Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Let's Talk About (Married) Sex, Baby!

Beau and I have been married almost nine months already. It feels like we've been married forever, but our wedding also feels like just yesterday.

Married sex has been great. I'm a huge fan of coitus!

I've definitely learned a few things, though, that no one tells you when you're saving sex for marriage. 


Dry spells are normal and okay.


When you save sex for marriage, regardless if you save coitus like we did or save all sexual activity for marriage, the common narrative is that married sex will be very frequent. At the very least, it will be frequent prior to kids.

No one talks about dry spells. 

No one even defines dry spells.

For Beau and me, a dry spell is going more than 8 or 9 days without sex. We usually have coitus at least once a week. Due to recent travel and illness, we just had our longest dry spell of about two weeks. And that's okay! It's not ideal, but it's okay. It's not indicative of a problem in our relationship. It's not a permanent status. It's a dry spell, and we got over it.

For other couples, sex frequency will vary greatly. A dry spell might be a month without sex, or it might be more than 3 days without sex.

Engaging in premarital sexual activity doesn't diminish how special married sex can be.


Obviously, Beau and I saved coitus for marriage, but we engaged in other premarital sexual activity. I believe sexual purity is bullshit, but most people waiting for marriage think it has some sort of merit.

Every time Beau and I have coitus, I'm amazed that we're married and having married sex. Even though we did fun naked stuff prior to marriage, it doesn't make our married sex life less special. Even when we don't have coitus, and we do the non-sex sex like before, it's still different because this time, we're married. 

Sometimes seduction isn't necessary.


Yeah, it's nice when Beau wakes me up on a Saturday morning with sexy cuddles, rubbing my back and playing with my hair. It's nice when we take a hot bath together with wine or hot tea and exchange massages. 

But sometimes I'm like, "Hey, wanna have sex?" And he's like, "Okay." We strip down and hop into bed and start making out. 

There's definitely more that we've learned together, but these three points are things I noticed missing in conversations about saving sex for marriage. 

If you're married, what surprised you about your sex life? Leave me a comment!

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.

What.
The.
Fuck.

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...

Nope.

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.

COITUS! 

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. 

 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Virgin Myths: Popping Her Cherry?


I am so incredibly glad that I started blogging about virginity more than three years ago. I started writing about virginity because I wanted to share my story as an intentional virgin, to clear up some misconceptions about virgins, and to let other virgins know they weren't alone. 

But part of my writing process has been a learning process. And if I hadn't spent the last three years reading everything I possibly could about virginity, I might not have discovered one very important fact:

Penetrative sex, or PIV sex, or coitus, is not supposed to hurt. Even the first time a person's vagina experiences penetration (commonly referred to as virginity loss) is not supposed to hurt. 

There is no "cherry popping." 

The hymen (vaginal corona) doesn't break.

If I hadn't spent so much time reading up on virginity and first-time coitus, I would have just accepted the cultural narrative that my wedding day sex would be painful. Instead, I was able to prepare for the first time Beau and I had coitus, to guarantee that our married sex would be awesome (or at least pain-free) the first time. 

If a woman* bleeds or experiences pain during intercourse, one of three issues are at play.

1) She is not properly aroused
2) Her partner is too forceful
3) She has vaginismus

"Vaginismus is vaginal tightness causing discomfort, burning, pain, penetration problems, or complete inability to have intercourse."

I've never had problems using tampons, and I did have that one visit at Planned Parenthood several years ago, so I was pretty sure I didn't have vaginismus. Beau and I focused on the other potential causes for pain in order to avoid it. Long story short, we used lots of lube, and I was on top so I could control both the angle and speed of entry.

So coital virgins, listen up! You are not supposed to experience pain during penetration. Your partner is not supposed to experience pain during penetration. Whenever you decide to engage in coitus for the first time, whether it's a one-night stand or your wedding night, be prepared! Take things slowly, enjoy other fun things first like kissing and touching, and use lots of lube. 

Are women supposed to bleed the first time they have intercourse?

NOPE!

MYTH POPPED! 

