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.
Also, if you haven’t subscribed yet to my newsletter (comes out a few times a year) I’d love to keep you updated on my various offerings and events. You can sign up here
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
(The following is a Guest Post by Roman Rimer, describing his experiences at the Geography of Pleasure: Embodiment for Trans Guys workshop. Enjoy! ~ Pavini)
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
P.S. Geography of Pleasure: Embodiment for Trans Guys is happening 2/21-23 in San Francisco.
Perhaps you thought, “OK, so then I’m going to increase my capacity for feeling pleasure and expand my sexuality.”
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?
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.
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.
In juxtaposition to the images above, consider the following:
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:
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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
Can pump erotic energy through the body through:
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
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!