Jan 312011

This is a post about dating and relationships.

So I got this dog:

He’s 63 pounds of 7 year old hound-retriver mix, whom I rescued from the shelter where he lived for 5 years (!!), after being taken from a home where some offensively, criminally irresponsible parents let their sociopaths-in-training teenage boys burn him with cigarettes.

His name is Greenbean – not that he cares. He walks poorly on a leash, he’s still trying to learn to play fetch, he doesn’t respond to his name if there’s anything interesting to smell, and he’s convinced my 13 year old cat is a squirrel.

But he’s got big black eyes and after I feed him dinner (by hand, one mouthful at a time, as a reward for eye contact in response to his name – it takes 20 minutes) he gazes at me with adoration and gratitude. This afternoon after our walk, he bolted, yanking the leash from my hand, and RAN… right to the back door, where he waited eagerly for me to let him inside, so he could sleep on the couch. How cute is that?

Plus? He’s a man magnet. Every time I walk (read: wrestle on a leash) him downtown, at least two guys will stop and say, “That’s a beautiful dog.” Men give me (bad) advice about what to do when he pulls on the leash. They ask what kind of mix he is. “Wow, he’s strong!” they tell me as he lunges at their dog – and they say it warmly, as if to say, “Look at that woman managing that powerful animal!”

The funny part is, at the shelter they told me he didn’t trust men and boys, because of what happened in his past. He has had no issues with any man while he’s been with me.

This is the lesson dogs have for us: a creature that was tortured and helpless now draws affectionate attention from the very group he once feared with reason.

His history has left its mark. There’s a hole in his nose that goes right through to his nasal cavity, and his ears are torn up and tattered.

But he’s got me to keep him safe now, and because he’s building trust and respect with me, his pack leader, because he’s learning that I’ll protect him if someone tries to hurt him, he can do anything. He’s free because he’s safe.

The tricky part about being human is that you have to be your own pack leader. You have to know that you can keep yourself safe, stand over your own emotional center of gravity and stay stable but responsive.

When you’ve got that, you can open yourself back up to new experiences, without fear, without reservation, trusting that if you fall, you’ll be safe. You’ve got YOU to protect you.

I’ll write another post soon about strategies for building that. But I bet you could figure it out on your own if you sat and thought about it for half an hour. “How do I keep myself safe and stable while also trying the unknown?” you ask. The answer is there inside you – it’s inside all of us – and all you have to do is find it.

And when you have that internal knowledge of security, you’ll find yourself walking down the street drawing comments about how beautiful you are. Even with your battle scars. You’ll be a man magnet.

Jan 272011

January man. I fucking hate January. It’s dark. It’s cold. Here in New England we’re surrounded by 8 foot heaps of snow. And all I want to do is eat carbohydrates and sleep. I definitely don’t feel like writing blog posts.

Traditionally I spend the entire month hibernating. February gets a little easier. By March I start to come back to life. And by April I’m a person again. But January, man. I fucking hate January.

So here’s a post about mood and sexuality, eh?

90% of people experience a drop in their sexual interest when they’re depressed. Lack of sexual interest is even a SYMPTOM of depression. This can be a drag both for the individual and for their partner(s), if any.

So what works? What helps?

Well medication is a strategy. SSRIs (like Prozac) are more likely to have sexual side effects (i.e., kill your sex drive) than dopamine agonists (like Wellbutrin), which sort of defeats the purpose, if you’re looking to revive your dormant sexual interest. Vitamin D and Vitamin B complex supplements may help. Blue/white light in the morning often helps. Physical activity – aerobic exercise – definitely helps, if you can find the energy or motivation to do it.

But I’m generally inclined to feel that these kinds of things miss the point.

If you’re depressed – and lots of people are, especially this time of year – and if your sex drive went south with your mood, consider this a window into non-erotic sensory experience. Sexual desire may not be immediately accessible to you, but you still live inside a body with a somatic nervous system. And that’s something to celebrate.

