Being back in school is challenging. Academics are HARD, yo…at least for me! There’s a whole-lot of learnin’ to do and keeping on top of everything isn’t easy. Luckily the part where I love what I’m doing makes the study load feel a little lighter. It’s tough, but kind of in a good way because I feel I’m being pushed in the right direction.

I’m also being stretched emotionally, which is something I didn’t necessarily expect. Our professors don’t just give us factual information, they make us get all introspective and work on ourselves. Seriously! The faculty have this bizzarro philosophy that self-awareness will help us become better, more compassionate professionals. Whazzup with that?

Here’s an example. Sexuality educator and counsellor, Reece Malone (from Winnipeg! Canada represent!) led a seminar on gender variance and diversity. Before his workshop, I’d assumed that I was a super-cool, mega-enlightened kind of gal who didn’t have any trouble embracing the reality that not everyone’s gender is defined their genitals. But then Reece came along with his brilliant teaching that forced me to go beyond the rational, think-y part of my brain. He made me examine my emotions and gut reactions. And it became pretty obvious pretty fast that as much as I want to be the person who’s totally fine if her little boy decides he wants to be girl, I’m not quite there.

Below is an assignment our class was given. In bold are the prompts from Reece, followed by my answers. Doing this exercise forced me to face the reality, that I definitely have some prejudices around gender identity.

(Warning: This gets kind of long. Bear with me, okay?)

When I meet a person on the street whose gender is unclear to me, Iimmediately feel flustered. Despite my intellectual beliefs, I often find myself scrutinizing their face and body, looking for clues about their gender. I have to consciously remind myself that a stranger’s gender is none of my business, has no effect on my life and to stop staring.

If someone I’ve known for a long time told me that they used to be another gender, I…react differently depending on what they look like. If their body or presentation has characteristics of another gender, I might be less startled. I’ve had this experience with a few long-time acquaintances and my first thought was something like “Ohhhh…it all makes sense now.” But someone whose look is completely in line with my concept of what a person of that gender looks like, might surprise me with their confession.

What I do when I am talking to a student/client/person whose gender is unclear to me, isif I don’t need to know, I generally don’t ask and I try to avoid making any gender-specific references in our conversation. If I think gender will be relevant or it becomes relevant in the conversation, I usually share my preferred pronouns in the hopes that it will encourage them to do the same.

When someone says they are neither male nor female, I…become self-conscious about the language I use around gender. I begin to think very hard about certain phrases I tend to use like “opposite sex” or “boys and girls”. I try not express to that person how awkward I feel, because I feel that’s my issue, not theirs (but I worry that they pick on my awkwardness anyway). I also feel guilt. I wish I was as accepting emotionally as I am in my head.

What I think about the statement “people are neither men nor women” is…that isn’t true. I think ignores the identities of people both trans and cisgender who feel very strongly that they are men or they are women. I believe men and women are the genders that are validated and acknowledged in our society and I believe we need to create space for all the other gender identities that exist, but there are people who are men and women.

If a friend wanted to have genital surgery to present more as a woman I…would ask them how I could support them. I love my friends and I want them to be happy. I honestly don’t feel that surgery would bother me. I think I’d be most concerned that they felt loved and accepted and I’d want to make sure they knew that I cared for them.

My reaction to a trans person who does not “pass” as the gender they are presenting is…that it’s fine. I don’t have to prove that I’m a woman. They shouldn’t have to prove their gender either. It is likely I will slip and use the wrong pronouns, so I’ll be apologizing a lot!

If my parent told me they were going to start to present as the opposite gender than I had known, I…would be really surprised. I think my first impulse would be to tell them that I loved them. Knowing my parents, they’d be deeply hurt if they thought I no longer cared for them. I’d be afraid that they would experience rejection from other people in their life, so I certainly wouldn’t want them to feel any from me. That having been said, it’s hard to imagine my mom as a dad or my dad as a mom. I’m fairly certain I’d also be sad. I’ve known them both my whole life, so to watch such a significant part of who they’ve been for me change or disappear would be really tough.

My current thinking about the reasons some people are trans and some are not is…I’ve never thought about it. Being cisgender, I’m rarely challenged to think about why my gender is what it is. Now that I am thinking about it…I still don’t know. I’m not sure that I personally feel a great need to seek out a “reason”. I just feel it’s important that I learn to sincerely accept people as they truly are.

