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Letter to a sex educator

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

Dear, beloved new educator (or not new, depending on who is reading this):

After doing this gig for over 10 years (though the last five have been the busiest), and after laughing, moaning, kvetching, rejoicing, and otherwise being very expressive about what I do, I thought I’d jot down a list of tips for you. Really, it’s for me to remember, but perhaps someone else can get some use out if it, as well.

1. Your ego will only get in your way. In order to truly educate, we need to build connection with the people that come to our classes. We can’t do that if we’re so full of ourselves that there’s no room for them.

2. You will have to promote yourself. For some of us, this is a deeply uncomfortable thing; for others, it comes as naturally as breathing. Finding a way to talk about your work that feels authentic to your core ideals and still gets the job done is more important than I can tell you.

3. People will want things from you. Some people will want your time, others will want your money, others will want you to do something for them (or with them, or to them). Some of them will expect it. Clarify your boundaries, and gently enforce them, otherwise you will get sucked dry.

4. Almost nobody makes a decent living from sex education of any kind. The people that are most successful with it find a way to make money in other ways; until our culture changes enough that sex education for adults is valued, most of us are going to have to “moonlight”. Find something that you can do alongside your education – something that enhances it, rather than detracts from it.

5. Expect to pay your dues. Freshly minted graduate degrees in sex education don’t promise you work; neither does the fact that you’ve taught at three local events. You will have to get out there, you will have to take gigs that don’t pay much (or at all) in order to get some references and build your skills. Acting like the world owes you opportunities will just push those same opportunities away.

6. Beware becoming a shell. Burnout is rampant, and almost a part of the process. Some educators take weeks or months off each year; others work themselves until they can’t do it anymore. Plan on feeling drained at some point, and plan ahead for what you’ll do to counteract it. Nourish relationships with others, especially those who do similar work. Maintain your own internal life (spiritual, emotional, and intellectual). Continue growing. Realize that you are responsible for doing what is right for you.

7. Keep your word. When you commit to teaching somewhere, keep that commitment if at all possible. If you fuck up, admit it and try to fix it. Humility and honesty are the touchstones of respect.

8. Question everything. Question your assumptions, your experience, your perspectives. Be open to criticism from students & peers. Consider whether the “good enough” has become the enemy of the “best we can do”. Question your privilege, your phobias, your normativity. Challenge the use of language, both your own and that of the world.

9. Let yourself develop in front of your student’s eyes. Often we feel like, in order to teach, we must be experts. On the contrary, teaching is an evolution in thought, in information, and in communication. When students see us grow, they understand growth as part of the process, and it can empower them to act from right where they are, without feeling like they don’t know enough.

10. Ask for what you need. Say “no” when you don’t get it. You are not being a diva if your needs include things like gas, tolls, lodging, or a fee. Just be prepared to hear “no” from the venue. Not every group has the same ability to pay, or beliefs about doing so. If possible, though, be flexible – sometimes you’ll find ways to work out the situation to everyone’s delight.

11. Remember thou art mortal. You are in a world that often responds to celebrity, even minor, limited-range celebrity, by building up pedestals and praising the people they put on them. Balancing the many compliments & ego strokes with the reminder that your underwear is just as dirty as everyone elses’ is key to maintaining your emotional equilibrium. Eventually, you’ll be off the pedestal – and if you forget the core of who you are as a human being, you’ll find it one of the most painful internal experiences ever.

12. Write down, right now, why you do this. It can be for lofty reasons, or even just because you want to get laid more – whatever it is, write it down. Remember it. Revisit it & modify it if necessary. And whatever you do – don’t forget it. Because some days, that’s what will get you out of bed, into the shower, out to the venue, and get you ready to educate and inspire in the way that only you can.

 
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The Myth of the Male Orgasm

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

Common wisdom about female orgasms a few dozen years ago was that women should be able to have them through penetration, with no additional stimulation – or they were frigid. So far, we seem to be well on our way to debunking that – most people understand that clitoral stimulation, or g-spot stimulation, or anal play, or vibrators, or other forms of stimulation are usually required in addition to (or even – gasp! – instead of) penetration. Sex education is about feminism, right? It’s about empowering women to have the sex lives they deserve. I get that.

The problem is that we have done wrong by men. We’ve developed the Cult of the Come Shot. Every guy is focused on busting a nut, and every guy can do it lots of ways, at any time…or he’s not really a man. He’s either fully functional sexually, or he’s got ED and therefore requires some chemical assistance in order to be a whole man. The problem is – for most guys, this isn’t reality.

One of the plus sides to being a sexually active, non-monogamous person who has sex with men is that I get to be privy to exactly how a variety of guys have sex. One of the down sides to being a sex educator is hearing how many people of all genders have deep, personal misconceptions about orgasms for men. The sad thing is how many of those misconceptions cause personal doubts about sexual behavior, self esteem issues, and relationship problems – and how rarely those misconceptions are addressed.

