Archive for January, 2009

let it out*
January 28, 2009

Wow. So it’s January 28, and I just noticed that the following post – which I thought I’d posted on January 8 – in fact has been sitting in my drafts folder this entire time. I’m truly not sure how that happened, but there it is. I guess the first sentence of that post is even more true than I’d realized… so, um, better late than never?

***

Grad school applications are eating my brain. Seriously. I don’t know if I’ll have enough of it left to actually do the grad schooling if they accept me. And my intense focus on writing ‘em up means I’m also neglecting this poor little blog. The deadline’s coming up quick though, so the situation should improve soon!

In the  meantime, I’ve got a bunch of little announcements for ya, followed by a piece *I originally posted on January 19, 2007.

Announcements:

  • Someone contacted me looking for poly people to interview on TV, preferably people who have in the past and/or currently had a strong religious affiliation; details at the end of this post. Please pass the word!
  • No More Potlucks, Montreal’s premier dyke culture website, has been rebirthed. Check it out here! Looks gorgeous!
  • AlterNet just published a very well-written article on feminists who identify as submissive in the BDSM world. Read it here.
  • And in a more personal sort of announcement – I’ve been asked to judge the International Ms. Leather contest in San Francisco this coming March. How cool is that? Intriguing, of course, since I’ve been pretty clear (and pretty public) in saying that I don’t want to ever run in the contest. But hey, judging will surely be fun. And if they’re asking, I’m sure they expect – rightly so – that I will bring my own stated priorities to the judging table.

And now, the post.

***

I have this terrible habit of leaving town for a few days and having tons of brilliant blog post ideas while I have no access to a computer, and then getting back and forgetting them all before I get the chance to write them. I swear, I found the cure for cancer in a hotel in some remote area of the Outaouais with no wireless access, and I forgot it just this afternoon on the way back.

That said, I do remember the way my friend J, who travelled with me and was the source of much fabulous conversation, defined dyke sex in comparison to pseudo-lesbian sex. It has to do with farting.

No, seriously. I know that sounds kinda gross, but she has a point. She was explaining how a lot of (though not all, of course) heterosexual women seem to have sex in ways that are basically about performing for the male gaze first and foremost. Even if that gaze is not actually there, it’s a sort of mode many will slip into during sex – a sort of “being on” where the main idea is to look good and convey the impression of enjoyment, with the true enjoyment coming from the experience of pleasing the actual or assumed watcher.

Dykes, on the other hand, actually fuck. J encapsulated the difference with, “A dyke will let out a fart during or after a good orgasm,” if her digestive system is so inclined of course. And it doesn’t really matter if her hair gets messed up or her boobs fly all over the place – the emphasis is on pleasure.

Y’know, that would go a long way towards explaining why pseudo-lesbian porn is so incredibly boring and silly to actual lesbians, whereas the straight dudes just eat it up. I know, I know, I’ve made this point a dozen times over, up down and sideways, but I guess it just drove it home in a new way. I mean, when do you ever see a porn star fart? Unless you’re buying really specialized stuff, of course.

It would also go a long way towards explaining how weird I’ve felt on the rare but memorable occasions when straight girls have hit on me. I’m always totally taken aback when someone starts the performance with me – casting me, by default, in the role of the male, or I guess male equivalent. It’s a type of flirting that leaves me completely confused. Like – well, it’s intriguing, in some oddly scientific way – but how exactly does she expect me to respond? Am I supposed to buy her drinks and make suggestive comments so she can giggle and blush, and eventually try to make out with her in her doorway so she can push me away and say, “Why don’t you call me sometime,” the understanding being that I’ll have a hard-on straining in my pants, and that I’ll pursue her with wining and dining until she finally gives in and lies back on the bed missionary-style while I screw her without ever trying to find her clit?

I’ve watched the dance a million times, taken part in it even (in the “girl” role) when I was a lot younger and had just begun the journey of figuring out what this sexuality thing was all about. I have no part in it now. I know the steps but the whole performance is flawed, and inevitably leads to the same conclusions every time, where nobody is really satisfied, and then they all chalk it up to genetics. “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” My ass. They just need to pick a new piece of music and try a different dance for once.

So of course the idea of entering it from a queer place, from the other side of the equation, is no more appealing. Flattering, perhaps; amusing, the way it’s amusing to play a role that’s completely opposite to your personality for fifteen minutes during theatre class. Erotic? Hardly. I might perhaps see it as intriguing from a political standpoint – usurping the power of the patriarchy or something – except that the political appeal of following in the footsteps of people I believe have got it all backwards is pretty darned limited.

So there it is. Clear as day. I want a woman who will get her hair messy, let her boobs fly all over the place, and fart like a motherfucker anytime she feels the need, whether she’s already had an orgasm (or twelve) or is on the way there. I like women who want to fuck, who fuck, and who enjoy fucking in all its messy glory, rather than women who try to convince me they’re enjoying themselves. Because really, where’s the fun in faking it until you make it? Why not just make it already?

***

Looking for polyamorous people to interview for New Documentary television series.  If you have a religious background of any kind and are involved in polyamorous relationships we would like to speak to you.  If you’re worrying about being on camera, we can disguise your identity.  This series examines the four major religions and their views on all aspects of sexuality, one of which is polyamory.  Please email me if you would like to participate at eli54@sympatico.ca

Regards,
Liz Etherington
Eli54@sympatico.ca

“hello, sir—i mean, ma’am”: trans etiquette for dummies*
January 24, 2009

*This is one of my older pieces of published writing, predating even my old blog. Sometime in 2004 or 2005, perhaps? I’m not even sure of the publication date. I did some editing to bring it up to date, especially in terms of web links. For those of you who are trans or trans allies, you may find it pretty elementary – this post may actually be more suitable for forwarding to other people. Regardless, I’ll be happy if it means even one previously ignorant person ends up being nicer to trans people.

(On a completely unrelated note, U of T is putting on some very interesting lectures in the next little while – I’ve posted the details of a couple of them at the bottom of this post.)

***

I’ve been wondering for quite some time how to broach the subject of transgender and transsexual people in my column. The idea of pontificating on trans people’s realities is a little uncomfortable for me since, well, I’m not trans; it feels disrespectful to me to presume to speak for people who are. At the same time, I recognize that lots of us have a hard time understanding trans issues both politically and personally. What are transsexuals really all about? Are trans people really like the ones we see on TV and in cheesy horror films?