So look: it’s totally dark at 6pm. You’re facing 4 hours of bleakness before you can justify going to bed. You could watch TV. You could stare at the ceiling and cry. You could get drunk.

Or you could take a shower.

Yeah. Go take a shower.

Stand under the water, lean against the shower wall, close your eyes, and notice the water making contact with your skin. Notice how it slides in rivulets down your body and flows across your feet. Take a deep breath, and notice it all again. Keep noticing it. And notice that your mind will wander – and it will, that’s how brains work. When it wanders, just notice that, and then gently return your attention to the water on your living skin.

Wash your living body. Your hair. Your back. Your arms. Your hands. Wash each and every individual part, and notice the sensation, the smell of the soap, the texture of your skin – how it’s different on the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands.

Notice the inside of your body too, where muscles are tense, to hold your physical weight, how your stomach or your shoulders or your jaw or your scalp is tense, to hold the psychological weight. Notice where you’re dark and shadowed inside, and notice where you’re light and glowing.

Tune in to your living, breathing body. Because here you are. And what you have, all you have, is the next breath. Nothing else is guaranteed. Just this breath.

And then this one.

And then this one.

You’re alive in a body.

Pay attention to it. Tune in.

Will it ease your mood? Maybe. Maybe not. Will it revive your sexual desire? It definitely might, but it might not.

Will it help you reconnect with life and relationships? Yes.

Will it enrich you in ways that TV, directionless grief, or alcohol can’t? Yes.

And if you want to follow it with a couple glasses of wine, a good long cry, and 3 episodes of “The Dog Whisperer,” well I’m hardly the one to cast stones.

Jan 142011

I often sleep with earplugs, because my apartment faces a main road so traffic noise sometimes keeps me awake. Lately though, no.

But. Three nights in a row this weekend, I was awoken by the sounds of my neighbor having sex.

Three. Nights. In a row.

Now, I’m a GREAT neighbor when it comes to that kind of thing. It doesn’t bother me at all. (In fact I once accidentally embarrassed the hell out of a roommate by sweetly expressing my appreciation for the fact that he made his girlfriend come three times one night. Apparently this was awkward for him. Woops.) The first night, I just smiled and thought, “Awwww, that’s nice,” when I heard the little whimpering noises and gasped “oh gods” coming from #6. And then it went on… and on… for an hour and a half. At which point I gave up and put in my earplugs. No offense to my neighbor, I just needed to get some sleep.

Night two. “Must be a new relationship,” I thought to myself. Squeak-a squeak-a squeak-a. “Oh god!” For an hour and a half. Earplugs.

Night three. “Hope they’re using a high quality silicone lube.” Earplugs.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about lube.

Humans are not designed for marathon sex. Both male and female genitals (and everything in between) will chafe and ache with friction. The vagina is not designed to provide adequate lubrication for any but the most perfunctory intercourse. And a chafed vagina is a vagina more at risk for infection! Add to that the non-concordance of physiological arousal and experienced arousal and you have some extremely compelling reasons to use LUBE.

What kind of lube?

I am a silicone lube evangelist. Things like this one or this one or indeed all of these. Look for ingredient lists that consist primarily or exclusively of things like cyclomethicone, dimethicone, etc.

Why do I praise silicone lube to the heavens?

1. Latex safe. Use it with both male condoms and female condoms, latex or polyurethane.

2. Waterproof. Need I say more? You’ll need SOAP and water to wash it off in the morning. Plain, unscented soap on your naughty bits, please.

3. Thick. It doesn’t dribble all over in runny mess, losing its efficacy. Especially for super-long marathon sex (an hour and a half definitely qualifies) or anal sex, look for something like Pjur Power Cream, which is nice and thick, so it stays where you put it.

4. Lasts longer than you do. It simply does not evaporate. It lasts a long, long, long, long time. So even though, yes, it is expensive, you only need to use a tiny bit, so one bottle goes a long way.