I think the relationship between being trans and mental health is…profound. I can only imagine the emotional pain of living with an identity that many people don’t understand, acknowledge or accept. I also guess that the continual threat of rejection, or worse, violence could cause severe stress. Because many in our society refuse to embrace gender diverse people, I can understand why they are at greater risk for mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression and have a much higher rate of suicide. That is part of the reason I feel so strongly that I need to keep working on my own prejudices and to take part in whatever work needs to be done to create a trans-inclusive society. Everyone has a right to be who they truly are and to thrive with that identity.

The first time I met a trans individual I felt…ashamed. During the first few encounters, I thought they were a man who was coming on to me. I didn’t like the attention and kept my attitude cool and distant. Eventually she confessed that she was biologically male and transitioning to female. She had identified with me as another woman and was trying to reach out. The shame came from knowing that I had pulled away from someone who simply wanted friendship. Once I realize what was happening, I also felt a bit of pride that she wanted me as a friend. Despite my early behaviour we did eventually become pals.

When someone tells me they may be trans, I question…I don’t know that I question, but I’m curious as to what they are feeling. I sometimes ask, “How are you feeling?”

If my child tells me that his/her best friend may be trans, I think…That I need to speak with my son, find out what his understanding of trans is and help explain anything he’s confused or concerned about (assuming I have the answers). I would also tell my son that he should ask his friend what name/pronoun they like, to use that name and model the behaviour by doing the same thing myself.

I think people who…react violently towards transpeople, refuse to use a person’s preferred name/pronoun, who ask questions about a person’s genitals or how they have sex, who claim that gender identity is inappropriate to discuss with children, who ask “are you a girl or a boy?”, who make disparaging comments about trans identities, who refuse to work with or hire trans people, who insist that trans people conceal their true identities…are transphobic

When I was younger I thought trans people were…women who were born men and had penises. The first depiction of a trans person I ever saw was in The Crying Game and for a long time, that was my only point of reference. I assumed there were also men who were born women and had vulvas, though I had never heard of or seen any. I don’t think I knew surgery was an option, beyond maybe breast implants for women.

If my child came out to me as a trans woman/man, I would initially feel…excited. I love my son and I wouldn’t trade him for anything, but before he was born I always dreamed of having a daughter. So I think my very first thought would be, “Yay! I have a little girl!” But I would very quickly start to worry. I would worry about how best to supporting her and helping her navigate her new identity. I’d be terrified about the bigotry she could face and how it would affect her self-worth. And when she was older, I would worry a lot about her facing violence when she was out in the world.

If my partner came out to me as a trans woman/man I would initially feel…concerned. My partner is the most important person in my life. I know how much he loves me and I know how frightening it would be for him to reveal something he thought might end our relationship or worse, drive me away. I know he’d need support. I think my first impulse would be to reach out as his best friend. But with time I would probably be angry. I might feel like I had been cheated out of a husband. And I think I would be profoundly sad. I love my partner the way he is now. If he came out as trans, I’d feel like I’d lost him even though internally she was the same person. Finally, I think I’d feel guilty. Because with any other person in my life, I think sooner or later I’d be able to accept the change and love them all the same…but I’m not sure that I could do that for my partner.

If my brother/sister came out to me as a trans woman/man, I would initially feel…I don’t have siblings, so I honestly don’t know. I’m thinking about how I would feel if it were my best friend, who’s been in my life for thirty years. I think I’d be surprised but of all the people that are close to me, I suspect that would be the easiest coming out for me to accept. But with time I would…probably feel a lot of responsibility towards them. I might become a little overzealous in my attempts to be supportive. I could totally see us having a conversation where I’d start asking about their transition, their feelings about their transition, what I could do to help their transition and they’d turn to me and say, “Shut up! What Not To Wear is on!”

Yeaaaaah. I doubt I’ll be winning the Nobel Prize for gender acceptance any time soon. But at least now I know where some of my prejudices are and I can think more clearly about how they might affect other people and how I can work to change my attitude. Hopefully that will make me a better educator and maybe a nicer person.

I invite you to consider some of the Reece’s prompts – they’re great food for thought. And if any of you are so inclined, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments.

 

Intersex

The other day The Bean asked if all boys have penises, which seemed like a good opportunity to start talking about difference between sex and gender.

“Let’s talk about biological sex,” I began, “Can you say that word? Bi-o-logical?”

“Biological,” the Bean repeated carefully.