I can’t justify the idea of keeping silent on the subject when I’m well aware that transfolk need the support of their allies and friends. So, as a supportive SOFFA (Significant Other, Friend, Family or Ally of trans people), I feel I should provide what information I can.

Let me first state that I really didn’t write this article for dummies. I don’t think most of us are dummies at all; in fact, quite the opposite. I trust that most people in the world are perfectly intelligent, and really do want to be nice to most other people, and we just trip up along the way sometimes or forget our manners.

I think the most important thing to remember about dealing with anybody, regardless of their gender, is respect. Particularly when it comes to people who don’t conform to the traditional ideas of what gender and sex should be, we need to remember that a person’s gender is theirs to own and express as they please. We do not have to understand someone’s gender identity, or agree with it, in order to respect it. But of course, some understanding can certainly help too!

The Trouble with Terminology

Here’s a bit of basic terminology to get us started: when someone is born with a male body but identifies as a woman, or has transitioned physically in that direction through hormones and/or surgery, they are often referred to as a transwoman, or male-to-female trans person, sometimes abbreviated to MTF. When someone is born in a female body but identifies as a man or has transitioned physically in that direction through hormones and/or surgery, they are often referred to as a transman, or female-to-male trans person, sometimes abbreviated to FTM. Doctors sometimes get this backward, but don’t be fooled—now you are in the know. On another note, some people who have transitioned choose not to focus on their status as transgender or transsexual, but instead identify simply as a woman or as a man, their gender of choice. Some such folks use the term “person of trans experience” but many do not.

Transsexuals are not the only stripe of gender-variant people out there. I have now, and have had in the past, many close friends, partners, colleagues, acquaintances and lovers who identify as “differently gendered” on some level—some genderqueer, some transsexual, some intersex, some transgender, and some who don’t really have the words for who they are (trans terminology can be fascinating to learn about if you are so inclined). There is a lot of disagreement within and between these various communities of folks, much of it highly politicized. Some transsexual people are very committed to the idea that there is such thing as Male and Female, like the boxes on a form, and they happen to have been born in the wrong body but surgery could help them move from the M box into the F one, or vice versa. Some transgender and genderqueer people would like to abolish those boxes altogether, and feel they personally exist somewhere in between or beyond that spectrum. And various people of all genders think there’s room for both those options and more to boot. (I happen to be one of the latter, in case it doesn’t show yet!)

Please and Thank-You: the Basics

People get their knickers in a knot around gender stuff. I do understand, because it’s highly sensitive territory both personally for many and politically. But it’s really not that hard to navigate if you bear in mind that everyone has different opinions and experiences of gender, and all you need to do is approach the issues, and the people themselves, with respect and openness.

Remember that trans people are people; “he” and “she” are the pronouns most often used. Some people prefer in-between pronouns, but that’s a whole other essay—if you meet someone who wants you to use an alternate pronoun, they should be able to explain it to you (check out this excellent page if you’re curious). At no point should we refer to a trans person as “it.” That’s just rude—they are not inanimate objects or animals.

It is not a trans person’s responsibility to be convincing enough to “pass” as their gender of choice before they deserve to be referred to with the pronoun of their choice. Government-issue papers, style of dress, body type, haircut, voice, sexual orientation, and any number of other cues do not necessarily reflect a person’s pronoun or gender identity. This stuff is complicated even for those who move comfortably in social worlds full of transfolk (trust me!), but treating people with basic courtesy isn’t hard to do.

So if a person has not made their pronoun preference clear to you when you first meet, and you aren’t sure how to refer to them, just ask. “What pronoun do you prefer?” Simple. Straightforward. And when you get the answer, respect it. I don’t care if the person I’m speaking to is a six-foot-three linebacker with five o’clock shadow—if the answer to that question is “My name is Elsa and use ‘she’,” then Elsa is “she” to me from that point onwards. It costs me nothing save a bit of mindfulness to be respectful even if my read on a person’s gender does not correspond to theirs.

If I should “slip” either before knowing the preferred pronoun or once I’ve been told, I can apologize briefly and make the correction. It is not a mortal sin to make a slip of the tongue; there’s no need to make it out to be one, as that just draws more uncomfortable attention to it. “Robert— sorry, Roberta—can you pass the salt?” On the other hand, repeated slips with the same person can be hurtful, much like if a friend consistently gets your name wrong, only amplified. Just be aware of the impact your forms of address may have on someone’s sense of acceptance, dignity and safety, and pay attention to them accordingly.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that using insulting terms to refer to trans people is not a great idea. Just because a cheap porn movie advertises “chicks with dicks” doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to use that when talking about the girl you just met in your poli-sci class. People who use this kind of term are usually pretty darn ignorant or just utterly lacking in class—we can be proud that we are not among their number, and if they ever use such words in front of us, we can tell them we think it’s really rotten and explain why.

Asking Questions—or Just Being Nosy?

Remember that there is no reason to ask someone if they are trans unless you are about to get into an intimate situation with them and the answer to that question will determine your interest or consent. There is also no reason to ask what their genitals look like, how much surgery they have had, and so forth. Part of this is about the possible serious problems you may cause in their life—if you bark out such a question in front of their employer, a friend they have not confided in or a group of people who are unfriendly to trans people, you may create major consequences for that individual, up to and including death (one need only learn about the case of Gwen Araujo’s murder to understand that loud and clear). But once again it’s about respect. If you have a name and a pronoun for the person you have just met, that’s quite sufficient for just about any social situation. How would most of us feel if, in casual conversation, people regularly asked us about our medical history and what sort of private parts we have? Rather invasive and rude, isn’t it? So let’s not do it to others.

If someone’s physical parts become relevant to some sort of intimate involvement you may be seeking to have with them, then bring it up respectfully. If you are in the BDSM scene, for example, you may have specific concerns depending on the type of play you might want to engage in. If you’d like to flog someone’s chest, you might want to know if they have implants that could burst or if they’ve recently recovered from a double mastectomy. If you are going to cane someone’s thighs, you might want to know if they are doing intramuscular testosterone injections in those very muscles which might make them more sensitive to pain. These concerns can be easily covered by asking, “Is there anything health-related that I should be aware of before playing with you in this way?” If it’s relevant, they should tell you.

Private Parts Are Exactly That

If you are going to have sex with someone or play with their genitals, you will likely want to know the particularities of dealing with that person’s body. My friend S. Bear Bergman tells me that his preferred question is “What do you call it and how can I touch it?” Not everyone will have pat answers to that, of course—but if you approach someone with sensitivity and willingness to listen, you will both surely get much more of your encounter.

