My ancestors told me there is no healing without justice.
So what is justice?
I will never live in a body untouched by sexual violence. No matter how much healing I do, no matter how much I practice embodiment, practice erotic liberation, practice boundaries and consent, I will never, never live in a body that has not endured things no body should have to endure.
This body holds multiple truths. It holds the truth that I am grateful for who I am, and would not be different. And it holds the question of who would I be, had those acts of violation never occurred?
In this latest wave of the sexual trauma healing process, I have questioned what healing is, and if it is even possible to do.
How can I be with what is, while I also move toward healing? How do I accept and also change? How do I accept what has happened, that this is the body I live in, and how do I also change my body to be one of strength and ease?
I long for steady, quiet power that is embodied and just. I long for the wide view, the acceptance that healing happens in degrees, that some wounds take more than one lifetime to heal, and that is okay. I long for acceptance of the degrees of healing I have accomplished, rather than the constant presence of all that remains unhealed.
Here’s what I believe about healing: two things are required. Acknowledgment, and justice.
Wounds cannot heal fully without these two medicines. They can partially heal, and heal enough for those of us bearing them to be able to survive, do good work even. And yet they remain painful, though clean.
What is acknowledgment?
Everything that happened to me happened to me.
This has been my mantra for months. It’s taken so much work to even get here, to be able to say this.
There is space in me to acknowledge the entirety of my experience. The childhood sexual abuse, the incest, the spousal rape, the transgenerational transmission of sexual trauma that I carry from my ancestors. Everything that happened to us, happened to us.
There is a starkness in this acknowledgment that feels clean.
And part of the acknowledgment is knowing that justice will be what I make it.
There is no justice that can make what happened unhappen. There is no way to ever answer the question of who I would be without these violations. What is, is, and sometimes that makes my stomach wrench and my skin crawl, and sometimes there is a quiet widening into the fullness of my embodied form, that this is a source of great power for me.
Acknowledgment as a practice is personally challenging, and culturally almost impossible. Denial has been a steady friend, but one who rarely returns what it borrows: my memories. I want all of me back.
I’m ready to open all of the doors of all the locked nightmare rooms, because I deserve to have all of me. And all of me deserves to belong. And fuck that familial pattern of turning attention away from the wound, hoping it will go away. It hasn’t, and I’m not passing it on.
The practice of turning my attention to the wounds, to truly see the monster that is my father, the trainwreck that is my uncle, and the rapist that is my once beloved and now ex-husband and father of my children.
Even as I identify these men I worry: what ramifications will I face for breaking silence? What further violence is heading my way?
To acknowledge the existence and brutal impact of these three men is to acknowledge my own powerlessness.
The ownership, possessiveness and disregard all three had for my personhood, even as they loved me. The dismissal of my dignity as a human being who deserves choice. The invasion of my body, even when I voiced my choice. The blatant lack of care any one of them had for the impact they would create in my body, my relationships, my capacity to trust, my capacity for pleasure and erotic freedom, and even my ability to feel love, the giving and receiving of love.
How many times have I asked my sweet partner “Are you loving me right now? How do you know?” because I cannot feel it.
Can you look at this, dad, uncle, husband? Can you merely see, without turning away, what you have done? I bear witness, those things happened. Can you bear the load of your transgression without collapsing into worthlessness or aggression? Was your dignity lost when you violated mine?
Acknowledging that these men took what was not theirs to take, and gave not one fuck while doing it breaks my heart so completely that it is difficult to imagine repair is indeed possible.
Acknowledgment is expensive, because it means examining my role, my silence, my terror, my anxiety.
At least I’ve broken free of this terrible idea that somehow I could have been complicit. I was not complicit, in anything other than my own survival, fuck you very much.
The feeling of powerlessness is beyond unbearable. To acknowledge these perpetrators is to acknowledge that this is a true thing in the world: humans violate other humans and don’t give a damn. And there is no ‘justice system’ in the world that could ever undo the harm. Ever.
I am sick as I write these words. And I write them in honor of my ancestor, burned alive by her husband. I write them in honor of my mother. I write them in honor of my own sweet self, who has survived the ashy trauma-filled wasteland of these violations. I write these words in honor of my children, so they may be free of these abusive patterns. And I write these words in honor of the black heart of innocence, the rose that grows from the bombed-out rubble. My heart.
What is justice?
Justice is not some state that can be cosmically, karmically achieved. It’s not legal punishment for perpetrators. It’s not retribution. It’s not forgiveness, nor denial, nor being competent in spite of my past.
Writing this is me providing justice for me. In doing so, I claim rank among all victims of sexual violence who blessedly will never understand the impulse and follow through to perpetrate sexual harm intentionally upon another.
Justice is getting to be soft instead of brittle.
Justice is marrying my sweet partner with all of our cherished chosen family in witness, in a sacred grove in the California hills.
Justice is professional success.
Justice is creating financial well-being and security for myself.
Justice is a sexuality I inhabit exactly how I want.
Justice is choosing movement and dance.
Justice is vulnerably opening again and again to receive support from my deeplings.
Justice is choosing transparency about what happened to me.
Justice is my 13-year-old child understanding transgenerational trauma, and naming my role in healing it in our bloodlines.
Justice is knowing without a doubt I belong to my loving ancestors, and feeling that when I die, they will welcome me home.
None of these things alone is justice. But when I put them all together, and I hold the weight of the life I live against the violations that occurred, I see that there is some balance here.
Somehow I thought justice would be more assertive, louder, more definite or more precise.
I thought finding justice would be about the righting of wrongs. The undoing of harm. But it’s not, because it cannot be. What is, is.
Instead I find justice in the quieter moments of my life. The moments when I can accept the goodness I have.
Justice finally is how I place my attention on love, the feeling of it, the giving it, and the receiving it.
I get to feel worthy of love. I get to be here. I get to be well in all the ways.
This is my justice.
Triggers are powerful
Sexual aversion is a powerful somatic strategy for protecting oneself from unwanted sexual contact. In short, sexual aversion is a trigger state. Triggers arise from experiences in our past in which our capacity in that moment to cope was overwhelmed. Triggers are, in effect, our brains and bodies caught in the past, although it can seem like the catalyst is in the present. Triggers always exist for a good reason, even if they have outlived their usefulness.
Our triggers can ask us to live small lives as we try to avoid being triggered. Sexual aversion is a trigger that can very much inhibit our expression of our sexuality. Shifting any somatic trigger is a process that requires commitment, attention, learning new skills, and practice.
It can become challenging when you want to have sexual contact with a partner and aversion is present. It is important to remember that the aversion has a reason for existing, and it comes from a wise place.
Impact on partners
Dealing with sexual aversion can have painful impact on you and your partner. It’s common for partners to feel rejected. It’s also common in couples dealing with sexual aversion for sex to become an area of high conflict, whether spoken or unspoken.
As with any somatic change, shifting sexual aversion requires a commitment of both partners to practicing a new narrative, new behaviors, and new choices. This means that both partners commit to finding a way through sexual aversion, together. It means that if as the partner of someone dealing with sexual aversion, if you feel rejected and shut down, you commit to your own work of tending those parts of you that are needing love and care.
What is healing?
Rather than expecting sexual aversion to go away as part of a healing process, success entails learning to work collaboratively with your body, allowing all of the sensations, emotions and experiences to exist, without judgment.
Exploring the trigger of aversion in a safe, supported and structured manner can help shift the experience, with practice and over time. When healing trauma, it’s important to learn how to stay within a a neurological window of tolerance. This means finding the sweet spot in between your own neurological edges of not-enough and too-much activation. This is where somatic learning can happen.
Before beginning an in-depth exploration of a somatic trigger, it is helpful to establish the new narrative that you are shifting towards. This is called a commitment. A commitment is a powerfully-worded truth, written in the present tense, that names the somatic shape you are consciously creating. It is worthwhile to take the necessary time to create the most potent commitment.
For example, in the case of sexual aversion, a potential deisred shift might be having more choice and freedom in terms of your sexual expression. A possible commitment might be “I am a commitment to freedom in my sexuality.” Using the phrasing “I am a commitment to…” creates an embodied statement. The commitment statement becomes the new narrative you get to practice.
As part of the commitment process, it is crucial to know why you are doing what you are doing. This is the “for the sake of what”. In this case, it might sound like “For the sake of freedom, I am a commitment to self-compassion for my aversion trigger.”
Lastly, the conditions of satisfaction are worth enumerating. “For the sake of freedom, I am a commitment to self-compassionate exploration of my aversion trigger. I will know I have achieved this when I am consistently kind to myself when I feel averse, and allow myself the full range of my humanity.”
Practices to explore and shift aversion
After you create the new narrative, the next step is to consider the practices that support the new narrative. Triggers make us feel like we have no choice, and it is powerful to begin to reclaim our choice as a practice.
One choice might be how we engage with ourselves around our aversion trigger. Do we speak harshly to ourselves? Do we blame our partners? Do you give yourself permission to make a decision based on the amount of bandwidth you have in the moment? Do you move towards or away from the trigger?
The great thing about aversion is having opportunities to try different practices, notice what happens, and collect data. The following is a collection of practices and choices you can experiment with when your sexual aversion trigger gets tripped!
Acknowledge what is
Acknowledge what is happening, preferably out loud, perhaps even to your partner. Acknowledging what is is a powerful practice of being with truth. Shame often tries to silence this needed acknowledgment. Having an agreement with your partner ahead of time that you will share with them when you feel the aversion trigger can help them take it less personally, and be more available for loving support and connection.
Often people with sexual aversion have had experiences with unwanted sexual contact. Re-establishing personal boundaries and an internal, felt sense of safety is absolutely necessary.
Being safe means having the capacity to act on one’s own behalf. Safety is an internal felt experience that folks with trauma rarely have as embodied experience. Part of the return to sexual sovereignty is coming to trust that respect for one’s own boundaries will be honored. Choosing to not participate in unwanted sexual contact affirms a sense of self-trust.
As the skill of saying no is practiced and learned over time, while learning there may be mistakes. It’s possible to start a sexual activity feeling a yes, and then have that change, but not be able to extricate oneself from the situation. In this case, it is important afterwards to acknowledge what happened, and one’s role in it, with deep compassion for the learning process. Self-compassion is deep safety.
Make a choice
Make a choice about the best way to take care of yourself, right now. That may mean leaving the situation. That may mean getting curious about your experience. The choice you make depends on how resourced you feel in that moment, and how willing you are to do the work at that moment. Realizing you do have choice is powerful, in and of itself.
If you choose to take care of yourself by leaving the situation, follow your impulse of what will establish a sense of safety. How can you act on your own behalf? Acknowledge the power of that choice, and honor the setting of a physical spatial boundary. Track what happens somatically as you come back to center. What physical sensations do you note?
Support the contraction
If you choose to take care of yourself by getting curious about what happens next, start by supporting the contraction. Supporting the contraction means physically, emotionally and energetically giving yourself permission for what is. This may mean tensing the muscles of your body where you feel something happening, or moving your body into a protected shape.
Stay with the contraction as long as is necessary, or as is interesting. Pay close attention to what is happening inside. The practice of somatic awareness means learning to place your attention on the inside experience of your body. This is a crucial embodiment practice.
As you support the contraction, you may begin to lean into the physical sensations you are experiencing. You may choose to name each, and express it aloud. You can also note emotions that may be present. If there are any stories that come, note these as well. Be on the lookout for the guardian emotions like anger and rage. Pay particular attention to the deeper emotions such as grief, powerlessness, and helplessness, naming each.
Staying present with yourself, affirming that whatever is being felt is just fine to feel. It’s interesting to pay attention to how our nervous systems return to regulation after being disregulated. It’s interesting to note how we come back into our bodies if we have disassociated. All of this is important somatic information; there’s no way to do it wrong. It just is.
Practice the new narrative
It’s also useful to practice the new narrative when you are not triggered. This can mean saying it to yourself, writing it down and putting it places where you see it, or any other creative means of reinforcing. Practicing when not triggered can support remembering the new narrative when you are triggered.
Practices using your imagination can be powerful. An advanced practice is to practice feeling attraction and desire for your partner, when they are not present. Start by placing your attention on your own body, noticing what you are feeling. Finding a place inside that feels neutral or positive is a good place to anchor. Allowing your attention to be on your own genitals, noticing what you feel or don’t feel.
Next, pendulate your attention to an imaginal gesture/thought/movement involving your partner. Finding the right gesture or thought is important: find something that is positive, and has a slight erotic charge. It could be something you are doing to them, or that they are doing to you. Importantly, Pay attention to staying well within your window of tolerance as you safely explore erotic content involving your partner in your imagination. With this practice, it is very important to not force or bully yourself into making anything happen.
Move your attention back and forth between your own body, and the imaginal erotic thought concerning your partner. Notice what happens. There is no “right” outcome from this practice, just allowing yourself to imagine your attraction and desire, while noticing what happens in your body, and staying safe, all at the same time.
Ultimately, it takes time and practice to shift deep-seated somatic responses. It can feel like no progress is happening, which can frustrate you even further. A wise teacher said “To change everything, start anywhere.” I recommend keeping a log or journal of what you try and experience each time you find yourself in the midst of your trigger. Remembering to do even one thing differently can begin to shift the entire system. In reflecting on the experience in your journal, you can acknowledge the work you did, thus validating your practice.
Get professional somatic support
Additionally, having skilled and compassionate support is helpful. Erotic coaches, guides and even wise friends can assist you as you direct your somatic education. “In its purity, somatic education is self-initiated and self-controlled. However, somatic education has emerged during the twentieth century as a procedure whereby this internalized learning process is initiated by a teacher who stimulates and guides the learner through a sensory-motor process of physiological change,” writes Thomas Hanna in Clinical Somatic Education.
Lastly, seeking expressions of sexuality that feel good to you and your partners. Often, when sexual energy is blocked in one area, like a river it finds its way around the obstacle. Where are you creatively expressing? Where are you sensuously enjoying? Working in collaboration with sexual triggers can require great creativity.
It’s a both-and approach: choosing not to live as small as the trigger requires, and simultaneously honoring the current truth and capacity of the body. It’s also true that we all limit ourselves with our habits and beliefs about what we define as sex. Can you and your partner be a team in exploring creative outlets for sexuality, that may look really different than either of you imagined?
- Create a somatic commitment statement, complete with for-the-sake-of-what and conditions of satisfaction.
- Acknowledge and name what’s happening as soon as you become aware
- Honor your own boundaries: Choose to not engage in unwanted sexual contact
- Honor what’s working: where are you expressing your sexuality?
- When triggered, assess your capacity in that moment, and make a choice about how to best take care of yourself
- Notice sensations and emotions as they emerge whatever you choose
- Offer yourself kindness and compassion for the experience
- Keep a log of your practice experiences
- Have support for your somatic learning
- Be available for surprising expressions of sexuality between you and your partner that might not fit in the box of what you thought sex was!
If you or someone you love is experiencing sexual aversion, help is available. Feel free to reach out to me at http://www.emancipating-sexuality.com for support.
*I want to acknowledge the work of Meredith Broome, and Joseph Kramer, in informing this post.
In these times, more than ever, our practices become what sustain and nourish our resiliency and our capacity to resist, without collapsing from fatigue. Our practices are our freedom; we choose where we place our valuable attention. Through practice, we become the artists of our own lives, refusing to subsist only on a diet of despair and powerlessness, instead practicing what deeply feeds us; joy, kindness, forgiveness, boundaries, pleasure.
Consciously choosing what we practice is how we liberate our lives, personally and collectively, from the tyranny of the over culture. It is my professional opinion that making certain our bodies are feeling pleasure is a radical act of resistance, and a necessary act of self-care.
Sexual liberation can be understood not as a state, but as a series of practices. Practices which support the commitment to freedom in one’s body, on one’s own terms. Choosing the erotic as a path to freedom takes tremendous courage, willingness to resist most of what you are told you should and should not do, feel, know and experience as a sexual being. Erotically liberating practices are countless, and wonderfully diverse; if the path of the erotic calls to you, choose one practice and follow it with avid curiosity as you discover what is true for you.
Here are five practices of sexual liberation, created for your delight and reflection. One does not need to do all, or any, of these practices while pursuing freedom. Any practice (no matter how small) repeated over time, can lead to big changes in your sexual freedom.
I do not invoke sexual liberation lightly; I understand that it is the path for some, and not all, and also timing is key. No judgement if this is not your path, or not your path right now. No judgement that the erotic is the best path. As Rumi wrote, “there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” But if practicing sexual liberation supports your wellness, my blessings on your practices!
Without further ado, practices that support Sexual Liberation.
Shamelessness: the practice of desiring, touching, and communicating with innocent abandon. Throwing off the repressive yoke of shame to embrace an inner attitude of freedom. How to practice: Notice when shame arrives knocking at the door. Usually, shame is attempting to control our speech, actions or requests. Once you notice that shame is in the house, imagine throwing it off of you. Shake yourself free (metaphorically, and even physically), take a big breath, and do or say the thing. You can name that you are feeling shame, and acting anyway. By practicing shamelessness, we free ourselves of the constriction of shame.
Lustiness: the practice of commitment to experience the world through the lens of lusty vigor. How to practice: Notice during the day when you have sexual feelings or thought. Perhaps someone hot crosses in front of you when you are stopped at a red light. Perhaps you wake feeling aroused. Once you notice the erotic stirring within you, bring your breath to it. Breathe into the feeling, and see if it wants to expand a little bit in your body. Allow yourself to slip into feeling lascivious. Instead of stopping lust when it happens, follow it for awhile and see where it leads.
Permission: the practice of wanting what I want. Allowing the space in my life to want new, surprising things. How to practice: To give yourself permission to do something, you have to first notice when desire for something arises. Perhaps the impulse towards something you want is quite brief, and the inhibition of the impulse occurs almost immediately. Start by paying attention to those small desires, those moments where your desire surprises you. Notice what happens in your body when your impulse, and then inhibition, arise. Now experiment with telling yourself you can have whatever it is, if you really want it. Notice what happens in your body when you do that! If what you want is within the realm of harming none, and brings you pleasure, try actually following through on giving yourself permission.
Celebration: the practice of celebrating sex, your body, body diversity by cultivating an attitude of raunchy joy, loud and raucous praise for the sensual and the sexual, and lip-smacking wonder and delight. How to practice: Savoring and Celebrating both require your attention. Talking with friends about the great sex you had last night, or praising your lover’s many delights out loud to them. You can cultivate gratitude for your erotic encounters, and remember them with relish and in detail in the day or so after they finish.
Erotic Self-confidence: the practice of moving your body and making moves on your playmate without fear of rejection. How to practice: Athletes often use the power of their imagination to practice winning the game or meet. They go into great detail, forming a neural pathway in their brain that has already HAD the experience they are preparing for. Erotic self-confidence is similar. You can practice ahead of time, in your imagination. Of course, an erotic encounter will go how it goes, but preparing your brain for a confident experience will help. Another part of practicing erotic self-confidence involves practicing feeling confident. This can be in any situation. You tune your internal channel to the “I am a sexy, confident beast.” And you practice feeling that, and believing it is true.
Choose one of these practice and try it out, if it brings you joy. Explore it to the edge. The practices of Sexual Liberation call you home, set you free, and nourish the revolution.
I’d love to hear about your erotic practices. What works? What have you explored? How does your erotic practice nourish you? Please leave a comment below! It makes me happy to hear from you.
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There are many exploratory erotic spaces that I want to be in. However, the specific spaces I want don’t usually exist. Often, that means I create them, because I want them to be in the world.
Recently, I created two very different erotic explorations, Transexy and Black Velvet. The events had very different intentions and different results. In reflecting and contrasting the two parties, I learned that my desire can’t be separated from my commitment to good body politics, and in fact, I’m turned ON by spaces that actively deconstruct the dominate narrative of attraction! Maybe you are too?!?
The first space I facilitated was Transexy: a sex party for transmasculine folks, many of whom had never attended a sex party. There were probably 50 people initially in the room, as I led us through a series of warm-up games. Games that help you know what you want in the moment, and communicate it clearly to your partner. Games that teach about boundaries and consent, as well as non-verbal negotiation.
You know, the type of sexy education we all should have gotten as teenagers, except we didn’t. And in this particular demographic there’s a higher percentage of folks dealing with really intense stuff than in the general population: dysphoria, shame, trauma, internalized transphobia, challenges receiving touch and having sex at all. So this party was a Big Fucking Deal. Just being naked together was an act of solidarity and revolution in a society that says trans bodies are fucked up, wrong, and that’s often best case.
The second space I facilitated was Black Velvet: a sex party in the dark for all different types of bodies, genders, sexual orientations, races, ages, body sizes, political affiliations. The only thing in these bodies had in common was that they were somehow connected to me or my fellow organizers, and we trust them. This party was held, from start to finish, in the complete darkness. Consent, boundaries, negotiation, desire… all without any sense of sight. Yep.
Black Velvet is an event that a friend and I conceived a few years ago, as we lamented over not getting to be gay males in the 1970’s pre-HIV sex scene. Dark rooms, also known as blackrooms or backrooms, were a common feature of gay bars, where anonymous sex can easily take place. We decided to create an erotic experiment that would recreate the dark room space:
Question: What happens erotically, between a group of people in a completely dark, anonymous, anything-goes-but-consent-is-required space?
Hypothesis: Participants will explore their own erotic desires, curiosities, hang ups, and boundaries, and will move beyond who they know themselves to be as erotic beings.
Having conducted one Black Velvet several years ago, I wanted a chance to go deeper into the experience, and am doing so this fall with a series of three by invite-only events. Last Saturday was the first of the three.
The practice of holding complexity
At the first party for transmasculine folks, I knew the space was radical. There were moments when the healing in the room was palpable. I looked around and could almost see shame constructs crashing through the floor, to be returned as power and pleasure in community. I knew without doubt how powerful and necessary this space was/is. I feel dedicated to continuing to create such spaces for folks with marginalized identities and bodies. And yet.
At one point, I looked around, and the bodies lying on the floor made a map of oppression. Central to the space were the young, white, able-bodied, thin more masculinized body with beauty privilege. Surrounding that central pile were groupings of folks with less desirability cred: the fat, the older, the disabled, POC, less masculine folks. I couldn’t see class status, but I’m sure it was also reflected in the space.
All of the privilege centralized, and upheld by the folks having to do the emotional labor of wrestling with their own self-worth and feelings of desirability. It broke my heart. And this map was somewhat my fault; I didn’t set up a critical space, or invite in the politics of desirability to be named and seen. I don’t think I even realized them so clearly, until this party.
Hey, where did my gender go?
At the second party, because of the absence of the visual, I have no idea if this map of oppression repeated itself. My sense is that it did not. It was a much smaller group, in a small space, and the edges of the space aren’t very far from the center. From the reports that participants submitted, there is no evidence to suggest this happened. While we can never erase oppression and desirability politics from our sex spaces, I’m curious if these become quieter factors when you just can’t see who you’re are messing around with.
Some racial features, and body size somewhat identifiable by touch, but in my experience, most touch started with limbs, where it was pretty impossible to discern the entirety of someone’s presentation. The space was designed to be scent-free, so that a participant with a disability around scent could participate, so again, that subverted some of the centralization of able-bodies, in terms of scent.
For at least a couple of the participants in Black Velvet, the absence of the visual was distracting from being connected to their arousal. I personally found the absence of the visual helped me to concentrate on what I was feeling and experiencing with each body I encountered. It’s interesting to me how the actual erotic energy feels with various folks.
I had significant erotic encounters with four different folks, and a variety of other encounters. Each time, the energy I share with my partners has a distinct quality. There is one person in particular who is running a low base note of Eros, and I lower my dial and feel the connection open like a slow, wide river… deep and sultry and timeless.
I know that I feel more desirable in the dark. I don’t worry about what the connection “means” or how I’m perceived, or if I’m wanted. It is clear that if someone is engaging with me, they want me. It really shuts up the dumb stories in my head about not being hot enough.
Of these two events, Black Velvet is the hotter erotic space for me. And in part, it’s because there has been some negation of the prevalent visual narrative that tells me who I’m supposed to be attracted to, and who is supposed to be attracted to me.
At Black Velvet, I found that I was attracted to all kinds of bodies in the dark. Bodies I would probably never engage with erotically were I able to see them, because they don’t go along with my narrative of who I am attracted to.
Yeah, but what’s this have to do with desirability?
Here’s the thing. We all think that our desires, who we want, what we want, is just mysterious magic. Like, isn’t it surprising that my desire trends towards everything that culture tells me is attractive?
While many may think of who we are attracted to as personal preference, those preferences are not developed in a vacuum. It’s impossible to separate one’s desires from the culture and society in which they were formed, so it’s important to think critically about it. ~Tristan
There’s this thing called sexual capital. The more you are what culture centralizes as “good, normal, beautiful” the more of this sexually currency you possess. You get to trade it for things like dates, being asked out, make-out sessions, getting laid, etc. Yeah, all the good stuff! The problem is, that just like in other forms of capitalism, some folks have more access to sexual capital than other folks do.
As an older, fat white person with sags and wrinkles and a weird gender presentation, I have less access than if I were younger, thinner, and conventionally hotter. I have more access to sexual capital because I facilitate erotic stuff frequently, and have experience with touch, boundaries, etc. Sexual capital isn’t good or bad, it just is. But sexual capital becomes bad when we refuse to acknowledge the impact it has in radical spaces designed for sexual exploration, especially on those with less access to it.
I had a heart-breaking conversation with one guy with less access to sexual capital at Transexy, who sat on the edges of the party. When I enquired if he wanted my help integrating in, he said simply “I’m waiting to be wanted.”
“this unwillingness to recognize how love, fucking and whom we find attractive is political. It’s like we, as a society, have created this whole untouchable area around intimacy in our lives – and perhaps the most important area – the area I think could use the most critique – leading to this massive resistance around analyzing any decisions relating to love and sex. You hear terms like “preference” or “love is love” or “you can’t help who you like” and the conversation stops there.” ~Hari Ziyad
I mean, of course privilege and centralization of certain bodies occurs in these spaces. It occurs everywhere, and why would we expect radical sex spaces to really be any different?? I always say that there are no safe spaces, spaces where we magically leave all our socialization at the door and show up pure and innocent in our desires. Nope. Never gonna happen. But we can start to create sexual spaces for exploration that deliberately hold a critical lens, and strive towards inclusivity.
Mia Mingus talks about moving toward the ugly. Ugly folks and those deemed less culturally desirable have just as much chance to be good at touching and connecting as folks who hold the beauty bundle, maybe even more, because they are working to gain sexual capital rather than having it handed to them.
I learn that for an erotic space to turn me on, it’s gotta be reflective of my politics. Erotic spaces that oppress, no matter how well-intentioned or revolutionary in their own way, just don’t get my nut off. In this post, I’m publically making a commitment to never holding sexualized spaces again that don’t have an active lens of critique and desire to deconstruct oppression, as opposed to reproduce it unconsciously.
Lemme say that one more time: I’m committed to creating revolutionary, erotic spaces for marginalized bodies and identities that hold a critical lens around sexual capital. I’m committed to bringing my work to people who think inclusivity is the hottest thing. And I am pretty certain that my politics can get even juicer, even bolder. That my personal and professional approach to sexual arousal that lifts people up can expand and evolve. Now THAT’S a hot erotic experiment.
In the dark
We are all desire
There is no age
No race or gender
In the dark
We are sweat
In the dark
We are delicious
If you like this, gimme some comment love below?
It’s good to talk about the nuances of a pleasure revolution, in particular for those of us with sexual trauma.
And yet pleasure can be complicated. Or maybe it always is.
What is pleasure? How do you know it when you feel it? What’s your capacity for staying with it? Can you bear it for hours? Do you let pleasure absorb deeply inside you, defining your embodied existence? Does pleasure validate your worthiness? Or, like most of us, do you gulp down the delicious meal, rush towards orgasm, or in other ways try to escape from feeling sustained pleasure?
I work with many folks with sexual trauma. I struggle to not let their heartbreaking stories become my normal; to allow myself to feel the impact of each and every violation of each client, without becoming swamped in despair.
The suck-ass truth is that for those of us with sexual trauma, we bear the burden of working through it. It’s not fair. It’s so not fair. And yet, without our own personal work navigating towards sexual freedom, we remain stuck in a sexuality that is not our full expression. And this is of course an okay choice, but it is not the one I nor my clients are making. We want pleasure.
I sit with my clients through the weeks and months and sometimes years as they fight for their right to feel pleasure, and as they build their capacity to stay with it
While listening, it raised a question I’ve been feeling into ever since. What is it to live in the world, completely dedicated to expressing the thing you are here to express? To give yourself completely to that thing? That even trembling with fear, flooded with overwhelm and suffering pain you just throw yourself into yourself, and pour yourself out again? To allow inspiration to have its way with you, and to focus focus focus your expression in the way that only you could ever do?
I am committed to developing my full erotic expression in this lifetime. There are moments when I am able to allow pleasure to completely ride me, moments when my body exists inside of me!
But more often are the complicated pleasure moments. The times I’m using my strategies to stay present, to explore what’s possible in this body in this moment. The days where my libido caught a train to Detroit, or I’m distracted by the books I need to read for my lit review. Or I’d rather just get off quick and nap, than do the work of feeling deep pleasure.
My erotic practice is about practice. My erotic practice is about Practice. Like learning to shape a voice made for rock and roll, or hone muscles that can powerlift heavy weight, or learning the art of feeling the trauma of my clients and letting it move through me instead of getting stuck, I am devoted to my art of subtle, nuanced erotic feeling.
This is my pleasure revolution; to develop sensitivity to sensation, to develop the capacity for feeling, in the face of trauma that says ‘No, don’t feel. You don’t deserve it!’ or ‘It’s not safe to feel that!’
Through practice I’ve learned to fuck harder when shame strikes. To remain soft and open to receiving pleasurable touch when tears come. To speak hard-to-say truths in the middle of beautiful moments. To continue erotic energy when my partner is triggered. To receive erotic energy while I’m triggered. To pause, reset, and continue. To explore how to hold pleasure for a long, long time, through all the bullshit that comes up.
