Every now and then I find myself in an existential rut. A rut that I can only attribute to the toxicity of social norms and wrongful validation based on an individual’s genitalia, biology or gender expression. When the reoccurring subtle and blatant sexism of every single damn day seems to subconsciously build upon my heart, just faint enough to go indirectly noticed, but real and present enough to sink its claws into my gut.
It is a feeling that I often have trouble expressing and it is a feeling I believe to solely be empathized with and understood by women and femmes alone.
Silent and still, those daily interactions, the language, the moments that cling secretly to my sole pacify, they wait; until the moment when those slightly translucent walls between my subconscious and the forefront of my mind finally fade away. It is in the addressing of lingering emotions that leaves me momentarily feeling completely crushed by its cumulative weight.
Experiencing such a life in the body of a girl and then in the body of a woman, is to experience existence in such a multitude of faceted roles. The ugliness and the shame juxtaposed against the strength and perseverance is perplexingly complicated. We are molded, sexualized, demoralized and then told that we only gain respect and worth when we combat those roles and myths with a sly smile upon a made up face.
Made up to either take back the power “to be” or to hide the ways that we unacceptably truly “are”.
So, a short reminder to all men who are unable (by their own socialization not because it is entirely significantly their individual fault) to grasp the daily oppression of being less privileged than you and the importance of equity as human beings:
Men need to realize that when I talk about the ways society disadvantages women that I am NOT trying to take something away from you, only asking that the resources and opportunities be shared.
As a product of an inequitable society, I am willing to put forth the effort to understand all sides, all perspectives and all reasoning’s for our collective and group behavior. But that does not mean that it is women’s duty alone to understand, unlearn and reshape our collective culture. It has to be a group effort. Stop low key or blatantly defending your right to a platform and start putting forth an effort to understand how social norms and privileges affect us all. And how we all can share an equally leveled platform together.
My story and experience in indecisiveness about my sexuality is one that I imagine rings far too familiar amongst many others individuals. From the overwhelming awareness of young budding sexuality to those still confusing adult feelings, the ones that tend to scream “you are not happy here” in our faces while we simultaneously seem to hit an emotional brick wall head on.
These first weeks of Pride month were spent racking my brain of relatable topics I could share with you. I looked back on my story, my childhood and the questioning of my own sexuality, identity and gender. Passage after passage, I began, edited, backspaced, highlighted and.. deleted.
I touched on the assumptions of childhood peers, their questions that so often turned into bullying and shame. The influence of a society that made me think that my gayness was wrong and at times that my bisexuality was even worse.
I reflected on the times I felt I needed to keep my queerness hidden from boys and men I dated; times I felt misunderstood and misrepresented. Moments that turned into secretiveness and betrayal; both to the people I claimed to care about as well as to myself and my true desires and needs.
At the end of each of these passages about my life, I felt dissatisfied; as if there was a key element not being presented, maybe one that I still am working on fully comprehending or have not yet completely tuned in. As confident I am in knowing who I am, what I want and that I am in control of my own sex, there is a complexity to that knowledge that I have not completely dissected and found the comfort with, to so publicly share. & that is okay.
Our sexuality and what attracts us is an ever complex, miseducated subject. One that we are too often taught as a choice between two options, if even taught at all.
Our respective and individual sexualities are infinitely unique and for most or many of us, ever changing.
My journey in self-exploration has shared with me many lessons. Above all, that the truest forms of sex and our relationships are only that when we are true and honest with ourselves and the partners we choose to share it with. With that honesty, came a lesson in fluidity.
Our sexual beings are fluid and infinitely vast in their appearances.
Once I was able to accept my sexuality as the diverse, complex thing that it is I, in turn, became more honest and at ease with the haunting question of “What am I?”
That ease of acceptance with my shifting and diverse orientation was better understood with this growing idea of our sexuality being fluid, Meaning; “…that sexual preferences have the capability to change over a lifetime, and in many cases is dependent on different situations. Specifically this idea of fluidity refers to the flexibility of sexual responses.”