5. Dries to a silky powder finish. Where water-based lubes often dry to a sticky, gummy mess on your hands, silicone lubes just feel soft and powdery, so you can caress your partner’s body and face without feeling like you’re smearing spirit gum all over your lover.

It’s also very unlikely to cause an allergic reaction or yeast infections (unlike flavored and/or glycerin-based lubes), it has no flavor so you can taste your partner’s skin and fluids, and silicone is a comparatively sustainable, biodegradable resource, so it’s not too atrocious for the environment, unlike petroleum-based lubes (which are also unsuitable for use with latex.)

The one thing silicone lube ISN’T good for is use with silicone toys. It’ll break down the surface of the toy. Bad news bears. Put condoms on your toys if you’re not sure. And ALWAYS use lube with protective barriers. Lube increases their efficacy AND makes them more pleasant to use.

So look: if you’re going to have noisy sex for hours at a time, three nights in a row, there are two things you should do. (1) Have a patient, sex positive neighbor like me; and (2) Use silicone lube.

And I will sleep with earplugs, both to guard my neighbor’s privacy and to improve my sleep.

Jan 112011

I’ve been watching a lot of Dog Whisperer lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Cesar Millan and I have something in common.

There are folks who object to Cesar Millan’s approach to dealing with fearful, aggressive, or otherwise unstable dogs. They “disagree” with his approach (grounded in ethology of dogs). They think he’s physically hurting the dogs, they hate to see the dog “flooded,” and they think it “involves high adrenaline, physical action.”

They’re wrong. They’re so wrong I think they must be blinkered or stupid or deliberately misunderstanding. What does Cesar say about 50 time per show? Calm, assertive energy. Calm energy is, by definition, NOT adrenaline energy. Morons.

No, not morons. They just see the world the way they see it, and anything that fails to fit into that view must be wrong or impossible. So not morons, just… stuck. And judging.

I once had a neighbor who gave me the stink-eye for not coddling and cooing at my dog when she fell down two slippery steps. Clearly I am a callous, unloving person, right?

If I had stooped down and loved all over the dog, I would have been giving her positive feedback WHILE she felt panicked about the fall, thus teaching her to feel panicked at the bottom of the stairs. So what did I do? I watched and listened to find out if the dog was injured, and she wasn’t, so I kept walking. I stayed calm… and assertive.

I was doing what was right for my dog, but to people who don’t understand it looked like I was being neglectful and unloving.

Why does it look wrong? Because it is not quite the appropriate thing to do with, say, a human child. A human child falls down a couple steps, you watch and listen to find out if they’re injured, AND (assuming they are not) you touch them, smile at them, ask “Are you all right?” in a voice that gently anticipates, “Yes.” Human attachment systems are such that gentle light touch creates calmness, it changes the state of mind. In dogs, gentle light touch REWARDS whatever state of mind the dog is in. Not understanding this difference between humans and dogs produces the kind of misunderstandings that make people misjudge Cesar.

Anyway. Why the hell am I writing this on a sex blog?

Because I, in my very minor way, get misunderstood as Cesar gets misunderstood. I have a deep knowledge of my subject area, and my opinions are different from people who do not. They are sometimes different from people who do, because everyone’s point of view is different and that’s a GOOD thing. The world view is a hologram of slightly different perspectives on the same topic.

Some of my greatest, misunderstood hits: Women are different from men, and until we embrace that fact, women will suffer under the false belief that they are broken. Medication for women’s sexual desire is a blind alley. Sexual fluids are beautiful; believing they are gross blinkers the progress of science and contributes to a sex negative world, which in turn contributes to sexual injustice.

And there are people who object powerfully to all those things. They are well-intended but usually ill-informed; they see the world they way they see it and anything that fails to fit into that view must be wrong.

I do what it right for women’s sexuality, but to people who don’t understand, it looks like I’m doing damage, insisting that women and men are different, that medication is a blind alley, and that failing to feel good about sexual fluids creates a world where we’ll never end HIV, sexual violence, or unwanted pregnancy. Yeah, your “ew” response contributes to injustice and violence. So quit it, okay?