A person’s dangly or non-dangly bits don’t necessarily match up with what the person may want those bits to look like, and their existence at all doesn’t mean that the person necessarily wants to use them in traditional ways. In these situations, you just gotta ask, and ask nicely and respectfully. But unless you plan to be playing with genitals, those details are none of your business unless the trans person in question feels like sharing of his or her own volition.

A few brave trans activists have created books with photos of trans people’s genitals. For FTMs, check out Body Alchemy: Transsexual Portraits by Loren Cameron, or his ManTool website and e-book; for information about surgeries for trans women, check out TSRoadmap.

These resources can help you if you want to get an idea of what trans genitals might be like. But please remember that these people are not a freak show. It takes an enormous amount of courage to show your genitals to the world in the hopes of educating people who are unaware, and that kind of courage deserves respect and open-mindedness, not points and stares.

Also, keep in mind that the status of someone’s genitals doesn’t necessarily have much to do with their gender identity.

Hormones, which have an effect on secondary sex characteristics (hair growth patterns, body shape, skin, voice and so forth) and on genitals are possible to obtain through doctors in Canada, but not for everyone; some people don’t have access to health care (non-status immigrants, for example), some people can’t find a trans-friendly doctor, some don’t wish to deal with their gender through a medical model, and some are so marginalized by the health care system and other authority-holding systems that they may hesitate to even approach them (some sex workers, for example). For these and other reasons, some people may use hormones that are available on the street. In either case, the long-term effects of hormone use have never been studied, so many trans people are understandably hesitant to take them at all.

Trans surgeries are expensive and risky and can involve long waiting periods and criteria that many feel are unfair and exclusive; even in “progressive” places of the world, the accessibility of surgery varies widely. For example, in Canada, trans surgeries are covered to greater degrees in some provinces, like Alberta; in Quebec there are so many hoops to leap through that in most cases surgery is effectively impossible to get without paying out of pocket, even though Montreal is home one of the world’s most renowned sex reassignment surgery clinics; and in Ontario, coverage has only recently been re-listed after a decade of no coverage, but policy is still up in the air in terms of the criteria that will be used to determine who will be permitted to enjoy that coverage. Regardless of cost and accessibility, though, the decision to have surgery is not an easy one to make. Many trans people choose not to have surgery for reasons related to their health, their understanding of the possible risks (such as loss of sexual sensation, among other things), or any number of other highly personal criteria.

The decisions to take hormones or not, or to have surgery or not, are complex. A given person’s choice doesn’t make their gender any more or less valid.

Becoming an Ally… or Just Finding More Answers

If you’re interested in learning about trans issues, rather than quizzing the trans people you may meet, I would suggest that you look through traditional sources first. Lots of online and print resources are fairly easy to find. To start on a serious note, check out Remembering Our Dead, which lists trans people who have been killed in violent crimes. For general info, go to TS FAQ, a well-written resource for those who are totally unfamiliar with trans issues. Or order a book or two—I highly recommend the excellent and very absorbing writings of Patrick Califia (Sex Changes: Transgender Politics), Leslie Feinberg (Transgender Warriors: Beyond Pink or Blue) and Kate Bornstein (particularly My Gender Workbook). These are all non-academic, accessible works that can help you gain insight into your own gender as well as others’.

You may even be able to contact a trans support group in your area and ask if they recommend any particular resources, or if they have a spokesperson who might be able to answer your questions once you’ve looked into things on your own. If you’re up for some travel, you can attend some wonderful and inexpensive conferences you can attend if you want to immerse yourself in learning for a day or a weekend—among others, the Translating Identity Conference is a free one-day conference held annually in Burlington, Vermont.

If there is a trans person in your life and you’d like to better understand how to be a supportive ally, or find help dealing with your own concerns, check out these links to various SOFFA groups.

Of course, if you have a friend who is trans and that person is open to discussing their own experience and knowledge, by all means pick their brains—but just don’t assume that every trans person is equipped to provide education or interested in doing so. Being trans in the first place, and dealing with all the related challenges, can be enough of a burden sometimes; it’s not fair to assume that trans people should have the responsibility to enlighten the world around them as well, especially since that world does not always receive that education respectfully even when it is requested.

Whether you want to carry out an in-depth study on the history of trans people’s legal and medical issues, or you just want to know how to properly address your new next-door neighbour, it’s useful to have a basic understanding of the concerns that trans people may face in a world that’s often harsh. Learning about trans issues can help you understand yourself better, or simply be more aware of the struggles going on in the world around you. Personally, I am always very impressed with people who make a point of learning about people who are different from them. Unravelling the mysteries of gender is no small thing to tackle, but the journey of continued learning brings many rewards along the way. And in the meantime, while we’re all figuring out the answers, treating others as we would want to be treated is still the way to go.

***

PUBLIC CONVERSATION EVENT
———— ——— ——— ——— ——–

“CITIES OF TOMORROW: IS PROGRESSIVE POLITICS ALIVE?”

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, UK (2000-2008)
David Miller, Mayor of Toronto (2003-present)
Denise Simmons, Mayor of Cambridge, MA, USA (2008-present)
David Crombie, Moderator

Monday January 26th, 2009
7:30-9:30pm
University of Toronto Convocation Hall

This event is free and open to the public; students are especially welcome.
———— ——— ——— —-

***

The first of this term’s Sexual Diversity Studies Colloquium sessions:

Friday, January 30 4:30-5:30pm
University College Room 253

Tyler Frederick
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology U of T

Title: Drug use and mental health outcomes among homeless youth: Exploring gender and sexual minority status as “multiple disadvantages”

Abstract: This presentation will discuss the results of a comparison of heterosexual and sexual minority homeless youth across a number of risk and outcome factors with a focus on gender differences. The results suggest that many of the differences between sexual minority and heterosexual youth are driven by the young women in the sample. Additional analysis finds that high rates of victimization and delinquency among the female sexual minority youth help to explain their higher rates of drug use and mental health problems as compared to their heterosexual counterparts. The findings will be discussed as they relate to and challenge the concept of multiple disadvantage (a popular idea in the literature on sexual minority homeless Youth).

five assumptions, or i hate creamed spinach* (plus lots of fun news)
January 20, 2009

And once again, I’ve been too busy to post twice a week. Wow. If I can’t keep up now, what the heck am I gonna do if I get into grad school next fall?! Then again, grad school itself can’t be half as much work as preparing the applications for it (which is what’s been eating up all my time lately), so perhaps it won’t be that bad.

