“I do multiple intrinsically non- and/or anti-feminist things a day. It doesn’t change who I am or what I stand for – but those things also don’t become feminist just because I’m the one doing them.”

The following is a quote by feminist author and body image activist extrodinaire, Kate Harding. I’ve been a long time fan of Ms. Harding. She frequently writes things that blow my mind and alter my thinking on issues regarding women, bodies and general life stuff. Now she’s done it again.

This particular statement was taken from a recent article entitled ‘Why I Lose My Mind Every Time We Have The Name Conversation’. The piece is about women’s who take their husband’s names at marriage. Kate fully acknowledges that:

a) becoming Ms. HisLastName is a choice that women have a right to make.

b) it can be thoughtful, meaningful, positive option for many women.

c) you can be Ms. HisLastName and a feminist and that’s totally cool.

Harding explains that women who take their husband’s names are still awesome, feminist gals making a valid life choice. But the fact that it’s a choice doesn’t magically separate the convention from it’s roots in patriarchal ownership. And being a feminist does not negate the fact that, generally speaking, our society tends to regard men’s identities as fixed and women’s as fluid.

Harding’s specific thoughts on married names were all kinds of interesting. But it’s the passage I quoted that resonated. I identify strongly as feminist, sex-positive, a queer-ally and bunch of other things. While reading the article, I realized that part of me does feel like everything I do, should fall in line with my belief that social oppression is for suck and it needs to go away now. And I will try to rationalize all of my actions within the context of those beliefs.

Case in point. I recently wrote a piece for Already Pretty about burlesque. I wrote my own experiences doing burlesque and tied that to a larger point about performers using the art form to challenge conventional perceptions of what sexy body looks like. Body image politics + personal experience = Instant Awesome Blogpost.

I thought it would be an easy assignment. Instead it was a frustrating struggling that went on for days. Eventually I finished the article and even though I wasn’t entirely satisfied, I submitted it. I figured this was just one of those crappy, writer’s block kind of weeks, nothing more.

But after reading Kate Harding’s piece I can see why I had a hard time. I was writing about burlesque subverting body image norms and I was trying to say that my participation was part of that subversion. But it’s not.

I’ve done burlesque with all sorts of people who fall outside the young, thin, able-bodied, cis-gendered, heteronormative ideal our society tends to uphold as “sexy”. I think how awesomely cool it is to see people broadening the standards of beauty and sexuality, while being hella hot and talented. I support the shit out of that kind of thing. But here’s things:

I am a younger-looking, slender, able-bodied, cis-gendered, heterosexual woman. Pretty much everything about the way I look and the way I present myself  falls in line with conventional ideas about what sexy is supposed to look like. Some might say that being as a person of colour takes me a bit outside the “norms” of sexiness. But even then I find that there’s a trend toward glamourizing/idealizing POCs – especially if they have European-esque features, which I pretty much do.

I love performing. I love dressing up and wearing costumes and being a big, exhibitionist show-off with my body. I also believe, passtionately that we need to make more room in this world for the many, may types of sexy that are out there. But that’s not what I’m doing when I do burlesque. I can’t do that when I do burlesque because our society has already made lots of room for my type of sexy and it has done so at the expense of other people.

None of this means that I shouldn’t be doing burlesque or that I can’t derive joy from the experience. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t support or believe that we need more sexy diversity (and maybe a better term).

I’m going to change over time. I will get older. The shape and likely the size of my body will change. There’s no guarantee that I will remain able-bodied throughout my life. If I still choose to twirll my tassles while rockin’ the wrinkles and low boobs, I WILL be sticking to the patriarchy and ageism and bunch of other sex-negative, body-negative bullshit. But I’m not now, so I probably shouldn’t pretend that I am.

Like everyone else, I make choices. Many are informed by desire to work towards a less oppressive, more inclusive society. But they’re also about what’s right for me and sometimes that’s the status quo. Instead of trying to rationalize those choices, it feels I can say, “This system/convetion/idea unfairly penalizes or excludes others. I don’t like that, but I am choosing to work within this system because there are still benefits for me as an individual.”

To put it another way, not everything I do is about fighting a social battle. And I realize after reading Kate Harding’s words, that I don’t have to rationalize it or get defensive. I’m a person, a part of this society. There’s some messed up shit happening but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes it works for me.

I have a hard time expressing myself erotically. True story.