Cesar and I have other things in common: we believe in the important of individual differences of temperament – he in dogs, I in humans; we believe in the importance of staying relaxed in the presence of the unexpected and unwanted; and we both have a deep, internal calling to do what we do. We can’t NOT do our work. We want and intend to make the world a better place.

While I’m at it, here’s my equivalent of the “calm assertive pack leader” mantra:

It’s not about orgasm. Pay attention to your partner. Enjoy the sex you’re having.

Tell those three things to everyone you meet, please.

Jan 082011

Do you feel that talking about animals in human terms like heterosexual, homosexual, polyamorous et cetera… is dangerous and gives media the chance to misconstrue findings, or do you think it comes from homophobia in the science community

Well, heterosexual and homosexual as ADJECTIVES are not human terms; gay and lesbian are human terms, as is “homosexual” as a NOUN (as in, “He’s ‘a homosexual’”), and I do think that talking about animals in those terms is meaningless. Scientists don’t talk about animals as being gay or straight. They may, with perfect accurancy, describe animal behavior as homosexual or heterosexual. Bonobo female g-g rubbing in a homosexual behavior. But those bonobos aren’t lesbian (or queer etc).

But it has been true that scientists have felt moral judgment about homosexual behavior in non-human animals, which has impeded the progress of knowledge and understanding about evolution, animal behavior, and biology.

Journalists have done the same thing. And because historically ‘homosexual’ has been used as a noun to categorize people, its use in the scientific literature to describe the behavior of non-human animals sounds, to the lay person (which includes journalists) as though being a gay person and non-human animal homosexual behavior are closely related. In point of fact, they’re barely related at all. But this is one of the phenomena that makes evolution difficult to understand if you’re only thinking superficially: behaviors may emerge that are phylogenetically unrelated and/or environmentally unrelated, but which solve problems for different species.

Your species needs to more parenting partnerships, in the absence of enough males? Same sex female parenting. Your species needs a quick and instinctive behavior for establishing power hierarchies or calming aggression? Non-reproductive sexual behavior. Your species has a long developmental phase and needs to train its young to be sexual for adulthood? Adolescent and childhood sexual behavior among same-sex conspecifics. (This is a very rough and shallow description; I only want to illustrate the point that non-reproductive sex and same-sex partnership serves various functions in various species.)

The media’s failure to HELP people in the mainstream understand that non-human animal behavior is no measure of human behavior is grounded in the same moralizing and ignorance as exampled by the scientists who morally judged the homosexual behavior of non-human animals. They’re simply failing to distinguish between behavior and PERSONHOOD.

No animal can be a person. By definition. (Some people disagree with me; they tend to be the kind of people who feed their dogs table lasagna and leave money to their cats in their wills.) And a PERSON’S SELF, their essence, their individuality, their rights, their worth, is in no way affected by what they choose to do sexually with a consenting peer.

When you impose your morality as a measure of the behavior of non-human animals, it’s a step in the direction of using your morality as a weapon to exclude or disrespect humans who make different sexual choices than you would.

Put sexual behavior in the appropriate context; the bonobo context, the dog context, the human context. The only sexual behavior that belongs in a MORAL CONTEXT is YOUR OWN sexuality and that of your partners. Period. (Unless you’re a legislator making laws around consent and harm, or a clinician making decisions about distress and dysfunction. Then it gets way more complicated. But that’s another post.)

So I think the harm comes not from describing animal behavior (accurately) as homosexual but from humans – including lay people, scientists, and journalists and other members of the media – laying their personal sexual morality where it doesn’t belong. Where doesn’t it belong? Anywhere other than their own personal sex lives, and those of their partners.

There’s a post to be written about the role of moral outrage in the progress of society. I’ll do that later. For now, my goal is to encourage all of YOU to delimit the relevance of your sexual morality to your personal, direct experience. Okee dokee?