“Awesome! Biological sex means what kind of body a person is born with. You were born with testicles and penis, so your biological sex is male. I was born with a vulva and a uterus and other parts. My biological sex is female. Some people are born with a mix of male and female parts. They are intersex.”

“I wish I had all the parts,” said The Bean, “I could pee SO MUCH!”

I made a mental note to come back to anatomy at a later date.

“Gender is….” I hesitated, trying to think of the best way to summarize the complexity of personal identity in six-year-old terms.

“I know! It’s like Like Star Trek: The Next Gender-ation,” The Bean offered.

“Uh…no. Gender is who you feel you are inside.  Some people believe they’re girls, some believe they’re boys, some believe they’re a mix of both and some believe they aren’t either. Some people aren’t sure. But it doesn’t always have to do with what kind of body parts you have. So not everyone who has a vulva is a girl. Not everyone who has a penis is a boy.

“Who do you believe you are?” The Bean asked me.

“When I was little I was a girl and now I’m grown up, so I’m a woman. That’s what I feel”  I told him. “What about you?”

“I feel I am…a dog! That’s my gender!”

It’s an ongoing process, people. It’s an ongoing process.

Posted with The Bean’s consent

 

“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.

How do you define the word ‘sex’?

I use the word in a couple different ways. There’s “sex” the biological category – intersex, female, male, etc. For a long time, I thought of “sex” in this sense as being synonymous with “gender” and would use both words interchangeably. Eventually I learned that “sex” refers to a set of physical traits (hormones, genitalia, chromosomes and more), while gender has to do with a person’s psychological and emotional identity.

Of course, I’m not a super science-y gal, so most of the time when I say “sex”,  I’m referring to the physical act. But what physical act?  “Sex” is a word that open to a lot of interpretation. What I call sex may be very different from your definition of the word. What I call sex today is very different from the definition I had twenty years ago. Back then I would have told you that sex was  penis-in-vagina penetration because it had the potential to result in pregnancy and that everything else was a form of foreplay.

Then I experienced oral sex. Nothing about it felt like a warm up, a precursor or anything but the main event! So, I began to think of sex as not just vaginal penetration, but any partnered activity that was likely to produce an orgasm.

When I began working in sexual health and sex education, I began to understand how varied sexual experience can be. Again, I began to amend my definition of what consitutes “sex”, trying to find a meaning that was a bit broader and didn’t depend on partners or orgasms. Nowadays when I say sex, I mean something along the lines of “an intentional, consensual physical act which produces or enhances sexual pleasure.”

What do you mean when you talk about “sex”? Has its meaning changed for you over time or with certain experience? The comment section is yours!

 

I feel like it’s been awhile since I went off on a good and proper rant. When I first saw this ad last week and my feathers got all ruffled, I immediately thought ‘Score! Blog fodder!’

So, let me get this straight…

Doug is a runner but it’s not about fitness. Because Doug is a GUY. Guys aren’t into that shit. Guys are all about congratulatory backslapping while eating pimped out burgers and drinking full calorie beer!

Durr! Feh! And ARGH!

This ad peeves me for two reasons. First, it’s predicated on the bullshit trope that “real” men must avoid things that are typically considered feminine at all cost. You know, things like pink and feelings and calorie reduction!  We gals are okay, except for the crummy way our stuff corrupts masculinity and turns guys into dainty, mangled mutants.

My other gripe is the inference that a burger and a beer is actually Guy Chow Specially Formulated For Guys. Attention advertisers. We’re 50 years past the Mad Men era. Yes, I know you have to tell a story in 30 seconds. Yes, I know stereotyping cuts down on time.  But do me a solid, will you?

STOP GENDERING FOOD!

Yes, I am also talking to you, Everyone Who Has Written A Yogurt Commercial EVER!

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t begrudge any man the indulgence of beer and onion-y things. But the idea that we’re meant to make food choices based on our gender identity is weird and kind of foolish. A guy is a guy. The caloric intake of his beer is irrelevant.

So thumbs down to you, Molson Canadian. You and your gender-normative portmanteaus can bite it…and I’m not taking about a thick, juicy burger!

 

I was meandering ’round the Twitterverse the other day and saw a friend had linked to Chloe Curran’s recent article: Get Out Of My Gay Bar Straight Girl!

Straight Girl: two words definitely apply to a certain adorkable someone.

It’s a strongly worded title and the ensuing rant pulls no punches. Not that Curran’s a straight-hater. She explains that:

I get it: Straight people don’t come to gay bars because they want to hate on gay people. They come because as the empowered majority, they feel entitled to access every space in the world.

