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10 Signs of Healthy Sexual Self Esteem

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

I usually read those linkbait-y blog posts that promise ten life hacks, or twenty ways to cut down the clutter in your house…I suspect that I’m hoping that they may actually prove fruitful, but most often it’s a rehash of what I already know. But a few days ago, I started thinking about our sexual self esteem – how we feel about ourselves, sexually – and how little that we talk about the underlying structure of sexual wellness. Cosmo (and tons of other sex help resources) shout out that here, now, are five amazing ways to please your lover! and keep them faithful to you! and all sorts of other malarky – and none of that helps us to have better self esteem (though some of the tips are occasionally pretty fun to try out!). So here’s my rendition: ten signs that your sexual self esteem is healthy. None of us are going to always be perfect with these; like our emotional and physical self esteem, it is a constantly growing, changing, and evolving process. I think, though, that these are some good questions to ask ourselves as we explore how we want to grow in our intimate relationships (including the most intimate of all – the relationship with our self).

1. I feel good about my sexual identity

2. I feel that the ways that I wish to engage with myself sexually are healthy

3. I feel that the ways that I wish to engage with others sexually are healthy

4. I feel pleasure from the sexual activities that I partake in, both during and after the activity

5. I am willing to negotiate for what I want without shame or guilt

6. I am willing to hear “no” and respect it.

7. I am willing to speak up if I am uncomfortable with a direction that a sensual encounter is moving

8. If I experience betrayal, abuse, or harassment, I am able to ask for help in healing from it.

9. I accept that my partner(s) sexual desires or orientations may not fully match my own, and I do not feel that the disparity is my fault or my failure.

10. I understand the levels of risk of various sexual behavior (physical, emotional, reproductive, or spiritual) and am able to choose to engage in sexual behavior from an informed position, and am aware of ways to mitigate the risks.

I also want to acknowledge that there are many people who, because of circumstance, are unable to effectively advocate for their own sexuality or sexual well-being, so this is, in essence, a privileged concept. I still believe that these are worthy goals, even if they are temporarily unattainable for some (and really, what can we do to help them advocate for themselves better? Better access to education, support, and social service would be a great start!).

This is very much a work in progress for me – and I’d love your feedback, in the comments section. If you want me not not publish the comment, just say that and I’ll keep it between us. Otherwise, I’ll share it so others can consider your thoughts, too!

 
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Everything they told you is wrong…and here’s why

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

Everyone – really, everyone – is suffering from mis-information and messed up expectations around their sexuality. If there is one thing that I have really learned in the last few years of being on the retail end of sex education, it’s that we create our own reasons for failing sex lives and lack of sexual pleasure. Yes, really. We do. So…let’s talk about some of those, shall we?

1. If you have a penis, here’s the reality: there will be times that it will be too sensitive, and times where every sexy person in the world could dance in front of you and it won’t become erect. And that is REALLY OKAY. Your worth as a lover has absolutely nothing to do with the erectile capacity of your cock. Trust me, there are plenty of fun things to do without an erect penis in the picture. And it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take pleasure in the sensation of touch! Stroking a non-erect cock apparently (by the looks on previous partner’s faces) feels pretty damn good; don’t shut yourself off from that!

2. If you have a vagina, here’s the reality: if you don’t orgasm from penetration alone, you’re in the overwhelming majority. If you have “trouble” getting to your big O, you’re also not in the minority. As Sheri Winston noted in a recent in-service training that I attended, women get aroused from the inside out; it has to take time to spread through the body in order for the best possible orgasm. But if you come a little faster? That’s great, too! You can play around and see what your body does when you change up sensations and speed.

3. If you are transgender, it does not mean that you *have* to have any hormone treatment and/or surgical intervention. Many trans* folks choose not to, for a huge variety of reasons. You are not “more legitimate” if you’re on T and have had top surgery, or if you’ve had implants and your voice is higher. You get to choose what’s right for you, for your body and your spirit – nobody else does.

4. If you are a queer person, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be attracted to members of a different gender than your norm. “Gold Star” folks are fewer in number, and many people feel that having sex with someone once (or even a dozen times) doesn’t change our self identities. In other words: I can fuck men and still be a dyke. You can get a BJ from the hot guy at the bar and still be mostly straight. It’s all up to you.

5. If you are trying to have safer sex, you’ll have to do a risk assessment and decide what level is okay for you. The quick answer – put a condom on it – is not just problematic from the standpoint that all sex must involve an erect penis (hah!), but it also doesn’t take into account skin-to-skin transmitted viruses. The best way to play it safe is to know what that means for *you*, and communicate it clearly with your partner(s). Whoever has the most conservative practices wins, always. He wants oral, his partner needs there to be a barrier? Guess what – the barrier wins.