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Jan 062011

Jezebel has an article about Orgasm, Inc, Liz Canner’s marvelous documentary about the medicalization of women’s sexual dysfunction.

I’m about to piss a bunch of you off and probably I’ll get angry comments, but that’s fine because those kinds of comments are actually what I want to write about – the angry comments at Jezebel, in fact.

I read them carefully because I’ve been trying for a long time to understand the feminist yet pro-meds/FSD perspective. I still don’t understand it – as far as I can tell it fundamentally doesn’t make sense – but I have at least got a sense of what it is they’re getting wrong. Three mistakes seem to occur over and over:

(1) They discuss dysfunctions that are not the target conditions of the medications in question. “Female sexual dysfunction” isn’t actually a “thing” per se, it’s not actually a diagnosis. See what Harvard Medical School has to say on the subject.

Flibby and all the drugs I know of that constitute an attempt at “pink Viagra” target desire. There have been some efforts to medically treat arousal. There are no drugs, to my knowledge, that have targeted orgasm. Those are the three broad categories of sexual diagnoses. Pain disorders tend to bridge all three, and they too have not been targets for “pink Viagra” type pharmaceutical intervention.

(2) They mistakenly dichotomize “organic” or “biological” and “mental.” Pro-FSD feminists claim that anti-FSD feminists (like me) are saying that sexual dysfunction is “all in your head.” We’re not – or at least I’m certainly not, and I’ve never seen or read or heard anything from any of my fellow anti-Flibbers that suggests anything similar. The reason I never have and never will say such a thing is that I know there’s no such thing as a sexual dysfunction that’s “all in your head.” Neither is there such as a sexual dysfunction that’s “all in your vagina.” There is only the embodied mind. Thus education and behavioral training change physiology. Just because the treatment goes from the mind to the body doesn’t mean we think it’s “imaginary.”

For the record, and for always, I COMPLETELY GET that women are suffering, and I want there to be effective treatments available. Saying “That’s not how this dysfunction works and this is not how to treat it” is not even a little bit like saying, “That’s not a real problem.” It is a real problem, and I am interested in REAL solutions.

(3) They claim women “already know” about their own sexuality (like where the clitoris is etc). But how could women know? They’ve been taught the wrong information their whole lives. I teach a semester-long class called Women’s Sexuality and it’s not enough time to teach HALF of what I wish all my students knew. A primary reasons for this is that students are not simply ignorant, they’re actually filled with incorrect information, attitudes that inhibit learning, and a couple decades’ worth of cultural shaming. Knowledge, attitudes, and behavior all fall short for the vast majority of people in America.

I have to recognize that the people making these mistakes feel PASSIONATELY about their beliefs and they have the best of intentions, wanting women to have equal access to sexual health and pleasure. Same as me.

Examples. Here are some comments from well-intentioned people, many of whom are genuinely suffering, making these three mistakes:

Tigrrl makes Mistake 1. None of the drugs tested have looked at increasing orgasm intensity. She also seems to imply Mistake 3 – she knows where her clitoris is, but apparently she doesn’t know about the non-concordance of physiology with experience; orgasm intensity is not related to physiological response:

While I don’t doubt that the pharmaceutical company are just out to make money, I am a woman who would benefit from some kind of medication. When I was younger, I had mind-blowing orgasms, 9-10 on a scale of 1-10. As I’ve gotten older, the intensity of orgasm has gone down to about a 3 at the most. This is not because I don’t know about my clitoris, nor because my partner doesn’t know about it. It’s not because I don’t masturbate, or don’t know how to use sex toys. I have talked to my doctors, I have talked to nurse practitioners, and most of them looked at me like I’m crazy and moved on to the next subject.

From the research I’ve done, there is such a thing as FSD. I would say that I am someone who experiences this. So, I would be so glad if someone would at least take this seriously. I would pay a lot of money to have good orgasms again.

nobodyr also makes Mistake 1, very angrily. (Dear nobodyr, consider reading Becoming Orgasmic, by Julia Heiman)..:

Netflix sez: “With humor and a wealth of research, director Liz Canner examines how drug companies promote and profit from the myth of female sexual dysfunction”

Excuse me? The myth of sexual dysfunction?