I can talk about sex. I’ve engaged in what I call “intellectual smut” for years. It didn’t begin this way but over time, these frank, informative discussions of sexuality have become familiar and easy for me. After years of reading, writing, learning and teaching I’m perfectly comfortable steering any conversation towards the subject of clitoral response or anal anatomy. These days sex-words virtually spill from my mind and my mouth – so long as the purpose is to inform, rather than to arouse.

I am an erotic person. I have sexual thoughts and desires. I ponder people, their parts and things I’d like to do to them. I think about thing I’d like done to me. I also have an amazing partner that I love, trust and really like having sex with. When you consider all of that and the fact that I’m a pretty chatty, expressive person – you’d think I’d be the dirtiest talkin’ gal in town. Instead, it’s a struggle.

I read a lot of erotic fiction. I’m often inspired to create my own stories, but when I sit down to do it, I find it’s a long, fairly uncomfortable process. I have no compunction about baring most of my body to hundreds of people during a burlesque performance Reading an authentically erotic poem for an audience of fifteen makes sweaty and tense. Even when it comes to The Man of Mans – my partner of seventeen years, I find it much easier to express my sexual desires during a matter-of-fact discussion at dinner than I do when we’re hot, heavy and in the moment.

Words. Words make it real. Words bring what is barely perceptible into sharp focus. Words turn formless lust into an acute awareness of exactly where and how I want to touch and be touched. And there is a place deep inside of me where that knowledge feels exciting and good. But piled on top of that is a bunch of vulnerability, insecurity and maybe even a little guilt.

I’m a pretty big proponent of communication in general and sexual communication specifically. My reluctance to get dirty with my words makes it hard to put my money where my mouth is. What’s that all about? I have some theories.  The past few years of my life have been filled lots of sex-positive learning. It’s changed a lot of how I think about sex. However, I’m also part of a culture that perceives of sexual pleasure as inherently sordid, dangerous, offensive and taboo. Logically, I’ve largely dismissed that characterization. But my emotions are still under the influence of deeply ingrained sex-negative ideology. I’m fine with the knowledge that I want to put my tongue there. I haven’t been able to shut out that pesky voice telling me nice people don’t say it out loud.

Despite my awkward embarrassment, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to push past those feelings and get comfortable talking erotic. And writing erotic.  First, because the very idea of that tongue thing is pretty hot and there’s nothing wrong with saying so. Second, because the more explicit I am about the kind of sex I want, the more likely I am to get it. And lastly, because I think being okay with down and dirty communication is key piece in building consent culture.

Discussions around sexual consent often lead to a few common concerns. One is that is ensuring a partner’s consent means a bunch of super-formal negotiations where all parties sit down and to outline the all details of the sexual encounter. Another worry is the ensuring ongoing consent.  Naysayers sometime conjure a scenario where people have to stop the action every couple of minutes to ask , “Can I put my hand there? About there? What about there? How about there?” It’s an unappealing prospect for some people. I’m one of them.

But consent doesn’t have to be either of those options. You don’t have to sit primly on the couch and ask “May I please put your penis my mouth?” You don’t have to stop in the middle of fucking to say, “Sorry, I know we didn’t talk about it before but I was wondering if I could penetrate your anus digitally.” I mean, you can if you want to. But you can also lean in and whisper, “I would love it if you let me suck your cock.”*  You can be skin to skin and all over each other when you ask, “How about a finger in your ass?”**  Consent isn’t about ruining the fun. It’s about communicating. It seems like talking specifically and explicitly about the sex we do want to be having is a good way to avoid making people have sex they don’t want.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a pervasive notion that the ideal way to hook up is with languid body language, coy looks and a host of other non-verbal tactics. Asking for sex outright is often labelled crass and kind of pervy. So, it’s not entirely surprising to me that some people see explicit consent as the antithesis of hot sex. We aren’t exposed to a lot of dirty word-slinging and when we are, it’s rarely presented as a positive thing. I want it to be a positive thing. Emotionally, it may make me twitch. Logically, I think it’s a key part of a safer, hotter, healthier sex.

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but I think 2013 will be the year that I challenge myself to move beyond expressing my thoughts on sex. It’s time to get comfortable expressing my sexual feelings. Bring on the dirty talk!

*I got all flushed when I wrote this.
** And this.

