Continuing Education of the Sexual Variety

SexEd

A friend of mine recently reached out to me and asked for my opinion based on an article that had caught her eye. The subject was sex education in high school (and whether or not a certain text book selected for the class was appropriate for 9th graders). It was a topic of controversy in California. Parents were outraged. Civil liberty people were called. Text books were deemed by many of the parents to be “pornographic.” And in the end, the text book was pulled. The parents won.

As I read the article and contemplated her question about my opinions I found myself thinking about how often misconceptions surrounding sex come up. How often friends ask me for clarification and/or advice despite the fact I’m not a therapist. I’m just pretty knowledgeable and enjoy researching the subject (in the many various formats available for “research”.)

So here are my thoughts as they pertain directly to the California scenario. The parents were well within their rights. Although I firmly believe it’s very important that sexual education continue, and not just from a “sex is evil/having sex can get you diseases that can range from embarrassing to lethal/save yourself till marriage” standpoint, there are certain subjects that should probably be left for private discussions rather than a public forum. For example, the text book chosen went into details such as sexual positions, bondage, and helpful hints for masturbation. Now, to be fair, there’s no way to know if these subjects would’ve been discussed in class, but they also came with illustrations a la The Joy of Sex. In my opinion, that’s probably pushing it a bit, and I can see why the parents were up in arms.

In an ideal world kids would come to their parents or schools would have a social worker or therapist on staff that they could come to…to sit down and talk about these things if they’re curious. Heck, let’s be real….do you really think there aren’t any precocious freshmen girls who haven’t read 50 Shades? You’d be deluding yourself. But on the flip side, the entire class doesn’t need to be in the middle of this discussion because everyone’s level of knowledge and experience or desire to go there is not and will not be the same!

Why focus on the advanced courses without addressing the basics? What should be discussed in this sex ed class (because I truly do believe we should continue the education…heck, they haven’t had sex ed since their private parts and their functions, including periods, were explained in 4th-5th grade)? How about a positive body image. How about instead of focusing on tips and pointers of masturbation, we explain that it’s a natural function and that exploring ones self is normal. How about explaining the impacts of cruel cutting words surrounding a person’s body and/or sexuality. Detail how such simple things as words can create eating disorders, fear, and even suicide….and that there is power in social media, so they should be judicious in how they choose to use it. Or that positive words can build a person up and help them take on the world? How about tolerance for people who may not share our sexual interests? There’s no need for the details there, though it certainly may open some people’s minds up for questions and curiosities. Heck, they may even go to people they know who are into whatever it is that caught their attention and learn something…including tolerance!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that sexual education definitely needs to continue, but some of it should be explored and experienced through independent learning. Helping guide people to thirst for more learning is the first step. Taking away the taboos and the fear is the second. (And it doesn’t mean you have to push aside the very real concerns about safety, pregnancy, and diseases.) Third is teaching that with sex comes responsibility, and that sex is never a decision that should be taken lightly without understanding the potential for consequences. We can do ALL of that without threats and fear!

You know why else sex education is important? Because you don’t want your child to be the 23 year old girl who asked a very close friend of mine if she had to worry about becoming pregnant because she swallowed when she gave her boyfriend head. Or my own friend who, at 19 years old, was confronted with a boyfriend who didn’t like condoms and wanted everything to be “natural” including the pills they bought together at a health food store. Needless to say, she was pregnant with twins by the time she was 20. These situations, while extreme, are examples of what can happen when sex discussions are pushed away or fear is put at the forefront. Where old wives tales prevail. Or worse, ignorance.

Heck, I’m 40 years old and I’m still continuing my sexual education. How about you? BTW, if you’ve got your own stories of fear/ignorance, I’d love for you to share… And if you’ve got thoughts on sex ed, I’d love to hear those, too!

If Love Is A Battlefield….

…is sex the weapon?

How many times have we all heard-

“Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?”

I can’t tell you how much I’ve come to dislike that statement now that I’m older and understand it better. Why, you ask? I’m about to tell you.

Sometimes I wonder how it is that we still don’t seem to have put this statement together with the historical idea of women as chattel. First, let me clarify, I’m not about to say that anyone should be in a rush to lose their virginity as it’s not really worth anything. Not. At. All. Most of you have followed me long enough that you know I find beauty in virtue and purity, just as I find beauty in sensual pleasures.

What I am saying is that the originating statement came from a time where virginity was just another bartering tool used to bring the highest price possible for selling off your daughter to improve the family’s social and financial standing….and is as old as time. Well, a time when women didn’t really have much say in how their own lives could/would be shaped. Personally I’m grateful not to be living in that time, but I wonder if we’re really so far removed from some of their ideologies, especially when it comes to sex. In fact, there are times when I research back on that time and wonder if they weren’t more progressive in their thinking after the initial marriage than we are today.