Almost all of my clients long for easy pleasure. Pleasure without tears at the end, or having to stop in the middle. Pleasure that doesn’t require explaining to one’s partner that the reason they can’t touch your left thigh has nothing to do with them, but could they please try and not? Pleasure that is just simple. However, that’s not the hand they are holding. Instead , erotic expression involves work and practice and willingness to experience the grief/rage/anger/sadness/numbness, again and again beyond boredom, ad nauseum. Trauma legacy.
And yet. I’m not totally convinced that complicated, hard-earned pleasure isn’t just a tiny bit more worthwhile. I’m not actually convinced that ‘easy pleasure’ and ‘deep pleasure’ ever coexist. It’s a revolution because it’s an overturning of the false dichotomy of the ‘haves’ who get pleasure and the ‘have-nots’ who don’t. Pleasure for the People! Committing to full erotic expression after trauma is a seizing of personal power in the face of hegemony and shame.
That said, choosing full erotic expression as a trauma survivor takes the time it takes, and maybe that time is never. I’m not the pleasure police. It is a valid choice to focus self-expression in totally different arenas. There is no ‘should’ about feeling anything. Just choices about where we choose to place the limited resource of our attention. Living a life of hedonism and pleasure happens to be where I choose to rebel in the face of my trauma and upbringing.
Would I have committed my life to this personal and professional exploration of reclaiming pleasure without sexual trauma? I’ll never know, but I doubt it. My pleasure is earned, hard-won. It’s my art. It’s my practice. It’s my connection with self and partner and the Divine.
And truly, not today, but some days, pleasure really is effortless
If this speaks to you, please leave a comment below.
The new queer erotic anthology Me and My Boi edited by the indomitable Sacchi Green was released from Cleis Press this month, and includes my story “The Persian Woman.” Years in the making, you will be delightfully aroused by the plethora of erotica, by all of your favorite queer writers. I’m so honored for my work to be included in this slick, hot collection.
Check out the excerpt below, followed by links to all of the posts on the blog tour, and a chance to win a free copy of the book!
The story begins
“Go ahead. Tell me to pick up that glass.”
Nisrine’s molten eyes fill with tears as her gaze drops to the half-finished plate of insert Persian dish here) on the table in front of her. We’re eating at her favorite Persian resataurant, which reminds her of her childhood. The way her dark hair pours her neck, down her shoulders, I long to push it back behind her delicate ear.
“There’s a lot coming up for me. I don’t think I can do this.” Her tears slip out.
“It’s very simple. Just look me in the eye, and push your will into me… make me want to do it for you.”
Nisrine and I have been seeing each other regularly for about nine months. She is very like a child. She has toys that go everywhere with her, with including a small stuffed tiger. She likes to make up science terms, and talk about astrology. She names all of her belongings. I’m not in love with her, but I adore her. She fucks with soft quick movements, and she’s one of the few femmes I’ve met who can make me, her daddy, come.
“Pick up that glass!” she commands, like a feisty little dictator.
“Hmm, that was good, think you can slip in some sexy badass Femme?” I purr.
“Pick up that glass, you filthy slut!” She’s imitating every pro domme she’s ever seen in a stupid movie that knows nothing about kink. I love watching her struggle.
“No, a little softer, more insinuating… make it so I can’t resist.”
“Would you pick up that glass?” Nisrine murmurs, her liquid eyes never leaving mine.
Obligingly, I pick it up, and take a sip of water.
“Now, imagine telling my boi exactly how you’d like to be touched.”
Her gaze plummets immediately, and I take pity. Reaching across the table, I take her soft palm, turn it over, and stroke the inside. I look at her, without blinking, and watch as she does that thing I love; her eyes melting as she softens, and I can almost smell her pussy getting wet from where I sit across the table. My girl.
“You’ll do just fine. I’ll be right there, supporting you.”
We’d been planning the seduction of my live-in boi Miki for hours, ever since she whispered into my ear that she’d like to try taking charge for once. I’d chuckled audibly when she asked if she could try to top me, but it got me thinking. This luscious, sexy woman who’d been trained growing up in the Middle East to be demur, feminine…there was no way she could authentically dominate me. But what a lovely desire. My mind turned to my good boi Miki. Maybe, just maybe I could help her to dominate him.
My boi Miki, with the solid broad shoulders of the swimmer that he’d once been, is in collared servitude to me. Miki would be easier for a novice to top, as he lives to submit. He’s a ruthless bad-ass housing rights trial lawyer by day, and collared submission gives him a place to set his great fight down, and surrender. Think Annie Lennox, circa 1988: tall, strong, feminine, masculine, in her uniform tailored suit and tie, and substitute sandy brown hair and green eyes, that’s Miki.
I keep him in strict chastity, and he is never allowed to let his fingers slip down between his legs, to finger his clit, or to touch his pussy lips that are almost always slippery with want and need. He would be thrilled to submit to Nisrine if it was my will.
Now for links to all the other posts in this tour, and the book giveaway info.
Me and My Boi Blog Tour Links
June 12—Sacchi Green— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 13—Annabeth Leong– http://annabethleong.blogspot.com/2016/06/me-and-my-boi-not-just-hair.html
June 14—Anna Watson— www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 15—Sinclair Sexsmith– www.sugarbutch.net
June 16—Jove Belle– https://jovebelle.com/
June 17—Tamsin Flowers– www.tamsinflowers.com
June 18—Victoria Villasenor— https://breywillows.com
June 19—J, Caladine—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 20—Victoria Janssen– http://victoriajanssen.com
June 21—Dena Hankins– http://denahankins.net/my-summer-of-boi/
June 22—D. Orchid—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
June 23—Pavini Moray– https://emancipatingsexuality.com/
June 24—Melissa Mayhew—www.sacchi-green.blogspot.com
Anyone who comments on any of the posts will be entered in a drawing for one free copy of the anthology. You can comment on more than one post and be entered more than once. The winner will be announced and notified by July 5, if not sooner.
Last Friday, my beloved Ari and I went for dinner at our favorite Vietnamese place in the Castro. We’d put a lot of sweat equity into our house that afternoon, and looked forward to some delicious fresh garlic salmon. We were seated almost immediately, the place was full and diners throughout seemed to be celebrating the weekend.
Ari left to the bathroom, and as I sat there alone, it was impossible to ignore the full-volume LOUD conversation happening between the two women, one Chinese, one white, sitting at the table next to mine, about 18 inches away.
They were discussing fat, and how gross it was, and how they did everything in their power to avoid it.
They talked about their starvation diets, about how bad they feel about when their pants are tight, and about their friend Jim’s hilarious love-handles. They laughed loudly at his sensitivity about them. It went on and on. I sat there, wondering, what is the right way to handle this? There were no other empty tables. I was hungry. I was experiencing intense fat-shaming, and I was paying to be there. I had no desire to gently ask them to stop, educate them about why it wasn’t cool, or engage with it in any kinder way.
At that moment, I was all “Fuck that.”
Ari returned, and something in my face let him know things were not okay.
“It’s so totally obnoxious when people spew their fat hatred everywhere” I said, matching my tone with theirs.
“I know” he immediately replied, “especially when they are cluelessly sitting right next to two fat people who might feel hurt or upset.”
Have I told you how much I love this man? Yep.
We continued, discussing at a loud volume about how to raise our BMI, how to get our fat to jiggle even more, and if we should order 6 or 9 entrees. We decided that we could always order more.
We went on to discuss the sex we would have when we got home, and how he hoped he wouldn’t lose his hand again in my fat folds. About how we’d shower first, to get rid of that noxious smell emanating from our fat. And how then, after he fisted me in my c-nt, we’d eat again.
The voices at the other table were quieter, and for some reason there was no more hate-speech next to us.
I went on to enjoy my meal, and enjoy my partner’s company.
On my way out the door, I stopped and blessed these woman, that they would have healthy, wonderful, smart fat babies to love with all their tiny hearts.
Not everyone’s form of activism, I get it. Super intense and in-yer-face. But that fat-shaming shit is just so socially acceptable, and so demeaning and hateful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just sat there, saying nothing. Sometimes it’s what it takes to get through dinner. And that sucks. But this time, I felt good about doing something that changed my experience of it. Something that made me feel powerful. Something that didn’t leave me in a melty heap, ashamedly eating my fish. Fuck that and fuck them, for not cleaning up their oppressive bullshit.
I know I’m supposed to have compassion or something for the stupid socialization that they have endured, and how they are acting out violence and hegemony upon their own bodies, but hey, I don’t.
I’ve worked really hard to learn how to not be a hateful asshole. I practice everyday. They can too.
3 weeks of compassionate boundaries exploration and practice
for queer, gay, and lesbian couples
Starts Online April 5, 2016
3-part series, Tuesdays 6-8 PM Pacific
$300 tuition includes private couples session (value $185) with Pavini Moray, Somatic Sex Therapist
- Is it sometimes hard to say “No” to your partner?
- Do you say “Yes” when you don’t really want to?
- Do you ever go along with your partner’s desires because it’s easier?
- Do you feel like you’ve lost any parts of yourself in your relationship?
- Do you ever wish for more space, more of your own life, but don’t want to lose your partner?
Folks who don’t practice boundaries in their relationships often feel resentful towards their partner, or like their partner takes or asks for too much from them.
Well-practiced boundaries make your relationship feel safe enough to be intimate and vulnerable, explore your desires, and grow together as people.
This class series is especially for you if you feel bad about the current state of your boundaries!
In order to feel safe in relationship, we need to be able to set and maintain boundaries, and have them respected.
In this workshop series, you’ll learn how to :
- say you can say “no” to your partner, while growing together in love
- know and ask for what you really want
- honor your partner says “no” while staying centered and grounded
- Find deeper intimacy without losing yourself
The power of doing this work in a group
My experience is just the opposite. The work is much more powerful when done with other people who are in the same situation as you, working in small groups some of the time and at other times all together.
It is easier to see yourself reflected in other people than to see yourself as you are. The same is true of couples. As each of the couples share their stories, you see your own story reflected. This may offer the opportunity to see it for the first time or to see it differently.
Empathy and understanding arise and it becomes possible for everyone to soften their hearts, not only towards their partners but towards themselves as well. Listening to the others gives you a completely different perspective on your own situation.
Class structure and format
Class 2: Knowing where my boundaries are, and how to articulate them to my partner and stay connected
Class 3: Saying and Hearing “No” as a intimacy practice
Each session will be a mix of teaching, experiential practice, group reflection, and integration and follow up practices for at home, during the weeks between sessions.
Included in this class series is an individual couples session with Pavini, focusing on boundary issues specific to you and your partner.
Online April 5, 12 and 19
We will meet online using zoom technology, which is like skype but better.
Cost: $300 per couple
Tuition includes 6 hours of in-person online teaching, follow up activities, email support and a one-hour individual couples session (valued at $185)
“I wish my body would just cooperate.” Mila says, deep frustration in her voice. “I’m having fantastic sex. Why can’t I cum?”
We’re sitting in my office, having a conversation we’ve had several times before. In fact, it’s a conversation I often have with my clients.
They are angry about something that their body is or is not doing, something that is preventing them from experiencing intimacy in the way they want. It might be not being able to come, or not being able to stay present during sex, or not being able to speak to tell their partner what feels good. Perhaps they physically block themselves from experiencing pleasure, or can only orgasm by themselves and never with a partner.
In every case, there is a disconnect between what the person wants and what is actually happening in their body.
What my clients usually come to understand is that there is a profound wisdom in the responses that our bodies have. These responses have developed over time, in reaction to the experiences we’ve had in our bodies. Our history is stored in our bodies.
“Is your body feeling safe enough to orgasm?” I ask Mila. Her eyes flicker away from mine, and her foot taps nervously, answering the question without words. She blurts out, “We’ve never processed our breakup.” Mila recently started sleeping with her ex-girlfriend of ten years ago, and is hopeful for a reconciliation.
“But that was so long ago. Why would it stop me from cumming now?” she asks. She doesn’t like my answer: “Your body remembers.”
Mila’s situation is not unusual. She’s processed the painful breakup in therapy. She understands what happened between them. She has mentally forgiven her lover for leaving her. But until our painful and traumatic experiences are processed on a somatic level, body symptoms persist.
Her mind has moved towards healing faster than her body. Her body is reminding her to be cautious, to take her time, to build emotional trust with her lover (probably including processing their breakup) before surrendering bodily control (i.e. having an orgasm.)
Part of becoming a skillful, well-integrated human means attending to all the parts of ourselves, especially those bits we avoid. Focusing our attention on our wounds with the intention of healing means acknowledging the adaptive survival mechanisms we have embodied. It means seeing how our bodies express old survival skills, even when our minds have decided that those skills are no longer relevant to our current situation.
“Healing trauma, rather than avoiding or managing it, is possible through a somatic approach. Many people try to “understand” what happened to them, or “put it behind them” but to truly feel at home and safe again, connected to yourself, others and place, takes healing the experience through your psycho-biology. The body remembers and will continue to react from trauma, until this is processed through the body/mind/spirit.” ~Staci Haines
In order to have the sexuality you want, your body must feel safe. If your mind and your body are at odds, there is no felt sense of safety.
What is safety?
A feeling on the inside, when I know I have the power to take action on my own behalf. Safety stems from knowing deep in our bodies that we can take skillful action to serve our needs.
How do I start to feel safe in my body?
Assuming that you are physically safe, beginning to practice a collaborative relationship between your mind and your body is where somatic healing starts. My body begins to feel like a safe place when:
- I make consistent, loving choices that support my needs for food, rest, companionship, movement and work.
- I am kind to myself inside my head, and stop thinking that I need to be mean to myself for motivation
- I give my body all the time it needs to reorient to a new way of being (as opposed to pushing my body to accept change on some predetermined timetable)
- I recognize that my body remembers and processes at a different (and usually slower) speed than my mind
- I take a systematic and somatic approach (as opposed to a cognitive one) to address and renegotiate trauma that is held in my bodily tissues
- I practice trusting the information that my body relates to my mind
- I believe that my body is deeply wise
- I give up my story of brokenness, and trade it in for one of healing and integration
- I recognize that muscular contraction in the body is valuable information, and that “Just relax” while well intended, misses the point.
- I allow my body to drive, rather than my cognition.
All of these tenets are available to you for free, right now.
And if having an embodied relationship with your body and your sexuality sounds fabulous to you and you’d like more support, hey, this is what I do. I help folks live pleasurably in their bodies and relationships. Drop me a note, and we’ll set up a time to chat and discuss how I can help.
How to say “No” to your partner and increase love and Connection!
A three-week compassionate boundary-setting exploration for queer, lesbian and gay couples.
I survived a decade-long relationship without many boundaries. Phew! That was rough!
Finally learning how to set boundaries with my partner has increased the love and connection we feel. And it’s not something we learn in school or usually in our families. Where then do we learn? Come to “Embodied Boundaries” starting on Monday (in person) or Tuesday (online) and you and your partner can create the relationship you want. Only when we learn to say a clear “no,” can we trust our full yes.
The class will cover boundary settings and maintenance, as well as how to make and receive requests.
This class is especially for you if you feel shame about not having boundaries already. You’ll leave a boundary wiz!
Starts April 5, 2016
When my kids and I moved into a 38-foot converted bus on a commune for a few years, we had 240 square feet of living space. My physical boundaries became tiny! All of my movements became tighter as my body adapted to living in a minuscule space. It took a couple of months of head-bumping and hip-bashing, but I learned to navigate precisely and efficiently within a very small radius.
When we left the bus and moved into a sprawling house in San Francisco, I noticed acutely the feeling of ‘too much space.’ I felt ill-confined, like I was wearing clothes that were way too big. I didn’t know how to fill that much space with my movement. Like a goldfish in a small bowl, my body had adapted to smaller physical boundaries Re-expanding my personal space was uncomfortable. It was a couple of months before I could walk down the middle of the hall, without pressing myself to the edge of the wall. My physical boundaries defined the way I experienced my life.
For many of us, our emotional boundaries, or lack thereof, define how we experience our partners and our relationships.
What are boundaries?
Basically, boundaries are the edges of our experience. Your skin is the boundary to your body. Your door is the boundary to your house. The amount of time you can stay at a family gathering and feel well is your emotional boundary.
Boundaries welcome in what we want in our lives, and keep out what we don’t want. They are a tool of discernment. They are a strategy we use to keep ourselves safer, and to tend our emotional well-being. Boundaries help us be adults, as we care for our desires and needs, and create the lives and relationships that serve our highest potential.
There are many different types of boundaries: physical, energetic, time, space, emotional, and sexual, among others. In order to understand boundaries, it’s important to know the sensations of having them in our bodies. It’s hard to know what we have not felt.
For example, babies love the sensation of being bundled: it makes them feel safe and contained. Adult boundaries can do the same for us.
The most important boundary any of us have is our capacity for saying “No.”
If you grew up in a reasonably well family, you learned that you could say “no” and still be loved and feel like you belong.
If you grew up in a household where saying “no” got you in trouble, or was ignored, or you survived an abusive or traumatic childhood, your most basic boundary was violated. You may have learned that it’s not safe to say no, or it’s futile because it doesn’t get honored anyway.
In my somatic sex therapy practice, I frequently meet couples who are close to ending their relationships. What often comes to light is that one or both of them do not really believe that they get to say “no” to their partner. They don’t believe that they get to stand up for their needs, even if their partner is unwilling or unable to meet those needs.
Someone may feel obligated to meet their partner’s requests, or go along with their partner’s desires, even if they don’t want that thing at all.
(Here’s where consent as a clear binary “yes” or “no” system becomes confusing. Because if you ask me to do something, and I don’t want to but I say yes anyway, because I don’t believe I can say ‘no’ to you, am I consenting?)
When boundary violations happen over and over, blame and resentment eventually build up. And it is resentment that, over time, sucks the lifeblood out of relationships.
As an adult in consensual relationship, when I do not say ‘no’ to what I do not want, I become complicit in the violation of my own boundaries. I am allowing my protective barrier to be breached, by not clearly refusing that which does not serve me. I get it; It’s so easy to wish that my partner could read my mind and honor boundaries I haven’t verbalized. And it’s unfair to expect partners to do this.
Part of being an emotionally-responsible adult is learning where your boundaries are, and verbally communicating them. It is also about doing the work of honoring everybody’s boundaries; your own, and those of your lovers, friends, parents, children, partners, co-workers etc. It is frequently easier to respect other’s stated boundaries than it is to verbalize our own.
It is fair to expect that adults with whom we share consensual relationship honor the boundaries we verbally state.
Chances are, if I set a verbal boundary, and someone disregards it again and again, my person-hood is not being well-held within that relationship. It is then my responsibility to take action that supports my well-being. It might not be the most popular opinion, but here it is: In adult, egalitarian relationships, your boundaries are yours to uphold. If someone isn’t respecting a boundary you have stated, it’s your job to protect yourself.
I know it would be nice to say your boundary once, and then everyone respects it in perpetuity. And the thing about boundaries is that we don’t just get to set them, and be done. They have to continually be reinforced. We have to be willing to stand up for our boundaries. We have to be willing to reinforce the consequences of violating our boundary. For example, “If you continue to touch me in that way, I will not have sex with you anymore.”
Often once we set a boundary, folks will initially, or periodically, need to “check” and make sure it’s still there. This is especially true with folks who struggle with their own boundaries; if you are willing to compromise yours, it can be validating for them. Especially in the beginning, folks can react to our setting of personal boundaries as an affront. As we carefully tend our boundary, they tend to shift their freak out, once they realize our boundary is there to stay.
Just like a farmer who has to tend to their fences so the cows don’t get out, tending to our boundaries is part of our mental hygiene.
In my experience, the best part about learning boundaries has been the sense of personal agency I feel. If I don’t like something that’s happening in a relationship, I can name it and either it changes, or I move away from it. Learning to have boundaries has set me free.
If you’d like to learn more about boundaries, like how to know where yours are, how to articulate them to your partner, and how to stay connected while doing so, I’m teaching a 3-part class starting this month for lesbian and queer couples. You can participate in-person in San Francisco. You can also participate virtually from anywhere. We’ll learn and practice boundary skills for connection, so that your relationship can thrive.
Last week, I suggested to my partner that they take a shower because I wanted to have sex before we went to sleep. Ari was tired, had to get up early, and was a bit resistant to my suggestion. I sidled up to him, all rubby-rubby-kissy-breathy and said that I believed he could find his way into feeling erotic with a little help. I wanted sex, after all. After a few minutes of this, he finally got up to take a shower, and as I lay in bed waiting for him, I realized that maybe my gentle pressure which I was framing as seduction wasn’t actually acknowledging his “no.”
When he returned, I asked him verbally if I had his consent to continue, and he said an enthusiastic “yes.” When I thought about this encounter later, I realized that a few years ago, I would have accepted his getting up as a tacit yes, and not worried too much about issues of consent. But because he’s been working hard at finding “no” and I’m working hard at listening for it, things are different now.
However, it made me realize how easy it is to assume consent, especially in a primary long-term-relationship. How easy it would be to violate boundaries, if I wasn’t carefully seeking them. How often I have probably assumed consent in the past, in absence of a verbal “no.” If it’s not a hard ‘no’ then it must be a ‘yes,’ right? It’s not violation if I participated, right?
Throughout our lives, I imagine that most of us have encounters we may later question. Did I consent? Did I get full consent? Because we’re not always clear what we want or what we don’t want, sometimes defining what was sexual violation, both for survivors and for perpetrators, can be murky. Our bodies can register trauma, even if our brains do not.
Recently, I’ve been exploring ancestral connections as a source of embodied wisdom and support, in particular how ancestors can inform resiliency and healing from sexual trauma, in individuals and in communities.
My ancestral research is ultimately in service of my dissertation. I’ve researched my own genealogy, scouring old records for information about my queer ancestors. I’ve attended family constellation workshops, read tons of books, and have been working to develop relationships with particular queer and trans ancestors (trancestors) in the creation of my new endeavor, The Embodiment Arts Collective.
Outside my office there are framed pictures of nine people who have passed through the veil, who were queer and trans rights and/or sexual liberation activists during their lives: Harvey Milk, James Broughton, Sylvia Rivera, Lou Sullivan, Alice B. Toklas, Leslie Feinberg, Larry Mitchell, Del Martin, and Chester Mainard. Each day I sing, pray, light candles, burn incense and talk to these fierce renegades who committed their lives to their passions.
Through developing these relationships with these particular ancestors, my goal is to create a container for healing for my clients here at EAC, that is supported by the physical, (space) the professional (my training) and the energetic (the unseen realms.) Okay, before you think I’ve been living in California WAYYYY too long, hear me out.
What are ancestors? Many cultures and traditions hold relationship with the dead as a crucial source of wisdom and knowledge. These are not traditions that I have learned as I grew up a white person of European descent, although I am convinced that ancestor worship is indeed a lost body of knowledge that my blood ancestors did participate in. Because it is lost, I am instead having to seek out resources and learning from outside sources, as well as listening deeply to my own intuition.
In the ways I am coming to understand matters of spirits, not all dead become ancestors. In order to become an ancestor, that person must be properly mourned at their death. They must also wish to return as a helpful guide, and have cleaned up any messes they made in their lives that “stick” to their spirit. Having been sexually violent is one such thing that can stick.
As soon as one steps foot into queer community, the impact of invisible yet culturally-sanctioned sexual violence and the ramifications of sexual trauma on the fabric of relationships and communities are striking.
For example, I hear frequently from my clients about sex they have had in the past that they weren’t totally into, but going along with it was the easier thing to do in the moment, for a host of reasons. What about the other person in this situation, the one that they’ve had sex with, who assumed consent? Does this make them sexual perpetrators? I’m starting to believe that since we live in a sexually violent culture, we all internalize some degree of sex as violence.
Just as in dominant culture, the same systemic oppressions of sexuality show up in queer culture. Butch-Femme violence. Fag misogyny. Violations of non-verbal consent in gay male cruising culture. Femme phobia. Slut-shaming. Unwelcome touch or verbal comments in environments designed for sexual exploration. Coercive sexual encounters between folks of all genders and orientations. As in my example above with my partner, sometimes situations that seem innocuous can contain subtle variations of consent violations that surprise us.
Another rift in the fabric of connection that I witness in some of my clients is how hard it can be to actually have physical intimacy and emotional intimacy with another person. When we have sexual experiences that we don’t want (whether we consent or not) trauma can get caught in our bodies, and manifest months, years, decades later when we try to connect intimately.
Sex and intimacy can become divorced from each other. Triggers around sex can yank us out of the present moment, and hurl us willy-nilly into feeling unsafe, terrified, frozen, furious. We can forget that the person we are with currently is not the person with whom those past experiences happened, and turn our blame onto our new partner.
The “trigger warnings” that are popping up on Facebook messages, email lists, social media are indicators of how close to the surface trauma resides, and to what lengths we will go to avoid feeling the feelings of helplessness and despair it engenders. Collective trauma is an ever-present reality.
Moving through the trauma that we hold individually and in community requires resiliency skills. How can sexual wounds of the living and the dead in our communities be healed? What is the role of the dead in supporting the living as we do our healing work?
So many questions!
- How can I (we) turn to the dead as a source of support for my (our) life and work?
- How can those who have passed help heal the wounds of sexual violation and trauma?
- How can those who have passed, and who committed sexual violation during their lifetimes, atone for their actions in a way that beneficially serves the present and future?
- How can sex-radical queers who have become allied ancestors be called on to support sexual healing for living queers?
- What impact does healing ancestral trauma caused by sexual violation have on current and future generations?
Samhain is a traditional Pagan holiday (also called “Halloween”) when the beloved dead are honored and remembered. Witches say “What is remembered, lives.” This year, in observance of Samhain, I am hosting an erotic ritual. Attendees are in full consent about their participation. The intention of this ritual is to raise erotic energy, and gift it to our dead and to our ancestors, those who wish to heal, and those that offer their support. If you feel called to this, drop me an email and I’ll let you know more.
I’ll be writing more on ancestral sexual connections in the weeks that follow.
Can you welcome yourself home to your sweet body?
2015 has been an ass-kicking year, for me and for many folks I know. “Relentless” is the word a friend used recently. When life is hard, and every day is a struggle just to get through, sexuality often gets relegated to the back burner. Our attention is scattered; our desire is seemingly non-existent. We may not think we have the time, energy or emotional bandwidth for deep erotic connection, with ourselves or others.
During these times, sex may be the last thing we want to do. Our masturbation becomes purely functional, or doesn’t happen at all. Actually living and feeling inside our bodies when we are suffering may be unbearable. And so we leave: we disassociate, check out, numb out, distract ourselves. We pretend that our sexuality isn’t hugely important. We forget.
While all of these coping strategies offer us the ability to just get through whatever the hard thing is, there is also a hidden somatic cost associated with them. The more we are absent from our own felt sense, our own sensations, the less we actually feel. Our capacity TO feel becomes limited. And even once the hard time has passed (as they always do) we are then left with diminished feeling and sensation. Joy becomes something that others feel, not us. Pleasure is elusive.
I’m curious about a loving cultural reframe. What if we experienced our bodies as a refuge? What if our sense of safety was held within, and we could choose to find a sense of embrace inside? What if sexuality was a space of home, of welcome? If we could nourish our hearts through feeling pleasure? What if, when our hearts were bruised and tired, we brought loving touch to ourselves?
Trauma tells us that we are broken beyond repair. That we are unworthy of love and pleasure. That the only safety is somewhere else, never here, now. Trauma tells us that suffering is our due, that swimming and muddling through the quagmire of our brokenness is the ‘real’ work. We believe we just can’t get this body thing right. This is not the way things are supposed to be. We are not damaged goods.
Who or what is served by all of your struggles against embodiment?
Imagine for a moment if there was a small dial, behind your left ear. You could just reach up, and change that channel of loyal suffering. Instead, you could choose the channel “I live in this body. It is my home.” And when things get so fucked up and hurty, and you are overwhelmed with it all, you find your fingers, rising of their own accord to that tiny place. Suddenly, breath fills your lungs, your belly. Your awareness drops down through the tissues and organs of your body. You feel your sex, resting and open and alive.
Your hands move down your body and find the places you know well, or the places you are only now discovering. The secret places of joy, where your body belongs to you and you alone. And your touch is that of an old, familiar lover, bringing care and adoration.
Is sexual liberation possible in this lifetime? Yes. If I commit myself to its practice, each and every day. If, when I forget my true work of freeing myself from all of my internalized oppression, I remember to touch myself and whisper “I am worthy of my love” and “I am safe in here.”
What do you think? If you’re curious about these ideas, please leave a comment below.
“What are you flagging?” Sie asks.
I follow hir green eyes down to the matching green bandana hanging off my belt. I’ve been camping for days on the gentle land of southwest Washington state, without giving a thought to the queer hanky code that relies on colored bandanas in one’s back pocket to signify sexual availability.
“Um, flagging pee rag?” I try for a mix of affronting honesty with irreverent humor to cover up the shame I feel at being caught un-queerly unaware.
“Daddy.” Sie says confidently. “You’re flagging Daddy. And receiving.”
The amount of math I do in the next half second is staggering. I’m flagging “receiving daddy.” This incredibly hot sexy genderqueer person just opened a door called “daddy” that I’ve been wanting to walk through for quite some time. Sie is a longtime friend, and I trust hir. We’re at an ecosexual convergence, deep in the woods, sitting at a picnic table with a bunch of folks who are exploring the lover relationship between Earth and self. I have permission from my primary partner to explore my erotic edges. I want Daddy. I want hir to be my daddy. I want to get fucked, in the woods, with hir as my Daddy. And it’s all possible, if I can just ask for it.
“Yeah, well, that’s interesting, isn’t it?” I stumble through the sentence, aware that the other four picnic-table sitters have gone quiet and are looking at me curiously. “So, I was wondering if you’d be down to fuck me?”
I can tell that sie is surprised, didn’t quite expect that full-on of a reach-around. It’s hir turn to do the math. I wait.
“Well. Hmm. That’s a thought.”
Not exactly the enthusiastic response that would set my pounding heart at ease, but not a cool brush off either.