I know this post was a little on the technical side. Posts explaining my feelings about wedding day sex, and describing more in detail what toys helped us prepare for it, are coming up.

*I refer to women here because the cultural narrative is about cisgender women with vaginas. I know that transgender men can have vaginas too.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Shoutouts: Great Feminist Reads

I thought my double life was hard before, but keeping up two blogs and working on blog promotion is HARD. These are all the accounts that I have double:

Blog
Twitter
Tumblr
Pinterest
Google+
Facebook (my personal account and my page for Finding My Virginity)

So, yeah. I spend a lot of time online.


Here's the best of the Internet from this past week!

Oklahoma! and the missing stair by Dani Kelley: I haven't seen the musical Oklahoma! in a really long time, but I'm not surprised that older works of literature are problematic. Dani has written a great analysis of the misogyny and male entitlement in Oklahoma!

Comic about sexual harassment: I love this comic that breaks down what sexual harassment looks like and why men might not notice it.

Great series on Modesty Culture: I've only read one post so far, but I'm very impressed by this detailed series critiquing all the aspects of Modesty Culture. The one post I read addresses the poor definition of lust


What did you read last week?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Don't Have Sex with My Husband Every Night (and That's Okay)

Beau and I have been married a little over four months now. Yes, we are definitely still newlyweds, and since we saved coitus for marriage--and didn't live together until four weeks before our wedding--our marital bed is still very new and exciting for us. 

But even with the newness of it all, and no pregnancies messing with my hormones or babies zapping us of energy, we still don't have sex every single night. If I had to guess, I'd say we average 3-4 times a week. While Beau has a higher libido than I do, I initiate about 40% of the time, and I only turn him down if I'm sick, exhausted, or libido-less in the middle of my period. It's safe to say we're both pretty satisfied with our sex life.

That said, a blog post gone viral on the Huffington Post suggests our sex life is sub-par because we're not going at it every single night. And the writer does so by invoking some tired, sexist stereotypes. 

  1. "Being a mother, one of the ultimate expressions of womanhood, can often leave a girl feeling stripped of her femininity." I'm 27, happily childless at the moment, and I'm very much a woman. Being a mother is NOT the ultimate expression of womanhood. Most people don't say that being a father is one of the ultimate expressions of manhood, so why do we still insist upon the opposite? Furthermore, even on days when I do feel less feminine than I'd like, sex with Beau doesn't suddenly make me "feel like a woman." Sex with my husband is a wonderful and intimate thing that's both carnal and emotional at the same time, but it doesn't really change how feminine I feel. Silly things make me feel feminine, like wearing pearls or putting on lip gloss or giggling with my girlfriends. I don't need to have sex with my husband every night to remember that I'm a woman.
  2. "If you want your husband to act like a man, you need to treat him like a man... Women need any number of criteria met to feel loved. Men are far simpler. They need to be fed, they need to be appreciated, and they need to have sex. That is it. Really." Are you fucking kidding me? For all the whining and moaning that sexist men do about feminists, women like this are treating men like a step above cavemen. Personally, I feel incredibly loved when Beau cooks for me, like when he made us breakfast both Saturday AND Sunday this past weekend, and I hope he feels the same when I cook for him. But I'm not the only one who needs a little more than food, appreciation, and sex. We both need emotional support in our careers, we both need non-sexual physical affection, we both need time with our friends and families, we both need time separate from each other! Having sex with my husband every single night will not make him feel like more of a man. Treating him like a human being with complex emotions and needs, however, does help him feel like a man.
  3. "You need to have a moment in each day that is just about the two of you." I agree with this sentiment. I love that Beau kisses me each morning before he leaves for work. I love IMing throughout the day about nothing and everything. I love watching Star Trek together. I love cuddling before bed. We have many moments that are just about the two of us--special moments don't have to be sex.
  4. "Sex relieves stress." Uh, if you're in the mood to have sex, and thus properly aroused, sure, sex relieves stress. If you really don't feel like having sex, and thus can't relax your muscles enough to enjoy sex, it can be painful and the exact opposite of stress relief. While I certainly enjoy sex with Beau even if it's not a huge priority to me, sex is WAY better for me when I initiate or when we mutually initiate. If I'm really in the mood for sex, penetration can happen sooner, we can try multiple positions, I enjoy a longer duration of sex, and I'm basically guaranteed an awesome orgasm. I've never had sex when I really didn't want to, because my husband treats me like his beloved wife and not a blow-up sex toy, but I have had it when I was ambivalent about it. I still end up enjoying it, but it takes me a lot longer to be sufficiently aroused for penetration, and I'm sometimes too tired for more than two positions. I can't imagine how awful sex would be if I was really uninterested. 
  5. "It is so much blasted fun... But tell a girl to have sex every night and she looks at you like you are crazy, An orgasm? Every night?" Again. Going back to #4. I don't have an orgasm every time I have sex. I don't know any woman who has an orgasm every single time she has sex, especially if she's having it when she really isn't in the mood.  
Tell me fellow married friends. Do you have sex with your spouse every single night? Or have you found a frequency that's a little less often, but more suitable to you two as a couple?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Shoutouts: Too Tipsy for a Title