I know where my goddamn clitoris is, thanks bitch. That doesn’t help me… because I have the “myth” of FSD. Jesus. Christ.

Of COURSE a goddamn vibrator company is going to say that women just need stimulation, tu stulta. What do you expect? Why don’t you ask someone who actually has FSD?

My gynecologist told me women don’t like sex, that’s why I couldn’t orgasm. My doctor told me its okay that I can’t. And you think I just need to buy (another?) vibrator. All the same thing, really- because it doesn’t fucking help me.

Nerdy-nerd-nerd describes the symptoms of 3 different sexual dysfunctions (vaginismus, dyspareunia, and anorgamia), none of which is a target of drugs like Flibanserin, and she seems to be making Mistake 3 as well, suggesting that her knowledge (or lack thereof) about women’s sexuality is not a barrier to sexual health:

Before people begin going on about how this mainly or only affects women who are ignorant of their bodies or the fault of selfish partners I’d just like to mention that there are women who do have sexual dysfunction who are very aware of their anatomy and have decent, caring, compassionate partners. I’d even put that in the majority of women who would even consider medical treatment. TMI: I cannot be penetrated by anything above a centimeter in diameter without extreme pain, arousal itself can be painful as well, and orgasm is nearly impossible to achieve. I have had multiple partners with various degrees of experience and have, let’s say, a very good understanding of my own body. Despite all this there is no real difference in the amount of pain and discomfort I experience. I know where my clitoris is, I know that is is the source of most people’s orgasms, I have had very excellent and patient partners who gave up their sexual needs to adjust to my rather extreme limitations, I even know where my basically inaccessible g-spot is. Does any of that do me any good? No.

As I have not responded to dilator and other kinds of physical and sex therapy the next step would be using botox (too expensive for me right now) to paralyze the painful muscle contractions. I’ve also heard of some other therapies which could deaden the nerves somewhat and decrease pain which are also out of my price and practicality range. As you can see a pill that would help would be a substantial improvement over current methods.

MySandwich makes Mistakes 1 and 2 (again, orgasm isn’t the target for the meds, and it’s not biological without also being mental/attitudinal/behavioral):

what if, for some women, there is a biological basis for anorgasmia, or related conditions? I appreciate that blanket applying such a diagnosis to all women is clumsy and unhelpful, but some people, it offers a removal of responsibility – like when you tell parents their child’s ADD could be the result of genetics as opposed to poor parenting practises. It removes personal guilt and perhaps makes it easier for someone to face the issue.

Atomic B makes Mistakes 2 and 3, without specifying what dysfunction they think the drugs are for, thus avoiding Mistake 1:

Research into the issue being spurred by a drive for profits is hardly a positive thing, but it’s better than suggesting that a woman’s sexual issues are entirely in her head [Mistake 2] or are some kind of myth. If you feel something (or don’t), then you feel it, bottom line. A lot of women have been sexually repressed by their culture and experiences, yes. Still, they control their own bodies, not you, and acting as though they need to be protected from a drug that would presumably have to be FDA approved because you don’t think they really understand their own bodies [Mistake 3] is kind of patronizing. There are ways to fight predatory marketing of drugs that don’t involve acting as though the target market is incapable of making judgments about their own bodies for themselves.


Over and over, the battle cry of the pro-FSD feminists is, “I AM BROKEN DAMN YOU AND DON’T TRY TO TELL ME I’M NOT!!” I feel from them the same angry, starved desperation that I felt from so many people in my class.

My post yesterday illustrated the power of education about the science of women’s sexuality in helping women to feel NORMAL. Not broken. What would I give to have each of these people in my classroom for a semester, so they too can learn to feel normal instead of broken, to feel empowered to deal with their sexuality in the context of their lives, to recognize the complex, unpredictable relationship between their bodies, their mood, their stress, their relationships, and their culture?

