Archive | February, 2012

On Safewords

21 Feb

I started a new tutoring job today. Although commuting is a bit of a pain in the ass, I really appreciate the quiet time to myself. My brain works in high gear while I make the familiar drive to campus, lulled into a meditative state by the white noise of the air-rushing, tire-whirring, thrumming sounds of the road. Today, I was thinking about safewords.

Safewords are specific, prearranged words or signals used in BDSM or kink communities and relationships, during sexual and sensual activity, to express that something is not going quite right. Some partners have individual safewords tailored to their relationship. The word can be anything, so long as it is simple, understood, and uncommon for the bedroom. For example…Umbrella, poodle, jello. (Unless you’re somehow involving an umbrella, a poodle, and jello in your sex play, in which case…more power to ya.)

The point of a safeword is that, sometimes, we want to play with activities that might push our boundaries. We may struggle, squirm, kick, cuss, and scream. We may say “You evil bastard, that fucking hurts!” or “No! Please! Stop!” when we really mean “That feels so good…More, please?” or “Fuck yes, keep going!” Safewords are in place so that we know for damn sure that something is up, even when we’re exploring boundaries and pushing limits and getting lost in those sweet, delicious recesses of our minds and bodies.

The main thing on my mind during my drive today was…why don’t we ALL use safewords, regardless of whether we are engaging in kink-related activities? Why aren’t safewords just a regularly accepted component of sexual relationships, especially ones that are in the beginning stages of exploration? They would really come in handy.

You could say “red” when your partner suddenly attempts to sneak a finger in the back door without knocking first. An immediate pause and a discussion would follow. Your partner might learn that the ass does not lubricate itself, so it needs a little artificial assistance, or your partner might learn that you ONLY use the back door as an exit, not an entrance. You could say “yellow” when your partner is going to town fingering you, but is not quiiiite jamming away at the right angle. A slight slow down, a quietly murmured instruction, a little adjustment, and the problem may be solved. Safewords ease the awkwardness of having to shout out, “WOAH. Slow the fuck down and curl your fingers a little more!” They help to make adjustments without truly breaking the flow of the activity.

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I think I’m going to become an advocate for expanding the use of safewords beyond the realm of kink. Safewords for all!

President’s Day Sale at Tantus

20 Feb

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It’s President’s Day!  Woohoo! Tantus, an adult toy company that I absolutely adore, is having a 20% off sale (Promo code: PREZ20)!  How nice of them!

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If you don’t own any Tantus toys…well, you should.  They’re awesome.  The toys themselves are beautifully designed, high quality, and deeply enjoyable to use, with discreet packaging, superb customer service, and a commitment to being both healthy for the human body and healthy for the planet.

Also, random fact. Did you know there are a number of books on the sex lives of the presidents?  One Nation Under Sex, for example. Definitely going to have to check that one out.

Wonderful Wood

19 Feb

Hand crafted toys from Holzdildo in Germany.

Recently, I was asked about the appeal of wooden sex toys.  I love wood toys, though I also own glass and metal toys. Here’s my reasoning.

1) They’re beautiful! They’re silky smooth, curvy, and sensual. That’s appealing to me and, often, arousing.

2) They’re lightweight, especially compared to the heft of glass and metal.

3) They feel more warm and familiar to me, as opposed to the cold sterility of glass and metal.

4) They’re environmentally- and body-friendly. Wooden toys are often sustainably-farmed, chemical-free, and all-natural.

I’d also like to debunk any concerns that people may have about splinters and “hidey nooks” that might injure the user or hang onto bodily fluids or germs.

The wooden toys I own are all by NobEssence, so I can’t say that I know much about other brands, but I can certainly vouch for NobEssence. Their products are sanded and polished totally smooth and utterly flawless. They use a state-of-the-art sealant that is bio-compatible, hypoallergenic, and completely waterproof, “[stemming] from years of meticulous research and development and meet USP Class IV and VI Medical Standards. According to NobEssence, “when carved wood comes into contact with moisture, it absorbs those fluids and becomes rough, bumpy and even splintery. Most wood sealants considered ‘food safe’ will break down or dissolve over time, so we spent a long time searching for a sealant to make our wood waterproof and body safe.”

You should be careful not to damage the surface by dropping it or knocking it against other hard surfaces. You shouldn’t boil it or expose it to high temperatures in a dishwasher, but you can wash it with warm water and non-abrasive soap, soak it for ten minutes in a 10% bleach solution, or wipe it down with anti-bacterial/microbial cleaner, such as alcohol, bleach, peroxide, etc. If you do suspect the toy has been damaged, you can test the integrity of the finish by “immersing it in water for a few seconds and removing to inspect. If the area in question darkens in response to water AND when wiped remains damp when the surrounding area is dry”, then you have damage.

In short, if you follow directions and take proper care of your toy, you shouldn’t encounter any problems. The philosophy with wood toys is the same as with glass. If you notice that your glass toy has a chip or a crack, you should no longer use it. The same goes for wood toys. Over time, nearly any material or item may have health and safety issues. It’s a matter of risk management and taking good care of your toys.

And there you have it!

Wordless Wednesday

16 Feb

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Language Lesson #2: Limerence

13 Feb

I loooove learning new words.  As a (somewhat lazy, self-proclaimed) writer and an avid reader, words are a big passion of mine.  In class today, I was reminded of an awesome word that I learned last semester.  The word is “limerence”.  Pretty, no?

