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Reid Mihalko: Make a Joyful Noise

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For someone, like me who has long been a sex-positive advocate (although not really an educator), I was super geeked to attend one of Reid Mihalko‘s talks in Denver. I had seen his keynote address at Beyond the Bedroom back in October, but unfortunately was unable to make his other classes that Weekend. So this was a real treat for me.

It was only about 2 years ago that I really discovered my own personal trick to my orgasms. See, while I’ve been experiencing great orgasms by myself since I was 11, I was very reluctant to share those with others. I was happy to be on the receiving end of someone’s orgasm, but I wasn’t going to share mine.

Part of the reluctance came from the fact that I had worked with several older men in my adolescence, and for better or for worse, I learned quite a bit from them. And each day for almost 4 years I heard them complaining about how selfish the female orgasm was. How they had to “waste” their time trying to get a woman to cum. They hated giving a woman oral and often complained about the taste or smell. It left a clear impression on 15 year old me, so that by the time I finally gave my virginity to a high school senior a year later, I treated the whole experience as an experiment in -being the opposite of all these selfish women I had heard about.

Now, with the caveat in mind that I have known very few men to ever complain about a blow-job in general, I do consider myself rather adept at that particular skill. That has been my sure-fire claim to fame for almost all of my sexual life. Hell, I was coached by my first boyfriend, who is now gay. I listened to my male co-workers describe what they liked and what they didn’t. I am a quick learner and proud of the way I take time to learn a man’s body well enough to tease and please quite well.

By it wasn’t until I met Warrior that I found a cock that I couldn’t use those same tricks on. Hence, why I think classes like Reid’s are quite necessary. It doesn’t matter how much you think you know about sex, because there is always something new you can learn and a new way to approach each person’s individual likes and dislikes. And at the very least a new way to frame how you decide to look at your own abilities.

But more important than just learning technique is the breaking down of the shame and guilt we experience about sex. For a while after meeting Warrior I felt I was losing my touch and thus unenjoyable as a partner because i couldn’t make him cum from a blowjob. It took months before I realized that he needs a lot of sensuous build-up, because while his body is “online” and ready, his mind is in twelve different directions. And now I hold the honor of being the person (male or female) who has given him the most orgasms from oral ever. Why? because his orgasm isn’t about me. I could use the best technique in the world and it still might not happen. I could be the hottest woman on earth and it might not happen. But I can create an environment and experience where if it is going to happen it can and we will both be happy simply because we are together.

So, what does this have to do with my own realization two years ago or the class last night? We pick up some fucked up ideas about sex. I mean, here I was growing up to grown men moaning about how tedious the female orgasm is. I already had a lot off self-judgment around selfishness in general and wasn’t about to become the type of lover who was selfish and wouldn’t give the same level attention being given to me. In fact, I was the type of person who was determined to give and pamper, but never fully receive.

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A wide-open world

I’ve been struggling to write this post for a few weeks now.  Ever since I learned that I passed the bar exam in my state, I have been struggling with how to write about it. How to reconcile it to what I’ve believed about myself for so long and more than anything deciding what to do with myself now.

This picture jumped out at me as I was trying to find a way to describe how I felt about taking the bar exam again.  Taking the exam, while not the most important thing in the world, is a monumental and scary rite of passage.  I was being asked to cross a chasm separating two immense mountains.  The first is the mountain of my experience as a student.  I had faced failure, faced success and conquered it all.  The other mountain was the mountain of my profession.  Several have crossed this path before.  It shouldn’t be that hard…but the fall is so great if you’re unsuccessful that it’s daunting to even consider reaching that mountain.  And that path, a tiny bridge between two worlds so similar but so very different looks as if the moment you step upon it, you’ll plummet to your doom.

The first time I took the bar exam I was full of confusion, hatred for the path and resentment.  I fell and I fell hard.  I didn’t pass the first time.  I have used tons of excuses over the years to explain why I fell (“I was pregnant at the time”, “I was buying a house”), but the honest reason is I wasn’t sure I wanted to be on that mountain.  After I fell, after I gave birth, I climbed back up to that precipice to try once more.  But again, I lacked commitment and purpose (yes, even I lacked purpose).  I allowed myself to become distracted and in truth I did a lot to sabotage myself because the same month I was supposed to take the exam is the same month my husband and I became polyamorous.  Looking back on it, I can see why I fell, why I failed the bar that year.  But nevertheless I was in that chasm dividing these two mountains.