What would I give? I’d give hours of my time, clearly, writing a blog, just for a start.

I’ve gotten shit before for saying things like, “I am Pink Viagra,” but really. Knowledge is power, friends. With none of the troublesome side effects of medication.

Jan 052011

The last question on the final exam in my class was “What’s one important thing you learned in this class?” I let them know they got the points no matter what they said, as long as they answered the question.

There were four big themes in their responses, and I’ll talk about all of them eventually, but I want to show you what students said about the single most prevalent theme. It illustrates, in my mind, the overmastering importance of a scientific approach to sex. With gratitude and acknowledgment to my students, here’s what they said:

I’m “normal.”

I am normal.

I am normal.

I’m normal.


I am normal!

I am normal!

I learned I’m normal :)

That I am normal. :) Thanks.

I am normal! :)

One really important thing I learned from this class is that I am normal!

I am normal!

That I am normal!

Yes, I am normal!


That I’m normal, so stop worrying about it

My desires and body are “normal”!

I’m normal. My sexuality is normal.

I’m normal! And so is everyone else.

I am normal and so are you no matter what we want, need or enjoy in terms of sex.

I am normal! And so is any sexual act as long as it can be done!

That everything I think and feel in terms of my own sexuality is normal and okay.

I learned that I am normal! And I learned that some people have spontaneous desire and others have responsive desire and this fact helped me really understand my personal life.

I am normal! There isn’t a word that can describe my sexuality or who I am besides my name. I am who I am!

Asking “am I normal” should always/will now always be answered with YES!

Everything is normal :)

Everyone is normal.

That everything is normal.

Everything is normal, everything varies.

Everything is normal and social constructions are useless.

What’s normal? EVERYTHING IS NORMAL :)

Everything and everyone is normal (regarding sexuality, sexual response, and practices)

How everything is normal.

There is no such thing as “normal.”

There is no such thing as “normal.” Society tries to say that there is a “norm” but almost no one fits in the category, therefore actually making it an abnormal category so to speak.

Everything is normal. Bringing joy and confidence to sex

I learned that everything is NORMAL, making it possible to go through the rest of my life with confidence and joy.

That we are all normal and have the right and freedom to experiment however we want sexually as long as it is safe and consensual.

I learned that all sexual behaviors are normal. I think that’s really important because it’s easy to subscribe to popularized, stereotyped ideas of how sex “should” be.

There are an infinite amount of sexualities and it’s okay if mine is different from everyone else’s :)

Normal encompasses a lot more than people would like you to believe in the world of sex.

That there is no real “normal” thing about women/sex/reproduction. Me = less of a freak than I thought.

“Normal” is not limited to the society’s definition of “normal.” It is different for each individual.

Women vary, and pretty much everything is normal.

Women vary! And just because I do not experience my sexuality in the same way as many other women, that does not make me abnormal

That women’s sexual desire, arousal, response etc., is incredibly varied.

The one thing I can count on regarding sexuality is that people vary, a lot

I learned that women are beautiful and diverse, which means most things are healthy and normal (even if popular culture says they’re not). Vaginas, for instance, vary tremendously, and that’s fantastic – nothing to be embarrassed of.

I learned that it is okay to sexually desire certain acts, people, etc. Everything is “normal,” I am “normal,” and we shouldn’t judge ourselves on a scale of normal/abnormal anyway.

What is normal? Everything – as long as there is consent and no distress.

That there’s no such thing as normal.

We are all normal & we are all okay.

That it is okay to be different than others when it comes to sexual pleasure.

I learned that each person’s concept of what is “normal” or “weird” is different.

Sexuality is massively different in all different people, so as long as you’re being considerate of your partner and not hurting them, you are ok. You’re not weird and you aren’t “not normal.” Not only that but you can even change your feelings or what you like throughout your life, and that’s ok too!! :)

To be more open and understanding of other’s sexual desires, identities, and behaviors. I learned the value of not yucking someone else’s yum.