Fun news in the world of Sex Geek: Last week, I recorded a podcast with the lovely and talented Dart of Dart’s Domain. Check it out here, or download it directly for your iTunes here. Dart is a local Toronto Sir; he’ll be one of my fellow judges at Mr. Leather Toronto in November 2009, and he’s a fabulous conversationalist. We shot the shit about polyamory, mixed-gender play spaces, and the leather titleholding circuit, among others. Much fun!

The reason the titleholding question came up is that I’ve been invited to judge the International Ms. Leather competition in San Francisco this coming March. It’s an interesting request since the (kick-ass) team that runs the event, Glenda and Levi, are well aware of my dubious take on title contests. But I figure if they’re asking, they must be okay with me importing my value set to the process, so why not? Besides, IMsL is a blast. You should go. Seriously. They tell me I’m going to be their first Canadian judge since Glenda and Levi started running the event – which is quite an honour. I would actually be very intrigued to know if there has ever been a Canadian judge prior to IMsL’s most recent incarnation, so if you happen to be one of those people who knows such interesting tidbits about leatherdyke history, please do drop me a line.

And speaking of travel, I’m going to be in Halifax about three weeks from now to give a series of workshops at Venus Envy and a demo at the SheDogs bathhouse event. So far the specifics of the demo are a secret, but if you know anyone in Hali who might like to get fisted by a complete stranger while a bunch of people watch, drop me a line, eh? I promise I’ll trim my nails and use their favourite lube. Helluva a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Heh. Anyway, please pass the word – I would love to meet a whole bunch of cool Haligonians while I’m in town, and all the better if they’re interested in the workshops! Demo bottoms needed. Details are on my Workshops page or at the link earlier in this paragraph.

Last but not least, I want to give a shout-out to the gals who are running a new women and trans kink weekend in Vancouver May 8-10. Yay for exciting new developments in the world of Canadian leatherdykes! I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it, but if you’re going to be anywhere near Van in early May of this year, check out Canadian Mayhem, and tell me all about it. Me, I’ll cross my fingers for low airfare.

And as for the meat of today’s post, here we go…

*I originally posted this on October 11, 2006.

***

A very interesting acquaintance of mine, Dr. S, whose brain I must really pick on numerous topics in the future, posted a really neat piece in her blog the other day about monogamy and bisexuality. (Check it out here if you’re interested in reading her post.) I found myself writing a response to it, which I posted as a comment, but while I was at it I realized that I had more to say than even a long-ish comment could hold… so here it is, the expanded version for your vicarious ranting pleasure.

(I warn ya, it is pretty long, but I promise it’s fun! At least, it is if you like picking apart poorly considered statements about bisexuals, like I do. Whee!)

Dr. S’s post was a response to an article by Kayley Vernallis entitled “Bisexual Monogamy: Twice the Temptation but Half the Fun?” (Journal of Social Philosophy, Volume 30 Page 347  – Winter 1999). Apparently Vernallis does think that bi folks are capable of committing to a monogamous relationship, but “given certain deep and pervasive constructions of gender and sexuality in our society, monogamy imposes greater sexual costs on bisexuals than it does on heterosexuals and homosexuals.”  (This appears as quoted by Dr. S in her blog – keep in mind that I haven’t read Vernallis’ full article meself, though I will if I ever get the chance.)

Vernallis seems to have an interesting thesis there, but like Dr. S, I don’t agree with it. I think that rationale remains based in a system that 1) assumes orientation to be the prime and overriding factor in relationship style, 2) assumes that the gender of sexual object choice is the prime force behind attraction and compatibility in the first place, 3) assumes that people need sexual and romantic relationships at all, 4) assumes that the “ideal” bisexual can and wants to sustain more than one relationship at once, and 5) with the idea of “sexual cost,” assumes that sexual and romantic practices are fundamentally different depending on the gender of the partners involved. I think these are all massively culturally reinforced ideas that don’t hold water.

I’ll start with #1 – the assumption that orientation is the prime and overriding factor in relationship style.

The very basic problem with Vernallis’ statement is that it assumes all monosexuals to like one kind of relationship—heterosexual, homosexual, doesn’t matter. This is quite a blanket statement to try and prove, given that straight and gay people pretty much run the gamut of relationship possibilities. In a backhanded sort of way, I appreciate the implication that homos aren’t radically different from heteros; at least Vernallis isn’t buying into the religious right’s bizarre beliefs about the purity and chastity of heterosexuality versus the sinful promiscuity of homosexuals. But by starting with this premise, she ignores the vast spectrum of relationship styles that monosexual people practice all over the world, and reifies the faulty idea that there’s some standard way of doing things that all the “normals” adhere to (even the ones who are only just now beginning to be considered “normal,” for better or for worse), or should adhere to, or mostly adhere to except for some weird exceptions.

A given orientation is not a prerequisite for a given “matched” relationship style or a predictor of particular relationship needs. Heterosexuality does not predict monogamy, for example; witness the enormous swingers’ culture out there that’s pretty darned heterosexual, not to mention the huge cheating stats. And it’s just as weird (some might say weirder) to try and state that homosexuality predicts monogamy—uh, gay bathhouses, anyone? Likewise, lots of straights and gays do want monogamy. I mean, even if the stats are dropping, heteros are still getting married and having common-law relationship, and at the same time, gay activists have been focused on same-sex marriage for years now! So right there we have two examples of polar opposites on the mono/poly spectrum, both of them within groups of (theoretically) monosexually-oriented people.

On a side note: Certainly, while bisexuality is promoted in swingers’ culture (one very narrow sort of female-only bisexuality, of course) and some guys who go to gay bathhouses are married to women, the premise of each culture starts with monosexuality. Bisexuality is considered to be either a pleasant additional thrill (female swingers) or something that might exist but that should be hidden (male swingers, gay bathhouse patrons). Hardly a bi-centric kind of culture in either case; in fact, I’d argue that the existence of either sort of group might in fact be destabilized by “full-spectrum” bisexuality, as opposed to incidental bisexual behaviour. In my admittedly limited experience, swingers’ clubs generally have no fucking clue what to do with a same-sex couple—one of these days I’ll post about the half-hilarious and half-offensive experience I had a few years ago with the doorperson when I showed up at L’Orage holding hands with a female friend (whom I wasn’t even dating). And while I may be stepping over the bounds of my own experience entirely here, I highly doubt that most men at the saunas openly advertise their married status when they show up to get an after-work blow job. I mean, can you picture it? Guy in a suit comes in the door, drops trou, and says, “Hey, anyone got a half-hour to polish my knob? I’m in a bit of a rush, I have to pick up the kids at daycare and get groceries on the way home to my gorgeous wife!” I’m not saying all gay guys are close-minded, nor that the ones who like anonymous bathhouse sex necessarily care where else someone’s cock has been, but if hearsay is any indication, this kind of situation is normally governed by the gay version of don’t-ask, don’t-tell.