Beau made me breakfast yesterday. And today. He also made us dinner tonight. I had a big glass of wine. I'm thinking about a second glass of wine. I am tipsy.


Choosing to be a father instead of a CEO: So this dude just stepped down from his CEO position because he wants to spend more time with his kids. And he totally calls out everyone for asking female CEOs or his wife how they "do it all," even though he was never asked that.

If Men Were Women: This video reverses gender roles to point out how totally ridiculous and/or disheartening the reality of women's lives can be.

Breastfeeding and Weaning: I really love what Jessica wrote about the weaning process for the most adorable girl on the Internet, aka her daughter Julia. I think it's important that mothers are honest about their parenting experiences, especially with something that can be unnecessarily controversial, like breastfeeding. I love how honest Jess has been first as an expecting mother, then as a SAHM, and now as both!!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer 2014 Book Challenge: Three Months Down, One Month to Go!

Post contains Amazon Affiliate links.


I did not do nearly so well with my reading in July as I did in May and in June.

This month I need to hustle and read four books if I want to complete the Summer 2014 Book Challenge

Here is what I did manage to read last month.


             
 
25 points: Read a book written by a blogger.  
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey (201 pages, 5 stars)

25 points: Read a biography, autobiography or memoir.
 
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (222 pages, 4 stars)

This month I will read the entire Divergent trilogy, which should count towards a book read by another blogger for this challenge, a book being made into a movie, and a book on the NYT bestseller list. Then I just have to find a book written before 1987 that I want to read!


I also want to take a moment to thank all of you for your overwhelmingly kind and supportive response to my three-year blogoversary and announced changes. Book reviews will be posted at my new blog, and I also live-tweeted Jesus Feminist because reading it just inspired me so much. Please continue to comment or email me or DM me on Twitter if you'd like my new blog url and personal Twitter handle.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Three Years--I Can't Believe It!

Three years ago today, I started writing Confessions of a Virgin, known today as Finding My Virginity.

I didn't have much in mind except to challenge stereotypes about virgins. I figured I could lure readers in with provocative pictures and honest, titillating stories of my past. And then be like BAM, I'm saving sex for marriage, WHAT THEN?!

And while I've certainly managed to show off pictures of my cleavage and write a series on virginity myths, writing this blog has changed me more than I ever could have predicted. I mean, I started this blog with the intention of changing other people. I had no idea that I needed to change my own ideas of virginity.

Like Therese from How to Lose Your Virginity says,

What if all we had to lose were our virginity myths?

This blog inadvertently chronicled my entire relationship with Beau, from dating to becoming "official," from saying "I love you" to mutually sharing our first fellatio experience, from being long-distance to getting married.

And as our physical relationship has grown, always completely entwined with our romantic relationship, I learned to challenge my own ideas of virginity.

Can I have a heteronormative definition of virginity, even though I'm bisexual?

Why was saving coitus for marriage the right choice? It definitely was the right choice for us, but why did we call our pre-coital sexual status virginity?

Will I ever be honest about my personal definition of virginity and "waiting til marriage" outside of my anonymous identity?