To possibly better visualize the meaning of this, I share with you the Purple-Red Scale:
The Purple-Red Scale was created to replace Dr. Alfred Kinsey’s 1948 (Yes, this isn’t a new millennial discovery.) Scale of Sexual Behavior. Dr. Alfred Kinsey created this scale of Sexual Behavior to try to map out the diversities in our changing desires and attractions.
While the Kinsey and the Purple-Red Scale, indeed have their flaws in inclusivity, fluctuations in sexual preferences and individual means of sexual self-discovery; I think it would be instrumental if something akin to these scales were taught to both the youth as well as adults who are contemplating or practicing the exploration of their own sexualities and otherwise.
Many people, children especially, are lost, confused, bullied or even worse growing up and a great deal of them don’t even understand the reasons why. Sex and sexual attraction is something held in very high importance in this country, whether it’s in Hollywood, Advertisement, or everyday life. For those still missing that “hidden link” within themselves, who are constantly faced with media stereotypes and the objectification of the human bodies (but obviously, mostly women and queer folk – let’s be real here), scales and teachings such as these could be a healthy and beneficial introduction to individuals seeking self-awareness by teaching us how to share safely, provide respect to others and find confidence in who we are.
I bring this to you today to share my story, to invite you to learn – about yourself and other people’s sexualities. Be open to questioning your own interests, attractions and self; whether those questions simply affirm who you are in this moment, or are a gateway to new experiences. All options are valid.
Find love with who you are. Find love in the diversities of all bodies, identities, choices and decisions of others.
“Masturbation is our first and natural form of sexual activity and if that’s inhibited or damaged, then we suffer for the rest of our lives.”
– Betty Dodson
May is National Masturbation Month
The act of masturbation, although generally universal, remains shamefully taboo. Even in our often hyper sexualized society and especially for women and non-binary individuals. It is likely the last sexual activity to be apprehensively discussed amongst peers although it is the very first sexual activity we will ever experience (at least for many or most of us) and hopefully our most familiar one. When it does come up in conversation, it is often facetious or deemed an act saved for those who lack partnered sex. It is socially discredited as a valid act of sex. But…
Masturbation is real sex.
Through masturbation we explore both an innate desire for pleasure, as well as the subtleties of our individual and unique appetites. Masturbation and the simple act of touching our own bodies opens up a much needed dialogue with ourselves. It invites us to find comfort and acceptance in our bodies, these vessels that as long as we know them, will be the primary catalysts in all that we do both within the realm of our sexuality and outside.
“Masturbation is not only an expression of self-regard: it is also the natural emotional outlet of those who…have already accepted as inevitable the wide gulf between their real futures and the expectations of their fantasies.”
When we allow ourselves to embrace the spaces we occupy, when we allow ourselves to embrace ourselves completely; we can only benefit from our experiences in oneness. It is not an act of guilt or loneliness. Masturbation is an act in power. It is a performance steeped in self-education and self-love. When we invite ourselves to become familiar and comfortable with our own sex, we are also inviting those we choose to share it with to allow access to that same empowerment; that same knowledge to create and decide our own fantasies, desires and boundaries.
I invite you. Explore, discover and create what feels good for you. Whether it is normative, supple, exquisite, odd or deviant; all forms of your sex and pleasures are valid as long as you make the space to truly know them. If the yearning and interest is there, don’t let shame hold you back from trying something new.
You’re not alone.
Furthermore, if masturbation does not interest you, you too, are not alone. The capability to understand one’s identity needs not to be drenched in the guilt of validity only through mainstream sexuality. We are all capable of sexiness and sensuality, as well as the ability to give those words our own individual meaning.
Let’s rewrite and recreate the ways that we communicate with our bodies and each other. Knowing ourselves is empowering. Let’s share that feeling with those around us, those lessons in oneness, those explorations in fervor. Let’s open up the spaces for discussion, education and celebration of our unique gratifications, needs and wishes.
Communicate with yourself and each other.
I am always grateful to hear your stories, your quirks and your questions.