Okay, back on track. Moving on to #2 – the assumption that the gender of sexual object choice is the prime force behind attraction in the first place.

The idea that bisexuals would naturally want to have (at least) one partner of either sex (not to mention the assumption that there are only two sexes) presumes that gender is the only factor in the sort of differentiation that might inspire someone to have a range of desires.
This ignores even one of the most classic heterosexual romance plotlines: The Choice. You know – the ravishing heroine is deeply in love with a sandy-haired, suit-wearing boyfriend who buys her flowers and takes her to the opera. All is well… but wait! The dark-haired motorcycle-riding man with the leather jacket and the five-o’clock shadow wants to throw her over his lap and spank her to heights of radical ecstasy after entrancing her with his musky man-scent when they encounter each other in a seedy bar in a part of town that she never usually goes to! What should she do? At least there’s no standard answer here – depending on the story, sometimes it’s the Sandy-Haired Suit-Wearing Guy who proves his true love to her while the Musky Motorcycle Man turns out to be an alcoholic low-life, whereas sometimes Sandy reveals himself to be a possessive, controlling corporate drone and Musky shows her how to let her hair down and they motor off into the sunset for a lifetime of adventures.
Now, in a poly world, Ravishing Heroine would tell Sandy that she’d like the space to see Musky every Tuesday and Friday, and Sandy would say, “I think I can handle that. Does he have any hot biker babe friends he could introduce me to?” And they’d all live happily ever after, or something like it. No need for bisexuality. (Though it could be hot to see Musky bend Sandy over his motorcycle and sodomize him in the opera parking lot, or for Ravishing to get it on with a dyke biker-bar bouncer. Hey, maybe I should be writing a story…)

All of this to say that, in my opinion, the likelihood of wanting multiple partners is based on a whole long list of things other than what, or how many, genders a person is attracted to. Why should gender trump all other factors in attraction? How reductive and boring! Even if we reduce the question to purely sexual compatability, what about other factors? As Dr. S pointed out to me in a recent e-mail conversation, say you’re into BDSM and you and your partner are both bottoms. Whether you’re gay or straight or bi, wouldn’t it perhaps be compelling to seek out compatible tops?

Not to mention, sex is hardly the only grounds for compatability in a relationship. So leaving sex aside for a sec… Generally speaking, we humans are social creatures. I firmly believe that part of the reason for that is our genuine enjoyment of difference. Among my friends, J is fun because she’s got a great sense of humour, while H is great for philosophical discussion; A is shy and shares her amazingly creative thought process only once you put her at ease, whereas with M, I can count on loud and elaborate stories about world travel and sexual adventures.

Now, it’s really not much of a leap to extrapolate from that to romantic relationships. As many poly folk can probably attest, one of the beautiful things about being poly is the opportunity not only to explore the unique and beautiful aspects of other people, but to explore the different things those other people bring out in us. I’m always me, but I’m a slightly different me when I’m having brunch with P than when I’m at the movies with T or at a dyke event with B. T, P and B are all fantastic people, and they’re each very different—from their career choices to their wardrobes to the things they like to do on the weekends to the kinds of fun we get up to when we’re alone. Of course there’s some overlap in the things I find attractive about them, but the point is, the differences that make them each unique and therefore precious to me can hardly be reduced to their genders or what we do in bed.

This doesn’t mean that appreciation of difference necessarily should lead everyone to be non-monogamous. But it does mean that virtually everyone, poly or no, has experienced the way our lives can be enriched by the presence of people who are different from one another. And unless you surround yourself with quasi-clones, you can probably also see that the dividing line of gender does not always determine what you want, or get, out of each relationship in your life.

Likewise, as a poly person, the genders of my partners don’t determine my interest in them. It’s not as though I always need to be dating at least one man and at least one woman; I don’t walk around half-satisfied if I don’t have both an innie and an outie to play with at all times. There is no slot that stays empty if a person of the “appropriate” gender hasn’t come along to fill it; I don’t hang a “vacant” sign on either the “lesbian” or “straight” half of my heart (groan!) when there’s only one person in my life, nor is there any guarantee that having a person of Gender X in my life means I won’t find myself interested in another person of Gender X. (Considering that 90% of my social world is dyke, I myself have remained more than a little bemused at times in the past few years when I’ve found myself involved with two or three guys at once.) Not to mention that (gasp!) sometimes poly people are single! Which leads me to…

Assumption #3, in the premise that bisexuals make a greater sacrifice than monosexuals if they choose monogamy, is that people need romantic relationships at all.

North American culture likes to promote the strange idea that we are not complete people on our own—that we cannot possibly be truly, profoundly happy unless we are attached to someone as part of a couple. That’s insulting to single people most visibly, but it’s equally insulting to everyone else. (Check out the Alternatives to Marriage Project for some excellent and well-articulated views on this issue.) Personally, I like to think of myself as a fully-formed, happy, self-sufficient individual regardless of my partner status. If I choose to be with someone, it’s because I find their company enjoyable, not because there’s some void inside me that needs to be filled by the validation provided by their interest in me.

If we approach the idea of romantic relationship as a need as opposed to a rich and wonderful bonus, and tack on the whole idea of gender as the most important factor in predicting the person one is likely to choose to fill that need, then of course it stands to reason that bisexuals must have twice the need as everyone else, and therefore that “settling for” a monogamous relationship must leave half our needs unfulfilled. The idea that all monosexuals are content with monogamy because they only “need” a person of one gender makes it sound as though bisexuals “need” people of two, which necessarily makes monogamy seem like a bigger sacrifice for us. Argh!

Just as it’s insulting to pretty much anyone’s integral personhood to think that all relationships come from a place of dissatisfaction with one’s own company, so is it insulting to poly people to see non-monogamy as coming from a place of dissatisfaction with a single relationship. I don’t require multiple partners to meet some intimidatingly long list of relationship needs that one person couldn’t possibly fulfil alone. In fact I don’t require multiple partners at all. I require the freedom to pursue people with whom I connect, plain and simple—whether that means I end up with five partners or none. The existence of a range of desires does not come with a requirement for their necessary fulfilment at all times. In fact, for many people, regardless of their range of desires, it simply wouldn’t be practically possible to fulfil them all at once, even if the appropriately matched individuals all showed up at once.