 

 

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am irrationally, yet sincerely terrified of zombies. I don’t want to see zombies, I don’t want to hear zombies. If I leave the room while you’re discussing  The Walking Dead, please don’t take it personally.

Yep, I hate me some zombies. But I love me some Zombie Strippers. First, they’re very sexy. Also, they’re unlikely to precipitate a complete societal collapse. Nor have they ever tried to feast on my living flesh. And finally, my alter ego Mighty Afrodite will be joining the unclothed hoarde tonight on stage at Babylon!

If a zombie-hating gal like me can have fun at this event, you know you’re going to have a blast.  Come check out Zombie Strippers tonight! I promise we won’t we bite. :-)

 

It’s not my ruby lips you love…

Source: google.com via Nadine on Pinterest

 

Or my legs in lacy hose.

 

 

It’s not the ruffles nor the feathers

Source: etsy.com via Nadine on Pinterest

 

Nor my subtle sultry pose…

 

It’s not my breasts adorned with jewels…

Source: etsy.com via Nadine on Pinterest

 

That puts fire in your soul.

Source: google.ca via Nadine on Pinterest

 

 

The sexy magic’s in my feet…

Source: google.ca via Nadine on Pinterest

 

‘Cause that’s the way I roll!

This Saturday, October 13th, Imma be struttin’ my stuff (nearly) in the buff as part of The Capital City Cabaret. My tassel twirling amusements are just one act in a showcase of sensual, unusual, corporeal, sensational delights!

 

 

Want to know more? Tune in to CBC radio’s All In A Day today at 3:00. I’ll be dishing all the dirty details with Rockalily’s red-haired ring leader, Miss Helvetica Bold!

 

Don’t let Ottawa’s buttoned-up exterior fool you. This here government town has got lots of HAWT happening, you just have to know where to find it.  Here’s a list of some cool, sexy events coming up in the nation’s capital.

 

September 5th

Trivia Night

What better way to kick off the start of the school year than by testing your knowledge! The Pride Centre and the GSAÉD are hosting a trivia night…and rumour has it there are prizes. 19 + event.

Time: Doors at 8:00. Trivia begins at 8:30

Place: 1848 Pub

Cost: N/A

September 7th

Women’s Queer Social

It’s Ladies’ Night! The evening begins with a delightful meet up over hot beverages at Second Cup followed by dancing at The Lookout you that The Lookout may require 2 piece of ID. Second Cup meet up is all-ages and The Lookout is 19+

Time: Coffee – 7:30. Dancing – 9:30.

Place: Second Cup at 171 Rideau Street.

Cost: Second Cup – Free. Lookout – possible cover.

September 9th

Fight For Life: A Fundraiser

Experience the excitement as students of Western Martial arts do battle, tournament style! Proceeds support the Youth Services Bureau’s participation in the AIDS Walk For Life. BBQ lunch available by donation

Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Place: Hintonburg Park

Cost: By donation.

September 10th

The Naughty Bits Book Club

Ottawa’s smuttiest book club is back! Come discuss the finer points of Curvy Girls, an erotic anthology edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Tea and cupcakes will be served!

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Place: Venus Envy

Cost: Free.

September 13th

The FIRST Capital Variety Show!

This is Ottawa history in the making. Sexy burlesquers and sideshow inspired performers join forces to bring you a night of entertainment unlike anything our town has seen! 19+

Time: 9:00 p.m.

Place: Babylon

Cost: $10

September 15th

Ottawa AIDS Walk For Life

The 22nd annual event to raise funds for local organizations that provide HIV/AIDS related services in our community. Join the walk, raise funds or sponsor a local agency!*

Time: 5:00

Place: Marion Dewer Plaza – Ottawa City Hall

Cost: Free.

*(Unashamedly biased endorsement: Support Team PPO!)

Ottawa Slowdance Night’s Teacher Student Edition!

Get close and sway to the rhythm and this special installment of Ottawa’s coziest dance party! Come dressed in back to school garb and received $2 off the cover.

Time: 9:00 p.m.

Place: Raw Sugar

Cost: $10. ($8 with costume)

 

Don’t let Ottawa’s buttoned-up exterior fool you. This here government town has got lots of HAWT happening, you just have to know where to find it.  Here’s a list of some of the cool sexy events coming up in the nation’s capital:

Friday, August 3rd

Centretown Movies and Planned Parenthood Ottawa presents The Birdcage

What better way to start off your long weekend than with an outdoor screening of this campy, comic classic? All proceeds go to Planned Parenthood Ottawa (who just happen to be my employers). Huzzah for sexual health resources and paychecks!