You may have heard people say that the Eskimos have over a hundred words for snow.  (That is actually a common misconception, though at all not the point of this post, sooo…I digress.)  The fact remains that we only have one word for snow in the English lanuage, in spite of there being many different types of snow – light, powdery snow; slushy, soggy snow; hard, icy snow; heavy, packing snow (clearly designed just for building snowmen and forts for snowball fights).  Just like snow, our emotional, relational connections to one another have an immense range of types and intensities. Yet we only have one commonly used word for them – love.

Limerence is a type of romantic love, a sort of heightened variety of infatuation.  The term was coined by Dorothy Tennov, a psychologist who wrote a number of books, the most famous of which is titled Love and Limerence – the Experience of Being in Love.  I have yet to read Love and Limerence, but allow me to explain my current understanding of the word.  (I plan to pick up a copy soon and I will certainly elaborate more after I read it.  The formation of attractions is a totally fascinating subject to me.)

In a state of limerence, one is overwhelmed by the bliss and elation of new love.  Now, on the surface, that sounds perfectly lovely.  The reality is that there are more in-depth stages and, in some cases, much more serious implications in this process.  Beginning with intrusive thoughts about the object of one’s affections, the idealization of his or her qualities, a longing for the reciprocation of one’s feelings, a sense of despair at the slightest sign of rejection, etc. Often, one person may be limerent, while the other is not.  We call this unrequited love. Removing uncertainty and confirming the other person’s reciprocation can resolve the limerent state, which is especially likely when both parties are experiencing limerence.

And now you know.  The process of initial attraction, obsession, longing, affirmation, that roller coaster of doubt and delight that is falling in love, is called limerence.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Read more about limerence.

Real Women: A Blog Post by Hanne Blank

13 Feb

Hello, my lovely (and mostly non-existant) readers!  I’d like to share with you this amazing writing by Hanne Blank, author of some fabulous books related to sexuality, such as Virgin: The Untouched HistoryBig Big Love: A Sex and Relationships Guide for People of Size (and Those Who Love Them), and, most recently, Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of HeterosexualityCheck ’em out.

I am going to repost Hanne’s piece word for word, so let’s be clear that while these are not my own words, they are sentiments that I wholeheartedly agree with. Thank you, Hanne Blank, for writing this and for allowing it to be freely shared with others.

Excuse me while I throw this down, I’m old and cranky and tired of hearing the idiocy repeated by people who ought to know better.

Real women do not have curves. Real women do not look like just one thing.

Real women have curves, and not. They are tall, and not. They are brown-skinned, and olive-skinned, and not. They have small breasts, and big ones, and no breasts whatsoever.

Real women start their lives as baby girls. And as baby boys. And as babies of indeterminate biological sex whose bodies terrify their doctors and families into making all kinds of very sudden decisions.

Real women have big hands and small hands and long elegant fingers and short stubby fingers and manicures and broken nails with dirt under them.

Real women have armpit hair and leg hair and pubic hair and facial hair and chest hair and sexy moustaches and full, luxuriant beards. Real women have none of these things, spontaneously or as the result of intentional change. Real women are bald as eggs, by chance and by choice and by chemo. Real women have hair so long they can sit on it. Real women wear wigs and weaves and extensions and kufi and do-rags and hairnets and hijab and headscarves and hats and yarmulkes and textured rubber swim caps with the plastic flowers on the sides.

Real women wear high heels and skirts. Or not.

Real women are feminine and smell good and they are masculine and smell good and they are androgynous and smell good, except when they don’t smell so good, but that can be changed if desired because real women change stuff when they want to.

Real women have ovaries. Unless they don’t, and sometimes they don’t because they were born that way and sometimes they don’t because they had to have their ovaries removed. Real women have uteruses, unless they don’t, see above. Real women have vaginas and clitorises and XX sex chromosomes and high estrogen levels, they ovulate and menstruate and can get pregnant and have babies. Except sometimes not, for a rather spectacular array of reasons both spontaneous and induced.

Real women are fat. And thin. And both, and neither, and otherwise. Doesn’t make them any less real.

There is a phrase I wish I could engrave upon the hearts of every single person, everywhere in the world, and it is this sentence which comes from the genius lips of the grand and eloquent Mr. Glenn Marla:

There is no wrong way to have a body.

I’m going to say it again because it’s important: There is no wrong way to have a body.

And if your moral compass points in any way, shape, or form to equality, you need to get this through your thick skull and stop with the “real women are like such-and-so” crap.

You are not the authority on what “real” human beings are, and who qualifies as “real” and on what basis. All human beings are real.

Yes, I know you’re tired of feeling disenfranchised. It is a tiresome and loathsome thing to be and to feel. But the tit-for-tat disenfranchisement of others is not going to solve that problem. Solidarity has to start somewhere and it might as well be with you and me.

Copyright 2011 by Hanne Blank. All Rights Reserved.  There is also a free PDF available.

Pass it on.

It Does Get Better by The L Project

12 Feb

Chills.  How lovely.

It Does Get Better is a music video by The L Project.  The group released the song just yesterday.  All money raised from the  purchase of this track will be donated to organizations that help to combat LGBT bullying in the UK, such as Stonewall and Diversity Role Models.  Although this is their first project, there will be others to follow.

On a side note, I really want to learn American Sign Language.  I wonder if they offer affordable classes anywhere around here…