Can I ever come out to my family and friends from high school/college as bisexual? 

I don't know the answers to all these questions, but I'm ready to start exploring them.

I'm ready to share how Beau and I prepared for a painless wedding day.

I'm ready to reveal how wedding day sex changed me--and didn't change me.

But I'm also ready to be a better advocate for Christian feminism, under my own name.

Confession: I've been blogging under my own name for almost a month now.

I have a fancy self-hosted WordPress blog, with an SEO plugin to help me focus on keywords, and a ridiculous quantity of good pictures with my watermark, and a social sharing plugin to help me cross-promote, and a consistent photo across all forms of social media.

If anyone noticed the decrease in blog posts for the month of July--this is the 8th--after six months of 11-14 posts a month, well, now you know why. I've written eight posts under my own name this month, with all the bells and whistles that a blog needs to stand out. 

Because while I'm ready to talk to y'all more about sex and virginity, I've also discovered how much I like the "lifestyle" posts. And I've really really not enjoyed keeping my location anonymous. My new blog already has four location-specific blog posts about what Beau and I have done this summer. 

So while I plan to write more here about the big stuff, I will also be writing less about the little stuff. 

Book reviews will be at my new blog, although I'll finish my Summer Challenge updates here. After all, I will debut my first paid column next month, and it's a monthly column reviewing books. I want a blog to back that up.

Feminist posts that are NOT about virginity/sex, consent, and/or rape culture will be at my new blog. Mainly, I will no longer feature posts about Christian feminism here. 

This blog will no longer include travel posts, either about trips Beau and I take in the future, or about my past trips to France.

While I love the expanded writing that I've done, and I love that my devoted readers have accepted non-virginal topics, I want this blog to return to its original subject. More or less, at least. 

Over the next six months, I will also slowly remove old posts that are better suited for my new blog. I will then edit/revise them and post them under my real name.

Even though I will be writing here less, and the writing will be more focused, I want to share my life with my blogging friends. I've been so blessed to befriend bloggers across the globe, and I want to take y'all with me! 

I want y'all to know my real name, and where I live, and where I'm from. I want y'all to know Beau's real name, and the names of our friends, and what other people in our lives look like. I want to stop hiding so much of my life from people I've grown to love, my friends, even if we haven't met in "real life."

So while I won't post a link to my new blog here, I will give it freely to (most) people who email me or DM on Twitter to ask for it. A few blogging friends already follow my personal Twitter, and I'd like to extend that invitation to more.

I just ask that you continue to keep this half of my life anonymous-ish. If you're talking to me as Belle, don't use my real name or location. If this sounds paranoid... well, you'll understand when you learn my name. I need to keep a clear Google history for now, since my job is in digital marketing.

Thank you for being with me for three years. I hope that my announced changes will not lose me any readers. I appreciate the love and encouragement I've received these past three years, and I hope y'all will continue to support me as the direction of my blog refocuses to its original intent.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Shoutouts: All Things Nerdy

My life is always nerdy, but somehow I ended up reading a lot of nerdy stuff this week.


Harry Potter: Batty Mamzelle asked some interesting questions she had while rereading the first two Harry Potter books. Is the answer to everything, "Well, it's magic, so there"?

Historical Fashion: I totally reblogged this look at overlapping historical time periods and their respective fashions. Mad props to the blogger who added artwork and photos of women of color to the original piece.  

Book-Inspired Fashion: I would like all of these, please. But seriously, who doesn't want cute jewelry about books?!

Book Recommendations: Molly at Smart, Pretty, and Awkward has compiled all of her book recommendations into one list!

What did you read this week?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

5 Things You Should Never Say to a New Bride


Today I've been married for four months and one day, which is pretty exciting! Every day, I feel so blessed to call Beau my husband. I know we're only newlyweds, but we've already weathered a few storms together. Marriage has been amazing, and I look forward to our lifetime together.

That said, I still receive a few comments that range from annoying to infuriating, and I have a feeling I'm not the only bride who has to endure them. So to all well-meaning family members and nosy busybodies, here are a few things you should NOT tell a new bride.