Another beat. I wait until sie speaks. “What did you have in mind?”
And it’s on. We negotiate a scene for the next afternoon. I tell hir that I’ve never truly bottomed before, and that I want to be opened.
Truth, I’ve never been in a space where I’m not in control. I’ve been stone more times than I can remember. I’ve opened many people, had many hot erotic moments that I’ve driven. I’ve even surrendered to receiving pleasure from others many times. But this is different. This is turning over the power to another, someone I don’t know at all in their erotic personhood, someone who is powerful, fierce, ferocious. And definitely sadistic.
The next twenty-four hours pass slowly. I find myself excited by the ‘what-will-happen’ feeling. The winged insects are having a field day all over my inner landscape… it’s beyond butterflies into full on plague of locusts. I’m not scared exactly, I trust hir. I trust hir capacity to handle me, to be my Daddy.
When the time comes I’m showered and ready for our forest date, (which in the aftermath of a forest-floor fucking turns out to be kind of ridiculous.) We meet at lunch, and walk out among the Douglas Firs together, the unbelievable vanilla scent of the trees perfuming the warm Summer Solstice air. It’s the longest day of the year, and Daddy and I are going out under the trees to play.
I’ve brought the only thing I have to lay on, my lavender towel, which will become a sap-filled souvenir of “the time sie fucked me so hard I bled.”
Sie asks me to sit down. Tells me to call hir “Doctor.” Then tells me to remove my wife-beater, my belt. Sie wants it to be sexy. I get the unspoken subtext: this is not a strip-tease. Just be really hot for me, please.
I take off the thick black leather belt, and upon hir request, open my mouth to embrace the silver pentacle belt buckle. I’m not from Texas, but I know the importance of an oversize buckle. However, I pay the price for my cocky audacity when sie doesn’t just want me to tongue it, but wants me to receive the whole damn thing. I let the spit and drool roll out of my mouth, wanting to make apparent my commitment to abandon and submission.
“I don’t like pain,” I’ve told hir, and instead I’ve been told to be available for ‘sensation’ which may become more intense over time. Surprisingly, I am available. When sie pulls the dripping buckle from my mouth, the feeling of absence is an unexpected grief. Sie takes off my pants, and takes a long look. Sie tells me that sie likes my dick.
Without ado, Daddy begins to fuck me. Sie spits on my junk, and I feel the hotness of hir spit drip down between my legs. This is a fucking that will change my life, and I know it as I have it.
I’m sobbing. It’s profound gratitude for the queer labor of love we are both engaged in: this is work we can only do with each other in community. At first, sie is concerned and checking in, but I reassure hir that everything is so good, beyond good. That it is perfect and welcome and I want it all. My body turns and rises to meet this fucking, wanting every bit of hir inside of me.
My hands reach out and grasp the dirt, duff and detritus of the forest floor, pulling it into my fists to hold the fuck onto something, anything.
I call out to this doctor of love and redemption to make sure it is okay to touch hir back. I grab fistfuls of Daddy, brutally pulling hir to me again and again. I crawl into hir neck, kissing and nuzzling. Our mouths, come together open and wet. This surprises me, all the kissing. I tell hir I love hir, and I mean it, which also surprises me.
I begin to notice the sensation of deep relief. Beyond the pain and the filth, something inside of me feels so calm. To be the Doctor’s boy, to give myself to hir completely. Hir hand, dipping inside of me again and again begins to touch my heart. I move towards, rather than away from, the splitting pain of hir fist, creeping its way inside my cunt.
When I feel the tearing of my tender bits, there is a moment when I choose to find pleasure over discomfort. I choose the bright sensation, the ecstatic pulling and pulsing that is building in my dripping cunt, over the ripping and burning. Later, I will bleed. I will feel the dull ache of an empty lonely space inside of me, about the size of a fist. But for now I have it, hir fist, holding me firmly from the inside.
I call out to the trees, to the land. “Io Pan! Keeper of the woods and the beast of my body! Wild Love! Wild Love! Wild Love!”
I pray, and sie moans, “Here I am with you, praying. Here I am with you, inside your body, with you.” It’s the sweetest thing I’ve heard maybe ever. I’m not alone in my body. Daddy is here. Sie is here. We are together, sharing creation and prayer and song and delight, and my body is the container that is holding us.
The trees call back: “If you want wild love, practice feral sex.” Hir fist pounds into my battered front hole, again and again. Sie tells me how good I am at taking it, tells me I’m a champion for getting fisted for the first time, and bottoming for the first time, in plain sight of passer-bys to boot. When shame rises up, I fuck even harder. But really it is the Doctor who is my champion, championing my queer desire, my desire to fuck the shame and trauma away so that I can feel free.
Soon, I squirt and squirt all over hir hand. I am fucking crying praying squirting surrendering and time just stops. We both notice that it is 2:30 for a really long time. I want it to be over and I want it never to end. The only things I know in this singular moment are the trees swaying above me and the exact edge where they meet the blue sky, and this beautiful lover’s embrace that holds me tight right up against my pleasure and my pain.
I know I don’t want to get fucked like this every day. I can’t. And yet I need this. This is me getting fucked queer. This is me saying yes and allowing someone to fuck me in the way that SIE wants to fuck me. This is me, finding Divinity and Self and Home and World. This is mine.
There is mounting rhythm and pleasure. The Doctor’s not-quite-human face looms above me, gorgeous and open and brutal. I feel my orgasm approaching, and my eyes open wide and pour into hir ocean green gaze. Through my eyes I give every bit of my pleasure to this Daddy, my Daddy. I scream and come and shake, all at the same time. It goes on and on. From my healing heart, deep, wrenching sobs of joy and freedom.
And when the paroxysm of agonizing pleasure is finally done, and the sobs are quiet, the world is irrevocably different. I am the trees, I am this lover, I am this Earth and this sky. I am this everything. Love is so present in this moment: rough, raw violent love, love that has fucked me free.
I’m lying on my bed, legs spread, my lover’s mouth on my junk. And I’m not doing anything.
Not tensing, not thrusting, not helping, not wiggling, not desiring. I am simply being, while my body is stimulated and pleasured. The sensation is exquisite. The pleasure builds and builds. As it builds, I feel each tiny movement towards increase. Meaning, as the pleasure increases, there are moments where I crave MORE pleasure. I move my hips a tiny bit, pushing my bits against my lover’s tongue. Or I tense my PC muscles ever so slightly, to increase the sensation.
All of my attention is focused on my receiving practice. Can I be still and receive? Can I just receive? Each time I notice my miniscule attempts to increase pressure or stimulation, I relax again, and remember my intention to just simply be and receive.
Recently, I learn that the name for someone who allows themselves to receive is disparaging; ‘turtle lesbian’ or ‘pillow princess.’ I’m grateful that I don’t have this framework, and that my practice of receiving can be free from judgment.
I practice and practice receiving. I practice Erotic Being, without Erotic Doing.
In my practice, there are moments of epiphany. For example, I realize the vast distinction between placing my attention ON something (like my genitals) and placing my attention IN my genitals. The difference is so subtle, and yet tremendous; it’s about living, feeling and being inside of my experience. My consciousness can dwell in tissues other than my brain tissue.
An old friend asked, apropos of nothing, “How do you make good decisions?” and I answered that I’ve been feeling into my junk, more and more. When I listen to the truth that is spoken between my legs, my decisions are good ones. My body does not lie.
In order to have more of what I want in my life, my capacity for RECEIVING more of what I want must be increased. I must build the muscle of having, of receiving without doing. Erotic practice is the perfect place to build this capacity. I ask my friends, “How are you good at receiving?” via text. Some respond, befuddled. Two write back that they receive when they get massages from their partners. One person responded that they pay attention to what’s going on in their body when something is being offered, and notices how their body feels different when they are open to receiving and when they are not.
In the spirit of celebrating of Erotic Being-ness, what follow are some thoughts on receiving. (And what I mean is the practice of receiving things we WANT from the world, not getting all the stuff we don’t want or need.)
- Receiving is an art. If you want to learn to receive, conduct an Indiegogo campaign. Make it count, make it meaningful. Put something you love out into the world, and ask your people to support it. This is a terrifying practice, not for the meek or inexperienced in receiving. This will shine the light on ALL of the shit you have about wanting, asking, and receiving. There’s pretty much no place to hide.
- Receiving can be cultivated. I can rest back in my body, pay attention to meeting the world from my back, choose to open my shoulder muscles. The more I receive, the better I get at receiving.
- Resistance to a thriving receiving practice can hide out behind egalitarian concepts like “mutuality” and “reciprocity.” Meaning, I am only available to receive if I believe the giver is also getting value from me. We are all so fucked up when it comes to gifting and gift economies, that we sometimes greet gifts with suspicion. We carry a lot of baggage around gifts that came with obligation, gifts that we gave out of obligation, gifts that mean more than just a gift. I can deflect receiving by not simply accepting the gift/compliment/pleasure/promotion/support… I can be overly grateful, or grovel. Not great receiving.
- Receiving is an elevated form of connection. Babies are held in “receiving blankets.” Offices have reception rooms, and receptionists whose job it is to receive you when you arrive. Shipping and receiving. Receiving dock. Receiving lines. And of course, the Hebrew Kabbalah, “receiving.”
- Receiving meets the offering with a full body presence, and an open-hearted welcome.
- We could choose to pay more attention to how we receive. How we receive others: their ideas, their words, their feedback, their gifts, their gestures. How we receive ourselves: our stories, our wounds, our faults, our gifts and talents and joys.
When all is said and done, here’s what I think. Receiving, that gorgeous practice of receptivity, is hard work. It’s a special kind of doing-not-doing. When I am receiving, I am BEING receptive. And that is the erotic self I’m striving towards, these days; the one that can fully receive the pleasure that is offered to me.
If you liked reading this, I’d love to RECEIVE a comment from you below.
4 More Days LEFT!
Last night I went to the Pacific Ocean, and released the Rose of Jericho plant that had sat on my altar since the full moon. This plant, and its release, were part of the magickal manifestation spell I did for this fundraiser. I stood there in the moon-dark night, waves crashing against the shore and tossed the desert-dwelling plant into the salty deep with whispered prayers and kisses.
The Rose of Jericho, also known as the “resurrection plant,” is a tumble weed and can be blown over the desert for up to 10 years. This will spread the seeds over a very large area. It opens to release its seeds when water is present, and close in times of dry.
I imagined the plant, traveling in the dark water, and opening to release its seeds, its blessings. I imagined those seeds travelling far and wide, to bless waters and the land. I imagined that this film, Holy MILF, is just like this plant. It will travel the lands and waters, releasing its seeds, and growing new beautiful ecosexual projects.
I am humbled by this work. I feel such humility at being the caretaker of this project that so many gorgeous witches believe is crucial. They were willing to put their bodies, their sexuality, their private relationships with nature and themselves onto film, in deep service. The musicians were willing to allow the chords, melodies and harmonies of THEIR erotic relationship with this planet to move through them, in hopes that they would serve others.
I don’t think I got until last night the enormity of this spell that we’ve been collectively casting. That this is not “my” film, but I am in stewardship to it! I am so grateful to be the vehicle, and so awed that this exists now, because of all who contributed.
In these last few days, I want to urge all who read this to feel into your own body, and know this simple truth; you can be in service to your sex, your pleasure, and your planet by helping this film be firmly rooted in the world.
It’s not me who is asking for your financial support. It is this film, that wants so whole-heartedly to be in service to our species. Please reach deep and give this film some green love! And if you feel called, why not ask your friends to do the same?
It’s our connection, our deep felt connection, with the Earth, that is calling us home to wholeness. No scare tactics or statistics are ever going to be enough to get us to make the necessary changes for continuation of humanness here, on Earth. But our ecosexuality just might be.
Please donate today. http://igg.me/at/holymilf/x/2953128
When you or a loved one is looking for queer, ecosexual porn to get you hot and bothered, where do you turn?
You know these pleasures. These are ecosexual pleasures.
Now, it’s me who needs your help.
I’m at a critical moment in the birthing of this community produced and support DIY film, Holy MILF. We’ve raised 30% of our $5000 campaign. In order to complete the final push and get the film into theaters and film festivals for the pleasure of ecosexuals like you everywhere, I need your financial support.
Your gift of $40 will give you the opportunity to download and view Holy MILF, before it is ever released in theaters! (or choose another hot-n-sexy perk!)
Your donation will make a world of difference. I promise you. Click on the link below to visit and donate to get Holy MILF on the screen.
I emailed this week with a young man living in Northern Europe. He was curious about his sexuality, and because of a physical disability, did not have much experience. Because of his location, he did not have much access to sexuality support. He had found me on the internet and reached out so bravely, across the many miles that separate us.
We exchanged several emails, and had set up an appointment time to meet via video conferencing. He was clear about what he wanted to work on. In a confirmation email, I reflected back to him what I heard him saying he wanted. He had asked me what my suggestions were, and I suggested a particular way we might work together.
The next email I received was him cancelling our appointment. He wrote that actually he was learning all that he needed via watching videos, and no longer required my services. “Hmmm.” I thought. Usually, when things are going well with new clients and we are moving towards our first session, it’s normal for them to have some fear that comes up. Sometimes they write to me and confess their worries. But rarely at this stage do folks cancel.
What was going on? My intuition said that fear, repression and shame were at work. That this young man got hit hard with some shame backlash when I reflected his desires back to him. I was invested in working with this person; his commitment to prioritizing his sexuality in spite of the tremendous obstacles he is facing had earned my respect.
I wrote back, and asked him if shame and fear were present for him, and if that was why he had changed his mind. I asked him to be in touch if he ever decided that he really couldn’t learn everything he needed to know about sex from watching videos. His response staggered me. He wrote that he had realized that his priority was to get his life in order. That he had spent enough time working on his sexuality for now, and it was going to take at least ten years to get his life situated, and at that time he might again focus on sexuality. And that he doubted very much he’d ever be in touch.
A strong belief I hold in this work is that we must live in the bodies that we have, right now. That sensation and feeling aren’t something that ‘someday’ are welcome, once the body we have is right, once the situation we have is right, once the partner we have is right. Sensation and feeling are the currency of being human; we must be diligent in our pursuit of the experience of actually living in our bodies.
There are so many reasons to not feel, to disassociate, to leave or forget or numb this experience of the human body. Choosing not to feel is always a viable choice. However, it is a choice that comes at a price, and one of which we want to be very aware. When we choose numbness over pain, or denial over reality, when we turn it down or push it down or drown it out or anesthetize, when we leave our bodies… the price we then pay is in how difficult it is to return, once we are ready. It is possible, of course, to return to sensation and feeling and pleasure. I am living proof. But oh the time it takes… and the effort. It can be quite daunting to return to embodied life when we’ve been away. And ten years???
Trauma is real. And for every step we’ve taken away from our deepest knowing and feeling of ourselves, that is one step we must take when we return. 10,000 steps going away = 10,000 steps coming home. (By step I mean energetic movement away from our core, and please forgive the ableist language.)
We don’t even know what we don’t know. We don’t know what we don’t feel. If we numbed out at a young age, the amount of sensation we feel is our ‘normal.’ We may not even consider that there is more to feel, more to know. We may conclude our sexual situation is “good enough.”
I feel so hurty-in-my-heart about shame and the ways it impacts our ability to feel and be close. I so wish I had a magick pill to send to that young man. I wish him all the best, and I send him the knowing that eventually, Eros DOES call us home. A thing is not cooked until it is, and no one’s process can be rushed. And yet. The quiet suffering of sexual repression on this planet is a constant dull roar in my ear. I cannot forget. I am in service to Eros emancipated. And this is a prayer, that the road be open and easy as we all move away from shame, and towards erotic wholeness.
If this resonates with you, please leave a comment below.
My dear friend and colleague in the revolution Rain Crowe’s inspiring words. A hefty read.
Recently, a good friend and I shared a conversation in which they revealed a recent personal instance of public shaming. Unfortunately, the phenomena of being “called out” is all too familiar to me, and to so many of us, and as we worked through their feelings and thoughts about it, I realized how many similar conversations with others I’d had in the past many months.
As a mediator-facilitator of groups, I find the phenomena intriguing and have attempted to map out some of the social variables that contribute to these instances. As an educator about group formation and adaptive healthy functioning, it seems important to be able to articulate a meta perspective that embeds these situations in the context of contemporary culture, both recent past and presently expressed. And as an organizer, within many intersecting alterna-cultural groups, I am concerned by the pervasiveness with which respectability politics play out in…
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What are you thinking about during sex? How often do you share what you are actually thinking with your partners? How often does your mind wander? What does it wander to?
Today I’m writing about one of the most common complaints I hear in my practice: “I feel stuck in my head when I’m having sex!” Since this is so prevalent, is there a way to reframe this dilemma that would actually help us have better sex? What (and how) you think during sex can profoundly impact your sexual experience, including genital functioning (!) and if/how you orgasm.
A big part of erotic liberation is the ability to CHOOSE where you are placing your attention, and then to maintain it there. For example, I can choose to place my attention on the sensations that are happening in my body while I’m having sex.
You may not even realize that your mind is wandering during sex, because it happens so frequently. There are many distractions; it can be hard to give ourselves permission for the time it takes to have sex, to have sex even if all of the things on the to-do list aren’t crossed off. Fantasy can be a distraction, especially if one isn’t sharing what’s going on inside one’s head with one’s partner.
“In society’s rush to assure people that sexual fantasies are “normal”—meaning okay—we have lost sight of the fact that they can nonetheless interfere with intimacy during sex.” ~David Schnarch
If the ability to choose where we place our attention is a facet of liberation, then living and feeling inside one’s body as opposed to dwelling in one’s head is an emancipatory practice. In this way, sex is like meditation; bringing our attention back again and again to what is happening now; we are developing the capacity to be with ourselves and our sensations.
If you are like many people, you are greatly able to be with your suffering. We ruminate and worry, and think repeatedly of our troubles. Our capacity to be with our own pleasure is often much less developed. Staying with sensations that occur during sexual play without attempting to increase them is a challenge. We rush towards orgasm for so many reasons; habit and conditioning, fear that we won’t get there, unconscious desire for the intense feeling to be finished, unknown wish to retreat from the primal animal body back to the ‘safety’ of the thinking brain are just a few.
I am not advocating for backward growth away from the permission we have worked for to enjoy fantasy and porn. Instead, I take a stand for freedom through choice; meaning, I choose how I get turned on. I choose how long I hang out with my pleasure, and I choose to feel all the sensation that is available for me to feel.
All that said, you may want to know that there are different ways that folks connect with their sexy. Donald Mosher was a psychologist and sex researcher who developed a matrix of sexual engagement. His work is a constructed paradigm that can be overlaid your sexuality, to help you better understand how your mind influences your sexual experiences. Understanding how your sexual mind works can also help you navigate your sexual relationships with partners. Having language to put around experience makes it easier for partners to see how they are alike and how they differ when it comes to getting turned on and feeling pleasure.
Here’s how Mosher breaks it down:
Each person has a primary mode of accessing their arousal; through erotic trance, partner engagement or role play.
Each of these modes has an energetic tone, communication style, and physical technique. Your psychological preference determines your fantasies, your definition of hot sex, and the types of touch you like. While we each have a primary mode, these aren’t hard-and-fast definitions. Also, we can learn to access arousal through other modes with practice over time.
Erotic Trance focuses on body sensations. If you prefer this mode, you most likely prefer private sexual encounters with minimal distractions. You may prefer taking turns rather than mutual sexual contact. Even being asked a question about what you like may be quite distracting. You want to be able to focus on the experience, and not on communication. The normal world falls away. Fantasies are often wordless, just visual images or feelings. There are varying depths of erotic trance, and at the deepest level you lose awareness of everything except the sensations. You can experience erotic trance either as a giver or as a receiver.
Partner Engagement focuses on emotional connection with your partner. This is the sex we see in Hollywood movies. Affectionate sharing and mutual pleasure get you hot. Eye contact, verbal communication, full-body contact and face-to-face positions. Observing your partner become aroused arouses you, as does their pleasure. There are different levels of partner engagement that run a spectrum of experiences, from predatory to loving.
Role Play focuses on sex as a stage. Performative aspects are important, such as costumes, acting out fantasies, porn, online sex, props that are chosen for their appearance rather than for their sensation, visually interesting positions or settings. You like to become the role you are playing, and have the flexibility to step into many different sexual selves without shame shutting you down.
Considering which of these descriptions fits you and your partner/s the best gives you valuable information about the mental dimensions of how you access arousal. But the problem that many of my clients face is actually HOW to get into the body so that arousal and pleasure can happen. How can we practice embodiment?
We have all of the tools at our disposal. Breath is an important element. Paying attention to our breathing is a direct route to the body. Practicing bringing our attention back again and again as it wanders is an important skill. We know how to do this, even if it’s hard. So perhaps the real question is this: why is there often so much resistance to being in our bodies? Why do we struggle so with inhabiting our pleasure?
Does this question ring true for you? Instead of beating ourselves up with the “why,” perhaps it is enough to know that we do resist living fully in our bodies and our pleasure, and that we can choose to engage with ourselves gently here.
If indeed it is a goal to be able to get out of your head and into your body during sex, each sexual encounter becomes an opportunity to practice, to make the choice of pleasure again and again. Acknowledging that we have lots of baggage when it comes to sexuality, and that we are still standing in our commitment as beings worthy of pleasure is enough. Sometimes we’ll get it, we’ll be in our bodies. Sometimes we won’t. We succeed through our commitment to examining our resistance, being compassionate with ourselves about it, and gently steering the ship back to pleasure and sensation.
Starting January, 2015!
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An eight-week online program designed to support you through the process of creating a sexuality workshop full of your uniquely brilliant content,
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Discount for new sex educators. Early Bird Pricing ends Dec. 15.
Here’s the video of my Mystery Box Story! Enjoy!
I meet my clients where they are in terms of their sexuality, and together we discover the blocks, traumas, and limiting beliefs that stand between them and the deeper erotic life that is possible for them. It’s a process. Along the way, there are unexpected twists and turns, as the body slowly begins to reveal its secrets and stories. Almost always we encounter the gatekeeper, Resistance. It’s how we know we are getting closer to the essential erotic self, which is quite powerful and can be frightening.
I have the capacity to make this journey with my clients because I’ve done it, am doing it, myself. My body knows trauma, resistance, and both welcomes and trembles at hope. I’ve had to wrestle sexuality back from fear, and reclaim my erotic life from the abyss of disassociation and sexual shut-down.
Being a coach and standing in witness of the journeys my clients make is a magnificent experience.
I watch, time and again, as the intuition and body knowledge someone has deep inside emerges to guide them home to Eros. I stand in awe of our power to know ourselves, ever more deeply.
I’ve come to know myself more deeply. Over the last year or so, I’ve experienced a growing desire to embrace my performer self. I’ve not had a lot of training in performance, and I’ve been seeking out venues to practice.
It’s good for me to be in spaces where I don’t yet have mastery; it keeps me in the space of beginner’s mind. But I also fucking hate not being good at something, not having things be easy and effortless. It reminds me of the vulnerability and courage it takes to enter into a process, not knowing who you’ll be on the other side, and what the price of admission will cost you.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to participate in a transformational coaching process for performance, with Eric Scheur and Reba Sparrow of Mystery Box Show.
Mystery Box is a story-telling show out of Portland that is real people, telling their real foibles with sexuality. It’s not porn stars, or people who have it all together in terms of sex. The stories are funny, tender, heartbreaking, and remind us that we’re human.
I worked with Eric and Reba for three months, developing my story for their San Francisco show.
The story they chose for me to tell is about the very first public masturbation ritual I ever led, when I had never even masturbated with another person before. Everything was working against my desire to explore communal masturbation. It was a pivotal moment in my life, one that ultimately led to me becoming a facilitator of sexual liberation for others.
The transformative story coaching process was supportive, and yet humbling.
Each time we would meet for our skype session, I would have to tell them the latest version of my story. They’d tell me how great it was coming along, and then they’d basically suggest restructuring many components, or eliminate elements that were non-essential to the story.
Throughout the process, I felt the story getting tighter and more cohesive. I also dreaded each and every coaching session. It is really fucking hard to show up, with your art, your tender, vulnerable story, and have someone, with the greatest compassion, hold you accountable to an even higher iteration of your ability.
I was a wreck in the days leading up to the performance. I fought with myself. I met with them one last time the day before the show, and they wanted me to change the beginning of the story that I’d been working on delivering just right for weeks! I wanted to punch Eric in the face. But I sucked it up, and kept working on the story, figuring out how to implement his suggestions.
They don’t tell you the order you will be presenting your story in during the show until that night. I was hoping that I would go first, and just get it over with. When I met I met the other story tellers, one of whom I’d recently seen perform, I was relieved because I assumed I would go first. Unfortunately, when they revealed the order, I was the last performance of the evening. Which meant I had to sit through all of the other stories, heart pounding and palms sweating.
Miraculously, once I heard “Please welcome to the stage Pavini Moray!” my fear dropped away.
I’d been worried that I’d forget key elements, or that my timing would suck. I was concerned that my gestures wouldn’t work, or that I’d fuck up with the mike. None of that happened. While I was telling my story, I felt the greatest sense of presence, and of pleasure. I couldn’t believe it when I realized I was getting to the end of the 17-minute piece.
I stepped off the stage, and knew that I had nailed it. The joy and celebration lasted for days.
Two weeks later, I’ve had time to reflect on the experience. Why was it so successful? Well, as I’ve already said, all the preparation. But even more than that, I realize it’s because Eric and Reba were there, expecting me to be brilliant. Their belief in me fueled my belief in myself.
I’m so grateful that I got to participate in a transformational coaching process, and that the results were so clearly demonstrated.
I’ll hold that moment of success as a trophy, a reminder of what happens when there is support, high standards, and accountability. I’ll use the experience to support processes that I move through, and sexual liberation processes that I help my clients move through.
Want to watch the video? Tune in Tomorrow!
NEW BARBARIANS 3.0:
A Pocha Nostra X-treme Fashion Show & Photo-performance karaokeSaturday,
September 13th 7:00 PM.
On Saturday, September 13th, I will be performing in this.
La Pocha Nostra’s two-week residency at Fort Mason ends with an exciting evening public performance in two-parts.
Part one will include a live “photo karaoke” session in collaboration with maestro RJ Muna in which artists and audience members will create live images on-site for the camera.
Part two of the evening will include an “extreme fashion show” featuring the work of the participants that has been developed during the residency.
Buy Tickets Early! It will sell out!
With great pleasure that I announce:
My new 40-page ebook called “Free Your Sex! Your Toolkit for Erotic Liberation” is now available for free download!
This book contains 16 of the best tools I know to help you deepen into pleasure, and get the intimacy and transformation you need in your sexuality.
I hope you enjoy it, and may it serves your pleasure well!
Are you a queer magickal musician or song-writer?
Are you up for a radical community project? Do you feel called to work in a sacred way, an erotic way, and allow Spirit to guide your music? Would you like to compose a song for a film that supports liberation of the Earth and liberation for our fabulous, queer sexy selves?
Two summers ago, two collaborators and I shot an erotic film documenting a queer Eco-sexual ritual that celebrates the liberation of magick, sexuality and the Earth. You can read the project description here. Performers of many genders, sexualities, bodies and abilities donated their time and energy and allowed their intimate explorations with Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit to be captured on film. The result is a sexy cacophony of nature-based pleasure.
Currently, I am editing the film with Carol Leigh, a.k.a. Scarlot Harlot, an award-winning film maker, sex work activist and erotic artist in her own right. The film is unlike anything Carol or I have ever seen. The magick imbued in the process is unique and once you see it, you realize why it must be in the world.
What we need now is original music for the score. In the spirit of including the magick of many artists and making this a film for community by community, we are asking for your support.
We need seven original pieces of music: one for Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Spirit, Pentacle of Queer Eco-Sexuality, and credits. We invite in your erotic creativity. All musicians will have artistic agency in their musical portrayal of their erotic relationship with the element of their choice.
You will receive fame and glory with your name in the credits, a copy of the film, and an invitation to our screening party when the film is complete. All participation is voluntary, and no financial recompense will be given for participating. No on’es making money off of this project: the proceeds of this film will be used to support Free Cascadia Witchcamp and other projects that are in alignment with our eco-sexual values. The deadline for submission is August 18, 2014.
If sharing your music in this film calls to you, please email me to schedule a time to discuss your desires and how we can collaborate with you! Please forward this to your musician friends!
I adore Alex’s work, and recommend checking out and funding his project!
professional development online class:
“Beyond the Yoni Puppet:
Deepening Pedagogical Brilliance
for Sex Educators.”
May 1 – 31, 2014
This is a four-week professional development intensive that gets sex educators the curriculum, classroom and marketing skills they need for success!
The skills we possess as sex educators hugely impact not only our success but how impactful our teaching is.
It is not enough for us to have relevant, scientifically based current sexuality information. It is not enough for us to have excellent content and activities.
In this series I will share with you the wisdom and best teaching practices I have gained from two decades as a Montessori educator.
You will leave this class with a slew of educational strategies and a serious increase in your skill as a teacher. You will:
- Better understand of the process by which students actually learn
- Engage various learning styles by providing the same information in different ways
- Structure curriculum that engages and allows students to make learning their own
- Hold learning as it happens over time, and support the integration
- Hone your observational powers so that your teachings are relevant and fill the need of your students
- Create safer containers so that students feel safe to relax vigiliance and engage with new ideas
- Maximize your curriculum planning to squeeze out every ounce of potential learning
- Create environments where learning and transformation can occur, and where students take ownership of the process
- Discern whether supporting a student to move through their resistance or helping them with self-acceptance is the right course of action.
- Know when to speak, and when to wait silently
- Help students dealing with trauma from other educational experiences that they project onto us
- Pace material effectively
- Give permission effortlessly
- Possess information about stellar time management and time tracking skills
- Have a framework to seek, absorb, and integrate student feedback
- Give timely feedback that students can hear and act on
- Understand the value of excellent classroom management skills
- Get your work in front of the right audience
- Read what’s happening in the room and make sure your students are staying engaged
- Deal effectively with disruptive students who are trying to meet needs in the class that are not within the class container
- Assess exactly where a student is, and what the smallest next step they need for their growth AND hold the trajectory of a student’s learning over the course of time
- Monitor congruence between what you teach to your students and the ways you live your life as a sexual being: “walk your talk.”
