting it. I usually write every single day, and I usually promote 10 hours a week. I devote 20+ hours a week to my blog. I will make money from it one day, but only if I work my ass off on it.

So no, not blogging is not an option.

I also need freakish amounts of sleep. Giving up sleep is not an option.

So yeah, if Beau's family invites us to do something (which will inevitably take 3-7 hours of my day, easily) on the weekend at the last minute, then sex is not happening.

That's not an ultimatum. That's being honest with my time and my priorities, but it's also asking Beau to be accountable for his time and his priorities. 

I'm so sick of the narrative that accuses women of making ultimatums. 

Ultimatums are a two-way street. Is me saying, "We can have dinner with your parents, but then we can't have sex this weekend," an ultimatum? 

Then how would you describe the opposite, that is, "I want us to have dinner with my parents, and I want to have sex with you, so you have to give up something important to you because my needs are more important than yours."

(I hope it goes without saying that Beau is always totally understanding when I give him choices about sex, or when I tell him the parameters necessary for sex to happen).

So can we stop with the sexist bullshit assumption that anytime a woman gives a man a choice, she's giving him an ultimatum?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Extended Thoughts on Coitus and Consent

Tonight I joined director Therese Shechter for a Q&A following a screening of her kickass documentary How to Lose Your Virginity. As is often true when I answer questions regarding my thoughts on sex, virginity, and everything in-between, I always wish I could have said more. But we had limited time, and I didn't want to drone on and on with my Christian feminist bisexual former virgin wisdom. 

Luckily I have a blog, so I can expand upon a few of my points!

Healthy, Consensual Sexual Relationships

As is probably apparent in my blog, promoting consent is my feminist passion. A discussion about what is sex, what is virginity, how do I define my sexual relationships is irrelevant without first establishing consent. Consent is necessary for every step in a sexual relationship (and as I've discussed before, nonverbal consent counts), from kissing to sexy touching all the way to coitus or kink.

But the conversations that Therese and I hope to inspire regarding attitudes of the female body and female sexuality also include consent. By challenging the idea that a woman's body is not her own, that her sexuality is nonexistent, we also promote the idea that a woman must consent to sex. When women have sexual agency, consent becomes a necessary part of the conversation. 

While male virginity is not the focus on the documentary, it is an important topic under the conversation about masculinity. When masculinity is no longer tied to sexual prowess, they will be more free to pursue healthy, consensual sexual relationships.

Self-Labels and the Limitations of Language

I think it's very important to accept labels that people choose for themselves. That said, we should choose our labels carefully, and we should also acknowledge how limited they are. Prior to marriage, I used the label "virgin" to describe myself, primarily because I placed value on my decision to save coitus for marriage. Once I discovered the French phrase "demi-vièrge," I preferred to use it. 

But whatever labels work for you or for me, one label doesn't provide moral superiority. My sexual choices are NOT tied into my goodness as a person, my integrity, or my morality. (Except for the choice to ONLY engage in consensual sexual activities, obviously).

Multiple Virginities 

What's great about changing the conversation regarding virginity is the acknowledgement of all sexual milestones. Especially for LGBTQ+ people.

I married my first boyfriend. I never had a chance to have sex with a woman. In a way, I will always be demi-vièrge, because I've never had any sort of sex, by any definition (except French-kissing), with a woman. 

I know I haven't blogged much about being bisexual. It's honestly something that I'm still working through myself, especially since I'm not out to my family, Beau's family, and most of my friends. 

But my attraction to women is important to me. It is part of who I am. 

The decision to be in a monogamous relationship with Beau is important to me. Our marriage is part of who we are. 

So while demi-vièrge is an imperfect label, it continues to reflect my sexuality and my sexual choices. 

What do you want to add to the conversation about sex and virginity?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How I Used Sex Toys to Prepare for an Awesome Wedding Night

Contains Amazon Affiliate links. No, I will not know if you decide to buy the same sex toys. That data is not tracked.

If you caught me on Fusion's airing of How to Lose Your Virginity via their show "Documental," then you also had the chance to hear me describe some of the sex toys that Beau and I were using at the time. The filming of "Documental" was two months before our wedding, but Beau and I actually spent about six months with my toys to prepare for our wedding night.

So what toys did we use?

1) Clone a Willy kit
2) A set of dilators 

We actually ordered the Clone a Willy kit first. The idea was for me to slowly learn to adjust to an object approximately the same size as Beau's, um, penis.

Y'all, it's so much easier for me to describe my body and my feelings about sex than to write about Beau.

Luckily Beau had ordered the beginner's kit version which had extra plaster material, because it was really difficult to do. It took us two tries to make the dildo correctly. 

All our assembled tools to clone a willy

It was impossible not to make a mess. That is only some of the plaster that spilled everywhere.

Once it completely set, we were really excited to try it out. We started with our regular non-coital sexy routine, lots of kissing and touching and whatnot. Beau reached for the toy, positioned it, and...


You know how some people joke about "just the tip"? Yeah, we could barely get the tip in me, and even that hurt a little. Pushing more than that hurt more than I could manage, so obviously we stopped. And this was with lube.

So then I had this idea for a nesting set of dildos. Like when I explained it to my friends, I described what I wanted as nesting dolls, but dildos. I had no idea what I wanted actually existed, though, so when Beau and I went to our local sex shop, I instead looked for dildos smaller than my personalized one, but bigger than my other toys.

Y'all, the poor guy who helped us was so bewildered by our virginity, but he did suggest the dilator set for us! It was everything I wanted and more! 