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Afraid of Abundance

ImageA while back I had started a blog called “Love Priestess”.  It was a name I came up with shortly after I was outed because I felt my particular message, my calling in the world was better served from the perspective of a Priestess of Love.  Back then my partners and I were actively engaged in what we called a Love Movement.  Even though all of us have gone our separate ways, I believe with my whole heart that we each are pursuing that movement in our own particular ways.  Yet, my way has always been a bit unclear to me.  Love Priestess fit at the time, but I haven’t been grasping the full potential of what it can be and more importantly who I can be.

I am blessed in so many ways.  In particular I have a knack for romantic and intimate interpersonal relationships.  They have always come easy to me.  I’ve never been in a position where I’m “looking for love” or “waiting for the One”.  I have blessed that those opportunities have always shown up on my doorstep rather magnificently.  And each experience, each lover, each blessed being in my experience has been beneficial to my life.  Even the ones who have hurt me.  Each person I’ve encountered, each person I’ve shared myself with, including these partners who created this Love Movement together, has had an impact on my life.  And if anything my life has been characterized by the relative ease I’ve had in embracing transformational shifts in relationship dynamics.  A really fancy way of saying I flowed so easily with relationships that I always counted it as my most abundant blessing.

But something changed about 3 or 4 years ago that kept me from fully embracing the abundance that was being offered even in this relatively easy part of my personal life.  I used to attribute it to any number of factors and triggers from being hurt by a messy break-up or “growing up” or gaining weight or whatever seemed to excuse my feelings of sadness and disconnectedness. I was no longer welcoming of that abundance of joy, pleasure and shared oneness.   And even though I’ve blamed everything and everyone (especially myself for that), I couldn’t really get down to what was at the root of it all.

As some of you know I’m in the process of studying for the bar exam in my state.  I have my law degree and I want my license.  Yesterday, while on the phone with my husband I realized what I want to do to once I have my license and how I want to craft my life and my career.  It’s actually not that far off from Love Movement as we might think.  I have always wanted to change the world, but I finally have a way of making it happen…and forging a new path for law, policy, relationships, conflict, and acceptance of self.  I haven’t fully fleshed out the idea yet, but I know in my heart that it’s what I’m meant to do.

But to do it, I’m going to have to consent to be in the spotlight.

That terrifies me.  I have this image in my head that in order to accomplish what I want to accomplish, what every cell in my body is demanding of me, I am going to have to allow the spotlight to shine on me.  Each time the spotlight has swung in my direction over the years I’ve run away, escaped and hidden in the shadows.  The shadows, the darkness is a safe place for me.  I shine brighter in the shadows.  But eventually if I want to create the transformation I want…and if I want to be able to do it my way, I am going to have to finally consent to remaining in the spotlight.

And the spotlight is where my abundance lives.  It is where the abundance that I once enjoyed in multiple relationships went to reside.  It’s been drawing me there.  The richness and fullness of my emotional, physical and mental life is waiting for me.  I only have to overcome my fear enough to enter that circle.  I have to be brave enough to let the light cascade down my body, exposing my soul and my life, my love and my vulnerability…because ultimately those are my strengths and that is how I can lead, can transform, can create.  While I will always be comfortable working with the shadows, I cannot and must not dwell there.

Instead, my work, indeed the world I want to live in requires me to step fully into the light and to be seen and heard, to learn from others and lend my aid to those still lurking in the background, held back by their fear, guilt and shame.

This is my Love Movement.

The Awakened Shall Trust

This morning I participated in an online “oneness” meditation with hundreds of other people from around the country.  While others had this immense feeling of well, oneness, and awakening, I felt something that has been virtually inaccessible to me for the past several years: my own light.  I get glimpses of it from time to time, it shines through brightly only to fade silently into the twilight of my own fears and anxieties. While I have been a healer to others over the years, able to see the invisible energy centers twirling and dancing within, I’ve never been able to see my own.  Until the meditation today. 

Today I sat in the silence of my own truth and was able to see why I’ve grown so distant from myself, why it has been so hard for me to trust…not just others, but in particular myself and my own skills.  Here is what I saw:  Read the rest of this entry

Where you haven’t been

It’s rare that I am inspired these days to write about my sexual experiences. It’s not that I don’t love talking about them, it’s that often I don’t believe I have anything new to say about them. That and I don’t really want to have to wrestle with the dilemma of whether I have the consent of my partners to reveal such personal information about them.

But early this week I was struck by a picture of my former Master on someone’s feed on FetLife. My friend was complimenting the woman who posted the picture but there was my Master’s thoughtful non-smile. (He was always careful not to smile in photographs…except one I had spontaneously snapped of him and my poly husband in 2006.)