- Have tools to redirect when teaching suddenly goes in the opposite direction than you thought!
This class consists of four video calls, participation in a collaborative learning environment with other brilliant sex educators, weekly online readings, viewings, assignments and practice opportunities, and a facebook group.
Cost is $180 and there is still some financial aid available if you need it!
Putting the Sexy into
Educational and Marketing Strategies for
Fabulous Sex Education Classes
Sunday, April 27 at 4:00 Pacific Daylight Time
Amazing sex educators consider these questions:
- How do I create relevant, useful curriculum that addresses the needs of the populations I serve?
- How do I create transformative learning environments for my students?
- How do I become such an amazing, kick-ass educator that my classes fill themselves and I have a waiting list?
- And how the heck do I market my brilliant content?
In this presentation crafted especially for Sex Educators, you will learn to:
- assess your audience and craft curriculum based on their actual needs
- reverse engineer curriculum built on learning outcomes
- grab the teachable moments; have both a well-thought out plan AND a spontaneous approach
- target specific groups with your marketing
- and most importantly, level up your impact and skill level as an educator!
Pavini Moray has used the principles of Montessori education to effectively teach children and adults since 1997, and now teaches sex to adults using the same scientifically-proven techniques. Creating curriculum that is relevant, applicable, engaging and impactful is a skill set that can be learned!
Listen to a participant talk about the power of communal erotic learning.
By Marcus, a participant in the “Geography of Pleasure” workshop.
After the last day of the workshop, I was driving home meditatively, feeling the edges of my being. Not clicking from one radio station to the next, and blasting my senses with distracting stimuli. I wanted to allow myself to feel.
When I arrived at my place of residence, I thought, ‘I am home.’ I was feeling in my body and holding myself in a pleasant, nonjudgmental observation. My awareness of self was for once not about boundary patrol against shame, fear, or violation.
Two days before, I arrived at the workshop space in a daze, overwhelmed by the feeling of being around other people. I had become so used to the security of isolation and shutting down before I could be rejected. Alone, I could (unsuccessfully) pretend that I was all the things I wished I could be, and remove myself from reminders of failures and inadequacies.
I tried to relax into the comfortable seating, dim lamp lights, and the circle of anxious strangers, only to find myself comparing my body to others and listing off all the ways I lacked qualities that I admired in others and so wished for myself. The expression of trans masculinity became ever so in focus. I began to irrationally perceive my body to be physically smaller and smaller and uglier and uglier, as I unrealistically assumed perfection and invulnerability in others.
Though it was my intention to stay and not run or hide, my body sure wanted to run as we began to take turns speaking in the first of many circles. I was suddenly morbidly afraid of looking and sounding funny, and not being taken seriously. Amazingly, these divisive views between myself and others were gradually broken down, in a way I never thought was capable… I will now attempt to describe some of my most groundbreaking workshop moments.
This scared me a lot, as I have long experienced this as mutual invasion of private space. While it is a common expression of wanting to know and be known, sustained eye contact was something I only normally used within the following contexts: romantic interest, aggressive challenging, or conversations. I felt extremely exposed because it was as if I were ‘caught’ seeking an inappropriate level of closeness. There was little excuse for me to stop looking, because the activity did not allow for typical distractions. It was very unsettling to feel that emotional nakedness that I reserved for almost no one. By the end of the workshop, I no longer felt such reservations once I understood seeing and being seen to not be a threat. Instead, it can feel so loving and fulfilling!
When I allowed my body to observe and be observed, I was overcome by the emotions of others and the energy of the room. When I felt loving, gentle gazes caressing my body’s surfaces, I realized the toxicity of my self-directed gaze. I never extended to myself the same kind of understanding and acceptance I aspired to give others.
Moving to music felt awkward. I was confronted by my body’s lifelong reluctance to express itself. Interacting with space around me felt dangerous compared to stillness, which felt so safe and contained. My initial line of thinking was that I don’t know how best to move, so I might as well not.
Though I had a blindfold on, I still felt a critical gaze upon me, the kind that has long held my arms down, my torso stiff, and my legs frozen. Then I realized no one was laughing, and others were similarly focused on their own movements. I had nobody to apologize to for my movements, as no one could see. This activity allowed me to ponder the following questions. What am I holding back from, when there is no one to please but myself? What is possible of myself, when no consequence will arise from honoring my impulses?
It was difficult to surrender, and I don’t think I fully could yet, but I willed my mind to allow my body to interpret the music how it pleased. I allowed myself to enact my varying emotions: playfulness, exploration, loneliness, calm. To stand and shuffle and wave and swagger and sit the way the music called my body to do.
Healing another, watching the healing of others, and receiving my own healing all were magical moments. It was when shame, anger, and grief looked startlingly beautiful in all their ugliness. When I realized we needn’t harden against it all. We could all face and absorb the immense shame and trust that our existence would not be smashed to smithereens.
For me, the ritual felt like bones being reset, and being allowed to heal with alignment and clarity. I had to dig really deep, because I had buried so much of my shame. Entering the circle forced me to verbalize what was holding me back from the happiness and pleasure in life that I desire. I found, and released fears, inadequacies, and traumas that my body was holding despite my amnesia.
Eros field trip
(NOTE: Eros is a men’s bath house (very trans-inclusive) in San Francisco that generously donated admission for anyone in the class who wanted to go and check it out on Saturday night.)
I had reservations about going to a men’s sex space as a straight man with no prior inclinations towards having sex with men. But, I am really glad I went, as it was exciting to explore a new space with unfamiliar dynamics, all while feeling so safe because my amazing friends from the workshop were around!
I discovered I was actually physically desirable to some individuals, and the context of the men’s space really made me feel validated as a man. (Though I do worry about assumptions being made, based on my body type.) I also realized I still have some work to do about feeling ok and not guilty when enforcing my boundaries.
I did not discover any desire for sexual interaction with other men, but I now yearn for more access to intimate men’s spaces. This hasn’t really been open to me as a straight man, and I have, for a long time, adopted a normatively competitive gaze towards other men. For me this has fostered more feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and jealousy.
We were invited to sway to nautical music while imagining ourselves to be bull kelp. The idea of being rooted and just o.k. with my existence while swaying with the movement of the water was strangely profound. When we were invited to return to feeling the edges of our bodies, I could not help but weep from the sensation of viewing myself with non-judgment and comfort. It shook me to observe how long my body has been deprived of my love, and how long I have gone without noticing!
I appreciated both lessons on the chest and the genitals and the fact that they were presented in dysphoria-reducing language. I have had some bottom surgeries, and am eager to understand my genitals. Tissues have now been rearranged, rendering some parts more accessible, and others less or not at all.
Despite having pored through countless anatomy articles and diagrams, I learned a new term and site of pleasure: the perineal sponge! This knowledge has helped me gain a better understanding of how to best stimulate the nerves that I thought were no longer accessible.
I felt extremely soothed, and so grateful feeling the love and care of the two people working together to bring me the release from muscle tension I desired. They were eager to comply, and I grew in my comfort to be able to ask for how I wanted to be pleased. For once, I experienced the joy of trusting another’s desire to please me. It was liberating to not feel guilty or burdensome
My body felt extremely honored by their touch, and I had never known that comfort and love could accompany such vulnerability. Who knew that exposure doesn’t need to be just about shame and embarrassment and instead could feel so delicious and freeing? I didn’t.
The Circle Holds Us
We took turns in a circle being held and holding one another, before everyone stepped backwards together towards the center of the circle. How amazing it felt to be this stable entity of love, so unyielding in its solid hold of me, despite how fragile we may each feel in so many moments of our lives. In this moment I knew I was not the scared person I was on Friday who was eager to shut out the intrusive presence of others. Instead, I leaned into the warmth of our bodies, the life of our collective breaths, the energies of trans masculine brethren with whom I felt an unmatched closeness.
Culmination and Integration
This workshop was such a highlight of my life after so much anguish and pain. I have rarely cried so much and been so deeply moved. There was a ‘before workshop’ era of my life, and now the ‘after workshop’ time is only beginning. I left with the profound understanding that there are truly greater possibilities for really knowing others in a way that facilitates the closeness and healing that I so desire, yet have always been so afraid of.
After saying many goodbyes, I entered the elevator, alone. The loneliness was momentarily terrifying. I was so sad to leave the space, because the world outside will never be nearly so safe, with facilitators actively shaping healing vibes. But even as I return to my real life, where my physical and emotional boundaries are continually tested, I recharge and revive when I think of being in that circle of bodies, holding and being held. Even now, my heart is still overflowing with love for our capacity to heal so much pain. I revel in the memory of that circle.
(The following is a Guest Post by Roman Rimer, describing his experiences at the Geography of Pleasure: Embodiment for Trans Guys workshop. Enjoy! ~ Pavini)
After the Geography of Pleasure workshop I was able to talk about the experience ad nauseam, maybe even brag a little bit, to my inquiring cis-gender friends. Finally, a place where I felt at home.
When it came time to write about what feelings came up all the words I piece together seem slightly off, empty. Perhaps this goes back to the adage that writing is the loneliest profession. By contrast, participating in a workshop with family members you never knew you had, feels to be quite the opposite. Feeling part of a larger group is huge, especially if it doesn’t happen often.
Warm, safe spaces exist everywhere; they’re just not always open to everybody. My first impression when I entered the space was that I was welcome, and not just because I was helping other people sign in. Often I feel I have had to be on guard, even when I am in familiar places with people I know. Quite often those most “comfortable” elements in my life have at points turned threatening. When I find myself in a new space, I am safe. I do not have to worry about where I will go next and I can be fully present.
There are too many themes covered in the workshop to fully process, and I’m sure with time a few moments will pop up when I am least expecting it; perhaps they will provide guidance for that particular moment and it will make sense.
A concrete reminder for me was how important human touch can be. Well-meaning touch is not always easy to come by, consent is only occasionally addressed, and at moments in my life I have wanted to fully separate from my body. I imagine if we were taught at a young age to establish and respect boundaries, how the human race could start to heal itself. Even when in relationship(s) I constantly crave human touch and to receive it in such a loving way as it was in the workshop was a much-needed gift.
I enjoyed the exercises in which we were placed in smaller groups, either two or three of us. In one we allowed the other person to touch us, told them where, how much pressure to apply. In the groups of three we asked our partners to remove article(s) of clothing. It was something that on the surface so simple, yet while enacting it felt incredibly empowering.
The actions that many take for granted, are usually much more weighted with trans folks. Perhaps it was because we all knew what it was like, maybe the safety quashed all fears. From talking with other folks I identified that I, too, have felt my body at times was stolen from me, misidentified, physically harmed, attacked with words.
Us transfolks must love our bodies more than anyone could understand, we have held on to our bodies through everything. And what a better way to treat our bodies than to allow them the tenderness from others?
I’d forgotten how satisfying it was to be around ones brethren. While it wasn’t my first time with a group of solely trans-masculine folks, it was the first time in a while.
I’d imagine for many trans folks we’re constantly surrounded by cis people, often well-meaning, but still for lack of a better word, at times, horrible. I constantly find myself in a teaching role, as I find that tends to be one of the more hopeful ways to reach out to people. Being able to talk about my relationship with my body and not take on that role, is something I really value.
Though most of us were meeting one another for the very first time, I felt as though we’d known each other forever. Coming from different walks of life, different generations, family dynamics, occupations, we fit together like puzzle pieces, the individuals so strong yet together creating something even more magnificent than us all individually.
“The space was sacred there’s no doubt about it. I could feel the spirits of our transancestors and those who have yet to be born, all there with us. Those who have been silenced helped give me the strength to speak. It was as though as soon as we formed a circle a spark was lit, igniting an everlasting flame, warm enough for all of us.”
The workshop the previous three days was a mindfuck in the best way possible. Imagine, always feeling like an outsider, feeling misunderstood, always wary of how much to disclose (if at all), the idea that many people might not get it, or their reactions could be harmful, even dangerous. And suddenly I was in a place where not only was it safe to share, but it was encouraged, and others spoke their truths, let their fears out into the air. Suddenly, I felt less ashamed of my own struggles.
Often I feel as eager to cover up as I am to shed my layers. Growing up in the States, feeling ashamed of my body, nudity, sex. While it was never hard for me to find my voice, it was always hard for me to trust it. The workshop provided the trust, part from within the community and building it within ourselves.
The day after the workshop I had an improv class. I was still recovering, emotionally. Thoughts zoomed across my mind. How comfortable I’d felt, while battling through recurring memories of trauma over and over again. In class there were about fifteen of us and I looked around thought, holy fuck, I’m the only trans person here. Improv is known for “gender role reversal” if anything this drama therapy helped me figure out my identity. Though I’d known most of these folks for months, and was out as trans to maybe a third of them, I instantly missed my kin. Though it was only in my mind, I felt I stuck out as the lone trans thumb, and I instantly missed those bonds I’d just formed.
I like the idea that everyone is trans, only some of us have realized it. Perhaps this meeting was for those of us with the courage to move forward. After feeling shamed by the medical community, by family, friends, all these aspects of my life I could trace back to deciding to live openly and authentically. Once I came out I couldn’t quite go back. And as exhausting as I am by the constant teaching, It’s worth it. All the people about to have kids, for all the people who may not have given transphobia a second thought.
Nothing has made me happier than the friends who have since given birth acknowledging gender can very much be placed on children before they are ready to express who they are and they need to check their own beliefs before imposing them on their children. And to meet other trans folks at this workshop who were parents themselves gave me quite a lot of faith in the next generation.
And while it may take cis-gender people a while to catch on, I believe it’s possible. Once they get close enough to our fire, they will see the warmth, the camaraderie that elevates us all once we accept ourselves, and by proxy each other.
I mentioned the importance of a warm space and there is no way I could omit the hot food. It might not seem like much to some, but I am always grateful to have a hot meal in a warm space. I still feel quite privileged even with trauma I’ve endured. Since transitioning my housing situation has been more uncertain than not. It’s all connected.
And while I would never give it up, or change anything, it’s clear the price I’ve paid to live an authentic life. To not have basic needs met, or at least a given, I’ve put myself at risk. Knowing where I will be at a certain time, knowing I will be fed – is a huge thing. It shouldn’t be and everyone should always have these basics covered, but by seeing once more how “outsiders” or rather, folks who don’t subscribe to a certain, limited way of being, exist, my empathy has grown and flooded from me. It’s easy to see we’re not alone.
To know that although we went through this all alone, we were finally able to be there with each other. There’s something that only we can give each other. And that was remarkable. The scariest part is in thinking that we are all alone. The Geography of Pleasure workshop proved nothing could be further from the truth.
~ by Roman Rimer
I dip my pen into the blood of my heart, and begin to chronicle the myriad of thoughts, sensations, feelings, body epiphanies and erotic somatic learning that happened this past weekend.
It is only now, four days out, that I can bring myself to write of the beauty, the heartbreak, the joy, the community and the exquisite pain that was the first Geography of Pleasure: Embodiment for Trans Guys workshop.
Here’s what I notice: my heart aching mightily with the openness we created together. I find my heart expanding into love and joy, and contracting into fear and anxiety, in a regular pattern. I find I want the rawness and intensity of the workshop space in my everyday life. It is hard to return to dishes, kids, and regular life.
How can I describe how the electricity in the room as we smashed paradigm after paradigm? How to write of the power of claiming our rightful erotic space, as humans who live on a trans-masculine spectrum? How can I describe the utter suffering that the people in this circle have endured, that has impacted every aspect of their lives? And how can I describe the fierceness and righteousness of watching the erotic call each of us home to our bodies, just as they are in this moment?
Truly, I cannot.
But what I can describe is the feeling of success I have as a facilitator of a crucible that created demonstrable transformation for participants. People looked different when they left. They felt different. They felt like their context around pleasure, their bodies and their relationships had shifted so much that it was difficult to articulate. They spoke again and again of feeling a sense of safety that they had never in their lives felt.
I knew the workshop was going to be potent, but I really had absolutely no idea to what degree we would change everything.
One of my favorite reflections comes from workshop participant Jun C:
“I came in feeling like I had nothing to offer. I now feel like I have everything to give.
“I feel like I finally found the kind of community and connection with other trans-masculine people that I’ve been looking for that I couldn’t find for so long.
“I had initial reservations coming in (didn’t we all?) I thought there was a very likely possibility that it was going to be some hokey new age-y type thing that usually strikes me as being disingenuous, devoid of real substance, with a false type of enlightenment. I don’t know yet how to articulate the sparkle magic that happened, but I’m so glad I was there.”
This workshop arose from a vision I had of a room of trans-masculine people, working together to banish shame, craft community, and communally welcome into our bodies the pleasure that heals trauma, brings sensation to numbness, and replaces fear with joy. And this bold vision actually happened.
As a facilitator, my heart grew larger and larger with each story, each sharing, each time I sobbed with the hurt we have all borne. The scars I saw this weekend, (and I saw many,) denote a strength and a resilience, a determination to live in our bodies and to be truly ALIVE, without apology.
Perhaps I will write in greater depth about the specifics of what we did, but for now, I am basking in the delight of a heart full of passion for continuing and growing this work. We have already been invited to Portland, New Mexico, Toronto, Minneapolis and the UK. You’ll be able to track our progress at http://www.geographyofpleasure.com. I’ll be posting participant written reflections on my blog, as well as spoken reflections on our website and youtube. Stay tuned!
Our dream is for every trans-masculine person in the world has access to pleasure and embodiment, in the body they are in, RIGHT NOW!
I write to you from the garden of the home we share. The radiant oranges and yellows of the nasturtiums splashing their outrageous beauty everywhere remind me of you. I thought I’d write and tell you the truthful yearnings of my heart.
When I see you walking with your back straight, your chin raised toward the sky, rolling that big gorgeous ass, I think to myself, “You, YOU are a new paradigm of beauty.”
Your abundant beauty belongs to you. All those curves and rolls and solid flesh. That way you disregard all the ways you are supposed to be beautiful, and make your own rules instead stuns me with delight. It is a miracle to witness you, to watch your strength and determination, as you live so fatly and fiercely. I know they said you wouldn’t.
I watch you, out of the corner of my eye. I watch as you dance and spin, cutting crazy moves on the dance floor. I watch as you make raunchy love. I watch as you gather children, lovers, friends and enemies into your embracing arms. Sometimes, you are so exquisite that I lose my breath. My heart pounds like its gonna burst out of my chest with an explosion of love and glitter.
When I see you like that, I lose all of my fear. I feel full of confidence, knowing you are mine. You have been so patient, waiting as I’ve come to know this.
When you pull your tight black tee-shirt over your head, fasten your studded belt around your thick waist, I know you are not concerned about what anyone will say. Your flesh is molded into the shape of erotic luxury and perilous pleasure. I love the way you own your desire. You are subversive and dangerous, just by your lines and shape.
You are ripe and delicious, like some rare succulent fruit. When you let me cup your heavy breasts, stroke your skin with rose oil, and dip my fingers into your secret places that you only share with me, I know pleasure beyond any other. Can you feel the breath of my adoration humming along your skin?
You are my miracle of beauty and life. I desire to dive deeply into you, to utterly lose myself inside of your wild, free form. Inside of you, I will find home, I just know it.
P.S. May I suggest writing a Valentine’s Day love letter to your own body? Send them to me, and I’ll choose several to publish right here on this blog!
When they write the rejection letters, why can’t they just say “Thank you, we’ve chosen another proposal.”
There’s always the bit about how many awesome proposals they received, how it was excruciating painful to choose (as if I care) and how truly, truly amazing my proposal is. How they look forward to seeing my work out in the world. And in the really stellar rejection letters, they find a way to ask for my continued support for their project.
So far this year I’ve received ten rejection letters, for a variety of projects, including conference proposals, writing contests and performance proposals. Each proposal I’ve submitted has taken hours upon hours of work to conceive, articulate, edit, answer all of the questions, and gather submission materials. Each one has been a dream, a calling forth of something important into being, only to let that dream slip away, perhaps to be reborn in a different form, or perhaps not.
With each rejection, the sting has been less. I won’t say it’s stopped.
I really, really wanted to create that performance piece about the circus freak show: the fat lady, the bearded lady, the half-man, half-woman, and the sexuality of each. It would be a powerful reclaiming of the fetishized, for purposes of validating our own eroticism.
But. “When the Fat Bearded Lady Sings Subterfuge” is not to be, at least not this summer.
With every proposal, and also with every rejection, I feel I stand at a bifurcation point: one path leading one way, another leading to a completely different destination. Taking the path marked “Reject” leads somewhere, often to somewhere unexpected and enlivening.
Creating meaningful content is not a challenge for me. I have ideas all day, every day. The challenge is to curate the ideas, discern which ones will further not only my work, but the issues that I stand for. Faith seems to be the only means by which to understand the mystery of why this project, this idea, and why now. Or why not. I am choosing to engage with the various selection committees as a divinatory process. The Hand of God, tapping my creative efforts that best serve my people.
The generative force behind all of my ideas is erotic.
It is inarguably the tide of Eros, churning within the moving rivers of my body. Each idea is a desire born of an embodied longing, bubbling up. These things, they want to be born, they yearn to manifest. They crowd around, like impatient spirits waiting to reincarnate.
When I answer the call of a particular desire, the ebullient and effervescent delight which courses through my body is sublime. Merely putting the words onto paper is sometimes orgasmic. Letting them then go off into the world, to be petted and stroked and sometimes mauled by complete strangers is oddly liberating. They are not mine alone, anymore. They belong to us, to our species. What is our medicine today, this week, this decade? What beauty, what insight do we need to ensure our collective survival?
Sometimes the desires are resilient. Tough, with bouncy edges. Sometimes they are tender, and become easily cracked and disheartened.
Sometimes, when I send an especially beloved desire out into the world, it has the quality of reaching out to touch an achingly desired potential lover, for the very first time.
That moment when you don’t know if your touch will be welcomed. That fragile, heartbreaking pause between your gesture, and their acceptance when the entirety of your self-esteem is up for grabs.
I’m practicing trust in my creative process, when I send those ones out, that the rejection I face will not damage me. That the burn of Eros will be fed by the ashes of rejection, and honed into an ever-clearer flame of yearning and expression.
It is a terrible-wonderful thing, to put one’s heart on public display, time and time again, for critique and judgment. The not-good-enough trolls stand just at the edge of that autonomous zone, waiting for my transgressive heart to cross the border into the land called self-doubt.
But wait! Ding, you’ve got mail! What’s this? A call for submissions for a new zine on fat acceptance? A film contest exploring marginalized sexuality?
Sorry trolls, not today. I’ve got the work of desire, burning down the house.
P.S. Geography of Pleasure: Embodiment for Trans Guys is happening 2/21-23 in San Francisco.
Feb. 21-23 in San Francisco
“Geography of Pleasure” is a workshop for those of trans-masculine experience who are curious about exploring their bodies. Did your trans body come with a user guide to optimize your pleasure? Together, we write our own.
In this highly interactive workshop, conducted by trans-masculine facilitators, you get to deepen your understanding of the unique and diverse capacity your trans male body has for pleasure.
Art, Anatomy, Touch, Ritual and Conscious Play are the ingredients. This workshop focuses on the entire body and is held in a container that is playful, safe and reverential. All of the myriad decisions trans masculine people make about their bodies in regards to surgery and hormones are honored.
The trans-masculine facilitation crew includes:
Dr. Liam “Captain” Snowdon. Captain is a trained sexologist and international professor of Sexological Bodywork.
Pavini Moray, M.Ed. Pavini teaches erotic wellness, intimacy technology and somatic sex and trauma renegotiation. Pavini is a Sexological Bodyworker, activist and educator on fire about pleasure.
Dr. Ari Zadel. Ari is a trans physician with a passion for serving trans youth populations.
Dallas Maynor. Dallas is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Somatic Psychology at CIIS. He is dedicated to accessibility and social justice work.
Perhaps you thought, “OK, so then I’m going to increase my capacity for feeling pleasure and expand my sexuality.”
Indeed, how does one expand into feeling more pleasure, if one has already accepted that the limits of our pleasure capacity are inflexibly where they are?
Or worse yet, what if we have don’t realize that the limits to our capacity for feeling pleasure are ones that we ourselves have created?
Before we consider the question of how to increase our capacity for pleasure, let us first acknowledge our diminished capability to enjoy the fullness of our human sexuality. Let us ground into the historical contexts of how we have ended up here.
Throughout my blog, I have often written of my own experiments as I attempt to expand my erotic self and broaden my capacity for pleasure. I write of my own experiences for a number of reasons, mainly because I trust personally people who walk their talk. Therefore, my integrity compels me to be transparent about my process. Blogging keeps me accountable to my chosen course towards erotic wholeness. Importantly, transparently blogging about my sexuality helps hold my shame at bay.
Ironically, the shame of not being or having the sexual self we know or imagine is possible can actually be enough to block us from seeking that self. Therefore, it is crucial to the sexual wellbeing of the planet that we begin to break silence about our shame. That people with marginalized identities also claim sexuality. Through sharing our erotic journeys, we not only give ourselves permission, but also model and give each other permission to seek authentic sexual expression.
When I started exploring my erotic nature, I was optimistic, but guardedly so. Perhaps there was more to my sexuality than I was experiencing. I had a vague sense of missing out on something, but assumed (incorrectly) that the experience I was having was the extent of the experience I could have. I thought the sex that I had, though limited and at times non-existent, was good enough. Plainly put, I settled for the experience I had and tried to wrap my sexuality around it. I did not try to expand the experience to meet the edges of my sexuality.
After all, I had read enough about women’s sexuality to know a few things (or so I thought.) I knew that that many women didn’t masturbate. Many women didn’t orgasm during penis-vagina intercourse. Many women didn’t have more than one orgasm. Many women didn’t even orgasm at all. Since I was capable of coming a couple times when I had penis-vagina intercourse, and I masturbated, I was doing better than many women.
I set my own sexual bar super low.
What were some things I was missing from my sexuality?
- Play and Exploration and edge-pushing
- Desire and Fantasy
- Transcendent sexuality and sex magick
- Embodiment, sensate focus and being present during sex
- Freedom for fantasy during sex and Freedom for all kinds of fantasies
- Exploring different turn-ons
- Toys, different positions and mixing up the patterns of sexual encounters
- Gender play and different sexual partners
- Anal explorations
- Knowledge of my anatomy
- Squirting and Kegels
- Breath, movement and sound
- Ecstatic sexual encounters and meeting the Divine during sex
- Awareness of erotic energy, and ability to work with it
- Kink, BDSM and power exchange
- Communal erotic encounters
- Allowing sex to crack open my heart
- Full Body orgasms, G-spot orgasms and orgasmic spaces beyond the clittoral
- Acceptance for my kinks and turn-ons
Shit, that’s a whole lot of missing!
The most interesting thing is that I really believed I was doing good! I ACCEPTED that the limits of my sexuality were real.
Barnaby Barratt, a psychotherapist, sex therapist, sex educator and tantric facilitator, implores that, “Our sexuality encompasses everything about our embodiment. It is our sensual and erotic connectedness with all that is around us. It is the medium of our alignment or misalignment with the universe, the grounding of our being-in-the-world.”
Why do we accept for our sexuality something that is less than perfect alignment with the universe? How did it come to be that I accepted those limits?
While most of us probably feel some degree of shame about where we are in our sexual expression, it turns out there are actually a number of really excellent reasons why we are where we are.
Here’s the crux of it: Our sexuality is informed by a complete paradox. Ubiquitous in the United States are both blatant sexualization and blanket sexual repression. We all encounter examples of both of these hundreds of times each day.
Sexually Explicit or Implicit Advertising
Oh Hi, Sex-Sells Advertising! The earliest known use of sex in advertising was in 1871, by the Pearl Tobacco brand. The advertising featured a naked girl on the package. Since then, sex has been a powerful advertising tool used to sell almost everything. And it works, too, since we are hard- wired to respond to sexual connotations.
We actually even respond to messages that only imply sex, meaning advertisers merely have to access the part of our brain that recognizes sexual messaging. According to the American Association of Advertising Agencies, average American adults are exposed to approximately 650 advertising messages each day.
We live in a society that is completely sex obsessed,
and simultaneously completely sex-phobic.
Pervasive Sex Negativity
In juxtaposition to the images above, consider the following:
- Abstinence-only sex education is still going strong. Since 1998, over $1.5 billion in state and federal funds has been allocated for these abstinence-only and abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs.
- The wide acceptance of ‘sex-addiction,’ as a real disease, although sexual addiction was rejected for inclusion in the DSM-5 and it is widely disputed.
- Porn is often vilified. (While secretly consumed in epic proportions; 12% of all websites are porn-related)
- BDSM activity, even where clearly consensual, can be and frequently is prosecuted under state criminal laws dealing with assault, aggravated assault, sexual assault or sexual abuse.
- It was a mere ten years ago in 2003 that the U.S. Supreme Court (in a 6-3 decision in Lawrence v. Texas) struck down the Texas same-sex sodomy law, ruling that private sexual conduct is protected by the liberty rights implicit in the United States Constitution. (This decision finally invalidated all state sodomy laws and meant that same-sex sex couldn’t be prosecuted.)
Receiving these contradictory messages can be disastrous in our search for authentic erotic expression. On top of that, layer the traumas, stories, shame, abuse and bad sex many of us have had, and it’s a recipe for sexual shut-down. Seen through this lens, the fact that we can feel any pleasure at all is quite remarkable!
“Many of us tell ourselves that “sex is not all that important to me,” and then we immerse ourselves in substitutive activities. We plunge into all manner of heartless addictions, or we become preoccupied with policing the sex lives of others. We even lose our awareness of how disconnected we have become from our sensuality. We no longer recognizer our own inhibition, nor do we see its roots in our unconscious shame and guilt.” ~Barnaby B. Barratt
Those who do attempt to cultivate an authentic erotic experience often find themselves facing strong societal prohibitions. However, when we turn our attention to that quiet, internal voice that compels us towards wholeness, we know we must question the limits we currently accept as immutable.