Now that you're married, you don't have to work if you don't want to!

You're kidding, right? Like, I realize my husband has a great job and could support both of us, but I happily supported myself before we got married. I might not earn much money right now, but leaving the workforce to be a housewife would be hugely detrimental to my future earnings potential. I like working. I like having a job. I realize my career choices are no longer entirely my own, but I wouldn't give up working just because my husband earns a lot of money. And if I DID, that's no one else's business but ours.

Your husband is so sweet. You'd better be nice to him.

Yes, please cast me in the role of the evil, nagging wife who is so mean to her perfect, patient husband. These comments are never said jokingly. I literally have people checking in on me to make sure I'm nice to my husband. Um, he married me, so my personality must be okay.

I'm going to call you by your husband's last name because I'm old-fashioned and don't care about your specifically expressed preferences. 

Some thank-you notes have been signed with my full name. All return address labels have both mine and Beau's first and last names.

Have you fixed all of your husband's bad habits yet? 

Stop acting like my husband is a child, unless we're talking about how he and I are adorable and child-like. I am allowed to complain about his tendency to leave laundry everywhere, which is basically the only bad habit I've complained about since we moved in together. No one else gets to judge his life choices AND THEN expect me to fix them to meet your stupid expectations.

When are you having children?

WE'VE BEEN MARRIED FOR FOUR MONTHS. And the vast majority of people know that we saved coitus for marriage, AND we didn't move in together until four weeks before the wedding. Like, can we please be newlyweds for a little bit before you hound us about children? Not to mention this is SUPER-HURTFUL if a couple is dealing with infertility. It's 2014, and people still think it's okay to essentially ask if we're having unprotected sex. Think about it. If you ask me when we're having kids, you're asking me when I want to have unprotected sex with my husband. None of your damn business. 

Fellow brides (and grooms!), what have people said to you that irritated or infuriated you? Let me know in the comments!
Linking up with Nancy J, Meredith, and Mary for Wedding Wednesday! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Shoutouts: Yes, I Know I'm Beautiful

Married life is keeping me busy! Almost too busy to blog, but I also spent a fair amount of time working on some paid writing this past week. 
Biggest Conversation-Starter: I read this great article last week called "What Happened When We Gave Our Daughter My Last Name." I shared it to my personal Facebook page, which sparked a great conversation. The biggest takeaway is that naming children should be a discussion, not an assumption. 

Best Criticism of Musical Tropes: I've been saying for YEARS that I'm sick and tired of pop romance songs saying that girls are beautiful, but don't know it. And their not knowing it makes them more beautiful. I'm not arrogant. I don't think I'm some supermodel. But I know that I'm pretty. How does that somehow make me less pretty?

Best on Gaslighting: Stop calling women crazy. Seriously. Just because you disagree with us, or dislike what we have to say, does NOT mean we're crazy. 

What did you read last week?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Mentions: Oops, I was Busy This Weekend

I feel pulled in a million different directions, and posting regularly is not at the top of my priorities. I love my blog, and I love my readers, but I'm also trying to figure out marriage, and make new friends, and keep up with my old friends, and enjoy the summer, and read books, and talk to my mom regularly, and organize meals for her, my dad, and younger brother long-distance (why my brother isn't doing this I DON'T KNOW).

That said, I did read stuff on the Internet last week. So I might be late with Sunday Shoutouts, but at least I can do some Monday Mentions. Here's the best of what I've read since last week!


Happy Bastille Day: For grammar nerds, knowing when to use "tu" and when to use "vous" is a nightmare. This handy chart explains the tricky nuances!

Most Uncomfortable Juxtaposition: As an awareness campaign for intimate partner violence, an artist rendered Disney princesses as women physically abused by their significant others. If the wording of any of that is weird to you, that's because I don't like the phrases "domestic violence" and "battered women." 

Best Historical Figure: So I've started following a tumblr on "Rejected Disney Princesses." I love this post which details all the evil things one countess did... And then provides the argument that it was all a smear campaign. I love history!