Here’s the thing, if you’ve still got your purity intact, to me, the gifting is in finding someone worthwhile to share that special moment with…who will help enrich the experience by their mere presence. The reality is, you only have your virginity once, so it should be special….a celebration of transition in life. Sharing it should happen with someone who appreciates the moment and you. If that means someone you love, someone you like a lot, or the person you intend on sharing the rest of your life with, great! It should not be the carrot dangled at the end of a stick a la “I’ll let you have my virginity if you ‘put a ring on it’.” Yes, I’m saying I don’t agree with the Beyonc√© song. I just don’t think ultimatums are a good way to kick off a relationship.

Now you’re saying, “But Kitt, what about those of us who aren’t virgins?” Let’s be honest, there are more of you reading this blog than there are of the “chaste” variety. Am I right? ūüėČ Well, I’m so glad you asked…because it was something that happened a couple of weeks ago that prompted this whole post.

My dear friend, Ande Lyons, interviewed Drs. Chuck and Jo-Ann Bird¬†aka The Love Birds, relationship counselors and clinical sexologists, on her Loving And Lasting radio show about how to keep your marriage/relationship sexually satisfying. One of the calls they took was from a woman who was starting a newer relationship. She’d discussed the fact that she was a firm believer in starting as she meant to continue. For her, that meant she discussed how important sex and intimacy was for her.

I thought what The Lovebirds said…”Good for her!” Begin as you mean to continue, right? She set her expectations early. She opened the lines of communication regarding sex immediately! Her candor regarding her desires was refreshing…and not usually the norm in many relationships.

Instead, what we usually see is more weaponization¬†of sex. How many times have you heard or seen people trade sex for status and a certain type of lifestyle? These are the “I won’t date you unless you’re in a certain financial bracket or have a job I consider impressive enough to brag about to my friends.” We all know them. They value people by the size of their wallets, etc. Those are the obvious ones….and most of us agree that it’s not really a good place to expect any real happiness or intimacy. We feel for the poor sucker that gets caught in that honey trap (usually because they fail to see past the superficial).

Personally, if you are intrigued enough with a person to give dating the ol’ ‘college try’, I don’t see the issue with taking the rest of him/her for a test drive, too. Imagine what would happen if folks knew whether or not they were sexually compatible from the beginning. What if you discussed your likes and dislikes early? Might it not set the tone for sharing what’s working and not working for you in the bedroom in the future? Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable bringing up fantasies as the relationship progresses? Discussing different sexual avenues you’d like to explore together as the trust grows? In fact, August McLaughlin did a great post nailing on the head so many of the reasons why it’s okay to test the waters when she took on Steve Harvey’s book touting why women should wait 90 days before engaging.

Don’t get me wrong, there are sometimes valid reasons to wait. For example, if you know that¬† sex has a way of becoming a huge distraction from everything else for you, you might want to wait. Why? To give yourself an opportunity to really get to know the person you’re getting intimate with before you let yourself feast. What isn’t cool is if the reason you’re holding back is because you’re afraid he/she won’t respect you if you “put out.” This isn’t high school. If that is truly a concern you feel with the person you’re dating…he/she is probably not the right person for you. A truly decent person won’t judge you because you are honest with them and want to create a physical intimacy. Pardon my language, but only a$$holes tend to sit there, throwing stones (and we all know what they say about people in glass houses who do that).

Even more bothersome is when sex becomes weaponized once you’re actually in the relationship, but it happens all too often. In fact, I’ve even heard folks giving advice to do just that and wanted to scream! What am I talking about? Say your partner has done something that ticked you off. Instead of talking about it rationally and calmly, you decide to sleep in the other room. You want something done…. You offer sex as the reward if they do it, or threaten to withhold if they don’t.¬† This makes sex a threat and a weapon.

Why do we wield it this way when intimacy is so crucial to relationships? Although finances is a large cause of divorce, so is loss of intimacy. I talked to a gal pal a few months back who didn’t feel important in her relationship with her husband. One of the things that stood out to me was the fact that she said if he’d just touched her casually or kissed her for no reason other than he wanted to, she would know she mattered. Sex had become his weapon that he only brought out when he sensed that she was angry, he wanted to shut¬†her up¬†or escape true intimacy…at least that’s the way it felt to her. I know just as many women who use sex the same way she described.

The funny thing is she blames herself….because she allowed it to happen. Had those intimate discussions happened in the beginning, things might have been different. Had she set her expectations from the start…and allowed them to grow together in their passion and discovery, maybe she wouldn’t feel so unimportant.

Sex should be a tool to bring you closer together, not a weapon to hold over someone else. And if, by chance, you find yourself in this predicament….it’s not hopeless. That’s the other thing I loved about The Love Birds….they offered help for those who can’t fix it on their own. Relationships aren’t always easy, but they should be cherished.

Have you ever used sex as a weapon? What did you learn from doing so?¬†Have you ever had sex used against you? How did it make you feel? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said? Share with me…. Whether you agree or don’t, I’d love to hear from you. I learn so much from what you guys share…and I love you all for it!

Halloween Brings Out the Rocky Road in Vanilla

Isabella, my Skele-pup wishing you a Spooktakular Halloween

Isabella, my Skele-pup wishing you a Spooktakular Halloween

Before I get to talking (cause we all know I can do that quite well), I hope you all had a Boo-tiful day. Also, I won a writing contest on Marcia Richards’ blog! Ya’ll should check her out. She’s awesome and uplifting, both.