Sometimes we are required to accept things on faith. Take leaps of thinking and believing that are unsubstantiated in our lived experience. Sometimes, we just have to believe there is more, and set off it search of it, hoping we will find it. I had to leap into the void of giving up my sexual limits, (without having any proof I would get something better,) before I was able to start consciously evolving my own erotic experience
I started this post with the thought “Okay, then I’m going to increase my capacity for feeling pleasure and expanding my sexuality.” That is indeed the topic. Stay tuned for further thoughts. And until next week, I invite you to do one thing: consider that perhaps the current limitations of your sexuality will be different in the future. Perhaps something deep inside hears the truth of this next statement:
Without a doubt, there is more for you to feel.
I spent the day at Orr hot springs, moving between the water, the woods and the bed. All day was magickal, from the tarot ritual in the afternoon to the devotional fire ritual in the early evening. I dwelt in Spirit all day, finding the territories of the body and heart that welcome in the numinous. I made love with Kali Maa, my Ishta Devi (which is like your deity BFF), and listened for the voices of the land, the water, the creatures.
I reflected on my year, on the 43 years of my life, and worked on honoring the life the resides in this body. We often focus our honoring of life on ‘life out there’ forgetting that we too harbor the spark. What is it to honor the life force within?
For a birthday gift, my lover gave me an NJOY, which is a really beautiful stainless steel dildo. It looks like a work of art, and it feels incredible. Best sex toy ever, and this is not a review. This post is a celebration of the unrealized pleasure and feeling potential of our bodies.
Scientific American debunks the myth that as humans, we are using a mere 10% of our potential brain power, but until this morning when I was fact checking, I believed it. What is true that is we are not using all of our brain at all times. What if the same is true of our sexuality? When I learn something new, my brain somehow codifies and stores that information that was not there before. I have more information now than I had before. I have learned.
I believe we all accept far less pleasure than we are capable of experiencing. It is possible for us to learn new things in our sexuality. It is possible for us to feel more. These are my lived experience.
While every sex toy promises the ultimate pleasure, the pleasure does not arise from the toy itself, but from how our bodies respond to a different kind of stimulation. When we are able to place our attention on subtle difference in sensation, we become able to feel more. We can attune our attention to be ever more nuanced.
One of my favorite questions to ask myself when I notice that my mind is wandering during sex is “Am I feeling all the pleasure I could be feeling at this moment?” In effect, asking that question both refocuses my attention on the pleasure I am feeling, and opens the door for my body to be able to feel more pleasure.
This same question can be extrapolated to our sexuality as a whole. Am I feeling as much/experiencing as much/exploring as much as possible? Or am I settling for 10% of my potential?
The intention of such a question is NOT to create shame, or “I should be doing more,” but rather to invite space for more to be present within our sexual experiences and our sexuality.
On my birthday, I felt sensations I have not felt before. My body responded in ways in has not responded before.
While we were soaking in the delicious hot water, my partner asked me if I thought that we would ever reach the end of the road with our explorations and our learnings about sexuality. He then answered his own question, saying “Actually, I’ve been enjoying sex since I first figured out masturbation when I was nine. It’s been getting better and better since then. I don’t think it will ever run out.”
It can be easy to settle. We get lulled to sleep, lured into complacency. We think it’s too much effort to change, that our sex is good enough. We can believe our demons are too scary, too difficult to face. We can stop exploring, and our sex can become routine, limited, rote. We can convince ourselves that sexuality isn’t that big a part of our human experience, that it’s a bunch of hype. I know this too because of lived experience.
When I honor and listen to the voice of the life force residing in my body, I hear a different message. I hear the word “Hope.” Heeding the call of this voice, quiet as it initially was, has saved my life again and again. So many times I have tried to settle. Tried to resist change, resist the hard work of intimacy, resist the call of my true animal nature.
This week, as many of my kind are setting resolutions for this next trip around the sun, I am instead honoring the life force that insists I pay attention to my sexuality, my creativity. I am honoring the fire within that quietly but firmly resists falling to sleep and missing my life. I am honoring the continued learning and evolution of my sexuality and my pleasure. I am honoring my commitment to showing up for the exquisite theatre of the body. And I am honoring the insistent voice of Hope, telling me that there is more to feel.
I moved to California in 2004, from a homestead in the backwoods of the North Carolina mountains where I literally baked my own bread each week. I could never have imagined all the ways San Francisco would infiltrate my skin, my soul, and my sex. It ended my marriage, and brought me into my true partnership. It turned me queerer than I’d ever dared to express before. It radicalized my life. San Francisco has been, and continues to be, my totally hot transformative lover, like no other.
Today I’ve been pondering what it is that my child self wants. Making room for the desires of that girl, and trying to give her space for play and trust. This afternoon, she has called out for dress up. Boots, in particular.
And although it feels incredibly vulnerable to share, here’s a little post-holiday gift for you. I wrote this poem in 2005 about the pair of Fluevogs I bought that eventually changed my life. When I wrote the poem, I didn’t know all that would happen, but you’ll notice that somewhere I had a strong inkling, or at least some forshadowing.
As it turns out, I’ve ridden those boots home to a sexuality that continuously expands and furthers my expression of my deep, animal nature.
Back in 2005, my then-partner told me I looked like a prostitute (he didn’t mean in a good way) the very first time I wore the boots. I was heartbroken. But something raw and powerful inside insisted I wear them anyway. Ultimately, that moment informed my decision to leave my marriage and reclaim myself. I felt a distinctive “fuck you” to those threatened by my sexuality. I continue to feel that way.
In the post-capitalist-frenzy of the holidays, may my humble offering remind you that we can always travel home again, and sometimes the ticket is even for sale.
Buying the Boots on Haight Street, 2005
These boots are San Francisco.
As the striding, heel-crushing totems work their black magic,
supple black leather, long lines, heels curving up like city streets,
I tell my companion I am not ready to ride these.
As the striding, heel-crushing totems work their black magic,
my fingers trace these routes.
I tell my companion I am not ready to ride these
She says I will not wear these boots until I wear these boots.
My fingers trace these routes
like streetcars of desire.
She says I will not wear these boots until I wear these boots,
and there is longing, coveting, desiring.
Like streetcars of desire
carrying a bad-ass passenger,
There is longing, coveting, desiring
to be the woman who owns these boots.
Carrying a bad-ass passenger
Up, up, up, up
Oh, to be the woman who owns these boots,
pouring my legs into the casings, making me taller, badder, readier.
Up, up, up, up,
supple black leather, long lines, heels curving up like city streets,
and pouring my legs into the casings, I am taller, badder, readier.
These boots are San Francisco.
“Geography of Pleasure: Embodiment for Trans Guys.”
February 21-23, 2014 in San Francisco
This is a three day workshop for those of trans-masculine experience who are curious about exploring their bodies. Did your trans body come with a user guide to optimize your pleasure? Together, we write our own.
In this highly interactive workshop, conducted by trans-masculine facilitators, you get to deepen your understanding of the unique and diverse capacity trans male bodies have for pleasure.
Art, Anatomy, Touch, Ritual and Conscious Play are the ingredients. This workshop focuses on the entire body and is held in a container that is playful, safe and reverential. All of the myriad decisions trans masculine people make about their bodies in regards to surgery and hormones are honored.
Who is this workshop for?
This workshop is for those who self-identify as having a trans masculine experience. This includes FTM, trans guys, bois, transmen and other trans masculine identities. .
Is this a sexual space?
It both is and is not a sexual space. Meaning, this will be a boundaried, facilitated space for the exploration of an individual’s own body. In that way, we will be engaging with our sexual and sensual selves, as we seek to understand our anatomy and our pleasure more deeply.
In support of that deepening, touch will be involved, to each participant’s own level of comfort. Everyone will always be in choice about to what degree and in what ways they participate and engage. As a somatic learning community, we will assist each other in many ways in these explorations. Choice and consent are paramount in regards to any touch that happens in the workshop.
This will not be a sexual hook-up space, and the focus will never be on the sexual experience between participants. This will not happen within the container of the workshop.
This is radical, edgy work for a group of people that have most likely not experienced respectful learning spaces that are designed to serve our specific needs as trans guys. We welcome lots of questions and discussion, especially from folks may have who feel drawn to attend but are concerned about what will happen at the workshop.
The facilitation crew includes Captain Snowdon, Pavini Moray, Ari Zadel and Dallas Maynor.
To our knowledge, a workshop like this has never been done. We aim to create something that can be shared with trans guys around the world. Help us get the word about this necessary work OUT!
Please forward this to any person of transmasculine experience you know, even if they are not in San Francisco, and ask them to do the same.
Feel free to contact email@example.com with any questions.
No one is going to do it for us. BUT…..
Together, we can create the kind of embodied sex education we want and need!
Pavini: I need to say something, and I want to ask that you just hold it and not react. It’s about me, and not about you, or you doing or not doing anything.
Pavini’s partner: uhhhh…okay.
Pavini: I am feeling controlling about the website.
Pavini’s partner: Oh, no big deal. You can do the website.
Pavini: That is exactly what I did NOT want you to say!!
In the above interaction, I felt angry and triggered after my partner responded that I could do the website. I did not WANT to do the website, and merely naming my feelings was super vulnerable. I tried to take care of myself, by front-loading the situation and trying to ask for what I needed. It didn’t work, and in fact I got the opposite of what I had wanted. Clearly, a communication fail.
Talking about the situation later, my partner told me that when I asked him to hold what I was about to say without reacting, he felt a great deal of nervousness and anticipation. When I actually said the thing, he felt relief. He then wanted me to feel better, and he assumed that I would since he was feeling relieved that I hadn’t told him something heinous over oatmeal.
Unfortunately, in conveying his relief, I experienced his communication as minimization of my own feeling.
What would have been helpful in this situation would be for him to have said something like “Do you want to say more?” or “Is there something you need around that?” You know, therapist speak.
There are times when we just need to say something and have it witnessed and held well. Sometimes, that is all we need. No one needs to respond, judge, fix, or filter it through their own experience. Empathic listening is the technique when a listener stays present and attuned, without doing anything else.
In working with couples and in my own couples therapy, I have often noticed that while someone may be fluent in communicating their own feelings, it can be super challenging to just LISTEN to the feelings of their partner. There is a conflation of listening with agreement. Meaning, if I listen deeply to what my partner is saying, that means I agree with it.
However, I’ve learned that it is possible to listen to what a partner is saying, and try to hear and understand, without agreeing at all. In order to be able to truly hear, we can disagreement to the side, and promise to come back for it in a little bit. When I listen from a place that is beyond agreement or disagreement, my communications often go much more smoothly.
Here are some different types of listening I’ve been researching:
Active: Listening in a way that demonstrates interest and encourages continued speaking.
Appreciative: Listening to something for pleasure, like spoken word poetry
Attentive: Fully engaged with what the speaker is saying, demonstrating attentive body language and inserting appropriate social markers of listening.
Biased: Listening through the filter of personal bias or belief. This short clip gives more info
Casual: Listening without obviously showing attention. Actual attention may vary a lot.
Comprehension: Listening to understand meaning
Critical/judgmental/evaluative: Listening in order to evaluate, criticize or otherwise pass judgment on what someone else says. This can include listening to rebut listening with the intention of finding fault, to rebut, or to compare with ourselves.
Empathic: Listening from the heart, listening for feelings. Maintaining awareness of one’s own self, while opening to the feeling state of the speaker.
Reflective: Listening in order to understand, and then saying back to someone what you have heard them say, while clarifying for your own understanding.
Sympathetic: Listening with concern for the well-being of the speaker. Often paired with the communicationchoice to express one feelings or offer advice.
Therapeutic: Listening with empathy to help the speaker to understand their own feelings and thoughts.
My partner and I resolved our conflict. The next time I need to speak something aloud and only have it witnessed, I will make the choice as the speaker to ask him to listen with empathy. That gives him clear information in making his choice as a listener.
As listeners, we have lots of choices. We can choose what type of listening we are doing. We can choose how our body language reflects what we are doing. We can be thinking about what we will say next, and zoning out to the speaker. We can be thinking about how what the speaker is saying relates to us or our experience. We can be thinking about how to fix or solve or advise the speaker. Or we can choose to simply be present and engaged, setting down as many of our filters as we can.
As a sex coach, I sell my time, energy, attention and knowledge to assist clients to realize and express their full sexuality. This is service work, and I feel myself in deep service to my people. And there is something inside of me that resists the conflation of money and sex.
What started as a simple question of “What does success mean to me?” has spiraled into an intense reckoning with my personal integrity about being someone who markets sexuality.
It’s the commodification of Eros that disturbs me.
Do I want to have a big fat bank account? You bet. Do I want to put a price tag on your orgasms so that I can have that? Not a chance. Selling sexual empowerment for big bucks sit wrong with me. I have no doubt that people can really benefit from participating in such programs, so then why do they make me feel gross?
When I sink in, I realize I feel ever so protective of our Eros. Of that magick, fluid energy we humans feel inside of us, that lights us on fire. That mysterious force that can enlighten our whole lives.
Recently, I watched an fMRI of a woman’s brain as she orgasmed. At the moment of orgasm, her entire brain was alight with oxygen. Her. Entire. Brain. Imagine what would happen if we were consistently using our entire brains? It’s not too far of a mental leap to think (okay maybe it is, but it’s fun to consider) that having more orgasms as a species quickens our evolution. Eros, friends, is a biological force that deserves homage, and not commodification.
The sexual empowerment model for sale subtly reinforces that sexual power is “out there.” You must claim it, as if you do not inherently possess it. It’s kinda like “getting religion.” (Commodification of spirituality also raises ethical questions for me.) If sexual empowerment is not within you already, you are fucked, but not in a good way. And if you’re not sexually empowered, you are what? Sexually disempowered?
In contrast, let us reframe with a “remembering” model. You know, the one where we remember who we truly are. Instead of focusing on sexual empowerment and erotic mastery, I choose to recall my sensual nature, the one I was born with. The pleasure-seeking self that was entranced by the play of light on water, or wind through leaves. We can choose call into being our sexual wholeness, to invite home our erotic personage. And I don’t think it’s bullshit to have a companion on that path of remembering, paid or otherwise.
It’s also not bullshit to desire a degree of mastery in the realm of sexuality, and to seek teaching from those slightly ahead on the path. Teachers have invested lots of time, money and energy into the wisdom they possess, and paying for solid teaching feels just fine.
There are two deceptively simple free resources are the actual building blocks of evolving personal sexuality. The necessary ingredients for erotic success are dedicating enough time to exploration and practice, and building the capacity to hold your attention where you place it in the body.
Slightly more difficult to come by but readily available are an attitude of curious exploration, and a beginner’s mind. The price of both is the unknown. No, I mean for reals. Like, stepping into the not knowing, and giving up the security and comfort of all that you ‘know’ about yourself as a sexual being. In the not knowing, you become available for all manner of unexpected surprises. Scary as hell.
I don’t have any answers yet to my philosophical quandaries. I’m not sure how to reconcile my desire for financial success, my desire to serve my people and their sexuality, and my desire for Eros to be protected from further commodification. But my commitment to transparency includes delving into the questions that making me uncomfortable, and offering the process as a gift. I’ll update you once I know more.
But for now, a little magickal spell casting.Here’s my anarchist, synergistic view of how I want things to work, that’s actually backed by evolutionary history. Species that cooperate, survive.
So, I do my part, you do yours. Interdependence is real and necessary. We all need each other to help us live to our fullest potential. Working together, we accomplish more than working against one another. By allowing myself to be vulnerable by needing you, I am strong.
My part is that I think and write about sex and relationships. I compile resources, and distill the wisdom of many sources, and give it to you in a cogent form, for your benefit. Your part is to do the work of your soul and your heart, and share the gems with me. We don’t all have to do all the things.
So Mote It Be.
Trusting again can be staggeringly difficult, but trust is necessary for a meaningful, happy life.
Join us tomorrow for a special Intimacy Technology class “Trusting Again and Risking Love.”
Monday, November 25 at 7 p.m.
Click here for Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the door
(If you do too, this post is for you… read to the bottom for a free resource for your trust journey.)
The themes of trust and betrayal has come up in all of my relationships. Apparently, my core belief is that sooner or later, betrayal will happen. (“Hi, I’ll take the bloody, pain-filled éclair please.”)
In my world, betrayal is defined as, “You knew that I (fill in the blank) and you still (took the action that made me feel betrayed.) For example: “You knew I wanted to see that movie, and you went without me.” Or, “Even though I said it was fine, you know my history with Paul, and you know how I feel about him, and you went out with him anyway.”
I find that I am constantly vigilant in all of my intimate relationships, almost suspicious, because I ‘know’ I will be betrayed, and I’m just watching and waiting for it to happen.
As you can imagine, this puts my intimates into difficult and uncomfortable situations.
It’s taken a long time to realize how often I am viewing the world through the betrayal glasses, which color everything with mistrust. When I stop to examine it, I realize that real intimacy is impossible without trust. Problematic, oh teacher of intimacy.
So, assuming that I want deep intimate connections, it seems like relearning trust is the thing. How in the world do I do that? I was supposed to have learned it when I was a baby; is it even possible to do it now?
Yes. And it’s work.
What is trust? Trust is not a feeling. It is a belief about the other, based on our own observations or what we have been told.
Trust is a belief that someone will act in ways that support us, that are in alignment with what they say, and that we can depend on consistent care and honesty from that individual. We can be vulnerable and be our real selves. Ultimately, it is a belief that someone is worthy of our trust.
Truth: Some people are trustworthy, others are not.
And of course, there are varying degrees of trust we can bestow. I have a dear friend that I lived through some very harrowing situations with, including being held at gunpoint in Eastern Europe. I trust her with my life. I do not trust her to return my library books.
In grown-up relationships, we must be both trusting and mistrusting. We track the behavior of others, and use the information to discern the level of trust we give to someone. As evidence mounts that someone is indeed trustworthy, trust becomes a quality of a relationship. It’s important to note that if I am unilaterally mistrusting of everyone, the problem may be within me. And it may have been within for a long time. Like, most of my life.
In his Theory of Human Development, Erik Erikson theorized that how the infant’s basic needs are met by caregivers determine whether the child will essentially trust or mistrust the world.
The therapist, Buddhist and author David Richo goes further and explicates roadblocks to trust in his book “Daring to Trust.”
He said that our trust capacity is diminished when early caregivers:
- Failed to show us love through the modalities of: attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, allowing.
- Were not attuned to and allowing of our feelings
- Neglected us physically or emotionally
- Abused us physically, emotionally or sexually
- Had expectations of us that were too low or too high
- Were continually arguing with or abusing others in our presence
- Used us as a go-between
- Had active addictions.
When I read first read these thoughts, I felt relief. I’ve felt so damaged by this whole trust difficulty. Like, everyone else got picked for Team Trust, and I’m over here, nursing my trust wounds. Somehow, having reasons for my trust challenges is comforting.
And I see that if mistrust and betrayal were things I learned, I can learn to trust again.
The journey thus far of relearning trust has been significant. First, I’ve had to see the ways my lack of trust has impacted relationships, past and present.
Here are a few things I’ve learned through the process
- We can increase our capacity to trust by taking calculated trust risks, and having them be successful.
- We can also place our attention our resilience to recover trust after betrayal.
- Our trust in ourselves grows, as we trust again, and are rewarded by having our discernment about trustworthiness validated by the behavior of others.
- Interestingly, our capacity to trust also increases when we commit ourselves to being trustworthy.
For example, I often find myself reflecting on my own behavior as a child to guide my parenting. (Aside: I don’t understand how adults conveniently ‘forget’ all the rebellious choices and exploration they experienced as teenagers. Luckily, I have journals from this period of my life that remind me exactly of my behavior and choices.)
There were many times as a child, that the need for freedom outweighed the need for being in integrity. I often acted in duplicitous ways, in order to achieve my goals of fun, friends and freedom. I was not trustworthy. This eroded my sense of trust in myself.
Now, as a parent, I can choose to be trustworthy. I can choose to be honest and integrous with my kids when approaching conversations about topics like sex, alcohol, drugs, and all those other challenging and exciting teenage decisions.
We can all choose to be impeccably trustworthy.
This means getting super clear with our boundaries. It means saying “yes” or “no” completely, and not changing our mind later, or if we do, having a conversation about it. It means owning what is ours, and moving away from blaming. It means doing what we say. It means holding our intimates well, and holding ourselves well.
Ironically, as we choose to be trustworthy, it actually increases our own capacity for trust. Since we are acting in trustworthy ways, we begin to believe that others are, too.
Okay, so at this point in my trust story:
- I’m able to realize how I see the world through my betrayal lens, and question my core belief.
- I’m able to practice putting new core beliefs next to the problematic one, such as “Many people can be trusted, most of the time.”
- I’m acting in trustworthy ways, and that is increasing my capacity to trust others.
- I’m taking calculated and small trust risks, and they are successful.
- I’ve learned to track people’s words and behavior, so I have good data on which to base trust decisions.
- When I feel betrayed, I notice my resilience to trusting again.
- I base the giving of my trust on past experiences with individuals.
Last night I dreamed that my partner betrayed me, and then confessed to me. I felt the feeling of betrayal; it is so painful and devastating. It feels like nothing will ever be right, ever again. When I woke, to his sleeping form, I knew it was just a dream reminder of the work I am doing. I am learning to trust him. I am learning to trust myself.
I see that I still have work to do: settling into the body sense of trusting my beloved to hold me well, to communicate, and to stay present.
If you would like to examine your own fluency with trust, here’s a worksheet I developed for one of the Intimacy Technology classes. Taking a trust history will give you qualitative data on your own life. Reflection on the journey is where the real learning happens.
I teach trust skills in the Intimacy Technology series. The next class is called “Trusting Again and Risking Love.” Monday, November 25 at 7 p.m. in San Francisco. We’ll be exploring how to trust again after serious relationship betrayal, and practicing new trust skills with a supportive and playful group. I trust you will join us if you need to!
Is desire at the root of everything human?
(We all come from desire.)
I wake up today (everyday,) and not a full minute goes by before I’m thinking about what I want. Coffee, return that phone call, text my crush…. and the list goes on. Every moment of every day, thinking and feeling into what I want. Sometimes getting what I want, sometimes not. Sometimes able to ask for it, sometimes, the desire smoldering inside. Doing all of these human dances, with desire as my constant partner.
It’s got me thinking, this desire thing.
What is it? It seems like every big religion’s got the word on Desire. Recognize this one? “And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and it was desirous for the eyes, and the tree was lovely to behold.”
Buddha teaches that attachment to desire is the root of suffering: The second noble truth the origin of suffering: Within the context of the four noble truths, suffering (dukha) is commonly explained as craving.
- Craving for sensory pleasure
- Craving for Union (togetherness)
- Craving to not feel painful feelings (not aloneness)
Shakta Tantra (the Hindu variety which I practice) resolves the fundamental dilemma presented by being human and having desires and those desires causing suffering by directing human desires towards liberation rather than repressing them. This philosophy argues that trying to deny certain desires only empowers them further. Rather than repress potentially harmful impulses, Tantra tries to harness them in service of setting ourselves free.
Of course, Christianity gives a narrow container for the expression of limited desires, and seeks to control through fear and punishment all desires that fall outside that purview.
Pagans seem to welcome desire and pleasure, and don’t fret too much (maybe not enough) about the impact on our spiritual development.
In my admittedly very limited knowledge of Islam, it seeks to provide a code for the expression of human desires, seeking balance between wanting and fulfillment of wanting.
Judaism prescribes a law-filled code for the fulfillment of desire as well, that at least includes pleasure.
None of these ways of engaging desire really work for me. They seem like how it could be, or should be, or an idea…. but not personal enough. My own experience of desire is so complex. It is often glorious, often painful. My desire ignores codes, rejects shoulds, and is often the antithesis of what is culturally conditioned. I wonder if this is not the experience of most of us?
Every person I have ever worked with or discussed sexuality with has expressed their desire in completely unique, and specific-unto-them terms. The only common thread is the liminal, and ever-changing nature of desire, and its insatiable quality.
I want permission for my desire. This process you are reading is about me giving myself permission, and hopefully giving you permission. Imagine, all of us, simply wanting what we want.
I desire things that I am not supposed to desire. I desire much that my socialization tells me are taboo, wrong, disempowered, disgusting, shameful, abhorrent, too far from common decency, too powerful, too violent. I notice my desire like hunger.
Last week, I noticed the gnawing in my belly. I tried to fill it with too much Halloween candy. I tried to fill it with socializing, with sex. I tried to fill it, and then I stopped.
Just noticing the hunger, noticing the emptiness, is so hard. It is so terribly hard to just sit with it. My mind clamors: Try a beer. Try some cuddling. Try a bath. Soothe it, dissipate it, quiet it. Somehow lessen the ravenous void of its immense gaping maw.
Wanting is terrifying. It is the rawest, most bloody form of nakedness that I know. Wanting without a tether, without something at the end of the desire, is what lies at the root of the hungers we try to feed through addictions.
This is what I want, right now.
I want her. I want her precious, big-eyed vulnerability. I want her tenderest tears and fragility. Her badass intellect. Her heartbreak. Her need. I want to make her come and cry, and then wipe her tears with my hair. I want her to want to give her orgasm to me. I want to cut her heart wide open, and take it from her chest, licking the dripping blood off of it (this is a metaphor.) Or maybe I just want her to text me.
I want him. I want his fierce submission. I want his most vroom vroom passionate passion to have room to express. I want him to have the flexibility to turn his crazy erotic energy up and turn it down, at will. I want to see him naked, dancing, feeling completely free within his bondage. I want the intensity of his James Dean eyes turned on me, his unfettered desire throbbing and thrumming as he awaits my instructions for the afternoon. I want him to serve me lunch.
I want to build a container (a world) in which you never again question if you are wanted or desirable.
I want to be able to name my desires freely. (Ironically, while writing this a dear one emails me. In that moment, I find I want him, too, and write and say so. Naming my desire is terrifying.)
I want reassurance that my desires are not too big, too disturbed, too insatiable.
I want to feel poignant, intense feeling. I want to not be separate, insecure, alone. I want erotic community. I want magick and synchronicity. I want clean underwear.
I. want. to. be. taken. care. of.
There are other desires, things named and unnamed, that I will probably never do or have. I name them (and ask you to know that there are others I am not naming here) because I don’t want to offer you a diluted version of the truth of my desire. I don’t want to give you lukewarm permission to be fully, completely in your base human desire. So here is what I also want: I want to sell my body, to make them pay for it. I want to tear and bite with my teeth, rip with my blade. I want to hurt. I want to humiliate and I want to worship. I want to lay my body down and open, prostrate myself in front of the Divine, and offer the service of my meager life.
And it never, ever completely goes away, no matter how close, how intimate, how much power exchange, how much energy, how many orgasms. The wanting remains.
I feel so humbled by the power of my desire. I have spent years trying to quiet it. Trying to feed it. I have this big, fat body to show for it, all my wanting. While there are certain standbys for bringing comfort and offering temporary satiation, I find that even they are growing old and cold and less effective, as I get closer to being able to express the heart of my desire.
What I am learning about desire, as I give myself full permission to want what I want, is that it almost never is what I expect it to be. It is continually surprising and an elegant mysterious process of uncovering what I want in each moment.
Internally, my experience of my desire is sweetly familiar and freshly distinctive and exceptional. I notice I can’t breathe deeply. The best I can do in that moment is to say, “Sitting here, next to you on this couch, touching your hair, I am feeling desire.”
Of course, the next logical question is “What is your desire?” and it is here the breakdown and the loss and the grief occur.
I can only express around the edges of my desire. It is not because I am shy, or inarticulate, or unable to tell you because of shame or repression. It is because when I try to put my desire into words, there is something essential I cannot capture. Using words, I cannot put my yearning into pure form. There is something lost in translation. And no matter how close I get to expressing what I truly want, when you give it to me, there is always another translation gap which I also grieve.
So many different, intricate dances with desire. What I’ve never done is just stay open to it. What is on the other side of this yearning? What is it to not know the answer? What is it to wait, hungrily waiting? What is it to acknowledge that the want in me is the want of the very universe, exploding itself into being? What is it to allow feeling that power, to feel the hunger that will never, no matter what, stop? And even as I contemplate, and practice, just sitting with the wanting, there is that within me that wants to want.
You ask me what I want.
But my dear, although I can never tell you, of course I want you. And I want you to want to be wanted by me. I can’t tell you in words. But my eyes, my eyes can tell you. My eyes can tell you, without losing the pure raw brutal power of my lusting want, my aching need, my unadulterated desire. I want you. Just look in my eyes.
Tell me what you Desire.
A month ago, I was interview by Sexologist Anya de Montigny on her radio show “The O Word.” I talk about genderqueer awesomesauce, trans and fat sexuality. It’s kinda long, but if you’d like to listen, here’s Pavini Moray, on the “O” Word.
Last week, a client said to me “Well, I know you have always been free sexually, but I’m not like you, I’m stuck.” I smiled/cried because nothing could be further from the truth. I was sexually blocked for years. Right now, I’ve got an erotic energy block the size of a small city at my diaphragm that I’m working on. And, even being able to identify that stuckness is a profound indicator of how far I’ve come. (We are called home to Wholeness)
No, this sexual liberation that I’m always nattering on about is hard won, every single day.
Each day I traverse the challenging road back to the body, back to my breath, back to pleasure, back to trust and vulnerability and intimacy. Just as a path quickly becomes overgrown without traffic, this liberatory road of the body must consistently be tread and reinforced. I must continually reinforce the neural wiring I am consciously choosing for my sexual liberation.
It’s important to name that being sexually stuck is where my journey began. Stuck in a sexless marriage, stuck with a limited potential for pleasure, stuck. I was settling for a mediocre sexuality that I knew was problematic. I didn’t know how to get out of it. I had no support resources.
Around me, I saw those who were going further and deeper into their sexual potential. I felt tremendous guilt that my sexuality was so limited. Deep shame that I seemingly had no libido. When my then-partner would try to touch me, I felt fear and confusion at my arousal process, and no ability to talk about it or seek support.