To keep up with everything I read online, follow me on Twitter, LIKE me on Facebook, and follow me on Tumblr.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Liebster Award

Writing a weekly Wedding Wednesday post has proven to be very difficult, so I set a goal of blogging about wedding stuff every other week. Except sometimes that is not easy either.

BUT I was recently nominated by Emily at Southern Expectations for a Liebster Award. Being the clever cat that I am, I'm killing two birds with one stone. 

RULES
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 2. Answer the questions that the nominator has set for you, plus create 11 questions for the  people you've nominated to answer. 3. Choose 11 people (with 200 followers of less) and link them in your post. 4. Go to their page and tell them. 5. No tag backs!
 
11 Facts About My Wedding
 
  1. We chose our wedding date based on my younger brother's college spring break.
  2. Beau and I appeared in a local TV news segment two nights before our wedding, discussing why the church and its food pantry should be saved from new zoning laws.
  3. I was sick on our wedding night.
  4. Luckily our wedding was in the morning, so we had married sex in the afternoon before I got sick.
  5. I intentionally chose a morning wedding because I wanted both a champagne brunch afterwards and more time for married sex.
  6. Our "first look" was pretty anti-climatic because Beau is not a crier. 
    This was faked, remember?
  7. My younger brother got ordained on the Internet and co-led the service with the church's actual minister. 
  8. My twin brother proposed to his fiancée before Beau and I got engaged, but their wedding isn't until October. 
  9. I didn't have a bridal party because I didn't want to choose a Maid of Honor. Or bridesmaids. 
  10. Not having a bridal party led to my idea of only having parents and siblings at the wedding itself. 
  11. Having coitus for the first time did not hurt. It actually felt pretty awesome. 
11 Answers to 11 Questions
 
1. What is your favorite part of blogging? Meeting new people and exchanging ideas!

2. If you could move to any country in the world, where would it be? France, bien sûr!

3. Favorite 'adult' beverage? Sparkling wine.

4. Favorite hobby? Writing.

5. If you could have a super power, what would it be and why? Telekinesis because I could save people from getting crushed by heavy stuff and because I wouldn't have to get out of bed to get food or drink.

6. What does your last text message say? Who was it from? My husband texted me about his sweet hotel suite.

7. What is your idea of a perfect date night? Date Night In: pizza and/or boneless wings, beer, Star Trek, sex, cuddles, sleep. Date Night Out: Zoo trip followed by hibachi for dinner.

8. Favorite food/foods? Candy. Cereal. Chips. Bacon. Pizza. Boneless wings. 

9. You have just one 1 million dollars, you have 24 hours to spend it, what do you do with the money? Book a private jet for me, my family, and my friends to Paris! Shopping spree for everyone, freely flowing champagne (real champagne), and gourmet meals.

10. Best 4th of July Memory? Spending the 4th with my best friend Rose, her grandparents, and her great-aunts. Rose made us all dinner, and then we went to the neighborhood fireworks show. Afterward, Rose and I watched Beauty and the Beast while I drank white wine from a light-up wine glass, and she drank scotch. 

11. Coffee or Tea? Tea!

Thanks for the nomination, Emily! This is my third nomination for the Liebster Award (see previous awards HERE and HERE), so I'm following my friend Dana's lead and not tagging anyone else.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Shoutouts is Back... for Now

This is my first Sunday Shoutouts post since my mom was diagnosed with cancer. While I've still somehow managed to keep my blog going amidst all the craziness, I have spent considerably less time reading the writing of others online. But I've slowly gotten back into my routines, which include reading the best of the Internet.

Shit People Say to Adult Virgins: Whenever I link to a post in GroupThink, I feel obliged to point out that it is a forum of Jezebel, the Gawker Media site. The writers there are not professional. We are not paid. Sometimes we just happen to write stuff that is really good, so an actual paid writer for Jezebel chooses to share it. I say this only because some of the criticisms lobbed at posts on GroupThink are based on the inaccurate idea that GroupThink writers are paid by Gawker Media.

With that long caveat, I loved this post! I definitely heard my fair share of these comments before I started dating Beau, and I was only 24 when we started dating. I imagine the irritating and presumptuous comments only get worse as a person ages and still maintains a virginal status.