Time: 9 pm

Place: Dundonald Park

Cost: Pay-What-You-Can

 

Ottawa Slowdance Night: Summer Love Edition

Get your up-close-and-personal grove on as the DJ spins (almost) all slow songs. Don’t have a date? No worries. There are designated dancers just waiting to fill up the slots on your dance cards. (For real, there are actual dance cards!)

Time: 9 p.m.

Place: Raw Sugar Café

Cost: $10 at the door

 

Monday, August 13th

The Naughty Bits Book Club

Ottawa’s favourite sex shop wants you to do some hot summer reading. Grab a copy of this month’s selection – A Queer And Present Danger, then jam on down to Venus Envy to discuss your favourite naughty bits.

Time: 6:30

Place: Venus Envy Ottawa

Cost: FREE

 

Wednesday, August 15th

Senior’s Night Out!

Get ready to mix and mingle! This twice monthly is a chance for LGBTA folk over 50 to get together and have some fun!

Time: 7:30

Place: Burgers On Main

Cost: No cover. Cash bar.

 

August 16th

Strip Cheese

Ottawa’s sauciest burlesque vixens take it off to some the cheesiest rock anthems, power ballads and love songs of our time!

Time: Doors at 8 p.m. Show at 9.

Place: Maxwell’s Bistro

COST: $10 at the door.

 

If you’ve got the lowdown on some sex-positive, queer-inclusive happenings coming up, feel free to drop me a line at nadine@adorkableundies.com or go right ahead and list them in the comments!

 

 

photo by antwerpenR

Yesterday The Man of Mans and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary by taking a day-trip to a nearby waterpark. Sophisti-muh-cated romance in da hizz-ouse, y’all!

Actually we had a really great time. After hours of wet, silly fun we got ourselves ready to head back home. As I was changing to leave, I realized that I’d forgot to pack a bra, which left my wet bikini top as my only support garment. The MoMs and I decided to maximize our date time by taking the a longer, scenic drive home. Hanging out together was great. The incessant trickle of water dripping off my suit ties and down my back was not.

As I squirmed and lamented my first world problems, it occurred to me that technically I did have the option of taking my top off. While I do find it necessary to wear a bra for impact activities, sitting and driving topless wouldn’t have placed any undue strain  on my boobs. Not to mention the joy of having my bosoms warmed by the summer sun, instead of being bound up in clammy elastane.

I was tempted. Until I realized that while I would have been physically comfortable, I felt self-conscious about cruising while topless. Baring one’s breats has been legal ’round these parts for over 20 years.  As a burlesque performer, I’m used to revealing the boobies in public. And strangely, that sort of purposefully sexual exposure is much less intimidating for me than thought of what might happen in a situation where baring my breast in a non-sexual way.

When I perform, I feel in control. I’m choosing to show my body. I’m inviting the audience to look AND to communicate any sexual response to through applause, cheers, (respectful) catcalls, etc.  Because I’ve consented to what’s happening, I feel safe.  When I feel safe, I feel free to enjoy that type attention.

As a theoretical topless driver, I accept and expect that some people, depending on their tastes, might look at my boobs and get aroused. Shirtless guys on summer days often turn me on. (Shirtless guys on winter days just confuse me). Sexual response is largely involuntary and that part doesn’t really bother me. But sitting in the car yesterday, I couldn’t help but anticipate some sort of leering, honking or salacious comment had I chosen to expose my boobs. I was afraid that exposed breasts in any context would be misconstrued as an invitation to sexual engagement.  At that moment, in the car, I wasn’t trying to be provocative. I just wanted to feel a little more comfortable.

Jezebel published an article about Moira Johnston – a self-proclaimed topless activist who’s been strolling about the streets of NYC topless to normalize – you guessed it – toplessness! (It’s legal in the Big Apple too!) Sadly, I don’t have the wontons to be that person, but I’m happy somebody does. Because breasts are still largely regarded as sexual objects and exposing them is often interpreted as an explicit sexual invitation, regardless of whether that’s true. I suspect that’s why two decades later, bare breasts are rarely seen in public, despite being a legal as a piece of foolscap.