In that ho-hum Eoyore way, I was accepting that this was as good as it was going to be for me in this lifetime. (We are called home to Wholeness.)
In therapy for food addiction, one day my therapist gently pointed out that as I was healing my relationship with food, I must also heal my relationship with my body. An important next step was to enter more consciously into my sexuality. When a client comes to me and expresses how stuck they feel, or how blocked their erotic expression is, I completely get it, on a body level. I KNOW intimately the aversion, the fear, the shut-down. And, I also know the desire and innate craving for erotic expression that led me out of that painful morass. Ultimately, it has led me to playfulness and joy in my sexual exploration.
We are called home to Wholeness. In each new relationship, we are giving ourselves opportunity anew to heal our wounds, both from our past and from our lineage. I was recently in a group and there was a man there in his mid-seventies who had just come out as gay. He had spent his entire life taking the “easier path” (his words) only to find that hiding one’s erotic identity is ultimately a denial of one’s very life. I am grateful to have learned this truth at an earlier age. But whenever we do decide that the pain of claiming who we truly are as erotic beings is LESS than the agony of trying to be someone we will never be, coming out allows us huge, instantaneous advances in our own liberatory process.
This morning, I was reading Susie Bright’s lovely little book called Full Exposure: Opening Up to your Sexual Creativity and Erotic Expression.
“Not many people are actually looking sexual liberation, at least not until they get to the end of a very weary road of dissatisfaction. That usually takes a decade or two. Liberation, per se, is not the sort of thing people count as tops on their to-do list.”
In my perfect world, we all feel and acknowledge the pull of liberation as an imperative of being human. I KNOW we feel it. I KNOW we deny it. And I know we get ourselves stuck, with the very purpose of later being able to set ourselves free.
One of the agreements made in order to attend Black Velvet, the erotic experiment in the dark that I hosted last week, was an agreement to reflect in writing on the experience. We asked participants several prompting questions, including “What were the rules you found, that you made for yourself?” Many people noted internally constructing rules that were not implicit in the structure of the event, or that didn’t necessarily benefit their erotic experience or freedom. Here is qualitative data about how we construct our own erotic limitations, our own sexual prison cells, often without realizing it.
One of my dear friends, a teacher of erotic education and sexual liberation, has said to me upon several occasions, “I don’t feel sexually liberated, most of the time.” Ironically, it was my observations of the erotic life of this person that led me to decide I was worthy of sexual liberation, and that I could have it in this lifetime. That person helped me to realize that the rules I had about arousal, desire, and lust were not mine: they were internalized cultural constructs, or internally created prohibitive rules, that were not expressive of my true erotic nature.
Sexual liberation is a process, not a goal. For the rest of my life, I will be freeing myself from all of the rules that I have swallowed, either those that culturally constructed or those that are self-imposed. For the rest of my days, I will be calling myself home to erotic wholeness.
How do we start that sexual liberation process? How do we free ourselves of the limiting beliefs, constructed and internalized rules and codes about eroticism, sensuality and sexuality? How do we take those first, scary steps into our own erotic authenticity? How do we call ourselves home to erotic wholeness?
One of my favorite sayings by teacher Liu Ming: “Resist as much as you possibly can. Only do that which you truly cannot resist.” Ironically, resisting the process is a crucial first step. (Read my blog post about Resistance) While we can live in denial for a long while, at some point, our own heart becomes our compass. The pull of the truth that resides in our hearts and our genitals may be a quiet truth, but it ultimately is undeniable.
There is no wrong way to step onto the sexual liberation path you are already on.
One of the most important things I learned as a Montessori teacher was that I never know more than my student about what they need. I don’t know when a student is ready to learn something, or if they even need to learn that thing. All I can do is watch carefully, and be present to offer support when readiness appears. It’s a philosophy I carry into this work. I stand in honor of your process, without judgement or agenda.
Whether you choose to put sexual liberation at the top of your list (as I have done, and you could too; it’s fun!) or whether you choose to ignore sexuality altogether, press your legs tightly together, and think of England, there is a biological programming inherent in your cells that compels you to move in exactly the right motions and rhythm for you. There is something inside that knows exactly what you need for erotic wholeness.
Here’s a final thought for today: you are already experiencing sexual liberation. Susie Bright again: “When you do finally get laid, and then it happens again and again and again, the confidence you acquire leads you to some new questions about the value of sex, about a lover’s companionship in your life, about your own sense of adventure and mystery in your erotic body.” Let us call ourselves home to Erotic Wholeness.
What is one thing you can do right now to honor your Erotic Self?
Have your commitment witnessed by writing it in the comments below.
In honor of the long road of my sexual life, I’m reflecting today on how it was to make that first decision about sexual engagement, and how it is as a sexual being 27 years later.
Last Friday night, my friends and I offered “Black Velvet.” This was an intentional experiment in what happens to our physical attractions, erotic engagement and sexual behavior when we enter a completely dark space. What happens if we have an hour and a half to do anything we want, as long as we obtain consent from our partners? In the numerous conversations and emails that have occurred in the days following, I have learned that setting down our sexual baggage both is and is not an easy thing to do.
When I first made the decision to become sexual, it was about a year after I had visited Planned Parenthood for the first time. At 14, my friend and I made appointments, without telling our parents, to have pelvic exams and to start on birth control pills. I remember being so terrified of pregnancy, and so terrified of my own sexuality, that going on the pill preemptively seemed like a wise, mature choice. Even in light of my current concerns about the effects of hormones on developing sexualities, I stand by that choice and have great respect for PP to this day. I remember taking my first peach colored pill, and realizing that I was taking my sexual power into my own hands.
Friday night, when I entered into the black velvet darkness, I had a similar sense. This was about my sexual power, my way. I had no fear about being in that space, as I trust my own boundaries, and even more, I trust in my ability to recover from breaches to my boundaries. No matter what could have happened, I felt secure in knowing that I could eventually handle it.
When I met Terry, first real intimate love of my life, we decided that we would have sex together, and share the loss of our virginity. We set a date, wrote a contract, talked about how it would be, and what we wanted. I don’t know where the consciousness came from, because certainly no one in either of our families had helped to guide us, but there it was. We both wanted a connected, playful, supportive and joyous experience. We both wanted a space free of gender obligations. We both wanted creativity and exploration. We both wanted something meaningful. And that is what we created for ourselves.
It strikes me that in crafting the Black Velvet space, how strongly these principles from my earliest sexual encounters continue to shape my values around sexuality. Conscious exploration and experimentation are the premises on which Black Velvet rested. Freedom from gender assumptions was a dearly-held desire. Play, connection, joy and support were all ingredients we stirred into that cauldron.
The experiment that was Black Velvet was so many things, to so many people.
I’ll only speak here from my own experience, although I’ve been collecting data from others. What I am able to say is a common thread I’ve heard in reflections: how difficult it was to leave assumptions at the door. Whether it was feeling excluded from a dyad already in progress, or concern about violating someone’s boundaries, or an unease about not knowing someone’s gender or queerness factor, our fears, assumptions, beliefs and stories make it very difficult for us to have a pure experience.
I think back to October 28, 1986, and to the purity of the encounter I had with Terry. Joy and connection. The utterly astonishing feel of someone’s naked chest against mine. The pain at the most gentle of penetration. The exhilaration of finally opening my body to someone I loved. The pride that I had done it in the way I wanted, with the person I wanted, and not drunk at some party. The sadness, knowing something was forever altered inside… not having grown into something yet that clearly had a vast and limitless potential. The not knowing how to operate the parts, the bits, and yet feeling at the same time the exact knowing of how it all worked. The vulnerability of showing my arousal, my desire, my pleasure. The rawness of naked skin, exposed genitals, and bared heart.
Contrasting these feelings to Black Velvet, I see the effects of 27 years of sexual exploration with myself and others. I know how to operate the bits. I know how to touch, and listen with my being. I now know a lot about pleasure, connection, and sex.
My encounters in the dark were both fulfilling and unsatiating. I loved being able to touch people, without knowing who they were, or what they wanted, and having to trust my own desire as a barometer, as well as trust that they would uphold any boundaries. Loved it, and found it completely challenging. Hearing fucking and slurping noises, moans and what sounded like orgasmic moments made me feel surprisingly tender, and not erotic. I loved being playfully grabbed and roughly pulled, and being slowly seduced into a full body encounter.
That evening, after Terry and I made love for the first time, I felt full of meaning. I felt like I had the most beautiful secret in the world. Feeling the rawness between my legs was like a prize… the deep ache inside made me feel grown up, in love, and powerful. It was less about my connection with Terry, and more about validating a deep unseen source of power, almost completely unexplored. It’s like when you venture into something just enough to realize the magnitude of what could potentially be possible.
Black Velvet was also like that. Having had it once, I want it more and more. I want to push more into that womb-like chamber, penetrate more deeply into the folds of its mysteries. I want to know my assumptions, my filters, my lenses. I want to know the way trauma informs my judgmental self. I burn to understand sex that is purely about physical connection. I am intrigued to comprehend how two people can be in an experience and have completely different realities.
Terry is still so dear to me to this day. Our sweet, queer explorations set a course of supportive experimentation which clearly I hold as a deep value. How completely beautiful it is to me that on some level, my 15-year-old self recognized what my 42-year-old self would want and need.
The most important revelation from the Black Velvet space is about time magick. The potent knowing that this self, right now, is setting the stage for what my sexual self will want and need, far into the future. Possibly 27 years in the future. I am so grateful for the journey, the road, the hurts and harms and healings. I am so grateful for the pleasure, the breathe, the community. Our sexual healing begins the moment we step into it, no matter how trepidatious or cautious we are. Thank you Terry. Thank you Black Velvet. And Thank you Pavini.
As the soundtrack ended, and the sounds around me in that black velvet space gentled and slowed, one of my fellow organizers spoke a benediction. They blessed our work, and our play. They reminded us that sexual exploration is our birthright. That while it may be up to us and us alone, it is indeed possible for us to create these spaces for ourselves to deepen our experience as erotic beings. And sometimes it requires stepping into our own darkness, our own black velvet, to reach deeply for healing, truth, and liberation.
One of our feedback questions from the experience was about erotic experiments, and what ideas participants have for events they would like to see happen. If you have an idea, please drop a comment below or email me. Happy Samhain!
Someone I deeply respect, and who has had an enormous impact on the art and craft of my teaching unsubscribed from my blog this week. It was after a particularly graphic post that I wrote, about practicing to be fucked in an alley.
While I understand on an intellectual level that the edge I walk in my work as a teacher of sexual liberation is not for everyone, inside my heart, I felt pain, and another surprising feeling: shame.
The voices of self-doubt rose strongly: am I doing anything that has meaning? Am I not going to be liked, respected, accepted, loved because I insist on pushing the boundaries of sexual freedom in such a public way? Should I tone it down, practice and explore privately? Am I too going too far, beyond that radical edge, to where my work loses relevancy? The level of doubt was staggering.
Maybe, I thought, I should step away from this work, and go back to working with kids with dyslexia. No one ever unsubscribed from that blog. (Okay, I didn’t really have a dyslexia blog, but in my oh-so-fun shame story, they wouldn’t have if I did have one!)
I am not sure if self-doubt and feeling unworthy are the same exactly, but they are pretty darned close. Who am I to do this? Why would anyone want to work with me? These are the unworthy voices.
There is something so scary in doubting what I’m doing. What if I’m lying to myself? What if I am delusional? I don’t want to be dependant on external validation by others, but in these moments, I find I am.
I know it’s not sexy. I know successful people often hide these kinds of thoughts behind a veneer of confidence. Which is exactly why I want to speak them. I get so tired when I try to hide insecurity, judgement, doubt. Actually, hiding them seems to empower them, make them stronger. I have found that if I just name these shadow feelings aloud, radical and scary as it is, they seem to dissipate.
So, dear readers, today’s post isn’t for your benefit, per se. It is for my own… to publicly own all of those unlovable parts. To claim transformational process as a state of being, replete with doubt and shame. To be honest about how it actually is today, inside this skin sack I’m wearing.
And I do want the kind of world where we can all be honest about the shadow places, the fear places, the small places, and find love and acceptance out there. I spoke with my partner, who is often wise in the ways of transformative process. What he said is that self-doubt is just part of the process. It’s to be expected, planned for even.
And so, wallowing within the void of self-doubt, I prayed. I asked Spirit for a sign. “Please, please show me and let me know that you want me to keep doing this., that I am meant to do this.”
I mean, I’ve trusted this process thus far. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, trusting deeply that I am being led in good ways through my life. I’ve made so many scary, risk-taking-you-could-really-regret-this-later kinds of decisions, and they have always worked out. I have trusted that a higher intelligence guides my work, and that there is a benevolence that is holding me as I move through my days. I have said, and continue to say, “Yes” to what is.
Well, I did get my sign, my coincidence, my synchronicity. Yesterday, I came across and read a beautiful blog post, one which made me cry. After reading, I was checking out more of the blog, an lo and behold, the author (someone I have never met) had written to me a couple of weeks ago, telling me how deeply they appreciate my work, how they are coming to San Francisco soon, how they would like to meet me. In that moment of connectedness, I felt my heart open. While I continue to feel fear and sadness and the loss of the kind of passability that comes with being an educational therapist and not with being a sex coach, I know I am going to keep bringing it. In spite of self-doubt, I continue on, as evidenced by the writing of this blog post.
Because I think that this TRULY what successful people do. They keep bringing it, and bringing it, in spite of objection, persecution, obstacles, self-doubt, and loss. They keep bringing it because they have to, because it gives their life deep fucking meaning, and they really believe in their work that much. They truly cannot do anything else. They keep fucking bringing it, until they fucking die. I am of that ilk. So, though I know the cost of admission is painful, and that the road will be fraught with self-doubt, I am going to fucking bring it, until I fucking die. I can’t really do anything else.
Question: What happens erotically, between a group of people in a completely dark, anonymous, anything-goes-but-consent-is-required space?
Hypothesis: Participants will explore their own erotic desires, curiosities, hang ups, and boundaries, and will move beyond who they know themselves to be as erotic beings.
Before HIV, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, gay male bars often had something called a “darkroom” or “blackroom.” This was a space, in the back of the establishment, that was unlighted and could be used for anonymous sex. You know, stop in for happy hour on a Friday, order a Bud, go in the back and get a blow job, come back and finish your beer. Does that sound good to you? I have always wondered why gay males get a different kind of sexuality than everyone else. Why do they get glory holes, bathhouses, anonymous sex? That’s always felt unfair, and I’ve decided to do something to change that. It involves my living room.
Today, as I’m writing, I keep glancing in there, wickedly imagining. Come Friday evening, it will be magically transformed into an erotic pleasure laboratory. Four sexual “scientists,” together with an invited group of people, will participate in an experiment called “Black Velvet.”
Consider this imaginary scenario, culled from the invitation:
In this Black Velvet space, although there is no light, you will begin to notice the presence of other bodies. Slowly, as you crawl through the space, you bump gently into a soft, warm presence. You reach out a hand to touch, and jump slightly as your own erotic energy becomes merged with that of another. You don’t know who. You don’t know what that person looks like, their name, where they work, or what bits they have. All you know is whether you enjoy the energy between you or not.
If you do, and if they do, you stay and explore being in bodies in the dark together. If one of you doesn’t enjoy the shared energy, you move away, move their hand away, or whisper “busy.” There is no shame. There is no expectation or obligation. There is no commitment, other than to the truth of the moment.
Consent is always necessary… and it is given by your potential partner choosing to engage with you. Your boundaries are not negotiable, and indeed the entire group is responsible for creating safer, supported space that welcomes all bodies, genders, sexual identities, and desires. This group holds as its most profound value that the decision not to engage with someone is a decision to trust our deepest knowing, and is therefore a gift to everyone.
What will happen in this Black Velvet Space? That’s completely up to you. You may leave after being deliciously fucked by a hot stranger. Or, you may explore what it is to be in a space like this and hold your boundaries and not engage at all. Or a thousand other outcomes. The only requirements for how you explore a space like this is your desire to know yourself better as an erotic being.
Are you still breathing? Does this sound intimidating as hell to you? I know it does to me. I am really pretty scared about Friday night. My intention is to open my body in new ways, and I don’t really know what that means or how it will manifest. What if I go too far beyond my boundary? What if I fuck someone I don’t want to fuck, but they smell and feel so right? My control issues/needs make it really, really hard to imagine being in a space like Black Velvet, and just surrendering.
However, I am on fire with conducting erotic experiments. I am deeply committed to using my body as a pleasure laboratory. I am ‘all in,’ for maybe the first time in my life, in my ongoing explorations of body, sex, spirit and intimacy.
I’m really quite tired of my erotic limits. I’m tired of only seeking the kind of sex that connects, builds intimacy, and endures the test of time. I’m tired of sensation and pleasure being limited by my own narrow capacity. I’m ready to push past the boundaries I think I hold, and find what lies beyond them.
How do I know what I am erotically capable of, unless I conduct experiments? How do I know what I might like unless I try it out? What else is possible for my genitals to feel? For my hands to learn? What else can I do with my erotic energy? How can I use the power of my orgasm to make electricity that lights my house? What happens if I turn my bits inside out and stimulate them? To what edge of beyond trust can I push myself, while still staying connected and compassionate with my heart?
Oh there’s that trust word again. I will say it is pretty intense, to be on this erotic journey in such a public way. It’s crazy hard sometimes, to claim radical sexuality and pleasure in this queer, fat body. I am deeply trusting my own process as alchemical. I hope it stands for something that is meaningful to you. Learning to trust diving into the void of not knowing, and learning to trust that I will emerge, intact feels like my great work.
So what will be the conclusions of the Black Velvet erotic experiment? Will participants explore their desires, curiosities, hang-ups and boundaries? Will we emerge from the darkness, with deeper and fuller knowledge of our erotic capacities? And will we be able to make it stick, make it count, make pushing our erotic edges translate into more space in our whole lives? Or will it just be a cool, I-live-in-the-Bay-Area-and-we-do-weird-sex-shit-like-this-cuz-we-are-so-hip kinda deal?
I do not know. Participants have agreed to send me their reflections within 48 hours of the event, so there’s my data collection. I will write to you next Monday (are you noticing that posts come out every Monday? You could *subscribe* if you never want to miss one again!) Next Monday, I will describe the event and my experiences, should you be so interested. (I’m also teaching an Intimacy Technology class next Monday on trust: please consider attending.)
If you like this post, it would make me deliriously happy if you would consider conducting your own erotic experiment in the next week or so. Post a comment below telling me what will be, or drop me an email and tell me what happened. I know I’m not the only erotic revolutionary here!
What might happen on our planet if we build
a critical mass of erotic consciousness?
“Can you take it?” Togan asked, his hands wrapped around my throat, as he stands above me, gazing down at my face.
It was hard to answer: my pussy was being seriously banged by Dramal. “That’s all you got?” I barely whisper, and watch as his face contorts with anger and pleasure, simultaneously.
Yesterday, I practiced being fucked in a filthy San Francisco alley.
I don’t typically have casual sex. My trust issues prohibit it. The sex I have is connected, meaningful, intimate. I am incredibly selective about my partners, and tend to have sexual relations that span decades instead of minutes. My relationships tend to depend deeply this kind of strong trust. Trust allows me to surrender, to open my body and my heart. This is how sex feels good to me.
And yet. There is a part of me that yearns to explore uninhibited, no-strings-attached sex. The kind of sex where you have to pick the gravel out of your knees for days after. The kind of sex that leaves the stench of garbage and piss all over your boots. The kind of sex that burns hot, extreme, and strikes like lightning. Ironically, the kind of sex that is beyond trust.
Erik Erikson was a psychologist known for his theory on psychosocial development of human beings. If you’ve ever said “I’m having an identity crisis” you can thank him for that phrase. He theorized that there were 8 stages of psychological development in humans, and that each stage allows one to master (or not) a crucial life skill. If not mastered (because the needs around it weren’t consistently met) it can become a core wound, an area of your life in which you consistently experience challenges.
The first stage of Erik Erikson’s theory centers around the infant’s basic needs being met by the parents. This experience leads to either trusting or mistrusting the world. Erikson defines trust as “an essential truthfulness of others as well as a fundamental sense of one’s own trustworthiness.”
My core wound is trust. I am petrified of betrayal.
This fear has haunted me in all of my relationships. It has been prohibited me from exploring the full extent of my sexuality, because I seek to meet my need for trust in my sexual relationships. Perhaps you can relate! I am often suspicious, and can question a lover to the nth degree, until I find the betrayal I am certain exists. This behavior is not particularly conducive to intimacy, and thus my sweetheart has requested me to examine when I am viewing through a situation through my betrayal lens, and I am attempting to comply, by finding situations where I can practice and be held with love.
This weekend I attended a Body Electric workshop called “Outside the Boxes.” It was a time for queers and genderqueers of all flavors to explore body, sex and pleasure. The intentions included to expand Eros through embodiment, especially using breath and pelvic focus. To discover edges, and to deepen into living in one’s whole body. To participate in communal erotic ritual, in a container that is about presence and Self, as opposed to hooking up and Other. It is an amazing chance for us to do our personal work, in a supported, focused environment.
There were many interesting activities and rituals over the course of the weekend. However, it is the last encounter about which I write today. The culmination of this weekend was in giving and receiving erotic massages in groups of three. To tell you about this, I must rewind a few weeks into the past, and tell you about attending an event at the Center for Sex and Culture called “Perverts Put Out.” Writers and storytellers ply their erotic crafts and share their work this juicy evening. One of the stories that night was read by local writer Jen Cross, who conducts Writing Ourselves Whole writing workshops for survivors of sexual abuse and trauma. The story she told pierced into my brain like an arrow shot through an apple, and has remained lodged there in the weeks that followed.
She told a kinky tale of mindfuck: a submissive boi being taught a lesson on manners and assumptions about power and gender. As if I were there, I saw it… in a crumbling alley off of Folsom… the three of them locked in a gritty urban embrace of filth and power. In my mind, I watched the scene unfold: the boi choking and gagging, learning to deepthroat from a woman wielding a large silicone cock while Daddy watches on. Boi assumes Daddy is in charge, and he’ll get to play with him if he tolerates the attentions of the skirt. The mindfuck is that actually the Top in the situation is Mommy, schooling the ignorance right out of the boi’s disgustingly stupid head.
Back at the workshop, I’m asked what my intention is before getting up on the table. The truth is, I want the kind of internal trust that would let me experience being that boi in the alley. It’s not that I want his role, I don’t want to be someone’s boi, per se. It’s just that I want to be able to open my body, beyond trust, beyond safety, and know that I’ll come out the other side intact.
I choose my partners. They are edgy, genderqueer and I’ve watched each of them get fucked in turn, both preferring hard fucking and not so much the lovey-dovey. I haven’t met either of them before this weekend, and while I have an affinity with them, I’m scared as I walk towards them. They are waiting, blindfolded, at the massage table, for us to make our choices. Perhaps I should choose less dangerous types for partners, perhaps picking instead a gentle older woman or a young sweet femme. I head towards the tattooed and muscled pair, my hands sweating. They uncover their eyes, and I see them appraising me, wondering how this will go. I don’t expect either of them to turn down the volume of their Eros, I just pray I can open to receive it.
I tell them the story of the alley. I tell them my intention is to practice having sex in an alley. I see the diabolical light enter into Togan’s eyes. I know I am in a safe container to practice this, but it’s still scary. Dramal’s touch is gentle at first, and I want more. Each time he asks me, “Is this okay?” until I say that I actually don’t really want him to ask me… and he gets it quickly. “I’m asking you once and for all, do I have your permission to Handle you?” he whispers scathingly in my ear. My yes is weak on volume, but it will do.
Their touch is strong. I fight against it, and the slickness of the oil and sweat covers us all as we wrestle and fight. I’m laughing, mocking them into giving me more, making it more real. I want them to Want to do this, want to force their touch on me. My face, smashed into the table, searing hands around my throat, fingers slamming into me. It’s not exactly pleasurable, but there is something here, something erotic beyond what I can name. It’s brutal, primal. I check in with my pussy: “How are you doing down there?” and my pussy screams back “Shut the fuck up! This is amazing!” I smile, inspiring more force.
I see the rats, smell the garbage, feel the rough pavement beneath my ass. I use my imagination to practice being in this scene. I allow myself to become that boi, taken and used. It is delicious.
When it’s over, we collapse against each other on the table, panting, sweaty, spent. I wonder how it’s been for them, if they felt the animal of Eros as I did, or if they were just good at crafting this kind of experience so that I could play with what happens in the space that is beyond trust. They wrap me in sheets, and stand with their attention focused on me for the next ten minutes as I dream and fly. Smiles and giggles come and go… I feel so happy, so free. I have opened my body to two people I don’t know, and probably won’t ever see again. I have trusted in my own ability to stay present. I have travelled a new road of Eros, that was often beyond what I would have named as my desire, and found it exquisite and satiating. It’s sex, but not how I’ve known it.
This is the kind of trust I want in myself. I want to be true to all of my desires. I want to explore my edges and beyond, trusting that I will never fall into victimhood. I burn with the need to expand my erotic capacity. I like practicing. I don’t know when I’ll be ready to enter that wretched alley and have that kind of sex. I trust that I will know when I am ready, and I trust that when I do it, Eros will take me exactly where I am meant to go.
If you are interested in exploring trust, and wanting to learn how to expand your capacity for it, plan to attend the Intimacy Technology class I am offering on Monday, October 28. We’ll practice trust skills in a gentle, supportive way (in my living room, not in an alley!) and you will be in choice about all activities we do. You can register here for Terrifying Trust.
Last week, I received a lovely introductory email message on an internet dating site from a heterosexual cis-gendered man. Since my profile clearly states that I am genderqueer and queer, I was intrigued. This man had obviously read through my voluminous profile, and found it interesting. When I responded and questioned his sexual orientation, he replied that he was “flexible and exploring.” Great, I thought. He was cute, and we set up a date. Before meeting him, I decided to read his answers to the questions the site poses. This was a good thing.
There I found two deal-breakers. “Do you believe humans share common ancestry with apes?” was answered in the negative. Uh-oh, I thought. He doesn’t believe in evolution. But the one that got me to break the date was, “Should gay couples be allowed to have children?”
In honor of National Coming Out Day Friday, October 11, I am coming out as the child of a gay parent. I have a gay dad.
1979 was a monumental year for me. I was in 4th grade, and I found out that my dad was homosexual. My parents had divorced when I was a baby and, I have no memories of ever living as a nuclear family. I visited my dad every Saturday, in his house about half an hour away from mine.
He lived there with a man named Lawrence. (He still lives with Lawrence, almost 40 years later.) When they moved in together, my dad introduced him as his “roommate,” and pointedly showed me Lawrence’s bedroom.
The day I figured out my dad was gay, I remember only this feeling of horrendous shock, followed by numbness. Ironically, I was actually IN my father’s ACTUAL closet when the realization struck me. Astute like many kids, I had pieced together clues. I had a marginal understanding of what this meant, and my fourth-grade self knew it was neither good nor normal.
My dad lived for most of his life as a closeted gay man. Only a select few knew his secret. With the knowledge of his gayness came the implicit responsibility of secrecy, and the legacy of shame. I told no one. That secret became locked up in a tiny room I never visited. The relationship with my father felt tainted. I adopted the common playground vernacular of “That’s gay!” or “You’re a fag!” without a true understanding of the deep degradation I felt mouthing these slurs.
Entering into adolescence, and my own burgeoning sexuality, the secret of my father became more problematic. I was certain I was not normal because of it. Thankfully, in seventh grade, I met Memma, my life-long dear friend. With her, I was finally able to share this secret without facing judgment. The recognition and dignity I received from her allowed me to start walking my own road of acceptance.
Valentine’s Day that year, I read the classified section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, along with every other 7th grader in Cleveland. Placing a classified ad with the name of one’s true love was the most romantic gesture we knew. Scanning for my own name, what I found was this: “Larry, I love you, Chuck.” Our dirty, shameful secret written in ink in plain view for all of my friends to see. No teenager wants their parent’s sexuality broadcast to the world. Add to that the layers of mortification and terror I felt that someone would find out and I would be ostracized, this felt like life or death.
As an adult, I once wandered into a bookstore in London. The title of a children’s book called “Heather has Two Mommies” passed into my landscape. The ground rocked and tilted: my heart exploded. I sat down on the floor of the bookstore and cried. And cried and cried and grieved me as a teen who wanted to die from the shame. I so wished I had had that book when I was growing up. I wish I had had PFLAG, or youtube videos telling me it is going to get better. While I have gratitude for evolving attitudes and visibility in terms of queerness, there is a hurt that those things weren’t there when I needed them.
Recently I was reading a book on healing sexual trauma, and the author Staci Haines stated how we need to give ourselves credit not only for having survived, but for having gotten through something so tough all on our own. So in honor of National Coming Out Day, I want to own the power that comes from surviving not only sexual traumatic situations, but from shameful, homophobic situations. I don’t believe there is any queer anywhere untouched by homophobia.
Let us celebrate the fierceness and necessity of our queer love. Let us queers recognize the strength it took to survive all of the stupid slurs, the callous cruelties we have endured. Let us claim the power of being the Other. Why don’t dating sites ask if heterosexual couples should be allowed to have children? Claiming our right to exist, fuck and love who we want without justification is not nothing, my dear queers.
Queering my own identity has been in ways more difficult and less difficult because of my dad. In college, I fell in deeply love with Keli, a talented, gorgeous and brilliant woman. Our relationship was fraught with tumult; perhaps the result of the arrogance and superficiality of being young and in love, or perhaps the result of deeply internalized homophobia. Maybe both.
The process of extricating all of my homophobia is ongoing. I was recently in Florida with a queer sweetheart, and I had a flash of it as I wondered how safe it would be to walk in the streets of Miami together, hand in hand. As I firmly wound my arm around my sweetie’s waist and went out into the hot night, I pondered if I will ever be clean of it, no matter how queer I am.