I’m not here to argue for a ban on straight people in gay clubs; that’s discrimination, and clearly wrong. However I will ask you to a) rethink the entitlement you feel to occupy every space and b) respect that no matter how much you “love the gays,” sometimes gay people need to be amongst their peers and therefore apart from you. 

Um…yeah. I can’t speak to any other gay-club-going-straight-person’s motives but I’ve enjoyed getting my dance on in queer spaces for years. Until I read this article, it never occurred to me that my presence might feel intrusive and/or disrespectful regardless of how awesomely accepting I believe myself to be. Looks like the entitlement thing applies to me as well.

Also? This:

“My girls and I just want to dance without being bothered by lame guys dancing up on us,” you’ll cry incredulously, eyes a’ flashin’ and gum a’ snappin’ with (what you think to be) righteous indignation, “Why is that so wrong?”

I admit, I’ve totally been that gal. I’ve sought refuge in gay clubs, using them as dance-sanctuaries when I wanted to flee from dudes who thought crotch grinding was an appropriate introduction.

I would never snap my gum, though. The odds that I’d swallow it and choke are too high.

Now I’m thinking about it and yeah…that shit ain’t on. I would never go into a synagogue and be all “Hi, folks! I’ve got some sick cantor music on my iPod but it’s just not the same as live davening. I’m gonna chill here with y’all because even though I’m not of your faith, it’s cool because I am TOTALLY DOWN with the Jews.”

I’m not beating myself up or saying I’m a horrible person. This is just a situation where I wasn’t aware. Now that I am, I’ll try to be more respectful of people’s need to have a little time and space away from the dominant culture. That doesn’t mean I’ll never set foot in a gay bar again, but it might best if I wait for an invitation before I boogie on in.

If you have a moment, I encourage you to read the entire article. Then come back here and tell me what you think. I’d love to get some other opinions on this, particularly from my queer readers. How do you feel about straight people hanging out in gay bars and other queer spaces?

In the meantime, I’m thinking I should open a club specifically for dance-lovin’ ladies, where come-ons are strictly forbotteen. There’s clearly a market for it.  I can call it “No Hitters”. Huh? HUH? Who’s with me?

image by FonnaTasha

This isn’t a blog-brag about how it is dope being of the lady-persuasion (although it is pretty dope). But I do want to bring y’all up to speed on a really cool research project called Being A Woman Today.

The study – a joint venture between Human Innovations, LLC and The Institute For Advanced Studies In Human Sexuality – will examine women’s sexual experiences through surveys (I’ve done mine!), online engagement, and talk shows. I’m always excited to hear about research with a specific focus on women’s sexuality and in this case I’m extra chuffed because this baby is ambitious!

According to their press release, Being A Woman Today has grand plans “to conduct 50 major international surveys over the next 5 years. These surveys will address the scope of women’s sexual and overall well-being.”

Five years and fifty countries will make this the biggest study ever done on women’s sexual well-being. You go, World’s Foremost Clinical Sexologists!

Big time research needs big time support. Fortunately, small contributions become big when lots of people pitch in. If you’d like to get behind this project, there are lots of ways you can help.

1. Research is expensive, yo! Donate a dollar or two – or a few – to the Indiegogo campaign.

2. Follow and spread the word on Twitter (@BeingWomenToday) and Facebook.

3. Do you identify as a woman? Take the beta survey!

If you dig human sexuality like I dig human sexuality, why not give a little love to some folks who want to deepen our understanding of what that experience means for a big chunk of our population? Cheers, Being A Woman Today! Sex research is headed for the big time!

 

photo by Harrywad

Early this year mini mega-star, Willow Smith chopped off her hair-whipping locks in favour of a super-short ‘do.  A whole ‘lot of people got all kinds of upset because OH NOES, SHE’S ONLY ELEVEN and ACK SHORT HAIRS R 4 BOYZ and HER EXCEPTIONALLY TALENTED, GOOD LOOKING PARENTS MUST BE REALLY PARENTS!!!!

Last week, the exceptionally talented Jada Pinkett-Smith confirmed that she’s exceptionally rad at being a parent. She took to Facebook to share the lessons she wants to teach her daughter about her hair, her body and her choices.

 

Lana Wachowski – who, along with her brother Andy brought us The Matrix and Cloud Atlas – speaks about her experience as a trans woman.