The phrase “Don’t yuck my yum!” Also that no one is sexually abnormal. We’re all different, and that’s cool. (Which Judith Butler put a lot better than me…)

No yucking – your yuck could be someone else’s yum. I think acceptance is a big part of being sex-positive.

When presented with occasionally graphic images, I learned about the importance of quietly and respectfully accepting the sexual preferences of others if they do not exactly match mine – specifically I mean “not yucking anyone’s yum.” In fact, I learned to keep an open mind about it because, who knows, it might be something I decide to try! I attribute this in part to the class size – you know that of all those people, it may apply to someone.

I learned that “normal” is really a social construct, its precise classification varying with place and time. People attach the label “normal” when variance from the common or accepted/expected behavior frightens them.

Throughout this class I learned how what is “normal” is so tied up with culture and society, and this can have significant effects on the individual and their identity.

The we are all normal! There is so much variance (good!) that the rigid labels and standards in our culture is a bunch of hooey.

The ability to think about so many different components of sexuality in a new, more fully developed way. Oh, and that everything is normal.

I learned that no matter whether non-normative sexualities or genders were selected for or are products of cultural upbringing, they are normal, diverse, and completely OKAY.

There is no such thing as “normal” and we should love ourselves, always.

Everything is normal (as long as it is between consenting adults and it doesn’t cause personal suffering).

Nothing, or everything, in terms of sexuality is normal!

The point of sex is to create diverse, dependent offspring. NO TWO ALIKE!

That everyone is different and everything is normal; no two alike

No two alike!

Diverse & Dependent Offspring. No 2 alike.

The most important thing I am taking away from this class is the notion that as long as it is safe and consensual, every type of sex, gender, expression, or sexual act is totally normal. I feel that this class has freed me from the constraints of social and sexual norms and allowed me to explore my own sexuality more extensively.

(And my favorite…)

Pretty much the lot of it, but particularly sex positivity. It was amazing to learn about sexuality from someone who is not a nun or an abstinence-only teacher! Science FTW!

Jan 042011

My sister, being either very thorough or very bored, watched the entire QI clip that I linked to, and noticed that at 11:04 there’s a bit about antibiotics, sexually transmitted infections, and alcohol. She said I had to write a post about it.

So here.

Lots of people get told by their docs not to drink when they’re on antibiotics for STIs. QI tells us that the reason for this is not medical but behavioral: if you’re on antibiotics for an STI, you really oughta not be having unprotected sex, and getting drunk is maybe not helpful in that. So docs say, “Don’t drink with this antibiotic.”

Except for sometimes.

Allow me to tell you a story that illustrates the kind of relationships I have with my medical providers, as well as memorably reinforcing this idea of NOT drinking with antibiotics.

Several years ago, I was at the doc to get antibiotics for a UTI. I had a DOOZY of an infection, so I was in pretty serious pain while I waited for the test results to confirm the diagnosis. I did not want to chit chat with the doc, but heck I try to be friendly and darn it I talk about vaginas for a living, which is a pretty rare and appealing thing for a medical practitioner. It’s quite common for my doctor visits to take at least twice as long as planned because the provider gets into a conversation with me about birth control, sexual dysfunction, or STIs.

So we got to talking about antibiotics and STIs. Here’s what she told me, while I sat there blinking against the pain and taking deep, cleansing breaths:

DOC: Yeah, if you get the kind of antibiotics that say, ‘Don’t drink alcohol with these,’ take that really seriously. The antibiotics for STDs? Don’t ever drink with those.

ME: Yeah? How come? What happens?

(Here comes the punchline:)

DOC: You will puke up your toes.

A colorful phrase that I pass it on to you, to help you remember not to drink with your antibiotics if the label says not to.

I suffered about 10 extra minutes of UTI pain for that anecdote. You bet your bippy I want to make the most of it.