The main part is a very thin vibrator. Then it comes with sleeves that attach over the vibrator, one-by-one, expanding both the width and the length. You end up with an option of four different sizes. 

The two small sizes were fine, but we spent a lot of time over our engagement working on the two big sizes. 

I've read the sex literature; I know that a vaginal corona is already elastic and expands with arousal. But I also know that every vagina-holder is different, and our vagina coronas are different. Some might need time and practice to stretch to accommodate an object like a penis.

As Hanne Blank wrote at Scarleteen:
Occasionally, women don't have imperforate hymens but do have very thick or very inflexible hymens. There is a lot more variation in types of hymens than you might think, and while some of them are so fragile that doctors can't even examine them without having them literally fall to pieces, some are so sturdy that they cause problems when women want to use tampons or have penetrative sex.

Most of the time, thick hymens can be gradually stretched by using fingers or objects that can be inserted into the vagina. Doctors sometimes prescribe vaginal insertion devices called stents, but some women bypass that and just use small dildos instead, since both accomplish the same thing. Over time, the hymenal opening gets stretched sufficiently that it no longer causes a problem.
This is actually why we started with the sex toys so early. I wanted enough time to experiment with "stretching my hymen" so that if we still had major problems, I would have enough time to see a doctor in case medical intervention was necessary. 

And it definitely took time. At first, I couldn't insert the second biggest all the way. Getting just part of it in hurt a little, and trying to go further hurt way too much to try. But eventually I was able to insert the biggest size about halfway without pain, which was slightly bigger than we needed. So then I was able to use the Beau-shaped dildo without pain, although it was easier to insert sideways. 

On our actual wedding night (technically, afternoon), we started with the kissing and the touching. We then moved to the toys, slowly, not rushing the process, making sure everything felt good for me. Once I was completely relaxed and comfortable with the toys, we then got ready for IT.

Our big moment.

The moment you've all been waiting for.


We started with me on top so I could best control the angle and the speed of entry. We moved bit by bit, pausing every 1-2 inches. On our first "pause," Beau looked up at me and grinned.

"I think we're officially no longer virgins."

I laughed. It was pretty fun!

Once I got all adjusted, we were able to move back and forth. I forget which other positions we tried that first time, but over the course of our honeymoon, I think we tried at least one new position per day. Basically we were sexperts at the end of our honeymoon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sequel* to How to Lose Your Virginity and Other News

Out of everything I've accomplished with Finding My Virginity, being a part of the amazing documentary How to Lose Your Virginity is my second-best achievement. (Supporting survivors of sexual assault and giving them a safe space to talk is my best achievement).

And so much exciting stuff will be happening in the next few days with it!!!!

"How To Lose Your Virginity" Trailer from Trixie Films on Vimeo.

If you live in New York, you're invited to a special screening of How to Lose Your Virginity, co-sponsored by Hostos Community College, Planned Parenthood of NYC, and YWCA of Brooklyn. 
When: Friday, September 12th, 6pm
Where: Hostos Community College
120 E. 149th Street, D-Bldg Savoy
2nd Floor, Multi-Purpose Room
Bronx, NY 10451
What: Film Screening and Discussion with Therese Shechter herself!
Who: Anyone is AWESOME

If you don't live in New York, don't get too sad. EVERYONE has a chance to watch the documentary AND an awesome panel discussion featuring your favorite (former) virgin on Sunday!

Fusion is airing an encore of "Documental" featuring How to Lose Your Virginity with a panel discussion featuring Therese, Ellen, and me! Find out more information here.

Rumor has it, both of these screenings will include a trailer for the documentary's sequel,* Belle & Beau Lose Their Virginity. So you definitely don't want to miss that! Check out the movie poster below!

But if you don't get the Fusion Network, and you don't live in New York, you now have the opportunity to buy a DVD copy of How to Lose Your Virginity. Host your own screening party! Eat cherries! Play Virgin Myths trivia, and see what myths still need popping. Try out the virginity tests demonstrated in the documentary. So many ideas! Beau and I actually own two DVD copies. That's how much we love Therese and her documentary.

*Joke. Obviously a joke.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Successfully Completed the Summer Book Challenge!

August was a busy book month for me. Any day now, I will have my first column published, under my own name, reviewing fairy tale books. It was supposed to go up at the end of August, but the website owner suffered a hand injury, and posted that she and her website would be out of commission for awhile. I keep checking back daily to see if my first column has been posted, but alas, not yet. So I read a few fairy tales every month now to keep that going.

On top of my fairy tales, I had four books to read by midnight on August 31st to finish the Summer Book Challenge. And I did! I finally finished The Screwtape Letters at the last minute on Sunday, not an easy feat when I was exhausted from a full day of family activities in Denver.

10 points: Read a book that was written before you were born. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (209 pages, 4 stars)

15 points: Read a book that is on The New York Times' Best Sellers List when you begin reading it. Allegiant by Veronica Roth... Hey, the trilogy is on the Children's Series list. Totally counts. (526 pages, 4 stars)
15 points:
Read a book another blogger has already read for the challenge. Insurgent by Veronica Roth... Lots of bloggers had the same idea as me and read the whole trilogy. (525 pages, 4 stars)

20 points: Read a book that was/will be adapted to film in 2014. Divergent by Veronica Roth (487 pages, 4 stars) 

With those four books, I did it! I read all the books on the original challenge, even if my selections veered off-course from my proposed reading list at the beginning of the summer.

Just a reminder that all book reviews will be posted at my new blog under my own name. Comment or email or DM me on Twitter for the link. 



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