This is a longish video, but I strongly encourage you to make time for this. Wachowski is witty, wise and all kinds of inspirational. I love this speech. I hope you do too.

 

Many thanks to reader John for alerting me to this video!

In Our Last Episode…

I gave an overview of sex negativity with examples of how our society sometimes paints sex as a fundamentally yucky thing that does bad things to our bodies and souls. I explained breifly that sex positivity came about as a response to this largely pessimistic view by offering an alternative, more accepting and inclusive perspective on human sexuality

And Now On To Our Show!

Now that I’ve written about what sex positivity isn’t, I can get on to telling more about what sex positivity is. Except *I’m* not going to tell you. I’m going to let awesomesauce sex educator, Charlie Glickman tell you. The following excerpt is from a piece that was given to me in my very first sex-positive workshop and I thought it was fantastic.  I’m unlikely to come up with an explanation that’s anywhere near as good, so Imma sit back and let you soak up the Glickman brilliance:

As a sex educator, I need to be able to reduce this confusion in order for my message to be heard. One method I have found helpful is to compare sex and food…

Try to imagine the following world: Accurate information about food is freely available and exists for all ages in appropriate ways. Talking about what sorts of food you like and negotiating with a dinner partner is a simple and relaxed experience. Different preferences, whether personal or cultural, are important for the information they provide and are no more or less important than hair color or family history, unless people are trying to figure out what to eat together. Some people prefer to eat with the same person indefinitely, others prefer to eat in a group and still others eat with a variety of partners as the mood suits them and nobody is ever forced to eat anything or with anyone. Each person is an expert in their desires and needs around food and their choices are respected.

While there are many examples of how our world is different from this food-positive one (as anyone who becomes vegetarian in a family of meat eaters knows,) it isn’t too hard to imagine this place. Now go back through the last paragraph and substitute “sex” for “food” and “have sex” for “eat.” How much more difficult is this world to imagine?

*Contented sigh.*

I don’t know about you but I think this analogy is swoon-worthy awesome. Not only does it get me all het-up about the exciting possibilities of a sex positive world, it also clarifies the idea that this isn’t about being all RAH! RAH! LET’S ALL HAVE SEX ALL THE TIME!  Having a more positive attitude towards sex does not mean that sex is better than not-sex. It’s saying that similar to food, sex is just a thing. It’s part of the human experience, there are many options and that we should all be allowed to choose what will work best for ourselves in our own lives.

Why I Like Sex Positivity

So you don’t have to have sex to be sex positive. You don’t even have to want to have sex to be sex positive. But I do. Not that I’m in a constantly state of arousal, but being a sexual person is definitely part of my identity. I’m also an extrovert and something of an exhibitionist. I like dressing in ways that show of certain parts of my body. I like doing burlesque and undressing in ways that show off almost all of my body.  Sex positivity is okay with all of that. Sex positivity doesn’t restrict my sexual expression because I’m married or a mother or closing in on my forties. That makes me pretty happy.

Sex positivity means I can stop worrying about whether or not I’m normal. There is no normal in sex pos. There’s just me, my body and my life. What works for me might be different than what works for yo and that’s it’s all sweet cuppin’ cakes!

That also means I don’t have to care about whether other people are normal. Truth time. I’m a lazy woman. Trying to define a universal set of acceptable sexual practices is hard. Having to determine how closely those around me adhere to those standards is hard. Assessing people’s moral character based on their sexual behaviour is hard. I have a career to work at and a family to care for.  Also? I just started watching Mad Men. Analyzing all that subtext keeps me very busy! I don’t have time to be judging everyone all day. Thanks to sex positivity, I don’t have to.

Sex positivity means I can talk about sex. A lot. I can discuss it with willing friends, freely and openly because sex is nothing to be ashamed of! Yay!

Ten Ways I Am Sex Positive

As I mentioned in the last post, I’m still relatively new to this whole “sex is not bad” concept. Here are some things I’ve been doing as part of my quest to live a sex-positive life.

1. I try to do work which reflect my beliefs that sexual health and reproductive choice are basic human rights and access to comprehensive, fact-based sex education is essential to achieving both of those aims.

2. I am big into consent. I blog about consent. I teach consent. The smut I write includes consent. The Man of Mans and I renegotiate consent and boundaries on an ongoing basis. Without consent, there is no sex.

3. If I tell someone I’m married I also say explicitly that I am sexually monogamous, since one does not automatically imply the other.