6. When is the right time to disclose a positive STI status? At least before action is imminent. Preferably far enough in advance for the folks you’re engaging in play with to have a chance to decide how that will change things. If it’s time for action and you haven’t disclosed, change up what you’re doing to stick with things that will not have the potential to transmit anything until you get a chance to. Dry humping? Yes, sir! Watch each other masturbate? Hell yeah! A gloved finger up the ass and the other hand with a glove on stroking the front? You betcha. That’s pretty close to as safe as you can get – and it’s HOT.

7. When your partner (or partner du jour) discloses their status to you, take a deep breath before you say ANYTHING. Disclosing one’s status is one of the biggest risk-takers that anyone can take; the person disclosing it is not only telling you to keep you safe and be honest with you, they’re also putting all of their hopes for fun or future love with you out there on the table. Ask them questions – what does this mean for you? Are you on meds? What are the ways that it gets transmitted? How do you normally play safe? You may be very, very surprised by their answers. Then, do a little research. There are thousands upon thousands of relationships that are vividly sexually active that have one person who is positive, and one who is negative. The presence of a virus or infection doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun; in fact, early disclosure should tell you one really big thing: your potential partner is being honest and ethical with you at great potential cost to themselves. Honor that. And even if you cannot find a way to feel comfortable continuing your interactions, be appreciative of that honesty.

8. When we get older, we don’t stop feeling sexual. Orgasms don’t have an expiration date. Your sex life can (and likely will be!) juicy as long as you want it to be; whether it’s with one partner, many partners, or solo. In the retail part of my life, seeing couples coming in who are being playful with each other in their 60’s and 70’s is not at all uncommon; in fact, one of my favorite customers is well into her 80’s and buys herself a new toy every so often because she enjoys her body. PS: If you think sex in your 20’s is great, I will tell you that your 40’s will be amazing, and I’ve had dear friends in their’ 60’s and 70’s tell me that it just keeps getting better!

9. If we have a disability, it doesn’t mean that we have to stop being sexual, either. Sex is in the mind as well as the body; tracing a finger along a partner’s palm can be as erotic as intercourse. Dirty talk has a special place in my heart, because as long as there is a way for partners to communicate using words, there is a way to be sexual. Sometimes, better sex can be as simple as asking a quality sex educator how to change things in your physical surroundings (such as using support pillows, or thigh harnesses, or ergonomically shaped vibrators, or shifting between activities). Sometimes, it’s something to discuss with our medical professionals to ensure that we’re getting the most out of our bodies. A rich sexuality is part of our birthright as human beings; it’s not something that only “able bodied” people can aspire to. It’s YOURS.

10. If you’re the parent of a younger person, they have a right to have accurate, non-judgmental information about sexuality as soon as they start asking for it. While we aren’t going to get graphic (and certainly, parents have a right to their own privacy of their intimate and sexual lives), hiding things from kids just leads to passing on a sense of shame and guilt around sex. If you don’t know how to answer their question, ask them why they want to know. They may tell you that they heard kids talking about it, or saw it on a tv show, or they may even tell you something about themselves that they’re afraid of and looking for reassurance about. Yes, kiddo, it’s okay for you to touch your genitals, but we prefer you do it in your room because everyone has a right to privacy. Yes, kiddo, it’s okay for you to think that another kid at school is pretty, even if your friends tell you that you’re weird for thinking that. Yes, kiddo, sex is what makes babies happen between folks with vaginas and folks with penises, but it doesn’t always, and it can be a lot of fun to do that sex thing even when you don’t want kids; you just have to be careful, and here’s how. Being open with your children means that you can save them some of the issues that so many of us grew up with – that we were wrong, or flawed, or dirty, or worthless. It means that your kids have a better chance at having a strong sense of self, of their own value, and are more likely to make choices as they get older that end up contributing positively to their lives.

 
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And, a collective list of the songs that get love and sex “right”

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

As a companion post to this conversation about songs that are all about non-consent, I’d love your ideas about sexy songs that talk about the pleasure of both (or all!) partners being engaged and excited about it. Same rules – put a song in the comments and tell us why you think it’s full of win!

In no particular order:
Let’s Get It On, by Marvin Gaye: He specifically says he isn’t going to push, and “if the spirit moves you, let me groove you”.

 
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Our collective list of the top songs that emphasize lack of consent

Posted by Sarah Sloane on Dec 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

It’s been sort of a running joke with some of my sex positive friends that we should make a warning list of the top songs that are….well, instead of using really rough language, let’s just say that they’re inappropriate in their objectification of and non-consensual power over others (almost always women, but not exclusively). So, inspired by friends on my Facebook page, I decided to start a post to collect your contributions. And yes, I’ll have another post to highlight the songs that we think talk about love and sex in empowering ways, too!

Leave a comment below with the song title, and why it’s problematic; I moderate them all, but will approve ’em (unless you’re just trolling) and add them to the body of this post from time to time, as well.

In no particular order:
Baby, It’s Cold Outside (he counters her objections to leave, and offers her more drinks)

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