We haven’t spoken since we broke up in early 2007. Even though the break-up itself was intended to be amicable, he wasn’t used to staying friends with exes. Despite his intentions to the contrary he couldn’t manage to make that happen for us. He defriended me, defrocked me as an administrator on a group we had all formed together (that one hurt the most) and started blocking me on social networking sites. I know I kept pushing my presence on him and I think it was enough for him to want nothing more of me.

But what that relationship did was solidify some growing feelings I was having about my compatibility with D/s relationships. As our relationship inched closer to the end I was growing increasingly dissatisfied with the expectations of our relationship. I wasn’t playing as often as I needed or wanted, but he was showing off his new slave rather regularly. I was going through all matter of personal turmoil and heartache over my job and it was difficult for him because he never felt like he was doing the right thing for me. But when I discovered that he was systematically excluding from areas of his life yet demanding full access to mine, I had enough. The neglect became not just obvious but intolerable.

I wondered this week what I might say to him now…how I might fill him in about where he hasn’t been for the past several years. How might I describe my submission, my feelings as a switch. And how might that story only reinforce his attitudes toward me? Might the story I tell today just prove all his suspicions right?

But it’s not about where he hasn’t been. No, this is about where I haven’t been. I still tried to find submission after our relationship. I was still able to with my two husbands back then. But I started losing faith in myself…and trust in my own abilities as a submissive and as a desirable partner. And even though my partners made mistakes I was using that to mask the fear and hurt I was walking into every scene with.

I used to tell people that I make my biggest mistakes when choosing to play out of desperation. No. That wasn’t it. Yes, I was desperate. But I was also choosing to play without ever assessing whether I trusted my own self anymore. I walked into scenes expecting to hear how “unpleasant” or “disappointing” I was. And I found ways to confirm that impression of myself. Never really opening up to partners because I expected to be told how utterly displeasing I am. Having a whole 3 page narrative about my limits, because I could no longer trust my own abilities or my own judgment about activities and partners.

Whatever happened to rolling with the punches?

It wasn’t because of my former Master, but because I put my full vulnerability out there to him and others and it didn’t work out. To anyone else I would have advised to trust and put yourself out there again. But I didn’t. No, I stayed locked up, haunted by indecision and caution, not even playing with my husbands.

I am learning how to trust myself again. To put my heart and submission on the line. Not because my partners are worthy (they are) but because I am worthy of that level of release and fulfillment. And I will never achieve it if I stayed locked up, stalled, walled off. I have each day I can live in fullness and as an adventure.

So, at the end of the week I am grateful to this man whose unexpectedly handsome face reminded me that my submission, my abilities as a switch, my body and especially my spirit are worth the fulfillment he wasn’t able to provide to me. I am worth trusting…

So tomorrow night Warrior and I will do our push-pull dance of ours. This will be how we talk…and how I will let go and go back to the place where I haven’t been in so very long.

What is a Slut. The response

A few days ago, this article by Katheryn Hale was sent to me by a friend who wanted me to comment on it.  Knowing that I am rather pro-slut she specifically wanted to know whether I approved or disapproved of this commentary.  I am a proud and happy slut.  I am happy to reveal my number and go into gross detail about what each encounter meant to me.  I consider myself an advocate for responsible slutting.

Want to know how I feel about the article?  I wholly disapprove.  I sat there in shock as this commentary in EdenCafe of all places was insulting those of us who have an active and equally healthy sex life.  Not to mention the fact that this article showed absolutely none of the sex-positive or even woman-positive imagery I had grown to expect in my daily readings, it did it in such a demeaning and judgmental way that I have no choice than to respond to some of the more choice judgments.

“Whore” and “slut” are terms almost always applied to women, particularly promiscuous ones. While they’re very similar behavior-wise, whores and sluts differ by their degree of promiscuity. Whores are often associated with prostitution. These women have many sexual partners, but they’re selling their bodies primarily for monetary gain, whether they actually want to be a prostitute or not.”

She starts the article by assuming that sluts should end up at the bottom of this heap.  She acts as if any of us are morally equipped to judge someone else’s sexual choices or encounters, much less determine that some classifications of sexual women deserve to be at the bottom.  What is interesting at that she classifies “whores” as being better since they’re getting paid for their promiscuity and later in the article states that the fact that “whores” maintain some sense of safety and control over their choices.

But it’s this statement that set me off: 

Sluts, however, are willing to have sex with just about anything that moves. They’ll engage in dangerous sexual activities at a whim, all while only being concerned about pleasure. At least whores are both aware of the risks and are willing to protect themselves whenever they can. Even if a slut knows about the dangers of frequent unprotected sex, she’ll most likely not give a hoot about safety precautions pre-intercourse.”