4. I try to use gender-inclusive terms like ‘partner’ or ‘parent’ ‘or people’  whenever possible.

5. Sometimes I’ll hear or read about a sexual practice that shocks the dickens out of me. I try to check myself and be aware of my own judgeyness. I also try very hard not to make disparaging comments about sexy things just because they don’t appeal to me personally.

6. I try to be a queer-friendly and a queer-ally.

7. I’ve stopped saying “Holy balls!”  as an expression of horror. Balls are not horrifying. Now I say it when something good happens. I’ve also stopped saying “slut”, “prude” and “cocksucker” like they’re bad things.

8. When other people talk to me about their sexuality and/or sexual experiences, I try to suppress my tendency to always be talking and listen.

9. I let people self-identify in their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. I refer to them the way they’ve refered to themselves.

10. I talk about sex!

 

Five Ways I Am Trying To Be Sex Positive But Really Need To Work On 

I also mentioned in the last post that I’m pretty new to the sex positivity myself. Every day I learn new stuff that expands my perspective and makes me realize how little I really know. This definitely feels like a life-long process kind of deal, ’cause I make mistakes all the time. Examples include:

1. Stating my preferred pronoun. I usually just say, “Hi, I’m Nadine” because I can take for granted that people will correctly assume my gender. But not everyone has that privilege. I’m trying to get into the habit of introducing myself thusly: “Hi, I’m Nadine. My preferred pronoun is ‘she'”, but 9 out of 10 times I forget. I also forget to ask other people what they’re pronoun is if I’m not sure.

2. Despite purging pejorative uses of genitalia and promiscuity from my vocabulary, there are  a few sex negative cuss words that still linger. I still haven’t surrendered the F-bomb.

3. I have a hard time admitting when I’m sexually inactive. It embarrasses me, which is not a very sex-positive attitude. Life is not about winning the “Who Has The Most Sex” contest.

4. I’d like to get better at including abstinence and asexuality in my discussions of sex because those are also totally legit ways of being.

5. At PPO we have a list of ways that people can be sex positive. One of the suggestions is to “call in sick by saying ‘I have crabs’. I have never done this. Okay…so far I haven’t actually had crabs. But that’s no excuse. Next sick day, I’m calling in with crabs! :-)

 

Sex Positive Parenting 

Do you know why I call my partner The Man of Mans? Because he is freaking excellent, that’s why! He was a sex positive parenting  long before either of us knew it was a thing. When The Green Bean was one week old, The MoMs started talking to him about all the things he would do in the future, including falling in love. He began with “Someday you might meet a special girl or boy….”

Right then and there, I knew my son was in great hands. The MoMs kicked us off with the sex positive parenting and we’ve both tried to keep it going as The Bean grows up.

1. We try to talk about genitals in the same way we talk about the rest of our bodies, using the proper terminology and not placing specific restrictions on using words like “penis”.

2. We don’t assume The Bean is heterosexual.

3. Like many children, The Bean is curious about gender. I’ve struggled with this for awhile, as I’m not comfortable with the “boys have a penis/girls have a vulva” explaination. After much thought, I am now telling him that “girls are people who say they are girls and boys are people who say they are boys.”

4. We don’t refer to the gender of colours, toys or activities. If The Bean brings it up, we remind him that there’s no such thing as a “girl” colour or a “boy” toy. These are things for everyone.

5. When Then Bean spotted my Diva Cup and asked me what it was for, I explained about my period.

6. We try to make sex, sexuality, relationships, reproduction and bodies part of the larger, every day conversation around our house.  The results have been….unexpected.

7. The MoMs and I hug, kiss, cuddle and express regular physical affection for each other in The Bean’s presence. He thinks it is WAY gross!

8. The MoMs and I hug, kiss, cuddle and express regular physical affection for The Bean.

9. If The Bean says no, pushes us away or protests when we try to hug, kiss or cuddle him we stop immediately. Even if he seems to be enjoying it.  Consent is mandatory and no means no. Period.

10. Similarly we never insist that he hug or kiss grandparents or other visiting relatives. Consent is mandatory but it’s also voluntary. No one is entitled to touch us if we don’t want it.

 

So there you have it…my two-part primer on sex positivity!

Are you a fan of sex positivity as well? What are some ways that you’ve found to incorporate it into your life? What are some challenges you’ve faced. This blog is my attempt to carve out a wee little pocket of sex positivity in the world, so thanks for reading along and being part of this conversation all the others!