Keli got married this past weekend, to a beautiful fat woman, and I cried and celebrated and felt so many big queer feelings. The love of my early years was finally able to marry! And it wasn’t me she was marrying! Snuggling in bed at night under our “Get Used to It” poster of two women kissing, we had dreamed of being able to marry, but it felt like such a far off reality. I truly am grateful for the changing world, for reals.
Coming to accept that my queerness means I am never sure who I will be attracted to. Being queer means to me that I can never predict in what configuration of bits, genders, sexual orientations or other identies I will find myself with lovers. It is such a relief to just let my attractions be whatever they are, without having to redefine my own queer identity each time I hook up or partner. It is a relief that I can just be queerly hanging out, and feeling my feelings, and that that is just fine. A relief that it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but me. I could never explain my identity to you… it is ever shifting and changing. That feels just right.
So back to “Mr. Gays shouldn’t have children.” I regretfully inform you that I have to cancel our date. Because if gays shouldn’t have children, that means I wouldn’t be here. My history is too long, too fraught and I have worked too hard to embrace my innate queerness to have to go back to the place of justifying my existence. That was 7th grade. I’m just not interested in educating you, or convincing you. I am actually not interested in making you be other that you are. We. Are. Just. Different.
Happy National Coming Out Day. In what ways will you come out this year? Drop a comment below, and you’ve done it!
What does it mean to enjoy erotic and sexual wellness in your life?
This is the hot question I am currently raptly engaged in researching! erotic and sexual wellness (as distinct from sexual health) is currently ill-defined. I am mapping the areas of erotic and sexual wellness, and documenting wellness criteria and necessary skills. The end result may well become an important contribution to the field of erotic and sexual wellness coaching.
I am offering a one-hour sex coaching session in exchange for your participation in my erotic and sexual wellness research project. You will be asked to fill out an erotic and sexual wellness survey. You will sign a waiver, allowing me to audiotape our session, and allow me to use any anecdotal evidence to support my work, minus any identifying information.
This offer is currently available to anyone (all genders, identities and orientations) located in the San Francisco Bay Area who is willing to come to my studio for about an hour, is over the age of 18, and has never been a client of mine.
I have limited slots available. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to participate!
Do you truly know your own will, when it is free, unbound and without regard for loss? Do you bow to the will of Eros, or do you seek to bind your creative nature to the will of your logic? How far can you go, how far are you willing to go, to serve your own creative muse? What will do you choose, during your Earth time, so you may bring the one true, exquisite work with which your heart smolders? Will you set ablaze your life, foolishly and courageously risking being reduced to ashes? Will you hope to light the world with your outrageous claim to radiance?
Are you willing to feed your work, your true work, the thing your very soul requires for food, with the pleasure that arises hotly from between your legs? From the moist delight that graces your yearning lips or from the relish of your sticky fingers? Will you caress your project with the hungry touch of a lover? Trace the edge of your story with one slow, wet, finger tip? Let your gaze hover over your canvas, ripe with the slick yearning of your want?
How much raw lust do you bring, will you bring, to that which you must do before you are killed by desire?
Will you lay on your couch, your lover’s tongue lapping up your slime, as you type outlandish poetry furiously, moaning, onto a computer screen that your half-open eyes don’t even see? Will you stir your passion into the bubbling pot on the stove as your crazy crush rubs and humps against your backside, leans into your neck, whispers naked wanting into your soft ear? Will you let flamboyant dreams overtake you, draw you to the far edge of the universe of your imagination and make mad plans, as the fingers of your darling probe the holiness of your body? Will you tear off your bandages, rip off the scars and scabs of your heart, so that Eros is reinstated as your top, your Dom, your Sir?
Will you let your fingers bleed the words onto the pure page, great smears of red, writing the words your mouth does not even know how to speak? Will you drop your hands to your sex and use the smut you find there to fuel your collaborations? Will you use your own salty sweet cum to trace the brutal and beautiful designs of power and lust over the flushed-skin trembling one at your side? Designs made of desire like wire brands searing the flesh in subtle patterns that speak truth louder than clothing can hide? Will you dip your pen, your wand, your brush into the feral sweat in the creases at your lover’s hips, and wet the virgin page with your unfulfilled, unsatiated passion?
Will you endure or inflict the agony of blows, strikes that carve out the heart leaving unfamiliar and unexplored chambers for love to fill? Will you marry your violence, your pain and terror to the starlit night and full moon perfection of joy and beauty? Will you join all of your selves, your broken child, your mighty wise one, and your fierce healer, in service of the Art of your life? Will you bleed? Will you cum? Will you give the cherry of your erotic self in service to the Eros of the Earth?
Will you Fuck with merciful abandon?
Will you Fuck with freedom and with the innocence of violets and ferns unfurling next to streams? Streams that flow like the waters between your very legs, streams that carve away the flesh of the Earth as your fingers tear at the pathways to arousal of your beloved self? Streams that dissolve rock as your flesh and bone dissolve resistance, break boundaries, abolish thought and control? Will you know God through your fucking, through your fucking, bleeding, pissing, cumming body?
Will you? Because that, muthafuckas, is Erotic Liberation. And whether you believe it or not, you exist right now only because of Eros, brilliant and deliberate or misguided and pathologized as the case may be. Eros is owed the tremendous debt of remembrance. We each of us are completely and utterly responsible for restoring innate and right relationship with our deepest creative source. Let us pay homage through feeling.
The following is an in-progress list of skills for Emotional Integrity. I am able to practice all of these things, but not all of the time or all at once. I set my intention upon this list as a document of guiding principles as I navigate how to be the best human I can.
I am teaching a class tonight on Emotional Responsibility: 7 p.m. in San Francisco.
I would love to see you, and this material is the basis for what we will be doing.
Please please please comment at the end of things I have missed or forgotten… I am so curious about your feedback!
Emotional Integrity Skill Set
- Acknowledge all of my needs and desires (even if they will not be met at that moment, they still exist.)
- Acknowledge my unmet needs.
- Acknowledge the needs of all involved, and hold as equally valid to mine.
- Share my true inner feelings and thoughts, a.k.a. “Transparency.”
- Check in when unsure of someone’s feelings, needs, motivations, actions.
- Work on translating blame mentality into personal accountability.
- Develop awareness of and compassion for my projections onto others.
- Feel the pain I cause someone, even if unintentional.
- Recognize the difference between my intention, and the impact my actions have on someone. The hurt doesn’t go away just because I didn’t mean to hurt them.
- Internally trust that others experiences are true for them.
- Allow others experiences to exist without fixing, minimizing, or assuming.
- Know clearly the pain or core wound filters through which I view my world.
- Ask for and receive support appropriately.
- Acknowledge my own contribution to any conflict.
- Recognize my blaming behaviors, and gently redirect to personal accountability.
- Acknowledge all of my complicated and multiple intentions, be they helpful or hurtful.
- Know my own triggers.
- Take care of myself when triggered.
- Know how to get myself ‘back online’ after triggered.
- Honor biology: fight or flight is real, and to make thinking choices of response, sometimes I need a break to sort it out.
- Give myself all the time I need to get clear.
- Not engage from a triggered place.
- Practice responding, and not reacting.
- Keep the house between me and someone else ‘clean,’ not hold onto resentments.
- Communicate forthrightly, and not wait to be asked.
- Communicate more rather than less about my choices and feelings
- HALT aware: Communicate when I am not Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.
- Seek council when necessary.
- Communicate directly to the person (not behind their back.)
- Notice when I am critical, accusatory, punishing or desire to humiliate. Send love and compassion to myself, knowing that these are arising from my own hurt places. Choose carefully how I proceed.
- Commit to understanding, rather than being right.
- Work my emotional boundaries: know what is mine and what is not.
- Be mindful about how my energy (not just words and actions) impacts those around me.
- Stay connected through conflict. Reassure my loved ones, comfort each other. Reach out.
- Be present and in my body.
- Listen to someone, and notice my own judgments internally.
- Acknowledge and share my mixed emotions.
- Welcome feedback about my actions.
- Share generously my heart.
- Give and receive love.
- Know that big emotions don’t justify throwing all relationship principles away: I act according to my values even when I am angry, hurt, frustrated, grieving, or jealous.
- Don’t assign motivations based on the impact of someone’s actions.
- Hold that the ‘meta’ of a relationship is more important than being right in that moment.
- Let go of small grievances.
- Respect the boundaries others set, both verbally and with body language.
- Be mindful of hearing only what I want to hear.
- Notice when my criticisms and judgments are active: Ask self, “Am I feeling vulnerable?”
- Seek win/win solutions.
- Speak truthfully, without obfuscation, lies, or omissions.
- Choose truth over social ease most times, but also check to see if my feedback will help or hurt, and choose to the best of my ability in that moment.
- Acknowledge everyone’s needs as equally valid, even when what someone needs conflicts with what I want.
- Ask, “How can I make their life more wonderful?” and “How can I sweeten this situation?”
- Seek professional help to renegotiate trauma and psychological wounding
- Look at my own behavior, acknowledge the negative impact it has had on someone, and actively work to rectify both the situation and the behavior.
- Assume others are acting honorably.
- Align words and body language/cues.
- Say yes only when almost all of me agrees. (What is my percentage for determining yes?) Acknowledge the small part that always resists, and see if it needs anything.
- Acknowledge that I, and everyone else, are doing the best we can with all that we have at that particular moment, and if we could make a more useful choice, we would.
- Repeatedly and over time choose Kindness towards others.
Choose kindness right now and please drop me a comment below.
I am hungry for your input!
Living in Northern California, the term “energy” gets bandied about with quite a degree of frequency. And in my field, that includes erotic energy. We talk about “erotic energy regulation” and “moving through your energetic blocks.” Now, admittedly, I’m pretty woo. But sometimes I feel challenged by what exactly I’m supposed to “do” when playing with energy. I feel it, I know it exists, but how to engage it in meaningful, and pragmatic ways?
Why work with Erotic Energy?
Well, Neo-Tantra has claimed erotic energy as part of the branding. Personally, I find it really distasteful. But I’m not willing to let them have all the good stuff! I think that everyone can have access to the skills of erotic energy regulation without having to subscribe to a vague ‘sacred sexuality’ doctrine.
I work with erotic energy in different ways. Deepening my understandings (like writing this piece) is one way; practicing and experimenting with things is another. I work with erotic energy because I find that I don’t truly know the edges or limits of my own potential as an erotic being. I am of a curious nature, and find that engaging energy in my sexual encounters provides deeply pleasurable and often transformative encounters.
What is a working definition of “erotic energy?”
Dictionary.com offers the following definitions:
Erotic: pertaining to sexual desire
Energy: The capacity to do work, available power
Therefore, a working definition of ‘Erotic Energy” could be “The available power of sexual desire.” Of course, I want to add “pleasure” to this definition. Thus, here’s my definition:
“Erotic energy is a resource available to humans at all times, and can be understood as ‘the pleasurable power of desire.’”
What are the tools to access and use erotic energy to maximize pleasure?
I believe there are different skills involved in working with erotic energy. There are a set of foundational skills of embodiment. Then, there are skills of creating, sustaining, moving and sharing erotic energy. Many people have access to some of these skills, and can choose to develop others.
Aware of Body Sensations
Aware of the inner landscape of the body
Sensation is returned to areas of the body once numb
Lives fully in all areas of one’s body
Able to breathe fully into the belly: the belly is soft, and movements are smooth
Able to place one’s awareness in different areas of the body, and hold it
Able to move the “I” who is experiencing out of the head region, and place it into different areas of the body
Has a “pleasure map” of own body
Aware of own energy field
Can access own energy field at will
Able to build sexual charge within the body
Able to turn oneself on
Can use tools of breath, sound, movement, touch, fantasy or visual stimulation.
Able to feel touch, whether self or other, through skin, eyes, heart love, life
Profoundly touched by the natural world
Profoundly moved by the capacity for beauty created by the human species
Sustaining Erotic Energy
Able to maintain a level of erotic charge
Training to increase capacity to sustain pleasure
Can ‘hang out’ in the Valley of the Orgasm
Able to hold erotic charge through orgasm, and retain
Sustains a level of consistency in libido, with natural ebb and flow
Moving Erotic Energy
Can pump erotic energy through the body through:
- the microcosmic orbit
- pelvic thrusting
- hip opening movements and poses
- exercise of the pelvis or pelvic floor muscles
Can allow sexual charge to move beyond the genitals and circulate throughout the body
Can allow the mind to soften, and embrace the slipping away of time and space
Utilizes both Muscular excitement (Constriction) and muscle relaxation to build charge
Sharing Erotic Energy
Able to dissolve personal boundaries
Can merge with another energetically
Can feel a field of erotic energy shared between self and others
Can allow own erotic field to open to include natural world
This list is about some of the energetic possibilities that we can access as humans. It is not exhaustive, and while many people can probably access some of these skills, most people probably cannot access all of them, all of the time. I know I can’t! So not to be disheartened if this list seems overwhelming; it’s just potentials!
I will continue to write about erotic energy and its regulation. If you are intrigued by your own erotic potential, I invite you to try this. Masturbate to the edge of orgasm, and stop. And pay particular attention to how you feel and what you notice internally for the next hour. Then, masturbate again, and notice what happens. And if you like, drop me a line at email@example.com and let me know what happens!
This summer, I published my first “product.” I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio during the 1980’s, when the hardcore punk scene was going strong. I came up on zines, and have a strong affinity for information being distributed in a sub-culture underground. This first issue of my zine is a labor of love, and I offer it in spirit of the gift economy: it will not be sold or bartered, ever.
It feels really scary to put a huge piece of my work out into the world, and let go of control over what will happen with it. But it feels important in service of our collective sexual liberation. That said, may this delight you, instruct you, challenge you and ultimately serve you.
Zine Free Download
Please share, print, and disseminate widely, with credit.
And no pressure, but if you do read it, it would mean a lot to me if you would drop a note and let me know.
My deepest love for all who read.
Every year I attend Free Cascadia Witchcamp, which is my heart’s true home. We gather, in the wilds of Cascadia, to celebrate, make magick, do the work, and evolve our culture. This year was a particularly powerful year for me, especially in regards to Fat.
First, let me say it was a million degrees all week. Pretty much all week I spent nekkid, trying to eliminate any additional heat caused by clothing. Nudity used to be a big edge for me, especially in public spaces. However, since taking Sexological Bodywork training, it is no longer an issue. Sometimes I wonder how my fat naked body is perceived, and mostly I just don’t care. You like? Go ahead and look. You don’t like? Don’t look. Simple.
Our camp structure holds a morning path (class) time, afternoon affinity group time, and evening ritual time. Every morning I taught path with another wonderful witch on erotic self-expression and performing creative erotic art. Every afternoon, I met with my affinity group. Affinity groups are small groups based on a topic that group members have affinity around. These groups are often used as process-based decompression for the intense and rigorous spiritual and social experience one typically has at a witchcamp.
This year, my affinity group convened around fat bodies. Calling ourselves “Fat Magick,” we began what feels like life-long work in sharing, learning and deepening into the particular mysteries that come from dwelling in a fat body.
In the deep heat of every afternoon, we gathered in the shade. As we shared, laughed and cried together, as we made magick together and prayed together, certain threads of experience began to emerge that are the beginnings of a tapestry of sacred and arcane knowings. We began the conscious creation of a body of work celebrating the Body Fat. There are so many fat deities, that it is surely of no coincidence that our bodies reflect a mystical experience!
I feel a deep commitment to continuing this work. I’ve been doing a lot of research on fat + spirit and interesting gleanings are revealing themselves. Here are two.
I especially love the second part of this next article, about the Buddha being onto something, and how ridiculous it would be to put him on a diet.
It was at a different witchcamp, many years ago, that a gorgeous fat priestess of sex spoke words that have forever altered the course of my life. She said “As a fat person, my sexuality is invisible.” I have lived into those words these past years. As you may know, I have made working with fat people so that we may experience sexual liberation a core theme of my work. Bringing invisible sexuality back to center, seen and validated is another.
I was so struck by the concept of invisible sexuality, and what it means and who gets sexuality and who gets to have their sexuality validated. Just as the medicine is often the poison, I believe that the antidote to body oppression lies in liberating all bodies from policing. One of my dear radical friends recently said to me, “As a thin person, I work for fat liberation because I know that I am not free until we are all free.” I believe a correct medicine is fat magick.
What I am learning as a fat, sexy witch is that I truly need all of the space my body provides in order to do the work and make the magick I am compelled to. I need the full range of embodiment offered by this fat body, so that I can hold, move, teach, write, fuck and love the way I want during my Earth time. Being fat has helped me learn to be accountable for all of the space I take up. My fat yearns to be radiant, and every fat cell wishes to glisten like glitter. And jiggle. They love to jiggle.
This Wednesday 9/11/13, I will be performing a piece on Spiritual Fat at 510 Feelmore in Oakland between 7-9 p.m. I would love to see you there.
How can I use Erotic Energy to fuel my creative projects?
I sat down this morning to write a blog post after being gone from my blog all summer. True, my travels were wonderful and life-changing. True also that trying to start writing again was daunting. I stared at the blank screen. I looked at my notes. I researched if Albert Einstein felt guilty for his role in the atom bomb. I looked at a zine on consent. I vented about consent. But still, nothing brilliant or gorgeous was, ahem, coming.
After awhile of this, I told my partner, (contentedly writing at his desk across from me) that I was stuck with my writing. I was hoping he’d inspire me. You know, get my juices flowing. Or distract me. But instead, he nodded sagely, and continued his own writing project. No help there. I got up, got some sage and smudged my desk and computer.
Then I remembered some advice my friend Captain had once given me. When I was trying to figure out what to do with my life, he said “Masturbate, but don’t come. Do it frequently, until you know what you want!” So I went upstairs, took off my pants, and laying on my bed, let my junk bask in the warmth of the sun coming through my window.
Surrendering to the morning sun, I started to breathe into my pelvis. The deep connection between erotic energy and creativity is one I know. It was clear that my stuck place in writing was sourced from my own body. My hands drew lazy, sweet circles on my body. Touching, relaxing, stimulating. Eventually, I called on my Magic Wand, and together we journeyed. I thought of the irony of the name “the magic wand” and how like a pen a wand is. How writing and fucking are connected for me.
I let myself turn myself on. I allowed my erotic energy build. I consciously pulled it throughout my body, letting every part of my body taste the yumminess. Using breath, and the movement of my body to feel the sexy everywhere. I knew I was not going to let myself orgasm, so there was no urgency, no goal. It was just turn-on.
As pleasure built, it became clear that I could write about this, my accountability for my own turn-on, my own erotic energy, my own creative process. My partner is not responsible for turning me on; I am! Using my tools of breath, placement of attention (helped by the warmth of the sun) and movement, I was able to unlock the Eros within.
Often in my sexual past, orgasm has been the goal, and admittedly I’ve had some orgasm obsession. Like trying to time it just right. Trying to get there with my partner. Trying to have the biggest fattest orgasm that lasts forever. Trying to be multi-orgasmic. Trying trying trying.
Or, even more challenging, “Orgasm Chasing,” as my teachers call it. Using muscular constriction, making orgasm the definitive moment of a sexual encounter. Trying really hard to come. Either to get it over with as soon as possible (pleasure can be hard to bear,) or because I’m afraid my partner might bail and then I would miss out, so better get it quick. Building to orgasm but not coming circumvents the entire orgasm dilemma.
Using held orgasmic energy to fuel creative process is a fabulous and inspirational trick. It served me well today, and I hope it will serve you. Try it, if you haven’t, or revisit it if it’s been awhile.
What will you use your orgasmic energy to fuel? Take a minute and commit to it in the comments below.
Can you imagine how it would be if you had learned about the importance of pleasure in your sex ed classes at school? Earlier this month, I was honored to present at the AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists) conference in Miami. I offered a workshop entitled “Pleasure Focused Sexuality Education.” Through a series of playful and fun experiential activities, over 75 sex teachers and therapist considered how to teach Sex Ed using PLEASURE as the central curricular tenet. This is a radical thing, right?
Traditionally, AASECT has disallowed members from using touch as an educational modality. By including me, a Sexological Bodyworker, in their line-up, they demonstrated their recognition of Somatic Sex Education as a trend. I was able to discuss Sexological Bodywork and the Professional Code of Ethics at the town hall meeting on the ethics of touch. It was invigorating to welcome the curiosity of my AASECT colleagues, and to educate them about the work I am doing.
Oh yeah, and I took hot-off-the-presses copies of my new zine “Sexual Liberation Front” and gifted them to the wonderful people who received me so graciously. I heart my anarchist roots!
Joseph Kramer, my mentor and teacher, says that if you want to change your life, change the way you masturbate. I want to tell you a story about how I have learned to masturbate better.
I’ve written before about how this sexual liberation stuff has been quite the journey for me. I’m from Cleveland, Ohio. We did NOT talk about masturbation as I was growing up. None of my friends admitted to ever doing it. I thought I was freaky and perverse (well, okay, maybe I still think that) until I moved to San Francisco. (I find it COMPLETELY ironic that I now coach people in masturbation!)
But, there was this one time… when I wasn’t here yet, and somehow I got it into my head that I could videotape myself masturbating. Revolutionary, I know. So, I did. And when I watched it, I was completely stunned by how sensual and beautiful I looked as I touched my body, and aroused my pleasure. Unfortunately, I had a HUGE shame response, and not only erased the scene, I then DESTROYED the tape. (Pre-digital.) Yeah, I know, sooo sad!
So fast forward to now, years later. I now record my sessions with some degree of regularity. What I find is that they are very instructive. When someone tells you to ‘masturbate better,’ it can be daunting. What does that even mean? How do you know what to do? Are you doing something wrong?
So what do I pay attention to when I watch my video masturbation sessions? When I look at the videos, I pay attention to the signs of arousal I see myself displaying. If I watch it soon enough, I may be able to remember that particular moment, and connect what I am seeing on the outside with the memory of my internal experience. I notice how much time I am taking (or not) and the quality of the touch I am giving myself. I pay attention to my breath, and also especially focus on any points I notice that I may be constricting. Just like athletes watch tapes of their performance to gain insight, masturbators can do the same.
I invite you, in honor of National Masturbation Month, to videotape yourself doing yourself. Take your time. Turn yourself on.
When you watch it, (hopefully soon after) notice how you feel, seeing yourself in your arousal. Notice what feelings come up.
Wash… Rinse… and….. Repeat! Try it again, and this time touch yourself for the camera. Play it up. And also pay attention to the quality of your own touch. It’s kind of like the mirror, only a different format which you can use to change up the ways in which you touch yourself.
And, keep it! Don’t erase it. Try again in 6 months, a year. Compare technique. It’ll be like an erotic journal of your pleasure journey. I’m guessing you’ll be surprised by what you notice.
And by the way: there is no wrong way to masturbate.
“Desire consists of three stages. First, getting clear on what you want. Next, communicating it. And last, being available to actually receive what you want, and recognizing it when it comes.” ~me
Often, this process breaks down for people in one of these stages. After a number of failed attempts, we subconsciously learn to push away our desire, as it has become the source of pain. To be truly intimate, we must reclaim our desire. We can practice each of the three stages. When we learn to consciously and actively receive, we begin to realize that our desire is not all encompassing. We begin to know that it’s okay to be hungry, because sometimes we are full. We begin to allow the yearning that brings us closer to Spirit, because sometimes we know the feeling of one-ness, of not-alone-ness.
Receiving is an Intimacy Technology skill. Perhaps receiving seems like the most intuitive part of the process. Perhaps you are saying to yourself, “Pavini, I TOTALLY am able to receive what I want.” I believe you. And also I invite you to consider the following.
It’s my belief, that beneath our cool exterior, most of us feel a sense of profound inadequacy. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. Tara Brach, Brene Brown, and many others link our chronic suffering with a deep-seated sense of being unworthy. In fact, the Dalai Lama has ‘”expressed astonishment at the degree of self-aversion and feelings of unworthiness reported by Western students.” And he’s hanging out with the kids who are actually working to undo that particular belief!
When I was first falling in love with my partner, I was deeply worried about what must be horribly wrong with my partner, since they were falling in love with me. How could I possibly actually receive love and care when I believed that the giver was deeply flawed? And that I was deeply flawed? If I am not worthy of love and care, I can’t actually receive it.
So yeah, somewhere along the way we swallowed a bunch of crap. Unpacking and rewriting the unworthiness story is crucial. And it can be a long road to recovery. Feeling worthy definitely takes practice and repetition over time.
Once I’ve been working on the worthiness thing for awhile, then I can turn my attention to receiving. Even if if I can receive love and care, doI notice that I am receiving long enough to feel satiation? If all we ever feel is hungry, we lose the sweetness of dancing along the spectrum between full and empty. We numb to the subtlety and nuance of our experience when our ability to move between binaries is stuck.
When I first left my marriage, and I was living on my own, I spent an entire Thanksgiving weekend painting my living room the color of sweet potatoes. I listened to Lauren Hill, danced, cried and made my space gorgeous. After the long weekend, when I was standing looking in the front window to my home, and all the lights were on, I had a curious sensation. I couldn’t place it at first. And then it hit me: I was content! I had never had that experience before. I luxuriated for months in the satiation of all of my work of leaving, moving, and creating. It was a wonderful way to receive myself, with love.
One way you can assess how well you are able to receive is by asking someone to give you a massage. (It’s in the name of research, tell them.) As you are being touced, notice how deeply you can allow the touch to soak in. Do you feel it just at the skin? Can you allow it to absorb further in? To your muscles? Bones? Heart? Can you actually feel the love pouring through someone’s hands and into your body? This month’s Intimacy Technology class is on Receiving. On how we can practice being available to receive more of what we want intimately, and how we can recognize it once we have it. I hope you’ll join me on Monday, May 20 at 7.
As a sexologist, I believe there are various ways to enter into our sexy space. And just like different strokes for different folks (did a masturbator come up with that saying?) different people enter into erotic energy different ways.
With purportedly, 30% of all internet traffic to porn sites, obviously visual stimulation is a well-traveled inroad for many wankers. Fantasy will do the trick, and of course good old fashioned friction also get us there. And then there is erotica.
I’m a big fan of erotica. Starting with reading Penthouse “Forum” as a young person, I learned early to masturbate while reading. I would say that a majority of my teenage masturbation involved the use of printed material. My session today led me down this road of sweet stimulation. I like erotica because I can fast forward and freeze frame mentally, at will. It’s not so much the images that are created, but rather the phrasing. Words like “throb” and “sopping” and “turgid” and “slit” are not often used outside the realm of erotica. I find them incredibly turny-ony.
The kind of orgasm I have when using erotica is very different from an orgasm when my focus is on my body. There is a very particular heat that is generated by reading steamy stories. I’m super picky: it has to be well written, and detailed enough to dampen my panties. It can’t be stupid, or have too many characters with hard-to-believe names like Sally and Fred. Enough plot to be believable, not too much that I’m having to read about feelings other than arousal, turn on, shame, or prohibition. My biggest turn-ons involve situations where there is a conflict of interest: desire + shame, or pleasure + power imbalance, or headfuck situations that involve someone being turned on even though they are being manipulated.
Part of what erotica does for me is give me a space for permission to be turned on by things that I would never really do. Taboo is hot in erotica, in my opinion. I’ve noticed that erotica is often ‘given the shaft’ so to speak, and dismissed as softer porn, for girls and sissies. I beg to differ. Raunchy, saucy and dirty are all qualities I seek out when looking for a thigh-squeezing missive.
What I do consider important is not to get stuck in only one pathway to arousal. I regularly mix it up, just to keep it all working. While I don’t consider porn a problem per se, what I do have concern about is people only being able to access their erotic energy through one pathway. Why limit yourself?
If you liked this post, do me a favor and leave a comment below answering this question: what is your favorite pathway to arousal?
Masturbating in the mirror is a powerful modality that takes a brave and courageous heart, but offers the potential for deep healing. I’ve done this meditation a number of times, and each time am surprised by that moment when my own beauty takes my breath away. Practice today included gazing at myself in the mirror as I masturbated.
The other day I wrote about how I’ve been paying attention to my presence… how present I am when I am doing mundane things. I’ve noticed that often my mind is elsewhere… I’m in the shower, under the steamy hot water, and I’m thinking about a session, or my kids, or my partner, or…
Part of my commitment to pleasure is being available to receive it when it comes. For example, part of my self-pleasure practice over the weekend was taking a walk in the woods, alone, and being truly present with my embodied self. I focused on my breath, my feet, the sense of being in my body, the sensation of movement, and the sensory input I was receiving. At the end, I felt just splendid… so juicy and full and loving myself and my life. I realized that I had just masturbated in public, and no one even knew!
Us sex-educator types talk about masturbation as self-love. But I’m not sure we take it to the next level, and make it about feeling the love. Feeling that deep, warm abiding sense of presence and care. Just like we have for somebody else; a loved one, pet or child, but actually this time feeling that same love directed toward ourselves, as well as feeling the receiving of that love.
Thich Nhat Hanh writes about noticing when you are doing the thing you are doing… now I’m typing. Now I’m drinking coffee. Now I’m noticing I need to pee. Apparently, suffering comes in when we are disconnected from our experience in the present moment. And how does this relate to masturbation?
Well, being truly present to our own touch, our own sensations can be novel. Often, we focus on porn, erotica or fantasy during masturbation. I love all of those things. And. There is a certain quality of touch that comes when my attention is ONLY on touch. Or perhaps we are numbed out, and can’t feel our own touch, or get aroused by it. This will not do. Barnaby Barratt says,
“We mentioned how being touched is essential to our physical welfare, our emotional vitality, and our spiritual growth. However, none of us would thrive if our being touched remained dependent on the love of others – the love of our self is prerequisite.
It is important line of childhood development that, as we grow from babies into toddlers, we are able to assume some responsibility for our need to be touched, as we become sufficiently coordinated to touch ourselves intentionally. This does not mean that the need to be touched by others disappears. Quite the contrary, it remains strongly important to continue to be touched by others, especially since we know that being touched by another human being has pronounced different energy dynamics than touching ourselves – an issue we will mention again. But it does mean that, as our child develops, touching can be reciprocal, and then, if these developments proceed well, touching can become energetically mutual or “synergistic.”