I’ve heard a lot of explanations from partners, often with a tinge of shame on their part. One guy I’ve had amazing sex with in the past said that usually, penetration and oral sex were “off the table” with partners; his problem, he believes, is that his circumcision wasn’t performed correctly and robbed him of much of the sensation. He gets off ok (if sometimes slowly) with his hands – but PIV sex & blow jobs aren’t going to do the job for him (or even, in some cases, give him enough sensation to maintain an erection).

And he’s not alone. I’ve been intimate with guys who can only orgasm in one position, and guys whose orgasms take a long time to work up to. I’ve been with guys who prefer to not use their cocks at all during sex, including forgoing all stimulation to their nether regions. I’ve been with guys whose ability to orgasm goes down as their stress levels go up. I’ve been with guys who go through weeks or months of not being “in the mood”.

You know what? NONE of that is inherently bad, or wrong, or “unmanly”. Just like we’ve all been preaching to women for the past 30 years, orgasms – and sexual pleasure – happen differently for each individual. Setting up an environment where men feel like they have to be sexual “on demand” is just as damaging and anti-feminist as inflicting those same expectations on women.

This also means that partners of men need to challenge their own expectations – and realize that the problems may not actually be problems. Often, we feel incompetent or not good enough when we don’t see the proof of our partner’s pleasure, and we may wonder if we’re sexy enough, or even if they are even turned on by us. Occasionally it ends up being a blame game on the guy – he must be getting his orgasms somewhere else, either by using porn, masturbating, or even cheating – and we get angry. We may even let it stop our conversations about what really feels good and intimate to us, as partners – and intimacy can slip into this nebulous place where we put the other things that don’t quite work and we don’t want to question.

Let’s start making room for these conversations in our relationships, and with our new partners. If we believe that sex should be about both people receiving pleasure, then finding out what pleasure actually means to each other should be at the start of that discussion, not an afterthought to be dredged up after expectations are not met. If guys aren’t orgasming the way they want, we need to support them in both checking in with their doctors to eliminate any physical reasons, and engage with them in things that do bring them pleasure without bogging down in unrealistic expectations.

Most of all, society could use a bit of a reality check: men don’t, by virtue of having a penis, always have the sexual response that we might imagine; and they do have the same right to their own health, pleasure and sexuality that we’re finally seeing women claim. The goal of sex positivity (at least for me) is that every person feel good about who they are, what their body does, and the pleasure that they can get from it – and if we don’t offer that to every person, regardless of their genitals, then we fail.

 
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Expert Guide to Female Orgasms DVD Giveaway!

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

Expert Guide to Female Orgasms DVD Box CoverI am SO EXCITED to be able to give one of my readers a copy of Tristan Taormino’s  newest title – this one focuses on the Female Orgasm!

As Tristan describes the movie on her Tumblr site…

“This film is built around the performers who star in it—Katie St. Ives, Evanni Solei, Jiz Lee, Madison Young, Dylan Ryan and Adrianna Nicole. For each of them, what it takes to bring them to orgasm is different: oral sex, G-spot stimulation, deep vaginal penetration, clitoral stimulation with a vibrator, anal sex, and various combinations. The scenes are meant to reflect just a tiny part of the great diversity of female pleasure and orgasm. The movie’s focus is female pleasure, but credit must be given to some of the top male performers in the industry who star alongside them: James Deen, Mr. Marcus, Sean Michaels, and Evan Stone. As with my other films, I interviewed everyone extensively, and you get to hear from them about their different preferences and experiences. There is simply no other sex education film like it. And the actual DVD is worth owning (rather than downloading the movie), since it’s chock full of extras: safer sex techniques, a Kegel exercise how-to, a vibrator guide, a masturbation montage, and a fun look behind the scenes.”

Sounds awesome? It is! And since it’s shipping to retailers on Monday the 13th, you can’t even technically buy it yet – but you can win a copy this week!

All you have to do? Easy. Click on each NSFW link below, check out the photos & behind the scenes info, and then leave a comment here and tell me which of these five scenes you’re most excited about:

Adrianna Nicole & James Deen

Dylan Ryan & Mr Marcus

Katie St. Ives & Sean Michaels

Evanni Solei & Evan Stone

Madison Young & Jiz Lee

Make sure that you leave your post before Midnight Eastern Time on Sunday, December 19, 2010, and that you use a valid email address in your comment login (it won’t be shown to anyone else) or Twitter account name so I can contact you if you win! And if you just can’t stand the waiting, you can preorder the video (and a special gift package that includes the DVD, a sexy Pin-Up vibe in a gift box, and a bottle of Sliquid lube) at Tristan’s website!

 
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“What are you into?”, asks the Leather Archives & Museum

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 6, 2010 in Uncategorized

-This comes to me via Clarisse Thorn, a writer & community activist who I have followed for a few years now. She is working with the LA&M to help them expand their collection to include a wider range of fetishes; this is of great importance if our community archives are going to be truly reflective of the world we live in. Please give it a read, send in anything you have that might be a good fit, and pass it along to others.-

The Leather Archives & Museum is seeking to compile resources about fetishes that we don’t usually hear about.  We hope to expand our collections to cover a wider range of alternative sexualities.