Which serves as a great segue to assumption #4: that the ideal bisexual can necessarily sustain more than one relationship at once—as though this were an innate skill that comes in a package with our orientation.

To take two opposing examples: I think a very sociable heterosexual woman with a high libido and a wide range of interests (sexual and otherwise) who connects easily with people at numerous levels and often finds herself attracted to the men she meets might theoretically find it challenging to limit herself to a single partner. On the other hand a bisexual who’s only interested in sex once every couple of weeks and really only likes people with a very specific sort of aesthetic or personality type might theoretically be overwhelmed at the idea of having to maintain more than one relationship at a time.

Whaddaya know! Bisexuality doesn’t come with a handy basket filled with limitless time, unflagging energy, top-notch communication skills, finely honed flirting technique, exquisite time management skills and boundless reserves of arousal! … Any more than heterosexuality or homosexuality does.

In truth, the “sacrifice” of monogamy is directly proportional to one’s desire for non-monogamy in the first place – on one’s interest in and ability to sustain relationships with multiple partners, irrespective of gender, rather than on how many genders one is open to boinking. In other words: if you tend towards non-monogamy, it could be a sacrifice to give it up; if you tend towards monogamy, it probably won’t be a sacrifice to practice it, any more than it’s a challenge to give up creamed spinach for Lent if you never really liked the stuff in the first place. The link between non-monogamy (and spinach) and bisexuality is incidental at best.

Equally problematic is assumption #5—that sexual and romantic practices are fundamentally different depending on the gender of the partners involved. Romantically, some people court for months or years; some fall into bed on the first date. Some people distribute responsibilities in polarized ways; some people share equally in all the tasks that come with living as a pair (or triad, or…). Some gay couples do butch and femme, just like some straight ones do; some flip the roles; and some don’t do roles at all.

Sexually speaking, of course there may be a few differences in body parts, but for crying out loud, we human beings are pretty creative creatures. If a person’s really into penetration and a convenient biological organ isn’t available for the purpose, there are plenty of reasonable facsimiles available for purchase. Penises and clits don’t come in packages, each with a matching set of practices; queer sex can just as easily happen between people of opposing genders just like straight sex happens within same-sex couples. So the idea of greater “sexual cost” for monogamous bisexuals is basically a dressed up version of plain, old-fashioned biological essentialism.

I prefer even creamed spinach to that, thanks.

bountiful bullshit
January 13, 2009

It’s not often that I take aim at the media, the government, academia and religion in one fell swoop, but here I go. It all starts with the polygamous community in Bountiful, B.C.—a situation that’s making it clear that the first three are operating with a dire lack of critical thought, or even plain old logic.

The basic story, for those unfamiliar with it, is this: A Mormon fundamentalist community in Bountiful, a remote town in British Columbia, has been living by polygynous traditions for decades now. In recent years, the authorities have been taking notice, and B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal has made it his personal mission to put a halt to the situation. Despite legal advice from many sources warning against such a move, he’s brought charges against Winston Blackmore, the religious sect’s leader. Specifically, according to this CBC article, “Winston Blackmore and James Oler were charged with one count each on Tuesday of breaching Section 293 of the Criminal Code—which bans polygamy—by entering into a conjugal relationship with more than one individual at a time.”

The law against polygamy is 120 years old, and the numerous legal experts that Oppal consulted (before he went vigilante) pointed out that to bring it to court will result in a challenge to religious freedom—a challenge that stands a high chance, legally speaking, of being unsuccessful. It’s on particularly shaky ground because there’s a distinct lack of evidence and witnesses seem reluctant to come forward. As this Times Colonist article explains, Oppal “could still win the day, after a lengthy legal war in which everything from the Bible to the charge approval requirements will be dragged into the fray. But if he loses, the end result could be the complete decriminalization of polygamy for the foreseeable future.”

Most of the articles that speak against polygamy do so based on women’s rights and the question of child abuse, because it appears that often, fundamentalist Mormon sects force young girls into marriages with much older men and then expect them to bear many children. Of course, the Mormon leaders deny abusive practices and defend multiple marriage as a question of religious freedom. Oppal himself admits there is still a distinct lack of evidence in this case, which is quite easy to explain: when you’ve got a remote, insular community with a strong belief system based in a religious patriarchy, there is a pretty high price to pay for anyone who might speak out against it, and the ones most likely to need help (and thus, most likely to have evidence against the perpetrators) are already on the receiving end of exactly the kind of abuse we’re talking about, which aims to silence and isolate. (Judy Nichols outlines the system well in this 2003 article from the Ross Institute Internet Archives for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements.)

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume that most people—publicly at least—will express horror that women and children should be sexually and physically abused. That’s a bit of a no-brainer. But from there to linking non-monogamy to these practices, and then targeting non-monogamy in a bid to end said practices, is a lot more of a logical leap.

Let’s start with the idea of polygamy. “Poly” means “many,” and “-gamy” means marriage. The Etymology Online site explains that the term is “not etymologically restricted to marriage of one man and multiple women (technically polygyny), but often used as if it were.” In other words, when our dear lawmakers (and plenty of feminist theorists and researchers, to boot) take a stand against polygamy because they think it’s detrimental to women, they’re using the wrong word. I’ve definitely got to take issue with researchers, writers and legal experts who can’t even be bothered with the basic use of a dictionary.

And if what they’re actually upset about is polygyny, that raises the question: what of polyandry? Would these same people argue that a situation in which one wife has multiple husbands is also a blow to women’s rights? Would the same logic hold up? Likely not. But apparently the possibility is so foreign that nobody’s even thought about it. Yikes. Talk about essentialist gender notions. It’s as though lawmakers and the media have collectively regressed to the 1800s in their concept of what marriage can be—not coincidentally, the era in which the original anti-polygamy law was originally written. Among other things, they seem to have forgotten than the Canadian definition of marriage has been rewritten to include same-sex couples. Hello, people! Are you going to argue, next, that a lesbian triad is oppressive to women because it involves multiple marital partnerships? I mean, get real. Oppal is aiming to create new case law that relies on incorrect terminology and plainly one-sided understandings of gender and relationships.