Very importantly, it means that our child becomes able to administer the gift of touch to ourselves – moving from being simply a recipient, to the possibilities of being actively self-giving. This is an enormously important shift for physical and emotional development as has been demonstrated in many ways that documented in the literatures of developmental psychology and psychoanalysis. It is also the foundation of our human capacities to receive love, and therefore to be able to give love.”
Today, I will practice administering the gift of mindful, present touch to myself, so that I may love and be loved to the full extent of my capacity. I understand that reclaiming my touch relationship with myself is a practice, and that it may take time to feel my own touch as fully as I feel a lover’s. However, I also recognize how self-love creates availability for loving others. I invite you to this practice with me.
My orgasms used to last about 5-7 seconds, and were a series of 5-10 rhythmic contractions of the muscles of my pelvic floor and anus. Since childhood when I began masturbating, I have experimented with focused orgasm. I have tried many different muscular approaches to maximize my orgasm, and settled the predicatable orgasm described in the beginning of this paragraph. While I mixed up my masturbation practice, my orgasms were typically similar each time I came.
Becoming a Sexological Bodyworker has changed my belief about what is possible orgasmically. I’ve begun to experiment again, and it is so fun. Part of what I’ve been curious about is Kegels. Everyone knows they “should” be doing them, but how much? How frequently? It’s always been a mystery. Today I’ve got a few resources for you if you’d like to work with your Pubococcygeus Muscles.
When fellow Sex Educator Nikki Lundberg saw my commitment to 30 days of pleasure, she invited me to participate in her 30 day self pleasure program running this month. Each day she is sending me a masturbation challenge. On Friday, she wrote: “For today’s self pleasure session consciously incorporate the PC muscle (the pubococcygeus muscle).
This band of muscle is shaped like a hammock and is connected at one end to your pubic bone and on the other end to your tail bone. It encircles your rectum and urethra. For people with vulvas, it encircles the vaginal canal.
If you don’t know where it is on your body, while peeing ,stop the flow of urine. (But don’t make a habit of it.) The muscle you use to do that is the PC muscle.
While the primary function of this muscle is to control the flow of urine, a healthy PC muscle is part of fantastic sexual pleasure. It contracts during orgasm – and the stronger the contractions the better it feels. A strong PC muscle also provides more force behind your ejaculation (for all genders).
For people with penises, a strong PC muscle is critical for stopping premature ejaculation – it can stop your semen the way it stops your urine (with practice.)
Today, start your 30 minutes with kegel exercises. They are pleasurable and will increase blood flow to the area.
I recommend using a timer that shows seconds as well as minutes.
Flutter – Completely contract and relax the PC muscle as quickly as possible. Try to go for a whole minute.
Contract and hold – try to keep it fully contracted as long as possible up to one minute.
Add repetition – contract completely and hold for 2 to 5 seconds and relax for 2 to 3 seconds. Repeat as long as you can up to 5 minutes.
Repeat four times daily. ©Nikki Lundberg
My daily practice this weekend has included Nikki’s suggestions. I’ve engaged my PC muscles before practice and wow! My orgasms intensify when I do this before masturbating.
Two other resources I have found recently are an iPhone app called “Kegel Camp” created by a sex educator. You can check out this technological approach to erotic training and kegel practice here.
Doing kegels with resistance can be extra beneficial. First, it helps to isolate the correct muscles. Second, it gives your muscles somethign to resist against, kind of like weight training. (There are also kegel weights available, or Betty Dodson’s “Vaginal Barbell.” This is a product that I find fascinating for kegel resistance training. (I don’t get commissions on any of this stuff… just offering it as resources.)
So what are my results thus far? Well, I’ve had several orgasms lasting over 20 seconds each. The strength of my orgasms instensifies when I do erotic training. I feel more pleasure, and can tolerate more stimulation. I like the attention I am placing on my pleasure: it draws my presence to my practice. I actually feel the love I have towards myself, and that feels amazing.
It’s such a joy to take this training on. I hope it is beneficial to you. I hope it models permission to explore and play, with your sexuality, pleasure, and yourself. Let me know how it’s going!
For today’s erotic practice, I offer for your consideration all of the erogenous zones of the body.
For example, part of my daily practice is to spend some time with my feet, each evening. I rub this lovely frankincense lotion into them, and try to pay attention to just that experience. So often, my thoughts fly away and I have to bring them back, again and again, every evening.
Tonight, my erotic practice revolved around my feet. There are many, many nerve endings in the feet. They can be very pleasurable, when I pay attention to the pleasure they can give.
Wikipedia says it feels so good “because of the concentration of nerve endings in the sole and digits of the human foot, and possibly to the close proximity of the area of the brain dealing with tactile sensations from the feet and the area dealing with sensations from the genitals.”
Tonight I spent time awakening the erotic energy in my feet. And very soon I felt my arousal response begin. (Yay! It’s working! I told myself.) I continued on, and awakened other parts of my body too. The cool thing is that I could feel those enlivened neurons, even after I stopped stimulating my feet and other places.
Touching myself in unexpected, experimental ways makes for a gratifying session. I heart masturbation 4evah.
The extended-dance-mix version of the self-loving session is great, don’t get me wrong.
Sexological Bodyworkers love to promote awakening the body. We dig varied levels of touch: depth, rhythm, pressure. Building erotic energy over time is a favorite modality.
And then there are the the nights you just need to rip one off. Like last night.
I love masturbation. I love the soothing quality of it. I love the attention I am paying to myself. And I love how I always know exactly what feels great.
Last night was me and M. Magic. So yeah. I did that. Did you?
I invite you to join me in National Masturbation Month by committing to a month of daily erotic practice. Stay tuned here and on facebook for updates.
In honor of National Masturbation Month, I’ll be completing a “Masturbation Challenge,” which means a month of daily erotic practice. I’ll be posting here and on facebook about my experiences. I invite you to join me!
National Masturbation Month started in 1995, after Joyce Elders was fired from her position as the Surgeon-General for saying that masturbation education should be part of sex ed in schools. Whattt???
There are so many amazing reasons to masturbate, but shame, stigma and lack of info often keep people from this pleasure practice. Watch here as women talk about their masturbation experiences.
Here are some reasons Good Vibes suggest masturbation:
- Because masturbation is immensely pleasurable, invigorating, rejuvenating and fun.
- Because sexual pleasure is each person’s birthright.
- Because masturbation is the ultimate safe sex.
- Because masturbation is a joyous expression of self love.
- Because masturbation offers numerous health benefits including menstrual cramp relief, stress reduction, endorphin release, stronger pelvic muscles, reduction of prostate gland infection for men and resistance to yeast infections for women.
- Because masturbation is an excellent cardiovascular workout.
- Because each person is their own best lover.
- Because masturbation with a partner can be educational and hot.
- Because masturbation increases sexual awareness.
Right! I’m going to go workout now! Anybody up for the challenge? May is starting to sound pretty fun. Drop me an email at pavinimoray (at) gmail if you’d like to train together!
“Is it Pee?” was a predominant question many participants had during yesterday’s Female Ejaculation workshop held in Oakland. Since I wasn’t leading the workshop, it was great to let someone else field the many curious questions, while I got to focus on my demonstration client. Yep, yesterday I had the privilege of conducting a demonstration Sexological Bodywork session.
This was the first time I had publically modeled the educational work I do as a Sexological Bodyworker. Although nervous, I found I loved educating through touch. It’s often hard to explain in an easily understandable way what exactly I do as a Sexological Bodyworker, and showing it was so much easier. Plus, watching someone touch themselves or another is a fabulous way to expand your own erotic repertoire and I wanted to bring that to this group.
In the hour leading up to the demonstration, I marveled at the sold-out crowd of over forty attendees. Mostly hetero-normative presenting couples, they were well dressed, well spoken and obviously well educated. When asked about their intentions, many of the male-identified participants noted that they were there to learn to “make her squirt.” The female-presenting members of the audience wanted to be able to ejaculate, or wanted to control their ejaculation.
Part of what was so fascinating to me was how little information they seemingly had about female anatomy and sexuality. They were so hungry to know more, and intensely curious. I realized how pedestrian a topic female ejaculation has become in my world, and was struck by remembering it is still edgy and mysterious in the world-at-large outside of my sex educator bubble.
After an hour of anatomy, technique and presentation of the limited scientific research that has been done, it was our turn. My demonstration client and I took the stage, leaning against the draped massage table in the front of the packed room. I introduced myself and my work, and went into my intention for doing the demonstration. Most important to me was that this audience feel permission to ejaculate or not, and feel free from the pressure to perform.
Naming the nervousness and pressure both I and my model felt, I spoke to the men first, stressing that they were never going to “make her squirt.” That as a bodyworker, all I could do would be to create the conditions where squirting could occur, and if my model squirted, it was because of her own body and reactions. (It annoys me when doctors talk about “delivering a baby. Hey, I’m the one doing the work! Female ejaculation is a little like that.)
I spoke to the pressure and shame female-identified people feel around squirting: squirting has become the new black, and you should be able to do it if you’re awesome in bed. Or, conversely, the shame women feel when they squirt and make a “mess” without control over the process. It’s a no-win! I asked all members of the audience to take that pressure off of themselves. When she introduced us, the facilitator had invited us to ask for anything we needed, and I asked for the support of the audience in witnessing a gift: the model, sharing her most intimate self with us, without the pressure to ‘perform.’
I felt a deep commitment to providing a real experience of my best erotic touch skills, and educating those watching through modeling attention, concentration and connection. In ejaculation porn, the female often squirts excessively and repeatedly, usually after hard fucking with no foreplay. This is not a typical squirting experience.
In our class, my highly hydrated model disrobed, and I began by asking her permission to lay my hands on her body. This is how I always begin a session, and feel it is critical for bodyworkers to gain verbal permission, every single time. I laid my hands on her mons pubis, and her heart, and we breathed together until I felt the connection firmly established between us. I had met her only once before, last week, when we got together to practice for the class. We had established a good rapport then, and my goal was to make her very comfortable now, to feel safe and well cared for. Throughout our session, I returned to eye contact with her again and again, and matched my breath to hers.
Slowly, I allowed my hands to explore her body, and started to tease pleasure to the surface of her skin. The nerve endings in my finger tips danced with the nerve endings all over her body as we began to build erotic energy together. We spoke quietly, as I checked in with her or as she made requests of me, staying connected and present to each other. The rest of the room mostly faded away as we created the erotic container. From time to time I would speak to the audience (when I remembered them,) encouraging them to spend time opening the body so that the body will open.
Eventually, legs in the air and wrapped around my shoulder, she ejaculated into my gloved hand. And then did it again. I allowed her sacred waters to pour from my hand from above the table, allowing the audience to view the nectar of the process. She then asked for and had a clitoral orgasm. Afterwards, I held her, hugged her, and felt protective of her space. Our connection was my focus.
As she recovered, we began to take questions. The room had been pin-drop silent during the demo except for a few comments from me, her or the facilitator. Now, people excitedly peppered us with queries. The room was alive with possibility, and those gathered were eager to practice in the lab part of the class. At that point, after speaking privately with a number of people about their individual struggles (including one very sweet pre-orgasmic woman and her partner) I left them to the erotic practice component.
I believe that the places we focus our attention come alive. Over time, we learn new pathways into our deepest pleasure. With practice, we get good at knowing our own bodies and responses. With connection, we feel deeply held as we courageously explore that which we don’t know.
So is it pee? I don’t think so, but I don’t really know. And I don’t really care. My own erotic practice of learning ejaculation has awakened tissues and nerves that I feel deep gratitude for knowing. The permission to evolve as a sexual being that I have given and continue to give myself is profoundly satisfying. And my erotic explorations have helped me know truths that I couldn’t have accessed otherwise. And if that means I leave pee spots on my sheets sometimes, so be it. It’s worth it.
Vulnerability feels like the perennial nightmare of getting up to teach the class, and realizing I have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to be teaching about. Or being in the play, on the stage, and realizing I forgot to ever study my lines. It feels like the moment right before everything starts to hurt like hell, and you know it’s coming… when you fall down the stairs, right before you hit the ground. I wouldn’t say that it’s a sexy feeling at all. And yet, the kind of intimacy I crave also requires me to be real, authentic and vulnerable in profound ways.
Next week I’m teaching a workshop on vulnerability as an intimacy skill, so I’ve been spending a lot of time researching, reading, thinking about vulnerability. (And I hope you’ll join me! Follow the link to register.)
I have also been practicing. (Check out the picture I put on the landing page of my website. Yikes!) On one hand, I totally get intellectually that to have the kind of intimacy and closeness I want in my life requires me being open-hearted and available. I just wish it didn’t mean I had to be vulnerable.
The dictionary defines vulnerability as ‘capable of being wounded or hurt.’ Well, that just sucks! Why would I want to do that? I am a hedonist, and live my life and make my choices with pleasure as a core and central tenet. I hate pain, hate hurting, hate discomfort. I love sweetness, ease, and comfort. Being vulnerable seems like the antithesis of all of that.
While it may appear outwardly that I’m good with the whole vulnerability thing, in actuality I’m a creature of habit. I almost always order the same things at my favorite restaurants. I hate going into new situations where I don’t know anybody. I do what I know as long as it works reasonably well, and have to remind myself to try new behaviors. I need profound, logical reasons to buy into opening myself up to hurt in service of some greater goal. How is it going to serve me?
So I honor my monkey mind, and give it something to do. Here’s a list in progress of the ways I’m talking myself into ever-greater vulnerability.
- When I’m open to new possibilities, I can make choices from a wide range of productive and interesting options.
- Being in social situations that are new, I can consciously choose to practice developing skills like authenticity. If I am able to be real, I might meet new people who can become part of my support network and whom I will love.
- Being able to accept help means not having to do everything alone.
- Sharing my true emotional landscape allows me to receive empathy, and feel not alone.
- Allowing my true self to be seen allows me a healthy perspective on myself: I am not the most fucked up person in the world.
- Choosing not to ‘please’ someone and letting them see negative character traits allows me to relax and take off the mask.
- I can receive support from others when I let them know I need it.
- I can actually feel into my heart and my love when I begin to remove some of the shielding around it. If I am always motivated by avoiding pain, I’m spending a lot of energy not feeling things. When I stop, I feel more.
- Me being real gives others permission to do the same, and I get met in the ways I want to be met.
We have defense mechanisms firmly in place to protect us from vulnerability. We all struggle with this intimacy skill… and even those who appear good at it are constantly pushing their own edges of shame.
The truth is, I want to feel connected more than I want to feel safe. Not sharing who I am means that while I may feel safe, I am not seen or known. I am alone. Personally, while that might be comfortable, it’s not the way I want to spend my life time. I’m going to keep at this vulnerability practice, and see where it takes me, even though it feels like being naked on-stage in high school.
I’m curious how you engage with vulnerability. Do you resist being placed into situations where you experience this feeling? What does it feel like to you? Would you practice vulnerability, in this moment, and write a comment below?
I have been asked by several in community to put together a class series for teens pertaining to sexuality. The intention of this post is to gather feedback and information, so that I can create curriculum that serves the needs of teens and their families.
Maybe you read about this the first time I posted it. Well, the exciting news is that my collaborator is arriving next week from the great northern land of Canada, and WitchyWoo productions is resuming production. Ever wondered what it would be like to explore your erotic energy in relation to the planet, and be filmed? Want to help create an revolutionary film that integrates magic, ritual, sex, the Earth and the erotic potential therein? Now’s your chance! You can read below for more in-depth info, but for now start thinking about what your participation could look like, and drop me an email pavinimoray (at) gmail.com and we’ll get started talking! We’ll be shooting again in mid-March.
I am writing to tell you about a project I am catalyzing. The film is called Holy Body/Whole Body.
The intention of this film project is to celebrate the liberation of magick, sexuality and Earth through the documentation of a magickal and erotic process. The body has been so pathologized and colonized, and attempts to document the body in relationship to itself, other bodies and Earth are often fraught with these threads of patriarchy. What we are doing is reclaiming our relationships with our bodies, each other, our connections with Spirit and the greater Earth body, and documenting this process so that it becomes a teaching/learning tool out in the world.
We understand that traditional documentations of sexuality are often oppressive, objectifying, and fragmenting from each other and our planet home. We also understand that the adult film industry capitalizes on desire and the commodification of sexuality. We seek to reclaim and queer the tool of media portrayal of erotic energy, and use it in ways that benefit all of us, in alignment with our shared values of egalitarianism, free choice, pleasure, respect and artistic freedom.
We use it in ways that benefit our Earth by reclaiming the subtle sexual relationship that we all live, as creatures dependent upon Earth for comfort, nurturance, sustenance, and life. Making overt the erotic nature of our relationship with Earth returns us to the simple realization of our dependence. It is our hope that this work inspires all who view it to tend the personal relationship with Earth with the sweetest and tenderness of a Lover relationship.
The reasons we are doing this project are thus:
- Normalizing and being inclusive of marginalized expressions of gender, body, sexuality
- Expanding the potential for sexuality, including a diversity of sexual practices, including relationship with Earth
- Documenting on film the intersection of erotic energy/magick
- Using our bodies as activism
- DIY economy in juxtaposition to the porn industry
- Because witches are hotter than anybody else we know
All participants will sign a waiver, and will be in full choice about their participation in the project. All participation is voluntary, and no recompense will be given for participating. All participants will have artistic agency in their portrayal of their erotic relationship with self, other, Earth, within the context of the storyboard of the film.
The film will be made in a holy way, and will seek to capture the invocation/deepening erotic relationship between people and the elements. For example, a participant seeking to demonstrate their erotic relationship with air might choose to be filmed climbing a tree, and making love with the wind, or with a beloved. A participant seeking to document the erotic energy of fire might offer hot fucking with a burning wand, etc. It will be up to each participant how they offer their erotic energy to Earth through that particular element.
This is the call-out to think about if you would like to be involved with project. It involves reading and signing the waiver, envisioning/dreaming/conjuring your scene with the element of your choice, and being available for filming . If you participate, you MUST be 18 years or older with identification. Participants will all receive a copy of the final film, either on DVD or downloadable, TBD. Please know that we may not be able to include all footage, and final cut is at the editor’s discretion in terms of film quality.
So, perhaps you are wondering what will happen with this project, once it is filmed and edited? Well, we first plan to have a hella screening party in the Bay, to which all participants are invited. We intend to use this film not for our own personal financial gain, but to raise funds for things in alignment with what we are doing. That’s our first thought, and the conversation is evolving around how we will distribute this film. We feel committed to financial transparency, and to funding more projects that reclaim the master’s tools for our own use. We also feel committed to this work NOT being commodified in ways that feel bad, and remaining a tool for the activist/witch community.
More on DIY subverting the dominant porn complex: http://gooddykeporn.com/new/
If you are interested in being a part of this project, we’ll be shooting again in early March, 2013. Please drop an email to me, and we’ll start the convo.
This is super sweet and wonderful… I’d like some “Jam” with bread, thanks for asking.
Canadian sex educator Karen K.B. Chan created this video based on my essay Toward A Performance Model Of Sex from Yes Means Yes: Visions Of Women’s Sexual Power And A World Without Rape. She brings the idea of a collaborative and nonjudgmental way of looking at sex to life in such a vivid and accessible way.
This. This is terrific. Everyone should see this.
So, remember when I posted that list of Intimacy Skills last fall, and it went viral? Over 4,000 people read that post. Holy Moly. It got me thinking that although we are all supposed to KNOW how to be intimate, no one ever really teaches us explicitly. Kinda like sex. Unless you are super lucky and have an amazing family of origin, you probably struggle with intimacy, just like me. When so many people read that post, I realized that there is a gap in our skill sets, and that I could come up with something to fill it.
I did a trial run of a few classes last fall, and they went really, really well.
I am writing a book, called “Intimacy Technology,” to help people access the skills to have intimacy more easefully. I believe intimacy skills can be taught, practiced, and mastered. To kick my ass into gear about writing the book, I decided to develop a series of classes, each one a chapter in the book, and present them over a year’s time. I develop content for the class, for the book and workbook, and the peeps get to explore and practice building the intimacy skill in a low-risk environment with plenty of support.
Next Monday, January 28 starts the Intimacy Technology series. We’ll meet just about every fourth Monday for a year. Participants will receive strategies and tools that are immediately applicable to their relatings, be it with friends, co-workers, lovers, family, children, etc. So, without further ado, here’s the promo: (And make sure to check out the special pricing for buying the whole series upfront)
Transformative Skills for Potent Connection
“Have good boundaries. Communicate well. Know your true desire, and be able to ask for it. Be authentically vulnerable, and take emotional responsibility. Trust.” All these are skills needed for true intimacy. But where do we learn them? Mostly, we learn by trial and error, or costly therapy. But what if developing intimacy skills was structured and fun?
Intimacy Technology is a skills development series. Each intimacy skill is isolated, broken down into practical components, and practiced in a supportive, exploratory and playful environment. In these classes you will explore the skills that build the intimacy muscle, with practical strategies and immediate results.
This is a year-long series, though you can attend as few or as many classes as you like. Perfect for those who are single, newly in relationship, hoping to be in relationship, or in established relationships of any orientation or configuration. Drop in cost is $30, or attend as many as you like for $250 paid in advance. We meet most fourth Mondays of the month, from 7 – 10 p.m. in San Francisco.
January 28: Communication: Skills to negotiate desire, sex, emotions and conflict.
February 25: Joyful Boundaries: Honor, set, and maintai physical, energetic, emotional boundaries
March 25: On Fire with Desire: Find your desire, communicate about it, and receive it
April 22: Breathtaking Vulnerability: Opening yourself authentically
May 20: Getting what you thought you wanted Receptivity, availability and open-heartedness
June 24: Story: How does your intimacy story keep you from true intimacy? How can you rewrite it?
July 22: Dark Shadows: Meeting and knowing our darker desires, compassion and bringing our full self to intimacy
August 26: Successful and Supportive Intimacies: Allyship, gratitude, generosity and cooperation
September 23: Emotional responsibility: Owning what’s mine and mindfulness
October 28: Terrifying Trust: Opening to receiving love, intimacy and compassion
November 25: Intimate Risk-taking: With harm-reduction
December 16: Holding Space: For everyone’s feelings and needs
I’m in the process of renting space near public transport in SF, and as soon as that piece is in place I will publish the location. I’d appreciate if you’d share this post on facebook, and forward it to anyone who could benefit. I’m also looking for someone to do set-up and promo for a full work trade position for the series. You can read more at http://www.emancipating-sexuality.com or register HERE
Among my clients, I hear a continual theme of frustration around orgasm. As a culture, orgasm has become the only permissible destination the sex train can stop at. I don’t buy it.
Superficially, it would seem that culturally we are hedonistic, desireful, and ever-seeking more and more pleasure. I don’t agree. What seems truer, just beneath that skin layer of consumerism, is our absolute terror about staying with our pleasure.
We’ve learned to stay with our pain, our suffering. We sit with it in therapy, and feel the spiritual elevation of allowing our suffering to crack open our hearts. There’s something we deem morally good about feeling our pain.
And I say that there is another road: one in which pleasure can also bring us into the presence of the Divine.
The problem here is often thus: when we begin to feel extreme pleasure, we disallow it. Our story of ourselves at our core is often one of un-deservingness, unworthiness. Who are we to receive such pleasure? To be open to such unrestricted arousal? Who are we to allow ourselves to feel liberation and exaltation through our senses?
No, pleasure has to be gotten on the quick. Furtively, hurriedly, we clench down to encourage our elusive orgasm to happen. Without genital tension, we might take too long, and our partners might give up, leaving us frustrated. Or, we find that extreme pleasure in the body is too intense, and we can’t bear it as it borders on overstimulation and even pain.
Just get the pleasure over as soon as possible, get the orgasm out of the way, and be done with the whole corporeal mess. Change the sheets even.
Viewed through this lens, frustration about not being able to come, and coming prematurely before you want to stem from the same source: get’er done. They are both not the true thing.
The Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator, beloved and useful as it is, has a stake in this orgasm predicament. Putting out such extreme vibrations, people become dependent on a certain level of stimulation that is inhuman, and hard to recreate for a sustained period of time. Reaching for the vibrator when the frustration starts to creep in is perhaps a quick fix, but ultimately perpetuates the same disallowal-of-pleasure cycle.
My teacher, Joseph Kramer, says that we must train to maintain high states of erotic energy in the same way we would train for a marathon, or any sport. I believe that maintaining high erotic energy in the body actually changes the body, and what it is capable of. It changes how much pleasure we can receive. And ultimately, receiving pleasure challenges our story of unworthiness and forces us to reclaim our agency as worthy, sensual and powerful beings.
Here are some suggestions on Erotic Training.
- Hide the Hitachi away, for at least two weeks, somewhere far from the bedroom.
- If you have a partner, block out a chunk of time, say two hours. For that two hours, take turns in 15 minute blocks pleasuring each other. Orgasm is not the goal. If someone gets close to orgasm, turn the stimulation down a notch and continue.
- If someone gets overstimulated, try this reset technique. Stop all stimulation, and remove the hands from the genitals for about 15-30 seconds. Slowly reengage, with a gentle touch. The neurons should have had time to reset.
- If you find yourself feeling really turned on, and the story kicks in and says something like “I can’t take this” or “I’m never gonna come” or “I just want to use the vibrator and get this over with” try acting like a sex coach to yourself. Try saying “See if you can stay with the pleasure just a little longer” or “What happens if you just keep with it?”
- Touch your genitals each and every day, or have a partner spend time touching them, with no goal except exploration. Let curiosity guide the touch. Orgasmic Meditation from One Taste suggests stroking the upper left quadrant of the clitoris for 15 minutes daily, with no goal other than pleasure. I assume this could be translated to the glans on a penis.
This year I’m committing to Erotic Training, and to exploring the pleasure potential my body holds. I’m letting go of orgasm being the only acceptable outcome, and I’m challenging myself to receive more and more pleasure. As I move through 2013, I’ll be posting my findings and offering up the jewels of my research for your erotic benefit. May my pleasure serve yours.
If you like what you’ve read, take this next 60 seconds to write publicly your erotic commitment to yourself this year, and post it in the comments to be witnessed!
Emancipating Sexuality will represent on a panel next week on female and trans-male ejaculation.
Come on down for a juicy good time!
At Feelmore510 in Oakland, CA
Always wanted to Ejaculate but don’t know how?
Curious about Female and Trans-Male Sexual Anatomy?
Want to explore this juicy topic?
Need some tips and techniques to get you started?
Then come on down and join us!
With a hot panel of cutting-edge educators and Sexologists we will dive into the myths, truths and possibilities of female and trans-male ejaculation.
Anya de Montigny, Madison Young, Pavini Moray and Ari Zadel will be discussing:
Tips and tricks to becoming a squirter
Female/trans-male sexual anatomy including the prostate, skene’s glands and g-spot
Answering the question: is it pee?
Debunking the many myths that surround this sometimes misunderstood fluid,
How increased testosterone effects ejaculation and sexual anatomy
and they will definitely be sharing their own personal experiences!
With film clips from Madison Young’s instructional video: Lesbian Sex Education: Female Ejaculation
Plenty of time for Q&A.
Enter to win free prizes!
Anya de Montigny is a Sex Educator and Intimacy Coach working with individuals, couples and groups to gain the tools and techniques they need to have an amazing sex life. Her business, Teach Me About Sex is dedicated to providing non-judgmental and accurate sex education. She has taught at the Pleasure Chest in Los Angeles, California College of the Arts, the Sunrise Center, Good Vibrations, and FEM Talks.
Madison Young serves as the Artistic Director of the forward thinking non-profit arts organization, Femina Potens Art Gallery. Young values sexual education in her work and has taught workshops, lectures, and acted as a panelist on the topics of sexuality, feminism and pornography, and kink around the world including at Yale University, Hampshire College, University of Minnesota, and UC Berkeley.
Madison’s instructional fim Lesbian Sex Education: Female Ejaculation takes place at a lesbian sex retreat and motivates 4 lesbian couples to explore their own ejaculation fantasies, demonstrating personal tips and techniques for ejaculation, new found intimacy, and demystifying myths surrounding the elusive g spot. Starring Coral Aorta, Sadie Lune, Maggie Mayhem, Nic Switch, Akira Raine, Dylan Ryan, Papi Coxxx and Lillian Alexander and featuring Sex Experts Madison Young and Dr.Annie Sprinkle PHD
Pavini Moray is a trans-masculine identified genderqueer sexologist and avid blogger at www.Emancipating-Sexuality.com, and www.emancipatingsexuality.wordpress.com. Ejaculation is a joyful and juicy part of Pavini’s erotic practice, and is characterized by deep relaxation and simultaneous excitement of the pelvic floor muscles and genitals. Pavini’s business, Emancipating Sexuality, is designed to serve queer and trans clients seeking to deepen sexuality, heal trauma, or expand intimacy. Pavini works with individuals, couples and groups.
Ari is a is a queer transman & Doctoral Resident with a deeply curious nature that pushed him to explore ejaculation as part of his sexuality. Ari is professionally interested in work with Gender Creative and LGBT youth. He believes in real sex education as political activism and sexual liberation.
A teacher told me once that we get to make three major descents into the Underworld of our lives. Perhaps, at the outer edge of age in this body, I will delineate in that way. But for now, every visit to Persephone’s Land counts. And it feels important to say it publicly that this is where I have been.
It’s the time of year for it; that spiraling, labyrinthine walk into the depths of the heart and mind. Our mythology calls for it, as the days grow shorter here in the Northern Hemisphere. We get a little freaked about that still, and fill our time with lights and shopping to stave off what lurks in that darkness. We celebrate the return of the Sun/Son.
Another teacher said to trust the re-emergence. This feels true; I give myself permission for the journey, because I know I can come back. And come back with treasure. Today I want to share with you a little of those jewels… tis the season, right?
Descent can look like this for me; a quieting and slowing of external engagements. Moving away from my connections and contacts in the outer world, to focus my gaze on my inner landscape. To do the bare minimum of work, housework, connecting with others. I spend time in bed, cocooned in warmth. I take a lot of baths. I don’t return phone calls or