WHAT.THE.FUCK?!

Sluts are willing to have sex to satisfy and assert our own pleasure, our own choices, their own values and not those of someone else.  We do not have sex with just about anything that moves; in fact, we exert a great deal of choice over who we have sex with and how.  And even if Ms. Hale had bothered to define what are “dangerous sexual activities” (is it sex with strangers, sex without condoms, sex in public, group sex, kinky sex, mile-hi sex?) trust me when I say that we sluts have one thing in common: we assess our risks and make knowing and informed choices.  The fact that we do so more quickly than your average bottled-up housewife does not necessarily make it “on a whim”.  But even if it were on a whim, why is that a problem if we are walking in fully aware of and prepared for the risks involved?  Even if the sole concern isn’t primarily for pleasure, at least we do actually consider our own pleasure before deciding to have sex with someone.  Shocking, I know.  But certainly not anything that should be used to judge anyone…that is, unless your premise is based on an assumption that sex should not be pleasurable. And if so, you should really be more upfront  about that.

But more than that, I’m offended by the assumption that think that our sex is “unprotected”.  The fact is that sluts are owners of our sexuality.  We are enforcers of a healthy sexuality.  And more than anything we aren’t so caught up in the paradigm of fear about what is “down there” that we actually know our own anatomy, our own pleasure centers and are educated and assertive enough to understand and make conscious decisions about our level of safe sex.  We are more likely to be prepared with condoms, have had frank discussions with our health-care providers in order to keep ourselves safe and are more likely to walk out on someone who refuses to respect any boundaries we require regarding safety or activities.  We are active and informed consumers of sex, from the side-effects of some of the materials used to make the sex toys we use  down to the rules of engagement for a new sex partner.

Are you prostituting? You’re a whore. Were you caught cheating with your lover’s best friend? You’re a whore. Did you contract an STD, have an abortion, or appear on Maury Povich for a paternity test? Whore, whore, and big time whore.

Here’s my take:

Are you prostituting?  You are a sex worker.

Were you caught cheating with your lover’s best friend?  You’re likely a cheater.

Did you contract an STD?  You’re either not taking the right precautions in sexual activity or you were terribly unlucky.

Did you have an abortion?  You are a woman who has had to make a very difficult choice (and you might have been forced to because you were a victim of rape or incest or marital abuse).

Did you appear on Maury Povich for a paternity test?  You’re attention-seeking and possibly harboring some unresolved issues, but not likely an actual whore.

Am I the only one who sees this line of judgment as problematic and infinitely fallacious?

When a woman becomes a slut, she is no longer treated like a woman, let alone a human being. She becomes an object to abuse, and no one cares because nobody wants to associate with sluts.

No, it’s when other women, like the author, who treat empowered and sexually assertive women as less than worthy that we are treated like this.  I didn’t see anything in this article that treats “sluts”, “whores” or any other woman who has had more than 3 sex partners with anything resembling respect or admiration.  So why would anyone else treat us with respect?  It seems that the author cannot even bring the sensitivity or sensibility to treat woman who are obviously far more sexually active than her with anything but distant derision and outright shame.  It is people like the author who are responsible for continuing to shame a healthy and positive sexual presence for women and thus legitimizing such horrid treatment as the default societal response.

It’s not hard to imagine just how threatening a sexually assertive woman might be.  How threatening it is for her to be aggressive, directed and yes, pleasure-driven much less to expose herself to other women who do embody these qualities?  After all, that might be far too empowering and would start to eliminate the millions of women who have been brainwashed into thinking that Cosmo can solve their sexual dilemmas by turning elementary school girlish titillation into some grand game of sexual doormat olympics.  All the author does is deter women from taking control over their own sexual satisfaction and setting reasonable and concrete boundaries about their level of involvement in a sexual encounter; thus silencing those who model any level of sexual control and maturity to our partners and friends.  She might prefer in fact if women were kept as demure little girls who allowed fear and insecurity to make our sexual decisions for us…and thus keep us repressed, lonely and pleasure-deprived.  After all, that’s been the predominant message over centuries of patriarchial society.  It is up to the woman to keep her legs closed and shame to any women who decides to open them willingly for someone she might be attracted to.

So, to answer the final question in the article, why yes, I am rather proud to be a slut, to sex-positive, to have touched others’ lives through my intimately physical interactions with them and to continue to focus on my pleasure, my safety, my boundaries and having sex as loudly as I can on my own terms.

Thanks for asking.

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