As holidays go, this one is a fun one. In fact, next to Christmas, it’s my hubby’s favorite holiday and with good reason. Halloween is FUN! What’s not to like? You suspend reality for a while. You get to pretend to be someone else, hang out with supernatural characters, knock on strangers doors and expect to receive sweet treats!

And then it hit me! Halloween is the holiday where Vanilla people get a chance to explore their inner Rocky Road. If those of us who don’t tend to live on the vanilla side of the bed think about it, this isn’t really a shocking revelation.

Let’s look more deeply at this holiday for a little bit. The obvious place to begin is in the sexy costumes that allow you to be someone else. To role play. Become your inner bad girl or sexy vamp. Heck, there are visual encouragements everywhere these days! Here’s an ad from Party City. Click the link! Take a look for yourself…

Sexy costumes from Party City

Sexy costumes from Party City

Playful, flirty…. And not much different than the sexy, flirty¬†role play costumes that Fredericks of Hollywood offers! Well, except for the Fredericks ones are usually a bit more risqu√© and better quality. Hey, I know, thereof I speak. What can I say? I couldn’t resist their sexy French maid costume eons ago. Check out some of what they have to offer!

Sexy Fredericks of Hollywood Costumes

Sexy Fredericks of Hollywood Costumes

Even the vanilla folk have been known to become sexy witches or cheerleaders or harem girls. Me? I’ve been a China doll, Pocahontas, Tina Turner, Catholic Schoolgirl, and Hawaiian hula girl!

So that one’s easy. We all know how I love masks…

Yes, that's me... in a mask...

Yes, that’s me… in a mask…

Consider the impact…. Look at those costume parties and masquerades that happen. Tell me that part of the fantasy isn’t the opportunity to be completely anonymous and maybe mistaken for someone else prompting some sort of illicit behavior, excused away by “mistaken identity”. Maybe it hasn’t actually happened. Maybe it has!¬†But isn’t that part of the fantasy?

I know what you guys are thinking… But Kitt, what about the scary part?

Decoration at the front of my house

Decoration at the front of my house

Things like decapitated vampire heads or spooky houses….

The bloody lady (triggered by motion sensor) that crawls out from under my car

The bloody lady (triggered by motion sensor) that crawls out from under my car

Or Haunted Houses or theme parks like Halloween Horror Nights by Universal or Howl-O-Scream by Busch Gardens and Sea World.

What makes them so popular with men and women alike? For a lot of guys it’s pretty simple. They enjoy that one time of year where they get to bow up and prove what manly men they are by A) not being scared B) by protecting their lady loves and C) women (sometimes strangers) squeal and jump into their arms.

But there’s another aspect… When a person becomes scared or excited by real or imagined threats, they experience an adrenaline rush. Most of us have been there at some time or another. We remember our accelerated heartbeat, our muscles tightening up, our elevated energy levels as our fight or flight responses are triggered. On a technical level? Adrenaline is another word for the¬†hormone epinephrine, the same epinephrine that’s triggered by exercise and can help the metabolism as well as mood.

So what does this have to do with the not so Vanilla, you ask? Do you REALLY think it’s a coincidence that capture fantasies including women being chased by burglars caught in the act, barbarians, werewolves or other things that go bump in the night are so popular and known to induce the same general feeling as those haunted houses? Heck, it’s actually not that uncommon to take it a bit further toward the submission/dubious consent¬†fantasies as August McLaughlin discusses on her blog. There, she interviews a doctor who explains how this can be beneficial and healing.

Another aspect of the Rocky Road (the word I’m choosing to represent the non-Vanilla folk) that is explored during this season by folks who don’t usually dip their toes into this end of the pool? The “mind fuck”. This can be something simple.

For example. Picture a bedroom set up for romance. Imagine being tied to a four poster bed, then smelling the sulfuric smell of a match being¬†ignited and the scented candle at the side of the bed being lit. Maybe you’d talked about hot wax, so you expect to feel that slight burning drizzle against your skin. Your anticipation is heightened. When you finally feel the burn on your skin, it takes a moment for your brain to register that what you’re feeling isn’t hot at all, but the intense cold of an ice cube. Yes, that’s a fairly tame one, but it gives you the idea.

Isn’t a spooky haunted house where you expect someone to jump out at you….and then no one comes…until you let your guard down and get comfortable again pretty much the same thing? By the way, if you decide to experiment with a couple of the above mentioned scenarios, talk to your partner first. Set some parameters. Make sure there’s a safe word in place. It will keep you both from going too far out of your comfort zone into something you’ll regret. After all, often, with dubious consent, part of the fun is “fighting back” and saying “no”, though you really don’t mean it. It’s important for you both to have a word that lets all parties involved know you’re serious and that you either need to stop and discuss or completely end the scene.

Yes, Halloween is the holiday for exploration of our darker, wilder, baser sides¬†with minimal judgment…

What do you guys think? What kinds of costumes have you worn over the years? Ever had something scary, sexy or downright naughty happen to you unexpectedly on Halloween? Anything else I may have missed? (Hey, it happens!)