It’s an unfortunate cycle –  our culture is not used to seeing breasts in a non-sexual way; therefore we assume bare breasts are always sexually provocative, we respond in kind, thus making the owner of said breasts uncomfortable and unlikely to bare their breasts in a non-sexual context.

So I ask the boob and boobless alike – have you ever gone topless in a non-sexual situation?  Did you feel self-conscious? How did people around you respond? The comments are open!

 

 This week I feel sexy in…

Shorts: Old Navy. Sunglasses: Joe Fresh. Earrings: Forever 21. Top: Jacob. Sandals: Payless Shoes.

…shorts!

Even though I don’t like pants, I do enjoy their leg-barring summertime counterpart. I find most pants uncomfortable around the waist, through the hips and…well in the crotch. Given that shorts are almost all waist/hip/crotch, you’d think I’d find them torturous. But no. For me they wear like an uber-comfy, slightly more modest version of a mini-skirt. Whaddup with that?

Romper: Jessica Simpson. Earrings & Bracelet Forever 21. Shoes: Nine West.

I discussed my contradictory feelings for pants vs. shorts with a fashion saavy friends, who pointed out that shorts (typically) don’t have fabric at the knee . In pants, sitting, walking and other leg bending activities pull the material taut around the hips. In shorts everything is free and easy.

So perhaps I’m not so much about pantslessness specifically. Any garment that doesn’t restrict my lower half is good times. The romper shown above certainly gives my gams ample freedom!

And speaking of bare….

Shorts: Amazing Lace. Earrings: Arden. Boa: La Vie En Rose. Bra: La Senza (thrifted). Leg Warmers: Sock Dreams. Skates: Chicago Skate Company. Photo by Victoria Scanell.

Here I am kitted out as Mighty Afrodite: roller disco goddess and my burlesque alter ego. My outlandish attire was for my performance at the Fifth Annual No Pants Dance Party. The event is exactly what it sounds like – a big party, where people don’t wear pants.  When I asked my fellow troupe members if spangly booty shorts fit the dress code for the evening, the answer a resounding yes!  As one of my stripping sisters put it, “Shorts aren’t pants!”

Word.

While We’re On The Subject Of Roller Skates…

Nancy Kenny is Ottawa’s original queen on wheels! She’s raising money to fund her wicked one-woman play Roller Derby Saved My Soul. If you’ve got a moment and a few dollars to spare check out her campaign here!

Finally, it’s a long weekend. The banks, businesses and the blog will be closed on Monday, but I’ll be back at it bright and early on Tuesday! In the meantime Happy Canada Day, countrypeople – from my family to yours!

It’s about to get all patriotic up in here!

This week I feel sexy in…

Fringe Festival Green!

Admittedly, I’m not usually big on t-shirts in summertime, but this baby comes with status!  This is the first time in four years that I taken part in an Ottawa Fringe production. I knew that was the right decision, but I also knew that if I wasn’t involved with the festival in some capacity, I would have the sad.

Those of you who have attended  Ottawa Fringe know that the whole operation would pretty much crumble if not for the crack team of volunteers who make sure that tickets get sold, artists are paid and the courtyard remains a hip-happening good time.  They’re a supremely cool gang and I aspire to be supremely cool…if only by association.  I decided to enlist and join the volunteer ranks.

Am I ever glad I did. Yesterday was my first-ever shift working box-office at one of the venues. I had a blast! The work (with mostly involved processing tickets) was delightfully low-pressure. My favourite part was chatting with patrons as the purchased their tickets, hearing their recommendations for shows they’d loved…and rantings about shows they did not.

I also enjoyed prancing around in my t-shirt, which as you can see says I’m straight up legit.

 

But with a big t-shirt comes big responsibility. It is forbidden to wear the volunteer t-shirt on Fringe premises when off-duty, lest one become mad with power. One may not consume alcohol or drugs while dressed in volunteer green. Whatevs. I’m high on handing on tickets and hanging out at the uber-exclusive Volunteer Headquarters AND the fact that my shirt is so big…I don’t need pants!

 

Speaking of no pants, those of you who aren’t Fringing tomorrow night should come out to Babylon for the biggest Burlesque party of the year. That’s right, tomorrow is the Fifth No Pants Dance Party.  I’ll be on stage with my fellow Lily Ladies, dropping my drawers – and most of my other garments – for one hell of a good time!  More details can be found here or on the cheeky poster below!