We are interested in anything that has to do with unusual fetishes — objects, stories, pornography, erotica, websites, conversations — really, anything!  Fetishes we don’t have much experience with include feet, fursuits, amputations, robots, dolls, balloons, tentacles, sneezing, crushing objects — but there are simply too many fetishes in the world for a comprehensive list.

We at the Leather Archives & Museum have plenty of experience with coming to terms with unusual sexual desires.  Our goal is not to exoticize alternative sexuality, nor do we intend to shame anyone who discusses alternative sexuality with us.  Our goal is to preserve the history of alternative sexuality — all alternative sexuality.

We respect your privacy.  Anything you send us or  tell us can be kept under your real name or a pseudonym, as you prefer.
The point person for this project is Clarisse Thorn, who can be reached by email at clarisse at leatherarchives.org.  You can also leave her a voice message if you call the Leather Archives at 773.761.9200.

ABOUT THE LA&M:  The Leather Archives & Museum is devoted to preserving the history of alternative sexuality.  By sharing your experience with the Leather Archives & Museum, you will be helping us document sexual practices that are not widely recorded or understood.  The Leather Archives & Museum is located at 6418 N. Greenview Avenue in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, IL, USA; you can visit the website at www.leatherarchives.org.

 
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The Reinvention of the Wheel of Life…

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 3, 2010 in communication, introspection, relationships

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned this year is that I’m still not too old to change.

When it comes to kink, I’d been through a couple of “drought” years – well, not a drought, but in comparison, far below my previous history and my desires. I sort of knew it was happening, and had simple reasons why (and even simpler attempts to change it, which didn’t work well)…but in the end it comes down to this: I was afraid.

I tend towards having ongoing relationships with people I play with; not necessarily that of a lover (though sometimes that’s the case) but certainly a friendship with an extra dollop of respect. And when I have an ongoing relationship with someone – I make myself vulnerable. I can’t do it any other way – especially when the quality of our interactions are laced with the dynamic of power, I have to share some of the essence of who I am with someone in order to have the depth of experience that I crave.

But being vulnerable means being open to both the pleasure, and the pain, of intimacy. It means that the words “I like you” and “you could have done better” strike me more deeply. It means that I run the risk of being hurt. And I’m a Capricorn – stubborn, calculating, scheming, ever feeling the need to control my environment…so running that risk is scary as hell for me.

I have been fighting that for the past few years. I’ve had a few relationships with people (some still going) where I knew that I was holding myself back from being as present with them as I could be. I can sort of tie it into a few relationships that ended in ways that I would have chosen otherwise, but the reality is that I have pushed myself back from the world to avoid the bumps and bruises of wrestling with real life relationships.

It came to a head this spring. Read more…

 
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Position Wanted (No, not THAT kind!)

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

As some of you may be aware, Love U Parties, the company that I have worked with as a consultant, trainer, and Advisory Board member, has decided to close its doors effective December 1, 2010. While I’m sad that the relationship I have with them will end, I am using this as a chance to see what other opportunities may be out there!

My passion in life is helping people to enjoy greater sexual self-esteem and giving them the tools to enjoy their sexual, intimate, loving selves, both solo and in relationships. I focus very strongly on making my work accessible to all genders, orientations, ability levels, and interests. I would love to find an ongoing, stable position with an individual or company who is looking for a “go to” sex educator that can help them build their brand, promote their work on all levels, and create success – both financially & ethically. However, I’m also open to other opportunities – there is no “set task” that I’m looking for; I’m leaving it up to the universe this time!

What specifically can I bring to the table?
-Over 10 years of experience teaching on topics related to sexuality, kink, and relationships to a wide range of groups – including sex events, store-organized groups, online classes, university & professional audiences. 2009 & 2010 saw me teach almost 200 classes to groups ranging from 3 students to over 100.
-A solid reputation for being a compassionate, funny presenter whose topics are well received and appreciated by students worldwide.
-Experience developing & delivering trainings for staff including social media outreach, blogging, how to write a review, online marketing, time & energy management, etc.
-An understanding of the current adult industry marketplace, especially in regard to healthier sex toys & products.
-A solid history of writing about adult products and issues – I wrote and edited for SexIs Magazine, and currently blog at my own blog, MyPleasure’s blog, and Fearless Press.
-A willingness to put my name and face behind products & companies I believe in – I am “out” and happy to work publicly, including doing classes, personal appearances, and meetings.
-An understanding of the challenges and joys that come with being a small business owner; as the owner of my own LLC, I balance the many facets of business building that many other small businesses and solo entrepreneurs manage, and I work to make those decisions in a way that is harmonious and empowering to myself and the world.
-A balanced background; I have done corporate training, quality assurance, incident management, personnel management, retail management, project management, and coaching in the past ten years.
-Travel is already part of my life; I enjoy going to new places, and am happy to coordinate travel on a regular basis to meet the needs of companies I work with.

Know of anything? Want to talk to me about your ideas? Please feel free to email me, and let’s see if we might have room to grow together!

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