That segues nicely into my next point. These discussions of “polygamy” in the media seems to miss the larger reality that a plethora of societies and cultures across the world and throughout history have accepted non-monogamy in a wide range of forms. Depending on the mores of a given society, those forms have ranged from the oppressive to the libertine, but they’re nothing if not diverse. I’m no anthropologist, but it doesn’t take one to deduce that these various forms probably only have their non-monogamous character in common. In other words, any research that makes heavy-handed assumptions about the oppressive nature of multiple marital or conjugal partnerships to women is (wilfully?) ignoring many examples to the contrary. And even if one were to find historical and cultural differences or obscure academic research too difficult to grasp, there are lots of modern Western and European examples of successful, happy non-monogamous arrangements that are (or at least can be) plenty kind to women, from 1960s lesbian communes to Tantric polyamorous love-pods in Hawaii to French bourgeois intellectual open marriages to the booming swingers’ culture and numerous well-known books about non-monogamy.

Now, let’s take the idea of sexual coercion. I think we can all agree that forcing anyone to do anything sexually against their will is not only morally wrong but legally prohibited. That means it’s both wrong and illegal to rape someone, both wrong and illegal to forcibly impregnate them, and both wrong and illegal to beat them in order to facilitate either of the other two acts (not to mention just plain wrong and illegal on its own, sex or no sex). In addition, while I do take issue with age-of-consent laws as a general rule, it also happens to be illegal, in Canada, to have sex with a minor.

So if Oppal and his legal team have determined that sexual assault, forced impregnation, coerced marriage, physical abuse and statutory rape are occurring in Bountiful, why the hell aren’t they prosecuting the perpetrators for those crimes? There’s no need for recourse to a creaky 120-year-old law for those things – they’re blatant instances of everyday routine unquestionable lawbreaking, clear as day.

And if investigators have so far failed to gather enough evidence that these crimes are taking place, why aren’t they coming up with new strategies to procure such evidence? Surely the B.C. government can produce some innovative ways to make evidence-gathering possible in a situation where an entire large community of people is said to be suffering from gross forms of abuse.

I fail to understand why Oppal is prosecuting Blackmore on polygamy instead of on straight-up child abuse and sexual coercion. It just seems so incredibly clear-cut. He’d get to avoid the religious-freedom question, all while attacking the real problem: women and girls being forced into sexual activity and reproduction against their will.

And what does “polygamy” (polygyny) have to do with any of this? Is it any less a breach of basic human rights when a single girl gets coerced into sex, marriage and child-bearing by a single man? Is there something special about polygyny that makes these same acts somehow more awful? Or is it just that the idea of a non-monogamous marital arrangement upsets a bunch of conservative lawyers who have now decided to impose legal sanctions on a community of people that might actually need an entirely different sort of help?

Apparently I’m not the only one who’s concerned. Thank goodness at least one article says something thoughtful about the question. In a 2007 article in The National Post, entitled “Criminal Act or Religious Right? Canada stymied by polygamy issue” (sorry, no link), Charles Lewis writes:

Jason Gratl, a criminal lawyer and president of B.C.’s Civil Liberties Association, said it is important to distinguish between a moral disdain of polygamous marriage and a desire for legal recourse to crimes sheltered “by the insular community structures and bonds of loyalty.”

“It’s tempting to point at polygamy as the determining factor which creates abuse,” he said. “But one should resist that temptation in light of the fact that similar abuses occur in quite ordinary marriages. And no-one is suggesting wiping out the institution of marriage because some of those marriages lead to insular family structures.”

Basically, it sounds to me like nobody’s asking the women of Bountiful what they need. Perhaps, as Gratl argues, striking down the existing anti-polygamy law could actually benefit the women in question more than upholding or reinforcing it. In that same article, he said, “Family law structures are not equipped to deal with the dissolution of polygamous marriages.” Yeah, I highly doubt a runaway Mormon wife could ever hope for legally enforced child support or alimony—and anyone who’s thought about spousal abuse even a little bit can surely understand that lack of funds would make for a pretty significant obstacle to leaving.

Beyond the legal aspects of this, what about plain old moral support, a way out, a demonstration that there’s another way of life than the one imposed on women by a strict and oppressive form of fundamentalist religious tradition? What about setting up safehouses not far from town to serve as a place where women who want to run can go? What about creating a legal fund for women who want to bring charges against their abusive husbands? What about offering career training and child care for women who choose to leave and start a different life? Support groups where they can connect with other former fundamentalist wives?

And what about leaving the women who do want to stay the freedom to choose exactly that? Our legal system already “allows” abused partners to stay in their abusive relationships elsewhere in the country, and our society has created hundreds of institutions to help abuse survivors. It sucks to stand by and watch an abusive situation continue, I’ll definitely grant you that, but yanking someone away from an abusive spouse, or chiding them to just leave already, hasn’t ever been shown to be effective way to help out, especially when you can’t back it up with some sort of concrete support as an alternative to the status quo.

From a purely selfish standpoint, I almost want Oppal to continue on his wrongheaded path. If this whole mess ends up backfiring (in Oppal’s view) and legalizing multiple marriages, as the legal experts have been predicting for months now, I know a lot of polyamorous folks who will benefit from it because it will allow them to obtain legal protections for their families. I know of many different situations in which triads or other non-monogamous groupings are facing major obstacles, legal and otherwise, to  their parenting approaches and other matters that don’t fit within the current two-people-only legal marriage system—not to mention they often need to stay closeted out of fear that they’ll be branded as child abusers and potentially risk losing custody of their kids or being ostracized from their communities. So a newly struck-down anti-polygamy law, and the consequences of such a legal move even when it’s at the provincial level, could have fascinating and beneficial ripple effects for poly people all over the country.

The problem is that if the B.C. case results in the repealing of the old anti-polygamy law, it’ll have happened for the wrong reasons—religious freedom instead of simple civil rights, which shouldn’t have anything to do with religious affiliation at all. It’ll effectively be saying that if you have an extreme religious viewpoint, we’ll just have to leave you and your marital choices alone—but it won’t mean we’ll be seeing any actual progress in terms of legal support for non-traditional family structures. It won’t have happened because a progressive lawmaker saw fit to serve the kids’ best interests or take a trans-historical, cross-cultural and realistic view of the potential value of multiple loving partnerships. Quite the contrary. It will send the message that powerful male leaders can get away with abuse and rape if they cloak it in religious terms, and I can’t possibly feel happy about that even if the eventual legal situation does make some of my friends’ lives (and their kids’ lives) easier.