Image credit Carol Rossetti
18 Empowering Illustrations: I had actually seen two or three of these before, but seeing so many of these drawings together is truly inspiring. Graphic designer Carol Rossetti created these amazing illustrations of different kinds of women and the empowered choices they make.

Make Me an Internet Meme: For the month of July, you can stream the amazing documentary How to Lose Your Virginity for only $4.99! Part of the promotion includes some cool gifs from the film's highlights, including some truly hilarious statements by Beau

What have you read this week?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer 2014 Book Challenge: Two Months Down!

It's a little surreal how fast summer is going by. But I guess when you spend most of May freaking out because your mom has cancer, and you spend all of June celebrating your birthday except for that time you ended up in the ER... time flies?

But at least I've read several good books, and I feel very confident that I will finish the challenge in time, if not early! I read three books in the month of June, including the book I just finished today. This time, I deviated slightly from my original proposed reading list that I shared at the beginning of the challenge.

10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn't finish the first time around. Maphead by Ken Jennings (276 pages, 4 stars)

15 points: Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe. Lucky Us by Amy Bloom (256 pages, 4 stars, review here)

30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the titles. American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics by Dan Savage (312 pages, 4 stars, review here) Note: the points are for two books and include A is for Abstinence by Kelly Oram, which I read in May.

Previous points: 35


Total points: 90

Also, a big FELICITATIONS to the winner of Lucky Us by Amy Bloom. Michelle, you are the LUCKY winner. Check your inbox for an email from me.


What have you read lately?



Linking up with Book Notes!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Club Friday: Review and Giveaway of Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

So far I'm on track with my Summer Book Challenge. Every book I've read this summer has contributed to the challenge categories. Since my recap at the beginning of the month, I've read American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics, with "sex" being my chosen antonym to "abstinence" (A is for Abstinence by Kelly Oram!).  

My latest read is Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, in bookstores on July 29th. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the novel in exchange for my honest review.*

 
Official book summary: “My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.”
So begins the story of teenage half sisters Eva and Iris in this brilliantly written, deeply moving, and fantastically funny novel by the beloved and critically acclaimed author of Away. Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star, and Eva, the sidekick, journey across 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take the sisters from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island. With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine through a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. Filled with memorable characters and unexpected turns, Lucky Us is a thrilling and resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life. From Brooklyn’s beauty parlors to London’s West End, these unforgettable people love, lie, cheat, and survive in this story of our fragile, absurd, heroic species.

Based on the description, I was expecting another kind of book. I thought more of the focus would be on Iris's quest for stardom. Even so, I LOVED this book. 

The characters are deeply flawed, but in a very human way. The father is selfish and aimless. Iris is ruthless in pursuit of both stardom and love. Eva is a colorless character, lacking her own personality and dreams.

But Lucky Us is, in many ways, a coming-of-age novel not just for Eva, but for Iris and even their father as well. Each character (eventually) grows and matures in their own way. 

While other reviews have not liked the use of letters to introduce new chapters, I disagree. I think that's a personal stylistic preference, but I like the mixing of letters and prose. If you tend to skim chapter titles, though, just realize that some of the letters are marked as never sent. So while we get to read the character's thoughts in the letter, the recipient never had the chance to read it. 

So far, I have avoided spoilers in my review, but I want to include a few small spoilers to explain my favorite parts of the novel. You have been warned.

ENTERING THE SPOILER ZONE
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Iris is a lesbian. Despite the book's setting against the backdrop of WWII, Iris's same-sex attraction and relationships with women are completely accepted by the few people allowed to know. Of course, it is a scandal when a photographer catches Iris having sex on the beach with a big Hollywood star who then betrays Iris and has the rising starlet blacklisted from the town. 

I won't say the most despicable or even the second-most despicable thing that Iris later does for love, but they are pretty horrible and eventually cause a long-lasting rift with Eva. 
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LEAVING THE SPOILER ZONE

Due to the generosity of Random House, one lucky reader will win a copy of Lucky Us! Sadly, this is only open to US readers. Alas. Enter using the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received both a book and a gift card in exchange for my honest review.

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