Wally Oppal is doggedly pursuing a legal strategy that the experts agree will most likely leave a bunch of old men in Bountiful all the freedom in the world to coerce a bunch of teenage girls into early marriage, forced sexual activity and premature child-bearing. His strategy is making this result more likely while failing to engage with any other available options that might actually help solve the problem. Talk about messed-up priorities.

gourmet sex and the beauty of erotic snobbery*
January 1, 2009

Well, it’s 2009. Did you do anything debauched last night? (I did, but I’m not telling what.) Do you feel any different? Older and wiser, perhaps? Any big erotic projects on the horizon? Any lofty goals you’d like to set post-hangover and forget about by Valentine’s Day? Last year around this time, I published a post listing my sex predictions for 2008. I’m currently not in a headspace to be thinking about predictions for 2009, but perhaps I’ll come up with some and post ‘em here next week.

This afternoon at breakfast (yeah, it was a good night) I got into a conversation with the various folks who have been sharing my space lately, and oddly enough, we turned to the very topic I had been planning to re-post about today: erotic snobbery. The short version is that we all agreed that sex isn’t worth having if it’s anything less than excellent. The longer version… well, read on. In the meantime, happy New Year. May 2009 bring you exactly what you need, even if it isn’t exactly what you want.

*I originally published this on October 8, 2006.

***

A couple of weeks back, I fell into a conversation with an acquaintance, and the topic turned to sex (she started it, I swear). I wish I remembered how we got to this specific piece of the conversation, but at one point I made reference to some mind-blowing sexual experience I’d had, and she kind of looked at me and just said, “I don’t think sex has ever been that intense for me.”

I was kind of taken aback by her statement, because, well, I gave up on having non-intense sex so long ago I can’t really remember what it’s like anymore. I had to hold back from asking her – with no malice, just complete honest curiosity – “Well, what’s the point of doing it, then?”

Truly, what is the point? If all I want to do is get off, I can do that myself quite competently, thanks; I’ve got a lifetime of practice. I imagine that’s true for most of us – or am I being really naïve?

The whole point of bringing another person into the experience, for me, is to luxuriate in that thrilling sense of deep human connection that two (or more) people can create. If you have sex and it’s just sorta ho-hum, doesn’t that just end up making you feel more lonely than you felt before? Sort of like how gorging on potato chips might fill your belly, but it sure doesn’t make you feel like you’ve had a meal? I suppose if you’re starving, maybe… but that’s sex from a place of desperation, rather than from a place of genuine desire. And unlike the furthest logical conclusion of the food metaphor, I’ve never known anyone to die from lack of sex.

Call me an erotic snob if you will, but in my mind, better to let your belly grumble a bit while waiting for gourmet than to get flabby on fast food. Midori said it best when writing about her youth in her introduction to Michael Manning’s (totally amazing) book of erotic art, Inamorata: “What my peers thought was my sexual innocence and prudish declining of sexual advances was actually my refusal to participate in erotic mediocrity.”

Now here’s the kicker. I personally believe that amazing sex is a wonderfully accessible sort of luxury if you’re willing to cultivate your palate – especially since, unlike the fulfilment of other epicurean tastes, it doesn’t require a big budget. Better yet, in my opinion at least, mind-bending sex has nothing to do with a lover’s years of experience, list of conquests, or achievements in technical prowess. For me, it has everything to do with whether or not a lover is able to truly open and be vulnerable to me, and boldly step inside when I open to them. Good sex is dependent on connection, and connection is dependent on trust – on the other person allowing me to get inside them in places far deeper than an orifice or two.

The body is a convenient route to the inner world, and whether I want to stay there with someone for an hour or a lifetime, that’s what I’m after. The superficial experience of sex on its own somehow feels like a paltry substitute, an empty shell of what it could be. It feels like knocking on the restaurant door and being refused a table. I’m not interested in hanging out on the front step, no matter how pretty it is; I’m not interested in the burger joint down the street. I’d rather go home to my own place and make my own dinner solo.

For me personally, when someone’s willing to open, that connection and that trust generally play out in one of two ways: love (in its broadest definition) or power. In other words, either it’s romantic or it’s sadomasochistic. All the better if it’s both at once. This is not to say that every time I screw, I end up in a long-term relationship of either romance or dominance; there are a lot of places between “don’t call me, I’ll call you” and a U-Haul or a collar, and many of those places don’t involve repeatedly getting nekkid. The point is not to make an experience into something it’s not, but rather to enjoy it to the deepest degree of what it is.

Of course, this is just my own way of doing things. Trust is an individual thing, and the point is not for connection to look the same to everyone, but rather that everyone deserves to feel it in the way that works best for them. Regardless of how it plays out, I think gourmet sex is a physical manifestation of trust, plain and simple – whether it’s someone taking a chance with a compelling stranger or opening for the ten thousandth time to their lifelong lover, whether it’s played out through a cane and a pair of restraints or a gentle coaxing tongue on tender flesh. No trust = no connection = no intensity = no fun. “Ya want fries with that?” instead of “Allow me to recommend an appropriate apéritif, sir.”

I’ve heard many justifications for fast-food sex. “Well, I was drunk. It had been three months since I last got laid. She seemed really into me. He was really nice and I felt bad. I didn’t want to lead her on. I wasn’t really in the mood, but I love him. I decided, what the hell, I didn’t have anything better to do. We’ve been together for five years, so it’s normal for things to get a little routine.” And so on and so forth.

I dunno. To me these all seem like cop-outs. Don’t drink so much, learn to masturbate, don’t let loneliness or guilt or other people’s expectations control your libido, true love waits for both people to be in the mood, boredom is a terrible reason for sex, and if you can handle being together for five years you can certainly handle the challenge of finding ways to make your sex life steamy.

There’s simply no truly good reason to settle for cheaply produced, flat-tasting sex that’s lacking in nutritional value. Ick. I deserve better. Every single person on this planet deserves better. We can choose to give a whole new meaning to “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” – in other words, rather than letting our bodies go ahead and do things while our minds sit in the corner and twiddle their thumbs until it’s over, we can choose to let our spirits and minds take the lead in every experience, and then our bodies can do nothing but follow. And I don’t know about you, but my mind can go to some interesting places indeed.

If my own renunciation of disconnected sex makes me an erotic snob, I’ll gladly accept the title. Better to bathe in erotic luxury – or even settle for the occasional sip – than drown in erotic mediocrity.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,176 other followers